Monday, July 28, 2014

More Pictures...[Jul 28, 2014]

More Pictures....(before and at MTC)....

Fireflies...aka First Week in the Field...[July 28, 2014]

So after a couple long plane rides and calls home, I'm finally in Wichita and I'm here to stay. My ward we go to is actually in the same building as our mission office.

My companion is Sister Harston and the first thing you would describe her as is she has sweet spirit. She just turned 21 and is from Northern California. She also went to BYU and isn't sure what her major is yet. She was actually called to Brazil but is still waiting on her visa...11 months she has been waiting. She still studies Portuguese an hour each morning. We also have training we work on for me in the morning and we also do personal study for an hour and companion study for an a lot. We get out at 1, because we also eat lunch. Just in time for the heat of the day.

We switch every week a car with another companionship, so this last week we had the car and this week we will bike. We got lost SO MUCH last week that we used up all our miles halfway through, so that was hard, we ended up driving somewhere and walking to save miles, but it was 108 degrees outside along with the humidity…so if you've ever been in a sauna, you know exactly how it felt. I finally have let go of my dignity and given up on tights and it has made all the difference. When we bike my companion wears knee length spandex underneath. I really don't want to wear another layer so I think I'm going to buy clips to clip together the excess skirt so I don't die as it flaps around, but we'll see if that works.

If someone wants to invest in my desires to appear like the witch in Wizard of Oz and buy me a basket and stuffed Toto for my bike, I'd work that...just kidding there's no way I'd add more weight to what I already have to carry. I forgot my quad at a member’s home and my bag is literally half the weight with a waterbottle still in it.

The first week was pretty good, the only huge stress I had was finding our appointments on a tiny map as my companion drives around, we got lost so much, but we still managed to have found everything, if not then the next. The worst time we got lost was when we were looking for this house on this road that doesn't go through and we probably tore through 20 miles just looking for it and finally we found it the next day. The lady, who is someone we never met but is a referral, wasn't there--so we went tracting around it and while knocking on someone else’s door a black guy came up behind us and he said something. Then found out we were missionaries and was super excited because he just likes missionaries, but isn't a member. We talked with him a bit and tried saying like maybe there's a reason you keep running into missionaries. He got really serious and right on his lawn started praying out loud and it was actually a good prayer, but really all of the sudden. We gave him a pamphlet and directions to church, maybe we'll see him again.

I want to tell my story of the first time I saw a firefly. It was my second day in Wichita, but first night with my companion (our first day the newbies stayed together and right off the plane after we hadn't slept for 36 hrs they took us tracting in the hot sun, it was really good, but physically the worst). We were meeting with this girl who I've still not met, but her mom was home (not her), and her mom was so mad saying we can just show up unscheduled. We told her her daughter scheduled it with us, but her mom wasn't around to talk to her about it. We talked with her mom about her beliefs and she opened up a lot about her past religions and when her grandma died she felt abandoned by God and she was just crying and we tried helping her understand she can have a relationship with God again. During this whole serious conversation I noticed these points of light around the yard bleeping in and out and I just thought it was some type of security thing or something, and then one of these lights landed on me and I realized what it was and lost all the breath in my lungs for a second. I had to tell the mom it was my first time in Kansas and she was excited and said I can come back and her daughters will show me how to catch them. She softened her heart by the end, and hopefully we can come back and teach the whole family.

We have a lot more investigators then I was expecting and we had tons of appointments, like 3 a day last week and we tract between them until 9:00-9:30, if we are in an appointment. We had 3 young sisters come to church and a less active and his nonmember wife came and this really cool guy who has had a baptismal date for months on Aug 19th because it is the 231st day of the year and his wife is a member. They were the ones that fed us the burritos that I had a picture of. The ward we are in (college hill- in case you're wondering there are no colleges or hills in the boundaries of the ward) half the ward is less active so we (try to) spend half our time with less actives.

The first investigator that I talked with (and during our first lesson I also committed her to baptism) reminds me a lot of a mellow version of my cousin Shelby, so I'll call her that (obviously just her personality not her actions). She set her date for Sept. 20th because she is on house arrest until then. She seemed super excited with the gospel and really wants to change her life around. We taught her about Joseph Smith and she said she felt goose bumps. She's only 17, but her mom is totally chill with us coming over. She loves art and writing and stuff, so I was totally able to connect with her and we taught her on her bed as her brother sat on her floor scrolling through Facebook, hopefully we'll be able to eventually teach him too.

I've had a rough past couple of days just from feeling like I'm being treated like a little kid with all the rules and such. I know the rules are set for my benefit, because while in the MTC whenever we were on the line for them we understood why they were set, but having a companion that follows them on the dot is a struggle for me. Next week while on bikes the whole time in this weather is going to be super tough so I need all the prayers I can get!

Sister Seymour

Me and the host dog...guess which breed it is!

Sister Harston and our awesome burritos
a family fed us,
guess which restaurant they came from...

Lady Marmalade--aka Last Week of MTC...[July 28, 2014]

Whenever anyone says sister (kinda happens a lot) I now get Lady Marmalade stuck in my's a problem.
                I didn't have a p-day last week, so hopefully I have time to write everything up. So two Wednesday's ago, while in the MTC, right after our p-day we gave another lesson to Scott and it went fabulous. We were unified and I felt the spirit really strong. I felt we finally made progress and then as in all things when you overcome something, God decides to switch things up a bit. 
A sister in the other companionship in our room and zone and also going to Kansas finally decided to go home. She was homesick and barely ate anything and finally talked to a counselor. Therefore our trio was broken up and the Branch president said he was prompted to put me with Sister Eyre. So I changed teachers and both investigators and districts. There was six elders in the new district all going to Chicago.    
Let’s talk about the elders first. They were pretty soft spoken when I first met them, but I realized they all had an interesting sense of humor. For instance, when we were walking back from visiting the temple one of them turned around and stated to me, "If you loved us you'd give us your pantyhose!"     They previously had been asking me for a pair for some stupid slingshot/starburst contraption they wanted to create. No need to worry though, my pantyhose are still for the sole purpose of concealing my zombie pale legs.
The district leader also had us sing "Did you think to Pray" every day for class until we begged him not to. My last district sang it once right before I switched and the Branch president was there and we accidentally sang it to "Come to Zion"...awkward.
 But going back to the Elders, when we all shook hands during our good-byes one of the elders shook my hand and then clasped his other hand to the back of mine and held as I slid mine out and he triumphantly stated to the others, I held her hand!    
 They did have awesome district meetings though. I realized that the MTC is the closest building to a temple that I've ever been in. I think (okay this might sound corny) but the temple is a place where you can feel the presence of the Holy Ghost, but also you can tell that people on the other side are there. I've been told over and over again that angels will surround us while on our missions, and I think that is so true, so when you get all these missionaries together, you have all these angels watching over us. One of the elders gave his testimony and it was just. so. good. I've never been in a meeting that I felt the spirit so strongly as I had at that time with my district.    
Now to Sister Eyre. She's 19 and from Utah and did dance and cheerleading in high school. If she was 5 inches taller she could definitely qualify for the Miss America pageant. After first reading her name tag, I became immensely jealous of her. We made a good team though, and we finally got her investigator to commit to baptism by the end!     
 I want to talk about this awesome thing called the TRC (teaching resource center) for a bit. They changed it recently where instead of volunteers they hire people to act as investigators. Some investigators just walk around campus and you can talk to them whenever and make appointments for return visits. It's pretty cool; like if you have time for that, which I don't know who does. They also have a set time that you go and teach someone in a small room. We had a girl that we knew was a member, because a boy in our class knew her, but she was pretty cool. A couple elders in our district had this big black guy who was not a member and just got referred by someone to work there, because all he has to do is sit and listen to people and he gets paid for that. The elders actually got him to accept baptism and one of them gave him their quad, because they had an extra one, and the guy wanted to use his topical guide...pretty cool.    
 I've said investigator so much these past couple of weeks, I'm forgetting that it's also a profession.    
 It was so cute! A couple of little kids were in the MTC and when I passed them they waved and I was surprised, because I had never met them...but then I remembered I was wearing a nametag, pretty cool.    
 I knew going in that I would recognize some people that work at the MTC, but it definitely was ridiculous how many people I ran into. It was a daily occurrence of running into old ward members and friends. One counselor inour Branch Presidency was Ray Smith, which wouldn't ring any bells unless you study music at BYU. He's the Sax Professor and a Jazz God.  Just a really cool guy that I've often made awkward conversation with on the elevator at the HFAC.    I also ran into the contrebassoon player who I often sat next to in Phil. There's a slight chance I might've had a bit of a crush on him, but he didn't even recognize me when I saw him here...even though I totally talked with him before. Oh yeah, I knew there was a reason I was going on a mission....
    I was able to borrow a cello from the MTC and play for church. The accompanist put his best effort in, but it was a bit rough. We still managed to get the other burly counselor to cry, so I'd say that was a success.  That's it for the MTC, I'll write another post about what's been happening here in Kansas.

 Sister Seymour

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Why are there no fish in the MTC? Because it's an MTC...[July 15, 2015]

Anyways, getting here was no problem, Sara was a doll and picked me up and I had Brick Oven with Sophi and her roommates and then I got dropped off. I was so nervous when I was walking up with the host and my eye had a twitching problem for the first few days I was here, but thankfully it stopped.
It really is great here, especially my first few days, I was so worried I'd get depressed or miss some aspect of my regular life, but I haven't noticed anything. They say Oh just hold out til Sunday, but seriously there was no burden at all and I loved every aspect of it. That is until Monday which they didn't tell us until then that Monday makes or breaks you and it is SO true. I'll get into that later though. 
I do get random songs stuck in my head. Like lots of Frozen songs and the theme from schindlers list even though I haven't seen that in forever. Also, that sister song from White Christmas whenever anyone says sister, so yeah a lot. One of my teachers (we have two (Bro.Christiensen and Bro Kezele ) plus our night teacher that helps with the TRC and our studies (sis Cole)) well he likes to say let's break this down and I always get that shark attack song by Grouplove in my head.
I am in a trio with Sister Deppe who is 19 and Sister Palmer who is 22. All the elders in my district (there's 5) are 18, besides one is 21, but acts like an 18 year old. The elders are supremely immature and it takes every fiber in my being to not get annoyed by them. Such an example is when at night for some reason when us sisters leave to go to the bathroom (this new concept that isn't actually new that we have to go together, sight and sound or whatever) so when we leave the elders release all inner gases they apparently have been holding on to. So when we come back it hits you like a brick wall and we all have to wait outside til our small classroom airs itself out.
At first I thought trio's were going to be so easy, because they were. There's always a buffer girl if there's contention and you just learn more because there's another brain in the mix, but it actually is SO HARD. There's always three opinions and we talk over each other a lot just when we are together or when we are in a lesson with an investigator. I'm learning so much from it though.
My first few days were super easy to the point where it was too easy. The days were long, but I had no challenges and yesterday my perfect little world kind of fell apart. It started at 1 when we had our lesson with Scott (portrayed by our unfortunately attractive teacher Brother Christiensen (why don't they just hire ugly people at the MTC?)) He just was not getting it. We planned it all out, we already taught him to pray and he told us he felt a little ball in his heart when he did and we told him it was the HG and then the next lesson we taught him about Christ, but we just confused him. Remember it is hard bc there is three of us. We then decided for the third lesson we would teach him about Christ and then Joseph Smith and hopefully from gaining a testimony about JS he will connect with the church and then with Christ, because everything the missionaries teach always goes back to Christ. That was yesterday and it was such a flop both my sisters were crying afterwards.
One sister kept talking about Christ, but she talked in circles and he was frustrated and I started talking about the apostasy and restoration and then the sister kept going back to Christ and saying the same things and I was SOOOO frustrated. I hate when there is contention and we don't resolve it though, so we didn't go back to class and we just talked it out and I realized that I had some things that I didn't like but didn't really bother me before and I realized that I shouldn't just give hints about these things, because these sisters don't know me and I have to be bold and tell them my thoughts and not let them boil inside me. Doing that it benefits them and me. I realized that the sisters were doing the same thing I was and we talked it out. A teacher came and helped us finally with Scott and we came to the conclusion that we want to focus on Christ, but more on his atonement and how in the Garden of Gethsemane he got our sins and sufferings upon him and when we rely on him he knows what we are going through and how to help him. I should have realized that my sister was right about talking with Christ and tried to think of a different way of saying it like talking about his atonement, but I just didn't trust her and I'm realizing that is a personality flaw I have.
Let's talk about how weird it is for a teacher that you see in the classroom is your investigator. It's weird. It actually feels real though, we meet him in a different room and he's good at acting like some frat boy. It's weird because you can feel the spirit there (or not when you are not unified with your companions) just like a real investigator. Bro Kezele said that God teaches his missionaries through role play and it's so true. It was something that I was worried about having to do before I got into the MTC, but now that I've practiced it it's so essential. You realize what things you need to work on and how to say things in a way to personalize a lesson and make it real to them. It is so annoying though when he doesn't get what you teach him and you don't know how to help him and the way they teach you they pretend that Scott is a different person and because of that obviously Bro. Christiensen is not there. You just want to grab Bro. Christiensen by the shoulders and ask what does Scott need! That would be slightly inappropriate though...
Later on Monday, my companions and I talked for like a long time though, like all through our personal study time, and then the DL (District Leader (just an elder in our district)) told us he was canceling our companion study time for a district council and I was SO MAD and I let him have it. I was so stressed with what we were going to teach for the next lesson that I just didn't have time for that. I mean I told him we are stressed about it and we need time to study and I know he doesn't like personal study time, but to let us have it. He just was flustered and said well I'm DL and I can change the schedule and I will. Later we were talking about this schedule change with Sister Cole who was helping us with Scott and she was just so mad and saying he was abusing authority he doesn't even have.
When the district council actually happened he just talked about things like what we learned in lessons that day (such as committing investigators, how to deal with stress, how to teach to pray, etc. (they don't actually teach you how the doctrine in your lessons, just how to teach the lessons, and you have to study the lessons on your own)) I was mad that we were sacrificing imperative study time for that and finally he was like okay well the real reason why I called this council was to give the opportunity for the sisters to receive priesthood blessing from us if they wish. I felt SO BAD! He really reminded me of my brother at the moment, doing something that completely annoys me and then finally I realize it actually is sweet and completely for my benefit.
Before I entered the MTC I thought it was weird receiving blessings from the elders who you don't really know and for reasons you don't really NEED, but when I got one, I realized how much I actually did need to humble myself and receive one. I mean everything we study and do is the Lord's work here and it would make sense to get help from HIM when we are doing His work.
I just really know that this is where I'm supposed to be. I love the challenge of figuring out how investigators tick and in what ways we should focus on the gospel and how to get our message across. The schedule is hard especially for my companions, but I think it's really not as bad as being a music major and working at the same time. It is different, because you are focusing on the SAME thing for that long and not cello for the morning and classes in the afternoon and work at night, but it isn't too stressful and I know that's because I was prepared for this.
Oh also, I never got an email that some people in my district did from our mission home with forms for driving. I don't know if that means I'm biking, but it looks like it...yikes.

Sister Seymour

p.s. 197 is the unit number for dear elder.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Why I'm Going

I thought it would be a good idea to start off my blog with an explanation of events that led me to decide to serve a mission.
When I was 19 and the age change happened I was set that a mission was not for me. I am glad that I thought that, because later that year I went through some experiences that helped me grow for the better and I would not have if I had just left. I moved to a new apartment the next year and as luck would have it a couple of return missionaries moved in with us. They loved their missions and you could tell that they weren’t superficial about it. They helped to change my perspective about what serving a mission is really about.
Last January, I coincidentally attended a slew of lessons from devotionals and church, etc. about having faith and trusting in the Lord. I randomly went to the temple later in the month and while waiting in the baptistry I noticed the picture of Alma baptizing the Lamanites and I started thinking of people who I knew who were lost or who were not members. I thought about how happy and content I was in that moment and I realized that I had such a love for the Lord and love of the church and a love and yearning for these people to understand what I knew to be true.
I started realizing these thoughts were not generated from me. It was like when you are dreaming and you realize that you are, but you just keep dreaming and let the events unfold before you. I remembered the lessons of trust in faith that I previously had learned from. I realized what was being revealed for me and I felt this love from the Savior that words can’t describe. I knew I was supposed to serve a mission.
I talked with my bishop and started my papers that Sunday and on February 19th I received my call to serve in the Wichita Kansas Mission to leave on July 9th