Monday, November 28, 2011

MTC - Week Five!

I got t-minus 27 minutes to write here. But know that I’m VERY grateful you wrote to me!!! My German is coming along. I'm feeling really good about speaking it. My grammar is in no sense accurate all the time but you can understand what I’m trying to say. Our instructors called us to repentance Saturday night because they said we haven't been speaking a lot or enough of German throughout our day and we should be speaking it all the time so that is something Sister Noyes and I are going to work on this week and till forever.

Tuesday night Elder D. Todd Christofferson came and spoke to us at our devotional. I really enjoyed hearing him. He explained to us that we are companions with the apostles and that being missionaries has an apostolic duty that we are fulfilling. I had never thought of how serious or how high our callings are until then. He also told us when we come home from our missions to not say to the Lord that he owes us since we served him. We need to come home and say, I owe HIM even more; I will serve him all my life. The last point he made is something I really have a testimony of. He said, “Any trial we have on our mission will be swallowed up in the joy of Christ. It will be as nothing because we have learned of the Joy of Jesus Christ. Give your heart to God." Being here at the MTC has definitely made me recognize places in my life that I needed to change, repent of, or fix. As I have studied the Atonement I have come to know the immense love that our Father in Heaven really has for us and the sacrifice he offered, his Son, can enable us to accomplish anything in this life. Preach my gospel talks about us coming or being sent to this earth to find joy. I know that Joy in this life is recognizing the Joy in the Atonement of Jesus Christ. If you haven’t ever studied it or come to know it I really encourage everyone to answer those four questions that Brother Heaton said about tithing and do it for the Atonement, or any principle for that matter that you don't quite understand. It’s really cool :)

So for our Thanksgiving we got to have a morning devotional from Elder Russell M. Nelson. Pretty cool huh?? Two apostles in ONE week! His wife spoke to us first and it was amazing! She told us to serve our missions after the manner of how the Lord will show us and not after the manner of men. In 1 Nephi is the story of the Lord instructing him to build a boat. Nephi explains that he didn't build it after the manner of men. When I read that it just made me want to see what kind of boat he actually did build. And then Sister Nelson talked about that very phrase. Kinda cool :) Elder Nelson first and foremost told us to tell our parents that he is very thankful for our families and to not forget to tell them! He taught us about the word Hallelujah which really means praise to the Lord God, Jehovah. It was fun to get a nice history lesson. He then played the Men of MOTAB (Mormon Tabernacle Choir) singing this song titled "Alleluia". I recommend you all listening to it. The accompaniment is really boring but the singing is wonderful! After our devotional we had thanksgiving lunch. And it was really good. I was really grateful for all the MTC did to give us a taste of home that day. My tray was full of good food. The pumpkin pie wasn't anything like Mum's but I ate it anyways and pretended that it was :) After lunch we had a humanitarian program where a man spoke to us about the humanitarian project we were going to do that afternoon. We put together 8,000 injury kits for the people in Sudan. It was fun being little assembly lines. So what do you get with extra supplies for these kits and a bunch of Elders?? Airplanes and bombs made of splints and wood and wraps for your arms. They were quite entertained! In the evening we got to watch the movie 17 miracles. They even gave us kettle corn!!

My district has begun to call me Sister Hollywood because I get at least one dear elder or letter from someone every day. I have to tell you all thank you so much for those letters. You have no idea how helpful they are to all of us. Even if it isn't from our own family. We all love sharing our letters and packages and such. So thank you family and friends!! I'm grateful for you all! So last Sunday we had 480 sister missionaries in the Provo MTC, an all-time record. Cool huh?

For our service assignment on Saturday, Sister Noyes and I cleaned bathrooms again like all the other times. Sister Noyes and I always set up our mop bucket, cleaning supplies, and broom outside the bathrooms and prop the men’s and women’s doors open so that people know they're being clean and are inhabited. Well....I was going from the women’s bathroom into the men’s to clean the urinals and toilet when I walked in on an Elder standing at the urinal peeing. I've quickly said sorry, ran out of there into the girl’s bathroom with Sister Noyes and proceeded to go red in the face while wetting my pants in laughter. Of all the places that would happen I would have never guessed it'd happen in the MTC.  I have learned here that elders don't always think through their actions like one elder giving his testimony saying he was grateful for all the missionaries there in the room except the sisters and proceeded to OOOO like he dissed us. Yes, Elders don't think through their actions but I'm learning to love and appreciate the work they do and look beyond their weaknesses. That has been a hard thing to learn but a good thing! :)

One of the Elders in my district received a Christmas tree with lights and ornaments to decorate it. We spent Saturday morning setting it up and put it in our classroom :) In our room I’ve set up the Christmas tree Brenda sent. It’s our little night light when we go to bed. I really like it. Oh Brenda! Thanks for the ear plugs! I've been sleeping like a dead man ever since!  The weather is getting worse with how dry it is and i believe my body is in retaliation to being here. It is constantly itchy with lovely rashes on my sides. I got Sister Stowell to scratch my back for me last night because it’s moved to my back now. Sister Noyes and I are going to go to the store and get lotion today so I can stop being so ashy!

Real quick! Sister Noyes and I committed our first investigator to baptism this past week. His name is Ming! It was such a thrill and it’s been a really fun experience to teach him. He's getting baptized December 17th, happy birthday Camilia :)

WELL..... I love you all! I'm sorry this email isn't full of even more funny stories but it’s been a great week full of devotionals and firesides and lots of learning.
 Love you Bunches and Bunches!
-Ariel Nell

Monday, November 21, 2011

MTC - Week Four

  Guten Tag!! Wie gehts Ihnen heute??  I love being able to hear from everyone!!! And I’m so jealous you all get a whole week off of school!!!! Dad thanks for your thoughts on Tithing. I'm sorry I didn't tell you last week but we had a member of the MTC Administrative Directors give a fireside all about tithing and what he had to say I thought you'd really enjoy. Brother Heaton said that as missionaries we have to teach the principle of tithing, not money. We have to help our investigators understand the purpose of paying tithing because if they don't have a testimony or understanding of just that principle they will not stay active. Tithing is something that is often taught from parent to child and so as missionaries we have to create a tradition with our investigators that is moveable from generation to generation. Last he taught us how to study principles of the gospel with four questions: What has the Lord said about Tithing?, How does the Lord feel about His children living the Law of the Tithe?, Why should an investigator want to commit to pay the Law of Tithing?, and How do I feel about it? I've been answering these four questions in my personal studies and my testimony of various principles has grown immensely. I'd suggest to anyone who’s not sure how to start studying to begin with this. It’s wonderful!!! 

       Last email I said we aren't allowed to listen to music and some people were confused so I shall explain. In the MTC, specifically this week, there are 2080 missionaries. They don't want us all to be able to play music at the same time because then it would be a chaotic mess and noisy. So no music in the MTC. Also depending on your missions, they have different rules to what you can listen to. 

      Now time for odd stories throughout the week :) On Tuesday night we have devotionals and the man conducting the meeting got up after the opening hymn and said, “Thank you Elders for that wonderful singing." Yes, I am a man now because I wear a tag and don't have two X chromosomes. And another Elder told me that you have to take your fiancĂ© hiking through the Appalachian trail to make sure your marriage will work. So Mum and Dad, Lyndel and Mike, Andre and Ellen get hiking because you're a little late!! ;)  Sister Stowell, a Sister that I room with and whose is in my district, took a shower the other night. Many girls like to sing in the shower and so Sister Stowell thought she'd join in on Beauty and the Beast songs and this one Sister told her to stop singing. Sister Stowell explained that she liked to sing and just didn't have a very good voice and the other Sister told her, "No, you're just trying to be obnoxious." Lesson learned: the showers for some people are sacred time and do NOT sing unless invited to. Sister Stowell ran out of the bathroom before the other sister could find her. She was afraid for her well-being. 

   So Sister Noyes and I had a fabulous lesson with Ming this past week, actually two fabulous lessons. We got him to pray for the first time which was adorable. Apparently we forgot to explain that you can pray out loud so when we got him to pray we all folded our arms, bowed our heads, and waited. But nothing was being said.....I looked up and saw Ming with his hands pressed together like the Japanese do when they bow to greet people and his lips moving because he was praying, we just couldn't HEAR him :) I laughed, which is definitely not the best idea to do but it was just too cute and too funny. Afterwards we told him he could pray out loud and he thought that was funny but did it in our next lesson, so we're doing pretty good. Anyways, Sister Noyes walks out of our lesson with Ming into our classroom and there was the biggest stench of fart you've ever experienced. I turned to the Elders in the room and they said it wasn't them, that Elder Hemsley or Hanson did it, so I went out to find them. When I found them Hemsley pointed to Hanson and I told him, “Seriously, take it to the bathroom next time." Yes, I am everyone’s mother here too. Here’s a way you can tell you're on a mission with boys:  Elders Hemsely and Hanson told us that they do their planning in the bathroom," assume the position", and then proceeded to tell us who was in the left stall and who had the right. Apparently Sister Noyes and I planning in the classroom isn't productive enough :) And last, the Elders told us about the "pine cone of fertility." When you hold it in your hands, ponder on it, you will receive letters from girls in the mail. Kinda sounds like Aladdin and his magic lamp. One of our Elders swears by it. He got three letters from girls after holding it and thinking about it. HA HA! :)

   It snowed this past week!!! Sister Noyes got some pictures so I’ll be sure to send it. It was neat to see all those missionaries who had never seen snow run around and play in it. So I'm a bad companion, Sister Noyes’ Mum sent her a Willow Tree statue of a mother, father, and baby as a gift. Sister Noyes put it next to her on the air conditioning unit in our room. I was reaching for the area book and knocked her statue off the vent and beheaded both the mother and the father. I felt really bad and told sister Noyes to expect a gift from me once she gets off her mission. She wasn't upset, more laughed than anything but that’s how you know you're a bad companion when you break their gifts, two minutes after opening it. 

    This Sunday for Relief Society Sister Cheryl A. Esplin, Second Counselor in the General Primary Presidency came and spoke to us. She said that if we take care of the Lords children he will take care of ours (or our families :). We get to watch Music and the Spoken Word before and it’s the most wonderful time of the year because we get to hear MUSIC!!! If you can, watch last week’s episode where they sang "Come Thou Fount",  AMAZING!!! Some of the singers were even emotional. 

   Last fun stories: Sister Stowell, when teaching a lesson told the investigator that the Indians from India gave us Turks from Turkey to eat for thanksgiving. And our speaker last night said he told an investigator that he knew Christ milked the apostles in his last days, instead of saying ordained, and bore testimony of it!! Too funny, hopefully nothing that bad happens when I teach!!! KNOCK ON WOOD!!!

     I love you all! Hope you're enjoying your wonderful week off and I'll talk to you all next Monday! Happy Thanksgiving family!! Love you
- Ariel Nell

Friday, November 18, 2011

Excerpts from snail mail to Lyndel - 11/18/11

So Sister Pingree hid in Sister Stowell's closet last night. When Sister Stowell opened her closet she screamed and Sister Pingree was so startled that she screamed and then Sister Stowell grabbed her towel and ran! It was quite funny :)
The winter itch has kicked in and it's no fun. Everything is ashy, dry and itchy. The native Utahans think that me and Sister Noyes are strange for our bodies cracking, bleeding, and itching all the time now. I miss humidity.
I also seem to be the only one who showers after I work out. I didn't think that was odd, but needless to say, I shower the most! Some other people commented that me putting ice in a glass of chocolate milk was weird. You never realize the things you do that are considered strange until some Elder (usually) or Sister points it out! Ha :)

Monday, November 14, 2011

MTC - Week Three

So I’m going to apologize in advance for the randomness of this email or at least the order everything will be said. Throughout the week I make a bulleted list of what I want to email about and then I come into the labs and type like a speed demon. Sorry everyone has ditched ya'll for other Thanksgiving plans! But it seems like you're doing okay anyways :)  Just bummed I can't be there for it and even more jealous that Bryan will be there and have Thanksgiving with you all instead of me AND that he gets to make my salad! Someone’s got to do it some I’m glad he's got that job :)  So far, all we know about our Thanksgiving plans is that we won't have to sit inside all day for classes but that we will be doing a large service project and have a "Thanksgiving lunch". Seeing as the food isn't treating us (the Sisters) very well, we're not too excited. Speaking of the food - All the Sisters in my district have been having unbelievable pains and gas problems. Yes, laugh all you want Andre, Michael, and Bryan but it’s not funny! It’s to the point that most of us can't eat cause our stomachs hurt, or someone is throwing up bunches in the night. Luckily, one of the sisters brought tums so we've been eating those most obligingly.

    Yesterday we got to hear from Linda Burton from the General Relief Society Board. She spoke to us about how to deal or manage with a day of occasional discouragement. The first point she made was to rely on the scriptures and hymns for strength. It made me think of all the times I have felt most home-sick at school I’d play songs or children’s hymns that made me think of good times with the family. I've also asked Bryan to sing to me in the past and that has helped. I know that hymns are a true strength to us when we remember them and I seemed to have forgotten that. Probably because they don't let us listen to music here... Anyways, after relief society we stayed to hear the "Dress and Grooming" lecture. OH MY GOODNESS!!! I couldn't believe some of the things they were saying, I just had to laugh and write them down. I like rules people, you all know that, but this was just to the point of ridiculousness so I had to laugh it off. The lady speaking to us said, "Some Sisters like to pull out the most flamboyant things and wear them. So don't do that, okay, check. Next, “Put blush on so we're not washed out. The Brethren have asked us to put some color or blush on our faces!" Excuse me, what?! God made me beautiful, I’m not going to paint my face, and maybe if we didn't sit in classrooms for 30 hours a day we wouldn't be so pasty!!! Dad, it just made me think of you, how you always say if God wanted us to have pierced ears he would have put holes in our ears, well by golly gosh he would have put blush on my face too if he wanted it! Okay, I’ll get off my soap-box now :) 

    Sister Noyes and I have been trying to get our hands on a piece of music so that she can sing and I’ll accompany her. Well on our way to the music library, this man stopped me and asked, " Do you know where you're going?" I told him that I was just headed into the Music library and pointed to where it was. He said, "Oh okay, you looked like you had no idea." I'm not sure what my faced looked like but i seem to be running around the MTC with utter confusion on my face :) Hopefully he wasn't talking as if I was spiritually lost. 

   Bruder Hill and Bruder Pederson are our teachers for the time we are here and for the first couple investigators they play them. Well sister Noyes and I are teaching Ming from Vietnam, played by Bruder Pederson, and Peter, played by Bruder Hill. Ming is funny because he talks with an oriental accent but in German so all his German is really choppy and short. Peter is frustrating at the moment. He is a philosopher and doesn't believe God answers prayers because as a child he was raised in the Orthodox Church and his parents made him pray and he didn't find it helpful. The last lesson we couldn't get past the first point, so hopefully we'll be able to teach him more effectively tonight.

   I told you that we've had a snoring problem. Well the other night I woke up to shooshing whoever was snoring in our room and rolling over. Then Dieter F. Uchtdorf told me that our plane dropped 50,000 feet on our way to Germany and that’s why our flight was so rough. I have the strangest things run through my head at night....

   So the Elders in our district told me that they are having a competition to see who can gain the most weight. I was trying to think like a boy and asked, "The most muscle weight?" and they said no, just whatever weight to see who can be the heaviest when they leave here. One Elder also told me that the Sisters needed to eat more fiber to get all that crap out of us, speaking of the food and gas problem. Yes, I am on missions with silly boys sometimes. Michael, all the sisters are trying to patient and understanding. In the fireside last night, Brother Heaton, Provo MTC director, asked the Elders who’s built a fort out of all the spare bunk bed parts. A bunch of Elders raised their hands! It was just too funny. Before the fireside started me, Sister Noyes, Sister Hatch, and Sister Smart were sitting waiting for it to begin. This older man came up to us and asked if we were with the elders next to us. We said, “No”.  And he said,” Good, follow me”. And moved us to the front row. Pretty nifty! Maybe that will happen when a general authority comes to speak.

   The district that was here before us just left this morning for Germany. The missionaries headed to Frankfurt were the only ones flying through Atlanta. The two going to Berlin were going to fly to Detroit, Amsterdam, and then Berlin. We'll see what plans we have when we get to go.
  HOLY MOLY!! I only got two minutes left!!! AHHHH!

   I love you all! Thanks for all your love and support, sorry the mail takes so long to get to you! Just know that I’m thinking of you and Love you :)
-Ariel Nell

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Excerpts from snail mail to Lyndel

Today (Nov 1st) is really cold and really wet. There's SNOW on the mountains and it was sleeting earlier. We got to go to Gym today, I ran a mile and then did some chair dips and an abs work out with all the Sisters in my district. I've never been more hungry than I have at the MTC. There are no snacks. So just 3 meals and I am hungry! The food is scary looking sometimes which makes us settle for salad. We probably burn more calories eating it than what it actually gives us.

My companion is taking a nap and she snores. I have yet to be able to sleep through the night so I'm getting used to not running on much sleep at all. It's stressful here. We don't have any down time and it's always go go go. One of the sisters that I share a room with is in my district and had to go to the hospital last night cause her body is freaking out under all the stress. She said it was weird to drive around in Provo, outside of the MTC. Another sister hasn't been sleeping well either and the second day here she woke up screaming. It's hilarious to reminisce about now, but it's still a serious issue. And then a Sister I don't know fainted outside our room the other day, but that's because of some medication she took. That's all the drama for now :)

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Excerpts from snail mail to mum 11/8/2011

So, we're sitting at a Fireside waiting for it start. With Craig Zwick of the Seventy. It was like waiting in a mosh pit outside before they opened the doors. Sister Curtis, another sister in my district, and I pushed through the crowd to get in first. Because we're girls all the Elders were yelling, 'hands up', and they were so afraid they would touch us we go right in! The joys of being a girl :).

Well our days are super busy and packed. Here's what our schedule was today. We woke up at 6:30, peed, brushed our teeth, and went to the gym from 7:00-7:50. I ran a mile, did chair dips, and an abs workout. Breakfast started at 8:20 so that thirty minutes in between we all took showers and got dressed. Aren't you proud of me?! I can get ready in 30 minutes tops! Personal study was from 8:50-9:50, 10-1pm is classroom instruction time, lunch at 1. 2-3 was language study, then 3-4:30 was personal study time. At 4:40 we had a workshop on recognizing the holy ghost as we study the scriptures and teach our investigators or untersuchers auf deutsche :)Dinner was at 6 and at 7 our fireside with Elder Zwick. Afterwards at 8pm is our District Devotional review. 9pm is daily planning and then we have personal time from 9:30-10:30. At 10:30 lights are out and we're 'supposed' to be asleep. Yesterday, on P-day , doing our laundry and sitting outside was more enjoyable than what a normal person would think.

MTC - Week Two

Hey family!!!
So I thought I’d share some odd or funny stories that have happened so far while I’ve been here. Let’s start with the first day. So as soon as you run around and get registered and meet your district they hold this huge welcome meeting for all the new missionaries. There were, I think, 450 missionaries that came in the same day I did. I've been told 300-600 missionaries come in and go out every Wednesday. Anyways, the MTC president, President Brown asked for all the sisters to stand, so we did, and then he asked for all the sisters to stand who left boyfriends back home.....and it was me and one other sister. There were 450 pairs of eyes staring at us and all the Elders start making noises like booing coming from Death Valley when the Refs make bad calls against LSU. Needless to say I was beet-red in the face. Welcome to the MTC, we're going to call you out!
   On Saturday mornings we do our service projects and Sister Noyes and I were assigned to clean the bathrooms on the 5th floor of a building here. We were doing our last three bathrooms when an Elder began to walk into the Men’s restroom. I told him someone was in there and we were almost done. Then he asked if he could use the Women’s restroom and again I told him we were almost done if he wouldn't mind waiting a bit. He goes, "COULD YOU JUST WAIT LIKE 30 SECONDS SO I CAN GO TO THE BATHROOM!!!!" Crazy Elder couldn't seem to hold it. He ended up walking away with him companion. Sister Noyes and I think he's crazy.
   Sister Noyes had to go to the doctors for a check-up this week and I have to say it was the best experience of my life here. In the doctor’s office they have a "companion waiting room" and guess what’s in there??!!! PUZZLES!!! So I got to sit and do puzzles as I waited for Sister Noyes to return. When she was done I told her to go back in because I wasn't done with the puzzle. I was working on a Lake Powell puzzle. It wasn't very pretty but it was a puzzle :)
    Mumma! Thanks for the new cardigan. I wore it the next day with the Anthropologie skirt that Dad gave me for my birthday. The Sister missionaries asked if you made that skirt too, as most of my fun things you have made, and I explained that Dad bought it for me for my birthday. So be proud Dad! All the Sisters complained and said that if their Dads picked out a skirt for them it would be a hideous brown tarp! Ha ha.
On Saturday I thought I would set my alarm for 6 instead of 6:30 am so that I could get up a little earlier to make my hair look nice for Sunday. Sunday morning I woke up at 6:00am and got to spend the 30 minutes in the bathroom all to myself without a bajillion sisters running in and out. I went back into our room and another Sister told me that it was daylight savings so it’s actually 5 in the morning! So with the intention of looking nice on Sunday I missed out on another hour of sleep, oh well :)
   This week has been downhill as far as my health is concerned. I have a head cold that makes me sneeze like there’s no tomorrow, have lots of snot in my nose, not sleep (which isn't anything too new) and this morning I woke up really nauseous. Good thing its P-day so I don't have to sit in lots of classes. I'm hoping I'll be able to catch a nap at some point today. Last night we had a fireside from a man who is an attorney for the church. He talked about how the Lord has a hand in really getting the missionaries into all the countries they need to. He showed lots of graphs. One explained that 70% of the countries in the world do not allow religious freedom. That’s crazy! It was nice to hear a talk from a different kind of perspective than gospel lessons all the time.
   On Thursday my district got to meet Marcel (our investigator) as Bruder Pederson (our teacher). It was kind of like meeting a celebrity. It’s funny to see him laugh and joke around when in our lessons he rarely gave input and was so down it was just depressing to teach him! Today Bruder Hill, our other instructor, will be playing 5 different investigators and we will be practicing door approaches. We'll see how this goes! We got 5 minutes to see if we can set up an appointment to meet with them.
  (Ariel was told about the LSU football game that happened over the weekend) Andre, what the heck! How does no team score a touchdown and it be a good game? What was the score?? And yes the Elders are impressed when I say I go to LSU. I think they're jealous ;) So what is going to happen next with them? Will they go on to the championships??
Eli, you've got a letter coming so look for it sometime this week! Mail takes a ridiculous long time to come and go from here but know it’s out there :) Well meine Familie! Ich habe Sie alle lieb und Ich bin sehr dankbar for ihnen! Thanks for all your love :) Be good and have fun!! Catch me up on everything!
Love you,
Ariel Nell

Tuesday, November 1, 2011