Sunday, September 30, 2012

T-minus 2 days … or not!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Hi Family!

I can't believe it's already time for me to leave the MTC. It still feels like I just got here; probably because I did. The big news for this week is that I've been reassigned. Spain missionaries have been having tons of trouble getting visas for the last couple months so every single missionary going to Spain has been reassigned. We got our reassignments last Friday night! And I'm going to the... UTAH PROVO MISSION! Waiting to find out our reassignments was like waiting for a mission call all over again. They're keeping me close so that when my visa does come I can go meet with the Consolate up in Salt Lake City. I'm actually suuuuper excited about serving in Provo for a few months. It's like a second mission! And the Provo mission is pretty big. Apparently it goes from Heber, all the way down to Cedar City. So I leave Monday at 2:30 in the afternoon and will hit the ground running.

This week was pretty good. Last P-day after we did our email and laundry we hit the pinata that Elder Ponce got in his package. Saturday we taught in the TRC. Not sure what that stands for, but we've been teaching in there a couple times a week. We teach an actual progressing investigator who volunteers to be taught by missionaries at the MTC. It's been a pretty cool experience for the most part. Our progressing investigator's name is Hely and she's from Guatemala. Our lesson last week was super cool. The Spirit was so strong. She was telling us how she sometimes doesn't feel like God loves her. It hurt me to hear that. We bore testimony to her that He does. So so much. I think she believed us because afterwards she kept crying and crying and told us how grateful for us she was. Our last meeting with her was a couple days ago and we just shared our favorite scriptures and she showed us some pictures of her family and life in Guatemala. I'm gonna miss her! But we got a picture with her! .

Our teachers (especially Hermana Koth and Hermano Adams) have been focused on not concentrating on the curriculum if that's not what the Spirit tells them we need. The last week we've had more powerful and helpful lessons because of it and I love it so much. Hermano Adams felt impressed to read us a talk called "The Fourth Missionary." It was incredible. I would hiiiiiighly recommend it to anyone who is or who is preparing to serve a mission. I learned so much and I'm going to try my best to be the fourth missionary. Go read it!

Oh! Best part of the week was definitely Sunday. It's my absolute favorite day here. We got to go to the Brigham City Temple Dedication. It was awesome. I've never been to a temple dedication before and it was a cool experience. It was especially neat because President Packer grew up in Brigham City and had been praying to live long enough to see it dedicated. After Sacrament Meeting we went on our "temple walk" with our branch. I love temple walks! Sunday night for the film viewing we chose the Joseph Smith movie. So good. I've seen it at least 5 times and it gets better every time. I can't deny the testimony I have of Joseph Smith. I know he was a true prophet and that it was through him that the gospel of Jesus Christ is on the earth today. I know it times a thousand. I love that man. I really love this certain line from the movie. Emma says, "Do you ever think God asks too much of us?" and Joseph says, "I don't let myself." I want to strive to have that mentality.

Monday started off so terribly, but had the best ending. We had class with Hermana Koth. Everything was going well until she brings in this guy Brother Wood and tells us to pretend he's our investigator and all 7 of us are teaching him. It was so unfair - we had zero time to plan or even attempt to gather our thoughts. Hermana Wilcox, Hermana Barrera and Elder Alvarado were the only three who spoke and the lesson went horribly. Then we went to the TRC and the coordinator guy told us that he can't feel the Spirit when he's around us and that he can't afford to have missionaries like that in the TRC. That just about killed us. We already feel inadequate and incapable, but then to hear that, and from a man who's been around us for a total of 5 minutes really sucked. The rest of the day was okay. Then, class with Hermano Adams. The best part of any day. We walk in and start class. He's like, "We're just gonna have an open honest talk. I've thrown out the lesson plans for today because I had the impression that you could just use a talk." We hadn't even told him about out day! He is so in tune with the Spirit. We told him everything that had happened and he closed the doors on all our concerns. He told us again that he loves us and that being with us is his favorite part of the day. I believe him. My favorite thing he said was, "Your mission won't be the best 2 years (18 months) of your life, but if you let it, it will be the best 2 years (18 months) for your life." I'm happy.

The quote I've been trying to remember on a daily basis is by President Monson. He said, "Whom the Lord calls, he qualifies." I've never felt so incapable in my whole life. I'm not a perfect teacher, companion, Spanish speaker, or missionary right now, and that's hard for me. I thought for sure that the hardest thing about a mission would be missing my family and friends, not working, not going to school, and giving up technology and entertainment for 18 months. But honestly, that hasn't been too big of a challenge at all. I don't really even have time to think about any of that. The hardest part is not feeling like I'll be able to give all of myself and teach this message that's so important to me. But I am qualified. And I'm learning that just being me, and loving the people with all my heart IS enough. If I give 100% every single day, the Lord will take care of the rest.

Our last class with Hermano Adams was Thursday. It was SO SAD. I has taught me so much these last three weeks and I'm going to miss him terribly. I wish there was a little mini version of him I could have in Provo/Spain with me, but at least I can write him and get some encouragement when I'm struggling! Hopefully I see him when I'm walking around Provo for the next few days/weeks/months.

Yesterday we had in-field orientation. The 500 of us who are leaving this week all had 12 hours of workshops and vision meetings preparing us for the next 12 weeks with our trainers. We watched a video about the three Sweet Water Creek boys who at just 18 years old carried pioneers across the freezing creek and later died from the effects of the freezing water. We talked about how it wasn't a split second decision they made, but a lifetime that built up to it. I love that story. We also talked a lot about the difference between faith as a principle of action, and faith as a principle of power. Faith can bring miracles. In fact, it does. We're taught here to not only hope for miracles, but to expect them. Think about that...

Well, I can't believe it's finally time to go! Next week I'll be writing from my new mission. I don't feel ready at all. My Spanish isn't where I want it, more often than not I can't teach a good lesson, and I'm nervous about leaving the safe bubble of the MTC. I love it here. I love it so much. I could do another 6 weeks here no problem. But it's time for me to go, and everything will be okay. I don't completely believe that. But I figure as long as I tell myself that, I'll eventually believe it.

I love and miss you alllllll. I appreciate the letters, packages, and emails. They've been such a mood booster on the bad days. I'll send my new address as soon as I know it, but for now, emails are the best. Enjoy General Conference! I'm so grateful for a living prophet of God and can't wait to be uplifted this weekend! You're the best. Miss me.

Hermana Munden

Sunday, September 23, 2012

“I’m Still Alive!”

Well, I've officially been here for a over a week. Everyone was right, after Sunday everything really does get so much easier. Those few days before sunday were definitely the hardest though. Sunday morning we had Relief Society and before our lesson we got to hear the conversion story of one of the sister missionaries. My favorite thing she said towards the end was, "I finally feel close to the God I always knew was there" and I just got chills. We're learning every single day how important it is that each person knows and understands that we are all literal children of our Heavenly Father. He loves us so much and wants us to seek out a personal relationship with him. Guess who our teacher was for the rest of the lesson... SHERI DEW. That woman is incredible. She talked about the importance of recognizing our divine nature as well as the vital role of women in the Church. She's so great. And she's from Kansas! Even cooler. Earlier our Zone Leaders had offered to give me a blessing of comfort if I wanted one because they could tell I was having a hard time. I took them up on their offer and I can tell a difference already. It's so nice having so many men here who are willing to honor their priesthood and serve us.

Sunday night we had a devotional on the Book of Mormon. The spirit in the meeting was amazing. In reality, whether or not the Church is true depends on whether or not the Book of Mormon is true. It's the evidence that Joseph Smith was a prophet, that Christ came to the Americas and that God loves us. If it's true, so is everything else. If not, none of it matters. I receive every single day a clear and strong confirmation that the Book of Mormon is the most correct book on the Earth
In one of our classes earlier this week Hermano Adams (our favorite teacher) told us that we are not authorized to lower or raise the Lord's expectations of us. He doesn't expect me to be a perfect missionary or to speak Spanish perfectly right now, so all I can do is try my hardest, study, pray, and rely on the Spirit to teach me the rest. That was so reassuring. After class I pulled him aside and talked to him about my concerns and struggles with Spanish. He promised me that everything will be okay. As I was already emotional, I saw his eyes get teary and I know he cares about me and my success as a missionary. He encouraged me to read Ether 12:27 and I spent the next hour or two studying that one verse. I'm grateful for Brother Adams and his dedication to his job. He tells us that he prays for every member of our district (there's 7 us) individually by name every single night. I love having a teacher here who can also be our friend and who gives us support and is sensitive to our needs.

The other day we had a really great discussion about repentance and the grace of God and how we get so many second chances. The gospel is one of change. It's all about transformation. The scriptures tell us that no unclean person can enter heaven. But in reality, no unchanged person would want to. There isn't anything we're capable of doing that would make God not want us anymore. In essence, the point of no return is when we decide returning to Him isn't worth it anymore. In a talk Hermana Wilcox's dad gave at BYU he said, "Grace is not a finishing touch, it's a finisher's touch." We live worthy, righteous lives, not to pay any sort of debt (Christ already did that for us), but so we will be prepared to live in Heaven and be comfortable there. I have never thought about the Atonement and grace like that, but it makes so much sense.

I've been pretty sick for the last week. It makes it super hard to concentrate sometimes and between the three of us, we've been to the clinic 5 times. Apparently I have a couple bad viruses in my respiratory and nervous systems.I've been taking a lot of different medicine and praying for health and I'm finally starting to feel better. I guess they won't let us leave here if we're not healthy so I'm trying to get back to normal.

Time is flying here! Even though sometimes the days seem to last forever since we go from 6:30am to 10:30pm, but now that I've been here for over a week I can't believe it. And I didn't realize this, but since I'm in the advanced class, if I do go to Spain on the 2nd, I won't go to the Spain MTC, but straight to the field. Scary! Church is different here. We have Music & the Spoken Word, Relief Society, lunch, Sacrament Meeting, personal study, Sunday Devotional, time to watch other talks and devotionals, devotional review with our district, and then we go to bed. We have 45ish minutes for gym time every day and we can kind of do what ever we want. We've only gone to the field once, but we just played ladder golf. My schedule changes almost every day. But most days I have two 3 hour classes, lots of personal/companion study, zone teaching (where we're supposed to go help the beginner and intermediate classes, but I just do language stuff) and then meals stuff. The food is good somedays, but most of the time it gives me an upset stomach so lately I've been eating toast or salad.

I miss you all. I'm doing okay and every day gets so much better :)


Hermana Munden

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Saturday, September 15, 2012

I don't even know where to start. I can't believe this is my fourth day here. Wednesday is pretty much all a blur at this point. After we met our companions and district, we went to the MTC Presidency welcome meeting. We opened the meeting with "We'll Bring the World His Truth" and instead of singing, "We will be the Lord's missionaries..." we sang, "We are now the Lord's missionaries..." and I just broke down. The Spirit here is so strong and everything makes me cry.
I'm in a trio, so instead of having just one companion, I have two. It's the strangest thing ever. Who knew you could feel like a third wheel in your companionship? Hermana Wilcox is from Provo. She's so excited about being here though, and sooo friendly. Her dad is the mission president in the Santiago Chile Mission; that's where she learned most of her Spanish. Hermana Barrera is from Houston, but her parents are from Mexico, so she grew up most of her life speaking Spanish. They're both going to Spain too, but we're all in different missions. I'm not used to having to be with somebody literally 24/7 and it's definitely taking some patience, biting my tongue, and lots of prayer. Our district is awesome. It's us, plus four other Elders. They all learned Spanish the same time they learned English, so I definitely feel like the least experienced in our whole district. Yesterday I just broke down and spent most of the day crying because the language is so frustrating for me. That wasn't a challenge I was expecting because I felt so confident in my Spanish speaking abilities, until I came here. Half the time during class I don't know what's going on and I hardly participate because I don't know what to say. I have all these thoughts and feelings in my head, but don't know how to get them out in Spanish and it's so hard! I had a one-on-one with my coordinating sister, Hermana Seely, yesterday and told her about my struggles with the language. She assured me that my call was not a mistake. She told me that the Lord didn't call me to fail. He called me to speak Spanish, not English and I need to stop being so hard on myself. It's hard though, when I feel like everyone is so far ahead of me. But I'm learning that the only thing I have control over is my attitude and the sooner I stop being negative about my weaknesses, the sooner I'll be able to get to work and make the most out of my time here. Literally EVERYONE has been telling us that if we can just make it to Sunday we'll be fine. We've heard soo many times that the first week is the absolute hardest. I can understand those who pack up and want to leave because it is seriously one of the hardest thing I've ever done. I can't wait til tomorrow though. I need to be built up and reassured that I can do this.

Our teachers are mostly great. Brother Adams was a former athiest and super stubborn. He told us his conversion story and it was INCREDIBLE. Of course, I cried the whole time. It's a long story, but after less than two months of being taught by the missionaries he was baptized and then a year and two weeks later he reported to the MTC to serve a full-time mission and now he's a teacher at the MTC. The rest of his family is still atheist and they don't want to have anything to do with that part of life. His testimony is so strong though and I feel like if somebody like he used to be could come to know the truthfulness of this gospel, anybody can. I love Brother Adams. We can tell he really wants to be here for us and he loves this church with all he is.

My departure date is October 2nd, but I heard they're having lots of trouble with the Spain visas though, so if I don't get to leave on the 2nd, I'll most likely be reassigned somewhere in the States til my visa comes. And I have my release date! It's February 19, 2014.
I love it here, even when I don't. It's hard, but I know it'll get better. I love this gospel so much and I'm so grateful for all the opportunities I'm having and will have to share it with others. 

Sunday, September 9, 2012

see you in eighteen moons

Tonight I officially get set apart and become a missionary. I can't believe it's finally here! I'm looking forward to spending nearly every day of the next year and a half to teaching people about the gospel of Jesus Christ and His love for each of them. 

After I volunteered in Ecuador last year, I thought I was satisfied with that being my "mission." I got to spend 12 weeks with the most perfect little children and take care of every need they had. I bathed, clothed, fed, helped, played with, and loved them every single day. Some days it made me sad that I could take care of all their temporal needs, but I wouldn't be around to watch them learn about Christ and how much He truly cared for my little babies. Now, as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, that will be my entire purpose for 18 months. 

I'm so excited about this work I'm headed to do. I appreciate all the love, support, and encouragement I've felt from my family and friends in the weeks/months/years leading up to this big time in my life. I'm going to miss you all! 

Yo sé que Cristo vive y nos ama a todos. 

Until we meet again 

Monday, September 3, 2012

[1.5/18/540 ]

"Arise and gird up your loins, take up your cross, follow me, and feed my sheep.