Week 1: So far, so great!
What a "nerviting" three days it has been! I can't adequately describe the emotional dynamics that take place those first 2 nights at the MTC. I am in a room with 2 other sisters. My companion, Sister Askerlund ("Sister Jensen") and I are the same height! That's a little unusual, haha. :) And Sister Osmond and her companion, Sister Matheson are also in my room. We are all going to Wisconsin! They are such sweet and kind girls. The people here are seriously the nicest people I've ever met. We are very open with each other and get along super well, which has been a real comfort and blessing, especially those first two nights! I'm not gonna lie, we were all close to tears throughout the day, which is unusual for me. This letter in no way does justice to all the ideas and experiences I've had since I got here! There just isn't enough time for everything.So I'll do my best. :)
We've decided that the most stressful part is deciding what to wear each day, haha. And following all the rules and being on time. We are still working on that last one. It's a tight schedule and we are still adjusting. Everyone says over and over how important it is to be exactly obedient... for if we are obedient we will be blessed. Sister Askerlund and I got busted for taking an apple out of the dining hall, (seems innocent, but it is against the rules!) Haha, SCANDALOUS. Like I said, I'm still working on it!
We have a very small district. The MTC isn't very busy right now. Normally there are 42 in a district and there are only 7 in ours. There are 3 elders going to Houston, Texas. The elders going to Wisconsin are in another district. I LOVE my branch presidency. They are so kind, sweet and inspiring.
The food is alright here. There are definitley some Lacey-approved (healthy) options, like a salad bar and a wrap station at each meal. The oatmeal is the bomb here. :)
THANK YOU THANK YOU for all the letters and packages y'all have sent me! I've gotten 4 boxes so far! My entire district was like "Seriously, Sister Woods? AGAIN?" hahaha. I've officially been overrun with food. Thanks Mom for the dark chocolate superfruits and Dad for the box of healthy things. And a special and noteworthy thanks to a Ms. Mendy Peacock for the almonds, bubbly water and the... sandwich!!? That. was. awesome!! :P I feel very loved and blessed. I also got a nice box of food from the O'Reilly's who lived in the Fountains ward a long time ago.
I loved reading all of your letters. Please, if can, send me more!!! I may not have time to reply to each one but know that I LOVE hearing from you. Kyle, you are beyond amazing. I loved your last letter!!!!!! It really inspired me. Like. Just what I needed to hear! I do feel that the Lord has been shaping and directing me to serve a mission.I KNOW that this is where I'm supposed to be. I am SO fortunate to have been raised in the Church. The chances of that are very small. As I'm learning to teach, I'm super grateful that I memorized so many scriptures before I left and in seminary, especially Joseph Smith's vision. It makes my work that much easier!
I have to say I'm enjoying the MTC. The classes feel lots like an institute class, which I like. We pretty much go to class all day, every day. It has been difficult for me to feel comfortable teaching when it's just me and Sister Jensen (Askerlund). Teaching someone the Gospel is SO MUCH more difficult than I thought! You really have to develop the gift of charity and love the person you teach. And really strong interpersonal skills, so you can really connect with their needs. No one will care what you have to say until they see how much you care about them. You also can't properly teach someone unless your personal conviction of the principle you are teaching is rock solid. You have to really feel it yourself before the Spirit can be there to bear testimony to the person you teach. And you CANNOT worry about what to say! You have to completely focus your mind on listening to the investigator.I much prefer teaching with a companion as opposed to teaching my companion. Sister Jensen and I's first lesson went better than we expected!
For instance, Sister Askerlund and I had to teach our "investigator" (who is actually our teacher wearing a hoodie :P) how to pray and get an answer that God loves him. I've always sort of felt that God loves me because He has blessed me so much, but I wanted to try it out so I can assure Joe that he will really get an answer. So, I tried that experiment for myself and prayed and asked God to allow me to feel His love and comfort. And I did!!!! All day yesterday I felt so happy and loved. Praying opened my eyes to the comfort and peace that Heavenly Father has instilled in me since I've been here. Even though I'm still learning and making plenty of mistakes, I feel Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ's love and acceptance of my efforts. I feel carried. I love my Savior!
The spirit is SO strong here. I'm recognizing it more than I ever have before, which is exciting. It is also nerve-racking because that means I have to open my mouth and say it, haha.
I'd like to share a nerve racking experience we all had my first night here. So the MTC hires investigators to come into a room and allow a room full of brand-new missionaries to teach them. Terrifying! Though undoubtedly, we all were feeling the Spirit prompt us with ideas of what to say to the investigator, we were all so NOT confident enough to speak up. (I had made only 1 comment at that point.) Only about 10 % of the class was asking the investigator questions. So this sassy, logical girl goes, "Why are all of you here if only 10 % of you are acting like you care and want to teach me? Are you just filling chairs?" Oh goodness, we were all struck to the core with that one!! Ouch. So, then I remembered that as missionaries we are all set apart and entitled to inspiration. In fact, we are commanded to open our mouths so that the Spirit can teach our investigators what they need to hear! I vowed from that time forward to forget my nerves and just always open my mouth when the Spirit prompts me. It has really paid off! I'm feeling less nervous every day.
One of my favorite scriptures is Ether 12:27 (like you mentioned, Dad). I've been reflecting on that lots lately and it really applies to my missionary experience. It is wonderful to me that God accepts our offering as long as we are pointed toward Christ and trying our best. Then He will make us better than we are. I find that my anxiety ceases when I strive to relax and rely on this promise. I feel happier and more confident. :) I love the nametag and calling each other Sisters! It is an honor to be a missionary. And a huge responsibility.
Guess what? They have a cello here for me to borrow!! My branch leader heard that I play cello and got super excited. He wants me to play tomorrow and/or next week. I'm not really sure, haha. Sister Matheson also plays piano so she will accompany me. There is absolutely no time to practice at all so I may just play out of the hymn book. I can also audition to be a part of a special musical number. I want to take a look at the music they have here and see if there is something I can play for it before I decide. We'll see. :)
That's all for now!
Love you all lots and hope all is well at home and for each of you!