Friday, January 31, 2014

Week 4 - Mexico City MTC - 30 January 2014

Hola mi Familia!

It's great to here that you guys had fun on Jane´s birthday.. I devoted a journal entry to how much I loved her and I tried to send a video of me singing happy birthday to here but it tragically would not send. I just love her a whole lot. And I can´t believe she´s so old... 3... that's like 18 in Jane years. And way to go Thomas for working hard, and Matthew on his science project.. I hope he wins 1st place at state. Rachel you´ll always be better at me in soccer so I guess that means your probably the best in the world. I sent you a letter for your birthday coming up in a couple weeks but I have no idea if it will ever get to you. Also for letters to the MTC: Its not dear elder that you send packages its My Dear Missionary... If you send a package from my dear missionary... for example a box of chocolate bars.. to the Mexico MTC, it will only take like 2 days to arrive here. So I highly recommend that. Winky Face. Also if you send any letters through the pouch or dear elder now, it probably wont get here before I leave, and they do not forward letters on to the mission from the MTC in Mexico fun fact. SO send everything to Ecuador.. except a package of chocolates if you want ;) Also we won't be flying back to America before Ecuador. So my calling card won't work. If you want you can buy an international calling card at home, and send me all the info like the number and instructions I can write it down and call you guys on the 10th late late late at night. Entonces...... keep on having fun and studying those scriptures and singing songs that make you feel good. Slowly yet surely I´m starting to have church songs stuck in my head instead of secular ones. That's a good thing, but I probably will still be singing the reprise of When will my life begin from Tangled when I get off the plane in Ecuador. Anyways this week was great and it all started with an amazing talk by Elder Scott on prayer (This was a recording too)

Last Sunday we had a devotional on prayer and receiving answers. I really liked how  Elder Scott told us there were 3 ways we can receive affirmation or revelation. 
    1. That warm, peaceful, overflow of spiritual assurance that is the answer "yes"
    2. That unassuring, confusing, constant change of thought that is the answer "no"
    3. Nothing at all.
Nothing? Sometimes God doesn´t give us answers? Of course he doesn´t! This is how  He shows us that he trusts us. HE lets us make the decision for ourselves using our own discernment. If we are living righteously we´re probably choosing the right thing anyway and if by happenstance we choose wrong, God won´t let us travel too far down the road before warning us to turn around. This is the beauty of prayer --as long as we stay worthy for the Holy Ghost, God cab and will guide us back to live with him.  We need to pray to God with all our might, not with droopy eyelids after homework or studying. I can affirm that when we pray earnestly, the difference is knowing God is real and loves us because we feel it, versus just believing God is real because that's how we´ve been raised. God wants us to tell him everything that's on our minds-- this is how we can repent, this is how we can feel peace, and receive answers. I know that because we have the gift of the holy ghost we can receive constant revelation-- and I have as I´ve been praying to Him day in and day out. I prayed Sunday night for Humility  and experienced the most humbling day on Monday --I won´t go into details, but basically one of the Elders in my district told me I didn´t teach him the way I should have when we were practicing--I was really mad, and I felt like unqualified and I certainly wasn´t depending on the spirit to help me feel better. Later that day in the evening, we were studying language, and I just wanted the day to be over, when some of the elders from our district came in with the Latino class from next door. The Latino´s wanted to share their testimonies for us. This was the most amazing thing. And it was exactly what I needed. I stood up to bear my testimony after a few of them had, and I felt so much love inside of me. I couldn´t say things perfectly but I could say what I simply felt. That I knew that Jesus Christ was my Savior. And I know that even though I wasn´t saying anything super elaborate, I felt the indescribable. I realized suddenly that there´s really only one person I can boast in and that´s my God.. just as Ammon tells his brothers in Alma after they teach the Lamanites. I need to have this special humility in order to teach with the spirit.

Anyway! This week has been great! We made a sandcastle last P-day from the volleyball court sand, and it was the funniest thing ever! On Monday we said goodbye to our father district, which was really hard because they have become some of our best friends, but it was also so exciting, because it made the reality of our departure that much more exciting! We only have 1 more week ...and I feel like the time has gone by some fast. But I also have learned and studied and worked so hard that I might as well have been here for months, so time is a vortex at the CCM. Our teachers are amazing and one of them, Hermano Lopez, is a ring designer and he´s making our district Haz la Justo rings as a goodbye present! (CTR) Except we´re paying him. Also on Tuesday, me and Hermana Nethercott were the first missionaries ever at the Mexico MTC to skype an "investigator!" We were the guinea pigs and I guess more missionaries are going to skype now. You could say me and my companion are famous. 

Furthermore, we had and All Español day on miracles and that was super helpful--I think I´m going to start only speaking Español every other day now. It´s not as hard as it seems because more than  half of the people here only speak Spanish, and they are all willing help. 

Entonces! I´m over and out! Here at the CCM! Also fun fact: we´ve been getting fresh passion fruit at the Comedor for the past couple days and I´m in love (with their deliciousness)

Con Mucho Amor...

Hermana Powley


Thursday, January 23, 2014

Week 3 - Mexico City MTC - January 23, 2014

Hola mi Querida Familia!

Its great to here that you guys are working on scripture study! Something that I´ve noticed here is that we never read more than one verse per person. And when we study a chapter as a class we are constantly stopping to relate what's going on in the scriptures to what we are going through as missionaries or how we can relate the stories for an investigator. This is far more helpful then just reading through a chapter in monotone. Also saying a prayer before scripture study helps a lot!! I wish I had done this more before the mission, I would have gotten a lot more out of my scripture study. Even more so, I think it would be great if you guys focused on specific Christlike qualities each time you study personally. Like patience, hope, faith, service, etc. This is very helpful when you have a purpose in study rather than not. Heavenly father is much more likely to provide an answer for us if we study and search for specifics. I have a testimony of this. Also for family study, I feel like sometimes we miss the whole point. It's not to just get through the book of Mormon, its to bring peace and unity to the household. Keep on trying to discuss about the doctrine rather than just read through it. The doctrine works differently for us each time we read it.. it can always influence us for the better no matter what we are going through. Even if life seems excruciatingly hard, and you feel like your faith is waning, follow the commandments (i.e. strength of youth) that much more and God will shower you with feelings of peace and hope. One of our investigators, Luis, is struggling because his friends like to "fiesta" and he's afraid if he embraces the gospel he will lose all his friends...But Luis and all of us need to remember that no matter what, no matter how difficult weeks can go by, if you let him, Christ is always there, by our sides.. our truest friend. Some friends come and go, and never really understand why we feel the way we do. But Christ knows. And this is our anchor. This is why we personally hold to the iron rod. So we can always feel that Love of Christ. Just remember to not be distracted by things that Satan tries so hard to hit us with.. like self conciousness, jealousy, and selfishness. We can find strength in each other, in the priesthood, in the scriptures, and above all in fervent prayer. ...Now I wish I could just say this all in Spanish.

This week I kind of hit a sort of wall for a second. My companion and I had planned a lesson for Luis, and we were sitting on the grass outside, (getting slightly sunburned I might add) waiting to meet with him (By the way, Luis is one of our teachers who is actually role playing) I decided it would be efficient to practice teaching to each other.  Before we went in to teach, I said a prayer with Hermana N, and asked for some type of  miracle that I would know what to say. When we walked in, I started asking him questions on faith and etc. I´m not sure what came out of my mouth, but we left at the end of the lesson and we had committed him to baptism, going to church with his Mom, and praying to receive revelation through the book of Mormon. It was amazing, I almost started to cry.  And I know I still have so much to learn.

Also, fun fact, we were teaching another investigator, Jesús, and the elders who taught before us went WAY over on time, so as we were walking over to the benches (under the palm trees I might add) our teacher\Jesús told us that we only had 10 minutes and asked if we still wanted to teach. OF COURSE WE DID!! So we sat down and taught a quick 8 minutes lesson on half of the plan of salvation. It was a really really good exercise. I had to think about what was the most important for him, and just touch upon those things. Also asking questions that are important to him helped a lot too. 

Anyway. these are just a few of the stories from this week. We are constantly working and teaching and I can feel my Spanish improving the more I speak it. We had a devotional on Tuesday entirely in Spanish, and before hand, I prayed really hard for the gift of interpretation of tongues. Miraculously, I understood probably 68% which is a lot more than I would have been able to understand 4 weeks ago. I also gave a talk in Sacrament Meeting that was pretty great on prayer... so I´m glad I had that opportunity. There is an elder in my district with a beautiful strong baritone voice and we sang Abide With Me... It was beautiful! Hopefully we will be performing in a devotional soon. Oh and we found out that the CCM has not been dedicated yet (What the Heck) and so on February 9th, the Sunday before we leave, Dallin H Oaks and possible Jeffrey R. Holland will be coming down to dedicate it! We´ve started practicing for a special music number to sing for the devotional. Fun fact: one of the tenors singing in the choir is Sue Thorup´s nephew! Wow! Also, out choir director´s grand daughter is an alto in the BYU concert choir, and you know.. since I was in the BYU concert choir too, our choir director seems to trust me a lot as a choral member, and she lets me lead the sectionals. So that's nice. It's like I have credibility here as a musician or something.

Here is our schedule!
6.30 ....wake up (everyone else in my casa wakes up at 5.30 to get ready.. but not me.. I just get up and go)
7:00 personal study (we study what we think our investigator needs, we decide this the night before)
8.00 Breakfast!! (there was ricemilk in the fridges today which is great)
8.30 Class!! (this usually starts with investigators, then we have language, then coaching or a fundamental doctrine study)
11.30 Gym!!! (Yes there is a facility, with spin bikes, weights, indoor gyms, outdoor gyms, and an outdoor track.. me and my companion usually play sand volleyball with our district though, or we run around campus.. its pretty big)
1.00 Almuerzo! (Biggest meal of the day, usually corn tortillas, with a meat dish, and then salad and fruit always)
1.30 Tienda Time (This is unofficial, but our zone goes to the tienda and gets treats such as delicious icecreams or bueno bars)
1:45 TALL.. This is language training on the computers. Its great! I learn a lot from it... mostly grammar)
2.45 Study time.. (Me and Hermana Nethercott usually go outside and sit on the grass and study language)
3.30 Class!! Investigators (if we didnt teach in the morning we teach at this time.. it switches off each day, because we have a different teacher in the morning and afternoon) Language, and Coaching or Fundamental Doctrine
6.30 Dinner... usually dinner is the sketchiest meal of the day unless its pizza... a lot of mystery meat, or mystery sandwiches.
7.15 Language Study Time.. Our district sometimes plays games together to learn words and rules
8:15 Additional Study
9.00 Daily Planning.. this is where me and my companion plan on what we will study the next day
9.15 Our district likes to have devotional at this time
9.20 Our zone gets together to sing and pray and say good night.. PS our father district in our zone is leaving next week and its really sad
9.30 Time to go home and write in journal and shower and go to bed by 10.30!

Anyways! I love you all so much! Have a great week!!!
You are in my prayers!

Con Amor
Hermana Powley


Saturday, January 18, 2014

Week 2 - Mexico City MTC - January 16, 2014

Hola mi Querida Familia!

Vos amo mucho!!! Como estaís?? La CCM esta muy bonito ahora. No estan nubliado, la tierra esta claro y calor. Yo espero no recibiré mas sol. Mi pela esta crecerendo mas y mas!! 

I realize that my español probably isn´t perfect, but that's OK, I¨m working on it! And the keyboards here are a little different. So that's a little awkward and weird. I might make a lot of mistakes. I also realize that I didn´t tell you guys a lot about the Mexico MTC a whole lot last time, so I'm sorry about that. We live in a casa, and I share my casa with probably 16 girls. We have a large living room, nice showers in our rooms (4 girls to a room), our own laundry rooms, and kitchens, they have water tanks every where (like the ones Grammie has) to get water from, the water here tastes nasty. There is so much space.. which is better than the Provo MTC I hear. There's probably only about 300 American missionaries here.. not that much...but also a  lot of Latinos! Its really fun to try to talk to them.. they teach us cool words.. like literally the word cool: Es Chido! Like the Chip.  Also I tried to tell one of the Latinos that I liked his scarf, (which is bufanda) but I freaked out and said me gusta su falda... which is definitely skirt.. he laughed a lot, so it was funny. Also the food is definitely Mexican plus a lot of stuff from the Mexican Costco. We get chicken cordon bleus, costco pizza, and a lot of yummy ice cream treats. Also, they have lactose free milk and corn pops every day. And for breakfast and dinner they have a toast-peanutbutter-honey-jam-NUTELLA bar that is definitely my little solace of Americanism. Also I bought little olive oils from the tienda that are definitely meant for consecrating, but I put it on my salad and that makes it really good. All they have for salads are ranch. and thousand island... not really my favorites. Also Rachel would love all the spicy salsas and hot sauces here. I really think Rachel should consider going on a mission just considering that. Its a little too spicy for me.. but I can muster a little bit of the salsa on my fresh corn tortillas, beans and rice. Also so things they serve are really gross.. like I´ve seen a lot of mystery meats and mystery soups.. but usually they have good other things. Also in South of the Border of America, it seems like the culture is to have a big lunch and a small dinner.. I kind of like this.. its a little switch in the eating schedule. I bought a really snazzy leather scripture sleeve, because my scriptures are kind of coming out of the binding... so that's not good. But I think the sleeve will help. Also Jeff Schmidt arrived last week and a boy I knew from BYU! ITs so cool to see so many people coming here, and we're all doing the same thing. I love it. Also, I´ve begun to master the overhand volleyball serve in sand volleyball. And I almost have my headstand down. Hermana Hill and Hermana Pierce have been helping me. 

We are a great district, and I love my zone too. We just got another district in our zone last night, so now we have 3 districts, and we are so excited! Our zones have sacrament meeting together, all the Hermanas have relief society together, and everyone has Sunday school together. All the classes are amazing. All the people I´ve talked to have said that an apostle has not come to visit us yet, so we just watch recorded devotionals and occasionally a live devotional from the MTC on Sundays and Tuesdays: I can´t complain though because all the devotionals are amazing! We watched one with Elder Holland on Sunday that made me totally change my way of thinking. I need to cherish every moment of my mission because it is an opportunity that it greater than life. Sometimes I think I fall into motions where I´m not enjoying every second. But I´ve been trying to be excited and eager to study during each day, even when I feel distraught because of mistakes I make while teaching.

We just received two new investigators this week, and we teach them on a block schedule. We teach Louis one day and Jesus the next. Our first lessons with each of them went great. Especially with Louis. Louis (our teacher playing the part of Louis) is a teenager, and he likes to party. He told us that he didn't need God and he didn't believe in him. I began to ask him questions about himself and what kind of things made him sad and happy. We really connected with Louis, and I started to see things through his eyes. He finally admitted to us that he really didn't feel like his life was pointing in any specific direction. My companion Hermana Nethercott, who can barely speak any Spanish, directly said that her our message could help him find direction. It was really cool. I talked about prayer, and the holy ghost. I explained how it worked and how if we asked sincerely with faith, We would receive that warm feeling inside of us, which is a manifestation of the truth. the gift of tongues is real. I was able to say everything that I needed to say. When I started to bare my testimony I could feel the spirit so strongly. And even more miraculously, Louis could feel it too.. he went from not even wanting to let us in to agreeing to say the closing prayer. He asked for help to find direction in his life, and he asked to know if God was real. I felt such a strong power in the room, when he said this, that I knew. I knew that God was real. And I´ve always known this.. but in that moment, I could really feel it. tears automatically came to my eyes and I realized that no matter how hard I work, I can´t do anything without the power of the spirit. And no investigator can learn without the help of God. I also believe that we were able to soften Louis´ heart because we cared about him, and likened his needs to the doctrine. This is crucial. You can teach lessons, and preach principles... but the spirit will not touch an investigators heart unless their heart is open. And their heart can be opened through charity on the missionaries part. This was a great lesson I learned this week and it will help me throughout the mission.

Something else I would like to mention is a little bit of what really hit me during a live stream devotional from Provo with Elder Bednar on Tuesday. He mentioned at the end of his talk about testimony, and how it is not a travelmony, or a storymony... its a testimony: which is a statement of simple truths we know through the manifestation of the spirit. I was reminded of when I was little, I would go up to bare my testimony every fast Sunday, and say the simple things.. and as I got older I began to second guess myself. I began to tell myself that I didn´t have the wise words that many of the adults had when they bore their testimony. And I didn´t have any great stories, either. But a testimony should be simple. When we hear apostles and prophets bear testimony in conference, they are short, simple, and the most powerful testimonies. I encourage you all to stand up and bear your testimonies: it doesn´t have to be long as filled with stories of wisdom. State what you KNOW is true. Recognizing that the Holy Ghost speaks truths to us is a great thing to do ALL the time, so we never forget where to search and ask when we need dire help.

May God be with you!

Hermana Powley

Friday, January 10, 2014

Week 1 - Mexico City MTC - January 9, 2014

Things are great!  My companion is a sweetheart. I love her more and more each day. She plays piano too, so we had a little jam session in a building with a couple pianos; pretty sure the Hermana in charge of music came in and told us to audition to perform at one of the devotionals. We were relieved because we thought we were in trouble. (We were both playing songs we had written... not exactly religious music) So we started playing hymn arrangements form the hymn book and from books we brought. It hit me while I was playing my last son, "How Great the Wisdom and the Love" how music has the power to touch every soul. We have been striving to learn Spanish just as fast we can, and so I've been thinking a lot about getting my point across. And with music, the point is love, and that's what we feel, and anyone across the entire world can understand such love. Like music, the spirit serves the same purpose. I know my Spanish is not very good, but through the spirit, anyone can feel God's love for them. And it truly is a miracle. We all belong to a greater heavenly family, and its starting to hit me how dire my purpose is here on the mission.

So many people don't know that Christ loves them and has prepared a way for them to have eternal happiness. So many of our brothers sisters, don't know what that joy feels like. And I am so blessed to have grown up in a family that has taught me this. We are here literally to make it possible for sons and daughters of God to enter into the gates of heaven with their families, to be blessed for eternity. Now if only I knew how to say that in Spanish. 

So I'm working hard. I'm striving to study the language and stay focused. Its sometimes hard in my district though.. we've become really good friends. Another reason why I love companion: She studies so hard and works harder than anyone I've ever met. Even though its really hard for her to grasp the language, I've seen her improve so much in just a few days. The gift of tongues is real.. and we will keep working and striving to become better messangers for our father in heaven.

Our first "investigator's" name is Armando (Our investigators really are our teachers). And it was really scary at first! We had had one class of Spanish, and then we were thrown into our first lesson with him, and none of the teachers know English very well. Hermana Nethercott and I struggled at first, and we didn't know what to say when we sat down to talk to Armando. And I suddenly felt prompted to talk about eternal families. Armando loves his family, but he struggles with the word of wisdom, the spirit was so strong, and I found a way to say what I needed to say. It was an amazing first experience. We have committed Armando to follow the word of wisdom and to be baptized! As a companionship we strive to think and act as one. After every discussion, we have a pow wow and talk about what went well and what didn't. This is very helpful. We make goals for Armando, and we make goals for ourselves, to be better functioning teachers. We are learning to provide witness to what the other says, and add our testimony. 

I love the CCM (MTC) and I know that it will just keep getting better. Some days are hard; but even though not every day is good, there's good in everyday. We had an amazing relief society lesson on Sunday about becoming converted unto Christ. Hermana Pratt said that if we think we're converted to Christ, and that we know him indefinitely, we're wrong. Conversion is a life long process. Conversion happens when we put others before ourselves, when we love like Christ loves. We must always always strive for that unconditional charity. I am so excited to be serving a mission for our Lord Jesus Christ. And it has already changed my life. I love this gospel and I know that it is the truest thing on this Earth. We should always cleave unto it because it is the greatest gift we have.

Con Amor,

Hermana Powley  


Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Day 1 Pictures - departure - January 1, 2014

Airport "Goodbyes" with Alex and her siblings


Day 1 Arrival Letter - Mexico City MTC (CCM) - January 1, 2014

Hola mi familia!

We made it to the CCM (Which is Spanish for MTC) and its really cool!
The city is so dirty and wild and then you drive into the gates and its like entering a safe haven; truly protected by the Lord. The plane ride was long, but I think I got a solid 4 hours of sleep in there. I love you guys too.  Driving through Mexico City was a huge reminder to me of how much poverty really is outside of the US and also of how lucky we are. No tourists go to Mexico City. There is garbage everywhere, wrecked cars line the streets, so much graffiti, and I saw a couple people literally wrapped in cardboard sleeping on the side of the roads. I just felt really strongly as I was looking out the window that its a great responsibility we hold; being given so much by our heavenly father, and only being asked to do so little. I want to do anything I can to help people less fortunate than me find happiness. And there is so much work to do.
When I was on the plane, I was feeling anxiety that I would be horrible missionary, and unable to focus. But then I read the notes I took on general conference last October, and I came across I think it was Monson's talk on self-discipline. This is not going to be a walk in the park, I'm going to have to work harder than I ever have. But through lots of prayer and self-discipline, I can get to know my Savior even better, and be better able to learn and teach. I hope you guys are having fun today!
Happy New Years! I can't believe it's 2014; that makes the countdown really easy for you Mom. I was just asked to play the opening hymn for a meeting with President Pratt tomorrow. So that's exciting! Anyway, hopefully I still remember how to play Called to Serve! It's too bad I couldn't play super scrabble with you guys before I left, because I know I would have beat Dad.
There are a great elders and sisters here; my companion, Sister Nethercott actually flew down with us from Salt Lake. When we were at the airport I made an effort to talk to her and befriend her. It's just perfect how we ended up being companions! I guess the gospel's true!
I love you guys so much!!!  And I will write again on P-Day which is Thursday for me starting next week. I hope you guys have a great week, do something really fun to make you happy!

Hermana Powley