Oh Man. Guess what?! Yesterday was my 5 week anniversary of entering the MTC! I only have about 3 1/2 weeks left before they send me to Chile. I can hardly believe it! This upcoming Monday one of the districts in our zone is leaving. We will be sad because they are so awesome! AND because once they leave MY district will be the oldest district in the zone! How did THAT happen?? Serious craziness! I LOVE my district and my zone. I am surrounded by uplifting, encouraging, and faithful people. I am no longer the Coordinating Sister, but I am now in a trio (so I have two companions instead of just one). It is fun! During our language study sometimes we go on "flashcard walks" where we use our flashcards to create sentences using words we are trying to learn. It's a nice break from sitting in the classroom:) Sometimes we get pretty giggly though. Hmmm...what else is new? Oh and we have gym time everyday except Thursday and Sunday. Usually I just stretch and do some push-ups/crunches etc. And I am getting pretty good! Already I've increased the amount of push-ups I can do by 10!! I told one of the Hermanas in my district that if I kept this up I could do over 100 push-ups by the end of my mission! Haha...she told me that I probably had better things to do than try to increase my push-up capabilities...I think she's right:)
Here in the MTC we are not allowed to listen to music. It seems like a strict rule, but I am sure it is in place because the rule was abused in the past. The result though is that when I am able to hear music it is that much more powerful of an experience! I value it so much more! (I usually hear music at Music and The Spoken Word every Sunday morning and sometimes when my teacher shows us Mormon Messages). The music that I am able to hear here is SO uplifting and inspiring. Yesterday i thought to myself...I never want to listen to any other music than music that invites the Spirit into my life! I've just been noticing how powerful music is for good in my life and the good thoughts it inspires and I know it can be that much more powerful as a destructive and distracting noise in our lives. On the subject of music, I LOVE the hymns. Lately I will get random hymns stuck in my head. When I go look up the hymn in my hymnbook and read the words and the scriptures that relate to them I learn so much! The hymns speak to me! For example, in the MTC choir we sang the hymn "Oh May My Soul Commune With Thee". One of the verses says something along the lines of "Oh may my soul commune with thee and find thy holy peace, from worldly cares and pain of fear, please bring me sweet release". Even though it says "pain of fear" in my mind I heard "fear of pain" and it caused me to reflect on how painful it can be to be afraid; afraid of failing, afraid of not being loved or accepted, afraid of not being good enough, afraid of not being strong enough or capable enough, afraid of the future, afraid of losing someone or something. There are SO many things that we can be afraid of; I know I am afraid of a lot of things. This hymn reminded me though that through Jesus Christ we can be freed from this "pain of fear" because Jesus Christ provides hope and salvation.
Another song that was stuck in my head yesterday actually is not even in our hymnbook. I started singing it and didn't know all the words and couldn't remember the title. I tried to find it in the hymnbook to no avail. Finally after trying to figure out all day what the song was, I thought it might be "Faith in Every Footstep", a hymn that used to be in our hymbook but isn't anymore. I don't know where I heard it or why it was in my head, but it's my favorite song right now! I looked it up on LDS.org (I finally figured out that we do have access to lds.org:) and it indeed was Faith in Every Footstep. The lyrics that were particularly in my head were "O ye that embark in the service of God, give heart, mind and strength unto him". The song is about the pioneers, but I find it very applicable to myself and fellow missionaries. One of our teachers talked to us this week about giving everything to the Lord. He talked to us about how at the end of our missions, if we have given our all, we will know that our missions were a success. On Tuesday we had Elder Zivic of the Quorum of the Seventy come speak to us. He talked about this too and quoted Ghandi who said "Total dedication is complete victory". I like how that quote doesn't say that positive performance or astounding results is complete victory. Elder Zivic's talk, my teachers lesson, and the lyrics of that hymn have come together to teach me about giving everything I have and am to the Lord. I am still learning what that means, but I know that if I give my heart, mind, and strength to the Lord, He will make my efforts a victory!
This week I've also been thinking a lot about Jesus' life while He was here on the earth. My companions and I have, on occasion, been to visit a member of our District Presidency. When we go to his office, he teaches us out of the scriptures. It is a really neat experience. In his office are some beautiful paintings of the Savior. He told me they were done by Liz Lemon Swindle. My favorites were one of Jesus standing on the edge of a body of water and one of the story of Jesus forgiving the adulterous woman (He That Is Without Sin). That is one of my favorite stories of Jesus. Jesus knew people's hearts, and He loved them. He administered to people perfectly to meet their needs and fill their souls. I've been thinking a lot about other instances in the scriptures where Jesus healed people, and taught them. The district presidency member talked to us about being folllowers of Christ. He asked us what those who follow actually do and then taught us that following means to do as the leader does. As followers of Christ we do not just listen to His words, we do what He did, and the more I think about His life, I am seeing more what my responsibility is as His follower. To love, and serve, and heal, and teach people. I love Jesus Christ and I long to be like Him.
My time is up! Thank you for all you do to send me your love and support!! Whether through letters or prayers, I get them both:)
Hermana Diane Bowns