Thursday, November 26, 2009

Friends, Family, and Farewell.

This past weekend I visited Utah! I have missed Provo so very much. The streets, 7 eleven slurpees, my friends, BYU campus, grandparents, cousins, dancing, and the good old college life. Despite these feelings, I know where I am in my life right now is exactly where I need to be. Time is getting shorter and every day I feel more uplifted and excited to be a missionary! For everything there is a time and season. I will be back into my college lifestyle in about 22 months, and in the meantime I will be doing a more important thing. In two and a half weeks I enter the MTC! YAHOOOO!

Last Summer, I ran into my old ward's bishop, Bishop Swenson at a friend's wedding reception. We talked and I told him I was working on my mission papers. He said, "You should speak in our ward!" I was delighted when he said this. We kept in touch and he gave me the privilege to speak in the ward I grew up in.

Sunday November 22nd was a beautiful Sunday in Alpine. It was a cool, crisp morning with blue skies and sunshine. That night it snowed, my favorite thing on a cozy Sunday night. I spoke that morning at 11 a.m. When I walked into the chapel I heard the choir practicing. I had a prayer in my heart that they were practicing for sacrament meeting. I looked at the program and believe it or not, they were! For those of you who were there, you heard the Alpine 6th ward choir, or mini Motab :). They blend so well and have such a great turn out. The sacrament meeting was on Gratitude. My Uncle Craig presided the meeting and he and my cousin (one of the youth speakers) were on the stand with me, which helped me feel at ease. I love my family. I am grateful for their testimonies and faith in this true church. Seeing so many friends and family made me really appreciate the righteous influences I have been blessed to associate with. My dad got to add his testimony after mine. He is an incredible missionary himself and I hope I can be more like him every day. Thanks to everyone who came to show your love and support towards me. I truly feel it and it's needed greatly as I take this step into serving a full time mission.

Extended family, mission prep teachers, high school friends, family friends, friends from the past couple years at college, and even my best friend from my childhood in California was there! I am so grateful for all of my friends and family. It sure makes adventures easier when there is an incredible amount of support behind me. I love you guys!

Mission Shower!

I am very behind on blogging! I've had a busy couple of weekends traveling, mission shopping, and enjoying great parties like this one I'm about to tell you about! The Legacy Ward Relief Society throws mission showers for any Sisters in the ward prior to leaving on their missions! Isn't that a great tradition? I think it is, probably because I was the one getting showered! :) The food was delectable... garlic bread, lasagna, salad, homemade cheesecake and desserts. And they were so generous to me. The Relief Society in this ward is so talented. There are events almost weekly with delicious treats, decorations, and themes. I have felt so blessed to meet so many of these incredibly talented women. On Saturday November 14th they threw Sister Walton (a Sister in the ward who I know from BYU, who is going to Uraguay) and I a "mission shower". People brought gifts and it was the first time it hit me, what I was doing, going to serve a mission. It was a wonderful Saturday afternoon! My mom shared some stories about me and it was great to have some of my sisters there. Thank you Legacy ward Relief Society!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Feeling God's love through missionary work

Jenny is what missionaries call a "golden investigator". I didn't think I'd use that term until I was a missionary, but I have been! For the past few weeks I've been teaching with Elder Cruzate and Elder Jensen, the two missionaries here in my home ward. This opportunity arose when the ward mission leader approached me at church and said, "Tia, we have an investigator who really wants to be taught by sister missionaries, but we don't have sisters in this area, and so the elders have to teach her. I think she'll be more receptive if you are there as a pre-sister missionary helping the elders." I couldn't turn this down. Every day at work I see people and wonder how I could bring up the gospel to them. I finally had a missionary opportunity laid at my feet. A couple of times a week for the past 3 weeks I have been accompanying the Elders to teach Jenny, a 25 year old single mom. She is loving the simplicity of this church. She says something every lesson that shows she is already gaining her own testimony of the restored church. She used to be catholic and said that she would just go through the motions of the things they practice, but she can feel a difference in her heart as she attends our church, and partakes of the sacrament. Her baptism is scheduled for November 21st, because of family and friends who will be able to come. I will be in Utah that weekend and I can't believe I will have to miss it!!! :( We are trying to reschedule it, and I'm praying we can. Jenny will be the first member of her family and I know people are cheering this on on the other side of the veil. Last night after the lesson she and I walked to our cars and she hugged me and thanked me for teaching her. It is not me though, I know it's been the spirit that has taught her, through the missionaries and I. I love Jenny. I feel like God blesses us with this unconditional love for others when we are teaching of him and Jesus Christ. I also feel so incredibly lucky to have this teaching experience. God knew I needed it to help me feel confident in my decision to serve a mission. He really does know us and our needs. Jenny has been so thankful to me and the missionaries but she doesn't know how much she in turn is helping me prepare. I am beginning to realize the love I will have for my investigators and missionary work. I've wondered if it is the same love God has for us. Or maybe just a fragment of it. Real, pure, and plentiful.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The temple: a place of refuge

On Saturday I received my endowment in the Las Vegas Nevada temple. I loved every minute of being in the temple that day. My mom and I got there an hour and a half before the rest of my family because I got washed and annointed. The washing and annointing was so beautiful. I can't wait to go back as a proxy and hear the words of that blessing again. Afterwards, we met with the temple matron, Sister Stucki. She told us that it was her last day serving in the temple. Her husband just got released from the temple presidency. I was the last Sister she got to teach about the temple. I could feel the love she has for the temple penetrate through her voice as she taught me of it. She spent an hour with us which felt like only a few minutes. She has a special place in her heart for Sister missionaries and was pleased to hear I am serving a mission. She and her husband were mission President (and wife) over the Manchester England mission several years ago. Sister Stucki taught me the importance of the priesthood keys restored from Elijah to Joseph Smith which allows us to make the temple covenants we do. She explained each of the covenants and helped me understand them before I went into the endowment room of the temple and covenanted. If it wasn't for my Bishop suggesting that I go to the temple early, I wouldn't have had Sister Stucki's insights which helped me feel at peace and comfort throughout the endowment session. I just loved her and my mom did too.

I attended the temple again yesterday and love the safeness of it. It really is a place of refuge. A place where the spirit of the Lord will always reside. I felt it yesterday as I felt it Saturday. It's quiet, and my mind is clear. I noticed that the thoughts and impressions I had yesterday were very different than those I had Saturday because I wasn't thinking so much of myself, but of someone else, making the same covenants I did and qualifying themselves worthy to enter God's presence. I also recognized the highlights of Saturday when comparing them to the session I attended yesterday.

Some of the highlights were:
-My siblings and parents were in the temple with me
-My mom was sitting by my side
-Steph and Mike were chosen to be the witness couple
-The celestial room was filled with my family and reminded me that families are forever
-I had help from sisters and temple workers throughout each step of the endowment session.
-I got to receive the blessing of my own endowment
-I gained a stronger testimony that the Temple is the Lord's House and he is at the head of this work

I loved seeing my family members all in the temple with me. Their smiles and actions added to the greatness of this day and helped me know that this work is true. I really appreciate Steph and Mike and Em and Chad for driving out here, paying babysitters, and even spending Halloween here in Henderson. It was one of the best weekends I've ever had. We were all able to be together. Can't wait for the next holiday! :) I missed Jeff a lot. He couldn't get work off to come down, but he and I already scheduled out to go to the temple when I come up to Utah for my farewell! Well, this post is long but I just want my family and friends to know that I love the temple and the Spirit I can feel there. I can't get enough of it. It really is the Lord's House. He has walked the halls of the temple. I could feel that. The ordinances and covenants are sacred and eternal. I know temple work is true and vital for our exaltation. We are so lucky to have so many temples in the world. I heard a statistic. It's that 80% of the members of the church live within 200 miles of a temple. There is no reason not to attend. We are blessed as we attend and it is the only way to help those progress on the other side of the veil. I have the day off work today and I'm leaning towards going back to the temple again! Yesterday my mom said, "Aren't you nervous to go by yourself?" I said, "No." And she's like, "We can schedule a time to go together later this week." But I figure, if I have any free time, I should go as much as I can, even if I am alone. I actually really enjoyed being alone in the temple. It allowed me to be on my own timeline. I could sit in the celestial room and read and pray as long as I wanted. I didn't want to leave! But when I did, I felt uplifted and happy. The temple sits so close to the Las Vegas strip, surrounded by the flashing lights, it stands the brightest. As I exited the temple I looked out at the city all lit up and thought of the many people in this world who need the gospel. Pretty soon it will be my responsibility to teach some of them the importance of Christ in our lives and they will be able to enter the temple! It is crucial we get to the temple to make it back to our Father in Heaven. What a special blessing it is to have temples!

P.s. I forgot to mention that I love my temple dress :) It is so nice to be in all white in the temple, and to see others the same. Thanks to my grandma who found a smaller size in Utah in the style I couldn't live without. She overnighted it from Utah! I also am already used to the "Gs". I feel so guilty taking them off for even an hour to go run! ha ha. They make me feel so safe and clean! Whoever said they're hard to get used to is lying. The silk ones are so light, I feel like I'm not even wearing an extra layer. I absolutely love them.

Enjoy the pictures!

Celebrating at Olive Garden
I love my family!