Nov. 15, 2013 10:16 AM
Hello dear family and friends! I miss you all so much! It's hard being away from home and the people I love, but I know it's the right place for me at this time.
Wednesday: After finishing last minute packing Mom and Dad drove me to the MTC in Provo. After being set apart the night before I was feeling so excited! Of course, being the worrier and home-body that I am I was still a bit nervous. We made time for a few pictures on the field below the temple before pulling up to the MTC curb where I was met by a sweet sister going to Japan. Her companion was there and it turns out she was good friends with one of my roommates from Rexburg! It was so good to see a familiar face! I was led in and out of buildings (which all basically look the same! We still get them confused sometimes!!! I also ran across an Elder who went to Sky View. Elder Chertkow! It was fun to see him here!) picking up my name tag, books, and other items. When a sweet sister put my name badge on my sweater she told me it would be the best accessory I would wear while I serve as a missionary. I love knowing that I represent Christ, and that His name is with mine on my tag for the world to see.
Then it was time to meet my district. After a short hello I got to watch an orientation on one of the computers. Knowing my luck with technology I should have guessed my computer would stall, but the third one I tried worked! My district is made of four sisters going to Jacksonville, Florida, and six Elders going to Columbia, South Carolina. My companion is Sister Yeakley! She is amazing! Her name is pronounced just like you were saying "Yea!" She's one of the "youngsters" at age 19. She is from Eagle, Idaho but is originally from Haiti. Her story is so neat! She was adopted when she was about 8 to a family with 22 kids!!! Half of them are adopted from various countries! She is just adorable! She's very bubbly, LOVES to exercise, she loves the color pink (a LOT), and she has gorgeous hair (you wouldn't believe how many sisters ask if they can play with it). I'll try to get a picture of us to you. The other sisters in our district are Sister Hillman, from Orem (the one I met on facebook and was able to meet in person last month) and Sister Despain from Thatcher, Arizona. We have too much fun together! I love these sisters, and I love that we get to call each other sisters!
That night we had chicken cord on blue (your favorite Janese!) and they have BYU ice cream in honor of the new missionaries. And yes, the newbies still get beautiful orange dots on their name tags so everyone is super super friendly! That evening we sat in a room and were told basics about an investigator. Then this person came in and two Elders began to talk to him or her. After a couple minutes it was turned over the group of new missionaries. I was able to make a few comments, and guess what! I found out that while it's a bit scary, and my words still get all mumbled up sometimes I love teaching! I love sharing my testimony of Christ, and of Heavenly Father's love for his children.
Thursday: It was a busy day, which is good. It keeps my mind focused instead of letting me think about the people I miss. I love the story from President Hinckley when his dad told him to "forget himself and go to work." That's what I've been trying to do, and I've found that when I'm busy I'm happy. The day was busy with introductions to teaching. We did an exercise where we were shown clips of people talking about their lives. We discussed with our companion what we learned about the person's life and what we thought the Lord sees and feels when he looks at this person. What I am learning the most is how to see people as Heavenly Father does, how to recognize where they can be and what they need to hear. I know that Heavenly Father knows each of his children and what they need as an individual. If we trust him and follow the spirit we will know what to teach.
In my district class my teacher pointed out that when Christ told the apostles to follow him he said, "I will make you fishers of men." We can just become fishers, He makes us such. I remember fishing early one morning in July with Dad in Tony Grove. He told me that I was going to be fishing next year, just a different kind. It is true! In the same class we were divided to role play. Somehow it worked out that the other three sisters got to be together to role play in the hall, and I was left with the Elders... that was a little strange. But it was a really good experience to practice teaching, and to see what it's like to be taught. We were told that role playing isn't really practicing to teach, it's practicing to feel the spirit and find what our investigators need to hear.
That evening we met our Branch presidency. We are with one other district (4 Elders and 4 Sisters all going to Jacksonville). I love the presidency! President Boone was born in Jacksonville! He told us it's the biggest city in the US geographically and where the first stake in the South was made. The opening hymn was How Firm a Foundation. President Boone asked who could play piano. Only one Elder and I raised our hands. President asked if I could play that one and I told him it was my favorite hymn. I was so grateful to have the chance to play my favorite hymn. I needed a tender mercy like that! Of course, then I realized that all of they hymn books on the piano were in languages other than English and I couldn't find the music. Gratefully one of the Elders gave his book up for me! (Speaking of which the Elders have all been told to be super nice to the Sisters and it shows.) The counselors each took a district to meet with us one at a time. After discussing some upcoming schedules and plans some of us were asked to fill special roles such as District Leader. I've been asked to be the music coordinator for my district. I'm so grateful for this calling! It will be good to keep extra busy, and I love choosing music to invite the spirit. Basically the other district music co and I will choose hymns for next Sunday's meeting and we need to choose a farewell hymn for our district to sing before we fly out. I also get to decide to sing a hymn in class if we need to wake up a bit!
Friday: Happy first P-day! We did a service project at 6:05 this morning, which consisted of cleaning one of the buildings on campus. I enjoyed the work, and was glad the Elders get to clean toilets (my toilet cleaning loving days are past. Clean away Janese! ;) ) Sister Yeakley and I tackled sweeping bathrooms and stairs, and then cleaning the teacher's prep room. Now I need to go finish laundry!
I love you all! And miss you so much! I am happy to be learning and growing! Thank you for your prayers, I feel the power from them!
Sister Alyson Murray