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