Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Monday April 29, 2013

Monday April 29, 2013
Dear Mom and Dad,

As is probably obvious, my P-day has changed! With the semester at BYU changing, the MTC schedule had to change also, because our teachers are BYU students (as a pre-requisite, you have to attend BYU to work at the MTC). Starting today everything I've been trying to get used to has completely changed! One thing that is both good and bad, is that now I have to be ready at 7 instead of 7:20--this means that I have to be faster and/or wake up earlier in the morning, which is unfortunate, but it also means that there is more time during the day. Normally our study times are an hour, but somehow with the new schedule, a lot of our study times are  longer, like an hour and a half.  I'm looking forward to that because there is never enough time! Also on P- days we now go to the temple in the mornings, and I really like that. This morning my companions and I woke up at five thirty, started our laundry, exercised outside while it was washing, switched the clothes to dry, showered while they were drying, got our dried clothes, went to breakfast, then straight to the temple! It was such a productive morning, I LOVED it. I just REALLY love the feeling of getting up early, using time wisely, and accomplishing a ton, then having  a lot of free time later. But best of all I love the temple.  I love the feeling that is there when we attend.

The Elders and Sisters of my District. As Rachel's poor mom I can't remember their names

How is walking coming?? I had a cold this past week and didn't exercise very hard, so I hope you've been doing better than me. The warm weather probably makes it easier to get out. They opened the field at the MTC, so we've been going outside to exercise a lot (which is good and bad; being outside is AWESOME, but you have to run with a sister-you can't run around the field by yourself-and I've had a hard time finding a good partner). Studying outside is really nice, but I think it's a little distracting too.

How are the Grandma's?? Tell them I say hi and that I love them! I hope Grandma B is enjoying all the pictures in her room still--I loved that :) Is Grandma Edwards still walking outside? As I was just saying, warm weather has got to be a draw to going outside. How is Auntie?? Has she gotten the pool out yet?? I have good memories of tanning outside with Auntie in the pool. Spencer, Auntie, and I were the backyard tanners in our family :) Nowadays I'm working on my farmer's tan! We have studied outside a few times, and it is starting to come. 

Some funny stories from the past week! The MTC is starting to drive us crazy. Ok I'll be honest--from week two we were going crazy!

Hour and hours a day in this same room, with these same people, doing the same thing over and over.  Who wouldn't go crazy?
Heading toward crazy....

Crazy through and through

A few days ago we were planning or something similar, and a certain companion was . . . losing focus and energy. All of a sudden she starts laughing and we look up to see a nice long line of wet on her shirt. Drool. We've been teasing her ever since. A slightly more frighting experience occured in the bathroom. One of the restrooms has two doors right next to each other--one to go in and out of the bathroom, and the other is locked (so who knows what's in there!! Ok. Fine. It's probably just cleaning supplies, but it's more fun to think it's a secret passage.). On our way out, Sister Bywater tried to exit the bathroom through the locked door--which by itself would have made us laugh, because this is a bathroom we frequent multiple times a day (three girls together? Yes, we visit the bathroom OFTEN). But the part that really made us laugh was the second or two that she froze and thought (as she later explained), with terror, that she really was locked in the bathroom. 

Sending 4 pictures of a banana in an empty Nutella bottle...Another sign of slowly going crazy at the MTC?
We've also been practicing our Sister Weinheimer faces for several days. Sis Wen is one of our teachers (my favorite one. She is SO good. I honestly cannot express how much I love this teacher, and how amazing she is), She has a distinctive face she makes that is like her . . . "I'm very taken aback" sort of face. We were super excited for her to make it on Friday (first time seeing her since our obsession began), but then she didn't make the face the whole class!! It was such a disappointment, especially because she usually makes it often seeing as we often say strange things
So the big question is..is that 4th dark haired sister the much beloved Sister Weinheimer?

Happy Birthday Lizzi!!! (Tomorrow) How are all of my siblings and their families doing?? I pray for all of you every night. What is the news with Spencer and deployment? Dave and Jeff, I have a question for you. I have a sister who is going to Toronto Canada who worries a little bit about mastering the language. Part of her concern is because she has already studied Chinese, so being with people who don't know as much isn't pushing her as hard as others are being pushed. But the other part of her concern is going somewhere where the people are not natives of the language, so she isn't hearing and speaking it as part of her everyday life. I told her that both of my brothers went Mandarin speaking to non-Chinese speaking countries and came back fluent-ish in Chinese, but I'm wondering if you have any thoughts I could pass along to her, and/or advice I could give her.

SARAH JANE CURTIS WRITE ME A LETTER RIGHT NOW. I . . . might have an idea of what's going on . . . I might not . . . but either way, I NEED TO KNOW IT'S KILLING ME AND I HAVE BEEN VERY DISTRACTED BY IT SINCE I SAW GIL YESTERDAY. Oh yeah, I saw Gil! That was super fun! Totally unexpected too--I loved it.

Chloe Sumsion, are your mission papers in??? I know you are super busy with Thailand, but just send me a one sentence dearelder so I know! And good luck be safe in Thailand!

I had a really cool experience on Friday. We had a lesson with our investigator, and during it she was questioning why God punishes people (like Nephi killing Laban), if he loves them. We answered her question sort of . . . but I all of a sudden felt such a strong impression of the God's love for her and a need to testify of it. I waited for my companion to finish her thoughts and then I bore with all my heart that I KNEW God loves her. The spirit was so strong. I felt it, and I know she felt it. I really struggle with knowing what is the spirit and what isn't, and how to know what the spirit is telling me to do/say, but that time, I didn't. It was also comforting to know that God is with us and WILL guide us. The best part of this work: It's not about me. :) I love that so much.
We are all wondering how this skirt was made and who is wearing it.  Great idea.

 I love you so much mom and dad!!! I pray for you every day.
Love,Sister Edwards

Madison BrickerA life long friend and Lake Powell buddy.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Tuesday April 23, 2013

Dear Mom, Dad, Family, and anyone else this makes it to,

Thank you so much, first of all, for your support. It means so much to me! Mom, thank you for your package!! The weather has been warmer, so it turns out I haven't used the coat too much yet, but thank you! And the Jelly Belly's have been divine! I kept them to myself for a few days . . . but now I've shared them :) 

Ok, I think I've already said this before . . . but I still keep getting questions about it, so I'll try to clarify. There are 6 missionaries in my district: two tri-companionships (one elder, one sister). That is unusually small, but I love it! The way I ask questions and participate in classes, it is definitely a good thing. I have AWESOME teachers! They are so good. I learn so much from them. Chinese is . . . coming. I'm one of the few who didn't have any Chinese experience before coming to the MTC.  I'm probably among those who know the least, but I’m not bothered by this.  It’s great that the teachers have answers to my questions. I feel like I'm learning a lot . . . but at the same time its like lots of drops of knowledge in a GIANT bucket. I still listen to Chinese people speak and have absolutely no idea what they're saying. Which sounds discouraging, but honestly I don't usually let myself get discouraged about it-I work as hard as I can (except for when I've been in the same classroom for 6 hours and I am going CRAZY), and then trust that the Lord will enable me to communicate without worrying too much about the hard reality that I really can't speak Chinese! I like learning Chinese, so it's fun. I have a little mini notebook I write vocab in that I carry around everywhere with me, and it is my best friend. My little green book :) and to answer your question dad, we write Chinese in pinyin right now--which is Arabic letters that have Chinese sounds associated with them. I think we do get to characters eventually . . . but I NEVER think about that in order to prevent being overwhelmed and despairing :)

We are still getting up early a lot of days--not always, but more often than not. One reason I feel the need, is because I've realized that the best way for me to come unto Christ and be re-converted every day, is to read from the Book of  Mormon just for myself in the mornings. A lot of the time our personal study is supposed to be focused on the investigator we're teaching, so it's good to get some quiet Book of Mormon time just for myself every day.

Mom- yea for quilting!! I'm excited for your big project! You will have to send me pictures when it's done. Did you ever get the chance to find some pictures of you and Dad? Also if you have some of Jeff and Lizzi with little baby Emma.

 Awesome job on walking mom and dad.You guys will be in great shape for the big walk. The Salt Lake Marathon--that was one of the things I am most proud of accomplishing.  I've been running some here-but it's strange with my foot. I ran several times inside at a much faster pace than I usually do (than I did when I hurt my foot), and that seemed to prevent hurting my foot. But then when I went running outside with a couple of sisters, it didn't go as well. I still get pretty good work outs with ellipticals and stationary bikes--as well as district insanity work outs! My old companion, Sister Stebar, left me the insanity work-outs she'd written down, and we do them together as a district sometimes. It's pretty fun. Work outs keep me sane I think; I always feel so much better after. Also the sunshine has been doing wonders for my soul! I've only seen it a couple times since coming . . . but it's the best when I do.

Spencer deployed?? I'm not going to lie, that kind of scared me to read. Spence I wish you the best! Tell me more details as soon as you can. Congratulations on First Lieutenant when that happens--dad said May 23rd?

Thank you everyone for your thoughts on soft hearts! I've really really enjoyed getting everyone's thoughts about what a soft heart is and how to get one. I came to some conclusions on my own in studying the scriptures tool. Mom, after studying in the scriptures and then rereading your letter, it turns out you'd already said pretty much everything that I'd found, with the addition that you obtain it through reading the scriptures.  Reading the Book of  Mormon means everything to me. It is the primary way I gained (and still develop) my testimony. I've realized that it is so so essential for investigators to read the Book of Mormon with sincerity and pray about it in order to gain a testimony. I'm beginning to realize the power of the restoration story too. I remember complaining to you mom that I'm not super happy with how much we sometimes focus on Joseph Smith rather than the Savior, but, like you told me, there really is a power to the restoration story. When I realized this: the restoration is important because of the Book of  Mormon, it began to make more sense.

New challenge for the week: Humility. I've studied a bit already, but I still want to know what people think. What is true humility, and how can I get it? Having humility and a soft heart were the necessary prerequisites to obtaining the spirit given in a devotional a couple of weeks ago, and since I obviously cannot do anything without the spirit, I've been trying to have it more fully.

The speakers they get for the MTC are incredible!! This past Tuesday we had Elder Scott, and he spoke about revelation. It was really good, but I don't have my notes with me. We've also had both vocal point and men's chorus perform for us, which were both wonderful. SJ, for some reason I always think of how Gil was in Men's chorus freshman year, and so I was thinking of you and all the roomies the whole time. Which I think about and pray for you ladies a lot! I hope finals went well!

A skill I have been diligently working on this week is creating the Chewbacca noise. Neither I nor Sister Bywater could make the noise, but I'll have you know that I have made significant improvement! I've come from sounding like a dying animal, to a very distressed one. Our district is very proud of our Chewbacca noises, and we've even come up with how to say Chewbacca in Chinese (Qubake).

Maddie Bricker leaves tomorrow too! She was on my same floor, so I got to see her all the time, which was so fun. The oldest mandarin speaking generation flew out this morning, so that was crazy! I couldn't believe it had been that much time! Also the sisters in my generation... I LOVE THEM. They are so awesome. (now how's that for unique and creative writing? TE)

I love you.  !! Good luck with everything, especially quilting, fishing and filing, and walking. Thank you for your prayers--I feel so much support. Bye!
Sister Edwards

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Tuesday April 16, 2013

Tuesday April 16, 2013

I only have 20 minutes until P day ends. There is never enough time here!
I hope I can answer your questions and write you all the things I've been putting in my planner to remember to tell you about!

Ok Dad! My companions are Sisters Wuthrich and Bywater. My companion went home last week, so we just became a tri companionship. Which means our entire district is now two Tri companionships. I LOVE my district. This past week one of our teachers called us "the fire district".  It was the late after dinner class and we were all energized and involved. Just last night I overheard the teachers encouraging our discouraged elders and telling them that our district is making the teachers step it up--or keeping them on their toes. But seriously, our district is really made up of some of the best missionaries. You asked if I'm getting enough sleep. Usually . . . yes . . . but there is always so much to do that I am always making my roommates get up early . . . usually just 6, but this morning was 5:30, and I'm feeling the lack of sleep! This seems weird, because I didn't ever get that much sleep before my mission. 

 I loved hearing mom and dad each talking about their trip to Daniel's summit!  That sounded so fun!  Although it really made me laugh to hear the story from each of your points of view because they were quite different!

Mom, our Sunday turned out to be busier than I thought it would be (as usual), but they are still pretty good. Each sacrament meeting two random missionaries are called from the congregation to give a 5 minute talk in Chinese. Everyone is made aware of the topic of the meeting beforehand, and then everyone has to prepare a talk just in case. Fortunately they let the new missionaries off for a few weeks, but sometime in May I'll have to start preparing my own Chinese talks!

I loved what you said about soft hearts mom. We learned in the devotional two Sundays ago about how to get the spirit . . .and the answer was to be humble and have a soft heart. So I've been praying for those and trying to have them. Question for anybody reading, what does it mean to have a soft heart? I'm actually really curious because I want to know how to get one, so if you know, write me a little paragraph!  Not on email, cause time is so limited, but dearelder it :) Mom I'm so proud of you for walking so much!! That's a ton!! How is it going now?

Apparently I am learning Chinese. After I'd fallen asleep one night last week, Sister Wuthrich began to hear distressed talking from my bed. Concerned she came over to make sure I was ok, and had to wake me up to do it. Katie's told me before that I sleep talk so I wasn't too surprised. When I woke up in the morning Sister Wuthrich claimed some of what I'd been saying had been in Chinese! Considering that I can't even speak the language when I'm awake, I think it was likely weird sounds that sort of sound like Chinese, but who knows! Gift of Tongues. I pray for it every day.

Lately my biggest thought has been, that this is not about me. Nothing about this mission is about me. This is all about the Lord and what he has planned for His children. I need to be the absolute best I can be so that He can work through me, but none of this is about me. And I LOVE it. At no other time can I be so directly and purely the hand of the Lord in blessing others. It also doesn't really matter how good I am at Chinese or teaching, as long as I do everything I can, the Lord will take care of his children.

I love you all!! I tried to write as many as I could today, but there is just so little time! So if it takes me a long time to respond to a letter, don't be offended or think that your letter doesn't mean anything to me, it does, and I will write back when I can. Love Sister Edwards

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Tuesday April 9, 2013

Hi everyone,

Conference was amazing, and it was so interesting to listen to it as a missionary. I have definitely felt the strength of the Lord since coming here-- I truly feel like I have gained an extra something since being set apart. I can tackle difficulties and work harder than I ever have before. I just feel . . . the Lord strengthening me. I feel like I can be all that I want to be. I WANT to be God's hand in the lives of those around me, especially my fellow missionaries, I WANT to work as hard as I absolutely can, 100% every day, and I feel like being set apart gives me extra access to God's strength to be able to do it. I feel like I CAN do those things, because for perhaps the first time in my life, I feel 100% certain that I WILL have the Lord's help in doing it, and that I can fully rely on Him. It's neat. I know being here is right. I'm not sure I know that not being here would be wrong, but every time I've felt the spirit, I have felt so RIGHT about being here.

That has been confirmed even more to me through my companion's experience. My companion is Sister Stebar, and she is AWESOME. I love her. We click really well and hit it right off the bat. Here's the bad news however: as of about an hour ago, she is officially going home. I'm really sad for myself, because I love her and she would have been a really really good missionary, but I'm happy for her, because I think she has followed the spirit in deciding what is best for her. She dated a boy (an Asian boy! Who served in Taiwan no less) for 2 and a half years, and they were planning on getting married after her mission. Since coming to the MTC, things have been really up and down--many many tears :) She was just not at peace. She really didn't want to go home, but she was hating the MTC and thinking about her boy, Travis, a lot, especially with conference. Yesterday she thought about the real possibility of going home, and there was just peace. She has been at peace ever since. No tears, no roller coaster of emotions. I'm going to miss her, but I honestly feel like there has been such a peace since she's decided to go home, and peace has always been the most reliable manifestation of the spirit to me.

 My Chinese was bad and I didn't understand a ton, but Sister Stebar took Chinese at BYU for a year so she could communicate a lot better, and the spirit was there. It was funny, after teaching the lesson, I realized 1) that the language is not the most important part, and 2)I  felt a greater desire to learn Chinese so that I can communicate with people. Those two things seem contradictory, but they're not in a way! The second lesson was yesterday, and it wasn't quite as awesome, but that might have been because my expectations were so low the first time. Someone told me going into our first lesson to just wait to cry until you get out, so my experience was likely enhanced as I expected to be in tears.

Learning Chinese is HARD, but I love it too :) It's definitely overwhelming, but I have a strong desire to learn, and that helps a lot. It's . . . fun! I'm really grateful that Chinese grammar is so simple, because it is so much easier to learn. If the grammar was really hard, I would be way too much of a perfectionist about getting it right to ever say anything. Granted, I'm not very good at memorizing Chinese, but I believe I can do it. Our first lesson teaching an investigator was on Friday, and it was really good!! 

Some funny stories from the first week! Yesterday morning we had service assignment. We sisters didn't know where we were supposed to go, so we asked our elders, and they told us. When we got to the building, our cards weren't working!  But, a few elders on their way out of the building let us in. They didn't say much. We walk in and see the word "residence" pasted on every room  . . . what?? We walk to the room they told us, and an elder says "Sisters!!!" Sure enough, we were in the Elders' residence hall. Thank you dear elders, for leading us astray.  We were breaking rules our very first Monday. To make things even better (or worse), our Zone Leaders were coming into the building as we were on our way out! Perfect.

Last night we had another adventure! I will try to send the blurry picture I have of it, but our residence hall (the Sisters' this time) hosted a visitor: one cute little baby bat. At first we were frustrated with how loud things were during quiet hours (10:15 - 10:30), but when we realized the cause of the noise we grabbed our cameras too. Not to mention, yesterday morning Sister Stebar fed some of her banana to a mouse we found in the bushes :) We told her that mouse was going to follow her around now! Alas it didn't, but it was a nice threat anyway.

 Also, email is NOT the very best option at least for the MTC, but dearelder is. It's pretty simple and is the best method, because I get your letters the day you send them, and then I can have them with me when I email back. If it's an email, it cuts into emailing time to read the email, and I also only get it on Tuesdays . . . and nothing is better than mail!! Course it CAN be a little distracting . . . but it's so good too. I 've had a few people whom I'm barely even friends with write me just a few sentences through dearelder (it's free), and it's so fun and takes so little time!