Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Oh my goodness, I feel like I couldn't POSSIBLY tell you everything that's happened in the last week. It's really been an amazing experience being here at the MTC. 

I LOVE Hermana Casos! I learn so much from her, and we really support each other. Our companionship inventory this week was really productive and good, but when we tried to talk about any challenges or conflicts in our companionship we really couldn't come up with anything. We're super honest with each other and it's easy to talk to her. The spirit has really blessed me with humility and patience in all things, and I'm just happy to be here.

Hermana Casos, me, Elder Toro, and Elder McDevitt! 

Our district is AMAZING. There are six girls and three elders. Most of us are going to different places - one of the elders and two of the sisters (including Hermana Casos) are going to Kansas Witchitaw. One elder and one sister are going to Colorado. One sister is going to Oklahoma, one is going to Idaho, and then there's me! The other elder is going to Virginia, so he's the only one going out East.
District selfie! (Elder Shober's face is cut off)

Spanish is definitely a challenge, but I've learned so much more than I thought I would in the first week! Our teacher, Hermano Clement, is so patient and helpful. Like SOOO patient. Our other teacher, Hermano Page, is like the most uplifting and supportive person ever. The first day I said "oui" like a million times and I keep saying "mais" for but instead of "pero," which is the Spanish word. It's funny that I didn't realize how well I knew French until I started trying to speak in Spanish, but also the other day I couldn't think of the French word for "Thank you," and all I could think was "Gracias," so that's progress! 
Playing hangman to practice our espanol!

The spirit is amazing here. We spend almost all day in our classroom studying either the scriptures or the language, and it's really been a growing experience. I've changed so much in the last few days. El don de lenguas (the gift of tongues) es real!! I am so grateful for the spirit and for the guidance I've received personally, for my companionship, and for our "investigator" Ricardo.

Sheri Dew gave the devotional on Sunday, and it was so inspiring! I'd encourage you to read the third verse of "Hark All Ye Nations," because it's so inspiring and really gives some context to what my purpose as a missionary is and what the whole purpose of the church is, to bring people unto Christ. One thing that she said that I wrote down was "Everything that is good in my life has come to me because of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints." She also encouraged us to be diligent in our studies because "We can only testify of what we know." It's so true. I want to know the scriptures better, and I've made a goal to memorize five scripture references a week while I'm here. She also said that "None of us are entitled to revelation without effort on our part," and I know that's true.

Hark All Ye Nations (3rd verse)

Chosen by God to serve him below,
To ev'ry land and people we'll go,
Standing for truth with fervent accord,

Oh, how glorious from the throne above

Shines the gospel light of truth and love!
Bright as the sun, this heavenly ray
Lights ev'ry land today.
                                                                         Teaching his holy word.

I've also gotten a lot of witness from the Lord about this particular time in my life being the right time for me to be here. Sheri Dew said, "The Lord has chosen you to be here now." Elder Bednar said it in a WONDERFUL video we watched called "The Character of Christ," which was so inspiring (a quote I loved from that was "When you don't think you can do this, you're right. But in the strength of the Lord you can."). During mission conference on Sunday, the mission president said, "You were prepared and preserved for this special call in the premortal existence," and I received a witness that that's true for me.

During testimony meeting, I bore my testimony IN SPANISH!!!! WHAT????? I felt inspired to get up there. I'd prepared some of it beforehand, but a lot of it was in the moment. For a small part of it I switched into English, but I can't believe that four days in I was able to communicate in another language! The language of the Spirit really is the language of simplicity, and I can testify of Christ without having an extensive vocabulary. As I was bearing my testimony, the spirit also bore witness to me that I am able to learn this language because of Him and not because of myself, and I know that's true. I'm rolling my "r"s all over the place!!! What I'm struggling with the most is the verbs, but it's coming.

My whole zone thinks it's amazing that I have a masters degree haha. They're always talking about it. And the zone leaders say I'm the "Mom" of my district. It's funny because I don't really feel that much older than anyone here (other than the elders at times ...) and I really feel comfortable and like I fit in.

There are SO many scriptures I want to share with you, but I had one especially cool experience! We were all talking about our favorite scriptures, and I told them mine, which is D&C 25:12. But when I told them it, I accidentally said it was D&C 24:12 (I've never been especially good at references). So when I realized my mistake, I looked up that scripture, and it was exactly what I needed to read! It says: "And at all times, and in all places, he shall open his mouth and declare my gospel as with the voice of a trump, both day and night. And I will give unto him strength such as is not known among men." What a POWERFUL scripture for a missionary learning a language to read! It's so amazing that the only reason I was led to it was because of my weakness in remembering references, and I'm grateful that the spirit works in mysterious ways sometimes!

Another scripture I wanted to share with you all was Mosiah 2:41. I've been reading so much about the mercy of God in my personal study, and I feel so close to Him and so grateful for all He's done for us! In this verse, it talks about how happy they are that keep the commandments of God, and I know that's true. It's a beautiful verse! Another that stood out to me was 2 Corinthians 12:10: "Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distressed for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong." It seems so counter-intuitive to be grateful for these things, but we really should be! It means that the Lord trusts us and is pushing us to be better!
Uno mas: D&C 31:3 - "Life up your heart and rejoice, for the hour of your mission is come; and your tongue shall be loosed and you shall declare glad tidings of great joy unto this generation." I'm definitely rejoicing, and my tongue has already been loosed in Spanish! Though at times the communication is difficult in lessons with Ricardo, he's been able to understand us and we've been able to understand him and address his questions while testifying of truth. It's such a blessing! One of the lessons, Hermano Page saw that Hermana Casos and I had a lot of notes about phrases to say, and he encouraged us to go in without any notes. I'm SO glad I did that, because I was able to really focus on the spirit and I realized I knew more Spanish than I thought!

There's SO much more I can tell you, but I've already been writing for 35 minutes!!! I'm so grateful for this opportunity!! I know that the church is true, and I know that I'm here for a specific purpose.
Les amo! (I love you!)
Hermana Garner

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