Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Week One: I Am So Tired!

Day One: So I got here to the MTC. First off, I do not like this whole driving on the wrong side of the road thing. Totally freaks me out. I feel like someone is about to hit us all the time.  We finally found out who our companions and districts are. My companion is Sister Koepf (pronounced like Kef). She is from Michigan, went to BYU-I, and is also headed out to Leeds. Love her so much. My district (The Ammon District) also is comprised of another companionship of sisters and a trio of Elders. Sister Williams is from Wales, and I would describe her as a proper lady. Sister Hall is Danish, just so hilarious. Elder Bailey is from Tazmania, Australia and has a great accent. He is our District Leader. Elder Cunha is from Brazil and really doesn't like this cold weather. Sometimes he struggles with speaking English, but he is super great. Elder Gibson is from Sandy, Utah. Of course. ;) Have to have at least one. The Elders are all also going to Leeds, but Sister Hall is headed to Scotland Ireland and Sister Williams is going to California actually, by the way of Manchester. She has been having some visa issues. So that is my district!!

Day Two: It is crazy how much they jam pack in a day!! Lesson after lesson stuck between study time and meals. By the way, I haven't really eaten anything out of the norm. Though lemonade here is basically Sprite. Don't be deceived. I love all of my teachers. We basically have two, Sister Alston (from Canada) and Brother Duddley (native). They all are amazing actors, when they get in character to be an investigator, they are really in character, it is wonderful. We also have like this float teacher, Brother Turner. Today we also sang to the man who picked us up from the airport because he retired after 15 years of working here!!! He was so sweet. We sang "Called To Serve" and then "God Be With You Till We Meet Again." As you can guess, some people were crying, it was a great experience. Also, afterwards everyone in my district knew I could sing. While Sister Koepf had noticed pretty early on, it was Elder Bailey who drew everyone's attention to the fact that I like to sing and do it loudly....  Oh well.

Day Three: This was the day I started to realize that the Elders in my district really like to dance and it is hilarious. They are also amazing for other reasons. The only reason I will tell you guys about this lesson is because it was hilarious. Sister Alston got us to do it. We were doing teaching exercises of course, but our investigator  was someone pretending to be different Disney Characters. I ended up teaching both Anna and Elsa, both portrayed by Elders. I had to be Prince Charming and Pumba at different times. Yeah.... Not sure how productive it was, but we certainly stayed awake!!! Today was also pizza day, apparently they also believe in having pizza on Saturdays. So as I mentioned earlier, our teachers pretend to be investigators and we go into these little set up rooms and teach them a lesson. This was the first day Sister Koepf and I did it. We were pretty nervous to begin, but it wasn't a complete wreck, so I suppose that is good. :) His name was Dom and it's a part member situation. Oh, I discovered today that I really like cranberry/raspberry yogurt. Oh, so there are less than 40 missionaries here at the MTC right? Everyone here is either going English speaking or German. Apparently Greek speaking missionaries come here too, but there aren't any here right now. But so we have some sisters who are from other places learning English. Sister Huang is from China and she gave a prayer in her native language for the first time since coming here, and you could just feel the gratitude she had. It was really amazing.

Day Four: WE ARE ROBBY THE RESCUE BOAT!!! You had to be there. Today was wonderful. Sister Koepf was feeling sick and she asked the Elders in our district to give her a blessing. Elder Cunha had given one before but he didn't feel comfortable doing it in English, while neither of the other Elders had given one before. But Elder Bailey did step up and gave her a really wonderful blessing. And she felt so much better. It was a great experience for everyone there. We got to walk over to the temple and take photos. But because it was Sunday, we couldn't actually go on to the grounds. But it was still fun. Also, we watched a devotional that Elder Rasband gave at the Provo MTC earlier in the week that was great. He went around asking questions and answering questions, all relating to his experiences giving calls to missionaries. It was cool. Also, I could see some girls from my mission prep class in the choir that are currently there!!! Crazy right!?! Fun fact, stop lights here go red yellow green, not just green yellow red. Also, President and Sister Preston are the cutest people on the planet. So sweet.

Day Five: Today Elder Cunha told us the sweetest thing that just kind of resonated with my soul. He told us that when he met us all on the first day, he felt like he knew us all before we ever came to this earth. It was super great. Elder Bailey had just said that I reminded him of his sister because of my curly hair. Also, every day that we have had exercise time, we go play volleyball. Sister Koepf played in high school, so she really likes to. Also, President Preston had noticed that I could sing, so he tried to volunteer me to sing like a solo or something like that. I only agreed to sing in choir. And half the reason I agreed to that is because we are singing "This Is The Christ." It is such a great song.

Day Six: Today hit me by surprise. It was lovely, but emotional. I realized I could trace it back to when I showed my district sisters some photos of my family. And a bit later, I went to choir practice, so we were practicing the song, "This Is The Christ." I am trying to learn the alto line for it. Later, we were teaching our investigator Gloria (played by the lovely Sister Alston) about the Plan of Salvation. I had bore testimony of the reality of it to her based on my own personal experiences. As you can imagine, I got a bit emotional then.

Day Seven: P-Day!!! We got to go to the temple!!!! The Preston Temple is so beautiful!!!! I loved it. Especially after yesterday, I needed to go to the temple. It was Sister Koepf's second time ever going, so I was glad I was there to help her out a bit. One Elder was receiving his endowment for the first time. I think he is from Spain, so getting to the temple was really hard for him. I really hope we get to go again on Tuesday before I head out to Leeds on Wednesday. Also, not sure when I will be able to email again because of that.... I will try to when I can!!! After the temple, we got to go into town!!! We got to go to the store. I think it was like a British equivalent to Wal-Mart? Not sure. It was called ASDA. Sister Koepf and I also went to the distribution center here by the MTC. I guess we are going to hear from a member of the 70 later today, so that is cool.
I love you all so much!!! Thank you for all of your love and support!!! I miss you guys, but I love being here too! Cheers! ;)

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Lyvia's Farewell Talk

Back in October, which was quite a while ago I feel like, I received my mission call, and

now in a couple of weeks I am going to be heading off for my mission in Leeds, England. When

I was making the decision of whether or not I should serve a mission, I thought a lot about the

reasons why I might want to serve one. I was able to come up with a few answers, a couple of

which can be found in 2 Nephi 31:20, this year’s your theme and our ward’s mission statement,

specifically: “having a perfect brightness of hope and a love of God and of all men.” I decided to

serve a mission because of the great amount of hope the gospel has brought to my life and

because of the love I have for God and for my fellow brothers and sisters. I want to be able to

share this message of hope and love with all of the people that I come in contact with in the

mission field.

While I was preparing to give this talk, I asked some of my friends who are either

currently serving a mission, or returned not long ago, what a perfect brightness of hope means to

them. I got a lot of great responses. One point that was brought up is that hope has to be centered

in Christ. There is nothing else in this life that is as sure as Christ’s gift of hope because of His

atoning a sacrifice.  In Dieter F. Uchtdorf’s talk entitled “The Infinite Power of Hope,” he stated

that, “Hope is a gift of the Spirit. It is a hope that through the Atonement of Jesus Christ and the

power of His Resurrection, we shall be raised unto life eternal and this because of our faith in the

Savior.” I have seen this in my own life when things have been challenging. I have always been

able to look to Christ to find peace and happiness through the power of the Atonement, even

though I may have been struggling. And I know that when I go and serve a mission, I will

continue to have hard times. So because of my earlier experiences, I know that I will be able to

continue to rely on the Lord for His help and peace. Uchtdorf went on to describe that “hope of

salvation is like a protective helmet, it is the foundation of our faith and an anchor to our souls.”

I have also found this aspect of hope to be particularly comforting in my life; to know that there

is something that I can always rely on even when things seem to be going badly. We always can

have hope in our Savior and for a better and brighter future. Elder Holland teaches us that

through His mediation and Atonement, Christ became “a high priest of good things to come.” I

am excited for the opportunity to share this with those I am able to teach on my mission, because

I know I am not the only one to experience tough times.

Another friend brought up the idea that a perfect brightness of hope endures both trial and

hardship. There are many examples of this in the Book of Mormon. One I would like to talk

about is Alma and Amulek. They were faced with a lot of opposition when they tried to teach

their people. When Amulek was testifying that through Christ is the only way to achieve

salvation, he stated: “But that ye have patience, and bear with those afflictions, with a firm hope

that ye shall one day rest from all your afflictions.” This aspect of hope has had an important

place in my life as I have had to deal with different trials. Like Alma and Amulek, I have had to

deal with my personal afflictions. My dad was diagnosed with cancer when I was eleven years

old and died when I was thirteen there have been different times in my life where I have

wondered “why did this happen to us?” “when will this get any easier?” “how is this supposed to

this ever get better?” I have learned that these questions are honestly pointless to ask myself.  In

fact, asking these questions just made me more miserable. Instead I was able to find hope

through God, specifically the plan of salvation, otherwise known as the plan of happiness, which

I find much more appropriate. Because of this plan, I have been able to find hope in the

knowledge that my family will be reunited and have the opportunity to live together again

someday. With that hope, I have been able to find happiness in this life, despite the sadness I had

to face. In Uchtdorf’s talk, he said, “Hope has the power to fill our lives with happiness.” I have

seen that hope born happiness manifest in my life as I have changed my attitude from one of

sadness to one of hope through my Savior’s help. My desire is to bring the same kind of hope

and happiness to those I serve on my mission.

The last aspect of hope I would like to focus on, is that to have a truly perfect brightness

of hope, you need to have a clearer understanding of what hope’s role is in this mortal life.

Something that I have kind of had to get over is the fact that perfect hope does not mean that you

have a perfect knowledge. It has actually become a bit of a comfort when I find I don’t fully

understand something, not that that has stopped me from continuing to expand my knowledge in

the gospel. As an example, I have known about the Atonement basically all of my life. And as I

grew older, I gained testimony of it as I exercised my faith and applied it in my life. I didn’t

understand how it worked or anything like that, but it didn’t stop me from believing in its truth

and power. And then when I was at BYU, I took a Book of Mormon class where I had to write a

paper. I wrote about Abinadi testifying to King Noah about the Atonement. I was able to increase

my knowledge of the Atonement. Which because I had that faith and hope, my appreciation and

understanding grew exponentially as I learned more about Christ’s atonement. And with that

greater appreciation and understanding, my hope for better things in my future has continued to

expand. Elder Holland said, “Considering the incomprehensible cost of the Crucifixion and

Atonement, I promise you He is not going to turn His back on us now. When He says t the poor

in spirit, ‘Come unto me,’ He means He knows the way out and He knows the way up. He knows

it because He has walked it. He knows the way because He is the way.”

As I mentioned earlier, hope is not the only reason I want to serve a mission. I also made

my decision to serve because of the love I have for God and for my fellow brothers and sisters.

And as Uchtdorf explained, “hope is one leg of a three-legged stool, together with faith and

charity.” These three things work together hand in hand to stabilize our lives. Ether 12:4 reads;

“Wherefore, whoso believeth in God might with surety hope for a better world, yea, even a place

at the right hand of God, which hope cometh of faith, maketh an anchor to the souls of men,

which would make them sure and steadfast, always abounding in good works, being led to

glorify God.”  I love that. Faith, hope and charity build on each other; it is almost impossible to

have one without the other. When you have hope, you will have greater faith. When you have

greater faith and hope, you will have more desire to perform charitable acts. Since receiving my

mission call, I have struggled from time to time about my decision. I have had sudden self-

doubts, thinking I’m not good enough, that I am crazy for going so far away for so long, that I

won’t be able to help anyone. I have been able to remind myself in these moments that I do have

faith in this gospel, that I desire to bring others hope, and that I want nothing more than to serve

my brothers and sisters. Reminding myself of these things has helped me remove those

uncertainties from my mind. I know that while I am gone, not only will I be able to do many

physical acts of service for those I come in contact with, but also a service of loving people and

helping them come closer to Christ.

In a different talk by President Uchtdorf, entitled “The Love of God,” he talks about

many aspects of love and what it means in relation to the gospel and to being a disciple of Christ.

When I was reading this talk, something that stood out was when he stated; “No, God does not

need us to love Him. But oh, how we need to love God! For what we love determines what we

seek. What we seek determines what we think and do. What we think and do determines who we

are—and who we will become.” I can’t think of anything more true. When you love something

or someone, it is constantly on your mind. You just can’t help it when you truly love whatever it

may be. I can look back at different points in my life where God and serving Him was more of

my focus and I can see how I was happier. I hope I’ll be able to help others have a greater love

for God as they learn more about him and strive to be more like him, because I know the

difference it can make. I am excited to have this year and a half where I will have the luxury of

only having to worry about serving the Lord, no school or work to distract me from my number

one goal!

“Love is the healing balm that repairs rifts in personal and family relationships. It is the

bond that unites families, communities, and nations. Love is the power that initiates friendship,

tolerance, civility, and respect. It is the source that overcomes divisiveness and hate. Love is the

fire that warms our lives with unparalleled joy and divine hope. Love should be our walk and our

talk.” Basically, anything that matters in this life involves love, and this love needs to be

centered on Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. Uchtdorf also said, “When we truly understand

what it means to love as Jesus Christ loves us, the confusion clears and our priorities align. Our

walk as disciples of Christ becomes more joyful. Our lives take on new meaning. Our

relationship with our Heavenly Father becomes more profound. Obedience becomes a joy rather

than a burden.” I don’t know about you, but I want this for my life. And there have been times

where I have experienced this. I can’t remember when exactly, but I was probably about 16, and

I was feeling really down about myself. I had made some mistakes that in my mind were huge,

and I was just completely discouraged about everything. I was feeling miserable late one night,

and I was praying, when suddenly the Holy Ghost reminded me that I am a daughter of God, and

he loves me so much. That reminder brought me to tears, it still does, as I thought about what

that means. It means that even though I had made some wrong choices, even though I didn’t

even really like myself at that moment all that much, even though other people may or may not

like me, God still loves me. And that made all the difference. With that reassurance, I was able to

help myself get out of the more or less self-pity hole I was in and have a greater hope for things

to come as I found the courage to change myself and my situation. I hope I will be able to share

the power of God’s love with others on my mission so that they too may know that they matter

and they deserve to be loved and forgiven, no matter what.

I want to be able to help the people I will encounter on my mission find greater love and

hope because of the love I already feel for them. They aren’t really strangers; they are my

brothers and sisters and deserve just as much love as anyone else. As the Lord explained in 1

Samuel 16:7, “Look not on his countenance or on the height of his stature; because I have

refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but

the Lord looketh on the heart.” That is when you really know you love people, when you can

completely ignore someone’s outward appearance and only look at what really matters about

them. I pray that I will be capable of that sort of love when I serve. Until I get to that point

though, I am just going to have to try my best and hope and pray for a more Christlike love as I

I would just like to express how excited I am to serve and how grateful I am for the

opportunity that I have to go. I love the Lord and I love that I get to serve my brothers and sisters

nonstop for a year and a half. I have hope that I will be able to touch the lives I come in contact

with and that I will be able to help others come closer to our God. I would like to just to close by

repeating some of lyrics of the hymn we sang a few minutes ago and I pray that the lyrics will

stay with me and all of you as we strive to bring others and ourselves closer to Christ. “Then let

my lips proclaim it still, and all my life reflect they will. Overrule mine acts to serve thine ends.

Change frowning foes to smiling friends. Chasten my soul till I shall be in perfect harmony with

thee. Make me more worthy of thy love, and fit me for the life above.” In the name of Jesus

Christ, Amen.