Hello dear family!
Well, nothing much is new here. Life is amazing and a lot of fun and there is a lot of growth going on. Reading is getting a lot easier now but that doesn't necessarily mean I understand everything I read. Lessons are going and are quite fun. So as I have been reading over past emails I've sent you, I've realized I've left out a lot of spiritual things I have learned. This letter will make up for that. But before I tell you the spiritual, I will tell you the other. I was going to tell you spiritual first but then (after I wrote it) I realized I wanted to end with those thoughts instead of jumping to a new topic. So:
- Sister Stack had to take pain killers on Friday. I felt so bad for her but it was honestly soooooo hilarious. "What is water, I mean, what is it?" "What is ice?" "What is pizza?" "I am just so happy I could just dance on my face!" "What do they speak, box?" Honestly, the box one is the most hilarious but I can't really even explain why. It had to do with the keyboard programmed to type in Korean but the characters just came out as boxes. She commented that our teachers were so spiritual that it makes sense that the 3 Nephites are called as such (One of our teacher's first name is Sam and Saam means three in Thai). It was sooooo funny. Honestly, I don't think we have ever laughed that much.
- Um... I honestly can't remember what else. Oh, everyone in our zone is getting sick (not my fault I promise! I was better for three days before everyone else got sick and they had different symptoms than me) so we went to the doctors on Sunday for one of our companions. Yup. The MTC is great but we are always with people so it is so easy to get sick here.
- ON SATURDAY WE REACHED OUR ONE MONTH MARK!!!!! THAT MEANS THAT IN A MONTH I WILL BE IN THAILAND!!!!! what? me? excited? what are you talking about?
- Oh, we have a new person goal: to like the Spanish Elders more. They aren't bad or anything, they just call us Hermana and we aren't Hermanas. We are Sidtees. So whenever they call us Hermana, we respond in Thai. We need to be more humble about how awesome our language is. :) And this is diffidently not saying anything bad about learning Spanish. We just don't like being called Hermanas. :)
- Um...so no one is really asking me questions so I don't really know what to talk about. Oh. Next Wednesday our zone of 18 missionaries is gaining 48 new ones. 22 of those are going to be Thai. We are also getting Vietnamese, Hmong, and Cambodians. The week after we are getting Laotian. Today about 860 new missionaries entered the MTC which is the highest entry-number the MTC has ever had. And next week will also be in the 800s. But to answer Mom's question, I am still staying at the MTC and not moving to the Raintree or some place else.
- Speaking of moving, we get to go off campus on the 23rd. Why? Because the choir (which my zone and I choose to sing in) is singing at the Marriott Center. Why? Because the 1st Presidency and 12 Apostles will be there because of the new mission presidents! And this will be filmed and broadcast world wide. SO EXCITING!!!!! Speaking of choir, it is absolutely amazing and I love it. We practice on Sunday and Tuesday and sing at the Tuesday devotional. The choir direct (Brother E something) is hilarious and amazing and just really cool. I love choir so much! :)
Um... I am out of time so I guess I'll stop writing about the other stuff and include the spiritual stuff I had already written.
I have learned so much and one of the things I've learned is that I know and understand so little about the gospel. Honestly, that was one of the best lessons I got here. I was asking an Elder questions about something and it was amazing how much he knew. And our teachers have so much spiritual knowledge it is astounding. I mean (sorry for saying that phrase a lot), you would think that by now I would know and understand Ether 12:24 but you would be wrong. Brother Shipley was telling us about it in a new way. You know how the Lord says His grace is sufficient? I thought that meant that His grace was sufficient to help our weaknesses become strengths. Brother Shipley offered another meaning: that the Lord's grace is sufficient to work with your flaws. And being humble means to not focus on yourself. If you are focusing on your flaws constantly, you are still not being humble. So the Lord tells us to be humble and His grace is sufficient. So even if you don't think your testimony is strong enough, if you do the work here and focus on your investigators, the Lord will make up for your flaws. Sorry, I'm not saying it as well or as meaningfully as Brother Shipley did. But it was amazing.
Another thing I have realized here: I have been taking the Book of Mormon for granted. I mean, oh my goodness that book is amazing and... I can't really even describe it. In another lesson Brother Shipley gave us the challenge to have enough faith to pray to the Lord with a question and then to open the scriptures and find the answer or an answer on that page. He always stresses how every verse is meaningful, every verse has meaning for yourself and your investigator. So I've been applying that principle. It is so true! In a lesson with Phii Tham (played by Brother Shipley), we began by asking Phii Tham if he had received answers to his prayers. He said he didn't know how to. I mentioned how, for me, answers come by feeling the Holy Ghost or by randomly opening my scriptures and seeing an answer. Well, Phii Tham repeated back to me what I said about randomly opening the Book of Mormon and then decided to do. Right then and there. I started mentally freaking out. I knew it could work because it has worked every time for me without fail but still, what if it didn't? I started praying so fervently that it would work. All the while Phii Tham is just reading the page he opened to. After a while he looked up and we asked where he turned to. It was in Alma. I have it written down somewhere but I don't remember off the top of my head. He told us the two verses that stood out to him: they had to do with keeping the commandments and the promise that accompanied them. I showed him the scripture in 1st Nephi where it says what the Lord's promise is. He said he had goosebumps. We told him that that and him feeling good was the Holy Ghost. It was soooo exciting! And then the next lesson with him he said he now had a testimony of Joseph Smith. Before he hadn't because he didn't really believe in prophets. He has gone to church for the last two weeks and this last week they learned about Joseph Smith. That combined with knowing how to pray and knowing about how to receive answers strengthened his testimony. He told us he had a testimony of the Book of Mormon. Like the third or fourth lesson we had with him, he said he wanted to be baptized once he knew what we were saying was true. So this lesson we asked if he still wanted that. He said he did but... he had to change some things in his life first. One of those things might be that he is the manager of an entertainment business. Any guesses what that business is? Pretty Ladies. Yup. He said he didn't like that job and that the atmosphere wasn't good and that he wanted to change jobs but he was scared because the job supported his family. So we are praying that he can find a new job and that the Lord will help.
But anyway, back to the Book of Mormon, it's amazing. Either the next class period or the one after that Brother Shipley (I promise Brother Phan is amazing as well. I mean seriously, he is an amazing teacher and we love having him as a teacher) talked again about there being meaning of every verse. Because of that lesson with Phii Tham, Brother Shipley had me open to a random page. Well...that led to us reading in the war chapters. Yup. Let me tell you, it was hard to find meaning in the 6-8 verses that we read but we did and it was really amazing what we found. It's just, honestly, there is no other book that you can do that with. There is no other book that you can open up to a random page and every verse (or paragraph) having great meaning to your life and to the life of your investigators. I know it so much. The Book of Mormon can and will and has changed lives. It is the keystone of our religion. Without it, our entire religion crumbles but with it, the truth is undeniable. Just reading it with a sincere heart and "with real intent" as the scriptures say, can change your life. I love how a small 531 page book can do that.
Another thing I realized while here at the MTC, everything comes back to love. You know how in a lot of movies (especially children's books), love is always the answer. Love is the most powerful. Love conquers all. Love saves the day. Yeah, well that cliché is totally true. In Preach My Gospel, in the every first paragraph of chapter 3 (the lessons), it starts off talking about Heavenly Father and His love. It has a very profound statement there: "He loves us." I mean, have you ever really thought about that. Heavenly Father, the most supreme being anywhere and everywhere, who created everything, loves us. Us! Us imperfect and sinful creations. And there are so many of us. But He loves each of us individually. He knows us each by name. Our name! He knows every single thing about us. Why does He love us? What have we ever done to earn His love? We follow Him sometimes but we usually are pretty bad at that. He sent His Only Begotten Son to Earth to die for us because we weren't perfect. I mean, why? Why does He love us? In all honestly, I haven't figured that answer out yet which I think is the best part. We don't always believe in Him, we take His name in vain, we curse Him, we claim He doesn't exist, we don't follow Him or obey Him and yet though it all, He loves us. He loves us so much that He sent His perfect son to die for us. Jesus Christ is the only perfect being that has ever walked this Earth. He is the only one who has ever perfectly followed the Father and yet He died for us. Isn't that amazing? It makes me think of the song "I Stand All Amazed". It is so true. "I stand all amazed at the love Jesus offers me. Confused at the grace at so fully he offers me. I tremble to know that for me he was crucified. That for me a sinner, he suffered, he bled and died." God and Jesus Christ love us so much. Never forget that. Never doubt that. When everything is going wrong, remember that God, the All-Powerful and All-Knowing, loves you and that He wants you to be happy. His work and His glory (His Glory!) is to bring to pass our immortality and eternal life (see Moses 1:39). I mean honestly, wow. Why have we ever doubted Him? He knows the future, the past, the present. He knows all that could be, all that is, and all that never will. He has created everything and yet we doubt His ability to help us? He created us! He created this world! He created everything and yet we doubt His power and His love for us. Sorry to go on that little spiel but that is just something that hit me during this week. Never doubt that God loves you, each and every one of you.
I love you all every much and hope all is well with you. The Lord truly does run this church and this MTC and I know this without a shadow of a doubt. The MTC would never work without the Lord.
Love you much!