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Friday, October 26, 2012

October 26, 2012-MTC

Hola familia! Como estan?

So right after I emailed everyone last Friday I ran into Elder Hicks. I think Dylan Hicks? He seems so grown up and mature! And he's the district leader for his district. I've seen him one other time. It's crazy that he'll be leaving the MTC before me even though I got here three weeks before him. He was very nice and delivered your message, dad. I think the schedule finally caught up to me this week because I was so tired. One day during personal study I was having the hardest time staying awake and I fell asleep TWICE right in the MIDDLE of highlighting a scripture. Our lessons are starting to go much much better. Well all of them except for one. Last Friday we had our first (and probably not our last) experience with a lesson going exactly how you don't want it to go. Looking back on it now it was actually really funny. We were teaching him about prophets and had him read Amos 3:7 where it says God doesn't do anything before revealing it to his prophets first and then our investigator asked if WE were prophets. I only understood the prophet part so I said "Yup!"....apostasy. Somehow we finally realized what he had asked and did our best to tell him that we were actually not prophets. Oops.

The language has been coming much better this week. Much MUCh MUCH better. My teacher told me to pray for specific help. not just "please help me with the language" so I started praying that I would just be able to remember what I study and I have never had such a good memory in my life before. I put forth the work and do the studying and then God helps me remember what I study. I've been able to remember stuff that I've only studied once and it's been a huge blessing! My spelling in English is getting horrible though. I'm starting to spell in Spanish. There aren't very many words in Spanish that repeat letters. I wouldn't say I'm starting to think in Spanish but I think about certain Spanish phrases and words a lot.

 After our lesson we went into the computer lab (there's a program that helps us learn Spanish. We can listen to native speakers and then speak and compare how we's really helpful) anyway my companion rolled her chair over to talk to me and since her headphones were on she was connected to the computer so the entire computer followed her and crashed to the floor. It was really loud and she was so embarrassed. We started quietly laughing for just a second and then we both started crying. haha I have NO idea why. Too much emotion for one day I think. Our teacher came over and the look on his face was pure confusion that it made me start laughing again. Every time he came over after that to talk to us he was really hesitant. I think he was worried we might burst into tears again. I bet Dad, Justin and Scott never experienced random outbursts of tears like that on their missions! Embarrassing story of the week #2 ....There is an Elder in my district named Elder Crapo (pronounced cray po) Well I called him  Crap- O TWICE! I felt bad...I hope he doesn't think I was making fun of him.

It's really cool to hear about the increased number of missionary applications. One of the Elders in my district has a friend who just got her call to Switzerland (German speaking) and she's only 19 or 20. She must be one of the very first young sisters to get her call. She doesn't come to the MTC until February though. I doubt I'll see any of the young group in the MTC while I'm here. But I'm sure I'll see a lot while I'm in the field. Is there anyone in our ward that will be serving a mission now? And Yes I do need my four generation pedigree chart please. Just sometime before I leave the MTC. I don't think I'll need it while I'm here but it would definitely be easier to send it to me here than Cali. And yes I have stopped pirating my notebooks for paper. I will use the paper that mom sent me.

This Sunday my district is doing a musical number for sacrament meeting and I am playing the piano. We're doing the EFY Medley (As sister's in zion/ the army of helaman) great song! So every Sunday we watch a movie after the fireside and we got to watch The Testaments. It was SO good. I got more out of it this time than any of the other times combined. The elders couldn't handle the kissing scenes though. They had to be told that whistling and clapping was not appropriate. It was funny. Oh and that Sunday morning our alarm clock was the fire alarm. The entire building had to be evacuated at 6 in the morning and we didn't get to go back in and get ready until 7 (which is when we're supposed to be at breakfast). Everyone was sleeping on the floor in the building across from us. It was funny to see so many missionaries in their pjs sleeping on the floor. They said some dust set the alarm off.

Sister Dibb (Pres Monson's Daughter) came and spoke to the sisters on Sunday. She was so awesome. She told us a lot of fun stories about the prophet that made him seem like just a normal person. I guess he his after all. When she got called to the young women's general presidency he called her and said "do you want to know who the new presidency is?" and she thought he was letting her in on the secret and got all excited. Then he read her name and she started crying and said she couldn't do it. As her dad he told her that she could and then as the prophet he asked if she would accept the call. It was a cool story. She also told us that He treats his wife really well and told us a couple stories about that. I wish I had time to write them but I don't sorry. Maybe next week! Hermano Christofferson also tells us stories about the 12 apostles all the time and it's so neat! (I told you his uncle is D. Todd right?)

Mom- Yay I'm glad you can put my emails up on my blog now. Thanks for doing that! Did it snow yet over there? We got a lot of snow yesterday.Hopefully you got all the vegetables out of the garden. I really miss fresh veggies.  I can't wait to be in California because I'm already sick of the snow. Skirts are just not warm enough for snow! Luckily we really only have to go outside for meals because our class and dorm room are in the same building. How come you're making stockings for everyone? And why don't I get one???? Just kidding. Kind of. Will Christmas be at your house this year?

Dad- Good to hear about Romney. I put him on the prayer roll last time we went to the temple...hopefully that's okay. But I would just way rather have someone as president who holds the priesthood than anyone else. I didn't have time to vote last p-day but I will today. One of the sisters in my district is from Virginia and she didn't even vote! sheesh. She said she doesn't care what happens because it won't affect her since she's on a mission. I think who runs our country DEFINITELY affects us even if we are on a mission. Plus we won't be on a mission forever.  It sounds like the garage looks nice! And it sounds like mom is making the front porch look nice for Halloween. I'm definitely going to miss decorating for the holidays this year.

Jessica- Tell the boys thanks for the pictures. They were so cute!! And the pictures of them in their Halloween costumes are adorable. My favorite picture was the one of them in the truck with all the pumpkins. It seems unreal that it's Halloween in the real world. Thanks for helping mom with the blog too. Oh and the story about Alex and his pumpkin was so cute. I read it to my class and they all thought it was funny. What color did you pick for the house? And when will the house be done? Or is there not a set date yet? That's awesome about your new calling. That will be fun and keep you really busy I'm sure! I thought you were going to say relief society president haha. And snail mail is great. I don't care what form it comes in I just like to read it. I do get to read dearelders anytime too case you don't want to use stamps every week.

Andrea- I'm glad Matt finally sent you my talk. I haven't even listened to it so I don't really remember what I said. I can't believe Scott ate all of that. There are actually several elders who eat like that every single meal here. It's so disgusting. Even eating the "healthy" food here probably isn't even that healthy. For breakfast I saw one sister with 3 donuts on here tray and nothing else. How did your audition at Golds go? That sounds fun! Did you choose aqua fitness or is that what they assigned you? I think you'd like teaching the elderly!! At least I would. If you email me a link to your blog I will not be able to read it. They have all sites blocked except for email and lds.orgCould you copy and paste it into a dear elder? I dunno if you'd be able to do pictures though. But you could email the pictures. That's probably a lot of work but I won't have time to read it if you email it. I barely have enough time just to email. Tell Boston thanks for singing his ABC's for me. I really enjoyed it :)

Thanks everyone for praying for me! I feel very loved and supported from everyone and it helps a lot! The work is hard but for sure not the hardest thing I've ever done. Everyone said it would be but I disagree. I think because there are so many people willing to help. Maybe the field will be different. Actually I'm sure it will be. The day that I got here one of the sisters leaving said "This will be by far the hardest thing you've ever done" So  I assumed she was talking just about the MTC. But I like it here and I'm learning a ton!! I know I've only been out 3 weeks but I'm already wishing it would slow down. Can't wait to hear from everyone again!
Con Amor-
Hermana Billings

Friday, October 19, 2012

October 19, 2012- MTC


Thanks so much for sending me tights! Now hopefully I won't freeze. I found out last week that they have a little fridge in the cafeteria with gluten free bagels, bread and other snacks. I don't eat from there very often though.         

They have a different salad and soup every day so that's usually what I eat. They also have rice and chicken almost every meal. I don't eat much for breakfast...surprise surprise. I don't think I need a flat pencil case. I have a pocket in my purse that I keep a few pens and then I leave the rest in my desk in our classroom. I can't believe there has been a 600% increase of missionary applications. They're really trying to prepare the missionaries at the MTC now to be prepared because we are most likely going to be training a lot of the new younger missionaries once they get into the field. I might have a 19 year old companion! Not sure how to feel about that. That was really nice of Brother Hanks to say I should go into public speaking. I enjoy it but I get pretty nervous. Especially now that I have to speak in Spanish.
The weather has been really nice and during language or personal study, my companion and I sit outside in the sun to study. It's so nice.

Mom I really liked your comment about missionary work being a little piece of heaven. That's exactly how it feels here. Nothing else matters except serving others and brining them to Christ. I just need to remember to enjoy it ALL the time. And this week I learned that the way to gain a greater love for someone is to serve them. You have always been a selfless server. It's easy to serve the people you already love but if you serve someone first it's almost automatic that you'll appreciate them more. Especially if they show appreciation for what you've done. That's why it's important to serve and to let others know that you appreciate their service. My companion and I got a lot closer this week because of that. The blog password is the same as your other blog. It's on the same account. I think it was ethanalexboston or something. So however you sign into appleicious. Maybe Jessica or Andrea could help you. If you can't figure it out Amy Kate and maybe a few other people will want you to forward them my emails because I told everyone to check my blog. Or maybe Andrea and Jessica could make a different blog and put it on facebook.

Andrea & Jessica- Thanks for the letters! I love hearing from both of you and especially how the boys are doing. Reading stories and hearing about them in the middle of the day makes it a thousand times better! I want to see pictures of their Halloween costumes in a couple weeks. Andrea are you still going to send me blog posts? You can email them to me since you're family. I only get 30 minutes though so if you mailed them it might be better. How are both of your houses coming along?

And Dad you were close with "como es ta"..."esta" is one word. But you used the right form! A lot of missionaries have had to break the habit of saying "como estas" which is the informal form. I didn't know anything in the beginning so I haven't had to break any habits. I did take a foot picture for you but I don't know how to send pictures from the computer yet. I might print some off for you guys soon to send in the mail. Did you figure out how to deal with the troublesome coaches yet? It sounds like it's their own problem. But I'm sure there's a way to handle it. Even if you're right and they're wrong. Just don't turn it into "who's right and who's wrong" because that just causes contention. Maybe you already figured it out. That's a good idea to get testimonies from the people here in the MTC. Four elders in our district are leaving on Tuesday for the guatemala MTC.

I hope when I get back from my mission I stay in the habit of going to sleep at 1030 and waking up at 630. I love it and I get SO much more done. Mainly because we have to. But I'm always so shocked at how much I can do before noon. I'm definitely starting to recognize certain phrases and every time we learn a new verb I recognize it all the time during conversations. They expose us to conversations with native and fluent speakers all the time. Our first conversation with a native speaker was very interesting. I couldn't understand a word he said but somehow I still knew the message he was trying to get across. If that even makes sense. So I responded to what I thought he was talking about and he seemed to understand. At that point I didn't know how to conjugate anything so it probably sounded ridiculous. But we finally learned basic conjugations! Which I think would have been helpful to learn the first day not the second week. But oh well, at least now I know.

Is the kitchen done yet? I haven't used my jump rope yet because they have a lot of things in the gym that I want to take advantage of while I'm here. I still alternate lifting and running every other day. I got my voting ballot so I'll fill it out and send it in the mail today. We got our second teacher. I don't know if I told you that already. He's the nephew of Elder D. Todd Christofferson and he has some awesome stories to tell. He served in Argentina so his accent is very different. He doesn't say his "S's" So Dios sounds like Dio and I never know what he's saying.  But I'll probably be running into people with different Spanish accents all the time so I guess it's good to get used to it now. I never thought I'd miss CC but I do! Don't sell her while I'm gone.

Sister Burton (the RS presidency) came to speak to the sisters on Sunday. And then we all got a lesson about being "lady like". I felt like Miss Congeniality. She demonstrated how to "glide" not "bop" down the stairs and a whole bunch of other stuff we should do. Right after the lesson I was walking up some stairs and I took like three at a time. Oops...that definitely isn't gliding. Sunday's are definitely my favorite day. Our district walked to the temple and it was such perfect weather. The fireside we had that night was about having an eternal perspective and it was awesome. The speaker also talked about making "finding people" (as in finding those who have been prepared to come unto Christ) a lifestyle instead of an event. That way, once we return from our mission we will still be able to bring others unto the gospel of Jesus Christ. The book of Mormon really is evidence of everything we believe. And I'm so grateful we have the fullness of everything we need to know. I thought missionary work meant you had to know a whole bunch of doctrine but the Book of Mormon has all the answers anyone could ever ask or want to know.  So I'm not worried about not knowing enough anymore. Not knowing enough Spanish is another story though So I'll just make sure to carry enough books of mormon for everyone. Well I think that's it for this week! Feel free to pray for me in learning the language :) Love you all!
Hermana Billings

October 12, 2012 - MTC

Dear Family-
     Hola! It's been great to hear from everyone. Thanks for writing. I really really love and appreciate hearing from anyone and everyone. Dad, I got a letter from Jessica and Amy Kate writes me about everyday. It's great! And is definitely the best way to do it. I can't believe I already have one week completed in the MTC. Has it gone by fast for everyone else? I will be able to e-mail every Friday now. We didn't have a preparation day the first week, so that's why I had to send a hand written letter. Well first things first...General Conference was amazing! The missionaries still haven't stopped talking about the new age change. What a great announcement!!! I'm so excited that more, especially sisters, will have the opportunity to serve a mission. Elder Bednar came and spoke to us the following Tuesday and said there has been a lot of speculation about why the change took place. He said "The Lord can do his own work and will hasten it as he pleases. And the Lord is hastening his work". Anything else is merely coincidental. It's so funny to hear the Elders perspective about it. One of the Elder's in my district got a letter the next day from his girlfriend saying she was meeting with the bishop the next day to turn in her mission papers. He was really excited for her. As he should be. I loved that Conference spoke a lot about discipleship. I think Elder Bednar, Eyering and Ballard gave my favorite talks (they seemed to be the same talk). Which is interesting because when Elder Bednar was speaking to us on Tuesday he told us that they do not assign topics in Conference and they were just as interested to know what the other apostles were going to say as we were. He said, "The lord is the master planner, not his servants". It's just interesting how when we're doing what we're supposed to, everything works out. But sometimes we don't notice it until it's already been worked out. Anyway, I might end up training a 19 year old sister!
     Mom, thanks for sending that belt and some yummy gluten free homemade snacks! I have them in my room now so I don't have to go to bed starving. I'm actually starting to get used to the early dinner now though. And yes Dad there are vending machines but I never use them. We only get $8 a week (which is $2 more than the elders!) so I try not to use it on snacks. I bought a Spanish Hymn Book and some flash cards with the money last week. And yes I have a hole punch. Which I've already used a ton so I'm glad I brought it. If you are sending another package I would use some stationery (because I don't have any...maybe just blank cards or something?) but you don't need to go out of your way to send another package just to send it. I'm fine using boring lined paper. 
     My companion and I share a room with two other Sisters who are in our district. There are 3 bunk beds, so two of the beds are empty. We each have our own little closet and we share a desk area with our companion. We don't spend any time in our room besides sleeping and journal writing. My companion is going to Fortworth, Texas and the other two are going to Arcadia, California. I haven't met anyone else going to San Jose, California Spanish speaking. What does that mean? SOOO many missionaries are going to Arcadia, California though. I love my companion and the other two sisters in my district. We all get a long great but we're all pretty different from each other. One sister is from Tennessee and she has the cutest accent. The other sister is from Virginia. I think I already mentioned that my companion is from St. George Utah. We have scheduled gym time alternating morning and afternoon. I get to lift weights in the mornings (which I love!!) and then I run and play four square in the afternoons. I like morning gym time a lot better. And I've been sore from gym ever since I've been here. Probably the last time I'll have sore muscles though. My companion said she wanted to run with me the first day and I was like, "great!!" but she stopped after 3 minutes and hasn't mentioned trying again. Luckily we don't have to be with our companions during gym time. The lines at the cafeteria are not long at all. I think the longest we've had to wait is 10 minutes and that was only during General Conference because everyone had the same meal times. Other than that, there are no lines. So I haven't been getting any reading done. But I did start reading Jesus the Christ the Monday after General Conference. I haven't made a ton of progress but I plan to continue reading it throughout my mission. I've also started reading el Libro de Mormon. It's taking me forever! I just barely finished 1 nephi 1. 
     We can't listen to any music while in the MTC so I haven't taken my ipod out yet. Everyone sings a ton here...down the halls, in class, in the shower. I find my self whistling ALL the time. I'm glad my corolla found a good new home. I'll miss that car! I don't know how you got $6300 from my uesp savings and selling the corolla but that's great! I'm glad my mission will be able to be paid for. Thanks for supporting me. And mom, you said you would like to serve a mission one day? GREAT! Like I said in my other letter, I can't believe I ever considered NOT going. If you have a testimony, a mission really is for everyone. At least that's what I think. I think the Lord would want ALL of his children to serve if there is any way that it's a possibility for them. Especially in these days as he's starting to "hasten his work". It's really the most important thing we can do.  I've learned a lot already about why I'm out here. To bring others to Christ. Not to share my beliefs and try to get others to believe in them as well (although I will be sharing my belief) it's to show others what they need to do and how to do it in order to follow Christ. It's so much more than I originally thought. Everyone has been talking about their mission plaque...I didn't get one? Do you know anything about that? If anyone asks, I want Alma 29:9 on it. 
     Spanish has been coming a long slowly but I think I'm learning more than I give myself credit. One night I was really frustrated about Spanish and I just wanted to be an English speaking missionary so I could just focus on learning the doctrine of Christ. We had a combined class with a few other districts and at the end our teacher was saying something important, but I wasn't listening because I was too focused on all my doubts with the language. There's so much I want to be able to say but I don't know how to form sentences! Anyway, as we were walking out he called me and my companion over and said, "My message was for you two sisters. Don't ever think that you can't do it because this is God's work and he will provide a way for it to be accomplished. He will help both of you and don't ever think that he won't". We both started crying, hugged each other, and then burst into laughter. We were both in much better moods after that. And neither of us realized that we had both been experiencing the same feelings. Not that the language is easy now, but I know I just have to give it my all and the Lord will help me because he needs to use me as an instrument to bring other unto Christ. He probably wants me to learn Spanish more than I want myself to learn Spanish. So of course he'll help me. And he already has so much. 
     How are the boys doing? I wish I could talk to them! Tell me all the cute and funny stories about them that happen while I'm gone. How's Katie doing? We're going to the temple today so I'll remember to put her name on the prayer roll. You could probably send me family names if you want? And then I can send them back. I'm sure my companions and a few other sisters would love to do some of our family names. We are doing some family names for an elder in our zone today. Dad, how'd your ping pong tournament go? And how are the presidential debates going? I'm glad Romney did well the first night. And I hope everyone is doing well! Write soon? :) Love you all!! 
Con Amor,
Hermana Billings