Friday, December 27, 2013

{Week 3} MTC - December 27, 2013

Hola mi familia!!!

Our gifts under the Charlie Brown tree from Lisa.
That's so cool that Erica saw me!! I was in the choir, and we sang "Where Shepherds Lately Knelt" for Elder Bednar. It's a beautiful song - you should look it up.
 It was Elder Bednar!! He walked in and we all shot to our feet. It was so exciting! He conducted a huge question and answer session - it was super cool, because we were broadcasted live to most of the other MTC's, and they were all emailing questions in, and he passed out 200 cell phones to us that we passed around and used to text him questions. He had a "magic Ipod" (his words) that recieved all our questions and he answered a whole bunch of them. It was a really cool experience! His only condition was that we couldn't call home, or he would "hunt us down and do bad things to us". It was hilarious. He even did "all in favor? any opposed?" I love Elder Bednar. Every Sunday we get to watch a movie (or at least, the MTC's version of a movie) and last week we watched Elder Bednar's talk called "the Character of Christ" that he gave at the MTC a few Christmases ago. It was an amazing talk. I urge to search Youtube to see if it is there. It was really great to have Elder Bednar and his wife there for Christmas.
Our District on Christmas Day!

Christmas morning we started off with a talent show, in which multiple missionaries shared their amazing talents. There was several piano numbers, some songs, violins, guitars, cellos - everyone was super talented and there was some really funny acts as well as some more serious ones. We had a blast - clapping and cheering the whole time. Some of the more memorable performances include a Yiddish Bottle Dance, where he danced around with a bottle on his head humming his own background music, and a Magician! the Magician was so cool! He turned handkerchiefs into batons and umbrellas and had floating cards and confetti flying around - he got an instant standing ovation. Then we all sang called to serve (cuz we sing that a lot) we started quiet and slowly got louder until the last chorus was deafening! I started crying it was so amazing! I love hearing the testimonies of all the missionaries being proclaimed as loud as possible!!!!
It was just amazing. Then we had a band come and perform for us - It was a jazz band, and they were really good, but we were all getting tired and so it was hard to pay attention. Then in the evening, we watched the Mormon Tabernacle Choir 2012 Christmas Program, and it was great! I really enjoyed that one. And they gave us popcorn to eat while we watched it!!! Unfortunately, we had been sitting in those bleachers almost all day by now (we took 1 hour breaks after each program, but then it was back to the bleachers) and people got really noisy and disruptive. 30 min in, the MTC president got up and asked us all to "cool it". So we did and the rest of the program was wonderful.
Spanish is coming along!! I'm slow and I falter a lot, but I am now mostly able to say what I want to in a lesson... when it comes to real life I'm lost, but I'm figuring out the Gosple stuff!! Spanish is different because of verb conjugations. For example, "Vivir" is "to live", but depending on who you are talking about and exactly when they lived, the end changes. They are small changes but there are enough of them that it gets confusing. For most you can just follow the rules, but then there are a whole bunch of irregular ones that change all the time, and of course those are the most common ones. For them, you're stuck with straight memorization.

Some West Campus food and my Spanish study notes!!!
But I love Spanish! It's a beautiful language. I still stink at it, but I'm getting tons better. Every evening we have 2 hours just for language study, and I study hard. By that time of day everyone else is pretty sick of studying though, so they can get a little rowdy. My companion and I are pretty good about telling others to "silencio" or going into a side room to get some stuff done.
We teach two investigators now - Jacob (Ha - cob) is really chatty and inquistive, while Mateo barely speaks at all. But they are both amazing in their own way - even if they are just the split personalities of our teachers.
Elder Hixen remarked the other day how cool it is that the Spirit plays our games with us - helping us to find out exactly what our investigator needs at that moment, even though they aren't real investigators. My testimony of the Spirit has grown so much since I've been here. I've learned so much about listening and following it's promptings. It's amazing.
This morning during personal study I read in 2 Ne 4:16-35, and it is one of my new favorite section of scripture. If you have time you should read it... just saying :-)

My schedule!!!
 Our zone leaders and their district leave on Sunday, which means we'll be the oldest district. That's super strange, because I feel like we just got here. We're really going to miss that district. It's made of 6 elders, and all of them are so funny and friendly. Our zone has grown really close. We always eat together, and it's a grand time. Elders Sonntag and Hixen are going to be our new zone leaders. They'll be really good, but I will miss Elder Parke and Sanders - they were awesome.

Anyway, I love you all! Christmas here has been amazing, and has felt nothing like Christmas. But I was so glad I got to spend it in the MTC. I love this church. I know it's true.
 And I love you all!! Thanks for the picture - I love showing my family to everyone. I brought that amazing calendar you gave me to class and showed everyone the pictures. And the blanket does help! especially when our heater broke a couple nights ago - it's fixed now though. And Jordyn, that painting was amazing!

The painting Jordyn made for me for Christmas.

Carlee, I loved your rendition of the Moose book. Jenna, poke poke poke. Katia, I miss snuggling with you! Mackenzie, Elder Bednar introduced us to a couple of his granddaughters, and they looked just like you! I miss you! Richelle and Logan, how's baby Heggie? And Mom and Dad, thanks so much for being such amazing example to me. I love you!!!!
FYI - My permanent retainer on my bottom teeth has gotten really lose all of a sudden. I'm working on making an apppointment with the dentist to get it reglued, so it doesn't fall off in Mexico.
Love you!
-Hermana Taylor
Decorating the apartment!

Hermana Gurley and I with our Called to Serve pens.
She was so happy!  Thank you!!!

We had a crazy sword fight with these blow up maple leaf tubes . . .
then collapsed on the couch!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

MTC - Christmas Day

Feliz Navidad!!! This is my only time to email today. Of course my district got the 7:00 slot lol. And I only have 20 min, and I can't send pictures. But that's ok!! I am just happy to get to write you all! This has been the weirdest Christmas ever. Yesterday we were like... "Wait. It's Christmas Eve?" It really sneaks up on you when you're completely distracted with so many other things. But I love it!

Last night the Hermana's and I all pulled our mattresses into the living room and had a Christmas Sleepover. It was a lot of fun, and then just as we were all falling asleep, there was a pounding on our door, and we could see our Elders running away. We were joking about how immature they were for playing Nicky Nine Door, and then I was like, "What if they left something?" so we opened the door, and there was a box filled with candy!! Our district is the best one ever!

Last night, we had our Christmas Eve devotional. Our guest speaker was Elder Dave Evans of the 70, who is executive director of the missionary department or something like that. He starts off by telling us how excited we'll be tomorrow when we get to hear from Elder... and then he stopped! and was like "I guess that's supposed to be a secret!" We all groaned in disappointment, because we've been speculating over who will be coming since we got here! But he gave a really great talk where he talked about proper communication and how our letters to our families need to uplift and edify them. He read a bunch of the letters he and his father exchanged, especially over Christmas. Dad, I was so happy to get your letter. It was beautiful, and honestly made me cry. I love you so much! All of your letters have been amazing. I love getting them.

I love you all so much... but I don't miss you. I'm where I'm supposed to be. I know that, and I'm happy to be here. One thing Elder Evans said was that the best way to celebrate His life, is by doing His work. I know that's true and I'm so happy to be doing it! This has been the weirdest Christmas, but also one of the best. I love this gospel! I know it's true. I know that our Heavenly Father really does answer our prayers, and that He loves us and will strengthen and edify us.

I also wanted to say thank you for all the presents! I got packages from the Gates, the Quists, and Lisa Anderson as well as you! Lisa sent me a Charlie Brown tree, so that's what all our presents are under. It's awesome! I opened all my presents from ya'll on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday, because we're at main campus all day today and won't have much time to open presents. The only present I saved for this morning was my gift from the Savior. Thank you so much Mom! I love the necklace. I'm wearing it now and plan to wear it often. I loved the gifts from the girls as well. You're all amazing!

The blow up tubes in my stocking were a blast. The Hermana's and I blew them up and had a crazy sword fight. It was a blast! We couldn't stop laughing. They said to say thanks, as does my companion for the pen.

I love Christmas. Last night after the devotional the whole MTC got candy and watched Mr. Krueger's Christmas. It was so much fun! We've all seen that movie a bazillion times, but it was a blast to see it with everyone. Christmas is amazing. I'm so happy to be spending it in the service of the Lord. I hope all of you have a marvelous day, and have a lot of fun together, and that you remember the reason for the season.
Love you!

- Jasmine/Moose/Hermana Taylor

Friday, December 20, 2013

{Week 2} MTC - December 20, 2013

Hello! I love P-day! Today has been so wonderful. We did laundry... I had a nap... it's been grand. In our branch we all have to prepare talks for Sunday on an assigned topic, and then in Sacrament meeting they announce who will be speaking, so I also prepared my talk today. Well... I wrote it in English... the other catch is that we have to give our talk in Spanish. But we have language study tonight at 7, and I plan to translate it then.
Hermanas Gurley (my companion), Bennett and Lopez
So! My week! We taught Jacob, our fake investigator every morning, and for the first few times we went in with a prepared plan and rehearsed Spanish phrases, and it did not go well. We realized that although we thought we had been successful, Jacob wasn't getting much out of it. So after that, we had a plan of what we wanted to say, but not a rehearsed lesson. The Spirit was so much stronger, and we were able to get through to Jacob so much more. And then, yesterday (Thursday morning), we came back from breakfast and there was Jacob! Shirt and tie and a nametag proclaiming him as Hermano Eaton, our new teacher. He is now our morning teacher as well as our investigator, and it was so weird to have him preaching the gospel to us, and the few times he spoke English were so weird! But he's a really good teacher and we're super excited to have him.
Our District with Hermano Clifford (center back)
Our other teacher, Hermano Clifford quit working at the MTC yesterday, so we bought him Milk Duds as a going away present, because he kept mentioning how much he loved them. We'll all really miss him, because he was so funny and such a good teacher, but his replacement, Hermano Hardy is also amazing. He had us all practicing the baptisimal invitation on our companions, and the "investigator" wasn't allowed to say yes. It was so hard, because Hermana Gurley was doing so well at following the Spirit and getting around all my excuses as to why I'd say no. I didn't get a chance to practice though, because after that he called us all together and had Hermana Gurley and I teach him as an investigator named "Mateo" who was an atheist whos Mormon wife invited the missionaries over. He was super abrupt and rude, and we were told that it was our first lesson and we were supposed to teach the doctrine of Christ and then invite him to be baptized, and to follow the Spirit as best we could. He said this wasn't what we should normally do, but he wanted us to try it. And he wanted me to be the one to extend the invitation since I didn't get a chance to earlier. I was so nervous because everyone was watching, and he kept saying he didn't believe and didn't have faith, and I didn't have the Spanish to say what I wanted to say, but I did my best and put everything I had into it. And when I asked him to be baptized, he still said no, and we kept asking and trying to get around his excuses... anyway, it was a super spiritual experience and it really taught me to follow the Spirit. The next day, Hermano Hardy took me aside during class and told me that when we had taught him, he had seen a missionary who was nervous and couldn't quite express herself in the language, but despite that, she gave everything she had and did her best to do as Christ would, and to follow the spirit. He asked me to be a leader in the class, and to do my best to be a perfect example of Christ. We had a quick scripture study together on 2 Nephi 31, and he later slipped me a note directing me to Moroni 10:32-33. We as missionaries are representatives of Christ, and as such, we need to do our best to always strive to be perfect examples of Him. We by ourselves can never be perfect, but as we come unto Him, we can be perfected in Him. My testimony of this has grown so much, and I am trying my best to do as He would have me do 100% of the time.
On Tuesday night for our devotional, Ronald A. Rasband of the presidency of the seventy and his wife spoke to us. I was in the choir along with my district, and we'll also be in the choir for the Christmas Devotional, to sing for our super special guest. That's all anyone will tell us. We don't know who it is yet... I'm super excited to find out! Anyway, Elder Rasband spoke about spiritual gifts, and how we can use them in our missions to bring others to Christ. It was so great. I loved it! On Sunday for our devotional, the BYU Men's chorus came and put on a show for us. It was so good! They are a huge choir, and they sang great. And I got to see Brooklyn Broadhead while I was there! Just in time too, because she flew out early the next morning. I was so happy to see her - we hugged for a while :) Also on Sunday, just before RS we watched Music and the Spoken word. They put on an abreviated version of their Christmas concert, complete with some famous soprano singer who was really good, and John Rhys Davies (Gimli) telling the Christmas story! It was so grreat!
To answer your questions, all the girls and Elder Hixen are going to SE, and the other three elders are going to Mexico City North. I don't have gym time at the same time as Sister Ingram - different zones have different schedules. But we've played BB a couple times too, and I would appreciate some competition... I love these sisters but they don't play much ball... haha oh well.
These three bubbles contain our gyms - the first two are for basketball, last one for volleyball. 
Our zone mostly does volleyball.
My district has a new favorite passtime: scaring one another. It started when us Hermanas arrived at 7 AM to the classroom for study. I walked down the hall to go the bathroom, and they jumped out of one of the side rooms and scared me so bad I screamed! and I don't scream! Then they did the same thing to Hermana Lopez later on, and then this morning, Elder Sonntag asked one of us to pass him his orange juice from the fridge (because our class is technically the living room of an apartment and is right next to the kitchen.) Hermana Lopez opened the fridge, and Elder HIxen jumped out! He was inside and it was so funny! She just dropped. We couldn't stop laughing.

Elders Sonntag and Hixen in our classroom.
On wednesday, some new missionaries arrived. We got 2 new districts. One has 5 elders, and the other is 4 and 4. Our sister zone leaders just left, and new ones haven't been assigned yet, but since Hermana Gurley is our sister training leader, and I'm her companion, we were acting sister zone leaders for the night, and got to help with the orientation for the new missionaries along with Elder Parke and Elder Sanders, our Zone Leaders. It was a lot of fun and very touching to bear my testimony to all these people who were where I was just a few days ago.
Anyway, my times just about up. I love you all and miss you (but not really. we're too busy to miss anyone!) I love getting your letters. I love you all! The Church is true!

Unpacking my Christmas package!!!
And today for our P-day the Hermana's and I went to Brigham's Landing (the strip mall a block away - we can go there on P-days) and we stopped by a bread store just to smell how amazing it was, and the sweetest lady bought us a loaf of pumpkin chocolate chip bread! It was so sweet! It made us all so happy! It's really weird to be in the real world as a missionary - especially in Utah where everyone knows you and says hi! I love it!
And the Spanish is coming along - I work hard and study constantly. It's coming!
I love you all!
- Hermana Taylor
Our apartment.

My bedroom - I'm on the top bunk.

Our cafeteria.
My apartment building.  Our suite is the basement on the left.
The street our apartment is on.  Both sides are apartments filled with missionaries.

These apartments are across the road from our resident apartments. 
All our classes are held in these ones.

Friday, December 13, 2013

{Week 1} MTC - December 13, 2013

Hello everybody! Greetings from the MTC!! I absolutely love it here! It is amazing. And I'll apologize now for the lack of pictures - I didn't have my camera with me when we went to the computer labs... my bad, sorry they'll come later.

All the Spanish speaking missionaries are on the West Campus, and it's awesome, because we're all speaking Spanish! Everyone you pass says something to you in Spanish, which is great :) So Friday is my P day... which I am very relieved for because yesterday was one of the longest days of my life! (more about that later).
My companions name is Hermana Gurley, and she is wonderful! She is from Georgia, so she rocks that southern accent, and is not used to cold or snow at all haha. She is so patient with me, because she studied Spanish for 3 semesters, her Grandma was in the church Mexican Colonies so she is used to hearing spanish around the houses, and she spent a couple months in Peru! So basically, she is miles ahead of the rest of us. I'm constantly pestering her to know what a word means (Que significa?) or how to say something (Come ce dice?) and she is so helpful! I'm definately bottom of the class in Spanish lol - everyone else had a couple semesters in middle/high school, so they all know basics, or are at least remembering that they once knew basics. I've had to start from scratch, and it hasn't been easy - but I'm figuring it out!
My awesome companion - Hermana Gurley
So yesterday (thursday) was really hard for me. We basically just studied all morning, and then continued with our language class, and I was so lost. I could barely remember what we'd learn the day before, and most of the others were contributing in Spanish and figuring stuff out, and sadly yes, I got so discouraged that I started to cry, so one of our teachers took me aside and we chatted and he cleared up some questions I had. I came to realize that I had always believed that if we trust in the Lord he'll help and guide us, but this is the first time I've come to really understand what that means. Ether 12:27 has been a big guide for me, that the Lord gives us weakness that we may be made strong. I really stink at Spanish right now, but in the last 24 hours my testimony about trusting in the Lord has grown so much! This morning we taught a lesson to an investigator (he's actually one of our teachers who will be teaching us later on - some elders who had been there awhile let that slip, it was supposed to be a secret!). Sister Gurley and I taught him how to pray, and although I could pick out a word here or there, I had no idea what the context was. Sister Gurley pretty much carried the lesson, and I added my practiced comments here and there, read some scriptures and offered the prayer. I've realized that it's going to take me awhile to get to her level, but that's ok! I believe that as I work hard and do my part, it will all work out in the end. The Lord wouldn't have called me to this mission if he hadn't known I could do it.

But anyway, our district is amazing! We have four elders and four hermanas. Elder Sonntag is our DL, and his companion is Elder Hixen. Both are from Arizona and are hilarious! They have so much in common it's crazy. Then there is Elder Koehler and Elder Gilbert. They're both quieter, but also have a lot in common. They have the same coat and shoes, which shows that they are meant to be companions! Then there is Sister Bennett and Sister Lopez, who are both a lot of fun. Sister Lopez has crazy curly red hair and is from Utah and likes to talk gangsta all the time... which cracks us all up. And Sister Bennett speaks Italian, which is helping her a lot with her Spanish, although sometimes she starts speaking the wrong language lol. Then there is Sister Gurley and I! Sister Gurley is the Sister Training Leader, which is awesome because she's the best :)
Our District (from left):  Elders Gilbert, Koehler, Sonntag and Hixen
Hermanas Lopez, Bennett, Gurley and Taylor
And our zone is amazing too! to welcome us on Wednesday night, they sang a rousing rendition of "be a man" from Mulan, which was hilarious and awesome. Other than the four sisters in our district, there are only 2 other sisters in our zone, and they were some of the sisters who were delayed (flights couldn't get out due to snow), but they leave in 3 days. All the missionaries in our zone are super helpful - they are constantly helping us know which word to use and giving us advice on lesson prep and studying. They're great :)

So today, Pday, we still had to teach in the morning, and then we weren't allowed to go to our apartments till noon, so we spent the morning in the classroom studying and chatting in extremely broken spanish. Then we finally got our mail - our district leader hadn't picked it up yet, and he had to have a paper, but it was in his apartment so he couldn't get it till noon. But anyway, I loved the letters! AND the hidden notes that all you sneaky people snuck into my luggage! Love you all! but back to P-day. So then, our district decided to hop on the bus and come to main campus for lunch, because we can do that on p-day. There was so much more selection! The food at West campus has been allright, but nothing spectacular. Main campus had SO many more options - like wraps! I had a wrap that was amazing.
And we enjoyed a marvelous conversation about our favorite movies. Almost all my district loves LoTR! Which was hilarious and a nice little break from Spanish. And now we're using the computers at main campus, just cuz we're here, so that's why I don't have my camera... If I don't use my whole hour and have time later on I'll go on and upload some.

I'm the only Canadian in my zone, and it's hilarious because they're constantly asking me how different it is in Canada, and singing "O, Canada", but then they stop cuz they don't know the rest. Today I told Sister Gurley about Loonies and Toonies, and Touques, not beanies, and Saskatchewan, and other such awesome things it was so funny, because she was like "forget Spanish, teach me Canadian!"

So we are living in a basement apartment. There are 3 bedrooms, so 6 people, but we only have the 4 girls in my district living together, so that's awesome! And our classrooms are just other apartments, with different districts meeting in different rooms. My district meets in the living room where we sit in tiny desks all day - seriously, all day. and we have a bajillion books and notebooks and papers, and it doesn't all fit on our tiny desk! I'll try to send a picture later...
Our classroom and Elder Koehler (he happened to be standing there!)
My desk!!!

We met our branch presidency last night, and they interviewed us then assigned District Leader and Sister Training Leader, and then we all shared our favorite scriptures. I shared Proverbs 3:5-6, and cried...again lol. But our Pres. Stewart (our branch pres) is amazing. I love him! He's the sweetest old guy, and he looks so frail, but isn't. He has a rule... we hug in our zone. but only with people of the same gender of course lol. It's so cute to see him hugging all the elders! I love him :)

And our teacher, Hermano Clifford is great. He's so energetic and is a lot of fun. Love him too!

Anyway... I can't think of anything else. If I send pictures later I'll also add more if I think of it.

I love you all! And I'll talk to you later!

Con amor (with love)
Hermana Taylor
Hermanas Taylor and Gurley

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Journey to the MTC

Thursday, December 5, 2013 was Jasmine's last day at home.  We excused her sisters from school and all spent the day together.  We went out for Mexican food so we could all get a taste of the type of food she'd be eating during her mission. 
She was set-apart that evening by President Dudley as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. 
We left Friday morning to begin our journey to the Missionary Training Center and got as far as Idaho Falls the first day.
We got to Salt Lake City on Saturday and checked into our downtown hotel room.
The first thing we did was walk to the temple and do a session there.  It was amazing!  We enjoyed dinner in the temple cafeteria.  That evening we attended a musical play called "Savior of the World" in the Conference Center Theater.  It was so good!!!
On Sunday morning we attended Music and the Spoken Word with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir in the Conference Center.  It was spectacular and featured the King Singers and the incredible organist too.  We attended church in the Joseph Smith Memorial Building.  We spent the afternoon exploring the Church Museum - all sorts of amazing displays. 
In the evening we were able to attend the Christmas Devotional in the Conference Center.  There were wonderful speakers and the choir was beautiful as always.  We loved singing "Silent Night" with them.  And it's always such a special moment when the Prophet, President Monson, walks in.  The crowd hushes and rises to their feet, and you can just feel that he is the prophet!  So awesome!
On Monday we did some shopping and had lunch in one of the restaurants on the top floor of the Joseph Smith Memorial Building - that was one of Jasmine's wishes!  Then we went to the home of a family who have a son serving in the mission Jasmine will be going to.  When they heard we were bringing her down, they opened their home to us.  They were a marvellous family and we had a wonderful evening and morning with them.  Jas was able to learn of lot about what to expect in Mexico. 
After leaving them on Tuesday morning, we did a session in the Oquirrh Mountain Temple.  Then we made our way to Provo, got ourselves a hotel room, did some more Christmas shopping (at the BYU Bookstore) and found the MTC.
Finally Wednesday, December 11th arrived.  We were scheduled to drop her off at 1:00pm.  We had some special time that morning in our hotel room.  Jas received a Father's Blessing and we talked for a long time.  Finally it was time to go.  We had a little lunch at the Olive Garden - Jas and I weren't very hungry!  Then we headed to the MTC.  We parked at the Provo Temple until it was 1:00 and Jas said "Go now!" As we drove in they told us we had 2 1/2 minutes to get her unloaded and sent off.  I don't think we used up all our time.  Rich had her luggage out in seconds. 

We did our goodbye hugs. 
A sweet Sister met us and said she'd be taking care of Jasmine.  They split up her luggage . . .  
. . . and off Hermana Taylor went - up the sidewalk to the MTC.  She paused for a moment and turned back and waved.  And off she went to her 18 month adventure serving the Lord.