Saturday, June 9, 2012

5 weeks left in MTC

Hello family and loved ones!
Happy birthday Mom!!!!!! I love you so much and thank you for all of the packages and sweet cards that you are so faithful and diligent about writing me!
And thank you family for all of the other cards that I've been sent! I have a TON of them hanging up on my wall next to my bed!
So today marks the beginning of my 7th week in the MTC, which means we have 5 more left before we go out into the field!
It's mind-boggling to think that I'll be in Russia in just over a month!
I hope everyone is doing well and I continue to pray for all of you!
Today we are getting 40 new Russian-speaking missionaries in our branch alone, which is HUGE! We almost won't have enough room in sacrament meeting to fit all of them! We also have four new room-mates in our room as well, so me and Sister Carver decorated the door and made their beds and got them each key rings for their id-cards. Sister Carver was called to be the coordinating sister for our branch, so tonight we get to give the new missionaries a tour and we also get to welcome them during their branch meeting on Friday and explain things like companionship inventory. We are so excited to get to meet all of them and it's really crazy to look back on this past six weeks and realize just how much we've learned!
I've felt so blessed by the Lord and I've been able to do a TON of hard things since I've been here. I never would have imagined that I'd be teaching in Russian everyday! I've had to overcome a lot of my fears, especially of public speaking, but I give all of the credit to the Lord and am also sooooo grateful that I have such a wonderful companion and that we work so well together!
We've had some really incredible meetings the past couple of days. We had one of the Russian teachers come and talk to us about obedience and how we MADE the decision to come and serve this mission and follow these rules! He read us this really incredible MTC devotional by Elder Holland. In it, he asks us, referring to Christ, "Do you love him?" And that we can't do this work unless we really do love the Savior. And if we do then our call is to feed his sheep and that this mission is a "new life...This mission marks that hour in your life. You cannot go back, And if you do, you will break my heart and you will break the heart of God himself." In reference to Peter, he told us that we've "left our nets", we've left the world, for something so much go out and bring the gospel to the Lord's children!
That talk was so inspiring to me and made me realize that I need to be perfectly obedient if I am going to be a happy missionary and become the type of missionary and have this mission be the starting-off point I've always dreamed of.
I've realized that with the Lord's help I can overcome the feelings of inadequacy, lack of confidence, and shyness that I've always felt plagued by. Because the Lord is on my side. And that we are commanded to "open our mouths and spare not!"
The teacher told us that our Heavenly Father is proud of us no matter what our current spirituality or physical status is. And that we are going to Russia, to the literal gathering of Israel! All ten tribes are in Russia! And it's going to be as big as Brazil, but we will be laying the groundwork for it!
So that was an incredibly motivational for me, and it made me realize that I want to make sure that I am diligent even after I get home and that I can't come home and be the same person.
Last night's Tuesday devotional, we heard from Marlin K. Jensen, who is a member of the first quorum of the 70. He's actually retiring because he's turning 70, so it was his last time speaking at the MTC after 20 years! He was so wonderful and gave us a ton of advice, which answered so many questions of mine. He talked to us about how there are so many people out there who are unhappy, who are "seekers" (Sister Welch in our district loved that he said that because it made her think of Harry Potter and she said that the gospel is the "snitch"!) who are looking for a better life, for a purpose, for something!
And we are the ones who will bring them that because we have been called. I realized that I really need to LOVE teaching and he told us "Everyone we meet in this life will one day know what we know and that we knew it."
It seriously made me ponder how many wasted opportunities I've had where I could have shared the gospel, because no matter what, it has an answer for any questions in someone's life! I know though, that this mission is my opportunity to try to make up for that, and now I have the mantle and there are people in Russia prepared for me.
He said that our mission is just a "speak of dust" in the scheme of eternity but it is our offering to the Lord! I know that this mission is my offering to the Lord and that I want to be like Alma the younger-who truly repented and experienced the atonement of Christ and then spent the rest of his life committed to bringing others unto Christ!
Well I'm running out of time here! Some other fun notes: We got our Russian name tags this week! We're not allowed to wear them yet though, but I'm excited for the time when we can wear them in Russia.
I love you all! Please keep writing!
-Sister Schmidt

week 5

Hello family!
So today marks 5 weeks that we've been here in the M.T.C.! At this point we've almost reached the halfway point and we have 6 weeks left! It's crazy, because the older districts had been here as long as we have when we got here!
This week I ran into a Sister whose older sister is Sister Bodeen, the primary president in our ward! We randomly ran into each other in a bathroom one day and it we just struck up a conversation and figured out that we were from the same stake! She's serving Spanish speaking (I'm not sure where) but it was funny because she said that her sister had mentioned me to her and that I was going to Russia! I love how small the world is at the MTC!
So all of the older districts in our branch left on Monday and Tuesday for Russia. Things are pretty lonely without them around. Our district sang "God be With you til we Meet Again" in Russian during Sacrament meeting on Sunday to the older districts. I didn't really have the chance to get to know them super well individually, but it was nice having their spirits and personalities around. So now it's just me and Sister Carver in our room until the new Russian districts come in a week. I'm excited for them to come and to get to know all of them and to help them out! 
This past week has been really wonderful. The weeks are starting to seem like a blur to me. I got to do something called Plan, Study, Teach, Cycle with a Sister from the older district as well as my teacher, Sister Alletto. During it, we have personal, companionship, and language study together and plan for one of our progressing "investigators" played by our other teachers.
At this point, we've made a lot of progress with our two longest-running investigators Lora and Kostya. They're both agreed to be baptized and we've taught both of them most of the commandments and they've both agreed to keep the word of wisdom and the law of tithing. Teaching is getting easier and less stressful because we know how to say a lot now and it's much easier to teach by the Spirit and to answer their questions.
Me and Sister Carver got to teach a new investigator yesterday named Vova who has had all of the discussions with the missionaries and has read the Book of Mormon, but doesn't understand why he needs to go to church every Sunday. He's really funny and such a character! He made us try on his Russian hat and told us very enthusiastically how much he loves tennis and likes to play it everyday of course (kenyeshna)! He told us that he felt like he could pray and read the scriptures at home and just felt like church was a social thing. He said he could feel the Spirit just by popping in a dvd into his big-screen tv =)
So we taught him the importance of covenants and how after baptism you need to take the sacrament each Sunday to renew those covenants and repent each week. He still didn't quite understand why he needed to go to church and I told him firmly and bore testimony that it's a commandment and I had him reach some verses in 3 Nephi 18 where Christ introduced the sacrament to his disciples. After that, the light seemed to go on in his head and it was amazing how the scriptures we planned were exactly what he needed to read to understand. He said he'd pray about baptism and the sacrament, which we were super excited about!
We also got two other new investigators, because our teacher Sister Alletto is having us each play an investigator, or someone we actually know and love who's not a member, and then teach each other which is really cool!
It's always really amazing how the Spirit can work during lessons and let you teach people according to their needs.
Something really awesome that we do together during class that I love is read the Book of Mormon together. Our teacher Brat Adams always leads the most profound spiritual discussions. He is so wise and so inspiring when we read and I always learn so much from him! He told us that as missionaries, "We are an act of God's love" and that the charity and love that He gives to us is a "mirror that that Lord sends down for us to reflect."
Elder Naylor in our district wants to make a book of all of Brat Adam's one-liners! We have some of the funniest elders in our district! We have this one elder, Elder Bugg who knows how to play any song by ear on the piano and we were giving him requests to play songs on his recorder this week! So we always have a lot of fun together.
The language is still hard, but I take comfort in the fact that we're here for another six weeks and that the Lord will enable us to do his work!
I hope everyone is well and had a wonderful and safe Memorial day weekend!
Mom-thank you so much for the package and for the book-bag! And thank you family for all of your sweet notes and letters! I love you all so much!
Mom-I was wondering if you could send me my gap, black sport's jacket? It's in either the bottom right of second to bottom right drawer in my big dresser!
I love you all and pray for all of you everyday!
Please keep sending letters =)
-Love, Sister Schmidt

week 4

Hello family!
It's pretty hard to believe, but as of today I have been in the MTC for one month! That means I only have 7 more weeks to go until Russia!!!!
I heard someone here say that the first three weeks are the LONGEST two months of your life- haha so true! But seriously, this month has gone by so incredibly fast and I'm going to be sad when it comes time to leave yet I'll be even more excited because then I'll be going to RUSSIA!!!
I really am enjoying and loving my time in the MTC!!! I'm sad because the two older districts in our zone are leaving on Monday and Tuesday-it's going to be so sad and lonely when they leave! I'm in a room of 6 girls (including me and Sister Carver) and it will just be us two after Tuesday! Some of the girls are going to a part of Russia where your luggage can only weigh 44 pounds-yikes! We're lucky though, because to fly into Moscow we will probably be flying delta, but they have to take another Russian airline from Moscow to their missions.
But we'll only be alone until June 6th, when the new Russian districts come and then we'll be the grown-up districts!
This past week was really great!
Our "investigator" Kostya agreed to be baptized! After we extended the commitment to be baptized, he asked "when?" and we said in a month and he went "A MONTH?!". He said he was a bad guy and that he didn't think he'd be ready in a month and I've never felt stronger during a lesson that when I bore testimony to him that God wants him to return to Him and that if I can repent, he can repent because of Jesus Christ and his Atonement! I've never felt that strongly during a lesson and we were so excited afterwards because it was amazing to see the change in him from our first lesson with him! It was an incredible feeling and I truly felt blessed to be able to teach by the Spirit and help change someone's life as I invite them to come unto Christ! Our other investigator Lora also agreed to be baptized and we challenged her to live the word of wisdom which she was nervous about but accepted! I'm really starting to get excited about this work!
We had the most incredible speakers these past few days! The president of the Provo temple Robert Daines came and spoke to us on Sunday and then Ronald A. Rasband, president over ALL the quruoms of the seventy came to speak to us last night at the Tuesday devotional!!!!
It was so cool during our district review when a member of our branch presidency told us that in the month we've been here, 50% of our Tuesday devotional speakers have been apostles and that we're sure to see more over the next 7 weeks that we're here!
AND GUESS WHAT?!!! IN JUNE, ALL OF THE TWELVE AND THE FIRST PRESIDENCY AND THE PROPHET ARE COMING TO THE MTC!!!! They're restructuring the MTC presidency so we are soooo lucky that we'll be here when they do that!!!!
I'm realizing more and more everyday that there is nothing I'd rather be doing right now with my life than this. I've been surprised over how little I've been missing the distractions that used to occupy most of my time. I do love and miss many family members and friends, but I LOVE learning this language, I LOVE my companion Sister Carver, and I LOVE my district and zone!!!!
Most importantly, I love my savior Jesus Christ! I've realized especially within the past 4 years, how much I love this gospel and how through the Atonement, we can truly be healed and be freed from all of our past heartaches and pains! Elder Rasband gave the most powerful talk on how we can always have the companionship of the Spirit with us as we teach if we bridle our passions, and he bore a very powerful testimony of our divinely inspired mission calls! I can't wait to go to Russia and meet my investigators!
So here's a few other updates:
Language: I memorize the first vision in Russian-yay!!!! I've been working on it for a couple of weeks on and off and finally got it! This week we learned some really useful grammar patterns.
We learned how to say "I like something", you actually say, "To me, is pleasing, ..." Weird! It was funny-I learned how to say "To me, is pleasing, to watch Spongebob" and my teacher Brat Adams asked if I was going to tell Kostya that during our lesson! Hahaha! I didn't....
Our teachers always tell us the most hilarious stories from their missions! When we were learning about cases, Brat Adams told us that we should call our other teacher Brat Savage, "Brat Savage-om" which means brother by the way of the savage! They keep us pretty entertained!
Another update: Me and Sister Carver got to teach our district this past Sunday! We taught about faith in Jesus Christ using Helaman chapter 5 and we came up with some good questions for our class. It went really well and I was so grateful to have a companion to teach with because it's always been nervewracking to me in the past to teach a class by myself (that isn't a primary class).
Also, we have a new district leader now-Elder Crave.
Thank you everyone for all of your emails and letters! Mom-thank you for all of the cards you send me every day! You never fail to make me feel loved!
Grandma and Grandpa Azbill-thank you for your letter and for the flashlight-I use it every night!
Anna-thank you for the unicorn card that speaks magical advice! Me and my room-mates were DYING when I showed it to them! By the way, you should write my companion Sister Carver (same address) and send her a funny card too!
I'm sending the photo-cd this week with pictures that you can print out! They stopped printing photos, but I'm not sure about photo cd's so I might be able to get more and send them.
I was wondering though: There's this really amazing Russian dictionary that our teachers suggested that we get because it's helpful with cases.
It's called Russian-English Dictionary Revised and Expanded Edition (it's red) by Kenneth Katzner.
Apparently you can find it on amazon!
I'm out of time, but I love all of you! Please write me if you have time because letters seriously brighten up your day when it's been rough!
Love you all!
-Sister Schmidt