Has it been a week already? This week passed in the blink of an eye! On Wednesday, May 29th, about half of the Tahitian Missionaries (including myself, Sister Chyraus, Sister Hansen, Elder Brunsen, Elder Ball, and Elder Goes) went to San Francisco for the day! Yes, for the DAY! Hahaha! We woke up at 2:30am, caught a bus to the Salt Lake City airport at 3am, flew out at 5, arrived in San Francisco, took another big bus to the French Consulate (where we had visa interviews) then hopped back on a plane and made it back to the MTC by 8pm. That same day a new group of French speakers had arrived, so I went straight into training as their STL :)
In San Francisco we were missionaries. It's strange. I don't feel like a REAL missionary yet... more like a missionary in embryo, but the people in Salt Lake and San Fran sure didn't know the difference! We met a number of great people here and there, gave out many pass along cards, two copies of the Book of Mormon, and even taught a lesson to a darling girl in the airport over dinner! (She was on her way home to St. Louis.) I love being a missionary! Want to know why? Because this is my job... to listen to people, to love them, to guide them through understanding, and to invite them to do things that make their lives better! Wow! :) Can I do this forever? We also got to take a little walk around Pier 39 while we were in the city. As we were eating lunch, a group of French tourists walked by!!! I shouted out hello to them and they asked if I was French! (I think that is the best question I have yet been asked! haha!) We didn't get to chat long, but ohhhhh was it nice to use my French :) The workers at the consulate seemed to be rather brash to others applying for visas, but they loved the missionaries! I talked to my interviewer a bit, who made sure that I knew I was going to "French Polynesia" not Tahiti, and who asked if he could be converted and come with us to the Island! I told him that we could certainly help him with that ;)
While on the Front Runner back to Provo from SLC I met someone who had served in Texas. Did he know an Elder Palmer? hahaha ohhhh yeah... in fact, his reaction was: "I LOVE ELDER PALMER!!!!!!!!!!!!!" Elder Cook related a cute little story about a certain Elder Palmer who was serving as AP. I'll share it privately.
We have officially been in the MTC for over a month! Woo!! The biggest news of the day....... WE ARE STARTING TAHITIAN TODAY!!!!!!!!!!!!! And it will be taught to us in French not English!!!!!!!!!!! If you cannot tell, I am beyond thrilled. I love studying and learning new languages. It's like a giant puzzle. Tahitian, from what I gather at the moment, is a fairly simple language grammatically, though the syntax is practically the flip-flop of French and English. The key is memorization. I am so excited to tackle this new little world and have already began working my tail off studying. Bring it on!!!! :)
More exciting news...I got my French Preach My Gospel laminated. Yes! If you don't think that is exciting...it is! I LOVE and treasure my books here! All 25lbs! I am going to have to buy an extra duffel bag just to bring them all with me to Tahiti!
Over the past week I have been studying the attributes of Christ. This scripture in Moroni chapter 7 verses 46 and 48 particularly touched me: "Charity suffereth long, and is kind, and envieth not, is not puffed up, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, rejoiceth not in iniquity but rejoiceth in truth, beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things."
"Therefore, my beloved bretheren, pray unto the Father with all energy of heart, that ye may be FILLED with this love, which He hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of His son, Jesus Christ, that ye may becomethe sons of God, that when He shall appear we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is; that we may have this hope, that we may be purified even as He is pure."
What a powerful scripture, and what insight into charity! Verse 48 is particularly fascinating. Charity is a gift that God will bestow upon those with open hearts, who pray sincerely, and desire and try to be like Him by following His example. Over the last week I have been studying the attribute of charity and praying for this pure love of Christ to grow in my heart. We must begin with charity, before all else, because if we have not charity, our "good works" are, as the French would say, "null" or worth nothing/useless. As I begin to develop charity, I find that my days are so much more vibrant! I am filled with hope and motivation to keep studying, keep acting in faith. I cannot wait to get to Tahiti! I'm halfway there! :) The idea of "knowing Christ and/or God" because we will "be like Him" is something that I have pondered a lot this week. What else can we do to become more like Christ? Oh...so much! But charity and faith are the start.
It reminds me of a song I love: "Have you received His imagine in your countenance? Does the light of Christ shine in your eyes? Will He know you when He comes again, because you will be like Him? When He sees you will the Father know His child?" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WxIOvc-EKN8
I encourage all of you to read "The Challenge to Become" by Dallin H. Oaks, which discusses how we become like our Father and Savior. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wPjMAtnC-XE
Being a Sister Training Leader is an enormous blessing. We said goodbye to the previous STLs yesterday...they should be about halfway to New Caledonia by now! :) We are so busy... it is wonderful! I have started to develop a deep testimony of service since being assigned this responsibility. When we spend all energy of heart, mind, and might taking care of others -- lifting them up, talking to them, encouraging them, loving them, listening to them... there really is no time or energy left to worry about ourselves or our own silly little problems! If you are feeling lonely, sad, overwhelmed, or afflicted in any way... I PROMISE you that I know the best, and only REAL remedy for these problems: 1. Drop your burdens at God's feet through repentance and prayer and 2. Serve! Work! Work work work!!! Work your heart out, and God will fill you with peace, strength, and love.
I, too, testify that "the amount of happiness we feel in this life is directly proportional to the extent of which we dedicate ourselves to others", and oh! How evident this is on a mission! People all over the world have different problems, diverse worries, and different challenges... how comforting it is to know that through God all can be made light again! He is the ONE solution to a world full of millions of afflictions.
There is much more to say, but I am afraid my laundry is getting lonely!
All my love,