This week was really good and the work is moving forward! We had a wonderful baptism this week and I have a lovely photograph, but I am really quite a forgetful bum and left my camera at the apartment, again! I am really sorry, because I know pictures would help me explain what I am talking about. Glad to hear girl's camp went well!
I really hope sister VonDerlohe was able to receive my letter I sent last month to her. I have been thinking about her and I am sad to hear of her passing, but I know she has blessed the lives of many, including my own and will continue to do so for a long time. She will be missed.
Our companionship had a lot of great service opportunities and I am pretty sun burnt, but I am not too worried about it. I am sure if I just rotate my working position throughout the day, then I will be evenly roasted and feel warm in the middle, which is what service is all about! We have been able to teach much and uplift the members of our community, through service, as well as proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ to all those we come in contact with. I sure do enjoy helping others come to a more full knowledge of the truth, because it really does make a significant and tangible difference in their lives.
A few more things that I am picking up here are the "surf-lingo terms" among such include: Dude, bro, man, yo, bra, dude bro, and all manner of permutations of the heretofore stated pronouns. I can't seem to get them down in my everyday speech yet, I am stuck on calling people Brother, Sister, Elder, by their first given name or a variation and medley of title and proper name; I hope people will accept me for who I am, even though I do not conform to the standards of the times.
No new news on the travel to Mongolia yet, but my companions enjoy listening to me argue with myself and recite memorized scriptures in Mongolian, so perhaps I will be here for their viewing pleasure until they can get along without me. Transfers are next week, but I have no idea what the plans are. I won't know until Saturday, so maybe next week I will be moving again.
I am profoundly grateful to be in San Marcos, California at this time and for the opportunity to spread the good news that the Gospel is. I know I need to be more fearless in opening my mouth and bearing my sincere testimony of the things I know. I know that the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints was restored by Joseph Smith. I can see God's hand in the preparation of the world through the ages for this dispensation of the fullness of times. God authored a plan at the beginning of the creation, and through which we have the ability to return again to live in His Divine presence. I am so thankful for the peace and direction that knowledge gives us. The way we return to Him is through becoming like Him. He is perfect and He commands us to be perfect. I am not perfect, in fact, far from it! No surprises there, but I do know that I can become perfect through the Redeeming and Enabling power of Jesus Christ's Infinite Atonement. When everything is finished, it will all come down to the Atonement. We have the ability to change ourselves when we accept His precious gift and allow the process of repentance to work through our faith to heal and strengthen us. I do know that this Gospel is for everyone. We must follow the path that Christ set, for therein in joy and eternal life. "I'm trying to be like Jesus", is commonly uttered and sung, but really that is all I personally want: to be like Him. I hope that we all can seek out our own paths that Heavenly Father has in store for us and lean not unto our own understanding, but the foreknowledge and wisdom of God to touch the lives of others and save our own lives by losing it in Christ. I know God's church is on the earth today, and I am a missionary of His church. I am so honored and humbled by this opportunity. Thank you for your prayers and support.
Thank you for your Email mom, good luck at girl's camp this week! I really was glad that we could talk on the phone as well.
I got here safely on Wednesday afternoon and met the mission president as well as my companions that day right as soon as I got there. The weather is super nice! I am serving in Escondido, a little inland of Carlsbad and it is warm, but not too bad. The air is nice and thick and I am able to run without too many complaints. A mission rule is that every morning we run for 30 minutes, so maybe I won't be going to Mongolia at 200 pounds after all!
I mostly spent this week getting to know the area and the members and the people we are teaching. My companions are Elders Wright and Campbell and they are showing me around really well. Elder Wright has been out for 7 months and Elder Campbell for 1. He was in and out of the MTC while I was there, so I have been a missionary longer, but he has been here longer. During the day we have the regular routine of:
up at 6:20
run and shower until 7
breakfast and get ready
personal study 8-9
companionship study 9-10
Language study for me while Elder Wright trains Elder Campbell 10-11
maybe contacting or tracting or an appointment until lunch at 12:30ish
then we head back out and find more people or visit less active members or recent converts
everyday is different, but we have always had dinner at a member's home. Usually around 5-6
Teaching appointments are typically in the evening as well as more visits and street contacting
Home by 9 and plan then get ready for bed and that's the day
We have the baptism of Marc Fletcher this Saturday and we just set 2 more dates last night for a couple of brothers. Marc is from South Africa and he has been taking lessons for about 3 weeks now and has had prior problems in his life, but has so much trust and faith that God can do more with his life than he ever could, so he has no problems with making changes.
I forgot my camera, so pictures will be on the way next week, so sorry! I have been busy and mostly flustered getting adjusted. I am really happy and the days are flying as I work hard. I got food and a belt my first day here, so that turned out fine. I had quite a problem finding one that fit, to be perfectly honest. I am wider than before, but not to the point of being able to make the super size belts fit yet, so I was stuck in the middle. The belt I have now is a 38 and I can barely squeeze into the first hole. I have not lost any weight yet, but I think I will start to soon... I hope so at least.
It is not strange at all to be out of the MTC really. I am pretty used to just moving and starting a new lifestyle, so I am lucky the transition was smooth. The hardest part was my companions not speaking Mongolian! I would tell them something important and they just keep walking, so I express again, more emphatically that I really need to spill my waters and they still don't listen. It took me awhile to realize that I was talking in Mongolian and they thought I was just practicing the first vision of something.
Every house we visit people want me to pray in Mongolian, so I do, but then they tell me it sounds like chicken, or Hebrew or cats regurgitating hairballs, so I am less eager to volunteer myself to pray now. My Spanish is getting alright again though. We run into a lot of Hispanics and it is fun to try to talk to them in Spanglish, but I am really excited to get to Mongolia!
I forwarded you that Email from the church about my visa and it tell me that I have not been approved yet, which is a little disappointing. I thought it was approved, but I guess not. I really love the work here and I do not mind staying in California for a bit! The mission has the richest zipcode in the United States as well as other extremely affluent areas. Escondido (where I am) is not up there, but it is nice.
My brain is a little fried right now, so I can't think of any stories or amusing experiences. I have been really quiet and only spoken when spoken to or when I have a question, but I think I will be more comfortable this week and get out and talk to my companions more. I have no problem talking to strangers, so it should be easy to talk to the people I spend all day with!
The most peaceful feeling I had this week was at a member's house, whose kids are the two brothers who are getting baptised August 6, after dinner. That was a bad sentence, let me clarify. The 2 boys we are teaching, their parents are divorced, so they are over only half the time and we were over last night to teach them. They have a really long story that I will tell you when I get home, because that would be more appropriate. Anyways, dinner was great and then it was time for family home evening. The dad and boys and my companions went on the sofa, to watch Mormon Messages but I was still clearing my plate and the table and such, so while everyone was on the other side of the room, I helped sister Mckinney (the mom) clean up the kitchen and load the dishwasher and just organize a little. I could see my companions the whole time, so don't worry about me not following all the rules! When I was doing that service I felt so relaxed, which I had not felt since I got here and I was not worried about all of the other things that are going on and I was really sad when the kitchen was clean, because I felt like there must be more I could do. I really hope that I can always remember how I feel when I serve others.
I am so glad for the opportunity to be in Carlsbad and be in this great area and able to work with members and teach people the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I will never have an opportunity quite like this again. I am going to work as hard as I can and study diligently so that I will be prepared at all times and in all things and in all places when He calls on me.
The time went really fast, and we have to go, but the mission address that I can be reached at, and I would LOVE anything, is:
451 W. Bobier Dr. Vista, CA 92083
Thank you all for your prayers and support. Talk to you next week!
Jefferson just called to let me know that he and his companion are flying to Carlsbad, CA tomorrow. He is excited for the change of scenery and is hopeful it will be a short detour on his way to MONGOLIA. We will update his address as we receive it.
Thank you for the great pictures and the lovely letter. Seems like everything is going well. Kaylie is married now, holy cow! I am really not surprised though. I wish I could have talked to Isaac, because it sounds like he had a great time and more information than I do about our visas. I am sure that we will talk a lot when I get back and it will all be in Mongolian! Also, my district appreciated the fun monotony breaking games you sent, but I think we need to switch up the rules a little bit and apply them to our purpose if we are to play them. We are still fine-tuning 'Thumb Wars' and 'Box The Dots'. Hopefully they will soon be veritable power tools of learning Mongolian and the gospel!
To answer some of your questions:
The longest stay in the MTC for a district with visa difficulties is 16 weeks. For those of you keeping score at home this is week 15 for me. The record may be broken this week, but I do not have much hope on staying because of this next piece of groundbreaking news.
Our branch president (basically the bishop of our zone) talked directly with the MTC President and requested temporary reassignment for us four lone warriors. Selfishly I wanted to stay here and keep improving my language and teaching skills in a safe and conducive environment, but I know that our time to work has come. So, I will call you when we find out where they are sending us to wait. We further information save that it SHOULD be by the end of this week, but with this whole situation... Who knows!
One other note related to my eventual travel to the independent country of Mongolia, and this made my Saturday long and slightly discouraging, 5 missionaries, including a senior couple had to leave Mongolia because of political incidents. Isaac was right about the new democratic party taking office, but in this time of transition the old Communist party still has a heavy hand in the government. Unfortunately some pictures were illegally taken of elders passing the sacrament (which is legal as long as it is performed in the church building, which it was) and the immigration office decided that this was a form of proselyting, so they are spread from Oakland to Washington D.C. permanently. I am really sad about that and I wish that they could have my place, seeing as they are immensely better at the language than me and undoubtedly all around better people that I am.
That being said, my district's chances and prospects of serving the majority of our mission in Mongolia is probable and very hopeful. I am looking forward to the opportunity and the only suppressant of my exultant jubilation is the unknown.
This week I was very blessed to feel sustained by the graceful hand of the Almighty God. I was way tired Friday and Saturday and didn't think I could focus or stay awake much longer, and especially going to bed, I really dreaded the thought of the alarm going off at 6:28. I was amazed at how fully the Lord lifted me, and as I remained obedient and diligent I was granted strength and optimism. The days and weeks have flown and I cannot wait to get into the field, any field, to further the Lord's great work that He has called me to. I will go where He wants me to go.
Jenny Oaks Baker, the daughter of Elder Dallin H. Oaks, presented a message to us on Sunday. She was the first chair in the national symphony for 7 years and she can play a violin!! My favorite part was her four children, the oldest daughter (10) played the violin, her second oldest daughter (9) was on the piano her youngest daughter (7) supported the cello and her son (5) strummed the acoustic guitar. They played I am a Child of God. I am willing to excuse the 5 year old for vainly trying to not giggle when he saw himself on the huge monitor in front of 2,000 missionaries. I even forgive the youngest daughter for scratching her nose when the camera was on her. I was so impressed with the youthful quartet that I went up to the boy afterwards and told him he did a great job, and extended a hand of congratulations. As I left my hand in front of him as an invitation to be accepted he refused to even look up from his doodles and did not even acknowledge my token of friendship! He was better at the guitar at age 5 then I perhaps ever will be at anything in my whole life, but I taken aback at the focus and dedication he was giving his doodles. I noticed him reject the incoming distractions of several "friendly" elders and sisters as he unwaveringly set about to accomplish his task at hand. This young, future missionary taught me the meaning of perseverance and complete mental orientation to a purpose and goal.
I know that Christ also did not stray from his course of achieving perfection and accomplishing His divine purpose. My purpose is to invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost and enduring to the end. I need to not let temptations or laziness get in the way of my straight and narrow path of discipleship and missionary work. The adversary is trying desperately to blow me hither and thither like chaff in a whirlwind, but as I saw this week Christ: His example and power, will overcome all challenges and trials. May we all put our trust in Him and never forget our mission on this earth. I love being a full-time servant of Christ and learning about His gospel so that I can have a firm foundation in my life and help me stay in the light as I live the right way and do the right things. I know that wherever I am sent, it will be where the Lord needs me and where those people need me. I will keep you updated.
Also if you could send me a high school ID card or some form of photo ID, that would be expedient, in case I must needs travel by plane to reach my stateside mission field. Seeing as I only have an invalid drivers licence I would appreciate back up. Thanks! Oh, and can you send me hard copies of pictures of our chickens, garden, and maybe something funny to show Mongolians, that would be wonderful, because they love pictures!
Another week in the books. The scary thing is that we could leave any day. The really scary part is that we could not leave any day. The suspense is kickin us around pretty hard, but we have a lot to learn. One especially significant tidbit I learned was that the Lord's Missionary Training Center forges onward regardless of whether we have a plane ride in sight or on land of the blue skies on the horizon. The four remaining elders in my district pretty much all came in with a screw loose, but sometimes the anticipation accentuates our individual eccentric attributes. Needless to say, we have fun.
The Mongolian is coming along we like to hope. Listening to native speakers talk slow is encouraging yet humbling. Listening to native speakers speak normally is difficult and listening to native speakers talk about anything but church is suicidal. We have been teaching a lot and learning a lot. During class time our teachers teach us Mongolian in Mongolian and we are happy to report that we can ask where the bathroom is and other useful inquiries. I refuse to say that I am confident in my Mongolian linguistical skills nor do I feel prepared to hit the streets of Ulaanbaatar and contact people while running away from dogs. However, I do know that as I obediently study and prayerfully listen to instruction the Lord will assist me in this endeavor to which he has called and set me apart to labor in.
A few fun experiences of the week:
I have been wearing the same tie for 2 weeks now because I told a fellow who gave it to me I would wear it everyday until I left. Unfortunately I am still here and the once fly and fashionable neck ornament is becoming dull and drab in my ever more refined eye. The back story to this story it I got the tie from an Australian. When I first arrived in the MTC all of the Polynesian, New Zealand and Aussies intimidated and scared me. As I have been living with them and playing sports with them I have come to respect them and learn to love them and not be afraid to take the first step in initiating contact. They are a bunch of goofy, spiritual teddy bears, mate! I am rather proud of my New Zealand accent actually :)
We taught a group of english speaking missionaries serving stateside from all around the world a few weeks ago. We thought that we would be in our respective mission before they had left the MTC. They left yesterday and today. I am so thankful for the opportunity to have met taught and learned from these fantastic elders and sisters. They are an example to me of giving up everything (including thier native language) to come to America and further the building of God's Kingdom. And they are so HAPPY! All the time!! They brighten my day and I try to emulate thier Christlike attributes of faith and hope.
Thank you for resolving the driver's lisence issue and I am relatively confident that I will recieve the card before the time it is required to be used. I realized, right after I sent it back that I do not have any form of photo ID if I don't get my visa and passport. Therefore, I would be unable to travel anywhere by plane if I got reassigned, so I suppose it is expedient that I get that back. I am glad things worked out. I REALLY do not want to come home to a warrent for my arrest. (For those 3rd party readers, this issue was a minor infraction in which I did not turn in paperwork for. I am still legally able and spiritually worthy to serve a mission right now!)
Finally we had a wonderful 4th of July celebration here at the MTC. It was a wonderful, respectful, fun event commemorating the birthday of our nation and saluting the triumphs of the church in this great country. The program ended with flags from dozens of nations being presented by citizens of those nations. Including Mongolia! Sister Gaitheema bore the flag of her country with great pride and I felt a stirring in myself for the courageous country of Mongolia. We then watched fireworks and yelled the names of heroic revolutionary figures of Mongolia ex: Chinggis Xhan, Cyx baatar, choibalson and others. In Mongolia, on New Year's all the men in the city climb to the top of a mountain and yell encouragement to the rising sun of the New Year. 20 degrees below and no fear produces a spectacle of culture and excitement. I think us yessing at the fireworks helped sister Gaitheema feel at home.
Perhaps I will be able to call home and talk to you more in person, mom, but then again perhaps not. I am happy and healthy (stuck at 195 lbs and growing stretchmarks but it is okay) and learning and working hard. The country of Mongolia has just finished elections, which had put 5 American's visas on the backburner, and is now celebrating Naadam, thier holiday similar to our Independance day, which will inevitably keep 5 American's visas on the backburners of the consellate's desk. Oh well. I have a lot to learn.
I am just about out of time, but real quickly I had a few insights about my missionary purpose, which is: To invite others to come unto Christ by helping them recieve the restored Gospel, through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost and enduring to the end (I like how it sounds in Mongolian better) This statement is what I am all about as a missionary. I am maybe starting to grasp what this means in application to my investigators whom I will teach as well as myself. I know that through serving others and developing a personal relationship with my Savior, Jesus Christ, I can recieve eternal life. Baptism is a gateway, but it is not a measure of MY success. I have known this, but I still thought that I need to be a good missionary and help people recieve the ordinance of baptism, and I do, but the most important work I can do is help people become happy through learning about and following Christ. I love this work and the people I will soon teach, wherever they may be. Thank you for the update and I am SUPER excited to get mail :)
Thank you for the Email, sounds like Trek was a blast! I really cherished that experience as well when I had the opportunity to participate! Glad to hear that all of your travels have gone safely and you have returned home to get back into normal life it sounds like. Do you have any more trips this summer? I will also write Grandma Dickinson today, that you for her address!
Despite not recieving our Visas yet this week, I had a great time here in the MTC and continued to learn and develop my love of the people of Mongolia and for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I feel like a lot of pieces are coming together for me as I diligently study the holy scriptures and constantly practice the language.
Highlights of the week:
One really exciting sighting this week was on Tuesday! It was new mission president seminar last week; the conference ended on Wednesday and we had a devotional Tuesday night and 10 of the 12 apostles were present. All but President Packer and Elder Hales made it. Elder Perry spoke to us and emphasized many of the tremedous blessings of living the fulness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I took a different message out of his talk than what most people did, but I thought about Christ and the way He lived and acted. He had a herculean body to begin with, in respect to it being half God-half mortal, but regardless of that fact, Christ knew how to perfectly care for the human body, which He had part in creating. I think that this helped me understand the realness of Christ's teachings more completely.
I hear that President Terrence A. Clark comes home this month, right?! I have met a couple of his returned missionaries, and they are great and absolutely loved him! Please tell him 'Hi' for me! Also Elder Wilson (Isaac) is supposed to come home today! Maybe I will see him here, because his sister works here and she could bring him in to witness firsthand the reality of missionaries actually going to Mongolia.
Another fun experience was teaching our investigator, Bothoraa, and she now has a baptisimal date on the 25 of this month I believe! It has been amazing to watch the Lord's hand in this work when Bothoraa was on her own. She really has been prepared and I am grateful for the opportunity to teach her.
We got to listen to the BBC broadcast and Mr. Owen did a rather chipper job! We just got a kick out of hearing his voice again.
Well, we are hoping to leave tomorrow. We are all so excited to arrive in the land of the blue skies. My health is doing well. I have no complaints. I am extremely happy and grateful to be engaged in this life-changing work. I am trying with all my heart, might, mind and strength to be the missionary that my God needs me to be. I love HIm and I know that He loves and sustains me. One of my goals as a missionary is to forget about myself and my needs and wear out this physical tabernacle of clay and help bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man. Thank you for raising me to work hard and to serve others. Service has brought me closer to Chrits throughout my life and continues, especially now, to build my testimony. Find opportunities to serve and you will find an increase in happiness.
Hope to hear from you next time in MONGOLIAAAAAAAAAAAAA