Thursday, September 26, 2013

Week 2 - MTC

Querida Familia,

First of all, HAPPY FIVE MONTH ANNIVERSARY EMILY AND CRAIG!! And Craig, I'm excited to hear how your hockey team does! Go Fainting Goats! I'll be cheering for you from the MTC!!:):) And, Em, thanks for the BoM jokes! I had forgotten a couple of those...

I love hearing about what's going on at home!! Please continue to keep me updated on life! Miriam has sent me a couple Dear Elders and I also got a card from Dee. Please thank them for me, Mom. I don't have a ton of time, if any, during the week to respond. As my zone was leaving class last Saturday night we could hear the BYU game. I think that was the most homesick I've been so far because I know you were watching the game and I really wanted to be there! We heard the fight song from our apartment sometime around was cool!  P-day last week was really weird. The temple was amazing (as always), but other than that it was kinda boring if I'm honest. There's so much free time (which is still only like 4 hours total) that I didn't know what to do with myself. Elder Kruger was in the session with my zone at the temple which was cool. This week has been awesome though! The days feel like years, but the week literally flies by. It's a lil bit freaky. Our oldest district of Elders got their travel plans this week. They're all super excited, but we're a little bit sad. Because we only have three districts in our zone, we do so much together that missionaries normally do as districts so we're gonna miss them a lot. It's very possible that there will be tears...but happy tears:) We always eat all of our meals together as a zone. I totally understand why the church encourages us to eat meals as families. We also sing hymns Spanish of course. It's the best. Mom, you asked how many from my district/zone are from Utah? All of our Elders are from Utah. Hermana Kuhn is from Idaho Falls, and Hermana Ward is from Ann Arbor Michigan. The other district has more missionaries that are from out of state.

Other questions you asked...Hermano Martinez is my primary teacher. He continues to be amazing. He is so incredibly humble and it's obvious how much he loves and cares about us. He truly wants us to succeed. He has so much confidence in our abilities, and he teaches with so much power. I wanna be just like him. We have a second teacher (who is also our investigator, Melvin) whose name is Hermano Waddoups (what-ups). Sweet last name, ya? He's just as great as Hermano Martinez. I got the best teachers in the MTC. No question. We also have what are called ZRT's (zone resource teachers). They are teachers whose districts have left the MTC and haven't gotten another one yet. Hermano Byrd and Hermana Avery are the ones that usually come to our class and help out. I don't know when all these teachers stopped being people and became celestial beings...but somewhere along the line it happened. They are all amazing. I learn so much everyday.

Last Saturday, Hermano Waddoups was in Idaho Falls for his brother's farewell, so we had a sub, Hermano Bruce. He served in Buenos Aires, but his first area was in Tierra del Fuego. He showed us pictures, and told us a little about that area. He said it never got above 60 degrees once while he was there. The winds got up to 70mph. When it rains, it floods. The sidewalks are three feet above the ground so that the whole town doesn't flood. In the winter, there is exactly four hours of sunlight, and in the summer you get four hours of darkness. Awesome. Also, he got a knife/gun pulled on him at least 10 times, but he said that was mostly in Buenos Aires, and he said if you just start preaching to them and pull out a Book of Mormon, they usually leave you alone because they don't like preachers. Also, he said he's never heard of that happening to sisters. He was bitten by dogs a few times, but nothing major.

Sundays are officially the best days of the week here at the MTC. We have Sacrament Meeting (in Spanish) at 7:30, although our branch president usually starts ten minutes early. Then we eat breakfast, then I have to go to a branch council meeting, but then we go to Music and the Spoken Word and then Relief Society with all the sisters in the MTC which is always awesome. Then we have some time before lunch and then after lunch we have leadership training meetings and then the best part of the day...our temple walk! I love walking around the temple. We hang out as a zone, take pictures, read scriptures, etc. This last Sunday we went to choir practice for Tuesday night devotional, and then we sat as a zone for devotional. After devotional, our zone stayed and watched "Character of Christ" by Elder Bednar again. It's even better the second time. He teaches about how the Savior always turns out, when the natural man wants to turn in. Mom, the one we watch was definitely given at the MTC on Christmas morning. He says so at the beginning of his talk:) It's all about how we can become better missionaries by learning about the character of Christ. He probably gave a similar talk somewhere else but the one we watch was definitely given later than 2003. After devotional, we helped stack chairs and clean up the stage. It was actually kind of fun...especially cause we had a break from our usual schedule!

This week during gym time a group of us were playing volleyball and Elder Martinez (not to be confused with Hermano Martinez, my teacher) and I completely ran into each other. I have a nasty bruise on my knee...gotta love gym time. But really, gym time is the best. It always feels good to run around a bit.

This week my branch President, President Ditmar, discovered how much Spanish experience I've had and asked if I should be moved to the advanced class. I very kindly told him that I was just fine where I was. I definitely am not ready for the advanced class, but I can understand 99% of everything my teachers say. The speaking is coming along really well. There's definitely lots to learn, but I'm always so excited when I can say what I want to and know that my conjugations are correct. It's really hard to teach in Spanish, but I love it. Hermana Kuhn and I memorize missionary flash cards a lot during our language study and it's so helpful. I think we've done close to 70 and each card has three words on it. We've only been doing it since Monday so we've got a lot more to go, but it's coming along pretty quickly. Last night, Hermana Kuhn and I were talking to some beginner Spanish missionaries who leave on Monday for Mexico. I'm so glad I've taken so much Spanish. They're leaving knowing less than I did when I got here. Crazy. I can't even imagine how hard that would be!!

So, some funny stories for the week? As a zone, we had some free time and we were talking about funny things we said while teaching investigators:

Elder Bean was teaching the First Vision, and was trying to explain the part where an unseen force seizes Joseph while he's praying. We get in really big trouble if you say ghost, so he said the next best thing, "Y cuando el estaba orando, un aparecion ataco a Jose Smith." Basically, he said, "while Joseph Smith was praying, Joseph Smith was attacked." We learned that for our purposes, it's not really that important to teach that particular part of the First Vision because it REALLY confuses the investigator.

Elder Bean's companion, Elder Smith, was teaching the First Vision and while talking about Joseph Smith said, "Cuando Jose Smith era un novio..." He was trying to say when Joseph Smith was a young boy...instead he said "when Joseph Smith was a boyfriend..."

I'm running out of time so I can't share the rest, but I think these are my favorites.

Clumsy Hermana Heath moment of the week? I was getting up from studying in the hallway, and I bent down to pick up a few of my books, as I was standing back up, something happened and next thing I know I'm on the ground. I'm still not sure what happened, but I totally fell over. It was quite hilarious. Hermana Kuhn was dying laughing. Well, we both were:) Anyway...

On our way back from Devotional on Tuesday night, Hermana Kuhn and I were talking to some missionaries who were clearly learning English. Come to find out, they were from Hong Kong! I told them that my mom served there and they were really excited...then they asked me if I spoke Cantonese. I told them I could only count to ten and they laughed. Haha:)

Mom, you asked about TALL. It stands for teaching (something) language learning. It's cool, but sometimes tedious as some of the activities I have to do I mastered in like 3rd grade. But it's good for the more complicated stuff.

Kimberly, I read the scripture you shared in family night a couple weeks ago in 1 Nephi 13 and I smiled! Thanks again for sharing that scripture. It's becoming one of my favorites! Recently I've been focusing on the Savior in my studies. I've been reading in 3 Nephi about his visit to the Nephites. It's the best.

Well, I've gotta go, but I think about you all the time. Matthew, everyday when I'm walking around campus, I can't help but think of you. In a year you'll be here! You're gonna love it and I'm so excited to hear about your experiences. It's hard not being able to tell you everything I want to, and I do miss you all very much, but it's definitely worth it. I love it here! The Church is true. I love the gospel! I'm so excited to go to Argentina even though I'm gonna freeeeeeze!!

I love you forever and always!!

Hermana Heath


Temple walk with zone

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Week 1 - MTC - Bienvenidos!

Hola Familia!!

First off, shout out to Emily for winning monopoly! I hope you had a wonderful birthday! I was thinking about you all day on Sunday! Love you!

Has it been a week already? I'm not convinced...But I've been so excited to email you so I wasn't gonna argue when they herded us here this morning! Every night I wanna call and tell you about what I've been up to because there's so much!! There's no way I can tell you everything that I would like to, but I'll try my best to get the most important things in:) Let's start at the very beginning ...a very good place to start! NAME THAT MOVIE!:)

Anyhow, the basics. After you dropped me off my host, Sister Aniel, took me to get my name tag, books, and show me to my residence hall and classroom. She's going to be serving in Tahiti. I think she leaves next week. She was really nice and is actually on the same floor as me in my residence hall so I see her all the time. The new missionaries are labeled by an orange sticker on the corner of the name tag, so everyone all day kept saying, "Welcome to the MTC!" over and over again. Let's just say, I think they do that so the new missionaries feel loved and not so depressed about leaving their family. I have to say it worked! My companion Hermana Kuhn("Coon") is amazing. She is going to Comodoro Rivadavia as well and so we've had that connection since day one. I don't really know how to explain it, but we've become really close this week. She's from Idaho Falls and did a year of School at BYU-I before her mission. She's the best. We have so much fun together and we have the same goals when it comes to missionary work and language study so we help each other a lot.

As I mentioned in my letter, I was in a trio companionship, but yesterday we got a new district of missionaries with four elders and one sister. The new sister, Hermana Baker, is Hermana Ward's companion now. So they're both solo missionaries...we don't really know how it works yet though so I'll let you know when I figure it out:) My district has 9 missionaries (6 Elders and 3 Hermanas.) Elder Scruggs, Elder Merenluoto(it took me a solid five minutes of staring at his nametag to remember his name), Elder Goodwin, Elder Jo, Elder Woodall, Elder Butts, Hermana Ward, Hermana Kuhn, and myself. It feels like we've been together forever. We all get along really well. We're all going to different missions in Argentina except for Elder Jo. He's going to be serving in San Fernando California. He's practically a celebrity here because we don't have any stateside Spanish missionaries at the MTC anymore. They all go to Mexico. He's so funny though and we're glad he's in our district.

My zone is just as amazing as my district. We had two districts leave really early Monday morning, so now there's three districts (including the one that just arrived yesterday.) Hermana Kuhn, Hermana Ward, Hermana Baker, and I are the only sisters in the entire zone! The oldest district has 10 Elders and they are all so great. I wanna be just like them. It's funny, because whenever we see them (which is like...30 times a day) they all wave and say hi. Their teacher told us that they haven't had sisters since they've been in the MTC so they're just really excited they have some girls to talk to. Too funny.

My teacher, Hermano Martinez, is so great. I love him. We found out yesterday that we are the first district he has ever taught at the MTC which is insane because he teaches with so much power and love and he always invites the spirit. I love listening to him. He is originally from Mexico and served his mission there too. I could sit in his class all day. We are the only district that gets a native teacher which is fun too. I am definitely ahead of the game when it comes to understanding him when he speaks because I have lots of practice thanks to all my native teachers in school. The rest of my district has a harder time. My Spanish is coming along really well. I have only been here for one week but I can say for sure that the gift of tongues is real. When we do our part the Lord blesses us. I get to study hard every day and then pray for God to help me with Spanish and bless me with the gift of tongues and it makes all the difference in the world. We are asked to pray and sing in Spanish all the time which helps so much with the language. I love it. Spanish is the best.

Anyway, on Thursday we learned about the importance of listening to our investigators, and as we sat in a class of 30-ish missionaries I could definitely tell how important it is to listen to the needs of our investigators. I think sometimes we focus so much on bringing our investigators to the Sacred Grove or the Garden of Gethsemane, that we forget to go ourselves to where our investigator is. I have learned so much this week it's crazy. I love the spirit that is here at the MTC. Being with hundreds of missionaries that all have the same goal and purpose is amazing. You can feel the love of God so strongly every minute of every day if you are paying attention.

My companions and I have been teaching our first investigator Melvin every day since Friday, with the exception of Sunday. We got him to commit to be baptized!! Yayyyyy! It seriously is the best feeling in the world to invite someone to come to Christ and follow his example by being baptized and hearing them say yes! I can always feel how much God loves Melvin. I cannot wait to get another investigator!! Next week I think...

Everyday, except for Tuesday, Sunday, and P-Day, we have scheduled gym time. My zone usually goes to the same gym and we play four square and volleyball. It is so much fun and you better believe that all that YW volleyball prepared me for the 50 minutes of gym time each day. The smart Elders all want me on their team:)

I don't have nearly enough time to tell you everything that has been going on. But I really do love it here so much. Don't believe anyone who says that Disneyland is the happiest place on earth. They're lying. The happiest place on earth is right here in Provo Utah at the Missionary Training Center.

On Sunday we got to go to church for the first time which was neat. Our branch presidency came to meet us last Thursday night I believe. They're all wonderful. After church the sisters get to watch Music and the Spoken word. It was fantastic. Sunday afternoon we had our temple walk. It felt so good to be outside. The thing about the MTC is that world war III could have started and we wouldn't know. Emily was totally right when she said that the MTC is like a super secret community. It totally is. Hahaha:) Sunday night devotional was great too. One of the directors of 17 Miracles came and spoke to us. It was so cool. They just released a new film Ephraim's rescue I think. We got to see some clips. It looked really good. Sunday night at the MTC is MOVIE NIGHT! We watched a devotional given on Christmas at the MTC a couple years ago by Elder Bednar called "The Character of Christ." Wow. I don't have words to explain. It was absolutely incredible. Hands down my favorite talk of all time. I highly suggest you watch it. We went back to our residences at 9:30PM and got ready for lights out at 10:30. Next thing I know it's Tuesday. I honestly have no recollection of Monday. I'm sure it was a great day though.

So, Tuesday we had a normal day which consists of waking up at 6:00AM (or earlier...we have to be to breakfast at 7:00 and once we leave our residences in the morning we don't go back until 9:30PM), eating, sitting, sitting, sitting, eating, sitting some more, sitting, eating one last time (dinner is at 4:30 here for my zone so it's safe to say that when 10:30 finally rolls around we're all a little hungry) and then sitting some more, sleeping, wake up, repeat. Awesome. The point is we sit a lot. Our devotional that night was at the Marriott Center and it was a member of the seventy who came to talk to us about how to become a missionary. It was a really great message.

On Sunday Hermana Ward, Hermana Kuhn and I became our zone Sister Training Leaders. Basically we are like the relief society presidency. We just help out the zone leaders and keep an eye on the sisters in our zone...which until Wednesday was just the three of us:) One of our responsibilities is to hold a welcome meeting with our zone leaders (Elder Bean and Elder Smith) for the new districts that come to our zone so last night we got to do that. It was so fun. The new district only has five missionaries, but one of the Elders never showed up, so currently there are 3 Elders and 1 Sister. Elder Frandsen is one of the new Elders and he was in my BYU ward last year! Crazy! I was so excited to see him! :) he's great. We gave the new missionaries a tour of the campus and then took them to their residences.

As a zone, we have a goal to only speak Spanish. It is sooo hard, but it's the best way to learn. I feel like I'm barely scratching the surface of everything I have to tell you but I think i'm out of time. Just a few more things...thanks for the Dear Elders! I love getting them during meals! It's so fun to hear about what is happening at home, so mom don't worry about writing too often. Letters are the best thing ever! Miriam sent me a Dear Elder this week and I was really excited to hear from her as well. Today my zone gets to go to the temple and I cannot wait. It's been the longest and shortest week of my life. The pictures aren't working really well so I can't upload any, but I'll try to send some next week for sure.

I love you all forever and always and I pray for you everyday! I had no idea exactly how MUCH missionaries pray. It's crazy, but it's the best. My relationship with God has skyrocketed. It's the most amazing feeling in the world. I love it. I hope you're doing well and I always want to hear from all of you. I'll try to answer questions but there's so much going on all the time! Anyway, I guess I'll talk to you again in a week!!!

Con amor,
Hermana Heath

Oh!! I forgot to tell you that Elder Kruger has gym the same time as my zone so we play together. It's so fun seeing a face from home. I see him everyday at least once.

Hermana Ward, Hermana Kuhn and Myself :)