As I sit down to write (err, uh, type) this letter, I feel like that prophet in the Book of Mormon (I forget who it is) who says that he can only write a hundreth part of the events which have occurred. True story. The end. :) My time is close at hand, so let's get started, shall we? :) (On a side note--the MTC really is a time warp, so I'm not sure when everything exactly happened. Just bear with me. :))
Before I get to much further, I have to explain the title of this email. When the new missionaries arrived last Wednesday (myself included), Sister Burgess (the MTC President's wife), called us "12 day miracles". I didn't really know what she meant by that, but I am beginning to see more clearly. I have been part of an incredible miracle taking place these last 10 days or so. A miracle inside of me. I am being changed from the inside out. I'm still me with the same personality, but my view and perspective on things and sensitivity to the Spirit have improved immensely. It is absolutely beautiful. Don't get me wrong, there have definitely been ups and downs, but my relationship with my Father in Heaven and my Savior Jesus Christ are what keeps me going. And prayer. Prayer is my anchor, my rock. (I'll talk more about prayer later.)
Sunday evening, we watched the recording of a devotional given by Elder Bednar a few years ago. He gave it here in the MTC on Christmas morning, and it is titled "Character of Christ". Let me tell you, it was INCREDIBLE. Wow. I can't even put into words the feelings I felt as I watched it. It provided so many incredible insights and the Spirit taught me sooooo much. In simple terms, Elder Bednar described the character of Christ: Christ turned outward in love and compassion, when we would have turned inward in selfishness and self-absorption. Not the exact wording, but I hope it made a little bit of sense. He quoted a previous apostle who said "The Atonement was only possible through the character of Christ". I wish I could convey to you all I learned that night, but it was truly beautiful and I'll never see the Savior or His Atonement the same way again. I have been forever changed. :)
Speaking of the Atonement, the other night we had an opportunity study it for our personal study. It was beautiful and again, the Spirit taught me soo much. One of the things I wanted to share--I came to realize that Jesus Christ is a miracle. Let me explain. :) From His virgin birth to His sinless life, to the miracles He wrought every single day. To Him laying down His life and bearing the sins of the world, to rising again on the third day. He is MIRACULOUS. And His miracles have not ceased. He continues to perform them every single day. How honored I feel to have witnessed a miracle so sacred in my own life, as well as the miracles I see Him perform every day. How infinitely grateful I am for my Savior. And I love Him SOO much.
As promised, I'd love to talk about prayer for a minute. Prayer is a missionary's anchor, as I said before. Just because I was curious, the other day I tallied how many prayers I said or was involved in, and it was about 30. Not to mention the constant prayer in my heart I am striving to have. :) Prayer is SO powerful. I have never prayed so fervently, so intensely, so pleadingly before. It is an incredible gift. Time and time again, I have felt there is no one I can turn to and no one I can talk to. And that is when I turn to my Heavenly Father. And He hears and answers and comforts and guides. I can't convey the testimony I have in my heart about prayer, this direct communication to God. It is the most wonderful thing.
Oh! I have to tell you about a few more random things...
I auditioned to sing/play my musical number!! And I did it on the second day I was here. Crazy, right? Well, they assigned me two times to play/sing it. One of them was this past Monday, for the Senior Missionary welcome (yes, the senior missionaries--love them :)). I felt it went well, and I felt privileged to be an instrument in His hands to help invite the Spirit into that meeting. I also will be playing/singing tomorrow night, right before we watch the General Women's Meeting. :) But Dad! This is what I wanted to tell you--the next day, President Burgess was walking in the direction my companion and I were walking, and he turned around, so I said, "Hi President Burgess!" He told me hello, shook my hand, and said, "Thank you so much for that musical number yesterday. It was beautiful! All those hymns you put together--you put all of those old people to sleep!" Ha ha ha ha I thought it was hilarious. But then I mentioned you work with Andrea and he said, "Oh yes! I've been meaning to call her--it's just been so busy here." We then talked for a few minutes, and he told me again his special experience about the prompting he had to ask her to serve a mission. SO COOL. He is such a kind and dear man.
Oh my goodness. Can I tell you--I have seen SOO many people I know here in the MTC that I didn't even know would be here! Here's the list so far:
Sister Melanie Rugg (High School)
Elder Cameron Blume (High School/Chamber)
Elder Ryan Brown (High School/Chamber)
Sister Hayley Bushman (High School)
Elder Alec Davey (only from a distance though...)
Elder Cardon Merrill (High School/Chamber...again, only from a distance...)
Elder Spencer Smith (the one I saw at Kneader's before--turns out he totally went to AF!)
Audrey Halverson (BYU ward)
Wyatt Moore (BYU ward)
Speaking of people! You HAVE to pass this along to Jeff and Natalie. I got put in as one of the Sister Training Leaders for a handful of days, and we are in charge of helping two new districts here. One of the sisters is SISTER BARNEY! She said she was from Herriman, I said I have family who live there, and told her who, and she said THEY'RE IN MY WARD!!! Crazy crazy crazy!! So yeah! She's rooming right next door and is DARLING. Soooo fun I got to bump into her and get to spend some time with her. :)
Another thing I have been learning LOTS about is love. One of my teachers (I have LOVED my teachers--they are INCREDIBLE!!) said something I absolutely adore:
"You are taking 18 or 24 months out of your life for LOVE. Why try to hide it?"
Ahhhhh it's sooooo good. And I'm coming to know it is soooo true. God loves us SOOO much, and I firmly believe that is the reason He puts so much trust in young missionaries to go out and proclaim that love to everyone they meet. What a privilege this opportunity is. :) :)
Okay. I had the chance to teach a few investigators this week and it has been incredible. The main one is Ivy, and she is Buddhist, which definitely brings a new dynamic to the table. Sister Swindlehurst and I have been trying to teach her the very basics and invite her to pray to know if she does have a Father in Heaven and Savior. The first lesson we taught her was really rough to be honest. Teaching is hard. It was all over the place and she was so confused by the end. But. I said the closing prayer, and as I prayed as simply as I could, I was overcome with this love for this girl that I hadn't even met until that night. It was all I could do to hold back the tears. It was so beautiful and so powerful, and I will always remember it. The next time we taught, we decided to answer questions she had and just go off of the Spirit. We didn't have hardly anything prepared, but I saw a miracle take place. The Spirit was able to work through us and we were so much more in tune. It was incredible. There was such a wonderful spirit there, and I can only prayer she felt it too.
I do have to tell you some of the harder things that have happened this week. My companion, Sister Swindlehurst has been in and out of doctor appointments all week. After several doctors appointments, it was concluded that she needed to go in for surgery today. The decision was made that she would go home for the surgery. It all happened so fast, but by 5:30 yesterday, I was companion-less. I'll be honest: it has been SOO hard. Man it really has. And in addition to, another sister in our district (one I've been rooming with) is also going home tomorrow to figure out some health issues. I have felt like the weight of the world has been on my shoulders. It has been such an emotional roller coaster, and I can only pray it gets easier. My new companion will be Sister Noorlander, and she is headed to Pittsburgh as well. SOO grateful I have someone to travel with. I know they both needed to go to figure things out, but I have had moments when I have thought about how much easier it would be to go home now. But I know that is straight from the adversary and the Lord really needs me here. It just is super hard right now.
Sorry--that was a lot. Just please keep me in your prayers that I can be strong with the Lord's help through all of this!! Thank you for all the love and support you've already shown!!!!
I LOVE YOU SOOO MUCH!!!!
With all the love in my heart,