Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Week 3

To all friends - Send me your addresses! As the semester has ended you all have moved so I have no addresses. I have written some of you letters but have not sent them since I don't know where to send them.
Well, this has been a crazy week! On Monday the MTC received a whole new schedule. Almost everying is planned out, including study time, language study, planning time and TALL (language computer program) time. Dinners are later for me now and on Monday our service project is at 6:05 am! But so far I enjoy the schedule.
After I wrote you all last Tuesday we had a devotional. Guess who the speaker was! Elder Richard G. Scott! It was amazing. Appartently it had been a while since an apostle of the Lord spoke at the MTC and what a devotional it was! He spoke about the Spirit and how to be guided by the Spirit. He defined humility as being teachable by the Spirit. Towards the middle of his talk he asked those of us learning another language to raise our hands. Seeing the number of hands he gave us a blessing that we would be able to learn our language. "You will still have to work. But you will find it will be easier." He mentioned also that it is important not to judge your potential by the past and by what you percieve as your potential. "Trust the Lord with what He can do with a willing heart." At the end he bore his testimony that he knows that Christ is a glorified being and He loves us.
Here's a cool story: One of the native sisters from Ukraine told my companion and I that when Elder Scott walked into the room she did not know who he was. But she felt the Spirit so strongly and almost as if she heard a voice she knew that he was  servant of the Lord. Throughout the devotional she felt the Spirit so strongly and it was reconfirmed multiple times that he was a servant of the Lord.
Then Easter Sunday. On class on Saturday one of our substitues (one of my regular teachers got married) told us that in Russia the greeting you give on Easter is "Christ is risen!" The reply is "Verily, he is risen!" Isn't that so cool? I can't wait to be in Russia next Easter. We walked to the temple and took some pictures. On our way back we saw a man standing outside the MTC holding a giant cross which said "Christ loves you!" and when we walked by he said, "God bless you sisters!" Apparently he called himself a "Jew for Jesus" and saying that we knew the end of the world was coming when Jews believed in Christ.
The Sunday Fireside was awesome as well. Stephen B Allen spoke and he produced many of the LDS "Homefront" commerials. But before he spoke for a musical number an Elder from Budapest, Hungary performed an organ solo. Wow! We were all amazed. Afterwards Brother Allen thanked him and asked if he knew how to play "Go Tell It On the Mountain" and asked him to play it. He did and there was chatter of awe around the room. At the end he received a standing ovation. Brother Allen shared many of the "Homefront" commercials and applied their taglines to us: "When everything says you can't believe in the part of you that say you can" and "It's not who you aren't, it's who you are and being yourself is being great." There are many more I would love to share but I only have 5 minutes left!
Yesterday guess who spoke at our Tuesday Devotional? Elder Dallin H Oaks! Two apostles in a row! Again, it was another great talk but it was different from Elder Scott. Sister Oaks also spoke and one thing she said stood out to me, "Our religion is more than a nice way to live. It's the reason we live." It is so true! Most of Elder Oak's talk was about becoming. and that we are not on a mission to be thanked so don't expect any. Esentially, serve the Lord because you love Him, not because you hope to gain something.
Well, time is just about up. I love you all. I love the Lord, Jesus Christ and my Heavenly Father. I know that they love us more than we can comprehend. Russian is coming along in theory. I have the First Vision down. More to come later. Sister Thrall says hello.
-Sister Daniel

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Week 2

So sorry but this email is going to be short. I was having computer issues and wasted 10 of my 30 minutes trying to access my email. Argh. Two brief letters but hopefully next week will be better and there will be no issues.
So I will start with last Preparation Day. It was an interesting day to say the least. We get to go to the Provo Temple in the morning and I was really excited because I love the Provo Temple. As a distrinct we walked to the temple and we were on the temple grounds when my companion realized she had forgotten her reccommend. We bid adieu to our distrinct and walked back to get it. I'll admit that I was a little bummed, especially since the previous Sunday due to meetings Sister Thrall and I were not able to go on the Sunday temple walk with the district. But I tried to stay optimisic because I figured voicing my disappointment would only bring Sister Thrall down. However, the trip turned out for the best because we ran into a lady who had some names she needed done: Chinese names from the 1500s!
That was only the start of our interesting preparation day. Later when we tried to access our email Sister Thrall forgot her login account and began to panic and freak out a little bit. Calmly, I told her we should go to the ITO and I logged out, losing some of my time, so we could go. As we were heading back from solving that dillemna we ran into our Branch President and he had the new native sisters with him. Two of them speak English! My prayers were certainly answered. Then later one of the sister did not show up for the meeting that night. So Sister Thrall and I searched the MTC for close to 40 minutes but eventually we found the lost Ukraine sister.
I realize that I did not write much about my companion. Her name is Sister Thrall and she is from Utah. In our companionship I am the more outgoing one, which is a little different not to be the ultra shy one. Since she does not speak as much I have to work hard to get her to vocalize her opinions and make sure that I don't just take over when we teach. She is very nice and patient with my Russian practice because she took Russian in high school. She helps me a lot. Right now we are striving to get to know each other better and teach with unity.
Here is something that may surprise you. Sister Thrall and I taught "investigators" last week. The rooms have video cameras so our teacher can watch us and comment later. Among the compliments our teacher complimented us on our bold testimony. Bold has never been a word I would apply to myself.
Gah! My time is almost up! Russian is coming on. I think I am catching on pretty quickly. The grammar makes sense and cases were surprisingly not hard to understand, at least in theory. Sometimes the words take a while to form because of so many consanants next to each other. But I did dominate during a game we played in class where you had to translate an English phrase to Russian and it was a race to say it so your companion would tell the teacher what the original English phrase was. I was one of the best who was able to say the phrases the fastest correctly. Bet that does not surprise you. My favorite words to say are blasphemy and parrot in Russian. I try to say blasphemy as much as possible now because I figure it would not be a good idea to say it around Moscow all the time. We have also invented our own Russian slang.
Oh! We went to the temple today as a Branch because an Elder from Moldova and a sister from Lithuania had not been through the temple. Gah. 30 seconds. Next week then.
I love you all and appreciate all the letters I have recieved.
-Sister Daniel

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

End of Week 1

Well, I survived the first week! Hard to believe that it has only been one week. It feels like I have been here forever. Sometimes, it is hard to remember life before the MTC.
First off, thank you dad for the donuts. They were a nice night time snack. And thank you for sending me that skirt. Also, I don't have any addresses for a lot of people so let everyone know that if they would like me to send a letter to send me their address via dearelder. I can read letters sent through dearelder any night after 9:30 but I can only respond on Preparation Day.
I don't know where to start! Well, every day is much like the day before it: busy, busy, busy. We spend about 10-11 hours in class. There are 10 missionaries in my district: six elders and four sisters. Five of the elders are going to the St. Petersburg mission while the other elder and two of the sisters are heading to the Baltics. My companion (Sister Thrall) and I are heading to the Russia Moscow Mission together. The first day or two our district was really quiet. Now we have all opened up a lot more, especially the elders. The elders are really great and when they teach they have a strong testimony. But at dinner and before class it is easy to remember that they are also only 19.
Sometimes, I wonder why on earth I am learning Russian. I love it but at times it seems to make no sense considering my French background. The first day we learned how to introduce ourselves and say where we are from. The next day (Thursday) we learned how to bear our testimonies. Friday we practiced bearing our testimonies to a fake investigator on the street. Our teacher paired us up with a missionary in another district who has been here for 6 weeks. The older missionary was the senior companion while my district was the junior companion. The activity gave us a nice idea how the mission field will be: we did not understand what the investigator was saying but we could bear our testimony and hope it would communicate the Spirit.
We also learned how to pray in Russian on Friday. That stressed everyone out. Thankfully, our wonderful teacher saw how overwhelmed we felt and took us on a walk. As we walked he said the pray words and we repeated them. There were a lot of heartfelt pleases that have been expressed in our prayers.
Sunday was probably my most overwhelming day. Everyone loves Sunday here at the MTC. We get more study time and ice cream during lunch. However, my companion and I were asked by the President to serve as coordinating sisters. The calling is the only leadership position among the sisters. We interview the seniors companions and take care of the sisters. We also work closely to help the natives. I am excited about the calling but it overwhelmed Sister Thrall and I because we had back to back meetings for our calling that afternoon. Then the President told us Russian natives would be arriving this week and they might not know English! We have only been learning Russian for a week!
But the Lord does not forget His servants. We were stressed but the Lord blessed us through our Sunday devotional. It was a music devotional by the BYU Men's Chorus. The songs they sang were exactly what I needed. I felt peace and that everything would be all right. And things have been. We met the sisters this morning and it seems like they know a little English whichs helps us and answers my pray.
Well, I only have 3 minutes left so I need to wrap up. I love you all. I love being a missionary and teaching people about Christ. I can't wait to bear my testimony to the Russian people. I love the Lord and He really has helped me to meet my calling. I do all that I can and He helps with all the rest.
With love,
Sister Daniel

Sunday, April 3, 2011

The Prologue

Well, it is April 3 which means there are only three days until I start my mission! In a lot of ways it still has not hit me that in a few days I will be a missionary. Don't get me wrong: I am super excited! However, even with my suitcases packed it still feels so far away. It probably will not fully strike until I say goodbye to my dad at the MTC or when I lie down to sleep that first day.

For the next 18 months I will be a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, or the Mormon Church, as it is commonly known. I will be serving in the Russia Moscow mission in the Russian language. Next Wednesday I report to the Missionary Training Center in Provo, UT where I will be for the next three months learning Russian before I depart for Moscow.

I'm still in shock because I have always wanted to serve a mission for my church As far back as I can remember it has always been in my life plan. But when I was 14, after my sister returned from her mission in Italy Rome, I realized I only wanted to serve if the Lord wanted me to be His missionary. Thankfully, I received the answer to my pray and the strong impression that I was going to serve and as I have continued to pray this has been reaffirmed multiple times. Now it is hard to believe that the time is here and I'll be serving in Russia! I remember when I was seven and living in Saudi Arabia my mom and I talked about missions. I said I wanted to serve in Russia because at the time I was obsessed with the animated movie, Anastasia. Who would have thought!

Thankfully, I have not been overwhelmed by fear yet. Most of you reading this know me and are aware of my shortcomings. As my sister and I drove around Nogales we talked (or rather I rambled on) about missions. I mentioned that I knew everything I was going to do was outside my comfort zone. I do not like talking to strangers, especially when it comes to something so personal to me as the Gospel. I don't mind sharing what I know to be true but I rarely instigate that conversation. I know I am going to have to change and push down that fear. It will be hard but I know if I work hard and try my best the Lord will help me.

In this blog I've asked my sister to upload my weekly letters home so check back weekly for updates and information!