Thursday, June 19, 2014

MTC, Week One

Dear Family,

Oh my, I have been looking forward to writing you all week! I have so much to say! So where to begin? This week has been probably the most mentally exhausting week of my life. The MTC is so incredibly structured and scheduled. Mom what you heard is right... we get dropped off at the MTC, put our bags in our room, and get to work! It was a bit overwhelming at first. My district is wonderful. We have 4 elders and 4 sisters, all of us going to LV except one elder who is going to Louisville, Kentucky with another district of elders in our zone. They're all awesome and I'm sad we won't be serving our missions with them as well. My companion is Sister Browning, from Rigby, Idaho. She is tall, with a ballerina body, and curly curly brown hair (like Taylor Swift in her beginning days). She is quiet and sweet and we work very well together. The other two sisters in our district are Sister Unsted and Sister Bell. Sister Unsted is from Dallas and she is just full of knowledge and super excited to be on a mission. Sister Bell is so incredibly enthusiastic all the time! Sister Browning describes her as "eager", which is a perfect way to put it. Sister U and B are a perfect companionship. I know that our assignments as companionships were inspired.

At the end of Day 3. We were exhausted. The other sisters in our zone (who left yesterday for Pocatello, ID) took this of us. From left to right: Sister Bell, Sister Unsted, Sister Browning, and I.
Sister Browning and I
​Elders in our zone. L to R: Elder Hansen, Elder Russell, Elder Steadman, Elder Hall, and Elder Davidson. Elder Hall is in my district and the other elders are headed to Kentucky. Elder Davidson on the end reminds me so much of Parker Skousen! He's even exactly his height, haha!

The first night here was a little rough. I didn't think it would be, but the rigor of the MTC was a little hard on me. I felt tired and weak and I just wanted to curl up on my bed and process the day, but we only have about 15 minutes to do that before lights out. They really emphasize that "Obedience brings blessings, but EXACT obedience brings miracles" here - and we can use all the miracles that we can get - so our district has made it a point to all be in bed with the lights off by 10:30each night. As i was unpacking that night, I found the bag of dove dark chocolates that you bought me before I left Mom and I nearly cried with excitement! Comfort food! It was a tender mercy. 

The food here is actually pretty good. Sister Browning and I are both healthy eaters, so we basically eat the same meals every day. The soups and salads are amazing, and they have a wrap bar that's delicious as well. In the mornings we almost always get this cracked wheat oatmeal, fruit, and hard boiled eggs. It is so important for me to eat heartily at each meal, or I won't have the energy to make it through the day. 

Our days consist of personal and companionship study (an hour each), class time, eating, role playing, meeting with "investigators" (people from the Provo area - either members or nonmembers - who come and act like real investigators for us to teach), and more class time. It's been a little hard for me to adjust to so much sitting, listening, reading, and studying. Sometimes Sister Browning and I have to study outside just so we can clear our heads after being cooped up in a classroom for hours on end. They've recently implemented a new program at the MTC where missionaries get to teach members, not just investigators. The day before yesterday Sister Browning and I met with a member from Spanish Fork, Sister Muhlsteen. It was the best lesson we've had all week. When I think of missionary work, I think of bringing new people into the church, but I'm beginning to see that missionary work encompasses both those in and out of our congregations. After meeting with Sister Muhlsteen I got really excited about building relationships with and strengthening the members of the church in the areas I'll serve in in Vegas. 

​I ran into Tanner today! I've been looking for him and I finally spotted him! It was hard not to run up to him and give him a huge hug (Tanner is a dear family friend of the Robinson family).

We had our first branch meeting on Thursday, where we met the Branch presidency and their wives. It was a neat meeting. Each missionary had an interview with a member of the presidency, and we had a discussion about what our purpose is as missionaries. The missionary purpose (the doctrine of Christ) is repeated a number of times each day: "Invite other to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored Gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end." Sometimes I feel like those words are so drilled into our heads that they begin to lose their meaning. I get frustrated with myself for thinking that, but I think many missionaries feel that. We had Elder M. Russell Ballard speak at devotional last night, and he said something that put our missionary purpose in perspective. He shared something to the effect of: "Your purpose as a missionary must become more than just words. You must have a deep-rooted understanding of it, you must live it. It must become a part of you." His words were powerful. I am learning that all of this studying and structure at the MTC is for a purpose. We are not just memorizing facts about the Gospel - we are learning to incorporate it into our very natures. We are learning to understand it on deeper levels so that sharing it with others comes easily and naturally. 

At the branch meeting, Sister Browning and I were asked to be the Sister Training Leaders, which is the female equivalent of a Zone Leader. The Zone Leaders are Elder Steadman and Elder Davidson, who are both going to Kentucky. They are solid leaders. Our job as Sister Training Leaders is just basically to have stewardship over the sisters in our Zone. We were excited because we thought we'd be getting new sisters in today that we'd help settle into the MTC, but we're only gaining a district of Elders heading to Canada. We've already had 3 leadership training meetings; I feel lucky to be learning such leadership skills from my branch presidency so early on in my mission. 

Our Zone on our temple walk Sunday.
So before I run out of time, I need to write about a few housekeeping things. First, GO SPURS GO!!!! I am so happy they won! Elder Steadman in my Zone got lots of Dear Elder updates on the series, so I heard from him. Also, we will be flying out to Vegas next Wednesday. Our flight is at 8 A.M., and we'll have time to call our families while waiting at the airport (!!!) - so PLEASE keep your phones by you! I can't wait to hear your voices!!! 

I still have so much to say but I don't know how much time I have left! I will hand write a letter home because I have a number of personal experiences to share. 

Momma, I love you. I think of you every day and I'm so lucky to be your daughter. Thank you for taking care of and supporting me - I couldn't do any of this without you! I am so excited to hear from you!!! Give everyone my love.

With love,
Sister Robinson

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