Saturday, September 28, 2013

Week Three, Happy as Can Be!

Hello everyone!

It's crazy how long the days are and how short the weeks are here. It makes no sense. This week was super intense because we moved over to west campus and have been having a lot of choir rehearsals. I'm so excited to be singing in the broadcast tonight! I'll be wearing a bright orange shirt. I'm a second alto so I'll probably be on the far right or the far left...probably the far left. Hope some of you get to see me!! It's been such an amazing experience being a part of the choir. Every morning when we rehearse the Spirit is so strong. it's incredible being part of this amazing work with so many many sisters. It's such a blessing!

I have grown this week in more ways than I thought I could. I think Heavenly Father knows I need to learn a lot of patience because He's certainly been showing me this week that I need to rely on Him and have faith in His plan. When we moved to West Campus we were shocked to find out that we would be sharing a three bedroom apartment with 12 sisters. Yup, 12 sisters in two,  tiny bathrooms. Luckily the mission isn't about us, or this would be really hard to handle. We've come to work it out so we can all get a semi-warm shower and get to bed on time...waking up is another story though's crazy how early 5:15 comes! It's actually been super fun living in an apartment. We are in the old Raintree apartments in 5R. It's been really fun to get to know the other sisters in our apartment better, even though it's pretty cramped. Luckily we don't spend much time there :)

Our classroom is in Raintree, as's kinda funny how the Church converted all these apartments into classrooms. There are 3 classrooms in each apartment: two in bedrooms and one in the living room. our new classroom is definitely a LOT smaller than our old one, but it just brings us to bond more as a district! The food on this campus is much healthier and tastier than main campus. and guess what?? My friend Kevin Shirley works in the cafeteria and he said that BRIELLE PETRIE has been hired to work there and is just finishing up her paperwork!! I'm going to be able to see one of my best friends almost daily!! I'm so excited :))))

My new address for west campus is:
Sister Mckenna Gustafson
2025 N 900 E Unit 925
Provo, UT 84602
Send letters there! 

We started teaching our new "investigators" Ernesto and Mark this week. We had our first lesson with Mark on Monday. I was totally stressing about learning all the Tagalog that I wanted to say for the lesson and then at the last minute my kasama and I decided to ditch our notes. We said a prayer right before we went in to teach that we would be able to remember the things we had studied and that we would have the Spirit to communicate the things that were in our hearts. And it was an amazing lesson! Although our grammar was far from perfect, we were able to teach him that the Gospel blesses families and that God loves him. The Spirit was there and I know Heavenly Father helped us to remember the Tagalog we had been studying! Aside from the fact that I accidently told him that we believe Joseph Smith is God and that I had 4 kids (instead of saying there are 4 kids in my family) I think we were able to get our point across :)

We've been teaching at least one investigator every day, and it's been really helpful for my Tagalog. I know how to conjugate a bunch of types of verbs and I'm learning more vocab every day. Prepping the lessons is tricky, but it's been helping my Tagalog so much! I'm working on memorizing Joseph Smith's account of the first vision in Tagalog before I leave the MTC. I've broken it into tiny parts and know a good chunk of the beginning! It's so fun to be able to speak Tagalog with my zone :)

Our district's favorite word of the week is "mga ding ding". it means wooden walls and is pronounced "munga ding ding". we say it literally every chance we get, which is a lot. 
Heavenly Father has blessed me with an amazing district. We really are like a family. I don't know how I would make it through these long days without them. Similarly, Heavenly Father gives us families here on earth to learn and grow and make mistakes. We learn from each other and are taught by His teachers that He has placed on earth for us to learn from. Without our families we wouldn't be as successful and happy in this life. The happiest families (and districts) are based on love, respect, prayer, and the principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  I am so grateful for my family (and my district) that Heavenly Father has blessed me with! 

I love you all so much! Sobra Mahal!
Sister G :)

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Hello my dearest friends and family!!

September 21, 2013

 Exciting news!! I was selected to be a part of the sister missionary choir that will be singing at the General RS broadcast on Saturday. I am so excited about this incredible opportunity and blessing that I have to be able to participate in this historic choir! We have rehearsal every morning for an hour and half, so I've been missing class which has been a little tricky, but I'm just so excited that I was selected to sing it's totally worth it! On Friday we had THE general RS Presidency come to watch us rehearse which was really neat. Another thing that is super awesome is that Sister Sally DeFord wrote a special arrangement of As Sisters in Zion and Go Froth in Faith just for us to sing. I'll try to smile and look very happy and glowy so that the cameraman will want to show me! Watch for me!!!

This week I have learned to love the MTC  even more than I thought I could. It seems that everyday gets better, more difficult and longer than the last. It doesn't quite make sense, but it's amazing! The Spirit here is so strong in everything we do and I love the missionaries I am privileged to associate with here. On Thursday one of our teachers, brother Poole, was talking about how he felt like he had been called to serve a foreign-speaking mission so that he could learn humility, diligence, and patience and learn to rely on the Lord to learn how to teach the gospel His way. He said that he felt like if he had been called serving English speaking he wouldn't have been humbled enough to rely on the Lord to teach the way He wants us to. That really struck a chord with me. A lot of times I feel like I know the gospel so well that I can teach it MY way. Just starting to learn Tagalog has humbled me and made me realize how much I really do need the Lord. He knows the best way for His children to be taught. I need to learn to be more diligent and patient and rely on Him.

This week we had two really awesome devotionals. On Sunday we had the co-director(or producer?) or 17 Miracles and Ephraim's Rescue come and talk to us about some of the miracles they experienced as they were filming those two powerful movies. He talked about sacrifice and all that we owe to our incredible pioneer ancestors. it was really neat hearing some of the behind the scenes stuff that happened as they made the films. 

Then on Tuesday we heard from Elder Schwitzer of the Seventy. He served as a mission president in Russia and told us about the best missionary he ever served with. This elder was always surrounded by the Russian members and investigators and they all loved him. He took the time to get to know each one personally by asking them question after question. His Russian wasn't perfect but he had so much love for every person he met. He forgot himself and went to work with an eye single to the glory of God. I want to be this kind of missionary- the kind of missionary who forgets her insecurities about the culture and language and trusts in God, putting His work ahead of her own insecurities. I want to love the people and know them as our Heavenly Father loves them. I hope I can forget myself and my fear and trust God. 

The Tagalog is coming along. We taught 4 lessons to our investigator, Jeffrey this week. I learned that I can understand and speak more Tagalog than I think I can. It's such a beautiful language but so different for English. Everything is SOOOO long!! The Book of Mormon in Tagalog is 771 pages, 240 longer than the English one. "Through faith" in Tagalog is "pamamagitan ng pananampalataya"- it's crazy long!! I like learning it, it's just impossible to keep up with everything that we learn in class because twice a day in class we learn a new type of sentence structure or verb conjugation, so there's no way to get everything down before we move onto the next thing. The Lord is blessing me as I continue to work diligently to learn and study. 

My district is still super awesome. I love every single elder and sister so much (in a completely platonic elder-sister way, no worries). We all come from such different backgrounds and have very different personalities, but we come together to form a really awesome unit. We like to have fun and we have a couple of elders who are way funny so sometimes it's really hard for us to focus and get work done in the classroom. The elders still call me Sister G or Sister Gus or Sister New Hampshire because I can't get any of them to say my name right. oh well, I think it's funny. 
Sundays here at the MTC are so wonderful and relaxing- way more relaxing than our half-day P-Days! We have music and the spoken word and RS with all the sisters who are here. We have sacrament meeting with our branch and district meeting and then we get to go on a walk around the temple for an hour. In the evening we have dinner and choir and then a devotional. After devotional we are allowed to go to different rooms to watch different videos of church talks. It's such a spiritual and relaxing day!! I LOVE SUNDAYS!!

Everything is really crazy right now because we're getting ready to move to West Campus on Tuesday. I'm so excited though! My address will not be changing that I know of. I think you can still send mail to my regular address and they'll forward it over to me. I'll let you know if that changes though!

I love you all so much and I love being here! Thanks for all your support!
Sister Gustafson :)

Sorry no pictures again this week. I need to go buy a USB/memory stick converter to make my camera talk to the computer :P

Monday, September 16, 2013

Kamusta from the MTC!

September 14, 2013

Kamsuta from the MTC! This place is literally insane! It's so wonderful to be here and I have met so many amazing people and learned so much in just the last few days that I've been here. The Spirit is so strong here and everywhere you go everyone smiles at you. It's almost like being back at BYU in that regard :)

Kasama ko! (my companion) is Sister Brown from Northern Utah. She has this awesome firery red hair. She and I are only one day apart- she had her birthday last Friday! She worked at Chic-fil-a and went to SLCC, but is going to transfer to the U after her mission...more about that later haha. She's a really sweet sister and keeps us all laughing with her happiness and contagious laughter!

The other sisters in my district are Sister Roberts and Sister Fronk. We share a room with them and do practically everything together! Sister Roberts says she feels like our mom becuase she's 23. She's from Southern Idaho and is a firefighter, a physical therapy assistant and a runner. She's run half marathons before which is really cool. Sister Fronk spent last year at BYU and she is the sweetest little Sister. She is super smart and picks up the Tagalog super fast. I know I can learn a lot from her incredible work ethic! The most awesome thing is that all four of us sisters are going to URDANETA together :) which means we'll travel together and be able to see each other for the next year and a half out in the field! YAYAYY!!! There are four elders and four sisters (including me) in our district.

The MTC mission president asked us not to use slang words like "you guys" to show that we are set apart from the world and are representatives of Christ. Since this has been a problem for everyone in our district, I decide we would have a contest between elders and sisters. Anytime anyone says "you guys" they get a tally mark under their team on the board. Right now the elders are losing sooo badly. Whichever team loses has to use their MTC card to buy each member of the other team $2 worth of stuff at the MTC bookstore. HA! 

So, Tagalog. I CANNOT believe the amount of Tagalog I've learned in the last 3 days! We know how to pray, bear a simple testimony, and incorporate scriptures into lessons all in Tagalog. Our amazing teacher, Brother Calder is so great!! Everyday he tells us over and over again that we can do this and we can!! The very first day, not even a half hour after I arrived at the MTC, we went to our classroom for the first time and Brother Calder and Brother Langer were in there and the ONLY SPOKE TAGALOG to us. NO ENGLISH. So that was interesting. We figured out how to use a mixture of gestures and pointing at the notes on the board and TV screen to figure out what they were saying to us. After the first day Brother Calder uses some English to communicate with us, but usually only speaks Tagalog. It's amazing how much it helps us learn! He's recently returned from serving his mission in the Philippines so he has a lot of great stories and advice for us. 

We have class everyday for 3 or 6 hours and then 3 hours of study (personal, language, and companion), so we spend SO much time in our little classroom. Sometimes it's really hard to focus because we all just want to talk, so a lot of times Sister Brown and I end up going outside or in the hallway so we can get our studying done.

Sister Young and I are destined to be together I guess. On the first day we had a welcome meeting where the MTC Presidency talked to us. I turned around during the opening hymn, Called to Serve, and guess who was sitting right behind me!! Sister Young!! It was sooo amazing to be there together among the 415 new missionaries that came in. Guess what else?? Her residence area (rez for short) is on the SAME EXACT FLOOR as mine! So she literally lives down the hall from me! It was really funny because we didn't figure that out until this morning when she came into the bathroom and we both freaked out a little bit. It's super weird because her room is one of the only ones on our floor that isn't learning Tagalog, but I'm really excited to be seeing her for the next couple weeks.

EXCITING NEWS! Our zone (28 missionaries) is getting transferred to West Campus!! So in two weeks we'll be in either Wyview or Raintree apartments!! At first I was a little bummed, but now I am getting sooo excited. It's going to be really fun to be living in apartment-style buildings, which will be more similar to what we'll do out in the mission. I've also heard that West has better food and a little more freedom, so I think it will be really fun! It just means that in 2 weeks I have to pack up all my stuff and move again, but I guess I need to get used to that to as we'll be moving every few months on the mission :)

Speaking of my zone, they are so awesome! There are EIGHTEEN sisters and only ten elders in our zone and we eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner at the same table every day, so we're getting to know each other super well. Our Sister Training Leaders have been here for 5 and a half weeks, so they leave on Monday for the Philippines!! We are so excited for them, but we're going to miss them a lot. They were so helpful in getting us acquainted with all the MTC procedures and answering all our questions!

Yesterday in class we were talking about the gift of tongues and what the requirements are to receive the gift of tongues. I've been learning SO much this week that the gift of tongues (kaloob mga wika) is NOT a free gift. We have to work, and labor and struggle and do ALL we can to learn the language in order to receive the gift of tongues. Our zone leaders told us on the first night, "Work as if it all depends on you, and get on your knees and pray as if it all depends on Heavenly Father". The language will come as I diligently study all day, everyday and then pour out my heart in prayer and fasting to the Lord. Alam ng toloo kaloob mga wika! I know the gift of tongues is a true gift!

Oh! on Thursday (our SECOND day here), we were informed by dear Brother Calder that we would be teaching our first lesson to an investigator, Jeffrey IN TAGALOG on Friday. Wow, that was very overwhelming to hear! Sister Brown and I prayed a lot for strength and to be able to use what very little Tagalog we know to teach this man about families and that God is our loving Heavenly Father. We prepared brief testimonies on each topic to share with him. The lesson was very frustrating and difficult for me, not because of Jeffrey, but because of my inability to communicate with him the things that were in my heart and that I know to be true. We could understand him enough to know that he wanted to know more and wanted to hear more of our message, but we couldn't answer any of our questions. We were both about to cry coming out of the lesson because it was so sad not being able to share with him the things that were in our hearts. It just really renewed my desire to learn Tagalog so I can help people like Jeffrey when I get to the Philippines. Although it has been a very frustrating and overwhelming past few days, I know that this is where I need to be and that Heavenly Father answers prayers. I have said more prayers, both on my knees and aloud in the past few days than I have before. On the first day, President Nally told us that this is the happiest place on earth :) I just might have to agree with him! The Spirit here is soo strong! 

I love you all so much and love being here!!

-Sister Gustafson :)

PS- I couldn't figure out how to upload pictures this week, but I will next week hopefully :)

Saturday, September 7, 2013

MTC Address

My address while I'm in the Missionary Training Center in Provo, UT (from September 11th- October 23rd) is:

Sister Mckenna Gustafson
2007 N 900 E Unit  25
Provo UT 84602

You can also use to write me a letter that will be printed and given to me. I'll be happy to take any cookies or care packages you want to send as well ;)

Can't wait to hear from all of you!