The first email straight from the MTC!
First off, Mormons are wimps, or at least all the ones from south of here. No offence. Everyone I hear is whining about how cold it is here. I don't get it. It snowed the other day and it was wonderful, I just loved it! So to anyone reading this that may not be of the Latter-day Saint I hope not to offend in anyway but to share of my experiences. So if I say something like I know this gospel is true, it's because I know it for myself. I in no way intend to belittle your faith or personal belief in God. This is just all coming from my perspective and the experiences I have gained. I'm sorry family you haven't heard from me yet. My p-day is on Tuesday which means I went the first week straight without being able to email. MTC life/ mission life is BUSY. I can't even explain. We get up around 6 and get a half hour to get ready. Then we start our studies at 7 even before breakfast then go all day teaching, learning, studying until 9:30 then go back to our residence and get a half hour to get ready for bed then a little bit of time to write in our journals, read our scriptures, and write letters if we have time. I honestly haven't written one letter since I've been here. I've had no time. It's awesome. We get zero time for ourselves. It's not like EFY (a church camp). There's no playing games, there's no time to do anything for us. We work all day long from sunrise to sunset. We do get gym time every day which is great since I love exercising. My companion is awesome! She just graduated from BYU and she lived in Saudi Arabia for 6 years growing up,she is American though. She loves running like me and she's ran a marathon! So the first day we had gym we were able to run the whole time and ran probably about 4 miles. It was so great. I absolutely LOVE my district. They're like family to me. There are two other sisters (that make a companionship) and five Elders ( a companionship of two and three). They are all so different but so awesome. One Elder reminds me of Jakob it's so great. He's blond, funny, and skinny like Jakob (but he's probably a foot taller, sorry Jakob). Another one went to BYU-I and both his mom and dad are professors there so we talk about it sometimes and it's fantastic. I love them all. One kind of reminds me of Christian, he's really smart and funny. We're going to two different missions though- mine (CA, Arcadia and Tuson, AZ). I'm bummed that we don't all get to go out and serve together in the same area but I know we were blessed to be together now. My own companion isn't even in the same mission as I but the other two sisters are. I get about 12 days here in the MTC. I am already leaving next Tuesday morning. We got our flight information and such just after we got here it was pretty funny, so I am leaving a week from today and I will be in CA by this time.
Now on to the important stuff. Why I'm really here. I just shared that so you could have an idea of what it's like to be here. Oh my goodness, is this gospel wonderful or what?! I love being here. It is the most difficult thing I have ever done in my entire life by far but the greatest thing, and I've only begun! If you've ever heard the saying the gospel is to comfort the aflicted and afflict the comfortable, believe me, it's true. It's physically and mentally draining. But it's so good for all of us. We learn that as much as we think we know, we honestly know nothing, without God we don't. It's kind of hard to go through all this change. But it's good. I've learned that although I had a strong testimony before and I thought I had a strong understanding of the gospel I have SOOO much to learn. So much. I'm learning all the time everyday. Yesterday was interesting. We teach investigators (people learning about our church) but we aren't allowed to know if they are actual investigators or LDS members acting so it's simulated to be as close to a real teaching experience as possible. My companion and I taught this Asian/white woman and let me tell you it was rough. She was a refural from an inactive member. So here we are coming into her "home" trying to tell her about God and she just keeps saying I no know God. Who is this Jesus. You say you believe in God but your name tags say Jesus Christ. And then my comanion is like let's pray that will help you and she says I no pray to God. I don't know who he is. Well that was fun... It was so hard because here I have this wonderful amazing message I want to share with her that God lives and loves her and she isn't ready yet. I heard that a different companionship taught her that morning and she made them cry so I'd say it could have gone worse. We told her about God and his gospel but the spirit wasn't felt so we weren't exactly successful but we teach her again tomorrow and we'll see how that goes. Later that night we taught again and it was probably one of the most wonderful experiences I've had. The teachers here pretend to be progressing investigators for the students here to give them practice. I can see that you'd think this is lame and doesn't really help but let me tell you it works. Every teacher here is beyond awesome. To work here they have to have served a mission and been reccomended by their mission president. But even that isn't enough. They take tons of applications but only accept a fraction. So these are the most amazing people you have EVER met. Ever. The progressing investigators (people we continue to visit and teach) they play are people they have taught on their missions so it's very real and very personal. We knock on the door pretending it's their home and when we teach them it's not them, it's not teacher but a person looking for the gospel. You don't see them as your teacher and they act in character feeling how this person would feel saying what they would say. We even pray for these investigators. It's real. So anyways. We teach this girl Anneta from Norway (this sister actually did serve in Norway so she knew that our name meant mountain place from reading my name tag sister Fjeldsted, how cool is that!) The first lesson we taught her we were assigned to teach someone else and then last minute they changed it. So we had to throw out all of our old lesson plans and jump right in. It wasn't so great. We were disorganized and didn't fulfill our purpose I felt of bringing her closer to Christ. It was just kind of like hey were Mormon. This is the Book of Mormon. Joseph Smith. Let us overwhelm you with information. Let me tell you that is not the way to go and so not our purpose. Throw away everything you may think about missionaries and what they do. It is NOT to tell people about their religion. NO! It is to help others come unto Christ by inviting them to recieve the gospel of Jesus Christ through faith in his atonement, repentance, baptism, reciving the gift of the Holy Ghost through priesthood authority, and to endure to the end. It's not about Mormons. It's not about teaching or talking or anything. It's about helping and inviting. It's for them to take Christ into their lives, believe on him enough to act to repent and change, to make covenents with God and press forward with faith and love for him. That's it right there. Us going on about our church doesn't quite do the job, so we didn't do our job. We left the appointment and were like well she knows about Mormons but did we do anything to help her feel Christ's love? Not so much. The second lesson went much better. We actually knew that we would be teaching her again so it was less stressful. We taught about faith from Alma 32. It was much better. We were able to see her faith grow and that she was able to feel the spirit when she read the verses from the Book of Mormon. She even said she would read the chapter and pray about it with faith (how appropriate!) as we invited her two. And then the coolest thing happened- our third lesson. It was the coolest thing ever! She read it and prayed about it and said it felt right. We talked to her about the things I just mentioned- faith, repentance, baptism- and the moment felt right and my companion invites her to be baptized. The spirit filled the room and it was dead silent for a little bit but the spirit was so strong. She initially declined. But it couldn't have been better, just keep reading. My companion asks her about her past church and she opens up to us about her concerns. It felt like her family. She doesn't want to loose it for something new like this. I bore testimony to her the the Lord knows her, loves her, and knows what she is going through and that what ever she may go through now will be nothing compared to the joy she will feel later and that she will get a new ward family! I then invited her to pray with us. The spirit was so strong, we couldn't not have her pray. She asked if she could pray in Norwegian and we said of course! I couldn't understand most of what she said but I could feel the Holy Ghost so powerfully and so could she. It was pretty much tanagble. After the prayer we could only speak in soft tones because of the reverance that was felt. She finished and said her heart was pounding and we shared our testimonies and I had us read Moroni's promise out loud. I invited her to read that whole chapter and pray earnestly to know and even with the expectation for an answer. Of course she said yes, she knew it was the right thing to do, and she acted on faith to accept that invitation. We shared our testimonies with her prayed and as we left I told her I loved her as did God and I knew she knew it. Okay how cool is that! Are you so exctied to do missionary work now? I hope so! But wait, there's more. After we were done she spoke us about how it went. She said that during those she's Anneta ( the investigator), a little bit of her is Jessica (who she really is), and almost none of her is Sister Taylor (the teacher). The only part of her is the teacher to evaluate what she can tell us we did well and what we can improve on. But her thoughts and feelings are Annetta's (a girl she taught in Norway). She told us that that was hands down one of the most spiritual experiences she's had being taught by missionaries in the MTC. She said that after we asked her to be baptized she was praying for two things. One that we would find out her concerns (her past church) and two to ask her to pray. She said as Jessica/ Anneta who knew that was what Annetta needed she was praying so hard for that since we hadn't yet. Then what happened. Sister Longstaff asked her about her church and then I invited her to pray out loud with that. Both prayers were answered. This is only because we were able to understand what the Spirit had told our hearts. And so during that prayer all she could think about is they answered my prayers. She told us after that she doesn't usually feel the Spirit by a pounding heart like that but it was so strong and so real. She also said she had to try so hard not to cry at times because it was so strong. It was a miracle. The gospel message we share is true, that Christ knows and loves each of us. She also told us something like, do you see what happened here! You two really are send by God as is every missionary here. Never doubt that. God has a word for each of you to do and you sisters will continue to have experiences like this and bring people unto Christ. Never doubt yourselves or the Lord.
Sorry this is so long I'm almost done. Just something cool. My companion sister Longstaff knew Eve! They were in the same ward at BYU and took a mission prep class together! Eve may not remember because she said they weren't super close but she knows here! And one of my teachers thinks she may have taught Eve (sister Rackleff sounded quite familiar).
Lastly, the Lord is truly hastening His work as the scripture in D&C says. Now there are close to 4,000 missionaries in the MTC and they are projecting 8,000 by this summer! Almost half are sisters (girl missionaries) which is cool to see too. Sisters everywhere! We are weak, young, and don't know much but we are called of God, have His spirit with us, and have a great work to do. The Lord loves you. Go do something good today for someone that you may please Him and they can feel of his love for you. You'll be happy too for it, I promise (:
I love you all and I can feel your prayers. Thank you for all of your support. And don't worry about me for two seconds, I'm not a single ounce homesick and I'm healthy as a horse. Do good and don't worry about Sister Fjeldsted. Love you.