Message from Sue – Sorry for the delay in posting this. I had computer issues!
This week I have bought my self a Norwegian PMG (Preach My Gospel) and triple. I’m determined to get passed off in Norwegian. What better time to improve my language then on my mission where we are blessed with the gift of tongues.
But Happy Valentine’s Day!
First wanted to say thank you for all the Dear Elders I have received this week. Thank you for the cinnamon buns Mummy and Alex! They were really good. I have loved receiving mail this week. Makes me feel really special! And it’s always good to have those little pick me ups. Mamma you’ll be happy to know that you are winning the letter writing competition and you are both even stevens on the package front. Alex, you are failing on your promise!
So this week has been quite the roller coaster. There have been a couple of tears (yes I had a breakdown), some really happy moments and some side splitting moments. After I wrote the e-mail on Wednesday we were able to go to the Temple! The Provo Temple may resemble something from Star Trek but it’s beautiful inside. I couldn’t get over how big it is! But I guess they are probably a lot busier than Preston.
So we continued to teach Kyle and Zach (our teachers), we had no idea how it was going with Zach but with Kyle he was really making changes to be baptised. So my breakdown came after a lesson we had with Zach where Bro Nottingham had said it was our best lesson we had done. My companion had monologued a bit and I had just shared a couple of scriptures and asked questions. When he said that it was our best lesson I felt like I had not contributed anything and that it was pretty pointless me being there. I felt like I wasn’t really good at this missionary lark and felt I would never get any better. And you know how good I am at beating myself up! So yeah, there were many tears. But I really do know that prayer is real and that Heavenly Father sends the comforter. Especially when you ask for it! Also my district is so cute they gave me a heart attack – lots of hearts with nice messages.
So on Monday the Elders that we arrived with (another district in our zone) left for Raleigh, North Carolina. It was quite sad as we had all grown really close. They are all young lads but its strange how when they are missionaries they don’t seem so young. Maybe it’s because everyone assumes I’m 19! I don’t mind anyway.
Finally P-day!! It’s been such a long week but at the same time it’s flown by. It’s a bit annoying as my next p-day won’t be until Friday next week! So you will need to make sure that you send me letters or use Dear Elder to send them. I’m the only one yet to receive a letter so hint hint. My address here is (the mailbox is 169).
2009 N 900 E Unit 169
Provo UT 84602
My journey over here went so smoothly. My dilemma about watching films was solved for me as it didn’t work! When I got here 3 other sisters had been in the same situation and none of their screens worked either…
Amanda picked me up from the airport, we went for food at a place called Hires… so good! Then we went to Walmart to pick up some stuff. Before coming to the MTC we went to a place called Kneaders for french toast. Best. French. Toast. Ever. Was wonderful to see Amanda again.
MTC life is crazy! I’m so tired but I’m still loving it.
My body isn’t enjoying America I can tell you that! My eczema is really bad up my arms, on my back and legs. I’m guessing the dry weather, change in environment and toiletries has made it worse. I also have some on my chest! I told my zone that I’m allergic to America. Their response was that I was allergic to freedom. My body isn’t liking the food too much and there is a severe lack of vegetables in the canteen. But shockingly I’ve been working out at the gym! Sister Galgani (from California) has been my personal trainer and has really been pushing me so my muscles ache! During gym time we go to the gym… I call it a sports hall but whatever… and upstairs there’s a track that goes round the hall and it’s got a load of exercise equipment up there too. Anyway we were trying to run a mile, I got a bit too into it and ran straight into a weight machine. I have a wonderful trophy bruise to show off now though – I’ve attached a picture. I don’t bruise easily so you can imagine how hard I ran into it. But it’s fun to wind up Sister Fiso by telling people she did it to me when they ask about it.
The girls in my district are wonderful. Sister Lytle is from St George. She’s barely turned 19. Apparently she fasted and prayed to go to Temple Square. Quite the opposite reaction from me! Sister Galgani is 20 and from Cali. She’s really cool and level headed. Sister Wog is a 19 year old girl from Oklahoma. She injured herself first day at gym so she’s found it quite difficult to settle in. Sister Black is 19 and from Farmington Utah. She is amazing! And reminds me so much of Becky, always making me laugh with her quick quips. Shes the only one not going to Temple Square- she will be going to Washington DC and will be part time visitor centre. And then Sister Fiso is 23 and from Brisbane. She’s the best companion. Very eager!
So I’ve been learning so much. It’s great to be somewhere where you can always feel the spirit. It’s hard to explain what lessons are like but it’s a lot about learning how to understand people and how we can apply the gospel to them and how it can help them, how to introduce doctrine and the book of Mormon and stuff. Our teachers are really cool and they really know how to get the best out of us.
We’ve been teaching 3 investigators. 2 of them are actually our teachers who are pretending to be investigators they met on their mission. So we are teaching Zach who is meeting with us because he wants his children to grow up knowing God and his wife is a less active member of the church. We always feel good after the lessons but it’s hard to actually know how we’ve done! We are also teaching Kyle. He was in an accident 6 months ago, doesn’t remember much of his life before but has read the Bible twice since coming out of a coma. (dramatic hey? but it’s a real story!) He already has a testimony that Christ is his Saviour so it has been great to teach him as he is quite accepting of the gospel. He has already committed to baptism (so has Zach but its hard to read how he’s feeling about it as he won’t tell us!!). It’s been wonderful to study and have them in mind and to prepare the lessons. It seems to give it so much focus to my studying.
Our third investigator is Joy. She is our TRC – I’m not sure what that means but it’s our “real life” investigator. Basically they are all paid actors but only about 15% of them are not members of the church. They are usually playing themselves before they joined the church. So Joy is probably in her 60s. She’s quite an inspiring lady. At 39 she started mountain climbing and has climbed loads of mountains all over the world along with her husband. She’s lived in Provo her whole life but never been involved in church much. Her husband became disabled 3 years ago and he has begun investigating the church too but Joy wants to see the missionaries separately. Each time we have prepared the lesson and ended up doing something totally different as the spirit has directed us. The first lesson we taught the plan of salvation. We committed her to read Alma 36 as she doesn’t believe that Christ was anything but a good man. When we saw her yesterday she hadn’t read it so we basically spent the whole lesson reading it with her and getting her to talk about what everything meant to her and she seemed quite touched by it. I’m excited to see her again tomorrow.
We have had 3 devotionals while we’ve been here. The first was with Elder Martino of the seventy. He talked about member missionary work and how vital it is. He shared the story of Alma and Amulek and how missionary work was successful when the member (Amulek) taught with Alma. It really made me realise the value of member misisonary work so get involved! Be the Amulek for the missionaries! Second devotion was with Shane Littlefield who works at church headquarters and is the one who sits with the apostles when assigning mission calls! He talked about the importance of being teachable. After that we watch an old MTC devotional by David A Bednar titled ‘Characteristics of Christ’ I’d really recommend that you read it. It was wonderful and made me want to strive to have the characteristic of Christ and turn outwards instead of inwards. Last night’s devotional was by Elder Evans of the seventy. He spoke about how we’ll be called to defend our faith and how we need to be prepared. He was basically briefing us on how to react on questions about marriage, sexuality and other family issues. He focused on the Family proclamation to the world. I didn’t get much from the talk as it was happening but afterwards on reflection I realised that it really didn’t matter what I think, it matters what Heavenly Father thinks. He has given us the doctrine on this through revelation. He set the rules a long time ago and that doesn’t change.
It’s really hard to write quickly and I’d love to go into more detail but it’s hard. Hope everyone is well back home and missing me like crazy! Please pass the email on to family. I havent got time to reply to emails i’m sorry!
Sister Orndal xxxx
When I stop to take a moment to reflect, I’ve still not got used to the fact that in just over a week I will be a full time missionary. I still surprise myself that I have made the decision to make a sacrifice to serve in this way. I’ve come to realise that I have been preparing for this my whole life, I just didn’t know it. The way my parents raised me, the trials I’ve faced, the people I’ve met and the mistakes that I’ve made and learned from, these have all got me to where I am today. And for this I am grateful.
Since beginning my papers and receiving my call I have given a lot of thought to the type of missionary I would like to be. The more I studied the scriptures and Preach My Gospel the list got longer and longer. At times over the last couple of months I have been overwhelmed, doubting my capabilities and worried that I had set myself up for failure. I’ve always felt that I’ve been mediocre at life, that I was never quite hitting the target I was setting for myself. I’ve found it comforting to know that it’s not as complicated as I make it sometimes and the things expected of me are quite simple – to serve the Lord with all my heart, might, mind and strength.
The final verse of In the bleak mid-winter by Christina Rossetti says:
“What can I give Him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb;
If I were a Wise Man, I would do my part;
Yet what I can I give Him: give my heart.”
The heart signifies the real, inward person. It symbolises our true desires. As we give the Lord our hearts, we are showing our willingness to serve Him
Elder Kazuhiko Yamashita of the Seventy listed three things that are necessary for us to bring on our missions. 1. A desire to preach the gospel. 2. Develop your testimony. The Lord requires your “heart and a willing mind.” And 3. Love others.
Dallin H Oaks explained that it is important to not just consider how we serve but why we serve.
Some may serve in hope of earthly reward. They may serve to gain recognition or to gain prominence or power. This is service but our hearts are in the wrong place. Serving with our hearts involves bending our true desires toward serving God. And as we do this our motivations will be based on eternal reward and out of love for our Heavenly Father and Saviour.
In Moroni 7:47 we learn “Charity is the pure love of Christ.”. The Book of Mormon teaches us that this virtue is “the greatest of all.”
1 Cor. 13. The apostle Paul said:
“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. …
“And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, … and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.”
From this we learn that even the biggest acts of service, for example giving everything to the poor, counts for nothing unless it is motivated by the pure love of Christ – it must be done through our love for God and a love for his children. Moroni 7:48 says that we should pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart that we may be filled with love. Charity is a gift from God that we should desire. In Preach my Gospel it says “Charity like faith leads to action. You will develop charity as you look for opportunities to serve others and give of yourself.”
So how can we make sure that we are looking for opportunities to serve?
Our baptismal covenants can be found in Mosiah 18:8-10.
8 And it came to pass that he said unto them: Behold, here are the waters of Mormon (for thus were they called) and now, as ye are desirous to come into the fold of God, and to be called his people, and are willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light;
9 Yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death, that ye may be redeemed of God, and be numbered with those of the first resurrection, that ye may have eternal life—
10 Now I say unto you, if this be the desire of your hearts, what have you against being baptized in the name of the Lord, as a witness before him that ye have entered into a covenant with him, that ye will serve him and keep his commandments, that he may pour out his Spirit more abundantly upon you?
As we strive to keep these covenants we are showing the Lord it is the desire of our hearts to serve Him through serving others. We show our love for the Lord as we keep the covenants we made and by extension our desires change to be in line with the Lord.
President David O. McKay, quoted in Preach My Gospel, said: “True Christianity is love in action. There is no better way to manifest love for God than to show an unselfish love for your fellow men. This is the spirit of missionary work.”
Do we see sharing the gospel as serving others?
If I had a friend who is struggling, maybe going through a hard time or maybe just felt they wanted something better in their lives, I might decide to serve them by buying them some chocolates. You know the big bag that says “Great for sharing” across the top? I would do this for my friend because I love them and I think that the chocolates will make them happy.
Fortunately the Gospel also comes with a “Great for sharing” label too. We may have friends who may be having a hard time who need direction in their lives. We may have friends who are already happy but who may need that extra injection of joy. We love them, so why would we want to deprive them of the thing that can give so much joy? Preach My Gospel says that you have been a successful missionary when you love people and desire their salvation. When we love our fellowman and see them through the eyes of our Father in heaven we will desire to share the restored gospel with them so that they too can come unto Christ.
As we serve with all our heart the Lord blesses us abundantly. It isn’t always easy. Sometimes we may truly wish to serve with our whole hearts, only to feel bogged down by life’s challenges. Henry B. Eyring promises us this:
“For those who are discouraged by their circumstances and are therefore tempted to feel they cannot serve the Lord this day, I make you two promises. Hard as things seem today, they will be better in the next day if you choose to serve the Lord this day with your whole heart. Your circumstances may not be improved in all the ways which you desire. But you will have been given new strength to carry your burdens and new confidence that when your burdens become too heavy, the Lord, whom you have served, will carry what you cannot. He knows how. He prepared long ago. He suffered your infirmities and your sorrows when He was in the flesh so that He would know how to succor you”
What a wonderful promise. As we turn our hearts over to the Lord and let Him work through us, we will be blessed and have our abilities expanded many times over.