Wednesday, June 26, 2013

I'm Just a Little Concerned About Your Salvation...

Oi minha familia E amigos!
WOW!  Thanks to everyone SO MUCH for emailing me!  For all you dumb, prideful potential missionaries out there who don't think you want to do Dear Elder and get letters everyday, let me bear you my testimony-  YOU DO.  Sister Kemer in my district gets at least 5 letters from her mom everyday, and she calls her mom "Ma", like from the movie Babe.  It's so funny.  Soooo, if my immediate family wants to get that Dear Elder thing worked out, that would be awesome.  I found out this week, though, that you can print off your emails in one of the buildings here, so I'll be able to respond to everyone this week!
First, a little about how things are going, via bullet points
  • I LOVE my district!  Sis. Kemer and I agree, we have never laughed so hard as we have here at the MTC.  There are 4 companionships of Elders and 2 of Sisters, and we all are different, but we mesh really well.  Elder Montgomery is from Oregon and just has the biggest smile and laughs at everything.  When he told me his favorite thing at BYU was kissing all the girls, I told him "I'm just a little concerned about your salvation and stuff" and that I had an Elder Holland talk for him to read.  He's a good sport and really fun, so it was all good.  Elder Jensen is from the boonies in North Carolina, so he has this thick hick accent.  His attempts at Portuguese are hilarious.  In fact, he may be one of the funniest people I've ever met.  He says things like "honey child" and "git er done", but a favorite thing for our district to say is "nao bom" (not good) in a southern drawl to like everything.  I guess I didn't think he was super intelligent at first (I swear, I get it from the stereotypes in movies), but some times he'll just pop out and say these big words and I just think "good for you!".  That probably doesn't speak too well of me, but I think it's hilarious.  Sis. Kemer is like the light of our district.  She's always smiling and has the best sense of humor and Sis Doutre, her companion is SO FUNNY.  I would've never thought that when I first met her because she can also be pretty quiet and intense.  Yesterday, she gave our district a sample of how she can play the bag pipes through her nose and told us about how she accidently sat on a cat and killed it (she is like the smallest thing ever).  As Sis. Hill would say, "That is such a fat joke!"  We were all on the floor, dying, and of course, I was crying.  My whole district makes fun of my crying now; they ever find ways to set me off.  What ever, they're tears of the spirit.
  • I've seen TONS of people here!  Sister Urling, Sister Hill, Sister Harline, Sister Van Wie, Elder Smith, and so many more.  My district thinks I know everyone, and actually, I'm suprised by how many people I do know.  Most of it's like "oh hey! we sat together in Molecular Bio" or "I saw you in the Bookstore one time", but it's nice to have friendly faces surrounding me.  In fact, even our investigator, Jorge, was in my chem recitation my freshman year.  I see Sister Hart all the time.  She actually just taught our district a lesson on grammar yesterday.  I don't know how to feel around her- it's kind of awkward.  I mean, she's from my homestake, she the older sister of the guy I sat next to in AP Lang, she's my older sister's best friend, and we have been in nutrition classes together at BYU... She's always super nice though, so it's good to see her.
  • Portuguese HAS gotten better.  Thank you for the prayers, and keep em' coming!  I've finally found a way of studying that helps me learn most effectively, and now that I'm no longer competing with the other sisters in my district, things are going a lot smoother.  Don't get me wrong, it's still WAY hard, but I no longer want to cry out of frustration all the time.  The thing that's hard is that I have so many words and conjugations and tenses rolling around in my head that have only been there a short time.  So when I want to say something, I have to first think of it in english, then think of it in way that I know how to say in Portuguese, then sift through all these words to find the right ones, and then focus on pronouncing them correctly.  Pronunciation is super important in Portuguese because you can be saying the exact same word, but emphasis on one sylable versus another totally changes the meaning.  One elder, the other day, was teaching an investigator and accidentally said mulhar instead of mulher, saying "Jesus is the woman for me" instead of "Jesus is the best for me".  We all died at that.  I keep getting my (meu) and your (seu) confused, so instead of asking our investigator how his family is, I ask him how mine is.  He usually never cracks a smile, but he did at that.
  • Now that I have a basic grasp on the language and can express myself well enough (if ever so haltingly), I've realized how dumb I was the first week here.  I don't regret freaking out about the language because it motivated me to work harder than I ever had, but I've realized that it doesn't matter what I say to my investigators, it only matters if the spirit is there.  That's something the MTC strongly emphasizes, and something I'm gaining a testimony of as my companion and I teach our investigators.  Last week, our teacher challenged us to teach our lessons without any notes.  I thought he was crazy!  But we tried it, and it has brought so many blessings.  Being the senior companion, I'm usually the one that plans out the lessons, does most of the talking, and initiates commitments, conversation, etc.  I don't know what got into me, but on Thursday, during planning time I just looked at Sister Sprague, my companion, and said "you're planning the lesson today, good luck" and suddenly, it was like this HUGE weight was lifted off my shoulders.  I was so happy!  I was excited for this lesson, I studied my restoration vocab and felt completely prepared, as I saw my companion working hard to prepare herself, I felt such love and gratitude for her for one of the first times.  I think maybe I'd been feeling a little bitter towards her because I felt like I was the only one doing all the work.  We had companionship inventory that night (where we get deep and talk about how things are going) and I told her that.  She was super nice about it and offered to prepare the lessons for the next week.  I'm so grateful for her and how sweet she is!  Yes, she has faults, and so do I, but when you work together and serve others as they serve you, things go so much better, and they have!  I really think my stress was keeping the spirit from our lessons, becuase we have been so succesful ever since then.  Sister Sprague and I have been getting along great, us sisters in our district are SO tight, and our district has totally become more unified.  The gospel is true people!!!  Uggghh, I wish everyone could have these experiences I'm having because you just learn and grow so much here at the MTC.  I thought I had a testimony before, I thought I knew the importance of the spirit, I thought I knew how to love people, but I really didn't know anything until I was put in a situation where all of the things I thought I knew were challenged, all at the same time.  I don't know if I'm making any sense here because I don't have enough time to re-read through this, but I hope the message, or any message (other than that I stink at writing) is getting across!
  • So, I hope you all watched the Missionary President training broadcast on Sunday because it was for EVERYONE, not just "missionaries" and mission presidents.  It kind of stunk how they only showed the elders during the choir part, but I was in it!  I swear (it's pretty much the only reason I did choir)!  I'm just going to share a little (okay, maybe it's long) excerpt from my journal that night-
  • "So today was the World Wide Mission President Training Broadcast ... The whole thing was about making members more a part of missionary work.  It's cool to think that with the age change announcement, so many more young men and women have been receiving mission calls, and now, every single member of the church has received one!  The work is definitely hastening.  This literally is a call from the Lord to step up to the plate.  If you're not in a posistion where feel comfortable talking to people about the gospel, this is Heavenly Father telling you to get there.  Truly, we are not the ones teaching, it's all the spirit.  You have to be worthy to have it with you 24/7.  I've realized here at the MTC how little influence i have in the mission field and how much the Lord has.  I can testify that no matter how well versed, how eleoquant, how intelligent you are, you can convert no one without the spirit.  We hear this all the time, but it's so true!  People won't remember the words you say, but the way you make them feel, and the feeling that will bring them clser to Christ is love.  I know this is a hard thing- to love everyone.  It's something I really struggle with.  But what is it that draws people to goodness, that compels them to do good, to serve others, etc?  That's the light of Christ.  The light of Christ is shown through charity, and what is charity?  The pure love of Christ.  And aren't we commanded to be Christ-like?  To come as near to Christ as possible?  When we serve others, when we bear them our testimonies, or even just go out of our way to get ot know them, I know the Lord blesses us to see these people the way He does- the potential they have- and allows us to feel just a portion of the love that He has for them.  I know this becuase I've seen and felt it in my life so many times, even with our fake investigator this week.  But these are just words.  You can't really know this until you try it for yourself, just like you can't know the Book of Mormon's true until you've studied it and prayed about it.  Action preceeds faith, and that's what it all comes down to is faith.  Do you have the faith that his is the true gospel?  Do you have the faith that the spirit is real and available to you ALWAYS?  Do you have the faith that God will not fail you, that this work will not fail, and that through Him, you can do all things?  If you don't, maybe there's something in your life that needs to be fixed.  "For now is the time for men to prepare to meet God".  Now is the time to start wearing your heart and your testimony on your sleeve, because it's EVERYONE'S duty to share this gospel with every nation, kindred, tongue, and people.  Everyone deserves to know how much Heavenly Father loves them.  I've realized that if I don't feel comfortable telling people this, maybe I need to feel it more myself.  The gospel changes lives, it changes hearts, it changes the eternitites.  Sharing the gospel with someone is the greatest blessing you could give them, both for them and yourself.  There will be times, when it's awkward and uncomfortable, in fact, that's probably 90% of the time.  Heavenly Father doesn't promise us it won't be like this, but He does promise us it will be worth it.  And I know this."
  • Ahhh, I'm out of time!  This email ridiculously long anyways.  But in response to everyone's emails, THANK YOU!!!  Liz, Lincoln, Dad, Jake, Grandma, Grandpa, Kacee, Zane, Ashley, Aunt Jenny, Uncle Toby, Mari, Jill, and EVERYONE!! They mean so much to me!  I'll try to respond better next time.  Actually, it you want to send me your actual address, I would love to respond to you by mail, since I can do that when ever.
Thanks Grandma for the cookies and Mom for the cupcakes!  I'm the most popular sister in the district!  haha, just kidding, it's a running joke we have in our district.  But I love you and and pray for you literally all day because that's how much we pray here.  Good luck in your own missionary efforts!  The church is true!

Sister Barkdull

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