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 better....to 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!