Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Week 2: Phew!!

Hello Everyone!

I always feel bad replying so briefly to people, but there just isn't enough time to do my week or the sweet people who write to me, any justice.  Just know I can't possibly write everything that's on my mind or let each of you know adequately how much it means to me that you write to me all the time! You are all wonderful. 

Sister Askerlund is from Bluffdale.  She is 22.  She and I have become really close, because, after all, we spend every minute together!!! We probably know each other too well...Having a companion all the time is interesting... I imagine this is what it is like to get married. You see, at the MTC you have to do lots of practicing teaching your companion.  It gets pretty hilarious after a while when you're companion has pretended to be about 7 different people that day and all their responses start sounding the same and obviously fake... seriously, it's hilarious.   There have been several instances where I couldn't stop laughing and then she couldn't and then we had to stop, walk around, and say a companion prayer to invite the Spirit again.  :P    but anyway, we teach really well together and make a great team. Our teachers have been saying we are doing really well and are good teachers.  I love her and she's awesome.  Her family was inactive for her whole life, and she finally got back into the church 3 years ago when she was in college.  She is the only one who is active.  What a strong woman!

We have had some good experiences teaching our investigator, Joe (our teacher in a hoodie.)  We committed him to baptism.  We have discovered that we need to be completely ourselves around our investigators and really get to know them and connect with them, and speak every thought that the Spirit places in our minds, that Heavenly Father would have them know.  We have done MUCH better this week! But I have much to learn, too.  

But we have also had some not-so-good experiences teaching a real investigator, Isabella.  She is 19 and we have had some real difficulties teaching her because she does NOT seem at all interested in what we have to teach her.  We've REALLY tried to get to know her and when we testify to her about the nature of God she's like "That's nice that you believe that."  It's a struggle.  She's very nice though. Anyway, so here's how our last lesson with her went.  We were teaching her the Plan of Salvation.  It wasn't going well, because she thinks of Heavenly Father and Jesus as "things" not beings.  So we were explaining the preexistence and Sister Askerlund and I were like wow it looks like she's really starting to get it, because she started looking at us really intensely.  And then she's like, Sister, there's a bug in your hair!! There was a HUGE brown cricket with creepy legs in SIster Askerlund's hair!!! Needless to say we freaked out and I started trying to smash it with her notebook. We were rolling with laughter and embarrassment.  If the Spirit was ever in that room, it was sure gone after that!! Oh wow.  and my favorite part of that epicly bad lesson was when Sister Askerlund was like, "the Book of Mormon is like.... a fortune cookie!!" Bahahahhahaha.  She hasn't kept any of the committments and so we are just going to testify to her tonight.  It's rough.  But that's okay! Such is life.  We can only go up after THAT lesson.  ;D 

We laugh lots in our room.  The elders in our district are really fun, too.  But really great. They have all started saying "scandalous."  SInce there is no Lady Gaga at the MTC or anywhere in themission field, we have had hymns take her place.  Seriously. All of us four sisters have been singing "hark all ye nations" for the past 5 days!!!! Like, nonstop. ALL THE TIME!! We dance to it, too.  How firm a foundation and i know that my redeemer lives are the new "alejandro" and "Gypsy."  Never expected that to happen, hahahha.  

So I saw one of the elders from the District and he was like right behind us and all of a sudden i shouted, "that's the guy from the District!!!" He was serioulsy like 5 feet behind us.  It was funny. :P  

Let's see.... I was finally able to play a cello yesterday! Of course, I have to take all four of us because SIster Matheson is accompanying me.  I didn't have time to audition for the big devotional. That just wasn't going to happen.  But I'm playing a nice arrangement of "Our Savior's Love" and I'm playing "I am a CHld of God" while my district sings, for we needed a special musical number. There was a cellist who played at our Sunday devotional.

So last Sunday we fasted until 5:30!!! I had never fasted so long.  Our entire district got to bear our testimonies.  I like how one of the branch presidency put it, that fasting allows the Spirit to take charge.  I felt the Spirit so strongly.  I feel it all the time here! Even though it's so hard to fit all the scriptures study in the day.  THere is never, ever a moment of rest around the MTC!! It would be horrible for someone who didn't really, really love the Gospel and want to be here.  We are striving to be exactly obedient but it hasn't happened yet. :P  We are doing our best.  

There have been moments when I've felt alone or missing my cello at the MTC.  I started to think about Ari on Sunday, and wondering if I'd be able to play at all when I got back home. I was also feeling stressed, wondering if I should play the cello here, since my branch presidency encouraged me to. there is no time to practice here.  So I asked the branch president for a priesthood blessing.  The spirit was SOO strong and he blessed me that i would retain my love for music and that I would be able to pick it back up again as I allow my cello ability to go dormant and focus on my spiritual development.  He told me that there may well be many opportunities to perform on my mission, with the mission presidents direction.  He blessed me that I would be able to focus 100% on the Lord. I have felt SO much better ever since that blessing.  I am full of desire to study the scriptures and be a missionary!! The Lord has been so merciful to me and I suspect He will contintue to be mercful in providing me opportunities to bless others with my music.  He knows me so well..  I did not think there would be a cello here at the MTC!

I've felt lonely and a tad homesick at times, but it doesn't last long.  As I pray to Heavenly Father for comfort, comfort always comes. He fills me with courage and confidence.  I'm getting so much more at ease and confident when we practice teaching.  Some have even called me a confident missionary! Say what!? It's not me, it's the Lord.  And as I do my best to rely on HIm for strength and I am filled.  I love Joshua 1:9: "Be strong and of a good courage... for the Lord, thy God, is with thee, withersoever thou goest."

I've found that I feel so happy here as I turn myself outward.  We got to watch Elder Bednar's Character of Christ devotional.  It is ONLY shown at the MTC and I'm not gonna lie, it was the best talk I've ever heard in my life.  It was basically about how we need to be converted to Christ, not just have a testimony.  That's not enough for my investigators.  Christ's character is to turn outward, and always focus on others which is so unlike the natural man tendency of all of us to turn inward when times get hard.  The natural man says "I want it now! and what about me?" The thing about missionary work is you can't think about improving yourself, or you won't be blessed.  You truly have to lose yourself in caring for others, or you miss the blessings.  I am really working on this and I think it's so important that I turn as outward as possible so that the Lord can change me and make me into an effective missionary.  I know that I will enjoy my mission so much more if I can apply this principle all the time.  As I've done so, I've felt so much more happiness!!!

 We also had a great devotional about the incredible promises the Lord gives to missionaries by a member of the Seventy.  (Audokidis?).  Anyway, it was great! Sorry there's no time to elaborate more.  

I love you all!

Sister Woods

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