Friday, July 29, 2016

Week #2: MTC July 21, 2016 - July 27, 2016

Sister Vranes and Sister Richman
This week has felt like it has gone by so slow, yet so fast at the same time. I can't believe it's p-day once again. On Sunday, as President Deng visited our class, he quoted President Kimball, who said, "If Taiwan could have 500 missionaries, China would be open." That was a wonderful promise to me of what is going to come. I knew there was a reason everyone I knew who was going Mandarin speaking was going to Taiwan, and I'm so glad of what is yet to come. Also on Sunday, all of the lessons were about faith in Jesus Christ. No matter who we are, whether a nonmember, a devout church goer, or even a missionary, we all have room for improvement. It is by our faith in Christ and His atonement that we can find the strength and courage to overcome our trials, repent daily and sincerely, and strive to become better each day. This has given me strength and courage to become a better missionary. 

Sunday night, for devotional, the Nashville Tribute Band came to play their songs. I absolutely love their albums, Joseph and The Work. We sang with them as a choir, singing "John's Song", "I Was Born", "When the Son of Man (Comes Again)", and "The Hardest Thing I Ever Loved to Do". It was beautiful their testimony of missionary work preached through the best medium I could think of, music. 

Sister Vranes and the other 3 Mandarin speaking
Sisters that arrived at the MTC on the same day 
Tuesday, we had yet another devotional, with Elder Spencer J Condie from the Seventy, and his wife. They spoke about the simplicity and power that a testimony carries. Sister Condie is from a European country, like Germany or Austria, and simply bore her testimony in English. Even though it wasn't her native language, it was powerful. I know now that the most important tool a missionary could carry, is their testimony. Sweet and simple, yet powerful beyond measure.

In devotional, the choir (which our whole zone has committed to being part of) sings a musical number. The spirit is so much more powerful, and I notice the lyrics more. The choir director is so funny and tells the most awesome and powerful stories. This Tuesday, we sang "Where Can I Turn for Peace". I never realized until now that this song IS a missionary discussion. As we all search to find peace, comfort, safety, and happiness, we have the answer--through Christ and His atonement. By His suffering for our sins and trials, His death, and His resurrection, we can have assurance that there is hope and peace in this life and in the life to come. There is a line that says "reaches my reaching". This line comes from the story of Peter walking on water as Christ did himself. During a storm, Christ walked on water. Peter, a disciple of Christ cried out to walk as Christ did. Christ beckoned Peter to come. Peter, a humble servant, started, but began to sink from doubt. As Peter sank, he cried out, "Lord save me" and reached out his hand. Christ reached down and pulled him out of the water. Just as Peter, Christ can reach down and pull you out of the water, no matter how far down you may be. You may even feel as if you are on the bottom of the deepest sea, but Christ will reach down for you. All YOU need to do is reach for Him.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Week #1: MTC July 13, 2016 - July 20, 2016


Sister Vranes and her companion Sister Nelson
Well this is my first p-day and the past week has been absolutely fantastic! I met my companion for the next 9 weeks, Sister Nelson. She is from California, studies Biology at UVU, and is serving in the New York South Mission, Mandarin speaking. In my district, there were originally 6 elders, but two of them, Elder Tennant and Elder Chino, left to go on the fast track, and leave in 3 weeks instead of 9. We've already bonded though, because the two elders who left are still always eating lunch and visiting our classroom. The fast track district now has 5 elders, three switched over. Elder Barlow, Elder Tennant, Elder Gould, and I are all serving in Singapore; Elder Chino and Elder Loux are serving in Taichung; Elder Johnson and Sister Nelson are serving in the New York South mission. Sister Nelson and I are the left over sisters. When I arrived, Sister Richman (one of my best friends) surprised me on my way to class, and now we are room mates, along with five other sisters. Apparently, my companion and I were going to room on a floor away from our zone. The sisters protested and the mission president got us moved into Sister Richman's room. President Deng (pronounced Dung) gets it done. My Chinese has been coming back to me. It's amazing how much I remember and how fast I am learning. The Gift of Tongues is real in the MTC. By the end of my first day, I was able to say my night prayer in Mandarin.

Sister Vranes and Sister Richman
By Friday, we had to give a lesson to an investigator in Mandarin. By the end of today, we will have given four lessons to our investigator. It is amazing! Even those who didn't even know how to speak Mandarin beforehand. Elder Barlow in my district actually is a certified fluent Spanish speaker, yet he was called to Singapore, Mandarin speaking. We've been able to say a list of 360 words and phrases, recite the missionary purpose and baptismal invite, and memorize Moroni 10:5 by now. I am amazed by how far we've come in such little time. 

Thursday, I met my branch presidency. I could tell how spiritual they all are and I know they are definitely called of God. President Deng is from Taiwan and shared his some of his conversion story, which eventually led to him marrying his wife, who served a mission in Taiwan. We introduced ourselves, and it was a blessing to take time out and remember the reason we came on our missions in the first place. Half of the branch is serving in Taiwan, but the other half is serving in Singapore, New York, Canada, and England. At the end of the meeting, President Deng said something very special and interesting that President Bertasso said in a meeting to him. "The elders and sisters who are serving in the missions outside of Taiwan, Mandarin speaking, are actually seeking and converting the future church leaders of China." That was very special to me, and a great promise of what is to come. The Lord is getting ready to reap the field. 
Sister Vranes and her District

When they say make it to the first Sunday, they are so right. On Sunday and Tuesday we have devotional every night. Sunday, we watched a devotional called "The Character of Christ" by Elder Bednar. Obviously it expanded on how you can have Christ's image in your countenance--by turning out what you would normally turn in such as self-centeredness, selfishness, and being self-absorbed. It was a surprise when Elder Bednar and his wife came in person to answer questions about the devotional. They come once every year to do this, and Sunday was the day. He was funny and very sincere about the answer he gave. Someone asked where to start, and he said, "Acknowledge your complete dependence on Christ to become different that what we are. Repent now. You don't have to be perfect, just striving to be good". So let me ask, are you striving to have His image in your countenance?
Sister Vranes and her Zone