Friday, August 26, 2016

Week #6: MTC August 18, 2016 - August 24, 2016

Sister Vranes and the sisters in her zone
This week for member TRC, we were able to teach a couple from Malaysia. It was very exciting and cool to learn more about that culture. Speaking to them was a bit more difficult, since they transitioned from English to Mandarin to Malaysian all in one sentence. It was a bit intimidating to know that this is what it will most likely be like in Malaysia and Singapore. I'm beyond excited to meet the people and serve in such a diverse culture. Later that night, we had a missionaries come up to us and bear their testimony in Korean and another missionary bear theirs in ASL. Those simple testimonies were just so powerful and the Gift of Tongues is real here.

This past Tuesday, 800 missionaries left the MTC. A group of missionaries going to Taipei Taiwan, Scotland and Ireland, Hong Kong, and California left our zone. Satan is attacking our zone. Before they left, many of the missionaries leaving, and that have been here for 6 weeks, have come down with terrible colds and other physical challenges. It took many prayers, but thankfully we got them all on the plane to leave. One of the missionaries always 
Gold Stars
gave out Gold Stars, especially in volleyball if you got hit in the face or did something cool. I got 2, but I forgot the reasons (all I know was I did NOT get hit in the face). He would also stick them around random places on campus. Our classroom was bestowed with a gold star. Therefore, I've included a few pics of them. Near the end, he ran out of gold ones and would give out white and silver. I personally think the store his parents bought them at ran out because of how many he would give away per week.

For Sunday devotional, Nashville Tribute Band visited again. As a choir, we sang the same songs: "I Was Born", "John's Song", "When the Son of Man (Comes Again)", and "The Hardest Thing I Ever Loved To Do". It's amazing how much more meaning each song had this time around. I love music and there is always so much power when you are singing praises to God at the top of your lungs. It was joyous; it was happy. I wished the chorus would just go on and on.  
Sister Vranes, Sister Nelson,
President Deng, and Sister Deng
For Tuesday Devotional, Juan A. Uceda of the Seventy spoke to us. His talk was so powerful, and he is such a humble man. He is a convert to the church himself, and spoke to
 us from an investigator's viewpoint (an investigator is someone who is being taught by missionaries about the gospel, but is not a member of the church). Then he taught us as if we were an investigator, and taught us the way that we as members should do. It was inspiring and very powerful. He shared the scripture Doctrine and Covenants 4:2, which reads, "Therefore, O ye that embark in the service of God, see that ye serve him with all your heart, might, mind and strength, that ye
The 4 sassiest people in Sister Vranes'
zone (including Sister Vranes)
 may stand blameless before God at the last day." Focus on that word "see". It could just say "serve him with all..." but it doesn't. We need to see ourselves for what we are truly doing if we are going to ever progress. Are we really seeing the desires of our heart? Do you know what you are feeling? The pain, the fears, the worries? What about the love, the hope, and the faith? Are we identifying our talents and blessings, the might of God? Our might refers to the gifts and blessings we have in our lives from God. God doesn't bless us for ourselves, He blesses us to bless others. Do we understand what's in our mind? What thoughts are in your mind today? God speaks in silence, through your mind, your thoughts, your ideas, and your heart. I invite you today to go to a place of comfort and silence. Ask yourself what you are currently feeling 
Map of the Provo, Utah MTC
and thinking. What are you worried about? What are your fears and challenges? What do you have hope in? Take all of those negative thoughts and put them away, for they are not of God. Pray for the things you need, and you will find the answers you seek.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Week #5: MTC August 11, 2016 - August 17, 2016

This week, we taught our first nonmembers from China. Every Saturday, we usually have a TRC meeting, where we teach two 20 minute lessons to members who have volunteered to be taught a lesson. Since they are educated about the gospel, it's been pretty easy to share a nice scripture and thought. This week, however, there was a dad and daughter who volunteered, are nonmembers, and don't speak very good English. They had arrived last Tuesday, and the daughter is studying as an exchange student for the next two years. We figure she is staying with a host family here in Provo, and they must be members to have told them about volunteering with TRC. When we got in there, they thought they were teaching us Chinese, rather than us teaching them about the Gospel. The father spoke less English than the daughter, and would talk to us through her, rather than at us. After every sentence, they would stop us to teach us the correct way to say it and pronunciation. It was very difficult and we ended up taking the full 40 minutes with them. To say the least, it did not instill confidence in going out into the field. At least it's a good story to tell now, and a good lesson to learn.

At devotional, it was so very exciting to meet a tripanionship of sister missionaries learning English. One is from Brazil, and two of them are directly from China (Shanghai and Guangzhou). They're all serving in the Provo, Utah mission, and their English was very good. Then again, it must be if that is the only way you can speak to your companion...Anyway, this week for devotional, Sister Oscarson (The Young Woman General President) came to speak. Her talk was very inspirational. She talked about Sarah, the wife of Abraham, having Ishmael at an age past her prime of motherhood. Having Ishmael would be difficult, but not impossible. She shared Genesis 18:14 which reads, "Is anything too hard for the Lord?" The rest of the talk was about humbling ourselves before the Lord "for in his strength, I can do all things" (Alma 26: 12). Sometimes, life seems to be very challenging, and almost unbearable. However, we all still find hope to continue. Sometimes, it's easy to be caught up in what we are doing, and how we will overcome our struggle. Use that root of hope, of faith, to rely on the Lord, that He WILL help you. I invite you to pray and ask for His strength to help you through whatever you are struggling with right now. Remember, is anything to hard for the Lord?

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Week #4: MTC August 4, 2016 - August 10, 2016

This past week has been awesome! My companion and I have been having much more success in our lessons to our investigators (teachers). We find that even though it may seem that our Mandarin isn't enough, with trust and faith in the Lord's help, He helps us remember the words to express; the words and love of the gospel that is in our hearts. 

Sister Vranes, Sister Nelson, and their roommates
Apparently, on a mission, math doesn't exist (or I can't count). I was wrong, there are officially 11 sisters in our zone right now. Anyway, Wednesday, we had new sisters come into our zone. Their first Friday, we played Zone Volleyball. This one is the best, because everyone has their little sayings (sorry Chinese isn't working on this computer): "Xisheng ni de shengti" (sacrifice your body), "Meiyou cibei" (no mercy), "The net, our common enemy", "Give that sister another serve", "Serrrr-vice", "You deserve a gold star" (if you get hit in the face), and "Sister Tiffany, Sister Vranes can't carry the whole team". We enjoy it very much and play it almost every day. On Monday, we hosted senior couples again. If we do service, you do not need to be with your companion, so we ended up getting split up. She was out in the parking lot while I was the single sister to be helping the couples take their bags to their rooms. As you can tell, I was all the muscle in the group :P, It's been such fun to get to know the couples and host, which we don't usually get to do because our p-day is Wednesday, when all of the new missionaries arrive. 

I've been told to send some information about the MTC so here is a bit of the weekly schedule:
Wake up at 6:30 and have breakfast (7:10-7:40)
Exercise (7:45-8:45)
Prepare and PCL--Personal, companion, and language study (9:15-11:55)
Lunch (11:55-12:35)
PCL (12:35-1:30)
Class (1:30-4:30)--Each hour, we teach the investigator, learn grammar, study doctorine
Dinner (4:30-5:15)
PCL (5:15-6:00)
Class (6:00-9:00)
Planning (9:00-9:30)
Quiet time--a time to reflect and journal (10:15), and lights out (10:30)
As you can see, we have a lot of time to study. On Tuesday nights we have choir and devotional. On Wednesdays, we have our p-days and visit the temple. On p-days, after 6 pm, everyone is back in class and at it again.

Her is a typical Sunday schedule:
Wake up at 6:30 and have breakfast (7:40-8:10)
Relief Society/ Preisthood (11:00-12:00)
Lunch (12:00-12:40)
Sacrament Meeting (1:00-2:00)
District Meeting--usually someone teaches a lesson like Sunday School (2:10-3:00)
Temple Walk--we sing at the Temple and take pictures (3:00-3:35)
Dinner (3:40-4:20)
Choir (5:15-6:30)
Devotional (7:00-9:20)
Quiet time (10:15) and lights out (10:30)

On Sunday, we had Mission Conference, where the MTC presidency gave their testimonies. I can really tell that these people are called of God. Their testimonies were very strong. It always gives me chills when I think of the work of the Lord that is strong and going forth. In the MTC, there are over 3,000 missionaries. Currently, there are over 100 million copies of the Book of Mormon in 110 languages, and 70,000 missionaries in the field. Expanding on the quote I noted a while back, President Bertasso said, "The missionaries going to Taiwan, are baptizing the missionaries of the Church. The missionaries going to places other than Taiwan, are baptizing the leaders of the Church for China. China will be the only place where the infrastructure of the Church will be already built." The Lord is truly preparing His work and I am so grateful and glad to be a part of it.

Provo, Utah Temple
Since it was fast Sunday, we had testimony meeting. Every Sunday, we usually have two talks by two missionaries in our zone (one sister and one elder chosen randomly in Sacrament Meeting), and one of the presidency and their wife speak. The talks by the missionaries are spoken in Chinese, so we all have to prepare one in case we are called, and the talks by the presidency are in English. On fast Sunday, four people are chosen at random to share their testimony in English, and anyone else who would like to share has the opportunity. This Sunday, 4 sisters were chosen, including my companion. That means President Deng is saving the other sisters for Mandarin talks, which includes me. We also had devotional with Matthew Holland, President of UVU and Elder Jeffrey R. Holland's son. He spoke of the life of Joseph Smith and that our testimony of him must be shared. This whole week, Joseph Smith has weighed on my mind. The more I think of him, the more I see similarities between him and the Savior. They both came from very humble backgrounds. They both had such amazing faith to trust the Lord enough to bend to His will. They both give up their lives early on to fulfill the Lord's work. I ponder the hymns about Joseph Smith, and I realize that each of them are also about Jesus Christ. I love the quote in the hymn "Praise to the Man", where it says, "Death cannot conquer the hero again". If that doesn't scream Jesus Christ, then I don't know what does. I invite you to pay more attention to the life of Joseph Smith and look for similarities between his and Jesus Christ's life. I promise that you will have a stronger testimony of Joseph Smith and that he was a prophet of God, called to restore His true gospel.

 On Tuesday, we had devotional with Elder Neil L. Andersen and his wife, Sister Kathy Andersen (plus it was his birthday). His message was, "learning to be a missionary is not complex, but it is not easy". This past week I've been learning more and more about my calling and about each of our callings on this earth, to become Disciples of Christ. Let me put it this way: Learning to be a Disciple of Christ is not complex, but it is not easy. If we're continually trying to be better, to become more Christ-like, and to follow God's commandments, then it shouldn't be too hard to figure out. It is, however, harder to remember to do these things continually. Life is challenging, but through God's grace and atonement, we can be made whole for what we lack. All that He asks for us is to have faith and trust in Him to accomplish our part. I invite you to look at the lyrics of "More Holiness Give Me", then pray to God for help in overcoming the things you need and lack, and have faith that He WILL bless you with more. 

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Sister Vranes and sisters at the MTC
Week #3: MTC July 28, 2016 - August 3, 2016

This past week, my district has been looking up more information on each mission. It's been so exciting to learn more about Singapore/Malaysia and New York. I'm so excited for each one of us to go where we are going!

We officially had our first TRC on Saturday, where we teach members of the church from Taiwan. It was a success! We have two teachers and they pretend to be an investigator that was very memorable from their missions. Everyday for the past two weeks, we've been teaching an investigator (our teacher) a lesson, most of the time we teach twice for each teacher. It's difficult, but it really helps our Mandarin and improves our teaching skills. I'm really starting to understand the missionary purpose so much more.

Sister Vranes and the sisters in her zone
On Monday we hosted senior couples. There were 114 of them that came in. I was helping out in the parking lot and directed them to their bags and wives that they dropped off. I met an Elder Buckley who was the previous bishop of the 22nd ward. He lived right down the street and I didn't even know it! He's going to SVU to teach institute, along with his wife who will be a choir coordinator there. These senior couples only stay for a week, and there are a lot of them each week. I am amazed by their dedication to the Lord, and one day I hope to also serve as a senior couple. Well I guess that's just another thing to add to my list of what I would like my future husband to be like--have a passion for missionary work and would like to serve in our senior years :)

The roommates of Sister Vranes leaving the MTC
On Tuesday, we said goodbye to 8 sisters, 4 of them were in our room. It was very sad, but I'm excited for them to serve out in the field. I realized I had miscounted, there were 13 sisters total. After today, we are gaining 4 more sisters, so it will officially only be 9 sisters in our zone. It will be nice to no longer be a newbie and fun to peak in their classrooms and see their scared faces the first week :)

Before the sisters left, Sister Schwarze gave a great lesson about repentance. She started with two questions that struck me. What is the price of sin? Are you willing to pay it? Even as missionaries, no one is perfect. We all struggle with aspects of our lives that we wish to change, in order to become better and more Christ-like. We all have our favorite sins that seem the hardest to change. Repentance means having a fresh view of God. When we feel that godly sorrow, we have a change of heart and yearn to feel the comfort of mercy's arms. In 3 Nephi 9:14 it says: "mine arm of mercy is extended towards you, and whosoever will come him will I receive". I think that paints a beautiful picture of the character of Christ. In every picture of Him, He is extending His arm out towards us for us to follow Him. So let me ask you this, are you willing to give up all that you are, your pride, and your favorite sin? Are you willing to pay the price? Are you willing to love God more than you love the sin?

Sister Vranes and her zone