I am where I need to be and am as happy as taffy when she gets loves as she stands on the computer and there is no dread-lock picking. Speaking of which, I am sorry to here of the plights of her majesty -- it is hard to be small and furry. She has to look cute, sleep, eat, and get fed, ALL DAY. Life IS difficult indeed. Please send her my condolences. I love you Dear Elders. Please continue them. They give me a much needed boost of encouragement at the end of the day. I love your little tidbits of gossip, as they remind me of the world outside, yet at the same time remind me of how in this place, life is different and I need to be working my hardest. And I am! I am trying to at least! Haha. Anyways please continue to send them. I love them. It is funny to me that you always mention the cat -- your oldest daughter, Mrs. Peterson, does so as well! I love to hear of the arduous lives of the forgotten felines. Alas, will we ever understand their inner torment? Nay. How could we; we are merely humans.
My clothes. They are lovely. but for some reason I feel so frumpy! My companion is very petite and looks fabulous in everything that she owns. Seeing some of the sisters here made me wish I had taken a bit more liberty with my fashion; they are all so trendy. I don't need NEW clothes -- I am happy with the ones I have it just will take a me a moment to adjust to them and to arrange them so they are fashionable. I am feeling rather large too -- I don't know why. Perhaps it is just all the sweaters and flowy skirts that make me look so. I don't know. Anyways. I am only telling you this because you asked me in your last letter what the lowest point was. I would say my dress. BUT it really is NOT that big of a deal. Most of the day I am lost in studying and learning so I don't even notice it or care very much about it. I did the first day, but now I don't. That is not to say I don't take pride in my appearance -- I do my best to look cute (and yes I am wearing makeup. After all we are, and I quote, "encouraged" to wear makeup.) but I realize that looking more trendy than other sisters is not my highest priority. Does that make sense?? (I would say that phrase in Russian since I know how, but I can't figure out how to change the keyboard...)
That being said, that is the only thing that is really be somewhat of a downer. Other than that, I have been completely content and happy. It is hard to wake up, and sometimes I find myself dozing off a bit, but I just drink some water and voila! I am back awake and alert! It is nice to get up early - I actually like it. The day is not wasted that way. SOmetimes it is hard to fall asleep but I am adjusting so it is not a problem. Really I am SO happy here. I love the learning, the people, and the spirit. There is so much satisfaction in what we are doing. I know that is selfish of me to say because I should be focusing on the people I am serving, but it is satisfactory. I love it. The Lord is teaching me so much. He knew me so well to send me here.
I want to hear more about you! I miss you so much. I can't express, but at the same time I know that I need to be here and I am SO happy to be here. Please continue to inform me as to how you are doing and what you have been up to.
Now I will say something at the risk of making you angry but for me it was a spiritual experience. I have truly been attempting to lose myself in the work; to study Russian, preach my gospel, the scriptures and to serve my fellow missionaries as much as I could. Please believe me when I say that I have not thought of Andreas at all. But then, one night as I was laying in bed, I suddenly woke up and knew what to do for the problem of "the sanctuary goal" that I told you about (and if you don't remember that is fine I am not offended)! It was a little blessing for me. Then I went to bed and feel asleep right away. I felt like it was almost an assurance form the Lord to remind me that He has not forgotten about my dreams and will help me when I get back. I am SO grateful for that. It reminded me that I had to have hope.
Speaking of hope,I wrote to you in my letter about how I have been studying hope. I hope.... (haha) that you get it soon and can read it. But just as a brief summary I realized that hope is the optimistic extension of faith. You need hope. As a district, we each decided to pick one of the attributes of Christ mentioned in Preach my Gospel and work on it. I selected hope - I am learning amazing things. It was really interesting, but all of us picked different attributes to work on. I knew that I was so select hope because almost as soon upon as I had entered the MTC there had been a motif of hope in the talks, testimonies, and scriptures I had been reading. So, when I saw that it was one of the attributes of Christ, I realized that I needed to work on it. Hope is mostly associated with optimism - I often think of what was said in my blessing when I was set apart - that I need to be positive of myself. Then I also think of how it mentions in my patriarchal blessing that I have been blessed with optimism and need to share it and others will delight in that and wish to be optimistic too ( that's not word for word but that is the gist of it.) So, I have been attempting to exercise hope and be optimistic about my mission, my learning, and life in general. One of the most beautiful things I have learned from hope is that hope is only possible through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. If we were not able to use the Atonement, there would be no hope because we would all be damned. Without it, no matter what we did, we could never hope because we could not progress. Hope is part of progression, if you do not hope for things, you will not strive for things; and because of the Atonement we are able to progress, therefore, hope is only possible through the wonderful Atonement. What a glorious gift Jesus Christ and our Heavenly Father gave us through the atonement! Not only are we allowed to repent through it, not only do they understand our pain through it, not only are we saved by it, but we are also allowed hope through it. It is a beautiful thing. I now hope to center my life more around hope, as it is a beautiful gift for us that was purchased with many drops of blood in the atonement. So, in conclusion, hope is the optimistic extension of faith, and hope is the propellant (? am I using that right -- the fuel??) for progression and change.
Well, now I REALLY am out of time and probably went a little bit over. Anyways. I just wanted to say I love you and I miss you and I am thinking of you. Please get better, I am so sad that you are sick. I am sorry I wasn't able to write but hopefully these emails make up for it. Again, I will always keep you in my prayers and in my heart. LOVE YOU LOVE YOU LOVE YOU! Miss you!!! COntinue to serve the Lord and thank Him for the myraid of blessings He continually bestows upon us and our family - the Atonement included.
I hope that you are well. I hope to hear from you soon.
MOM AND DAD!!!!
I MISS YOU!!!! But I am so happy to be here. I sent you a very lengthy letter yesterday that should be coming to you and I should be sending another one today. I got your dear elder saying that the missionaries were given an hour to email their parents their first night - I was not afforded such a luxury. I was immediately stuck into a classroom where a man speaking only Russian began to energetically teach us about Russian introductions and the gospel. It was great. Really, I love the MTC. I am very grateful that the Lord knows me enough (and was patient with me enough) to continually prod (don't know if that is a proper word to use with the Lord, but you know what I mean) me to go on a mission because truly I know this is where I am supposed to be and I am so happy.
Some of this email may be a repeat of what I wrote to you in my letter but to be honest I cannot entirely remember what I wrote. I feel like my memory has both expanded and decreased. For example, I find I cannot recall the words to songs (hip songs that is, musicals and Disney songs remain unaffected) yet I am able to remember things in Russian, like the different conjugations of verbs are based off of the gender of the noun. I had such a hard time with that in Latin and I studied all the time! But with Russian, though it is still very hard, it is easier. I know this is because the Lord is helping with the language. There is no way I could be learning it the way I am without the help of my glorious Heavenly Father. I am so honored that He is allowing me to learn a new language because I know that language is a tool that we use to improve not only the lives around us, but my own personal life. I was reading in Mosiah (I think, perhaps it was Words of Mormon) that in order to read the Brass Plates, Lehi had to know Egyptian. I realized that then in order to be the keeper of the plates you had to be extremely educated, and that learning the language was part of that. The keeper of the plates was probably the most intelligent and well earned Nephite of them all. This made me realize even more that scripture study should be not only a spiritual pursuit, but an intellectual pursuit - we need to be actively engaged in searching the word of the Lord; if we do so, He will bless us immensely. I know that He has already blessed me while I have been here. More so than I deserve. I am truly humbled by all the knowledge He is giving me. I just have to be diligent in my study. I have been trying to do so.
I love my companion. Truly she is great. Usually i find it easy to use ,y words to describe people and things but I can't really with her -- she is just that great. I really really really like her. She is diligent and obedient. She is very fun too. One night we just started walking home and we started speaking giberish to each other like it was nothing. We laughed and then talked about how cool it would be when we would be able to do that in Russian! Haha!! She is very fun, smart, and has amazing spiritual insight. It seems like she has a deep desire to learn -- she wants to understand the gospel completely. This is something I really admire, she really does attempt to obtain the word before she declares it. I am inspired by her desire to understand so that she can teach to her best ability. I am truly blessed to have such a companion.
The rest of my district is pretty great. I am currently in the process of writing you a letter that describes all of the 5 members of my district. There are four elders and Sister Haynie (my companion) and myself. I would say that we get along very well as a district, I am quite fond of them all. My companion is my favourite however. We get along very well. Everyone has such unique talents that they bring to the district; I think we get along well; perhaps sometimes too well as we spend sometimes maybe a little bit too much time talking and not studying. My companion and I are very different; I look up to her in many ways. I wish I could be a better companion to her! Sometimes I feel that I don't always know how to serve her in my best way. I try, but I feel like I am still not good enough! Haha not to be negative; I am trying and that is what counts I think. But still, I will work harder to be a better companion.
I whistle all the time and it makes me think of you, Mom. I whistle because I am happy. It makes me think how lucky I am that God blessed me with such a wonderful mother who taught me so much about the gospel; you taught me to really study the scriptures, you told me the story, you taught me the order, you taught me the history, I am so happy and so lucky and so blessed that you are my mom. Heavenly Father really did bless me with such a wonderful family. It is perhaps by greatest blessing of all. Mom. you are such an example to me. I think of how well you know the gospel and I always want to be like that. You also taught me how to listen to others and how to engage them in conversation -- I am trying to do this with my fellow missionaries as a way to serve them. I think everyone wants to talk about home, but it is hard to talk about when you are with the same 20 people and you have already told them everything -- so I try to listen and engage them -- YOU TAUGHT ME THIS! It is a great service to listen to others - I learned that from you and form you example of listening to me. So thank you.
Give Dad a special hello! Tell him I love him and that I am thinking of him and praying of him. I often think of his quiet humility and spirituality. I want to be more like him in that aspect; I want to have humble spirituality like him. I realize (from the example of others (this is not a very nice thing of me to say) that when you say sacred experience out loud to much, or try to be gaudy in your spirituality, it loses some of it's worth. Dad was never like that, he was always so humble. Dad showed his love for the gospel through his quiet, complete obedience and his diligent work to the Lord. I am grateful for that example. Please tell him so.
My zone is amazing. Everyone is so smart! Truly. Everyone has small beautiful handwriting -- mine is small, but resembles something like chicken scratch. Hahaha. I am sure I could fall in love with their hand writing alone had I not closed off my heart. Everyone in my zone is incredible. For example, there is one young lady who is 21 and was at Harvard studying German Literature; she is incredibly smart and already speaks three languages I think. She is somewhat intimidating but I like her a great deal. Then there is Sister Deiner, who lives in my room. She goes to MIT is and on the rowing team there! I told her my Dad was a rower and pretty much the most incredible man I know. That woman is SO smart. Sister Alvaraz is also in my room -- I have never met such a happy perky girl before! She has such a bright energy and is always optimistic. I thought that would be my role in the MTC but she does it so much better than me. I don't really know what my role is in my district and in my zone, but I am just being myself and doing what I can and I know that that is enough and the Lord will have me fill whatever role he needs me to fill so long as I am worthy of the influence of the Spirit. My companion is still my favourite though; she is special. She is so special that I cannot even really put her down in words! I really REALLY hope that we stay close after the mission. I want to serve her but I just don't know how! Haha. Oh well, I will continue t try. I don't know the other missionaries in my district very well. There are two other sisters that I have not mentioned and then a plethora of elders -- all with very neat, small, beautiful handwriting. What is it about pens and handwriting? I am a mad woman!!
Life here is great. I am so happy. I want to write more but I have to get my laundry. I have about 20 more minutes on the computer and then I have to stop. Thanks!
Love you more than I can say! Sending you all the love I can spare from the Lord and His mission he gave me!