I hope you have had an amazing Christmas Holiday and are excited for a new year to start lots of new resolutions that will probably only last a week or two. But seriously, it is such a great time of the year to evaluate your accomplishments from the previous year and set some goals for improvement, etc. I'm excited for the fresh start at least, especially since it will be in Albania!
As far as travel plans for me, last Wednesday after I sent my email we got our travel plans. We were so excited! But this week we got new travel plans which pushed our departure day back one day. So now we leave on Wednesday, January 6th. I'm actually greatful for the extra day! So we leave the MTC at 3am and catch a 6am flight to LAX then we fly to Washington DC, then to Vienna, Austria (I'm excited cause I've never been there!) and then to Tirana, Albania. We arrive there on Jan at 12:30 in the afternoon. So we have a pretty long travel time, but we are so excited!
Christmas here was amazing! For Christmas Eve we had a devotional with music and some talks and testimonies. Music ranged from an Elder playing a song on the bagpipes, to Seour Elizabeth Smart playing a gorgeous solo on the harp, to an MTC version of the 12 days of Christmas (super fun!) After the devotional my roommates and I came back to our room and Sister Steck painted all our faces. She used to be a professional face painter and she is amazing. I can't wait for you to see the pictures. Then we moved all 6 mattresses in our room to the floor so there was no walking space and then we attempted to fly over the mattresses. I'll leave it at that, I don't want everyone to know exactly how childish we may have been acting. It was great fun though! We ended the night by singing some hymns together and sharing our testimonies of the Savior!
Christmas morning was fabulous! At our morning devotional Brother Angus gave Sister Peatross and I front and center seats again. Sister Yourstone had to sit with Elder Smith because they were both offering the prayers for the devotional. I'm quite greatful to not have had to pray because I would have been way to nervous. The speaker was Elder L. Tom Perry, and he gave a wonderful talk on the Savior. I happened to be sitting by his youngest daughter and her family, so I got to chat with her briefly, which was neat. Our next big Christmas activity was the Talent Show that I think I briefly mentioned last week. I ended up in a quartet of two singers and violin and me on the piano. They were all going to Chili, but I knew the violinist, Beth Jarrett, from my USU ward. Anyway, we performed O Holy Night, which I love to play so it wasn't a big deal, until we got into the auditorium with over 2000 people listening to you, and a huge camera projecting your face onto the megatron screen. I think this is why I went for an accounting degree instead of music performance or something like that. Actually, it wasn't that bad, and we had a lot of fun. There were some pretty interesting talents including: an Elder who did this slow motion/graceful robot/break dancing to "I like to Look for Rainbows" (the primary song), an Elder who made the Roadrunner cartoon out of balloons (like the clown guys), and our MTC President Smith played the Harmonica. That definitely was a big hit because we all kind of see him as this serious guy. Anyway, it was really fun, and it was the first annual (and possibly last ever) MTC talent show, so it was cool to be here for it!
Our evening devotional on Christmas was put on by Greg Olsen (he is a famous painter, you can probably google him). He showed us some of his artwork of the Savior and talked about it, and that was cool. No surprise, he is in Sister Peatross's home ward, so afterwards we got to go talk to him and his family.
On Sunday in Relief Society we had Sister Barbara Thompson from the General Relief Society Presidency. She is so awesome, and so down-to-earth. I loved her talk about her mission to Germany over 30 years ago and how she now has to relearn her German so that she can go back over there with President Uchtdorf in a couple months for a huge country conference.
So Monday this week was quite an adventure. Our District got called down to the travel office and were given our new flight plans. They then told us that we all need our birth certificates. That isn't a problem for most everyone because they were born in Utah (even Elder Castro-Guzman), but of course the coolest people (me and Sister Yourstone) were born in New York, so we had to make arrangements to get ours sent to us. So thank you so much to the Hardcastles and Mom for taking care of everything to get my Birth Certificate to me. And Brock, it was so exciting to talk to you for like 2 minutes! Anyway, back to the story, since all the Utah babies needed their certificates, we got to take a district field trip to the outside world...the Provo County buildings. We got dropped off there and were wandering around like total lost confused people. Of course Sister Peatross tried to take charge (but she has been sick for like a week and doesn't have a voice, which hasn't been that bad of a thing, J/k) and she has no fear of asking people for directions. So she leads us to one building after another and she even led us into the Marriage Licence office to ask for directions. I about died of embarrassment because of course we all have our tags on and people know who we are. Anyway, we had a good laugh about it, and finally found the place for everyone to get there Utah birth certificate copies. But our van had left us, and we had no phone or anything. So Sister Peatross asks some random guy to borrow his phone. It turns out he was waiting to see his Parole Officer, but he let us borrow his phone. Anyway, it was quite the adventure.
I'm so excited to go to Albania! I can't wait to get out there and share the gospel. I know that the Church is true and that we have a loving Heavenly Father who hears and answers our prayers!
I love you all and thanks for all you support, prayers, letters, and packages. You are amazing!
Merry Christmas from the MTC! I hope you all have a very wonderful Christmas this week. I love and miss you all, but I don't think there could be a cooler place to be this Christmas than the MTC!
My first email this morning got deleted, so this is email number two, so sorry if it is a little short.
This week has been super busy, but super fun! For starters I got a new companion this week. Well not really...but kinda. Since we have eight people in our District, but two sets of trio companionships, one Sister and one Elder teach the Albanian volunteers together as a mixed gender companionship. This week it is me and Elder Smith teaching. I actually enjoyed teaching with him because he understands a lot more Albanian than me, so when I am sitting there with a confused look on my face, he is able to answer the question that the investigators ask.
Now for my funny Albanian moment of the week...After Elder Smith and I finished a practice teaching lesson with our teacher Brother Ellingson, I tried to say to Brother Ellingson, "Thanks for your time." Instead I conjugated "time" wrong and said "Thanks for being worthless." I had no idea what I said, but we all had a great laugh about it later.
For Relief Society on Sunday our guest speaker/teacher was Sister Harriet Uchtdorf. She gave a wonderful talk in her cute little German accent. I loved most when she said that "You're a designer model, one limited edition, which is priceless." I know that this is so true. We each are so different but so special and Heavenly Father loves us each so much. We have been given different talents and abilities to love and serve those around us in a way that nobody but us can do. Thanks to each of you for being your wonderful, unique self and blessing my life in a special way that nobody but you could do for me.
As I mentioned in one of my first letters, each week the Branch President calls two missionaries on the spot to get up and teach a selected principle in Sacrament Meeting. I was so lucky to be called this week to talk on Faith. I didn't have anything written out to say, but I spoke from my heart and I personally think (in my most humble opinion) that is was a pretty good little talk. I was grateful that as the scriptures say, the "Spirit is the Teacher" so what I say really doesn't matter.
Last night we had an amazing devotional from Elder Niel L. Anderson, the newest member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Brother Angus hooked us up with some excellent second row seats as always. Elder Anderson and his wife shared excellent messages, but I think I enjoyed most the special musical number. They had 11 of their small grandchildren (ages 2 1/2 to probably like 10) sing to us and they were so cute. It helped to remind us all how important families are, since they brought their whole family to this devotional with them.
Since Sister Peatross lives only like a couple blocks from the MTC, it seems that she knows tons of the people that work here from her home ward. This week she got called to the District President's office. We were kinda nervous because that is where Sister Yourstone got called last week when she received bad news. It turned out though that President Brown just wanted to say hi to us and let us know he cared and see if Sister Peatross had anything she wanted him to say to her family. I guess we feel kinda special since he made time to talk to us when there are over 2,500 missionaries at the MTC. He told me he thought I looked Albanian, and so I told him, in my best Albanian accent, that I actually was Albanian and I was learning English here. He seemed pretty confused and quickly changed topics, but we all had a good laugh about it later. I don't know why I am such a dork sometimes, but I just am! :)
I don't want to give away too much info about the exciting plans for Christmas here, but just to give you a preview for next weeks email...We have a Christmas eve Devotional planned, and two devotionals scheduled for Christmas Day. Also there is a first annual Christmas Day MTC Talent show that I have somehow found my way into. I'm pretty excited about it! Unfortunately since there are over 2700 missionaries in the MTC right now, I won't be able to call home on Christmas because that would be kinda crazy to work out, but know that I am thinking about all of you and sending my warmest Christmas wishes and love!
A couple FYI's for the next coming weeks. I will get my flight plans later this week, but as of now I am still scheduled to depart on Jan. 5th. Next week I will email my new addresses for after the MTC. One is is Albania and one is a pouch service in SLC. I'm not sure, but I think DearElders can be sent to the pouch address once I leave the MTC (You may check the website on that though).
Well my time is up, but I am so grateful to all of you for your love, support, and prayers. I am so grateful to be on a mission right now and serving the Lord. I love this Christmas season and the opportunity to reflect on the Life of our Savior Jesus Christ. I love Him and I know that through the Power of His Atonement we can do all things. I know that this is his church!
I love you all! Merry Christmas!
I hope you all have had a wonderful week, as I definitely have here at the MTC. As always, I don't know where to start.
I guess I'll tell you all the fun stuff first. We are all set for Christmas here and have decorated our room for the festive season. I hung up the cute Christmas decorations that Audrey and Brock made and we also ended up with some lights for our bedroom. Also Sister Peatross's mother sent a little Christmas tree which Sister Steck decorated will all her dangly earlings for ornaments. It actually looks super cute!
Also, in the Christmas Spirit Sister Yourstone and I have been providing a little entertainment for our district. Some people might consider us as pranksters, but Missionaries are too mature and focused to engage in such affairs. But we did somehow get our hands on Elder Moyse's extra name tag and it somehow found its way to the huge MTC Christmas Tree that decorates the Front Desk here. It is full of ornaments and fake name tags that have been turned into ornaments, so his tag fit right in. We sent him on a little scavenger hunt to find it. It was quite entertaining.
Don't worry though, we aren't wasting the Lord's time. We also have had a very productive week with ALbanian and learning the Gospel. Today was our last time going to the Temple for the next year and a half, so it was kinda sad but I learned a lot, so it was great!
The other exciting thing this week is that Thursday night the Fire Alarm in our building went off around midnight. Of course that doesn't sound late, but we were all dreaming of sugar plums and such by that time of the night, so it was a surprise. My roommates were all a little slow to rise, so I ran out into the hall to check the situation. It smelled kinda funny, so I told all the girls to grab coats and shoes (cause it was snowing outside) and that we were going to evacuate. While they were gathering their stuff, I somehow kicked into leadership mode and started knocking doors and waking sisters up to have them hurry and evacuate. It was cool though, because I was really calm the whole time and I just did what needed to be done, which was truly a blessing. I felt bad though because the foreign sisters who are learning english were scared because the only thing they understood me say was "Fire." Anyway, we all got out and into the warm gym and within twenty minutes we were back in bed because there had just been some problem in the basement, but everything was okay. We thought it was a fun little adventure though.
We had lots of great speakers and devotionals this week. Sunday in Relief Society we had Sister Elain Dalton, the Young Women General President and then last night we had Elder Richard Maynes from the first Quorum of the Seventy. They gave great talks. And we had a special fireside Sunday night which was the BYU Men's Chorus. I had never heard them before, and I have to admit even though it was BYU they sounded really amazing. And we learned an interesting fact, that between the 150-200men in the choir they go on 999 dates a month. Random, but that is what they shared at the fireside and we thought it was funny.
I am so glad to hear the Buddy and Mariah are all right. It sounds like you had a scary accident, but you are so blessed. We are told time and time again here that while we are serving missions the Lord will watch over and bless our families. I know that it is true and I pray for you all everyday. I am so grateful to be serving the Lord and know that we are all in his gentle hands.
On a sadder note, Sister Yourstone got a random call to go to the front office this week. It was because her Grandmother passed away. She has been so strong though, and I am pretty sure I have cried more about it than she has (I guess it is that Gift of Weeping that Rachael also says I have). Anyway, we have talked about it a lot, and I especially am able to relate fairly well with her right now since Grandpa passed away right before I came. We all agreed that we are so blessed to have the Gospel and know that our families can be together forever. There is nowhere else we would rather be right now than serving missions so that we can share this knowledge with everyone. I can't imagine not knowing this. As Elder Holland said when he was here for Thanksgiving, "If I knew nothing else about the Church, I would be baptized on the doctrine alone of Eternal Families. Heaven would not be Heaven without our families." I know this is true and I know that Sister Yourstone will see her Grandmother again and that we will see Grandpa again. Sometimes it is hard to know that our loved ones are kinda gone for the moment, but I know that they love us and are waiting for us in the Spirit World, and they are probably up there doing lots of missionary work and keeping busy. I promise that if we live righteously that we all can be together again after this life!
I know that this Gospel of Jesus Christ is true. Our Heavenly Father lives and he loves us! I know that he will answer our prayers if we go to him with faith. Jesus Christ is our Savior and Redeemer and suffered the Atonement for each of us so that we can return to live with God. We are so blessed the Christmas Season to be able to reflect on the life and love our Jesus Christ. I pray that you all will feel the love of the Savior, Family, and Friends at this special time of the year, and not lose sight of the true meaning of Christmas. I love you all and am so grateful to be here serving the Lord!
Greetings from your favorite Missionary (don't worry I do have some humility left). The MTC is wonderful and the weather in Provo is beautiful. We finally got a lot of snow, like a few inches and it is everywhere and just looks stunning with all the Christmas lights.
Thanks for all the letters this week. I love hearing from all of you!
It was a fabulous and busy week here, and I don't even know where to start. Let's see...
Last week we taught our progessing investigator, Bobby, again. He is doing fabulously. During our lesson I asked if he would like to pray while we were still there, because he was feeling kinda nervous about praying after he had a bad experience earlier in the week. He said he would love to, and then we all knelt down and he offered a beautiful prayer. He asked if he should be baptized and then we all just sat in silence for a few minutes and then he thanked God for his answer and promised he was going to try and be the best person he could. Now he can't wait to get baptized and we have him scheduled for December 26th. Sometimes I forget that Bobby is just an actor because whenever we see him he just is "in character" and when we teach it seems so real. Anyway, we love Bobby!
We taught the whole first lesson this week only in Albanian for the first time. Sister Yourstone and I taught together and our teacher put us in with a returned missionary and then a new volunteer that we had never seen before. Usually we just see BYU students, but she was older with grown children. It turned out she was actually from Albania and has only been living in the states for 2 years, so she didn't know much English, which didn't matter because we weren't allowed to speak any English anyway. She is a convert to the church and so it was a really scary, but awesome experience to teach her. The spirit was so strong, except Sister Yourstone and I didn't really understand anything she was saying. But we nodded our heads and pretended like we knew what was going on. We got really awesome feedback from our teacher afterwards, except for one thing... In Albanian the word for "This" is "ky" and it is pronounced "k+ewe" and the word for "where" is "ku" and is pronounced "k+oo." Obviously these sound very similar and if you don't shape your mouth just right you will say the wrong word. Well, we never really thought about how similar those two words are, and it turns out that while we were teaching the first vision, when Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ appeared to Joseph Smith, we accidently said "Where is My Beloved Son?" I guess if you were an investigator that might be a kinda confusing story to you. We had a good laugh about it though!
Sadly our District is down one this week, as Elder Anderson is in Quarantine. He has been pretty sick mostly the whole time we have been in the MTC, so it is probably good that he is just getting some rest. We all are on Tami-Flu again, but I'm pretty sure that he didn't have Swine Flu, especially cause last week my whole district got the swine flu shot. I should say, my whole district except me, because obviously I passed on the optional shot. No surprise there. I feel great though!
We got to watch the Christmas Devotional on Sunday and I thought it was wonderful. I hope everyone got to see it, or has a chance to go to LDS.org and watch it. It will really get you excited for the Christmas season. This week we also had Elder Claudio R.M. Costa from the Presidency of the Seventy come speak to us. He was fabulous. He is a convert and originally from Brazil, so his English wasn't perfect, but his talk was amazing. He had so much energy and was so fun to listen to. He said whenever he travels he always talks to people about the church. He says that all he asks is, "Are you a member of the church?" and when they say no he asks "Why?" Then he answers any concerns they might have had and gets their contact information and then sends the missionaries to their home. It's that easy! Ha, ha. He is probably my new favorite General Authority from the Seventy, with of course the exception of Elder Cherrington, because he is kinda like my own personal General Authority.
As far as other fun things in the MTC, a couple Elders from our Branch challenged Motra Yourstone and I to a volleyball match. We made them quickly regret that challenge. Also, Sister Peatross came across the funniest story on LDS.org this week. It was from the October 1983 New Era (pg. 46) and it was called "Fiction: Setting the Trap" by Jack Weyland (The guy who wrote "Charlie.") I know it is totally random, but us Sisters got a total kick out of it. I definitely want all my sisters and roommates to read it. I don't know if anyone else will really get it or be able to relate to it if you haven't been a girl in a Singles ward, but I guess if you get bored over the Christmas Holiday you can read through it.
Also, as always we went to the Temple today and there was a deaf Sister in our session, so we got to have a sign language session, so that was cool and different.
I love that Grandma and Aunt Lisa had the sister missionaries over for dinner and one sister's name is Kelsey. That is so awesome! I'm glad you are keeping them fed and enjoying them. I hope you can have them over again. Sister missionaries are so awesome ( I would know I spend 24/7 with three of them!)
I can't believe how the time flies here where you are having fun and serving the Lord. My departure date is currently set for January 5 and so I have less than a month. We are just working our hardest to learn as much as we can about Albanian and the gospel.
I love serving the Lord, and I know that I am supposed to be a missionary at this time in Albania. I know that Heavenly Father loves us and will answer our prayers. I know that Jesus Christ is our Savior and Redeemer and I am so grateful for his atonement. I know that Joseph Smith was a Prophet of God and that the Book of Mormon is true. I hope you all have a chance to read it daily! I know that President Monson is a Prophet of God and that this is the true church of Jesus Christ on the Earth today!
I love you all!
Happy December! Oh, how the time flies when you are having fun. Firstly thank you for all the Dearelders, Thanksgiving cards, packages, and wedding annoucements last week. I think I set a district record for mail last Wednesday with over double digits.
Thanksgiving here was amazing! I'm just going to share excerpts from my journal, so I don't forget anything from that day...
"Today was one of them most memorable Thanksgivings of my life. I got up at 6:30am as usual and got ready for the day. At 8:45am we went outside and joined the Elders in the 10am Devotional line. They had been waiting there since 7am. We played the foot game and sang hymns until they opened the doors. Brother Angus gave us second row seats right on the side. They were great and I was especially grateful for such good seats when Elder and Sister Holland walked in, confirming the rumors. A few minutes before the devotional started Brother Angus motioned for us four sisters to move over to the front and center seats below the pulpit. I was literally shaking as I walked right in front of Elder Holland to sit on the front row. We couldn't have been any closer to him unless we were sitting by him on the stand. Sister Holland smiled at me and I'm pretty sure I made eye contact with Elder Holland at least once. Awesome! They both gave amazing talks. Elder Holland's talk was a little different in that he answered some deep doctrinal questions that we had submitted to the Mission Presidency last month. It was pretty cool. The spirit was so strong in that meeting and it was such a blessing to hear an Apostle of the Lord and be only 5 feet away from him."
After the devotional we had our Thanksgiving dinner which was great, although I do admit that I missed home made rolls and funeral potatoes. Later that afternoon we had a humanitarian presentation. It was actually really interesting. They showed us pictures and videos, and talked about all the humanitarian projects that the church is involved with around the World. It is amazing how much good we are doing and how much money we are able to donate to all these humanitarian projects.
For Thanksgiving dinner we had some delightful sack lunches while sitting in our bedroom floor, and it was really fun.
For our service project we formed an assembly line and made first aid kits, like the ones that they send whenever there are natural disasters in the world. It was actually fun and we completed 8,000 kits as a MTC whole.
To end the wonderful Thanksgiving evening we had another fireside which was music and then President Smith opened the floor for missionaries to give "thank-a monies." It was really good, and of course it was also kinda interesting, cause you never know what 19 year old boys are going to say when they get the microphone in front of 2500 people. But Thanksgiving was wonderful, and I was so blessed to be here at the MTC for it!
The rest of our week here was pretty standard...pure awesomeness and business. We do receive some Babylonian (wordly) news here, so I did hear all about the BYU vs UofU football game. My companions and district were all pretty happy about the BYU victory. And I am expecting a DearElder tomorrow from someone, anyone letting me know how Aggie basketball does in the Spectrum against BYU. Of course it would be fun to be there, but honestly being at the MTC is way better than being at an Aggie basketball game, hands down. But it's still fun to know.
I've really been spending a lot more time reading the Book of Mormon this week, and it has been amazing. I am learning so much that I have never realized in all my readings of it previously. For once I feel like I am truly "feasting" on the words and I honestly spend every moment I can trying to read it. I know that the Book of Mormon is the word of God and that it will bless our lives if we read it and take it to heart.
I was glad to hear that everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving and that Christmas fun has already begun. The MTC is already decorated for Christmas and the lights here are beautiful. I don't miss at all the Christmas shopping though, so all those who were brave enough to go shopping on Black Friday, hats off to you. I'm interested to see how many misionaries we get the next few weeks with Christmas holiday and all. I know that the MTC was overpacked during Thanksgiving, so much so that they had to open up overflow residence halls. And since we didn't get any missionaries the day before Thanksgiving, the week before that there were over 700 new missionaries, compared to today where we got less than 300 newbies. It is amazing how many missionaries come through this training center though. We really are a powerful group.
This week, we had Sister Cheryl Lant, the Primary General President, come speak to us and she compared us to the 2,000 Stripling Warriors. It was an awesome talk.
Thanks for all your prayers, thoughts, and support. It really means so much to me. I am so grateful to be out here serving a mission. I am so excited to be learning Albanian and to get to go teach the people of Albanian in a month! I know that the Church is true and that God loves us and answers our prayers. I know that Jesus Christ is our Savior and I am so grateful for his Atonement. Joseph Smith was truly a prophet of God and the Book of Mormon is True. And I know President Monson is a prophet of God today!
I love you all!
Happy Thanksgiving! I can't believe it is already the end of November. I have been so busy that I didn't even notice that I have flown by my one month mark on the mission. Wow!
It was an amazing week at the MTC as always and I have lots to tell you, so I'm just going to type as fast as I can. So no judging my terrible spelling and grammar. :)
We started off this week with a new district goal to SYL (speak your language). So basically we only speak Albanian, except during certain times when we are with other people who don't know Albanian, like at church meetings, etc. But otherwise, we speak Albanian all the time in class and in our residence halls. It is really hard, but it is helping us to get better, so it is totally worth it. I can already see an improvement in my language ability after only a few days of doing this.
As always we have been so blessed to have some amazing speakers this week. On Sunday for Relief Society we had Sister Mary Cook, the first counselor in the General Young Women Presidency. It was a great talk on "Virtue" and it was such a blessing, because later on Sunday I taught the District lesson and the topic was virtue. Elder Smith had asked me earlier in the week to teach the District lesson on Sunday (which is basically like Sunday school but only with the eight of us Albanians and sometimes a Branch Presidency member and his wife). So I had used a lot of the same stuff that Sister Cook then used, which was great to prepare me even better. I think the lesson went okay. Since I didn't pack all my Relief Society stuff, I made a doiley out of kleenex so that I could have a centerpiece. Ha ha!
On Sunday us four sisters(me and my companions), who are the only sisters in the branch, sang a special musical number, "This is the Christ." It was really pretty and I got to sing and accompany on the piano. In answer to the question about it I get to play the piano still, yes. I get to play every Sunday for church and I also get to accompany special musical numbers. I am currently practicing a number with a friend from Utah State who is here and she hopes to perform at a Christmas Devotional next month. I really love playing and it has been such a blessing to have be able to share that talent. Thank you so much Mom and Dad for paying for lessons all those years and making me practice!
I received one of the most awesome blessings this week, and couldn't wait to tell everyone about it. If you read my letter last week, you'll know that I had a most interesting experience cleaning bathrooms. When we got to service this week, the janitors informed us that they just found out that there is a rule that says Sisters can't clean Elders bathrooms! So unfortunately I'll not be getting an opportunity to do that again, so I'm so glad I at least was able to experience that once before they started enforcing that rule. Otherwise I wouldn't be as grateful for all the other cleaning assignments we get!
This week Sister Peatross, Sister Yourstone, and I started teaching a progressing investigator named Bobby. So he actually works here part time and just pretends to be an investigator so missionaries can practice teaching someone and then coming back to the same person and teaching more, but you would never know he isn't a real investigator. He is an amazing actor, plus he is a real person, so he has real concerns in his life too. We have been trying hard to meet some of his own personal concerns and he is really loving us. Every time we teach him the spirit is so strong and he can't wait to have us come back. It is an amazing experience, and I can't wait to start teaching real people and then I can see the gospel change their lives.
Last nights devotional was amazing! As always, Sister Peatross pulled some strings and got us like third row seats, right near the front. The speakers were Elder and Sister Dallin H. Oaks. Like I mentioned a couple weeks ago, Sister Oaks was here for R.S., but we got to hear from her again and it was great. She is so cute and she shared a fabulous message that really was comforting to us who are struggling to learn a language. She said, " Your spirit can shine above your speaking ability." I am so grateful to know that the Spirit is the true teacher, because my Albanian sure isn't good enough yet to teach much of anything. Elder Oaks also gave a great talk and was very straightforward and bold with all of us. He gave lots of council and advice and it was just amazing to have an Apostle of the Lord in the room talking to us. I realize that as I'm writing this that maybe not everyone knows who I am talking about, but I know that Elder Oaks has been called of God and truly is an Apostle of the Lord. I would recommend jumping on LDS.org and try watching his most recent conference address. It would give you a small taste of what I experienced here last night.
Also in answer to a question about my knee, it is doing great. I have been playing basketball and/or volleyball everyday at gym and I have my knee brace so I haven't had any problems. My only problem is that Sister Yourstone is amazing under the basketball hoop, and I'm having a hard time guarding her. Ha ha!
I hope you all have an amazing Thanksgiving! I wish you could all be here, because we have so much great stuff planned here tomorrow. We have a huge humanitarian project planned and two firesides/devotionals. I have heard rumors about who will be speaking tomorrow morning, but I will make you all wait in suspense till next week.
I hope you all take some time this Thanksgiving Holiday to thank the Lord for all the blessings you have been given. I wish I had more time to just list everything I am grateful for, but since I don't in summary:
I am so grateful for all of you family and friends for your support and prayers. I am grateful for the opportunity to be a missionary and serve the Lord and the people of Albania. I am so grateful for my knowledge of the gospel. I testify that Jesus Christ Lives. I know that he suffered the atonement for each of us and that he understands our trials and heart ache. I know that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God and that Thomas S. Monson leads our church today. I testify that the Book of Mormon is true and that our Heavenly Father loves us all so much!
I love you all!
Thanks for all the letters this week. You all are fabulous! As always it was an awesome week here at the MTC, so I'll try and tell you as much as I have time for. By the way, we did get snow here finally, but then it melted and now there is nice weather again.
The MTC was packed with awesome speakers this week. On Sunday in Relief Society our speaker was Sister Kristen Oaks (she married Elder Dallin H. Oaks in 2002). She was really great and she brought all of the sisters these cute testimony gloves that had velcro pictures of the five basic things that a testimony should have. They are cute. Someday I can hopefully send a picture of them. On Sunday night the speaker at the Devotional was Sister Sheri Dew, one of my personal favorites! The Elders in our district somehow ended up with front and center seats and afterwards got pictures with her. We had great seats too, so I have nothing to complain about. And on Tuesday night Richard C. Edgley from the Presiding Bishopric came to speak at our devotional. He also gave a very motivating talk.
So for I guess the funny story of the week (I wasn't laughing at the time though)...Every week we get to have 75 minutes of service, which is always just helping the janitors with stuff. Ours is on Monday at 6:30am and in the past we have just vaccumed halls or dusted. This week we got to clean bathrooms. Which isn't a big deal really, except Sister Yourstone and I were so blessed to get to clean the Elders bathroom that had an "Out of Order" sign on it. Apparently it wasn't really broken though, it was just so messy that nobody could use it. Thankfully we got thick rubber gloves and I managed not to puke. I'm sure nobody wanted to hear about that experience, but I'm so proud of myself for making it through, that I thought I would tell everyone! :)
Two weeks ago I mentioned that I had an "investigator" named Jim that I call every Friday. This week I called him and he had read the scriptures that I had suggested to him and he had some really good questions. Motra Peatross also joined me on the call (it is actually the policy here) and she was able to find some scriptures to answer some of his questions. I got to teach him about Joseph Smith and also testify. It was an amazing experience, even though we were just talking over the phone. He committed to read some more of the Book of Mormon, and said he was looking forward to talking to me this Friday. I really hope he can feel the spirit of the Book of Mormon this week.
There are actually full-time missionaries who serve here at the MTC in the Referral Center (where we make and answer phone calls and answer people's questions through online chat from LDS.org). This week they stopped by our classroom and asked if someone could write their testimony in Albanian in this Albanian Book of Mormon, so they could have it on hand in case they ever get a request for an Albanian Book of Mormon. Of all eight of us in the class, our teacher randomly selected me to be the one to write my testimony in it. I of course wrote a rough draft so he could correct all my Albanian grammer mistakes, but it was really a cool experience for me.
Yesterday, the four sisters from our branch who arrived here the week after us left for their mission in Indiana. They were the first sisters that I did orientation for and the first that I did check out for too. We had all grown really close, so it was hard to see them go, but I know that will be amazing missionaries. Now the only girls in our branch are me, and Sister Steck, Yourstone, and Peatross. Hopefully we'll get more sisters sometime in the future!
And I know before I left Aunt Lisa was telling me that Elizbeth Smart was going on a mission to Paris. She arrived at the MTC last night. Since there is only one French speaking Zone at the MTC, she obviously knows our two roommates who are going to New Caledonia (French speaking) and Sister Smart also was in the same ward as Sister Yourstone at BYU a few years ago, so she came by last night to say hi. I feel bad for her because there were tons of girls following her around the residence hall last night to give her a "tour" of the place, even though it is just bedrooms, bathrooms, and a vending machine. Anyway, she seemed so nice and I hope she has an amazing experience here and on her mission!
I guess that is basically all for this week. I'm still loving the MTC and my companions. Sister Steck is an awesome addition to our companionship, she is always super happy and positive. And I of course love Motra Peatross and Yourstone too. This morning I handed off the role of Senior Companion to Motra Peatross so she can have some experience being the leader. I don't mind, it is one less thing to be responsible for for awhile.
I love all of you and am so grateful for your love, support, and prayers. I know that this is the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ on the Earth today. I love my Savior and am so grateful for the atonement. I testify that Joseph Smith saw Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and that the Book of Mormon is true. And I know President Monson is truly a prophet of God.
Have a great week!
Firstly, Happy Birthday yesterday Mom! Hope it was a lovely birthday!
Also, thanks for all the wonderful goodies and treats everyone has sent. I think I have enough cookies now to last the rest of my MTC stay! :) You all are the best!
It has been a great, and busy week in the MTC. Like I mentioned last week we got a new sister in our apartment. Her name is Sister Steck and she is going to Hungary. Since she is the only Sister going to Hungary in the MTC right now, she is our newest fourth companion. She is so fun, and now we are able to split up into two companionships when we want to do different things.
Sister Summers from my district finally got out of quarantine this week, but then yesterday our other roommate who is going to the Figi mission got put in quarantine for Swine Flu. Now we all are taking tamiflu pills so that we don't get sick. I'm also taking the typhoid pills right now, so that I will be protected when I get to Albania. They had a shot option for the Typhoid, but obviously I chose the pill option. :) Me and my companions are all really healthy though, so that has truly been a blessing.
The day we came into the MTC we made really good friends with some three other sisters who arrived the same day. They were all serving in the Independence Missiouri mission, so they only had three weeks in the MTC. That means they left last night. Our companionships had gotten really close, so it was hard to see them go, but they will be amazing missionaries. It is so crazy that some people who arrived when we did are already leaving the MTC and we still have like two months. I'm not complaining though, I need the time to learn Albanian. Anyway, our room is very obedient about turning our lights off and going to bed at 10:30pm, but for the first time last night we were up till 11:15pm saying good bye to the girls. I'm sure that sounds pretty funny to most of you that 11:15pm is late, but to me that is really late now. :)
On Sunday, our District (the eight of us going to Albania) sang in our Sacrament meeting. All the Elders have great voices, and so we sang "We Thank Thee Oh God For A Prophet," in Albanian. It was really good, or at least we thought so.
At our Tuesday devotional this week we had Elder William R. Walker from the First Quorum of the Seventy speak to us. He is the head apostle over Temple Building, so he gave a huge history of all the temples that have been built and future ones to be built. It was really cool. If you didn't already know, there are currently 130 operating temples, 8 temples under construction, and 13 announced temples. That is a total of 151 temples throughout the world. And three of those announced temples that they will start building in the next coming years are in Arizona. We are all praying for a temple in Albania, but first we have a lot of work to do there. Hopefully I'll see one built there in my lifetime though. That would be so cool!
This week we taught in the TRC, which is where they bring in people (usually volunteer BYU students), and we practice teaching them the lessons. I taught the First Vision this week, and recited Joseph Smith's account from Joseph Smith history, and I only spend a few minutes reviewing those verses. That means I remembered that account because I memorized it in Seminary. So seminary truly is a blessing, and even though we all make fun of me for being a drop-out, I did learn something there. Ha ha!
Sorry my time is short this week, because I have so much Albanian study to get to, but I love and miss you all. I know that the church is true and that Joseph Smith was truly a prophet of God. I'm so grateful to be a missionary at this time and to be serving the Lord.
I Love You!
It was another fabulous week in the MTC! I have so much to tell you and only a short amount of time, so forgive all the bad grammer and spelling, and sporatic thoughts everywhere.
Firstly, thank you so much for all the letters and dearelder letters and Halloween packages and treats this week. It was so great to hear from everyone, and I think I will be sick from eating so much candy, but I don't mind! :)
Let's see, first I'll try to answer some of the questions that I have been getting about the MTC and my mission. Wednesday is my preparation day and is the only day that I can write letters or send/read emails. But I can read letters and dearelder letters anyday of the week that I get them. As for the housing facilities, we have "residence halls." They are basically dorms, but we don't call them dorms, because dorms are for crazy college students and we don't act like that. :) My room has three bunkbeds, and six small closets and three little desks. I only could fit like half my clothes in the closet, but it is all right. The room is really small, but we are only in there for about eight hours a day to sleep so it isn't a problem. So my room has me and my two companions, a sister going to hungary and two sisters going to the French island of Figi (I forgot what it is called). Then there are two huge dorm style shower/bathrooms on the floor for everyone to use. I time my showers so I never have to wait in line, but most sisters don't don that and have to wait in line for showers everyday. All dining is cafateria style, all you can eat buffets. I'm sure I have been putting on some weight, but the food is great and all my clothes still fit, so I'm not too worried.
So I found out that "Hall" in Albanian means "Problem," so I have been nicknamed Sister Problem. We all think it is pretty funny, and I don't mind at all.
This week we introduced Elder Castro-Guzman (our French Elder) to root beer floats. He seemed totally discusted and his facial expressions were hilarious! We had another elder in the branch translate his opinion of our tasty American treat and he said, "I just can't love this stuff." I guess it tastes like toothpaste to him. We also found out a little more about him. He likes computers and apparently writes romance novels. He is working on a sample of one of his novels right now in his free time. We can't wait to hear it (I'm sure it will be mission appropriate). We are having a great time and are so blessed to have him in our district, even though communication is hard.
Here at the MTC we have the Referal Center (RC) where missionaries or volunteers from BYU can work. When people call in for free Book of Mormons or Bibles or DVD's, the calls come here to the MTC Referal Center. Then after we send them the free item, we call to confirm that they received it. So this place always has tons of incoming calls and oubound calls. We spend a couple hours in there every week and it is like real missionary work. This week I talked to a man named Jim who has a book of Mormon. I challenged him to read 3 Nephi 11 and told him I could call him next week and we could talk about it and I could answer questions. He agreed, and now I have my first real "investigator." It is really exciting, but also makes me nervous because I hope I can answer his questions.
This week our devotional speakers were Elder and Sister Rasband from the Presidency of the Seventy. They gave great talks and Elder Rasband shared an experience of when he visited a mission a couple years ago and made the Elders go out on a street corner and sing hymns until people came up to talk to them about the church. The mission that they visited was the Albania Tirrana mission, our mission!! We were so excited that he was talking about our mission and then he showed some pictures of the visit there. It made me so excited to get out the field and start teaching the people of Albania!
I got four new sisters last week and another new one today into my district. They are great and training is really going well. I think I am doing a pretty good job at it at least. Sadly, one of the Sisters who got here last week had the flu so they have her in quarantine right now, but we have been sending her notes each day to keep her spirits up. Also, another one of the sisters I'm over that got here last week is having a hard time because she is really home sick. She is in tears everynight, but we have been showing her extra love and I think she is doing better. I had a little cold this week, but took some medicine and am feeling totally fine now. I just avoided the health center though, because I don't want to go to quarantine too. :)
For my small world update (ie: who I have ran into that I know here at the MTC):
Rachel Curtis is here and doing fabulously (yay for Yuma missionaries.
I ran into Elder and Sister McCall who are going to the Washington DC Temple and they said there are Bishop Squires aunt and uncle.
We got a new elder this week named Elder Landon Williams and he is from Thatcher and said he used to hang out with Whitney Hatch all the time.
And from Logan I've seen Cole and Beth Jarrett. It's so lovely seeing friends!
This week, we also listened to Elder Hollands talk from this past General Conference. It was such a powerful message about the Book of Mormon. I really encourage everyone to get on the LDS.org website and watch his talk again. It is only like 13 minutes, and whether you have seen it before or not, it is amazing. I know that what Elder Holland testifies of is true. I know that Book of Mormon is the word of God and that Joseph Smith was a Prophet.
I know that our Heavenly Fathers loves us and so does our Savior Jesus Christ. This is the restored church and the message that I have been called to share and testify of is true. I am so grateful to be a missionary in this time!
I love you all!
Motra Kelsey Hall
P.S. We can't send pictures via email, so I'm trying to collect enough to make a disc or send my SD card. Hopefully I can get some to you in the near future.
P.S.S. Both of my companions have tape players/recorders(the regular size ones), so if anyone wants to communicate that way, it is an option. Just trying to think of more conveniant ways for those of you who don't enjoy writing as much.
Greetings from the MTC! I love it here. I've been super busy since the moment I arrived. The great news is there are lots of Albanian missionaries in my District and we will all go there together. There are 5 Elders and me and my two companions. Sister Yourstone is from Iowa, and is amazing, and our other companion is Sister Peatross from Provo. Sister Yourstone and I have really hit it off though. She is amazing at basketball, so we always give the Elders some good competition during gym time.
I have already learned lots of Albanian. By day two we were praying in Albanian without our notes. And this Saturday we have to teach a simple version of the first lesson from memory, without notes, in Albanian. I'm really nervous, but the Lord is blessing us with much understanding of the language.
Sister Peatross knows lots of people that work here since she is from Provo, and she is next door neighbors with the facilities coordinator here at the MTC. He hooks us up with great seats for the devotionals on Sunday and Tuesday nights. He even told us to get there really early on Tuesday night, but he couldn't say who was speaking. We were in like the sixth row, which is very close considering there are 2400 missionaries here. And it was totally worth it because Elder L. Tom Perry and his wife came to speak to us. It was an amazing experience and the Spirit in that meeting was undescribable. Elder Perry talked to us about the things we need to do to be good missionaries and he gave a great message.
We were also treated on Sunday to have Sister Vicki F. Matsumori from the Primary General Presidency as our guest teacher in Relief Society. She also gave an amazing lesson. Everyday here at the MTC brings something exciting and spiritual and new, even in our very set schedules.
Sunday was a pretty busy day for me. Our Branch/Zone consists of our district, the Hungarian District, and a couple other districts that are going stateside. I'm apparently the only one in the District who plays the piano, so I got to play for our sacrament meeting, which was great. I really love to play and miss doing that. Also, the only other two sisters in our whole branch/zone left on Monday for Hungary, which means my two companions and I were the only sisters left in the Branch. And every Branch must have a Coordinating Sister (kinda like a R.S. President who takes care of all the sisters in the branch), so with only three sisters to choose from, somehow President Pratt chose me. This meant I had an additional four hours of meetings so far this week, which means I am missing out on four hours of study time. I'm not too worried though, because I know the Lord will bless me for serving where I'm called. Part of my responsibility as Coordinating Sister is to orientate all the new sisters that come to our Branch each week. I'll be orientating four new sisters tonight, which I'm kinda nervous about, since I'm not exactly oriented to the MTC yet myself. I'm still excited to meet them though.
As far as class, we spend most of our time learning Albanian, but still have to study the gospel and discussion lessons too. I'm so blessed with an awesome district. We all get along really well, and probably have more fun than we should. The Elders in our District are: Elder Moise from Bountiful, Elder Anderson from UT somewhere, Elder Castro-Guzman from France, Elder Smith from Florida, and Elder Wallentine from Boise. We are a pretty tight little group! We have really come together this week too as we try to help and communicate with Elder Castro-Guzman because he knows very little English. He has so much faith to come here and have to learn Albanian through English, which he doesn't really understand. We always keep him in our prayers.
Wednesday is Prep Day and so we get thirty minutes of email, but best of all we get to go to the temple every Wednesday. We went this morning and it was really great. It gets better every time I go!
Since I only get thirty minutes of email, everyone recommends that instead of emailing me (cause I can only check that on Wed.) just email me a letter through DearElder.com. Then I can read your letter any day of the week that I get it, and it doesn't take up my email time. Then if you have questions about things I'm learning or what the MTC is like, I can respond on Wednesday when I write home.
I haven't taken many pictures, but if I get a chance later today I'll try to hop on the computer and send a couple of the pictures I have. So you can at least see my companions and District Elders. By the way both of my companions went to BYU, but I still love them.
I'm so grateful to be here on a mission right now. I know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is the true church on the Earth today. I know that Joseph Smith saw God the Father and his son, Jesus Christ in the grove and that he restored the gospel to the Earth. The Book of Mormon is true and Thomas S. Monson is a Prophet of God. Jesus Christ lives and atoned for each of us. And our Heavenly Father lives and loves us too. I'm so grateful for this knowledge.
I love you all and miss you tons, but am so happy to be here on my mission!