Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Halfway there - say what?!

Hola familia y amigos!

It's been another great week at the CCM. This week our zone got our new missionaries. They're great! It's weird being the old people who know what's going on, but It's a good change! Many of them are intermediate Spanish speakers, so I'm always surprised when we can ask them questions or when they help us on our Spanish... It's nice to have added help around. And it's nice to have more people to face in four square and volleyball! And it's nice to be able to do more service and remember how far we have come.

Teaching our "investigators" is going so much better now too! We're getting the hang of it, and we know more Spanish. The spirit has been really strong in our last few lessons. We still have much to learn. I'm so grateful for my teachers here! It has amazed me how many times they have said things that I totally need to hear. We have lessons on the things that I need most for my teaching, or we'll talk about a concept that helps me greatly in my own life. I mean, everything that we talk about here helps me with my life, but it's amazing how specifically it answers my prayers time and time again. I  know that the program here is inspired and that my teachers are led by Heavenly Father to know what to teach. My journal is nearly half full already with spiritual thoughts and lessons. I learn much from the other missionaries as well! They say that things are magnified when you are on a mission- the downs are deep, but the joys are glorious! It's very true. 

It's hard for me not to turn on my ipod or search for music online, but I love how much we sing here! Oftentimes the songs we sing are exactly what I need. And when i get on to the computers I get to listen to MoTab, and that is a HUGE blessing! I think my companion thinks I'm nuts, cause I definitely burst into tears the other day just from the comfort that the music was to me.  I also listened to a video of John Williams conducting the choir and orchestra in 2002! I was super excited! I was thoroughly astounded when most of the people around me had no idea who he was... I'm not in Kansas anymore totto... There was also a random song that was arranged from Jupiter by Holst. :D It was great! haha and once again, I was a little sad when no one knew Jupiter, or even Holst. Sorry, you all probably didn't want to read this email just to hear me rant about mu

sic some more, but oh how I love good music! It's definitely one of the strongest ways that I feel the comfort of my Heavenly Father. I'm grateful that that is still true, and that He is still blessing me through music! I don't mean to make it sound like they're torturing me here with the lack of music- oh heavens no. There's a time and a place for it and rules are important! But if it's possible, my testimony of the power of music has increased! All of you should go listen to some good soundtracks and classical music and MoTab for me :)

Not much is different this week than from last I wrote. The food is still good (we don't have as many choices as they do on Main Campus, but it's still usually delicious.) Oh! And the Life Cereal this week was totally labeled "eternal life" that made me happy... Oh Mormon jokes- I love em!!! The work is still good, the Gospel and this church are still true :) My district is so close, I love them so much! 

One thing that I learned specifically this week: every person in this earth has a different spiritual gift, and each and every one of those gifts are important. One of the Elders in our group was feeling discouraged that it seemed like everyone around him had a talent or specific gift and that he didn't. It's been great to see him begin to see his great worth. He might not be musical, or extremely athletic, or brilliant, but he has the gift of Charity and Love. When he talks to you, you feel important. He is amazing at finding good in all the people around him and telling them. Rarely does he talk about himself when he's bearing his testimony. He's usually thanking others and thanking the Lord. That, to me, is way cooler than being able to dunk a hoop or be an accomplished musician. And his other talents will come as well as he seeks to develop them too! That's the super cool thing! We've all been given gifts, and we get to work to develop them! And we can pray for gifts- Heavenly Father is waiting to bless us and help us become more like Him and His Son. I don't know if I've already mentioned that to you all, but I would just definitely invite you all to pray and seek to develop good talents- spiritual and temporal. All are important! 

I've learned so much! I wish I could share it all with you. :) I hope you will all read the Book of Mormon. I've started asking questions and praying before I begin my study. I know that Heavenly Father has helped me receive many answers to prayers that way. What a glad message it is that God speaks to us! And anyone can know it! I'm so grateful for my Savior. His atonement makes all things possible. I have drawn closer to Him these past few weeks than I have ever been in my life. Because of Him, my weaknesses can be healed and my inadequacies can be overcome. His doctrine is the center of this gospel. I invite you to search His life and teachings. Faith, Repentance, Baptism, the gift of the Holy Ghost, and Enduring to the End- they seem so simple, but each point is filled with such great beauty and importance! I could write about it for hours. I'm still trying to understand it and learn it. It's a process, and what a blessing that is! 

I love you all! I hope you are all well and having a great week! I love hearing from you :) Tuesdays are preparation days, but they are also holy days cause i get to hear from you! (that, and I'm on a mission, haha so if they're not holy I'm probably doing something wrong). Have a great week! Study Preach my Gospel- it rocks. Love you all!

Te Amo!

Hermana Hill

Katie's mom again... Katie sent some more pictures this week, but technically I think they were from last week. It is so good to be able to see things through her lens, so to speak.  Also good to see/hear that she hasn't stopped loving music and art in her life.  This girl has taught me, and continues to teach me, so very much.  What an example.  

Friday, July 18, 2014

Now in Week 3 at the MTC!

Hola dearest family and friends!

With regards to the subject of this email, we say we're in "week three" cause it makes it seem like we've been here longer :) It certainly feels like we've been here longer! My companion constantly has to remind me that it hasn't been a month that I've been here, that we taught that investigator this morning, that the last time we did laundry was only a week ago... then there are things that also go extremely quickly, like: no, we ate this last week, not yesterday, and look at how much Spanish we've learned! We've already been here two weeks? it feels like just last week that I was at the Provo temple saying goodbye or going to do baptisms with my friends! There are a lot of things that I could reminisce upon, but enough with that for now, I haven't got much time so I'll attempt to tell you of my week! Or something.

Spanish is coming along nicely. I need to speak it more outside of class. My teacher always tells us that if we only speak 10% of HSI (speak what you know) we'll only receive 10% of the gift of tongues. And it's true! God will bless our diligent efforts! Especially because we have been told to speak it often in PMG and by our teachers. And prophets wrote PMG, so we'd better do it!

Today my district got to go to the Provo Temple! It was such a blessing. The spirit was extremely strong, it was exactly what we all needed too! A relaxing opportunity to draw closer to Christ and learn of His gospel! I love my district, they're all so great. The other districts in our Zone are all gone now, it's just us 3rd weekers! And we're the leaders of the zone now. Tomorrow our newbies will get in. I'm so excited to welcome them in and make friends with them! Hermana Sprenz and I are now Online Coordinators. So we make sure that everyone emails our Branch Pres. and knows how to get pictures to their families and emails them on their first or second day. That last one is important. I remember how much better I had felt once I had written my family even a simple letter of "I'm alive and well! Love you!" It was like a weight had been lifted from my heart. So I'm going to make sure those new missionaries get that chance. 

Our first "investigator" is now our teacher and still one of our investigators (we have two. the other one is played by our other teacher.) We have amazing teachers! It is SO hard teaching lessons though! I'm learning a lot though. And our first investigator is progressing, even though he hasn't had much education and so reading the Book of Mormon is hard for him. He still refuses to read it, but hopefully we'll be able to help him understand the scriptures and his desire to read it will increase. The Book of Mormon is amazing! It's wonderful that Heavenly Father knew that doubt and evil would reign on the Earth so he gave us additional scripture to confirm the truthfulness that His gospel is on the Earth once more and is lead by living prophets. How cool is that?! I hope you will all read the Book of Mormon. I learn so much every time I do. My testimony of it's power has definitely increased. I might not have all the answers, but the power of the Book is able to dispel doubt. By the spirit we feel from the Book of Mormon, we can gain the comfort to be patient on the questions we have and feel the comfort that this church is true.

Okay, here's your Spanish word of the day: "Adios". Simple enough right? You all already know it too! Sweet! One of our branch presidents pointed out to us though that it's the combination of A and Dios. Which translates to: "To God". He didn't explain this part, but I thought it was cool that every time we tell someone goodbye by saying adios, it's like saying "God be with you" or "I'm leaving you, but God has got your back". 

Missionary work is hard, but it's so worth it. I know that already, even though I'm not out in the field. It can be scary to go up to people you've never met and speak a language you don't really know, and share a message that they probably wont believe at first. But it's that last part that makes it all worth it. The message of the restored gospel IS wondrous. It's beautiful. I have seen the difference that it has made in my life. And the more I pray to see people the way God does, and the more I do my best to understand people and love them, the easier it gets to do it. The more I learn about this message, the more I want to share it. It can be scary, but be not afraid, for the Lord is with us, and will help us. 

For those of you who asked: The food is good! The people are great! The weather is hot, and I sweat a lot, but oh boy do I love it. I miss you all very much, but I know that God watches over you. I hope you are all well! I don't know if I put it on here last time, but if you want to or can, you can send me letters here by dearelder.com and it's free while I'm at the MTC, which is super cool. I'd love to have your addresses so that I can write you when I have free time, I only have an hour to email, and it breaks my heart that I cant write each of you individually cause I love you all! I want you to know that if I had time I totally would. It's not you, it's me. But I am grateful for the rule to just write for an hour, cause otherwise I'd do it too long and there is work to be done. Know that I send my love though, and that I pray for you. I am able to print off my emails and read them, so if you want to email me, and I'll write you, that's cool too. :) It's confusing, I'm sorry

I hope you have all had a wonderful week! No matter the roller coasters, I hope all is well with you. Like so many people have kindly written to me this week, the road to God will never be downhill. The road to greatness and peace and happiness will always be up! 

Love you!!! Adios! :)

Hermana Hill
The "dork dot" of my first day, symbolizing that I am a newbie.

Mi compañera y yo.

Me with Elder Jim Andrus (tuba player from the U)

Giant map at the MTC main campus

Glasses Sunday

These are the elders from my district. They're hilarious! They keep us laughing and I learn lots from them. Elder Rawson (we call him Elder Raw-dog or Elder Raw-perro) reminds me a lot of Brendan. He's the tall one on the far right.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

MTC - Week 1

Hola Familia y Amigos!!!

Okay, not going to lie, it's hard for me to write to you all in English right now. We've been speaking Spanish A TON!!! It's only my first week here, but already I have learned and grown (in language, in teaching ability, and in spirit). We have class for at least 6 hours every day were we speak only in Spanish. Then we have an hour of personal study, a hour of companion study, and a hour (or two) of personal language study. We are very busy! But I love it. We get at least an hour for gym every day, and I have fun running on the elliptical while reading my scriptures, or playing volleyball with the native spanish speakers who would much rather turn it into soccer, or playing the most crazy games of four square that I have ever seen. There is so much to write to you! Where do I even begin!?! 

My companion is the darling Hermana Sprenz. I love her dearly. We get along well and laugh all the time. She keeps me on my toes by giving beautiful insights for our learning and lessons, and she has really supported me through the challenges we've already gone through. I'm very very grateful to have her. We share an apartment with Hna. Foster and Hna. Mickelsen. They're great! All of us laugh together. Foster and Sprenz are both going to Bahia Blanca with me, and Mickelsen is heading to Buenos Aires West. There's a giant Argentine flag in our kitchen- I love it. We live on the West Campus of the MTC, meaning we live in dorm-like housing (it was once family housing) and walk across the street to more dorms that were turned into classrooms. Our desks fill the little living rooms, but we have fridges! And there's a spot for every companionship to study away from each other. It's great to be able to walk so much to the apartment or to the classes (that's not sarcasm, people. I like it.). It's nice too, cause all the missionaries on West Side (as Hermana Sprenz and I call it) speak Spanish!! The air is filled with calls of "Hola!!!" "Como esta?!" "Bueno, bueno!" "Buenas Suerte!" "Bien, y Ustedes?" And then the level of Spanish that follows differs according to the ability of those conversing. They tell us to use HSI- to use what we know. Speak the language as much as possible and try to say something in Spanish before English. It's exhausting, but I can see how much it's helping us.

Today we went up to main campus to print off our emails so we can write to you what we don't have time to email. It surprised me that everyone was so quiet! And it was extremely difficult not to say "Hola! Como estan Elderes?" etc when I passed someone on the side walk (every 5 feet). I guess the Spanish speakers are just a lot crazier and lively.... It's definitely a blessing to have so many people around me to help me with the language! And the culture here rocks. Don't get me wrong, I love the people on Main Campus! It's just different ;) I was able to see Elder James Andrus, Sister Ashley Eyring, Elder Parker Wilson, Sister Aubrey Black, Sister Katy Dunbar, Elder Nate Campbell, and so many more! It was delightful. I saw most of them at a devotional that we got to go to on Sunday (here, let me write about it in it's own paragraph, it deserves it)

We got to listen and learn from the pianist Josh Wright for our Sunday night devotional! It was like a dream come true. Due to the number of people in one space, we're not allowed to listen to our ipods (with speakers) in our dorms or anywhere. It was super sad for me to learn of that, but exact obedience! So, as you can imagine, hearing Chopin and Debussy other classical music as well as his own compositions. He shared lovely advice on missions with us as well. One of my favorite things that he said was: "When your alarm goes off, when you're having a hard time, when you're having a good time, ask yourself: How much do you love the lord? To be alone is a choice, you can have the Lord with you always, so let us cheerfully do all things. You might not like your mission in a particular moment, but chose to love it." He shared a great many wonderful things. I'm so grateful for the spirit that music can bring. I don't know what I would do if I didn't have it in my life. I don't know what I would do if we didn't get to sing tons of hymns in spanish all day long! 

People always tell you that a mission is hard, but people rarely explain how hard the MTC can be (if that tells you anything about how hard the mission field must be... sheesh!). We newbies have been told time and time again that if we can make it to Sunday, we can make it in the MTC. And well, we made it to Sunday! And beyond!Tomorrow, I will have been here a week. It feels as though I have been here a year. They say that the days travel like weeks and the weeks travel like days. There have been many challenges, and my mind soon tires from all the translating and Spanish speaking. I have to think too that feeling the spirit so much can exhaust you too- I mean, it fills you with energy, but dang, no wonder the people in the scriptures who saw angels or visions often passed out afterwards! I love it, and the spirit here is remarkable. We taught our first "investigator" on Friday, the third day we were here. And we taught him in Spanish... oof! It was difficult! We've taught him once more since then, and although it went really well, I've got a long way to go before I'm ready to teach. I have gained a testimony of the Gift of Tongues. We pray to have it every day. We were able to teach our investigator lots last time, even without being to communicate well! We taught him how to pray, we talked about the coming about of the Book of Mormon, and the Restoration, and how God is the father of our spirits. We have books that help a lot to aid us in translation. My sweet companion has a hard time speaking in the lessons. I need to give her more of a chance to speak, cause that's the only way we can learn. She is too kind to give me the opportunity to practice my Spanish with her so often. Sheesh, I have a really hard time speaking in the lessons too, but we are learning much and to think that we still have 5 weeks to go! It fills us with great comfort. We have already come a long way, and I am speaking better than I ever have before.

We had our entire testimony meeting in Spanish- woah. That was awesome. It was hard to understand the native Spanish speakers. They're only here for 2 weeks cause they've got the language down pact. They give us much encouragement and support. We love to eat in the cafeteria together and the other Hermanas even had them be "member friends" in one of their meetings with our investigator. It's great :) I love the relationships that have grown here. I absolutely love my district! We have a blast. We know each other well, and we trust each other. The spirit dwells with us often, and I learn so much from each of them. they are powerhouses and I'm grateful that I get to spend my time in the MTC with such great people. My companion is a fantastic artist, and has drawn little characters of us all, and we laugh and joke at the multitude of inside jokes we already have. My teachers are wonderful!!! They have so much confidence in us and share scriptures and encouragement that fill my heart. I'm so grateful for them. They keep us laughing and working hard.

There is so much I could write about! I love it here, even though the first few days were roller coasters. 

OOH!! The 4th of July was delightful!!! We had our normal classes but all wore patriotic colors and sang patriotic hymns and shared patriotic scriptures. We got to go to a special devotional at night and listen to AMAZING music (fiddlers and everything!) all provided by missionaries and our leaders. And we watched 17 Miracles after the devotional! That was cool. We were told after the movie that "Sister Carrie Underwood" had concluded singing (bahaha). So we were allowed outside to watch fireworks and eat ice cream!!! Talk about a great day! It was so much fun!!! I loved it. We could see the fireworks extremely well. We stayed up till like 12 am that night... oh man, I was exhausted... But it was great! I'm so grateful that we got to do that!

Well, I'm so deeply sorry that I didn't get a chance to write very many of you individually. Next week I might get a chance to do that more since I won't have to fill you in on as much. There is still so much that I could have written! You know me (blah blah blah). 

I'm so grateful to be able to share the glad message of the Restored Gospel with the world. It's been such a blessing to learn more about myself and Christ and to draw closer to Him.  I know that my Redeemer Lives. I know that prayers are answered. I know that Joseph Smith was a prophet, and that the Book of Mormon is evidence of the returned gospel of Christ. I'm so grateful for the spirit- I wouldn't be where I am or who I am without it. God lives and speaks.

 Love you all dearly! Please send my your addresses so that if I have time, I can write you individually! If you want to, you can email me, and I'll send responses any way I can :) I'm praying for you and hope you are all well. Have a wonderful week!  and read Preach my Gospel- I know that that book is inspired to help us all. :) 

God Bless!!!


Hermana Hill 

This is Katie's mom.  Katie has tried to teach me how to manager her blog while she is serving, but I'm afraid this is all new to me.  Any suggestions are greatly appreciated.