Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Final Count Down

Hola familia!!!
This week has been the fastest yet, and pretty soon I will be in ARGENTINA!!! We were hoping to get travel plans today, which is why I am e-mailing later than usual so that if they came I could tell you, but they haven't come... probably tomorrow. So I will let you know all of the airport details including call times next week. Sorry. Believe me, I really wish that they had come. We are getting really anxious to find out. I can't believe that we are really leaving in just over a week. I don't think it has hit me yet that I am leaving. The MTC is hard, but it's kind of a safe place... The real work will come in the field. I just feel such a great responsibility because we are talking about people's eternal salvation here! I don't want to pass ANYONE on the street without testifying of Christ, I want the entire city of Buenos Aires to know Him and accept His gospel through baptism. I want to do everything I can for the Lord and according to His direction. That feels like the biggest responsibility that I have ever had in my life. I know that I need to rely on Him and then get to work. I am so humbled, excited, nervous, etc etc.

We met with the Argentine Consulate this week, because one of the requirements for a visa to ARG is a face to face with him. That was fun and interesting. He answered a bunch of questions about Argentina and then we all signed final papers for visas. YAY!!! So the thing that you will need to know from that meeting... he said that if you do send packages that it will probably be better to use fedex or another private company so that it's them working with their people and not between governments and to still keep it small. But again, I am just happy to have your support, don't feel like you have to send anything. And to answer the question, I think that it takes something like 5 weeks for things to get there, but i don't know about with fedex. Sorry. I will send all of the addresses that you need home next week.

This week in relief society, Sister Sharon L. Eubank came and talked to us and it was super amazing. The thing that she said that stuck out the most was that sisters in the scriptures usually only get 1 line or less. If you only had one line to leave for all the word, what would it be? I think I know what mine would be, but I would love to hear yours first!
 ( To those women that read her blog: Post your comment and I will send those on to Kailei.  What one line would you like to leave the world?)

In Sacrament on Sunday, Hna Hill had to speak and she did such a great job. So proud of my companion!

Accomplishment of the week: I can tie a tie!!! And the Elders say that we aren't half bad at it, even if we do say so ourselves. haha. We learned that lots of our investigators won't know how and so we need to learn, so we did. It's actually kind of fun.

"Fernando" and "Edmundo" are being baptized this week! We are so excited, even if they are just our teachers! It's interesting because they act different for each companionship depending on how the lessons go and the Spirit of it all, and we are just so grateful that they will be baptized! I feel like Ammon that I will boast in my God. The very best thing is going in to a lesson with total faith and knowing that it is lead by the Spirit. I am humbled every time. We are actually having a mock baptismal service and that will be way fun. Our teacher wants us to have the experience planning it, and "Edmundo" asked that Hna Hill and I give the talks, so we have prepared those and the two of us are having a lot of fun planning the service. It is really exciting. We are even making programs and having cookies after. lol. We might as well go all out, right. haha. We even had our Branch President's wife bring us a serving platter. haha. Good times.

Spanish is coming along much better. We speak a lot more, and every week it gets easier. I am having a difficult time understanding when to use the subjunctive tense, so if you could all pray for me to understand that this week, I would really appreciate it. But yes, in all, I feel more confident about Spanish. Still not great, but better. I am honestly really scared for Argentina, but I have a lot of faith and we work diligently. So it will be okay.

Today was the craziest pday ever. We had a practice with our district because we are singing the musical number on pday and we got haircuts, so we had over an hour of our usual personal time gone. so I can't send many letters this week. Please forgive me.

The Tuesday devotional this week was good. The thing that was really powerful for me was the quote "happiness depends on circumstances. Joy depends on God.:" That is so true. I really am just so joyful to be here. I am learning and growing every day and it is just such a miracle.

I love you all so very much! Thank you for your examples, love, and support. I seriously could not do any of this without you.
I love you all more than I can even express! I am looking forward to talking to you soon.
Hermana Shelley

Friday, August 19, 2011

Aug. 18,2011 letter

Oh man! My little brother is going to be a MISSIONARY!!! In the PHILIPPINES!!!!!!! I am so very happy for you, Mackay! I am going to write you your own letter today, so look for that. But I must tell you all my story about hearing the news. Friday, when I heard that it hadn't come on Thursday, I was bummed, but figured that I would hear by Saturday. Well, I forgot that they don't print out dearelders on Saturdays because they print them out every day at 5, but on Saturdays the mail room closes at 2. So I had to wait all the way until MONDAY!!! It was so so hard! Seriously. My whole district was awaiting the news. And they all had guesses out. No one was even close. Every zone is different, but in my zone, we are only supposed to read mail after 9 every night, but I got special permission to read the news of the mission call as soon as it came. I loved how you did it! It made me feel like a part of things. I definitely cried when I read it. I am so proud of you. I will write more in your letter.
So, on to the week! It was good, but we are all SO ready to get out to Argentina and start preaching the gospel. I am grateful for my time here and all of the things that I have learned, but I am really ready to go.
I was able to sing for Relief Society, and here it is all of the Sisters and then all of the Branch Presidency wives... we estimated between 200 and 300. It was a really neat experience. I was so grateful for the opportunity. Sister Rosemary Wixom, the General Primary President was the speaker, which made it extra special. Good times.
The Sunday fireside this week was really good! He talked about how success is a GIFT, not something that I should feel entitled to. The quotable quote from the evening is "The Lord wants us to want what He wants." Really great.
We also had a really great workshop this week all about the process of conversion. We all made a "conversion web" about the things that converted US, since we all have to go through a conversion process, even if we are lifelong members. The Bible Dictionary says that conversion is "conscious acceptance of the will of God." So, we should all be going through a conversion process every day and becoming more and more converted. I love that. It also helped me to relate to my investigators more when I thought about the process of conversion and what it takes to be truly converted to the gospel.
You are probably wondering why the subject of the e-mail is 1 in 132,000. Well, Brother Marlor told us this week that there is 1 missionary for every 132,000 people in the world. WOW! I need to get to work! Missionary work is so important and the Lord really does need His missionaries. It reminded me of when Elder Rasband came to Stake Conference and told us that President Hinckley once said that if we took all of the current missionaries and put them all in to China, it would be like throwing a bucket of water into the ocean. Wow. I am so blessed to be a part of this work.
Did I tell you that Hna Hill had the gym dips record? Ya, she is pretty much awesome. Well... this week it was broken! So "we" are training to get her up to 30 so that she can reclaim her title. ha ha. Love her.
Our roommates are gone. They left for the Dominican Republic MTC, so it is just back to the 4 of us. We are sad and miss them, but so excited for the experience that they will have there.
This week, Hna Hill and I have been brainstorming possible doubts that investigators might have and finding answers in the scriptures together and it has been a really powerful experience. I just love her and honestly do not know what I am going to do without her. We both really hope that we will be able to be companions again. We just fit and get along so well and have so many of the same life experiences. We both just want to do what the Lord wants and be His missionaries.
So, we had 2 districts leave our zone this week, so we are officially the oldest district. Weird. That means that 2 of us will have to speak in Sacrament in Spanish for the next 2 weeks. I feel that I will probably have that opportunity. Pray for me.
Spanish is way better this week. We buckled down on "speak your language," and that has helped SO much! It's amazing that we really can speak a lot and have a lot to say to each other. The gift of tongues is real and I am grateful.

I love you all so much! Thank you for your prayers, love, and support. I really can feel them. This is the first week that I have had 5 min left to e-mail instead of frantically pushing send with 30 seconds to spare, so I guess I will send a little Spanish love!
Yo sé que Jesucristo es mi Salvador y Redentor. Yo sé que Dios nos ama y Él tiene un plan para nosotros. Yo sé que somos Sus hijos. Yo sé que José Smith es un profeta de Dios. Yo testifico que la Iglesia es verdadera. La obra misional es muy importante. La obra es difícil, pero estoy muy agradecida ser un misionera. Me encanta el Evangelio. Me encantan las Escrituras. El Libro de Mormón es verdadera. La gente del mundo necesitan el Evangelio, y yo puedo dar les el don. Este es la obra de Dios. Soy un representante de Él.
LOVE YOU ALL!!! I can´t believe I only have 2 and a half more weeks here. Time really does fly. I am so excited and grateful to be a full time missionary. It is the biggest blessing.
Love you and take care,
Hermana Shelley

Thursday, August 11, 2011

24 days and counting!

This week was really great. We are officially (drum roll please...............................) 24 days away from ARGENTINA!!! I am so very excited. My Spanish is mas o menos, but I am just really excited to get down and preach the gospel. Please pray for my Spanish. We work really hard, but I am FAR from fluent. All is well though. The gift of tongues is real and we work so hard, so I know that the language will come.
On Sunday, since it was fast Sunday, we had a big mission conference with the whole MTC for 2 hours and it was really nice. There was so much, but I will just go with the thing that stuck out to me the most. One of the Brothers talked about the parable of the talents and a personal experience that he had with it while he was a mission President. He had three missionaries, one was a 1 talenter, one a 2 talenter, and one a 5 talenter. When the end of their missions came, he pulled them all in to interview them and found that the 1 now had 2, the 2 now had 4 and the 5 now had 8. He said that he had an overwhelming impression that the Lord was fully pleased with the 1 to 2 and 2 to 4 but that the 5 to 8, though he had more talents, was not profitable because he had not done all that he could have done in order to redouble what the Lord had given him. Woah. I was a bit floored. I know that I have been blessed of the Lord, and now He expects me to take what He has given me and work super hard, relying on the Atonement, in order to redouble my gifts. I am rededicating myself now. I am so grateful that I have the Atonement to help me. The Lord expects us to redouble our efforts, but the wonderful thing is that He helps us all along the way. I have made some very specific goals in order to become better every day. I love being goal driven. If we don't have goals, we don't accomplish anything. I make daily and weekly personal goals and Hna Hill and I do the same as a companionship. Have I mentioned how much I love her?????
Also on Sunday, our after Fireside video was really great. It was with President Uchtorf. All day, I had been praying to have my Spanish ability magnified so that I can get to the point where I don't feel like I WANT to say something in the lessons but just can't... so that I can teach with the Spirit. Well, as he was talking, I had an overwhelming feeling: President Uchtorf speaks English beautifully and full of the Spirit and the 1 or 2 times where his grammar was incorrect, I didn't even care because the Spirit was so strong. I am going to be more like that. Focus on speaking with the Spirit, knowing that the Spanish will come rather than thinking so hard about grammar and conjugations and things that I can't even listen to the Spirit. The lessons have been better.
Tuesday, we had a devotional with Elder Samuelson of the Seventy and it was very good. He went through 1 Timothy 4 and compared us missionaries to Timothy and the Brethren to Paul. We are like the "under shepherds" and we should be trusted servants. I had a great personal study after, and I would encourage you all to study "Timothy" in the Bible dictionary and then study 1 Tim 4. If you really want something awesome, study godliness from the Topic Guide after that. It's awesome. One of my favorite quotes from that night was "I am not perfect, but I can be perfect in some things. I can be perfect in getting up on time. I can be perfect in keeping my commitments, etc." Really great.
We had a workshop this week about the Atonement and the teacher had us all close our eyes and "go to Gethsemane." I felt so much love from my Savior. To picture Him there suffering for me and to hear His words in my head was touching. To think of all the pains that I have had and to picture Him suffering for me was a powerful experience. Take some time to ponder the Atonement this week.
We went to the TRC again this week and one of our lessons was really good. We had it with Christina and she really opened up and said that she was struggling because she had just broken up with a fiance and had no idea what to do now. We taught about revelation and really connected with her. It was a good lesson for me on how to just go with what you are feeling by the Spirit rather than with what you have planned. We teach people, not lessons.
I do love missionary work. There are so many people out there who don't have the gospel and I am humbled to think that The Lord is going to let me go out and serve Him and teach His children. I love it!

All my love,
Hermana Shelley

Friday, August 5, 2011

Fernando's getting baptized

The biggest news of the week is....................................
FERNANDO IS GETTING BAPTIZED!!!!!!!!! I am so super excited! I don't even know what I'll be like when it's actually real! haha. But the lesson that he agreed to be baptized was so awesome. The Spirit was really strong. We are getting way better at following the Spirit even in Spanish. We totally drifted from our lesson plan, but it was what he needed to hear and he has a baptismal date for the 27th!!! Even though it's just a mock thing, I am so happy! We are the first in our class to get an investigator to commit to a date, so we are trying really hard to not be prideful. haha
On Monday, we had a pretend Sacrament Meeting with another investigator, Edmundo (just talks and hymns) since we had all invited him to come to church. I had to give a 10 minute talk on the Atonement and was really worried about it in Spanish, but it actually went really well. Definitely a blessing from the Lord.
This week, the Tuesday Devotional was with Elder Lund and we got to sit right down in the front row, center seats!!! That's because at the fireside on Suday, they asked Hna Hill and I to move (no big deal) but then they said that we would be able to for sure find a seat Tuesday. We didn't know that meant front and center! haha. It was awesome though. The devotional was all about faith. He outlined the necessary steps for faith and shared lots of really inspiring stories. The thing that just kept coming back to me is that sometimes we have to take a step into the dark, trusting that The Lord will turn the light on. That is really difficult to do, but that is the trial of our faith. It doesn't always mean some terrible hardship, but it does mean doing something difficult and striving to do the will of the Lord, even when we don't know why He is asking something so hard or how to do it. I want to be like Nephi, moving forward, not knowing beforehand the things that I should do and then let the Lord guide my steps.

I have 6 minutes left, so I can share this experience after all. I had my testimony of prayer strengthened. This week, we started a thing called Zone Teach where we pretend to be investigators for each other. One of my teachers, Bro Marlor had me come up and give a demonstration, and at the end, I had to give a prayer as though I was an investigator and for some reason, I felt really weird about it and I was afraid that I had done something wrong. It really ate at me, and I prayed and said that I knew that this was The Lord's program so to please help me find peace. The next day, I felt even worse. I felt that I needed to talk to my other teacher. He does a thing called coaching study with a companionship each day, but I knew that he wasn't planning on talking to us. I prayed that I would somehow be able to talk to him and had lots of faith. Then, when we got to class, our names were on the board for CS!!! We went, and I told him about my worries and he helped SO much. He said that it was hard for him at first too, because prayer is such a sacred thing, but then he realized that the prayer COULD be real and could be from him, Bro Leishman, not him, Mr. Investigator. He helped so much! He told me after that he put another companionships name up and then prayed before starting class and had the impression that he needed to talk to me. I KNOW that Heavenly Father answers prayers, even when it's just something simple. I love Him!
I love you all. I love the Gospel. I want the whole world to have it. Pray for missionary opportunities and then go out and BE BOLD!!! The Lord can't direct our path if we aren't even moving our feet.
Hermana Shelley

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Pictures from the MTC

Hermana Hill and Hermana Shelley

Hermanas in the district

The District!