Thursday, July 3, 2014

July 2, 2014 MTC Email

Hello! It is p-day at last! i don't know how fast I can type, so I'm just going to do my best and please don't judge the grammar or lack there-of. There is a picture of our zone (super blurry), and my companion Sister Parkinson. She is also going to Dallas. 

All the sisters in our zone our going to Dallas and all the elders are going to Tampa Florida. There is a picture of my outfit fail from last night. They told us we had to wear cardigans or jackets to Tuesday night devotionals so I just threw on a cardigan over my outfit. As you can tell, I look like Ann from Studio-C. I was crying I was laughing too hard. Needless to say, it was a much needed moment to break free from the stresses of the day. 

The pictures in front of the temple are my zone. Elder Simons is from Chesterfield Idaho, he's the tall one with blondish hair. Elder Penrod from Genola, Ut the other tall one with black hair. Elder Haslem, curly hair from Roosevelt, UT, and Elder White the one with a buzz-cut from St. George, UT. 

One our first day, one of the Sister Training Leaders from our district told us, "Y'all are goin to be like family!" (she's from georgia). We looked at her and looked at each other and just shook our heads and laughed. Like, no way sister. These are strangers. But I can honestly say we have become best friends. It is so fun to be with each other. We really know how to focus and have the spirit, but when it's break time, we let loose and can relax really well. The sisters in our room are Sisters Olsen and Stewart from Sandy and California. They are also in our zone. They are hilarious! We have had some very hilarious times in our room! Ha.

Thank you so much for the letters and the package! It was amazing to get mail from you all! And Alli, that packet of letters was just the sweetest thing of my entire life and made my day. You are so cute and I love you. I love all of you! (I am typing like a mad man currently). 

Life here at the MTC is crazy business. We go, go, go all day. First day we get here, drop all the things off in our room, get bags and materials and cards and keys and all that jazz then right off to classroom. I walk into class and meet Brother Griffiths (our teacher) and Elder Haslem. We jumped right in and started teaching each other our favorite scriptures. I am learning so much about myself and about the gospel. it is marvelous and wonderful. We memorize the first vision right off the bat and started giving it to each other. My memory is awesome here! I know that it was awesome before, but holy cow I can remember lots of things. I know that that is a blessing. Then we went to a teaching class called People and Your Purpose. It's like a room full of 100 missionaries and 1 investigator person and we worked together to try to figure out the needs of the investigator and get to know them. That was pretty cool. At the end of the day, we met with the zone leaders and tried to take a tour around campus. I was so tired I kinda slept through the walking tour. Not sure how that is possible, but I did it, indeed. I didn't sleep well that night at all. Too many thoughts. (PS I'm sorry if i've already told you some of these things. I absolutely can not remember what I have or havent' told you. So there's that.) Oh, our other teacher is Sister Smith. She is also great.

Thursday, we had a lesson as the zone and talked about the Doctrine/Gospel of Christ. I've always known what the doctrine of Christ is, faith, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the holy ghost, and enduring to the end. But we were taught that the doctrine of Christ is really  the Atonement! How cool is that. The other things (faith, etc.) are the principles of the doctrines of Christ. Those are the things that allow us to access the Atonement. I loved that. So every where in the scriptures where it says they taught the doctrine of Christ, they were really teaching about the Atonement. I love that. I challenge you to look for that as you continue to study the scriptures. 

We also met our "investigator" named Justin. It's just our teacher acting as an investigator that he had on his mission. It has been truly amazing to teach him. Justin's friend is a member of the church and so he decided to meet with the missionaries to learn more. We are teaching him about God, the Atonement, and just the plan of happiness. It's amazing! Some lessons go better than others, but it is neat when we really have the Spirit with us and are able to testify of truth and help Justin come closer to Jesus Christ. 

We also had a meeting with our branch presidency. We learned how the main purpose of our stay at the MTC is to become fully converted to Jesus Christ. We have to become converted to Christ before we can ever help others realize the joy that comes from being a disciple of Jesus Christ. I had an interview with a member of the branch presidency, Brother May. He asked me how I was doing on a scale of 1-10. I told him 6 and explained that I knew I had been called and set apart as a missionary but I still struggling to see how I could ever know enough to be able to effectively teach people. He helped me realize that my head knew it, but my heart hadn't quite figured it out. He said I needed to act in faith and over time that conversion and knowledge could come to my heart. He asked me if I brought my pedigree chart and why I did. I told him that I love my ancestors and I often feel like they are supporting me. D&C 84:88 says, "And whoso receiveth you, there I will be also, for I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up." He said that those angels are my ancestors on one hand and on the other are the ancestors of the people I am going to teach. It was so powerful and helped me remember that I am not in this alone. They called Sister Parkinson and I to be the new Sister Training Leaders. That was a little overwhelming. But it is all good. We just go to a couple meetings and help introduce the new missionaries to the MTC. We feel very humbled to be called as such and are just trying to do our best. I got to play the piano for that meeting and it was glorious.

Funny story, Elder Penrod and I have the same birthday! January 30, kids! We were so pleased when we figure it out. 

The first couple of days, the sisters in my bedroom and I were very motivated and woke up at 5:45 to go to the morning work-out classes. That didn't last for too long though. We are incredibly tired all the time. They were fun though. Kick-boxing and dance aerobics. Fun stuff. 

Now for gym, we just like to go play sand volleyball as a district/zone. It is a blast! We get to take off our shoes and play around in the sun and the sand for an hour. 

We do tons of role play. Like Sis. Parkinson will act as our investigator, and I will practice teaching a concept or a principle or bearing testimony. It really helps in our lessons. 

Try to find the youth mormon message about a girl reading Joseph Smith's first vision. It's amazing, and I have no idea where to find it. 

Saturday evening, we were having personal and companionship and district study time. It was a huge block of time and we were all exhausted. All of a sudden, Elder Simons starts singing a cub scout song about Christopher Columbus. "In 1492 sailing from New Delhi, Columbus walked the streets of Spain selling hot tamales. They said the world was round-o, and that it could be found-o by that (something IDEK) that son-of-a-gun Christopher Columbo." It was probably the funniest moment of my life. Not really. But close. Also. Baptize for What is a thing. So now we just talk about columbus all the time now. It kills me. 

Saturday I was having a hard time. I was trying to enjoy myself, but I just had the constant nagging that I still had so much to do and that I needed to be better. The Elders then made a joke that I was the slave driver. That kinda hurt a little bit but I let it roll off. But then i started thinking about it more and it really got me down. So many people have told me that I work too hard and that I don't know how to have any fun. I really wanted to relax, but I didn't know. I expressed my feelings to Sis Parkinson. I told her how I have this constant nagging to be perfect and to try harder. She then looked me in the eye and testified that she knew we were companions for a reason. She said she used to struggle with the same thing, but through a roommate was finally able to relax. She challenged me to use the Atonement to find happiness and joy as I ask for help. It's impossible to be perfect in this life and as we accept that fact, we can finally be happy.

Speaking of Sister Parkinson. She is great. She is seriously so funny and so supportive and so loving. We finish each others . . . sentences. Not sandwiches. We love lots of the same movies and stories and have similar senses of humor. We can look at each other, have a conversation with our eyes and just start giggling. So great.

SUNDAY WAS AMAZING. I got to play the piano like all of the sacrament meeting. it was totally the sister Gilbert show and I wasn't even mad. I was REJOICING to play that piano. We watched that famous Character of Christ film of Elder Bednar's that you can't watch anywhere but the MTC. AMAZING. Instead of turning into yourself when things seem to be going wrong, turn out and serve others. 


Elder White was role playing the other night. The investigator was Sunny from New Orleans. He started talking with southern drawl (totally subconsciously). The rest of us were dying, but we didn't want to interrupt the role-play. So we told him the next mornign and it was just the funniest thing ever. Elder Simon's has this silent laugh where tears start rolling down his cheeks when he laughs. It is so funny. And Elder Penrod laughs so hard in this really deep chuckle that makes him unable to talk. It's the greatest thing of my life. Elder Haslem is so smart and just knows how everything works. Like he was telling us how to do our laundry to avoid setting stains in. SO FUNNY. I love my district so much. We really are like family and it's so fun. 

I've seen Elder Erik Lund, and a whole bunch of my friends from Utah State. Elder Scott Wilcox, Sister Hayley Spackman, Sister Ana Cook, Sister Lynette Jex from high school, and many others. It's truly a joy to be here with these people whom I love. 

It's crazy. All the new missionaries are starting to get here! I can't believe it's been a week already. This has been the longest and most wonderful week of my life. Wow, I can't even tell you how happy I truly am. It is amazing. 


Sister Gretchen Gilbert

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