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|
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.
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,
All of the Kiribati sisters and me!!!
|Sister Temwaaka, Sister Otia, me, Sister Tioti, Sister Teoti, Akau, Sister...? whoops!|
Sister Patolo and me