So, this week has been so crazy awesome. It honestly feels like we've been here since the dawn of time. And now we've only got about 2 1/2 weeks left of life at the MTC. I'm totes trippin'. When did all of those weeks pass? What'er. I'm going to Korea so super soon.
We sent the older dongi to Korea early Monday morning! Sister Glauser and I had the pleasure of sending off Sister Park, the Korean Sister that was here for two weeks. (She's the coolest. She's fluent in both Korean and English... and her English is perfect. You would have never guessed she's a Korean. So basically she became my idol-- I wish I was fluent in both languages.) Anyways... we're the big kids 'round these parts. Holla. We received 33 new Korean-speaking missionaries yesterday, so we're once again the largest branch at the MTC. And we get 11 more missionaries straight from Korea next week! They're OUR natives!! I can't even believe that. We're going to Korea. (Pardon me, no matter how many times I say that, it doesn't seem real. I don't think it will even feel real when I'm stepping off the plane in Korea.)
Sister Driscoll (my new co-sister training leader) and I matched perfectly on the day we welcomed in the new missionaries. And after seeing us matching, Sister Lynn, Sister Anderson, and Sister Glauser all wanted to match too. So we made it a "red skirt" day for the Korean-Speaking sisters and got lots of weird looks. We blame it on the fact that we've been here for way too long. You've got to do SOMETHING out of the ordinary to mix things up a bit.
Sister Glauser and I sang in Relief Society this past Sunday! I was scared out of my mind. I have never sang in front of such a huge group of people. I think the biggest group of humans I've ever sang in front of consisted of about.... 20 people. But we preformed in front of every sister missionary at the MTC. You know in cartoons when the characters get really nervous and their knees start shaking in a ridiculous, non-realistic manner? That was us. I didn't know that it was even possible for my knees to move like that. But don't worry, I did it. Cross that off my bucket list. We've had complete strangers coming up to us and complimenting us on it ever since. A couple people have told us that we should make a CD. Others just claim us as their new BFF's. I'm fine with it because all of them hug me and I love hugs. I honestly feel like you can never get enough hugs as a sister missionary.
We had a huge devotional on Tuesday night because of the training that's been going on here at the MTC over the last week. There were a bunch of new mission-related callings and so there were general authorities here training all these newly-called individuals. So not only was the auditorium full of missionaries on Tuesday, but all of the people getting trained, as well as several general authorities. Elder Bednar made another appearance! He gives the most fantastic talks. Best part of the meeting? The fact that it was broadcasted to every MTC across the world... and Sister Glauser gave the closing prayer. I guess she can check, "praying in front of a general authority" off her life bucket list. I was a proud companion.
Anyways, I've been really focusing on the concept of "love" and trying to understand what it means to truly love. I just feel like learning to love the people around you is such a vital part of becoming a true representative of Jesus Christ. In 1 John 4:7-9, it talks about how God IS love. So my whole philosophy is that when you come to really love and understand the people around you, you are able to better understand and love God as well. In verse 11 it says: "Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another." Each of us is loved by the very being who created us-- He sees the best in each of us and wants us to be able to see that in others and ourselves. So my biggest goal has been to learn to love. Not just the normal, everyday, casual kind of love that gets tossed around these days like it's nothing; I want to learn to love as He did. I know that I am not capable of such love, but I know that I am capable of trying.
In the temple today I came across this scripture: Moroni 7:48. I'm not going to go into detail about what it means to me, but I want you to take the time to read it and figure out what it means to you. In one little moment, that became my all-time favorite verse. It claimed my whole heart-- but only because it speaks to my soul. My challenge this week is to strive towards becoming the kind of person that this verse describes. It's up to you to decide what that means.
I met an adorable old man today that I will remember for the rest of my life. I hope I get to meet him again someday. I think I'll wish for that on every shooting star I see until the day I die. I sat next to him at the temple and he was so kind and so loving towards me. His entire testimony shone vibrantly in his eyes and he shared it with every word that escaped his mouth. I liked him. He said lots of wonderful things to me that I'll keep locked up in my heart so I will always remember them. The last thing he said to me before I watched him hobble away was this: "Now sister, remember, always remember... don't be half when you can be the best." And as he said it he pointed his wrinkly finger up and down at me and I was so full of love for the man that I could barely contain it. If I ever grow up, I want to be just like him.
My love goes out to all of you. Thank you for your love and support.
I feel it every single day, I pinky promise.
Hey, better get Dear Elder-ing. I'm only here for 2 1/2 more weeks.
Well. This week has been super awesome, I promise. But now that I'm sitting here in front of this computer screen... I'm not a hundred percent sure what happened. In any given day here at the MTC, SO MUCH happens! But for some reason, when you go to write in your journal each night... you can't even remember what you did that day. There's so much to do and so much to be done that all the days tend to just mash together into one long, never-ending day of happiness and missionary work. So pardon me if I'm scatter-brained and everything from this point on is all over the place...
I got to go to the temple today! I haven't been in over a month and it's been killing me. I really focused on temple attendance before I reported to the MTC, so since the Provo Temple has been closed up until this week, I've been missing my weekly temple visits a lot. But anyways, I can't even explain what it's like to be there with so many other missionaries. We're all just a bunch of kids who have no idea what we're doing. But we know WHO we represent and WHAT He means to us and that's why we're all here. We all have something in common and that something is our love for our beloved Savior. I think that's pretty cool.
Oh, and p.s. I love the Provo temple. I think it's so pretty. It was especially pretty today with all the fog and snow-frosted trees everywhere. The view you get when you walk out the front doors is absolutely stunning. On our way there this morning, the fog was so bad that I couldn't resist saying, "mists of darkness...." as we made our way up to the glowing, lovely, beautiful temple. I thought I was pretty funny. No one else did. Welcome to my life.
With the new semester starting at BYU, all the schedules at the MTC got rearranged. Hence, the fact that my p-day is now on Thursdays instead of Fridays. But it's cool. I actually really like the new schedule, it works well for me. We just think it's funny because the MTC tries to create a "stable and comfortable environment" for it's missionaries, but we haven't exactly seen that take place just yet. We had all sorts of issues with our teacher's schedules and what not so we had probably twelve different teachers within the first few weeks. We didn't ever know who was teaching us... and when we were supposed to be teaching our progressing investigators. But as soon as that all got figured out, our schedule changed. The irony. It's great.
So, seeing as this past Sunday was fast Sunday, I promised myself that I'd be brave enough to get up and bear my testimony in front of the Korean-speaking branch. And I thought it was scary to bear my testimony in English... long story short, I got so anxious that as soon as they opened up the meeting for us to start bearing our testimonies, I could only sit in my seat for approximately ten seconds before my anxiety got to me and I booked up up to the pulpit. Fun fact of the day: I speak fast when I get nervous-- even when I'm speaking Korean. Whoops? After the meeting, Brother Lee, one of the members of the branch presidency came up to me and said some things in Korean before saying, "Very impressive testimony... near perfect..." I was pretty proud of myself, not gonna lie.
After I had sat down, I could help but to think about the process of learning how to bear my testimony in Korean. When I first got to the MTC I think one of the things that bothered me the most was the fact that I felt like I couldn't share my testimony because I couldn't speak Korean. I was so frustrated about it. But because of that frustration, I made the decision to work on perfecting my Korean testimony. I worked on it. I worked so hard on it so that I'd at least be able to share my testimony with the people of Korea.
Bearing my testimony in Korean for the first time in front of a congregation of people, helped me realize the gravity of what has been accomplished in just a few short weeks. Korean is a difficult language. But when I worked on building and strengthening my testimony, other language concepts started making sense. It was a little miracle! I may not be able to say much, but I can share the things I know and I can share the things I feel.
Through this, I learned that likewise, when we work on strengthening and building our testimonies of our Savior Jesus Christ, everything else will start to make sense. You you focus on strengthening that testimony, God will bless you.
I'm far from being fluent in Korean. Far, far, far, far from it. But when I look at where I was as opposed to how far I've come, I feel such a sense of gratitude for all the help I have received from my Heavenly Father and the atonement of Jesus Christ.
Sister Hoffman, Sister Glauser, and myself auditioned this morning for a musical number at one of the big programs that occur here at the MTC about nine times a week. It was so neat to be able to do a musical number together; we all agreed that being able to share your testimony through music is one of the neatest experiences. Sister Hoffman is an incredible pianist and she accompanied Sister Glauser and I in "Nearer My God to Thee." It's one of my all-time favorite hymns. Anyways, long story short, we got a big "YES!" from Sister Nally on our audition so we'll be performing it at a meeting sometime in the future-- I'll let you know when that happens. I'll see if I can find a way to send that home so you can hear it! I know Mom would love it.
I couldn't be more excited to go to Korea! It's such an incredible place with such incredible people and I'm so grateful to get to experience all of that! What a blessing. I'll be getting off that plane before I even know it. Isn't that the craziest thought? I'll be stepping into Korea in just under a month. Woah.
Anyways, I'm running out of time for the week! I love you all and I'm thankful for all the love and support I'm receiving. It makes such a difference as a missionary. It really does. Every little things means the world to us when we're out here. So thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
p.s. I just have to publically apologize to Jill: I may have accidentally given away your address to a small collection of Korean-Speaking Elders. My bad. But for the record, I've read some of the letters that have been sent your way and I laughed so hard that I cried.
oh, and another p.s. I'm not going to be in the MTC forever... so take advantage of that free form of communication while you can! (aka send me Dear Elders because it's the best to hear from you people and Dear Elder is a form of same-day communication. That's all.)
Wait... it's 2014? How weird is that!? Last new years seems so far away and yet it feels as if I was just barely making snow angels in Jill's backyard at midnight in celebration of the coming of 2013. Where has the time gone? It's so interesting to think back to who I was just a short year ago. I laugh at the absurd thought of the present me (aka 선교 서 [missionary] CaLea) going back in time and telling the CaLea of January 2013 all about who she would become over the next year of her life. The events that have taken place over the last year are events that I never imagined I would experience. But now, as I'm sitting here in the Provo MTC, I can honestly say that the Lord has been guiding me every step of the way.
I'm officially halfway through my stay here at the MTC (which baffles me because I swear I haven't already been here for four and a half weeks...) and OH how I've grown! The Lord teaches us in so many interesting ways and I am constantly amazed by it. I'm not going to lie, the thought of leaving the MTC is both exciting and sad: exciting because... Korea... but sad because I don't know what on earth I'm going to do when I have to say goodbye to my other half (also known as Glauser).
But you know what? I know without a doubt in my heart that God is watching over me and that He will help me accomplish the things that He has asked me to do. I was reading in Words of Mormon this week and I came across verse seven. I LOVED IT. I have no idea what God has in store for me but I am learning to just rely on the spirit. God knows all things. So really, I have no need to worry. Thank heavens for a Father in Heaven who is all-knowing and a perfect brother who has promised to help me every step of the way.
It's hard to be completely immersed in a language and not have the ability to express myself the way I want to. The most frustrating thing is understanding a question that a 구도자 (investigator) asks and knowing how to respond to it... but not knowing how to communicate your answer in 헌국멀 (Korean). That being said, it's impossible to not feel inadequate as a missionary. It is completely unavoidable. In the devotional on Christmas, one of the missionaries anonymously asked, "Why do I feel so inadequate?" In response, Elder Bednar said something that will remain with me for the rest of my mission, "It's because you have a sense of what you've been called to do. The feeling of inadequacy will never stop. We cannot do all that we have been called to do so we MUST learn to rely upon Him." One thing that always makes me feel better when I'm thinking too much about Korean is this thought: If God could instantly cause hundreds of people to speak hundreds of languages at the tower of babel, then He can definitely help me learn a little Korean. I may just have to struggle a little bit along the way.
As human beings it is so easy to get caught up in what we can't do that we forget to recognize all that we CAN do. We've been learning Korean for a mere four and a half weeks-- that's it. And yet we can understand and say so much! (Granted, we'll feel like we haven't learned a thing-- even more so than we already feel now-- as soon as we get to Korea... but I try not to focus on that...) I came across Mosiah 4:27 on a day when I was feeling particularly overwhelmed. I realized how silly I was being. I was getting down on myself for "not knowing enough" and that was hindering my ability to really progress and become better. So then I got to thinking, "What do I expect of myself for this mission?" And instantly, I had a list full of things sitting in front of me on my desk. Then I thought, "What does the Lord expect of me for this mission?" And only one thing came to mind: He expects me to do my best. Why should my expectations for myself be higher than the Lord's expectations for me? He doesn't expect me to be perfect, He expects me to do my best. Through the atonement, He will take care of the rest.
So, I trusted.
This week has been a result of that. I've been working so hard and praying (기도 하다) every step of the way. And I have seen results. As missionaries, it's not our job to teach (거르치다); it's our job to invite. We are conductors of the spirit so that the spirit can teach through us. So, we love, we plan, we prepare, and we pray and the spirit does the rest. We invite others to come unto Christ and we invite the spirit to teach the truth of our message to those that we teach. It's so neat.
Cool moment: I bought a tiny paper-back Book of Mormon (몰몬 경) from the bookstore here at the MTC this week. On the title page I wrote down a question that I had that I wanted to learn and study more about. I have never, in my whole life, had a cooler experience with the Book of Mormon. The whole purpose of reading THIS Book of Mormon is to answer my question. So I've been marking it and inserting sticky notes with thoughts and feelings as I've been reading. I love it so much. I was reading 1 Nephi 8:12-18 earlier this week and a set of verses struck me so deeply that I wanted to take a moment to share what I learned. In verse 12 it's Lehi talking about how he had tasted of the fruit and that it filled his heart with so much joy that he immediately wanted to share it with his family. So I thought that was pretty cool-- anyways, as I kept reading, in verse 15 he talks about how he beckoned unto his family to "come unto [him]" and partake of the fruit. In that moment he sounded so much like the Savior that I couldn't help but to go back and start reading at verse twelve again.
God gave Lehi, who was an earthly father, the opportunity to get a glimpse of what it must be like to be a heavenly father. And likewise, God (하나님) gives every man an opportunity to be not only an earthly father, but a heavenly father someday too. He has been where we are and He has overcome what we are working to overcome. And now, because of the joy He feels, He wants to give each of us, His spirit sons and daughters, an opportunity to experience it as well. Which leads to why He gives us commandments (or the Word of God). The commandments are there as a guide to help us safely navigate through the mists of darkness without getting lost. They aren't there to be restricting-- they're freeing. How cool is God? Super duper cool. Can you imagine how hard it must be to stand at the base of the tree of life beckoning to your children to come unto you only to see them try and navigate their way through the darkness by themselves? I think that's where missionaries come in: we've got a GPS system (scriptures), a guide (Holy Ghost), and the light of Christ to help us fight our way through the darkness in order to go out and find our brothers and sisters and bring them back to the iron rod.
Well, I'm running out of time but I just want to let you know that I love you and I think about you always. I'm pretty lucky to have such a great support system back at home cheering me on. I owe you humans everything. And you know what? I guess I'm pretty lucky to be stuck with you for the rest of forever.
I like to compare the MTC to the City of Enoch: we are not a part of the real world. We, the missionaries of the Provo Missionary Training Center, live in what I like to call a time warp of spirituality and awesomeness. Days feel like weeks and weeks feel like moments but moments sometimes feel like hours and sometimes they feel like actual moments. I guess what I'm trying to say here is this: I don't understand the concept of "time." Not that I really did before... but not I really really don't understand it.
Ready for the accident of the week? On our temple walk this past Sunday it had been snowing all day so all of the sidewalks were completely iced over. Sister Glauser, Sister Anderson, and I were all walking arm-in-arm up to the temple when one of us (and I think it was probably me) totally slipped on the ice and successfully knocked over the other two in the process. We hit the ground so hard that Sister Glauser ripped her tights and I accidentally peed a little. We can't make it through a week without some sort of injury, that has become very obvious. On the bright side, we built an eight-foot snowman with our zone and then we killed it all before returning to the MTC. Yay for the Korean-speaking branch!!
We're a couple of messes. And by "we," I am referring to Sister Glauser and myself. Sister Glauser got sick at the beginning of the week so we were given the opportunity to burst free from the protective walls of the MTC for approximately twenty minutes in order to walk a block down the street and pick up some meds. We were so excited. Snow was pelting our faces and it was freezing cold but we didn't let that put a damper on our spirits! We saw real life people with real life problems driving real life cars down a real life street!!! Sometimes we forget that there are real things happening outside of the MTC. My whole life revolves around three buildings that are all right next to each other. Everything I need is right here. So leaving the MTC with my super cool companion was and extremely exhilarating experience.
Oh, and for the record, now I've fallen ill too. So we're basically a couple of zombies. It's fine. (Surprised? Me neither. I swear, I'm always sick.)
We teach our "progressing investigators" nearly every day and it has been so neat to see how much we improve with every lesson. Korean is starting to come!! Just last night, we were practice teaching our companions in class and I was able to teach 95% of the lesson in Korean. It was a discussion too; there was no lesson plan, I just spoke. I'm so incredibly grateful to know that I have a Father in Heaven who loves me and who has promised to make up for all that I lack. That doesn't mean I can just stop working hard, in fact, it just gives me more of a reason to start working harder. God has a lot to make up for when it comes to me-- but hey, He called me forth so here I am.
I hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas! Mine was legendary. I may or may not have withheld some vital information about my Christmas plans when I emailed home on Christmas morning... but I wanted to keep everything a secret so that I could make this email super duper extra exciting and special with a surprise. Are you ready?
I celebrated Christmas by eating lunch with Elder Bednar. A total of 24 missionaries were invited and by some chance of fate, I was one of them. What an experience! And then I got to sit second row in a historical devotional! They passed out 200 cellphones into the auditorium full of missionaries and then displayed a number to which we could text in questions we had. Elder Bednar had a "magic iPad" that would display all the questions that were texted in and he'd would simultaneously answer the questions as they were being sent in. The phones were passed around as the meeting took place and the entire devotional was in "question and answer" format. I loved it. I had so many questions that were answered-- some of which I didn't even realize I had. I can't even explain what it's like to be in the presence of an apostle of the Lord. SO. COOL. He spoke so simply and so bluntly and every word that came out of his mouth was meant just for me. (p.s. fun fact: I gave his two adorable granddaughters some of the cards with Mary and baby Jesus on them that Mom sent me... I miss babies. Give Jake, Sophie, Kason, Quincee, and Riley big hugs for me!)
So yeah, this Christmas was significantly different from every other Christmas I've experienced in my life. But I was so grateful for that. I was also so grateful for all the love I received via Christmas packages. Seriously, you're all wonderful. (Props to Ginay for smuggling a grande caramel apple spice into the MTC. I thought I had died and gone to heaven.) I literally walked out of the mailroom carrying a stack of packages one day and all I heard from the missionaries I was passing was, "Ohhh. SOMEBODY's loved." Yep. I am so loved and so supported by all of you lovely people back and home and I count that among my blessing every day. I love all of you so much. The pajamas and food were the best. I'm extremely wealthy on MTC terms... (aka FOOD).
We got to spend our entire morning cleaning the temple today! I was so happy to be there. We've been temple-deprived for a whole month now and it's been so awful. I was beaming from ear to ear the entire time we were there. We got a tour of it at the end of our service shift and I was in complete awe. It's such a pretty temple! I've never been to the Provo temple before today but I definitely loved it. I think it opens back up in about a week or so and I'll finally get to go for reals a couple times before I head out to Korea. I'm pretty excited about that.
Fun facts of the week: I do my hair in messy buns that are held up by a solitary pen on a regular basis because I somehow manage to ALWAYS forget to grab hair bands from my residence hall in the mornings when I leave. (Dang it.) We've befriended the Cambodian-speaking Elders. Their classroom is right next to the sister's bathroom and since we're in a trio companionship (during class time) we spend a great deal of time on the little bench outside their classroom. Oh, and last of all, I have a permanent pink scar on my forehead that is in the shape of a metal leaf pan.... (mom).
I've always been a woman of many (and elaborate) words. Yet, as I've been here, I've watched my vocabulary begin to diminish. God's gospel is simple and easy to understand. And I truly believe that God is sending me to Korea in order to help me figure out how to simplify the way in which I teach of Him. My prayers are simple and short-- my testimony is well. But that doesn't make them any less powerful. In fact, merely bearing my testimony in Korean is a testimony in and of itself: We are children of an almighty being who loves us and gives us the ability to do things that are beyond our own capabilities. The atonement of Jesus Christ "magnifies our natural capacities" and helps us to become far greater than we could ever be on our own. Everyday, we should practice choosing happiness and success through the gift that Jesus Christ has given us.
He has given us the opportunity to choose our fate. We don't choose our journey, but we can choose our destination. I choose to follow Him because He is my strength when my own strength crumbles and He is my light in a world that is so dark and so lost.
"Come, follow me." He beckons.
And with His name on my chest, I am doing my best.