Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Starting the downward slope of the MTC

My email is coming a day earlier this week because we changed schedules this week. I don't really know how I feel about it yet, yesterday was our first day, but it was a great day! We got to do personal study outside and watch the sun come up over the mountain, yes, I got up early enough for that to happen. It was such a beautiful morning! We had SYL yesterday as well, this week we have 4 days of SYL. We are adding a day a week until we leave. It is crazy and time is passing so fast! I can't believe that we are on the downward slope until we get to leave for Ukraine. I hope that you guys got the Book of Mormon in Ukrainian that I sent, you guys can see what I read now. I can read it fairly well, comprehending is still a challenge. I am getting to the point now that I can at least recognize words and even translate some verses.
Things are going well with our investigators, although we lost one. Kevin is no longer with us, and I will explain why in a bit. Aptem is going to be baptized in a week and half! We are so excited and he just accepts everything without question, it is the greatest! Svetlana is on vacation, so we won't teach her for another week. Michaelo and Kosta are still taking lessons, but we are having a hard time with Michaelo. He doesn't believe in God and won't pay attention to our lessons at all, unless it is to correct our language. I am glad that he is at the least still coming to them, I think that he is listening though. You should have seen our amazing lesson that we had with them on Friday, I think is when it was. We were teaching about the Restoration, and likened it unto a cookie. So we got four cookies and showed them one, saying that the Gospel when Jesus was on the earth was like this cookie and after He and his apostles dies that cookies was broken up. The pieces or truths got scattered to different churches, so they are still good, but you only get a piece of the cookie, but when Joseph Smith came along he was able to restore the full cookie, or the fullness of the Gospel. It was great! We handed them each their own cookie and said that it was done for each of us to have the full truth or "cookie" in our lives. It was actually a really great lesson even though Michaelo didn't want a cookie. Miraculously when the lesson was over though, Elder Peterson did want to cookie.
Yesterday we had the opportunity to visit a less active, which was great! We are going to start working with him regularly to get him reactivated. It was really interesting how every companionship approached the situation. The Elders had no luck with him at all. He actually got upset with them because the kept telling him he needed to go to church and giving him scriptures to read. The sisters had much of the same result and felt as though he was friendly, but unresponsive. We, on the other hand, got to know him, talked to him about what he liked to do, which is sports. He loves all things sports, so we gave him a calling working with our "youth" in our "ward" as like a coach or something. He accepted the calling willingly! It was really great, both Sister Wallace and I didn't want to treat him as a project and having had my own "church stalkers" as I liked to dub them, I didn't want to give him a negative experience and drive him further away. It went so great though, we are going to watch their "practice" on Wednesday night.
Today was kind of a sad day for our District, especially the Elders. Elder Wilkinson was sent home. He has been having some medical issues that were just not getting better and they gave him an "Honorable Release" until they can figure out what is going on. He told us all yesterday and this morning we had to say good bye. It was really sad. I love him so much, and he is just the sweetest and most genuine person ever. His testimony has been such a strength to me at times. You can see how much he loves his family and the Savior. He will be missed greatly, but we made him promise to write us all. If he can get his medical things cleared he can still go to Ukraine, he hasn't been reassigned, but we don't really know how or if that will happen. He is staying in touch with our teachers and will continue studying. Wherever he goes though, whether on a mission or in life he will do great!
I hope that the Elders survive. They are pretty down today, and I think that Elder Wilkinson was kind of a buffer between Elder Vandermark and Elder Peterson, so we will see how that will work out...?
After saying goodbye we went to the temple. The Elders did Initiatory and as sisters we went to a session. It was actually really great, tender mercies of the Lord are everywhere. We had a deaf sister in our session, so they had screens set up with interpreters on it! Oh my goodness! I LOVED it! I was completely enthrolled watching them sign the session and video. It was really interesting to see how they translated certain things. I was SO happy and actually learned a lot watching it be signed and also being able to read the subtitles. It was a really cool experience.
Oh, and I have to tell you about our Sunday night devotional, because let me tell you.... I was dying! It was the greatest thing ever, and I was laughing SO unbelievably hard! I can't remember the name of the person that spoke, I didn't bring my journal with me to write emails today, but anyway, he was just great! He had us stand up if we had done certain things, felt certain things, had said certain things, it made it super interactive, always cracking a joke afterward. He then also had a group in the overflow stand up and tell us something they had given up to come on a mission. He would then proceed to make it funny! His point was that all of us have done certain things, said certain things or felt certain things and that we are all in this together. All of us have sacrificed to be here. The Savior suffered for us, and we wear his name on our tag, surely we can suffer a little on his behalf. It was really great! Anyway though, this kid got up and said that he had given up his girlfriend to come on his mission, the speaker than said, and I quote, "On behalf of all the returned missionaries out there, I thank you for your donation!" Seriously, all of were on the floor laughing! It was just the greatest and I think everyone needed a good laugh.
For future reference, my P-day is now Tuesday. Bitter sweet, we loved seeing all of the new little missionaries getting ready to come into the MTC and taking their pictures for them as we came back from the temple. However, having P-day on Tuesday means no class, at all. TRC is still Wednesday nights, and Tuesday night we have choir practice and devotional. We can also host on Wednesdays now, which is great! Hosting is when we pick up the new missionaries off the curb and help them around campus on their first day. We are volunteering for it sometime later today, and I am excited! I can't wait to see all the new, cute missionaries coming in.
I hope you are all doing well, thank you for the letters and packages! Nothing beats hearing news from home!
I love you all!

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