Monday, December 16, 2013

Friday, December 13, 2013

I didn't realize until I got here how casual I have been about the gospel.  I've always been really casual thinking, "They'll ask me when they want to learn more."  As I've been teaching "investigators" I have realized people aren't going to act on anything you teach unless you invite them to.  My first lesson was my third day.  I taught David and Sister Thurston and I tried but failed.  I didn't know what I was going to say or what scriptures to share so I didn't.  We talked probably 80% of the time, asked questions 10%, and he mumbled short responses.  We were teaching a lesson, not him.  Later that day we taught Matt.  We had learned from our mistakes and focused on him.  We asked more questions and shared one or two scriptures.  The lesson was much more powerful that time as we focused on what he needed.  I was still worried about what I was going to say.  In two days my testimony was 10 times stronger.  Maybe that's an exaggeration...
The next day I focused on studying the atonement.  I didn't feel like I knew a lot about it.  I read Alma 36 which is Alma the younger telling his son his story of conversion and the power of the atonement.  In verse 18 he cries unto Jesus begging for relief from the bitterness, shame, and guilt or his sins.  As soon as he prayed he remembered his pains no more.  He testifies of the Savior and says in 21 "there can be nothing so exquisite and sweet as was my joy."  The atonement is powerful.  It transforms lives.  People that utilize the atonement feel peace and relief from pain.  It enables you to start again with a clean slate, but with the knowledge gained.  The atonement is what allows people to change.
Sundays are beautiful at the MTC.  I was able to listen without worrying about teaching.  We walked to the temple even though it's closed for cleaning the whole time we're here.  It was beautiful!  The east mountains were covered in snow and there was powder everywhere.  Sister Cahoon and I threw a few snowballs at the elders and ran through the foot of snow (thank goodness for boots).  The other sisters avoided the snow the whole time being from Georgia and St. George and no one dared throw any at them.  Luckily Sister C is from Canada and was more than willing to play in the snow.  I asked her if she was okay with me throwing a snowball at her and her exact word was "abso-frickin-lutely."  I saw Michale Gauthier from our stake in Minnesota.  He got here three weeks ago, but he's going to Brazil so he'll be here when I leave next Wednesday.
Monday night Sister Boatright was having a really hard time being away from family.  She was praying as everyone in our district was receiving letters that she would get just one.  She was beginning to worry that her family hadn't made it through the pass to St. George because they weren't used to the snow.  She said, "I really just needed a letter right then."  Sister Cahoon found her in the bathroom (the only place you can be alone) crying.  She had no idea what to do and came back and talked to me.  We decided t owrite her letters (all three of us) and I unwrapped one of my presents and used the paper to wrap up a bag of holiday M&Ms Mom got me for Christmas.  When Elder Meaker was handing out mail that night he said, "And what's this?  It looks like a package and letters for Sister Boatright."  She took it and also got a letter from home.  When we got back o he dorms she said she almost started crying in the classroom.  She said we were the answer to her prayers.  I'm grateful we know of Chirst and God's love and can show it to others.  I love this gospel and the atonement of Christ.
I met Grandpa's brother!  He walked past me in the cafeteria and I said, "Grandpa?"  I walked over to him and his wife and talked to them.  They said they are going to Kazakhstan and will have an interpreter.  They said they were looking at all the name tags of the sister missionaries for a Despain.  It was great to see them.  It was like seeing Grandpa Despain again.
On Wednesday, the 11th, Sister Carey was assigned to us as a companion.  She had been in quarantine for two day because she got the flu and her district was already in the field.  She described it to us and said there was no human contact except when they handed a tray of food through the door and left.  She felt like she was going crazy.  She only have her scriptures and PMG to read.  We taught Claudia, an "investigator", with her and when we were stumped with a question she knew the perfect answer.  We also taught Matt again.  By this time we had taught him almost everyday and improved a ton.  The lesson was, in his own words, the best lesson we had taught thus far.  I felt that from constant study we knew his needs and the perfect scriptures for those needs.  he's in 1 Nephi 9 now and has been praying and committed to baptism.  We were talking about repentance in the gospel of Christ lesson when he said he had an alcohol addiction.  I was sad, but so happy he wanted to change enough to admit it to us.  He committed to give up alcohol.  Before the MTC I would have had no idea how to address that need.  Now, with the spirit, I have had inspiration and confidence.
I have been struggling with the feeling of inadequacy the past week, especially because I stumble over my words A LOT.  For personal study one day I read 2 Nephi 32.  In verse 2 it says, "Do ye not remember that I said unto you that after ye had received the Holy Ghost ye could speak with the tongue of angels?"  I testify that the lessons that go the best are when I have the spirit with me and don't worry about what to say.  I trust that I will have the right words at the right time.  It has been a miracle as I have been able to teach and connect with my investigators.  I have known the perfect scriptures to share and the perfect story to tell.  I know that with God we can do anything.  When "we obtain a hope, and our faith becometh unshaken, insomuch that we truly can command in the name of Jesus and the very trees obey us, or the mountains, or the waves of the sea" (Jacob 4:6).