Dear Mom, Dad, and everyone else,
THANK YOU for sending me pictures at last!
One week ago on P-Day I was feeling very bad, because I am learning that I have to have the Spirit with me when I teach, and that I need to focus on my missionary purpose. But I missed everyone so much that I was always thinking of you, and so I felt like I was pushing the spirit away from me, because I was thinking about myself too much, and how I was feeling, and being selfish. So I went to President Preston and told him about it, and about how I missed home and I thought it was making me a bad missionary, because I couldn’t focus. I was crying every night, but trying really hard not too. So he talked to me about my family, and had me tell him all about you, and what we do, and the way I grew up, and how we are together. And he helped me understand that I am supposed to miss my family, and that emotions–especially for you guys– aren’t supposed to be suppressed or hidden, but they’re meant to be shown. So he told me it’s okay to cry. Then he gave me a blessing and said that everything would be okay, and to know that I didn’t have to worry about you because Heavenly Father was looking after you, and that you would be blessed because of me. I’ve cried a little bit since then, but not because I’m sad, because I’m happy every time I think about you, and because I love you so much. So things are a WHOLE BUNCH better, and President Preston is so nice all the time about asking me how I am and how you are doing. He thinks its cute when I cry, for some reason.
Apparently it is supposed to be very hush-hush that there is a member of the Quorum of the Twelve coming this Sunday. I already knew that before I even got to England**, and then our teacher the other day came in and said, “Well, I’m not supposed to tell you, but you might have a pretty important visitor next week.” I know it’s Elder Oaks, but I’m technically not supposed to be telling anyone else. Sister Ackley knows though, of course, because I told her, and with so few of us in the MTC, we’ll all most definitely get to meet and speak with him.
This is the view of the pond outside our classroom window in the MTC. The grounds are beautiful, and many times our teachers will take us outside to study, or just to hold a class, which I’m grateful for, because being close to nature helps me to learn and feel the Spirit more strongly.
One of the girls in my district is from New Zealand. She was born in India where her father worked on a tea plantation, but for some reason her family had to flee the country to New Guinea. And then they moved to New Zealand some time after that. Her family aren’t members, but she is a very amazing person. I am learning so much about other parts of the world here.
My district leader is Finnish and was a military cook before this. There is a white elder from South Africa whose dad is in the military. He moved to Australia a while ago, so I’ve been able to learn about both places.
Yesterday was our fast and testimony meeting and I cried all day long. Mostly because the Spirit is so strong here, and fasting puts it out of control for me. I cried all through the others’ testimonies, held it together during my own, and then sat back down and cried again. Then we had Elder Homer from the 3rd Quorum of the 70 come and talk to us in the afternoon. He gave us some wonderful advice. And one thing he said was that you only have to make the decision to obey ONCE, and then you’re done. We watched a Provo MTC devotional by Elder Holland in which he talked about the Atonement, and it was one of the most powerful things I’ve ever heard, but I can’t find a way to explain it in so short a time.
We are going to go to the market really soon, and I’m excited to see what it’s like in England. They are also going to let us mail letters, so you will get on next week maybe. We also get to go to the temple again this afternoon. Can you send me a name to do? I’ll try to send some chocolate or something, but not today. Did you guys celebrate donut day? Because we didn’t get any!! I want one so bad! I’ve lost quite a few pounds since I’ve been here.
In the MTC they gave us an hour last week, but if we schedule our time right today we might be able to email this morning and this afternoon. So check this afternoon, and reply because I might get to email you again!!! But the Birmingham people are leaving next Tuesday morning, so I don’t know when we will get to email, because Tuesday is P-Day. We might email the day before, or maybe after we get there, or maybe we won’t get to for another week. So I’m not sure when I will be able to email you again. Last week I was to frazzled and crying the whol email time that I didn’t say anything really that I wanted too, so I wrote a letter and I will send it today, and it will tell a lot more and explain a lot. But by the time you get it I will be out of the MTC. In the field we will have out ipads, so we can check our emails more, but I don’t think we can respond to them until P-Day, and I’m not sure when P-Day will be.
Typical schedule is that we get up at 6:30, eat breakfast at 7:00, clean at 7:30, and do personal study at 8:00. Then at 9:00 we have companionship study or teaching appointments, or we do practice teaching. We get to exercise from 10:30 to 11:30, which is super fun. Sister Ackley and I both like to run, and there is a playing field with a trail around it (dirt!), so we run on that. Then we shower and dress at 11:30 and eat lunch at 12:00. In the afternoon we have lessons from our teachers on different things, and it includes a LOT of role playing. We also have progressing investigator appointments in the afternoon and evening. We eat dinner at 5:30, and then more lessons after dinner. We also read from the Book of Mormon as a district in the afternoons and evenings. Then we plan at 9:00 for the next day and at 9:30 we’re done. They always have snacks in the dining room at 9:30, but I’m always too tired to eat anything. I’d tell you about the districts and how they work, but I wrote that in my letter, so I don’t want to use my time saying something I’ve already said.
Dad, thanks for telling me not to worry about it, because I worry about doing everything right too much. Whenever Sister Ackley and I teach a lesson and it doesn’t go exactly the way I thought it should have, or I don’t feel this huge amazing thrill of the spirit that it was perfect, then I get discouraged, while Sister Ackley is so happy. But she is teaching me that I don’t have to have that huge thrill every time, it just has to be successful and they should have progressed, even a little bit, and it’s a success. So I’m learning to not feel discouraged at the end of the lesson.
Yesterday we learned about the Spirit of the Holy Ghost in our work, and how it will guide you, even if you don’t realize it, or don’t think it is. So during our lesson with our investigater Sister Ackley was teaching about the Book of Mormon, and all the sudden I said, “What do you understand about the Holy Ghost?” So we would go back and for, her teaching about the Book of Mormon, because that was what the spirit was telling her, and me teaching the Holy Ghost and how it can help with addictions, because that was what the Spirit was telling me. Both of us were wondering what in the world the other one was teaching, and how the heck it was going to end up in the end, if we were both going in different directions. And then all the sudden, right at the end of the lesson, everything came together in perfect sense and the investigator felt the Spirit very strongly, because we both followed the Spirit.
**Marie spoke at our Stake Conference a week before she went to the MTC. A woman from Preston, England was passing through and talked to her about England. She is the one who told Marie that Elder Oaks was coming to Preston in June.
Marie wrote several long emails so we will be posting them throughout the week to spread out the goodness. 😀