Thursday, September 15, 2011

September 15, 2011 - 4, 3, 2, 1...Fly to Chile!

The official count is 4 days!! I leave for Chile on Monday morning. I leave the MTC at 6:30am and leave the airport at 9:40am. We have a two hour layover in LA then a 15 HOUR flight to Santiago, Chile. Whew! A red-eye flight. We arrive in Chile at 6:35am. THAT will be fun:) And then we have a 1 1/2 hour layover to get through customs (that will be a tight squeeze) and a 1 hour flight to Concepcion. I can hardly believe that this is actually going to happen. I have no idea what to expect and I'm slightly freaking out. I'm excited too though, don't worry:)

This past week has been full of fun things! This last Sunday we had a special fireside commemorating 9/11. We watched footage from the attacks and aftermath. Then we watched Music and The Spoken Word's special broadcast about 9/11 and our MTC president spoke to us a little about remembering what happened. It was neat. And then I gave the closing prayer! In front of 2500 missionaries!! Me and my companions got to sit on the stand for the whole fireside. I enjoyed the fireside, but probably would have enjoyed it more if I hadn't been so nervous:) One day my branch president just came up to me and said, "Hermana Bowns you have been assigned to say the benediction at the fireside next Sunday. Okay?" What do you say to that?! At our Devotional on Tuesday night we got to hear from Elder M. Russell Ballard (a member of the Twelve Apostles!). I had just finished reading his book "Our Search For Happiness" (an excellent book about what we believe as Latter-Day Saints) moments before he walked into the auditorium! He talked to us about really becoming acquainted with the Lord and keeping our minds focused on Him and His Atonement. He recommended carrying a picture of Jesus with us everywhere and looking at it and thinking about the Atonement when we are having a hard time. I really want to do that! I feel like it would help me to feel closer to the Savior. He also talked about setting goals. He said that without setting goals, we never know when we've arrived (or accomplished something). He said it is important to have an objective. I really liked that. He also talked a little bit about helping the people we teach identify the feelings of the Holy Ghost and understanding that those feelings are God communicating to them of truth and love. He told us that whenever he talks to people who have converted to the Church he asks them when they knew that the Church was true. He said they almost always say that they FELT something and then knew it was right. I hadn't caught that he said this as much as my companions did and we actually had a neat experience as my companion shared this idea with one of our investigators (our teacher pretending to be an investigator). My two companions are amazing! When we teach they each have their individual strengths. Hna. Kemp, although she feels like the language is hard for her and can't always follow the lesson because she doesn't understand the spanish, will jump in and teach something or testify of something that fits exactly in and something I wouldn't have thought to say, but needed to be said. Hna. Hansen is so good at making the lesson flow smoothly. She shares wonderful insights that connect ideas and invite the Spirit. When we are in lessons I just marvel at my companions. This Wednesday we taught a lesson to our investigator and it went so well. We were all contributing and the Spirit was there. Our investigator was feeling like he wasn't receiving an answer from God about if the Church was true or not. Hna. Kemp started asking him how he felt when he read the Book of Mormon and what kind of an answer he was looking for. He said that he knows we have taught him that an answer will come through feelings of the Holy Ghost and that he felt good when he read the Book of Mormon, he just wasn't sure. Then Hna. Kemp said 3 words. "Sentir es saber" which means "To feel is to know". SO PROFOUND. Our investigator was taken aback and thought about that for a moment. I felt like we had made some headway in helping him to better understand what the Holy Ghost is and does. These simple words have been in my mind too the past couple days though and I like how simple they are. To feel the Holy Ghost is to know that God is real, that the Book of Mormon is true, that Joseph Smith was a prophet, etc. I love that!

My companions and I also had a unique opportunity. Our teachers recommended us to be some teaching examples for new missionaries (a great compliment to us from our teachers). Remember back in my first e-mails when I talked about how our first day we had gathered in a big room with an "investigator" and some missionaries came in, started teaching/getting to know the investigator and then the person leading the activity would excuse the missionaries and we all (the new missionaries) had an opportunity to teach the investigator? Well we were those missionaries who got the lesson started!! Wow. It was so weird to think that just 8 weeks ago we had been the new missionaries. It was also weird to be teaching and praying in Spanish. My companion kept saying "si" and "gracias":) And all three of us introduced ourselves as "Hermana" instead of "Sister". It was a really neat experience. Pretty much all our instruction was to follow the suggestions of How to Begin Teaching in Preach My Gospel (our missionary training manual) and teach with the Spirit and love the people. It was a really fun and neat experience! It got me a little more excited to go out and do that for real!

As much as I love the MTC, it is time to go. All things have their time and season, and the season for Missionary Training has ended and the beginning of Missionary Work begins! In one week I will be writing to you about my crazy flight and what Chile is like:) I can't wait! I love you all!! Thank you thank you for your love and support!

Love, Hermana Bowns

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