Sunday, February 27, 2011

Final Sunday Meetings

We had a departure devotional tonight. Members of the MTC Pres spoke to us. One of the counselors talked about 10 character traits of a good missionary. Basically forget yourself and think of others, keep the rules, work hard, avoid discouragement and love the people. He said many of you will be referred to as "greenies" when you get to the mission field. He told them "don't worry about that. Green things grow and ripe things rot. So be glad you're green."
One of the counselor's wives spoke about when her husband was a Mission Pres. One night they sat down for a farewell dinner with several missionaries. Her husband asked the missionaries to share a spiritual experience. The first Elder he asked said he couldn't think of any. She was very surprised. So her husband said " well you think about it and we'll come back to you" As the other missionaries were sharing their experiences, she could hear this Elder saying " Oh that happened to me." So she said to him - "see you have had spiritual experiences" He said " I guess you're right. I guess I wasn't paying attention." So she told the missionaries to "Pay Attention". Be aware of when the Spirit is speaking to you.

Our final fireside tonight, the speaker was Stephan Allen from the Missionary Dept. He began by allowing people to stand who met certain criteria. Who is going to a foreign mission, please stand. Who has had parents serve a mission, please stand. Who has a sibling in the MTC right now, please stand. Who has a sibling on a mission right now, please stand. Who has had a "Dear John or Dear Jane" written to them since being here, please stand. He was alot of fun and everyone enjoyed him. He then talked about being in an airplane with alot of turbulence. He said as a missionary, you are going to have turbulence, so you need to know how to deal with it.
Consistent obedience will help you avoid turbulence. But you will still have it. Just know that when you do, God is helping you to grow, unless it is the result from you doing something wrong.

He told us when things get hard, trust in the Lord. Proverbs 3:5-6. You can't have success if you don't trust in the Lord. Your progress will be accelerated if you allow the Lord to lead you.
One cool thing he said, if you aren't sure you have a testimony, teach yourself what you will teach your investigators. Moroni 10:4-5.
He was such a good speaker. He then had all of us sing "Jesus Savior Pilot Me" God will guide you thru the hard times, if you allow Him to help you.

They really know what they're doing here. They help missionaries in every way possible to be prepared for their mission. But the missionary does need to do his or her part for it to be effective. Just a few more days and we are off to Hungary. We are getting very excited.

Sunday Meetings

Today for Sacrament Meeting we met with the International Branch. This is the Branch where people from foreign countries meet as they are learning English. It was great to meet with them. The Branch Pres was just diagnosed with Leukemia, so he was released. They asked all of us to fast for him. His counselor who was just sustained as the new Branch Pres said they had all been assigned a topic "Feast on the Word". Then he called two of them out of the congregation to give their talks. The sister was from South America and the Elder was from France. They did a great job. I was so impressed with how well they both spoke English. It was a great meeting.
Then the Sisters went to RS. The speaker was Ann Dibb, Pres Monson's daughter. She was a wonderful speaker. She told us when we trust in the Lord we can accomplish so much. She also talked about the newest YW value -Virtue. She said we will find this value is not taught in many countries. She quoted from Jane Eyre. She was a virtuous woman even though she's a fictional character. When tempted to do wrong she said "No, here I plant my foot." She told us the protection against sin is an unshakeable testimony.
Then she allowed questions from the missionaries and she told us some fun stories about her father. At the end she said " I know my father is a prophet of God. He has told us, he has walked where Jesus walked. He has been to Jerusalem and Gethsemane. But he would rather walk today where Jesus would walk if He were here." She said she knows her father tries constantly to do this and help others in any way he can. It was a very inspiring thought. We as missionaries need to remember to do that.


After the temple we went to Deen's house to do some laundry. We also did a little shopping to get a few things we needed-- emphasis on "few" because we don't want to overload our luggage. It was snowing so I thought it would be fun to take a picture in the snow. Deen and Cheryl thought I was crazy, but they forget I'm from California and don't get to see much snow. It was a nice day. We were able to get caught up on a few things and relax a little.


Yesterday was our P-day. I had never been to the Mt Timpanogos Temple so we decided to go there instead of the Provo Temple. We actually saw another couple from our group there as well. We had such a nice time. It's probably the last time we will get to go for the next 18 months. There aren't any temples in our mission in Hungary. We were glad we were able to go. Deen served in this temple so she showed me around a little. We needed to rent clothes but since we were serving a full-time mission, we didn't have to pay. We were also able to meet the temple matron. She was thrilled we were serving a mission.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Me and Mathews Elder

As many of you know a former seminary student of mine, Jake Mathews, is going to the same mission. He has been in the MTC for almost two months but he doesn't leave for Hungary until March 14th. Deen and I are leaving on March 4th. I hardly ever see him. So one night I saw him as he was coming in for dinner and I was leaving for a language class. I wanted to get a picture of him so I hurried and took one. I was late to class, but I really wanted to have this picture. It's going to be fun serving in the same mission as him. He's a very nice young man.

Russian Missionaries

We have several senior missionaries who will be serving in Russia. It's the only country in our group with duplicates. Of course it is a very large country. The first couple Elder and Sister Burnham (man with red tie) are going to serve in Vladivostok. It's on the far eastern border of Russia near Japan. They live in Gilbert. Their son and daughter live in Megan's ward. Small world - I just found that out today. The couple in the middle Elder and Sister Huffaker are going to serve in Novosibirsk. They were in our District. The last couple Elder and Sister Williams - will be serving in Samara. It's pretty exciting to see how many couples they are sending to Russia. Some of them have heard from their Mission Presidents who have told them it's 50 below in their area. You want to talk about being cold. YIKES - yet all of them are so excited about their call and working so hard to learn the language. It's amazing.

Name tag

Here's my name tag in Hungarian. They say the last name first. Brother Ruggles says the Hungarian name for Smith is Kovacs. I don't know why they didn't put that on my name tag. He says they don't pronounce "th" so Smith would be a hard name for them. It's fun having our name tags in Hungarian. Sorry it's so blurry. It was really hard to get a good picture of it.

Tim Ruggles - Hungarian Teacher

This is our Hungarian teacher. He is hysterical. He's always telling us what a good teacher he is.

The truth is - he is an excellent teacher. We have learned so much from him in just three days. It's just so funny to have him tell us all the time how good he is. Deen and I are the only ones in his class so we get very individual attention. There's no sitting in the back and trying not to be called on. He always shares a scripture with us from his Hungarian Book of Mormon. Tonight he asked me to read it. It took forevvvvvvvvvver. He was very patient. But it's so good he pushes us to do things we think we can't. He's coming to Hungary the middle of May so I hope we can speak more Hungarian then, otherwise we will be in so much trouble.
Last night for some reason we started talking about other languages and I said something in German. So he asked me " Sprechen Sie Deutsch?" ( do you speak German) So I said a little to him in German. Bless his little heart, he also speaks German. We've had such a good time with him. He has been helping us prepare to bear our testimony. I really want to know how to do it, but a very scary thought. Friday night all of the senior missionaries who are learning a language are going to have a testimony meeting and bear testimony in the language they're learning. I'm not kidding. We have had 6 hours of language training and they expect us to do this. They certainly don't mess around at the MTC.

Missionary Map

Here's the famous missionary map where all the missionaries stand and point at their mission. Deen and I were glad our mission wasn't any higher up because we would have had trouble reaching it. We are quite the phenomenon here. Everyone thinks it's so amazing that we are aunt and niece going together to the same mission. Also - there's only one other set of senior sisters here right now. The younger missionaries are so nice to the senior missionaries - especially the sisters. I don't know if they have been instructed to be polite, but they practically run in front of us to open the door. Last night I was taking my tray to the kitchen and dropped something, immediately an Elder was there to help me pick it up. So nice---

This is also a picture of our District by the map. We decided not to point to our missions because are all on the same side of the map. It would have been difficult to all bunch together. We loved our District. We had a lot of fun working together.

Trevon Albertson

This is another one of our teachers. He has a twin brother. He said they were always referred to as the bark and the bite. He was the bark. He told us people were always mispronouncing his name so we would do it once in a while just to tease him. He taught us in the afternoon. We were so lucky to have teachers we really enjoyed. They knew so much and never made us feel inadequate because we weren't able to learn all they had to teach us. I think senior missionaries might be very challenging, but our teachers always had such a great attitude with us. He helped us prepare for our second teaching experience on Thursday. This time we had an older woman. Once again we were so lucky. We had a lesson already prepared but she started out asking us questions. In a way it was a little harder because we had to do it a little impromptu. But she was so sweet. I was talking to her about the restoration and why God would give such an important responsibility to such a young boy. She started getting a little teary-eyed while I was talking so of course, those of you who know me, that didn't help me one bit. ( you try reading the account of Joseph Smith seeing God the Father and Jesus Christ- without crying) Anyway afterwards she was so nice to us. She said " even though we were just pretending, I could really feel the spirit." She said " you sisters are going to be great missionaries" That was really nice to hear. People here are sooooooo nice to us.

Lamar and Marilyn Holt

Elder Holt was our District Leader this week. He was always watching out for me and Deen.- making sure we weren't lost or falling behind. He was hilarious. We had such a good time with them. They are from Utah so they are going home this weekend and returning on Monday. They have been called to serve in the Phillipines. It's lucky they live close because they won't need any of their warm clothes in the Phillipines. Elder Holt's older brother and his wife came to the MTC today to talk to us about some of their mission experiences. They never did tell us how many missions they've served, but we know Ukraine and China. They told us they were thrilled to hear about the temple in Kyiv Ukraine. It was great to hear some of their stories. Lamar and Marilyn will also be helping with Member Leadership. They are a really fun couple. We loved having them in our District.

Elder and Sister Wilkins

These senior missionaries are also in our District. They are from Idaho Falls. They have been called to serve in the Paris France Mission. Elder Wilkins served a mission in France many years ago but still remembers much of the language. They are a very quiet couple but so dedicated to the Gospel. Their responsibility will be with Member Leadership. They leave on Monday.

Calvin and Ann Huffaker

These senior missionaries are in our District. They are going to Novosibirsk Russia. It's in Siberia. They are the nicest people. They live in Colorado on a cattle ranch. He's so funny. He told his Russian teacher he wanted to learn how to say " I want a steak" and "where are all the cowboys". Geniunely the nicest couple you will ever meet. We have really enjoyed having them in our District. They are also going to serve a CES mission so we will get to be with them next week as well.

Wednesday - 1st Teaching Experience

Today was our first time to teach an "investigator". We were very fortunate because our investigator was the nicest man. He even helped us out a little. We were talking to him about the Book of Mormon. I was telling him that it was written by ancient prophets. He asked me where it took place. I told him much of it happened right here on the American Continent. I told him Christ came here and visited the people of the Book of Mormon. Then he said " Oh yes I think it says something about that in the New Testament in John where it says "other sheep I have which are not of this fold" Then he says " Is that what He was talking about?" So cute - Deen and I were " oh yes, why don't we read that scripture now" Anyway when we were finished, we just wanted to hug him, cuz he was so sweet to us.

This is a picture of one of our teachers. He was so great. He really helped us to be prepared. We were both so nervous, but he just kept telling us. "Don't worry you'll be great"

His name is David Chinn. We really grew to love him by the end of the week.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Day 2

Today was completely different from yesterday. We started at 8:00 this morning. The class was amazing. They are teaching us how to talk to investigators. Very simple principles that I hadn't thought of before are being presented to us. The teachers here are great. Many of them are very young - probably not even 30. But they are well-prepared and very enthusiastic.
Tomorrow will be a scary experience. We have to teach our first investigator. YIKES
We have been preparing for this all day but Deen and I are still worried about it.
At dinner tonight we sat by a group of Elders. They were very friendly. One Elder sat down with 3 entrees. Pulled Pork with rice, feticini with vegetables and a chicken salad - it barely fit on his tray. I thought maybe he would just eat a little of each, but I was so wrong. He proceeded to eat everything on his tray. It was amazing. The funny thing is he wasn't that big. Just hungry- He must do this all the time because no one near him thought it was unusual.
Tonight we had a Devotional. Patrick Kearon of the 70 spoke to us. He shared about his own conversion and then said some very nice things to all of us about our willingness to serve a mission. He's from England. He joined the church when he was 26. He said we have some very strange things we say in our church that other poeple might not understand. For example when we say we are at the MTC - people might think we are saying "empty see" which makes no sense. He said we have such a great opportunity to help people with our message. We should not be afraid to speak boldy to them because we have the truth. When we speak the truth, they will feel the spirit. Afterwards the missionaries sang a special version of Called to Serve. Sister Nally who is the wife of a counselor in the MTC mission presidency accompanied them. It was very cool. She started with marching music in the background ( like the Army of Helaman) coming over the hill- then the missionaries started singing very soft - and then progressively louder as the marching music got louder - finally at the end they stood and sang very loud. Very powerful - I'm so glad I was able to be there for that.
Sorry there aren't any pictures - We are limited where we can take pictures. I will try to send a picture tomorrow. Too bad they don't allow pictures in the cafeteria. I would have sent one of the Elder who's eating them out of house and home. His parents are probably saving money sending him on a mission. We should get our Hungarian name tags on Thurs. I will send a picture of that when we get them.

Monday, February 21, 2011

First Class in the MTC

Our first class was very fun. Everyone introduced themselves. We told where we were from, where we have been called to serve and how many previous missions. Not that they were giving out prizes, but if they had, Deen would have won. -since this is her 5th mission. Two other couples said this is their third mission. Most everyone else are serving for their first time. One couple stood up and said they had been called to serve in "American Siberia" - Anchorage Alaska. Then just a few minutes later a couple stood and said they had been called to serve in the "real" Siberia in Russia. Three couples are going to Russia. I was talking to one of the couples later in the day who was going to Russia. He said they got a letter from their Mission Pres last week. It was negative 35 in the area in Russia where they will be serving. YIKES!!! It was cool to hear where everyone will be serving. Czech Republic, Spain, Germany, Africa, Japan, France, Phillipines, - several in the states. Everyone seems very excited about this opportunity.
It's very organized and efficient here. The cafeteria feeds hundreds at a time with very few waiting in line. The food is also pretty good. Tonight at dinner I saw Jake Mathews. He introduced me to the people in his District. He told me I could eat dinner with them tomorrow night, but it might not be fun because it's "terrible Tuesday" when they must all speak in Hungarian. So I probably wouldn't be able to understand any of them. Deen and I start our language training on Wed night from 6:00-8:00 after our other classes are over. Mathews Elder (they say it backwards in Hungarian) district leave for Hungary on March 14th so Deen and I will get there before them.
So our first day was good. We have an assignment to read 30 pages from Preach My Gospel tonight to prepare for our classes tomorrow. We're both pretty tired so we'll probably go to bed early tonight.

Entering the MTC

After getting our luggage into our room we went back to the front door to check in. It was hard saying good-bye to Megan, but exciting to finally be starting our mission. I feel so fortunate to serve with my aunt. She's a wonderful woman. I think we are going to enjoy serving together.

My room at the MTC

The Elders showed us to our room. At first we were in a little bit of a panic because there was one double bed. We wondered how we would sleep together in one bed. But then we found out we had our own room. It's really nice. Double bed, bathroom, 2 closets, 6 drawers and a desk. They really spoil the senior missionaries.

1st Day in the MTC

We arrived at the MTC in Provo about 10:30 this morning. - Feb 21, 2011. We wanted to take a picture by the wall that says "Missionary Training Center" but that no longer exists. We were kind of sad about that. - So we drove in and met a very nice man. He directed us to the place where we would be staying. Some very helpful Elders were waiting for us to unload our luggage. That was especially nice because our suitcases are HEAVY!!!!!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Aunt Deen's Farewell

Aunt Deen's farewell was today. She did a great job. Her Bishop and Stake Pres also talked a little and said some very nice things about her. She had really been stressing about talking. I told her I no longer felt sorry for her about talking because she did so well.
Afterward we went to Diane's for lunch. Lots of Deen's family came. It was fun to see everyone. Tonight Deen was set apart. Megan and I went back for that as well. The Stake Pres asked me and Deen's son Henry to bear our testimonies. Megan told me I should be prepared to bear my testimony without notice because it will probably happen often on my mission. She's probably right. After that her Stake Pres gave her a really nice blessing. She and I are both so excited. We are meeting at the MTC tomorrow morning at 10:30 am. I doubt I will get much sleep tonight because I'm so anxious to get started on my mission. :) :) :)

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Setting Apart

Thursday night was such a great experience. Kerry Anderson went with me to be set apart. Pres Olson said some wonderful things to me before he actually set me apart. Missionary work is very important. I'm so grateful I have the opportunity to be a part of the work. I appreciate all the love and support I have received from family and friends so far. I'm very excited about serving a mission.

Yummy Ice Cream

Tonight we went to Iceberg for some yummy ice cream. Believe it or not we ordered a mini-size ice cream. We were soooooo suprised to see how big they were. Good thing we didn't order a regular. We would have had to find a friend to help us eat it.

Megan's favorite sandwich place

We stopped here for lunch. This is Megan's favorite sandwich place. Our sandwiches were delicious.

So much luggage

Here I am with all my luggage at our hotel. It's hard to tell but I'm also wearing a Backpack. I'm not sure how I will get all of this to Hungary by myself. A friend of mine, Karen Bennett, told me about a luggage strap idea that hooks all of them together, but it's still difficult to manuver all of this luggage ( especially since it weighs so much). Megan and I spent a couple hours today figuring out what to leave here. Already both arms are sore from lugging (no pun intended)my luggage thru the airport. It's a good thing I have a week to recover in the MTC.

MTC - Here I come

I left Friday afternoon for SLC. It was an eventful day. It started with have too many things to fit in my suitcases. When Jana arrived to take me to the airport, I told her both suitcases were already at 50 lbs and I still had a big pile of stuff to pack. She said "Well you're just going to have to pay the overweight charges." and she started smashing it all in. When I finally got to the airport, I found out one suitcase weighed 70 lbs - $50 charge - oh well.

Once I got to security I found I was randomly selected for a full-scan by one of the security ladies. While she was doing that someone else told me my carry-on was also going to be searched. PERFECT - Then my flight was an hour late. Once we got on the plane we were told there was problem with the plane and we needed to wait for a maintenance guy to check it out. Finally we get to leave - THEN I arrive in Las Vegas ( lay over to SLC) and I find out that plane is 2 HOURS late. Hooray!!! Poor Megan is left waiting for me in SLC for 3 hours. She was nice about it though- no complaining. She even took me to IN N OUT for dinner.