Wednesday, February 22, 2017

"My yoke is easy, and my burden is light"

Hola friends and family!

Being a missionary is the best!! The days are really flying by and I can't believe it's already P-day again. 

Mi companiera and I have been doing yoga every night for the past week before we go to bed, and at first the rest of the Hermanas in our district thought we were being crazy, but now we all have nightly yoga practice before we go to bed, and it's part weird, part amazing. We also have Bible story of the day, that we go over at night because apparently not everyone spent their whole childhood watching Veggietales and Animated Stories from the Old and New Testament, so we've already learned about Abigail and Ruth and memorized the ten commandments, and we're able to actually apply this stuff in our lessons, so it's great!

Our district theme song is "Tengo gozo en mi alma hoy" (there is sunshine in my soul today) but it actually translate to 'joy' not 'sunshine' because apparently if we said we had sunshine in our soul that would literally mean that there was sunshine in our souls, and that would be a bit too extreme so we just have joy. We only know the first line in Spanish, so we just keeping singing the same words over and over again to the same tune, and all of our teachers have officially banned us from singing Hymn 146 in class. 

I also won the contest for best injury of the week, for our 'day of service', Hermana Fuimaono and had to brush and vacuum all the entrance carpets to the main building, yes brush, still not sure exactly why or what we were doing, and we were wearing gloves and I got a huge blister on one of my knuckles from brushing the carpet with too much enthusiasm. The reason why it wins though is because one of our investigators asked what happened to my hand in our one of our lessons, and we spent 10 minutes trying to figure out how to say in Spanish that I was brushing the carpet and got a blister. They ended up thinking I ran over my hand with a vacuum, but I guess that close enough.
Oh and I got called this week as the music director for our branch, haha, I'm excited, I get to arrange the musical numbers and put together the music for sacrament meetings, and it'll be a fun calling. 

Quotes of the week:
"I was too busy looking for dinner, I'm a hunter-gatherer" - Hermana Meredith
"Hermana Meredith I'm not talking to you about Hamlet" - Elder Harris
"If I don't say 'sorry' at least a hundred times a day I'm dishonoring my country" - Hermana Maynes (she's from Canada and she has a pet moose named George)

So many incredible spiritual experiences this week. The choir director at the MTC is amazing, and I learn more in our 60 minute practices about missionary work than I do the rest of the day. He shared an analogy yesterday I know my family will appreciate. We were singing a really nice arrangement of "Precious Savior, Dear Redeemer" same words, different tune. Brother Eggett told us that this should be the least stressful time of our lives. We all laughed, but it's actually kind of true. The gospel we're sharing has already been written, you get an automatic best friend who goes everywhere with you, the words your sharing have already been written, and it's not your job to convert people, it's the Spirits. He likened it to if we were pulling an yoke with the Savior, he is like Paul Bunyon's gigantic blue ox, and we're just a little cow whose feet don't even touch the ground, but we're moving our legs as fast as we can, and talking to as many people about the gospel as we can. If we do it with Him, it's easy. He pulls. And that's true for our whole lives. The path of discipleship is hard, and it's an uphill climb, because that's how it should be, but when we put in all our effort to have the Savior be with is, it doesn't have to be quite so hard. 

This week, Hermana McCracken and I set a goal to read the entire Book of Mormon again before we leave the MTC. I got a new paperback copy of just the Book of Mormon, and we're just pushing through, trying to get the overall story. I've been marking all the references to blessings that come from keeping the commandments of God, and references to Christ. Reading the Book of Mormon with a specific purpose and question in mind is so helpful, you can read 40 pages in a day and it doesn't feel overwhelming. I would challenge any of you who aren't feeling very motivated to study the scriptures, pick a question or topic, get a new copy of the Book of Mormon, and look for every mention and mark it up as much as you want. 

The gift of tongues is so real everyone. We taught our first lesson in Spanish to a native speaker yesterday, and we could understand her, and she could understand us, and we got to know her and were able to share a message, and the 45 minutes flew by. When we walked in, she had her copy of the Bible that is all marked up, and told us right off the bat how much she loves the Bible and doesn't want to hear about Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon because she has the Bible, so we just said ok, let's talk about the Bible, and we did manage to shift into talking about the Book of Mormon by the end. There is no way any of that would be possible without the Spirit. 
In class I'm still mixing up Spanish and French all the time, and one of my teachers actually asked me if I had studied French before I came here because she could tell from the way I was saying my r's and using a weird accent. But every day I forget a little more French and replace it with a little more Spanish, so it's getting there. 

It's a hard schedule to get used to, and we're trying really hard to be super obedient and go to bed at exactly the right time and be in class and time. Obedience is a really big deal because suddenly there's a whole new set of rules of things you wouldn't necessarily assume are bad. Bedtime is now officially a commandment, so that's taking a little getting used to, but we're getting better at it. It is hard being a missionary, and when a lesson doesn't go well or you're feeling frustrated about not getting a concept it's really easy to get down on yourself. But when you get to teach, and the Spirit is there, and you get to truly bear testimony of what you know and you can feel how much you want this person to know what you do, you would move mountains if you could to help them gain a witness of the truthfulness of the restored gospel. And those moments fill you with so much joy and happiness the rest of it is worth it. 

The church is true! Go read the Book of Mormon and keep being the best you can be!

Hermana Meredith

Matthew 11:28-30 "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you​​ rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Week One

Week One

Hola mi familia!! How are you all doing?? I've been so busy I haven't had a lot of time to think about you, but I love you a lot and it's been great reading about your adventures all week. 

My companian is Hermana McCracken, and she is the best! We are already having such a great time. She is from Springville, and she is going to Washington D.C. South, Spanish Speaking. She's 22, so a little bit of an age gap, but we're getting along really well and every day our lessons are improving and we're figuring out how to better be companions. And we get to have a lot of fun at the same time. Since we're both Hermana M, we call ourselves "Hermana's M squared" and someday we'll get t-shirts and laugh about it. 

My district is amazing! We have four elders, and seven hermanas! And our zone has 18 hermanas and 17 elders. Way to represent! The sister are going everywhere from the Dominican Republic, to Paraguay, to Mexico, to Kansas, and three of the elder are going to Argentina. We're already getting along really well, and we have so much fun together. The other day, during gym time, one of our hermanas accidently threw a basketball that hit the fire alarm and it went off and we all had to evacuate and we were stuck in the cold without our jackets or keys, and the fire department had to come, but it was hilarious, we were all laughing, and tried to play volleyball with snowballs while we were waiting, so it was all good. Our district is having trouble being on time to meetings, and as you all know being late plus stress is not a good combination for me, but Hermana McCraken is helping me to have patience with the elders, because we all have strengths and weaknesess, and we're all growing and getting better all the time, and maybe one day we'll be on time to something, haha. 

The basic schedule for life at the MTC is waking up at 6:30, then meeting your district for prayer in your classroom at 7:00 before daily planning then  heading to breakfast. Then we have three hours of class/investigator teaching, an hour of study, lunch, another three hours of study, dinner, class from 6:00-9:00, then back to your dorms to get ready for bed and lights out by 10:30. It's crazy, and so much work, but we find ways to have fun and take breaks so we don't hurt ourselves from trying to hard to focus. 

Immediately after I got dropped on Wednesdasy, they dropped my stuff off in my room, and then straight to class. You only ever have class in one classroom, and that becomes your home base, all your study stuff and notes and books live there because you spend more time in your classroom than in your actual room. We immediately began speaking Spanish. On the first day we were able to pray, the second day we were able to bear our testimonies, and on Saturday we started teaching our first "investigator." We have had 4 lessons with him so far, everyday except Sunday. And the entire thirty minutes is in Spanish. We all had mini panic attacks when we found out we would have to teach in Spanish on our third day, but the gift of tongues is real! My companion and I are able to say things and understand things that we have no idea what they are outside of the classroom. It's really difficult not to get frustrated with yourself, because sometimes I have the exact words I want to say in English, but I have no idea how to say them. This week has been really humbling though, because we've all been realizing the most important part of missionary work is inviting the Spirit and letting the Holy Ghost teach the investigator. Our Spanish is terrible, but as long as we focus on Jesus Christ and sincerely bearing our testimonies, somehow, sometimes our message gets across. It's absolutely incredible. It's so hard, and it gets stressful, but it's amazing.

We got to sing in the MTC choir on Sunday and yesterday for the MTC devotional, and Elder M. Russell Ballard came and spoke to us, so it was a really cool experience. We sang "Lead Kindly Light," which turns out is actually a perfect missionary song. Go read the words if you don't remember them, because it is 100% what missionary work is about. We talk the backstory of the lyricist, John Henry Newman, and how he was a Catholic Priest I think, and was faced with a lot of doubt, and got frustrated his path wouldn't take him where he wanted it to, but he wrote this poem on a boat trip back to England, and they were stuck in the water because of heavy fog for several days, and the poem is about him coming to realize he had to choose to let God completely guide it path. It's really cool. 

I also learned that Valentine's day is the third best day to be a missionary, after Christmas and Easter, because we get to share the greatest message of love in the entire world: You can be with the people you love most in the entire world forever!! So Happy Valentines Day everyone!!

One of my favorite parts about being a missionary so far is that we pray at least 20 times a day if not more. You pray when you get up, you pray when you leave the dorm, you pray when you get to class, you pray when you leave class, you pray at the beginning of every study session, you pray all the time, and we say all our prayers in Spanish. For now, a lot of them are very repetitive, because we have very limited vocabulary, but everyday we get a little more comfortable, and our district is growing a little more everyday. It's amazing!!

One of the hardest things, is you don't refer to people as "guys" anymore. It's way more difficult than you think it would be. Other missionaries are always "elders" or "hermanas." We're working on it as a district, but hopefully it's gets better.

We got to go to the temple this morning!! It really helped recharge all of us. I did the work for Anna De Haan, and I was really happy I brought my own family names. And Sundays are so great! For sacrament meeting, everyone has to prepare a talk in Spanish on the topic for the week, then at the beginning of the meeting you find out who is going to speak that day when they announce it. So that part is a little stressful, but they have assured us they usually don't pick new missionaries for at least two weeks...usually. 

I'm only using half my email time right now, so I'll be able to get back on later today, so feel free to send me any questions or anything and I'll try to respond. And I'll think I'll have some more pictures to send later too. Thank you for the packages and the pictures and everything, I love it all!! This seriously is the happiest place on earth and I am so happy to be a missionary!!

Hermana Meredith