Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Sister Franks in the MTC - June 1, 2013

Hello everyone!!

First of all, thank you so much for the letters and DearElders you sent this week! I think that I got them all (DearElder is getting pretty good at tracking me down). It's so great to hear from you and try to keep up with what's going on in the outside world. :)

To make writing DearElders easier (and to help them get to me sooner...a little bit of selfish motivation here I guess), I thought I'd give you better info for how to interpret my address. The mailing address here at the MTC is:

Sister Emma Franks
MTC Mailbox #13
PHI-QUE 0701
2005 N. 900 E.
Provo, UT 84604

The first two lines are really all you should need for DearElder. I'm technically in the "Provo MTC Mission" right now. My MTC box is # 13. My departure date is July 1 (or 0701) and the Mission Code (if it asks for that?) is PHI-QUE (Philippines Quezon City). I don't remember how the DearElder site works exactly, but I think that should be all you need. Also, if you wouldn't mind dating your letters, that would be nice for me because the dates aren't always included when they print off the letters.

Okay, enough of that. On to missionary life. :) So much has happened since last week! I tried to plan out what I want to share, so hopefully I have enough time to get all the highlights in.

We get to go to the temple on our P-days, so last Saturday afternoon we went. It was so great. I'm so glad that I went through the temple in January and was able to go during the semester at school because I think it made my experience there as a missionary so much better. Last week was crazy, trying to keep up with the language and trying to teach in the language and not really knowing what was going on, but as soon as we got into the temple I just felt this overwhelming peace, and the best I can describe it is like being home. I felt so much joy and gratitude to be able to be back in the temple again.

Everyone also tells you when you get to the MTC that the first four days are the worst and if you can just make it to Sunday then you'll be okay. That is definitely true, and I'm glad I was warned about that. All the stress from the week didn't really disappear, but Sunday are so chill and spiritual, it makes up for it. Anytime we are not in a scheduled meeting or activity is personal study time, and we don't have any language study on the Sabbath. That was a little difficult for me, because we had a lesson to teach on Monday morning at 8 AM and I was so not prepared, but I knew that God would bless me for being obedient so I didn't do language study. Before Relief Society (our first meeting of the day) on Sundays we get to watch Music and the Spoken Word broadcast from Salt Lake. Last week was a special broadcast in honor of Memorial Day and it was so powerful. I love patriotic music, first of all, and I'm so glad we got to watch because I needed something to celebrate memorial day, since Monday was just another regular day for us here. Our other meetings were great too. We have relief society with all the sisters in the MTC (over 1,200 now!) and every week they have the sisters who have just arrived stand up (I swear it looked like nearly half) and then all the sisters who are leaving that week stand up (somewhere between a third and a half I would say). It's amazing. There are so many faithful sisters here, and I am so amazed by every one of them that I have met. I truly know that Heavenly Father has prepared us for this service and that each sister has a divine calling and will touch so many lives, just as they have already touched mine.

We finished teaching our first investigator this week (Danilo). We had a total of 4 lessons with him, and the last lesson we were challenged (and committed) to teach him without any books or notes, except scripture. It was such a powerful experience, because I genuinely DO NOT SPEAK TAGALOG yet. However, we did learn basic grammar/sentence structure this week, so that helped. My kasama (companion) and I both prayed very hard and sincerely for guidance on what to share and how to help him, and also for the gift of tongues to be able to say the necessary things in order to do so. In preparing, we discussed possible questions he might have, and how we would address those concerns if they came up. When Monday morning came around, we said a prayer, exercised our faith, and went in to the lesson. I KNOW that the Spirit was with us in that lesson. We somehow were able to understand and communicate effectively (though not perfectly) with Danilo and answer his questions. We didn't commit him to baptism, but he is moving and agreed to meet with the missionaries in his new area.

As some of you might know already, our "investigators" are really just our teachers playing a role. So after we finished teaching Danilo, we met him the next day as our other teacher. His name is Brother (Spencer) Calder. Brother Mansfield is our other teacher  (not sure if I said that last time). They teach very differently and have different accents, but I love them both and am so grateful for their help. Yesterday, we had a lesson/teaching experience in class that was a powerful witness to me of the presence of the spirit in our lives. We were practicing teaching the first lesson (the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ) to each other within our district. Because there are 5 companionships in the district, on was paired with Brother Calder. Sister Cutia and I first taught our roommates, Sister Sanders and Sister Ika. We were told to teach THEM, not them pretending to me an investigator, and it was so cool to have such an open and honest discussion with them about how the Restoration impacts our lives and missionaries and the strength we can gain from our knowledge and testimony of it. We all felt the Spirit and learned a lot. Next, we were paired with our teacher. We didn't really have time to prepare or adjust our lesson plan, so we started and just kind of went with it. I kept trying to figure out what we could share with Brother Calder (a returned missionary who obviously knows and has a testimony of the Restoration) that would help him in his life. We asked him how his knowledge of the restoration helps him in his life, and as I listened to him speaking, the word "hope" came to my mind. It was super impulsive, but I just thought "we should talk about hope? what scripture could I share about hope?" The only thing that came to mind was Moroni 7, so I quickly turned there. I was caught off guard a little, because the scripture I thought I had been looking for wasn't there. Instead, I found Moroni 7:41, "And what is it that ye shall hope for? Behold I say unto you that ye shall have hope through the atonement of Christ and the power of his resurrection, to be raised unto life eternal, and this because of your faith in him according to the promise." We had planned for Sister Cutia to introduce the need for restoration and then for me to talk more about Joseph Smith, but when it came time for me to speak, I just explained the thought that had come into my head and shared the scripture. We talked about how our hope in Christ and His atonement help us to endure all the things we face in life and all the unknowns that can sometimes be pretty scary. I was so grateful that I followed that prompting, too, because Brother Calder said that he had been thinking about hope just the day before and shared another scripture with us (Ether 12:4). It was a hugely uplifting lesson, but even more so, a testimony to me that the Holy Ghost really does work with and inspire us, and He is the true teacher in all situations. It was such a humbling experience to be so aware of my role as an instrument in the Lord's hands to bring ALL of His children closer to Him, not just those who are investigating the Church.

I have two "spiritual thoughts" to share with you while I still have time: the first is related to the teaching experiences I've shared. I found it on Tuesday when I was freaking out about not knowing the language and having to teach in Tagalog. I was trying to figure out how to have faith that I would be given the Gift of Tongues. Reading Preach My Gospel, I found an activity under the section on recognizing the spirit that suggested reading Moroni 10 and note the things that Moroni exhorts us to do. So I opted to do that, and was a little confused at first because it didn't really seem like a chapter about the spirit. It does talk about the gifts of the spirit though, and as I was looking back over it after I read, I noticed verse 19, which comes right after the section about gifts of the spirit, and which says "I would exhort you, my beloved brethren, that ye remember that he [Christ] is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and that all these gifts of which I have spoken, which are spiritual, never will be done away, even as long as the world shall stand, only according to the unbelief of the children of men."  It struck me, then, that if we can believe in the gift of tongues being extended to others, why would we not believe that the Lord would extend it to us. He loved all of His children, and if we are living worthily and sincerely seeking His gifts, it is irrational to think he would withhold them. That was a comfort to me, and gave me the strength to exercise my faith and receive my own witness of the reality of the Gift of Tongues.

Secondly, at our devotional on Tuesday night, we were taught about developing Christlike attributes. During Elder W. Craig Zwick's talk, three scriptures came to mind. The first is 3 Nephi 27:27 where Christ asks and answers, "what manner of men ought ye to be? Verily I say unto you, even as I am." The next is 3 Nephi 12:48 (also Matt 5:48), "Therefore I would that ye should be perfect even as I, or your Father who is in heaven is perfect." I was thinking about this commandment to be perfect and how discouraging that can be sometimes, when I realize all my weaknesses and the things I need to improve on, and how far I am from being like the Savior and living a life like His. I was so inspired though, as I listened to the Devotional. I don't know if the speaker said it, or just the spirit, but 1 Nephi 3:7 came to mind, and I was reminded that "the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them." Yes, the Lord has high expectations of us. Yes, they may be difficult to live up to. Yes, they require constant and focused effort. But we are not alone in our pursuit. He has provided a way for us to be able to accomplish His commandments. He has given us a Savior, His Only Begotten Son, who came to earth to set the example for us and to give His life so that we could have the opportunity to repent, to change, to become better, to progress. I am so grateful for that opportunity, and I am trying my best to take advantage of it as much as I can. As one of the Elders in my district (Elder Clark) so powerfully stated: "Because of the Atonement, I can be the person I want to be, and who God wants me to be."

Again, thank you so much for your letters. I will respond to them via snail mail because I don't have time to do it here. Also, I haven't figured out how to upload pictures yet, so those will have to wait too.

I love you all so much!!

Sister Emma Franks

P.S. Quote of the Week: When I introduced myself, I explained that my last name is like a hot dog, but plural, and Sister Richards decided this was awesome! Now every time she sees me, she greets me by saying "Hot dog! It's Sister Franks!" It's pretty fantastic. She's a character; we all love her.

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