Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Week Two in the MTC

Thank you everyone for the packages and letters, they have been wonderful and I love hearing from everyone! I am so sorry if I am not able to respond quickly, we are only allowed to write on P-day (Tuesday for me) and even on that day, we have a very limited amount of time.

Things are going really well! The MTC is an incredible place, every day is filled so much to do, learn, and feel. It's funny because the Lord is showing each of us our weaknesses so that we can truly prepare ourselves to do his work. From hour to hour, emotions can completely change from feeling so entirely inadequate to being filled with hope and excitement.

My district is wonderful and the teachers are incredible, what a blessing that is! We have two teachers and we spend a few hours each day with each one of them. If you want to see a picture of one, Brother Auna is on page 66 of the May 2010 Ensign. That is him and his "special friend".

One of my favorite parts of the MTC is seeing the Spirit take a person and make them so much more than they could be. You can take an ordinary person and when they are humble and worthy, you can watch them bear powerful testimony of the Savior and of the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and teach with such simple clarity. I have a deep testimony that this is the Lord's work, and that when we let him, he uses His missionaries for great good.

I've been spending some time with the two sisters headed to Italian in one week. I go on "exchanges" and hang out in their classroom, where they generally only speak Italian. One of the sisters has had a real struggle with learning Italian (or so she says) but it is incredible to see her near perfect comprehension and fluency in being able to express herself even if she doesnt have all the vocab. Only after 7 weeks of learning Italian! The gift of tongues is real.

Along with sitting in the classroom and learning, we spend a lot of time teaching each other in English and practicing "street contacting" in Italian. We spend a lot of time learning how to discern someone's needs and teach a lesson so that it meets their needs. One of my favorite activities was combining companionships and talking to them as a real person (no role playing or scenarios) and asking them about their fears and concerns. Then we taught them a 15 minute lesson based off of that. Every time we do something like this, I feel so inadequate in my ability to teach and meet their needs, but it is amazing how the Spirit guides us, something that will be even more apparent out in the field. The companions we taught both said that we touched their hearts and said something right on that they needed to hear. How wonderful is that?? I love practicing the street contacting as well, and I love how when I bear testimony of God and Jesus Christ and his Restored Church, I feel within my heart every time that it is true. Now imagine experiencing that 20 times a day as we practice and other missionaries practice with us! What a place!

I've been learning a little bit about pride and how it manifests itself in envy and seeking approval from other people. In a devotional a week ago, someone said something that really hit me and has been so far the theme of my MTC experience. "When our source of validation is external, it is never enough". I know this absolutely to be true. We experience great joy in the things of the world, and in other people and our relationships with them. But when we seek validation from anything but our God, it will never last and it will never be enough. This has been a powerful thought for me to consider and try to implement in my life. How often I silently seek validation from other people and find joy or sadness in comparing myself to others! This simply should not be how it is and I am working to change it.

Some other things I like about the MTC: the food (I eat quite a lot of it. I am going to start keeping track to see if I gain any weight!); Gym time on Friday nights where we go out into the field; how adorable all the sister missionaries look, how I feel good despite the hard work and not enough sleep (Blessing!); the high expectations and never ending lists of goals for myself; devotionals.

I know I keep talking about my teachers but I am so grateful to have them. They both absolutely radiate and their teaching is powerful and their love for us is so immense. I've really learned some important things just from their example. Their sure testimony and love for us are what I believe make them so great and are what I hope to develop for when I teach the Italians. We went to the TRC yesterday and taught "Davide". My companions and I work together because each of us bring a different personality and background and they combine to witness of the gospel. We are working on unity and greater love, even though we get along well, and also we are trying to be on time (that is a bit of a struggle in the mornings).

I am so excited to be here and pray that I will be able to meet all these goals I create and face all the inadequacies that are surfacing. It will be wonderful to finally get to Italy as well!!

Sorella Askew

P.S. Compliments: I got a few compliments from my teachers that I thought were interesting. They said they both were struck by my "virtue" and what a difference that will make because the italians will see it. And one said I taught like I was born to teach! Whoa

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