Surprise! I have visitor training this week so I have P-day today instead of Monday :)
Well, for starters, this week has just been GREAT!! I'm so excited to go out into the field next week, but then again, I will be very sad to leave the MTC. I've made a lot of good friends here from all over the world and I feel that my teachers are like my family. It's going to be hard, but I'm excited for the adventure that lies ahead :)
On Wednesday we started our VISITOR CENTER training! Yay! We went up to Temple Square that morning and got a tour from the sisters there. It's so weird to think that I am actually living here right now. Isn't that weird?? Anyway, there were a total of five of us who went up to temple square that morning. There's me, Sister Rizzo, and Sister Garcia who are going to St. George and then Sister Ye and Sister Occolier who are going to be serving at Temple Square. They. Are. Amazing. Let me tell you a little bit about them!
So Sister Ye (pronounced "Yeh") is from southern China. She was so excited to here about Seth and how he is learning Chinese! She joined the church a few years ago when she was studying in Australia. We asked her how she joined the church and she told us the most beautiful story. She started off by saying that she knew her parents loved her, but it was a different kind of love. They sent her brother to a school that provided a great education and they sent her to school where the education was...not so great. She said it was really hard for her and that she felt very lost. She had a hard time in knowing right from wrong. During her high school years, her mom became very ill and they found out she had cancer. She said there were many others who died from cancer in her family and that she felt everyone around her was just dying. She told us that she went into one of their Chinese church buildings and cried and cried and cried. She prayed to God and told Him that if He could save her mother, she would devote her life to God and do anything she wanted Him to. The next day her mom had surgery and she was cured. She then went to Australia to study, found the missionaries, got baptized, and decided to serve a mission. The church is not allowed in mainland China though, so they have to meet in hidden locations. She is so dedicated.
Sister Occolier is from the island Martinique in the West Indies. We became friends right at the start because, apparently, I'm the first person at the MTC to know where that island is!! I think it has to do with the fact that we eat on place-maps every night haha! Anyway, she said she joined because her older brother went to France to study. There, he met the missionaries and joined the church. He came back and served a mission in Quebec (coincidentally Sister Garcia is from there and knew her brother!). He taught her the gospel when she was 14 and she wanted to join immediately! However, she was still living with her mother and unfortunately, she was against the church. So Sister Occolier waited 5 YEARS to get baptized. Wow. She has such a strong testimony and desire to serve help others and serve God. I just love her.
Both sister's have the most beautiful accents - Sister Ye's is Chinese and Sister Occolier's is French. What's funny is that they both so badly want an American accent!! They think the way we teach the gospel is so smooth, gentle and loving. It's so funny because we feel the exact opposite! Since they still do not know English very well, they use simple words. But the way their sentences are pieced together and the inflections in their voices emphasize certain words is just BEAUTIFUL! They do not use words of sophistry, but simple words. When they bear testimony of what they believe, the spirit is so strong. I feel so blessed to be placed in a class with such inspiring people.
Here's something you guys probably didn't know though! Part of the whole visitors center thing includes remote proselyting - which is sharing the gospel via mormon.org on chat and through telephone calls. This way, anyone, anywhere, anytime can learn the gospel. We started this on Wednesday. We chatted with people from India, New Zealand, and South America. And let me tell you, it was really hard at first. There are many trolls and crude people. It was making me very discouraged. I voiced my concern, and lovely Sister Occolier said something so profound. She told me all kinds of people rejected Jesus Christ. He was despised by many. Are we greater than Him? No! We must face rejection as well; we can't expect everyone to accept our message, because not everyone accepted Him.
The next day made it all worth it though. I was paired with a sister who is going to Russia. Her name is Cecpta Macbeth (Cecpta = Sister in Russian). She was adopted from Ukraine a few years ago. Crazy right?! We're already besties. But anyhoo, we got a call through mormon.org. The woman who called had a friend who was in need of some serious help; she had just been evicted from her home, had some serious health issues, and was in need of a priesthood blessing. She lives in California and the sweet friend who called lives in Arizona. We got her friends information and we were able to locate the missionaries in her area and send them to her! It was awesome!! Cecpta Macbeth and I were so excited!
On a more random note, the MTC bookstore is AMAZING! It literally has everything you need to survive the mission life. From no-flame candles to archival pens. Okay okay, and maybe the essentials like clothes, books, food, first aid, etc. Sister Rizzo and I went the other day to pick up some laundry detergent and guess what I found?! My favorite drink!! Sangria! We got back to our dorm and then I realized that I didn't have a bottle opener. Sooo we went back up to the bookstore. And we found out that they sell bottles that require a bottle opener but they didn't have any bottle openers... So I found a group of about 20 Polynesians and asked if someone could open this bottle for me! Apparently it was like sealed shut because this bottle of Sangria (which was starting to get warm...gross) went through every Polynesian/Tongan/Samoan elder in the bookstore. There was a little shedding of blood, but we finally got it opened. And suddenly it didn't seem so appetizing to me anymore.
I just wanted to let you all know that I feel I've gotten the full MTC experience this past week. "Full" as in full of trial, experience, learning, and growth. I have grown in ways that I never thought I would. For starters, my companion and I are now best friends! That was a true miracle. We laugh till our stomachs hurt every day. We have so much fun meeting new people and teaching the gospel to others. Despite our differences, we've found the we have the same humor and love for Christ and His gospel, so thank you for the prayers and kind letters :)
I came on this mission thinking it would be a bit of a breather from the hectic and stress-filled schedule I followed before, but I was a little selfish in thinking that. A lot selfish. I've been thinking lately about how Christ went through so much in Gethsemane and on the cross to pay for our sins. I don't think it's fair for me to take upon His name and think that I don't have to suffer through even the smallest trials that are really nothing in comparison to His. It wasn't easy for Christ to bring us closer to Him, nor should it be easy for us to bring others closer to Christ. Just as Sister Occolier put it!
This MTC experience has helped me realize that our Heavenly Father gives us trials in life not so that we can wallow in sorrow and self-pity. He gives us these experiences to refine us into the person that we are capable of being. To bring us closer to Christ and closer to Him.
I know that my purpose as a missionary is not to watch and see how much I can grow in the gospel, but to help others realize their own potential in life and the love God has for them. He loves them so much that he has provided them the means to be baptized in Christ's name and has given them the Atonement so that they may to return to live with Him again.
Thank you for your prayers and kind words, it makes all the difference :) I don't have a whole lot of time to reply to them here at the MTC, but I'll try to get back to all of you when I make it out to St. George next Wednesday :)
Much love, Sister Martin
|With Elder Kim and Elder Snow ... in the snow|
|One of Madeline's teachers, Brother Martin|
|Madeline's teachers: Brother Mullen, Brother Starkie, and Brother Tiatia|
|Spent this week training at the Salt Lake Visitor's Center with|
Sister Occolier, Sister Ye, Sister Rizzo, and Sister Garcia