Saturday, December 28, 2013

Week Dalawa

My district in front of the lights (left to right) Sister Ramsey, Sister Temwaaka, sister Rasmussen, Sister Patolo, Sister Johnson (my fave), Sister Carter, Elder Wooden, Elder Williamson


  I had the opportunity to write two times this week and I still don't feel like that is enough time to really explain everything that has happened.

  They did not exaggerate when they told us that they make Christmas really special here in the MTC!!! I loved it so much.  We had to wake up early to e-mail because all of the mga missionyero only had 20 minutes each to write e-mails to their families.  It was pretty rushed.  Then we had breakfast which was just like normal and then all of the missionaries gathered in the gym to watch a Christmas talent show.  It was fantastic!!  I could not believe how much talent there was among the missionaries here.  There was a girl who played a whole song on the piano upsidedown (lying on her back), an elder who is a magician and did an incredible magic show, and everyone gave a standing ovation for him, an elder singing "You Raise me Up," and an elder playing the organ (which I think takes so much talent and coordination), etc.  Then at the very end, the President of the MTC's wife, who is very musical, led the entire MTC in singing "Called to Serve."  She told us that she wanted us to imagine that we were an army coming up over a hill, and so we sang the first verse really soft, and then the second verse medium loud, the last verse with our full voice, and then we sang the chorus one more time all standing up as loud as we could.  It gave me chills it was SOO POWERFUL.  Ahh I loved it.  There is no greater time, in any dispensation, to be a missionary than right now.  And I feel honored to be a part of hastening the work.  Then we ate lunch, and Sister Patolo and me went to choir practice which was amazing.  Music allows me to feel the spirit so strong and the chorister had so many great insights to the lyrics of the music and to the true meaning of Christmas.  And singing in the choir, the dynamics were so beautiful, and everyone was singing heartfelt and beautifully.  Then, we had the General Authority devotional and all of us were eagerly waiting to see which apostle would be coming to speak to us.  We sang about 4 prelude songs in anticipation and everyone stood up as Elder Bednar walked in (one of my very favorites to listen to during conference!!)  First, his wife spoke and I look up to her so much.  You can just tell that she is so loving and sincere and the main thing that she told us was to remember that we represent 1) ourselves, 2) our family name, 3) the church, and 4) most of all our Savior Jesus Christ.  I think that is the biggest motivator to work hard and to do my very best.  THEN, Elder Bednar got up to speak and the first thing that he said was that we are agents, blessed with agency so that we can act.  Not objects to be acted upon.  Then he told us that he actually had not prepared a message for the devotional, but instead was going to do something revolutionary.  He talked to us about inspired questions from the Holy Ghost.  He proceeded to hand out 200 cell phones to the missionaries and said that we could ask him inspired questions and text them to a number so that it would show up on his iPad, on the stand.  This was a world-wide live broadcast to the other MTC's in the world and so those missionaries could e-mail him questions that he could answer as well.  So, he told us to begin and missionaries started sending him questions that they had... IT WAS NUTS!!!!!

I know that he is an inspired Apostle of God, but I could not believe how gracefully he answered every question.  Without hesitation he gave the most perfect answer every time.  I want to share with you some of the things that he said because it was INCREDIBLE!!!

-The first question was "Why do I feel so inadequate?"  He said it is because you have some sense of your calling.  In your own natural capacities, you should feel inadequate.  But we have to rely on the strengthening power of the Atonement to help fill in the gaps and and take care of where we fall short.  I love this:  He said that the atonement has two powers, cleansing and enabling power.  He said that the atonement is not just for sinners who have done bad things, but also for saints who are trying to do good things.  He says that it enlarges our natural capacities.

-Discouragement is a tool of the adversary.  Don't let discouragement paralyze you so that you can't move forward.  Know who you are: a son or daughter of God.

-Revelation is line upon line

-Q: What characteristic do you see in the best missionaries A: missionaries who are selfless.  Your mission is not about you.  It is about the people you serve (everyone around you, your companion, the other Elders and Sisters in your district, your investigators, the ward members, etc.)  The more you turn in, the more miserable you will be, and the harder it will be for the Holy Ghost to work through you.  When praying, your connection with God can be much stronger when you are asking for something for someone else, not just for yourself.

-Someone asked him what his favorite scripture was but he said he has too many.  He has favorite themes in the Book of Mormon.  He had us open up to 3 Nephi 11:13-17.  He pointed out how Jesus Christ had people come to him one-by-one.  He said that the phrase one by one appears 4 times in the Book of Mormon and he encouraged us to read it cover to cover and find the four places and how it relates to every context.  Anyway, he said that Jesus Christ works one by one.  He knows every single one of us, and he loves every single one of us.  When he was suffering for us in the garden and on the cross, there was one moment when he saw you.  He specifically saw you and suffered for you.  That idea was so powerful to me.  The creator of the entire universe and everything as we know it, knows each of us personally and loves each of us. One by one.  He then said that as missionaries you teach one by one.  You don't teach a family of 7 but you teach a family of 7 ones.  Anyway, I really liked that and that everything about missionary work is personal.  You don't just teach lessons - you teach people.  Real human beings with needs and concerns and a core.  You have to find that core and figure out how to apply the gospel to them so they too can be personally healed through Jesus Christ.                 

 Christmas outfits (left to right) Sister Ramsey, me, Sister Johnson
                               There is so much more that he said, and I obviously cannot express it as eloquently as he did, but I hope that you are feeling a portion of the spirit that I felt Christmas day.  Then, later that day we had a jazz concert from a famous musician who is a member of the church.  I can't remember his name but he is amazing at the flute, clarinet, sax, and this instrument that looked like it was from India.  I could be completely wrong, but anyway, they had a piano, guitar, bass, drummer, and him and they would just improvise all of these different Christmas songs.  It was incredible, and I was glad that I could enjoy a little bit of jazzy music haha that is definitely one of the things that I will miss the most over this next year and a half.  Music.  But it is worth it.  I think that Beau would have really liked it.  Especially since he has been into so much funky fresh music lately - the only that would have made it better would have been a nice African American voice to go with it.  Beau knows what I mean.                            

 Sister Johnson, Sister Patolo, Sister Carter, Sister Ramsey, Sister Temwaaka, Sister Rasmussen

    There is so much more that he said, and I obviously cannot express it as eloquently as he did, but I hope that you are feeling a portion of the spirit that I felt Christmas day.  Then, later that day we had a jazz concert from a famous musician who is a member of the church.  I can't remember his name but he is amazing at the flute, clarinet, sax, and this instrument that looked like it was from India.  I could be completely wrong, but anyway, they had a piano, guitar, bass, drummer, and him and they would just improvise all of these different Christmas songs.  It was incredible, and I was glad that I could enjoy a little bit of jazzy music haha that is definitely one of the things that I will miss the most over this next year and a half.  Music.  But it is worth it.  I think that Beau would have really liked it.  Especially since he has been into so much funky fresh music lately - the only that would have made it better would have been a nice African American voice to go with it.  Beau knows what I mean.      

 Sister Temwaaka & me in class.

 Two nights ago, we walked into class and to our surprise our first investigator has ended up being one of our teachers!!!  It was a crazy surprise.  My companion and me didn't have the greatest experience the first couple of is SOO hard to only teach in Tagalog...and so when we saw that he was our teacher kasama ko (my companion) and me both said ..."Ton Ton?!?!?" and made a super worried surprised face.  We said Ton Ton because that was the name of our "investigator," who obviously isn't real.  I don't know if that makes sense at all but everyone laughed pretty hard.  He is probably the most hard-core difficult teacher out of all the Tagalog teachers but I am grateful that we had them.  He speaks so fast and has super high expectations but I have learned so much from him.  He had us stand for half of the class as we did language study so that we could be more engaged and pay attention.  He has no problem putting someone on the spot, and he will not let you off the hook until you do it correctly.  It can be nerve racking (is that how you spell it?  I have been thinking too much about Tagalog) but everyone handles it well.  But in class last night, he randomly had all of us put all of our coats on and he told us to follow him, be quiet, and be fast.  He then started speed-walking across campus.  I could not help but cackle because it was so ridiculous.  He was so fast walking and none of us could keep up while we were RUNNING!!!  He took us to the gym building and took us all the way the stairs to the top floor... I thought we were just going to another room, but then he had us turn right back around and go back to the classroom.  It was HILARIOUS and when we got back everyone was so tired.  I didn't know till after but my companion and one of the 18-year-old Elders didn't want to go up the stairs so they tried taking the elevator.  Anyway, the point of all this is, when we got back he asked us what our symptoms were.  Fast heart-rate, energized, out of breath, etc.  He said that these are similar to the symptoms we feel when we are stressed.  He said that it is important that while we are here it is important that we make sure that our stress does not become distress.  He then talked about Ether 12:27 which I thought was funny because I have chosen that as my mission scripture, but he once again emphasized that we have weaknesses so that we are humble and if we rely on God, he can make those things become strengths.
He's nuts, but such a good teacher.  So grateful that I have him.  Brother Langer, I think is his name:/  I love my district though.  Elder Wooden and Williamson are exact opposites.  They are only 18 years old and they help to make things light.  My companion and me, nonstop laughing, and then Sister Johnson and Sister Ramsey, who are also in my room.  They are so cute and I just love them so much.
I have to sign off, but I wrote individual letters to everyone that I will put in the mail today.  It is frustrating because sometimes the Dear Elders cut off parts of the messages so I can't see all of them.  But thank you for them.  I am still trying to figure out how to print off more e-mails and as of now, I can't use drop box and it will only let me send a few pictures at a time.  So I will send you the best ones, and then when I get to the Philippines I can send you all of them.

I love you so much and you are all in my prayers!!! I hope that you are having a fun time altogether for the holidays!!!

I love you,

Sister Rasmussen                     
All of the Kiribati sisters and me!!!

Sister Temwaaka, Sister Otia, me, Sister Tioti, Sister Teoti, Akau, Sister...? whoops!           

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Sister Patolo and me

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Merry Christmas!!!


They are only giving me 20 minutes to write and so I am going to make this as fast as possible.  I won't have enough time to write individual notes but I will be sending individual Christmas letters in the mail soon.  I am sorry that it will be late:(  There is no time!!

Ok!  So Sunday was one of the best days so far here at the MTC.  In the morning, all of the sisters have the opportunity to listen to Music & the Spoken Word, and then we have Relief Society, and then Sacrament Meeting.  I love my branch presidency - they are such good examples to me and make it feel like I have a family here at the MTC.  One of the members of the presidency's wife told a really cool Christmas story and if I have time at the end I will tell it to you too.  But after that we had a District Meeting with just the President and his wife...  The spirit was so strong.  I started crying about 4 times and I just promised myself that I would make the very most of my time here at the MTC and on my mission.

They told the story about Gordon B. Hinckley when he was struggling on his mission and his father sent him a letter saying "Forget yourself, and go to work."  It reminds me of the advice that dad gave me before I left.  Anyway, later that day we had the opportunity to go on a temple walk and I don't know how it was in Salt Lake, but here in Provo, the weather was BEAUTIFUL.  It wasn't too cold and it was lightly snowing.. it made me grateful that I could enjoy the snow before I go to the land of heat and humidity.  I was throwing snow balls at everyone and laughing my head off but then I got in trouble... whoops!  But it was so much fun.

  Then later that night, I had the opportunity to sing with the choir.  WOW!!!! I LOVED IT!  The songs that we sang were so beautiful and the spirit was strong as we sang with all of those missionaries.  We performed one song last night for Christmas Eve and we are going to perform one today.  That night we had a devotional and the speakers were so inspiring.  Again, it just made me so excited to try and become as selfless as possible and just serve.

  They had a special guest.  Mom, do you remember "The District" that we watched before I left as a part of my missionary training?  Well, they had one of the sisters in that movie come and speak to us.  She just expressed how her mission was one of the best experiences of her life and she still wishes that she could be sitting where we were sitting.  It was so sweet and I can't remember everything she told us, but she just said how the spirit is so important in conversion.  You aren't going to be converting the people you teach, but Heavenly Father will through the confirmation of the Holy Ghost.  I pray to have the spirit with me.

  Monday, something very special happened.  My companion, Sister Temwaaka comes from very humble circumstances.  The first week she was part of a program that gives clothing, shoes, and supplies to missionaries in need.  She received shoes but they were just too narrow.  She has pretty wide feet and it hurt her so much she couldn't walk.  She was telling me how frustrated she was with her feet and said she wanted to chop off the side of her foot.  SO SAD!  Anyway, I talked to the Branch President's wife, Sister Anderson, about it and she said that she would take care of it.

 Monday was Sister Temwaaka's birthday and someone came over the intercom and said she had an appointment at 11.  We went to the appointment, and it was Sister Anderson's brother.  He had us sign some papers, and then she came to pick us up.  We got to leave the MTC and go to the University Mall on a mission to find my companion some good shoes.  Sister Anderson was so determined and faithful that we would be able to do it, and she was paying for them out of her own pocket.  We went to a million stores, and it was difficult because her feet are so wide, but she finally found two pairs.  They didn't fit perfectly right but a woman from one of the stores said that she would stretch them out and they ended up fitting her!!!!  She was so happy because she hated her old shoes (THEY WERE TERRIBLE) and now she could walk around comfortable.  It made me realize how much I take for granted... thank you for helping me with all of my mission clothes and shoes and everything!!!

  Yesterday was Christmas Eve.  We taught a lesson to our investigator and the entire thing is always in Tagalog.  I don't understand ANYTHING he says but we do our best.  Sometimes my companion and me burst out laughing in the middle because we are so confused.  It is difficult and sometimes frustrating but definitely a good experience.  That night was the Christmas Eve devotional and they had David Evans, from the 70, and his wife come and speak to us.  The spirit was SO SO stong.  Stronger than ever.  I know more than ever that this is where I need to be.  He talked about his own mission experience, and how it was so difficult for him to learn Japanese.  But he finally just got on his knees and said "Heavenly Father, I cannot learn this language without your help."  He was able to do it and teach and had some incredible experiences, most of which I cannot remember right now but they are in my notes.

  Then we watched a video of Christ's birth and then Mr. Krueger's Christmas, which is a super cheesy movie from the 80's but it was so touching.  I loved it.  They gave Jr. Mints and Milk Duds to all of the missionaries and it was just such a wonderful night.  It helped me to really focus on the true meaning of Christmas - the humble birth of our Savior Jesus Christ.  He loves us more than we can comprehend and understands us and He his our best friend.  I love Him and I want to give my life back to him this season and over the next 18 months.  Last night one of the speaker's said, "The best way to celebrate is by doing His work" and that is what I hope to do.

  I love you all so much.  I hope you are having a wonderful Christmas morning.  Just remember why we are celebrating.  Mom and dad...I love hearing about all of the families that you are helping this season through your Missionary Calling.  You are such examples to me and tell Annie and Priscilla and everyone hi for me and that I love them.  Please continue sending the stories because they are inspirational to me.

  Thank you so so much for the oranges, chocolate orange, and my RETAINER!!!  Perfect Christmas gift and I loved that you included the story of the Christmas Orange.  Yesterday me and all of the sisters in my room at some of the oranges and read the story.  I am glad that I can give my slice back by serving a mission.  So so grateful.  Thank you!!!  Oh and thank you for the pictures and notes.

  Merry Christmas all of you.  I love and miss you so much.  I will e-mail again on Saturday.


p.s.  I have run into both Bailee Bourgeois and Eliza Glauser.  I will try and snag a picture with them.  I can't send pictures until Saturday.

p.s.s. I love all of you so so much!!!!!

Monday, December 23, 2013

First P-day

Holding onto Haley before she goes into the MTC.


Well, I have made it to the fourth day here at the MTC!!  I LOVE it!!  I sent you a written letter on Thursday.  Have you gotten it?  After you dropped me off at the MTC, a really nice sister took me to check me in, get my name tag, drop off my luggage, and go straight to class.  When I checked in, I looked down to see the name of my companion and knew immediately that she was not from the United States.  Her name is Sister Tebatunga Temwaaka.  You pronounce her last name Tem-a-ka (the 'w' is silent).  She is from Kiribati (pronounced Kiribes).  It consists of some tiny islands way off in the Pacific ocean.  There are a lot of Kiribati sisters here called to serve in the Philippines.  She is always so happy and loving, and from the first second we were together she was always serving me in any way that she can.  She is a huge example to me and I already love her so much.  She can hardly speak any English, which makes things more difficult, but we have definitely connected and I just love her.  She was baptized two years ago!!  Although we can't communicate much, it is obvious that she has a strong testimony.  The first day in class, my teacher only spoke in Tagalog and I was very overwhelmed.  In fact our teachers only speak in Tagalog unless we are having a 1-on-1 interview or something like that.  I thought, "How in the world am I ever going to learn this language?"  Then we went to a big fireside with all of the new missionaries (800 of them) and it made everything really exciting.  There were missionaries from all over the world there and it was powerful to know we were all there for the same purpose and going through the same struggles.  They emphasized the the Lord qualifies those that He calls to the work, so we must not fear but just have faith.  Because with God we can achieve anything.  So with that, my fears were calmed and I was just excited to start working hard.
  We then went to dinner at the cafeteria...the food is not very good...but that's ok haha because maybe it just means that I won't over eat.  They have a lot of options like turkey and potatoes, wraps, hamburgers, sandwiches, etc.  But it is not that great.  I wish they had more salad and vegetable options, but that's alright because I hear that the fruits and vegetables in the Philippines are delicious!
  The rest of the day we just unpacked, studied, and wrote in our journals.  Sister Temwaaka has told me that her parents passed away and she comes from very humble circumstances.  So she is a great example to me.  She is perfect to be my companion because she always sings the vocabulary and phrases to help us remember - which is something I normally do - and sometimes we just burst out laughing because we both have no clue what's going on.  I love laughing with her.
  The next day, we had more class and study time.  We were supposed to prepare a lesson for our investigator Ton Ton.  That was nuts.  We were supposed to prepare a lesson to teach him in Tagalog on Friday.  The language barrier with my companion and me makes this difficult.  But we did our best to prepare.  In my district there are 6 sisters (including us) and only 2 elders.  Both my companion and me are 21, Sister Johnson and Sister Ramsey (the two that I room with are 19 and 22 respectively), and the other two sisters are 21 and 24.  It is surprising to me how old all of the sisters are!  The two elders are both 18, Elder Wooden and Elder Williamson.  They seem like little's hilarious.  They sometimes act like it too.  Haha but it is good because they help keep things light when it seems really difficult.
  Yesterday we had class, and more preparation time to teach Ton Ton.  My companion and me tried our best to prepare but when we went in we both had hardly any idea what was going on.  We started with our lesson, but then asked him a question about the scripture we read (and this whole time he can only speak in Tagalog) and we went off on a question that we had no idea how to answer.  He was asking about faith (Pananampaleteya, my favorite word to say so far) and my companion and me kept trying to explain to me but we just had no words.  It was all over the place, but we will just keep working and hopefully continue improving our lessons.
  Not only is there a language barrier between my companion and me but a cultural barrier as well.  Taylor had made me that candy poster, so every night I would share my candy with my companion and she would always accept and seem like she liked it.  But then, I found out later that in her culture it is considered rude if someone offers you something, like food, and you don't accept it.  She doesn't really like really sweet food.  And so I told her that from now on it was ok for her to say no!  I felt bad making her eat it every night!  At lunch, her favorite thing to drink is a glas 3/4 full of water and 1/4 full of orange soda (because the orange soda is too sweet by itself).  In the morning she eats egg and sausage, for lunch and dinner rice and some kind of meat.  I have been trying to get her to eat some fruits and vegetables but she refuses.  It is so funny.
  Every time I take pictures with her and she always has a serious face.  I tried to get her to smile and she REFUSED.  I snuck one while she was laughing (because normally she is always smiling and laughing) but she got mad at me.  I apologized and she laughed about it but, from now on I will just let her do what she wants in the pics.  I just wish you could all see her beautiful smile.
  Today, is our P-day and it has been pretty relaxing.  We wake up at 6:30 every day, eat breakfast, and then today we had personal study for a little bit, went to the book store to get some things, and now we are writing our e-mails as we wait for our clothes to wash.
  I have been surprised how much personal study time there is.  I thought there would be a much more explicit schedule, so it has been good to learn how to make good use of my time and prioritize the things that I need to study.
  We have only been to the gym once and it was so much fun!  They have a big gym where missionaries can play volleyball and basketball.  And then upstairs they have a track and different exercise machines.  It is nice because once you're in the building your companion and you can exercise however you want so my companion is an amazing volleyball player and went to play while I ran.  They also have exercise classes from 6-6:30 every morning for the sister so I want to go next week.  They have aerobics, kick boxing, yoga, etc.  It sounds really fun so I want to try it out!
  Unfortunately, we are not allowed to e-mail friends, only write letters.  But thank you so much for the DearElder's!! It always brightens your day to receive letters/notes.  Sometimes it feels like I am just at this separate island completely separated from the world so it is nice to know that people are remembering me out there.  Thank you, thank you, thank you!! 
  I love it here so much.  I love my branch, and my branch presidency.  They are so so nice and just love missionary work.  My President's wife emphasized that the very best education you can get is not on any university is on your mission.  I am so grateful for this opportunity and I want to make the most of every second.  It is only my fourth day, so I am sure that next week I will have a lot more to share.
  I love you all and you're in my prayers every morning and night.  I hope everything is going well and you are looking forward to a merry Christmas.  Although I can't talk to you on the phone on Christmas, I will be able to write you!  I miss you but I love it here and I know that this is the right decision.  Our branch motto is "Obedience brings blessings but exact obedience brings miracles."  I love it and I need miracles to learn this language so I am trying to be obedient as I can.  I love everyone here and although it is difficult the spirit is so so strong.  I just feel peaceful all the time - everything is going to work out.  This place is consecrated, just like the temple.  And you can feel it.  Have a great week and I will write you on Wednesday and every Saturday.
This church is true.  I love you!!!!
Love, Sister Rasmussen
P.S.  I am sorry if this is scattered or doesn't make much sense.  I don't have long to write, let alone proof read.  Love you all!!

I go to bed at 10:30 and wake up at 6:30.  In the morning it hurts my eyes to wake up but I feel refreshed the whole day.
I hope that I have answered all of your questions.  I hope you are not missing me too much because I love you and our family and me are receiving blessings for this decision.  I am working hard.