Hola, Mi Familia y Amigos!!!
Just so you know, this email is REALLY long. Just wanted to prepare you now. You're printing these off so that I can have a letter journal after the mission, right? :) I rearranged what I actually wrote so that you get the most important, spiritual, exciting stuff first.
Ok, so now for the SUPER AMAZING, AWESOME, CRAZY-EXCITING news of the week!!!! No really, this is big!
So each June, they have the New Mission Presidents' Seminar, where all the incoming mission presidents come and are trained by the Bretheren here at the MTC, over a 4-day period. So that's exciting in and of itself, because it means that next week the entire first presidency and quorum of the 12, along with various other General Authorities will be here! But wait, there's more! ("It's a NEW CAR!!!" just kidding, just kidding :) Each morning they have a devotional, and they have a small choir of missionaries do a special musical number for said devotional. Small as in 36 missionaries small. 36 out of 2500 in the whole MTC. And guess who was chosen to be in this small choir of 36 (8 missionaries per part)? ME!!!! AND my companion!!! AND 2 elders from our district!!!!! BAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!!!! That means that next Thurs, Fri, Sat, and Sun (possibly twice on Sunday), I get to sing for all the new mission presidents, and at least some of the bretheren (Pres. Monson is coming on Sunday) EVERY DAY!!! I am SO EXCITED!!!!! Keep in mind that this only happens once a year, and I'm here for it!
Sis. Ann M. Dibb came and spoke to us this week for RS. She's in the YW general presidency, and is Pres. Monson's daughter! She spoke about the importance of virtue, sharing some thoughts from Jane Eyre, and Ruth in the Bible. I read the book of Ruth (4 short chapters) this week, and it's really great! My favorite verses are 1:16, 2:12 & 20, and 3:11.
The Sunday night fireside was really good too. The speaker shared this quote from Elder Scott that I just love!
"You cannot today remotely imagine what that decision to be unwaveringly obedient to the Lord will allow you to accomplish in life. Your quiet, uncompromising determination to live a righteous life will couple you to inspiration and power beyond your capacity now to understand."
It reminded me of the quote that you sent me on valiance, which I love, by the way! And I love especially that it's never too late! You can ALWAYS make the decision to be valiant and obedient, and the Lord will love and help and bless you! Like the parable of the workers in the vineyard; "His arm is stretched out still!"Ok, to start off real quick, Mom, I can't open the pictures you emailed - something with the MTC server restricts it...which is kinda weird, because I could see the picture you sent last week of you and Dad. In any case, I can't see the pictures, but the clothes sound great! If you do send them, I wouldn't mind getting my pink sweater too, but it's not crucial, if it's put away and you'd rather not dig it out. :)
Wow, what a week, may I just tell you? Today is my 6 week mark in the MTC/mission (day 45 as a missionary...Dad, I officially passed my "Noah mark" here this last week. Send the punch line in your next letter :)! That means that I only have 3 weeks left until I'm off to L.A.!!!!! That also means that I'll be leaving at the same time as all the English-speaking missionaries that come in today...which is weird. We started a new planner this week too, which means that it will have REAL investigator's names and info in it, REAL areas in L.A., and a different companion! It's so crazy!
THANK YOU!!!!! for the package! I got it Friday, and am SO grateful! I love having jeans to wear on P-day, I love my new curling iron, I love everything else, and I especially love the M&Ms! Whenever I open a package from you, I think, "Peanut butter M&M's!!! yep, Mom knows me for sure!" I want you to know though, that I make those suckers last! The first two packages lasted me 3 1/2 weeks, and I still have about 2/3 of my second package that you just sent! I just stick them in the back of one of my drawers and eat one or two every day :) Not because I can't get them here, but because they were sent with love from my Mom.
My district is officially the oldest district in the zone, with just a few more elders from past districts waiting for their visas to head off to Mexico. How could it be so?! It's so crazy to think that we're the "older, wiser, 'experienced' " missionaries in the zone now. I definitely don't feel like it! I feel like I still have soooooo far to go, especially with learning Spanish! It's coming, but I need to do some serious dedicating of myself in the next 3 weeks! We started teaching in Spanish this past week, which went fairly well. It's definitely a humbling experience to try to express all that I know and feel and want to say in another language. It's especially hard when I don't know/can't think of simple little words and phrases, and all I'm trying to do is introduce the First Vision or something! AAAAAAH!! It'll come, I know, but it can be a little frustrating sometimes, and again, definitely humbling. I'm really coming to realize and feel my dependence on the Lord, because I sure can't do this myself!
I forgot to mention last week that I've been asked to serve as the new Coordinating Sister in our zone! I'm responsible to "Lift, encourage, inspire and bless the sisters in the branch" [zone], encourage them to "live a high standard of obedience", I now attend and participate in branch council each week, and attend another short meeting each Tuesday to discuss any concerns or ideas. It's been good so far. We have started a little nightly tradition to help build unity and prepare for bed, where we take just a very quick moment to go around and share a tender mercy that we had that day. Then we all pray together, and then split off for companionship prayer. It's really a nice way to come together and end the day, and I think we're all enjoying it!
They started something new here this week, which is definitely an answer to prayer! They've started opening the gym from 6-6:30am for sisters only, and it's FABULOUS!!! It definitely helps in the MTC battle of the bulge, and most especially gives us a great start to our day! I've started running too...I know, I know, it's pretty unbelievable, but it's true!!! I ran 2 miles on Monday, 2 yesterday, and 1 today (I didn't have as much time as the last two days). That's 5 MILES in the last 3 days. For those of you who don't realize, that's a pretty stinking big deal for me. I'm so sore, but it's SO worth it, and feels SO GOOD!!! More than anything else, it's kind of a goal thing for me. I have a whole analogy that goes with that, but I'll spare you, since this is already so long.
Please let the Rock Hill people (esp. the Spurlins and the Cramers) know that there's an Elder in my zone named Elder Nathan Stanford. He knows them/their sons, and I was super excited to meet someone who knows people that I know!!! Could someone get on facebook and get me Mike Smyth's address? He's a good friend, and I never called him just before I left, and I want to write him. While you're on there, could you also send Amy (Ward) a "Happy Birthday!!!" from me? Thanks!
Thank you so much for your love and letters! Dad, it really means so much to me to get your letters every week...I'm especially entertained by the way you addresses it each week (empty sea...), and I love hearing your thoughts and insights and the goings-on of the week.
Mom, I love and miss you too; I never realized what a friend you are, besides being my mom, until now.
And David, for goodness' sake, you sound so grown-up and mature in your emails! It's great, but kinda weird, I'm not going to lie. :) I'm glad life is going so well for you right now ;) tell Dierdra hola for me.
Joseph, thank's for writing so faithfully each week. I love hearing from you, and hope everything continues going well for you, Wendy and the boys! Tell Benjamin fdaj klf;hds a; I gh aLOVE hbtrYOU fh TOOfjkd sa!! for me!
And Sam and Suz, thanks again for the package!
Sorry this is such a novel, but I just have so much to say! Life here is absolutely wonderful!!! I still don't know exactly why I'm supposed to be on this mission, but I know that I am, and I love it, and what I time to be here! "Who knoweth whether [I am] come to the kingdom for such a time as this?" (Esther 4:14).
I love my life, I love the Lord, I love serving my mission, I love all of you, and I LOVE BEING A MISSIONARY!!!!!
Hermana Sallie Wilson