Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Reconstruction in the MTC!

Hi family!

I hope you all are having a great week!  Today has been crazy so far because Soeur Johnson and I are helping S. redford get ready to leave for Madagascar on Monday!  So it's her last P Day.  she's actually serving on an island off the coast of Madagascar (Reunion).  Speaking French.  It doesn't get more exotic sounding than that right?  We also got two new sisters as roommates this week.  and they showed up this time!  I love them both, they are so much more on top of life than I was when I came in my first week. Example: they got up at 5:45 AM this morning on their P Day to go do Yoga.  This defines them in a nutshell.  I love them, they are so much fun.  They're both going to Jacksonville Florida mission.  What is this rumor about weird sister missionaries?  So far *almost* every single sister I have met here is so fun and normal.  haha
Well, they're doing lots of construction in the MTC this week.  I tell you, it's like a war zone out here sometimes.  It's like you're walking to the laundry room and suddenly there's this crane lifting some foreign object over your head and you're thinking, "wow, I’m lucky I didn't just die right there."  Okay, that's a huge exaggeration but there is construction.  A few weeks ago, I was so mad because we were asleep and there was some construction going on outside, so loud it was ridiculous.  Until 12 midnight!  I was so close to walking outside and telling them to please stop drilling directly outside our window in the MTC at 12 midnight on a Thursday.  but, all is good now.  Somehow you still get enough sleep. :) 

This week in class we started a new thing, we make up our own investigator to be (based on someone we know) and two of the other missionaries in our district are teaching us the discussions as if we are investigators.  I don't believe in God and am at university in Paris.  We just had our first lesson yesterday.  It's a totally different perspective being the investigator, I think I actually lean more taking on a role and trying to understand what it's like being from that perspective instead of the missionary. 

Also, it's so incredible to watch everyone in my district improving in the language.  I was lucky and at least had a few years of French as a basis (although it wasn't very much at all) but some of the people in my district really started knowing no French at all.  And, wow.  It's so incredible to watch everyone improving so quickly.  It really is just a miracle.  We make tons of mistakes all the time but I know we're not learning alone.  Because, I took French for three years and I'm telling you we did not learn nearly as quickly.  It's amazing for all of us together to be blessed to be learning so quickly.

I spoke in church on Sunday.  We have to prepare talks every week and don't know who will be speaking until the bishop announces it over the pulpit.  That morning I said to my companions, "I really hope they don't ask me to speak today because I just didn't prepare as well as I could have." and then, they asked me to speak.  haha it went alright though.  It was on the gift of the Holy Ghost.

Soeur Johnson and I also taught the Plan of Salvation lesson yesterday (we finally got through the whole thing in one lesson) and we're doing Gospel of Jesus Christ tomorrow.

Elder Scott came and did the devotional on Tuesday.  He called missionaries out fo the audience and would ask them questions about how they receive personal revelation it was awesome.  He said, "don't go anywhere without the ability to write down impressions of the Spirit."  Then he explained how we can know if the impressions we are receiving are from God.  Ether 12:6.  If it's bringing good, that is a prompting.  I liked what he said about it: "Have your antenae out all the time and capture the promptings of the spirit.  Treasure it.  Cherish it.  Apply it."  He also talked about how one of the most important aspects of prayer is to listen.  To have a conversation with God, not just talk to Him.  At the end he bore his testimony and said, "As a witness of Christ and one of the fifteen people on earth with all the priesthood keys.  I know that He lives.  I don't wish, I don't hope. I know."

It is so incredible here.  The spirit is so strong and I just feel so happy almost constantly.  I love it, I'm learning so much, the spirit is amazing, I love the scriptures, I love learning here. 

I love you all and am thinking about you!


Soeur Shard (I think the C has permanently disappeared... for now. :) ).

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

MTC Half Way!

This week is the halfway point in the MTC for us!  I'm scared out of my mind for when we go and I couldn't be more excited to go at the same time... in a very good way.  I met some sisters who are going to the Chicago spanish speaking mission.  they just came in this last wednesday and said they are part of a pilot program where they are only here at the MTC for 5 weeks instead of 9 weeks to see if they can learn the language well enough in that time.  Crazy!  i  want to see how that goes. 

My district is awesome.  i'm going to be so sad to say bye to all of the elders... they make me laugh so so hard all the time. they are crazy.  I decided they are a really good thing for me because they make me not take myself so seriuosly and they make the MTC fun instead of stressful.  Soeur johnson adn i still work hard and are learning a lot but the elders they're fun too so we have a good time.  The other day it was burning hot in our classroom 9they turned on the heat way too early!) and Elder Burgess decided he needed to "make it snow" because it was way too hot.  Suddenly, i look up from reading my scriptures and he's stuffing a tissue down the fan and it shreds it up and makes it snow.  I secretly thought it was hilrarous.  Elder Folley, (he's 6 foot 7) ran out of the class the other day and just kept running up onto the wall and kicked a ceiling tile because he just felt like he could keep running forever.  A spanish teacher from another class came out and got mad at him.  Yesterday, two of the elders were clinking glasses at lunch to make a toast and then Elder Burgess crashed his on top of it and the glass broke. 

There's also crazy shower stories they were telling us the other day.  Elder Folley stole all the elders towels from off the shower racks and two of the elders weren't in our district.  one of them was chinese or something and just walked out of the shower without any clothes on and said, "where's my towel?" another elder wrapped a shower curtain around himself because he didn't have his towel.  crazy things happen.

umm, mom asked if it's hard in the MTC because you're confined.  Yes, it is.  Sometimes I have the slight temptation at gym time to just run to BYU or something just to feel likeyou're out of the complex for a little while.  But, it's great because they have an hour of gym time and it has been gorgeous weather so I've been running outside around the bottom track of the MTC and that is one of my favorite things in the world I love it.  I have been running alone usually while my comp is playing frisbee or something and come to findout like a week later I was reading the rules and that is not allowed.  We asked why and the supervisor said they have had problems with missionaries running away during gym time. hhahaha I think that's hilarious.  But the mountains are GORGEOUS right now, I wish I could go out hiking right now so so so badly!  It's the weirdest when our teachers come in, teach us for three hours and then leave us there in the classroom while they go back into the normal world.  Sometimes it gets a little stir-crazy studying in the same desk, same class for about 14 hours a day but that's why things become so hilarious when the elders do dumb things.  So really, I LOVE THE MTC a lot.  it's great.

We were supposed to get a new roommate last Wednesday (french speaking, going to Figi).  Well, WEdnesday came and went and there was no one who showed up.  Seriously, I was like, "what happened?" I speculated she got engaged like a week before she was supposed to come in to the MTC or something.  Come to find out (like three days later we were told) she's fluent in french already so she's in the accelerated three week program.  So we're getting two new sisters tomorrow!  Seriously, I am so amazed by how many really cute, normal, fun, happy sisters there are here.  You hear these horror stories about these bizarre companions and so far really all the girls in my zone are so much fun and normal and I love them!  I'll send a picture of all of them soon. 

Oh Danielle, i saw Spencer Simpson today for the first time!  We had a fire drill in the MTC today and there was someone who ran down our hall saying, "everyone, get out!" so anyways, it was everyone in the mtc evacuated.  One person came out in his bathrobe, a sister came out with her hair in a towel. it was hilarious.  I was like, "people. there is time to put on pants. please." it was funny though.   Spencer ALMOST gave me a hug. it was a close call.  but he said he's going to write you lil din.

Um, my companion. We are doing awesome.  We have a good time.   yesterday she thought it was a big deal because I had my first serving of fries for lunch (i stick to salads, wraps, fruit, cereal usually and soup) it was great.

Um, embarrassing story a few days ago I was in getting my mini wheats 9still eat them pretty much every morning) and I walked over to the wall to get them and they were stuck in there so I was shaking the canister (they are huge canisters) to get them out and an elder came over and was trying to help me and they wouldn't come out so I started shaking it harder and suddenly the three huge, full canisters next to mine started tipping over and I tried to catch it at first, but it was just a lost cause so i just watched them smash onto the ground.  So the missionaries behind me go, "oh, seriously?" (like what the 200 who were sitting there.) so I went over and got the server guy to tell him it needed to be cleaned up.  Let's just say they ended up using those huge broom sweeper bin things to shovel it into the huge garbage can.  It was so much cereal i cannot even begin to tell you.  and the worst part is, the mini wheats were still lodged in there so I didn't even get any really!  But, two days later I was back to mini wheats.  They're worth the risk.

Sister Beck came to speak to us last week.  It was really cool, she talked about temple covenants and missionary work in brazil where her dad used to be a mission president.

Out instructor Soeur Welch told us an awesome mission story the other day.  She said this woman called the missionaries and asked if they would teach her. They said sure, and she ended getting baptized about two weeks later.  She had been given a pass along card a few years earlier by someone in a train station.  It had a picture of Christ on the front so she had put it up on her mantle for years.  one day, when she was unpacking boxes because she had moved apartments she came across the passalong card and felt something (the spirit).  So she looked on the back of the card and called the number, and it was the sister missionaries!  Soeur Welch said when they started teaching her she looked liek she was 80 (she was in her mid-50s) and like the world was on her shoulders.  She apartment was dark and heavy when they started teaching her.  Soeur Welch got transferred out of the area but went to go visit this woman a few months later on her mission.  She said she walked in the apartment and it was an incredible transformation.  The air was light and everything was bright.  The woman looked like she was about 25 years younger and there was light in her eyes.  Soeur Welch said she has never seen the spirit transform someone as drastically as that woman.  The gift of the holy ghost is so amazing.  I'm so grateful to be here as a missionary learning so that I can serve!

Love you all and have a great week!


soeur aluyssa chard

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The MTC continues . . . . .

Yesterday, we had two of our roommates leave.  (so there are three of us left right now and we have a new roommate coming in tomorrow who will be going to french speaking Fiji.)  The Brazilian going to Paris left yesterday and Sister Rust who was called to Brazil but got reassigned to Arizona until she can get her visa.  She left at 4:00 AM yesterday and left a note on the dresser that said, "p.s. Sister Chard was talking actually more like yelling in her sleep about Sister Redford.  It was really strange and it freaked me out.")  Last night Soeur Redford starting talking in her sleep en francais.  aka she said "Bonjour!" and then she was silent.   Isn't that what they say once you start dreaming in another language you're fluent? So we are probably basically close to fluent at this point. (not really. I joke. I joke. I definitely joke.) but it's coming and it's good.  Every Sunday the Bishop stands up and announces who will be speaking at the pulpit.  So every week every missionary has to prepare a talk on the given topic just in case you get called.  So i prepared my first sunday talk in french on repentance.  Luckily I didn't have to *get to* :) speak.  But Soeur Redford did... and she had accidently written hers about baptism.  But she still did a great job.

Sunday afternoon we had a relief society meeting (it was one of the sisters in the General Primary Presidency) and she did an amazing job.  Afterwards they had this woman (who actually served her mission in Paris!) come and give an 1.5 hours talk on how sister missionaries need to look professional, classy, cute, colorful, actually do your hair and makeup in the morning and care about what we are wearing.  She works in the beauty/fashion industry.  At the end they gave us all free makeup (i thought it would be nuskin maybe but it wasn't) anyways, it was good.  They are really trying to make a push to change the look of sister missionaries.  They really emphasized how important color is in what we are wearing and to look professional because we are sharing the most important message witht he world.  It's important that our image on the outside shows how much we care about the message we are sharing. 

I'm loving my comp.  we get along better every week because we learn to understand each other better all the time. 

We had a devotional on Sunday that was interesting.  It was someone in the mTC presidency.  he said the brethren (aka 12 apostles and 1st presidency) had their review meeting after General Conference.  One of the 1st presidency brought up the point that they really want to improve membership in the church as far as baptizing and retaining members.  Retaining is the big thing.  They decided that if missionaries did a better job explaining the law of tithing and helping new members understand how important this commandment is, that retention in the church will improve.  So he gave us an entire devotional about how to teach the law of tithing.  Interesting.

My district is good.  My district has a reputation for having the craziest elders though.  I think i have heard/seen it all.  Lifetime of living in a family of boys has now been complete.  Example: one of the elders in my district ran out of the classroom the other night and threw up (for real) because he thought it smelled so bad.  That same elder made a moustache out of the fuzz balls from his sweater.  They're fun and I've never laughed so hard a lot of the time.  There still needs to be a change though in the amount of focus... it's frustrating for sure sometimes!   But, soeur johnson and I are hoping it gets better as far as focus goes and we're doing our best.  They're fun though, they are definitely making the MTC fun.   Two elders in our zone had to go home since I have been here which is sad but I think everyone else for the most part is doing well!  I have the best zone ever. and the sisters in my zone are amazing amazing incredible.  I love them. 

This week one of the elders (Elder Bingham0 asked if I would accompany him on a piece called "O Divine Redeemer."  The piano part is more difficult but it is the most gorgeous song and he has a great voice.  Anyways, we practiced together a few times and went to audition for the large devotionals (with all the missionaries).  It's the MTC president's wife who is the "judge" you audition for.  And she is legit.  She's a musician and of the four groups we heard try out, only one made it past to actually be in the devotional.  We auditioned and didn't go through because the song was too dark (all about repentance and how we aren't worthy but can be saved, etc. etc.) for the occasion.  But, it was such a cool experience to hear all these missionaries try out.  The spirit was so incredibly strong.  I really believe that music can bring the spirit the most quickly.  The MTC pres. wife asked if i would be okay with them putting me on the official MTC accompanist list.  I have absolutely no idea what that means to be honest but I said yes.  I miss the piano so much though, it was so great to do it for a little bit!

The most challenging thing I would say in the MTC for me is knowing how to best utilize my personal study time.  There is so much I could be doing, but knowing how to use that time effecitvely is challenging.  My favorite part is teaching.  We were talking about yesterday how even though these are fake investigators, the spirit is still real, it's not fake.  WE learned how to teach someone to pray last night and then practiced with each other acting as investigator/missionary.  The spirit was so strong.  It's so incredible to go back through these basic doctrines that I have taken for granted knowing. (i.e. God personally answers our prayers, our prophet receives revelation for us today, THE PLAN OF SALVATION.)  That's what we're focusing on right now.  Teaching the Plan of Salvation to our investigator.  The first time we tried (a few days ago) it did not go so well.  We went back and have been trying to understand better what God's plan for us really means.  And how important it is for people to have the agency to accept His plan for us.

We had a workshop the other day where we talked about our purpose as missionaries.  That is what they drill in the MTC. Obedience, our purpose, teaching with the spirit.  over and over and over.  Especially our purpose as missionaries.  Our purpose is to help other Come to Christ.....   (it keeps going on).  But we were focusing on what it means to Come to Christ.  Coming is an active verb and we need to learn how to help our investigators act and have their own experiences so they can come to know our Savior and God.  They focused on how we really need to teach the individual for their needs, and help them Come to Christ and take that active step. 

One last thing, our devotional last Tuesday was awesome (the devotionals are one of my favorite parts) and he talked about how we know if we are on the Lord's time or if we are just serving time while we are on our missions and it's a choice that we each have to make.  he said the difference is when you wake up in the morning are you thinking, "what in the world are we going to do today?" or are you thinking, "How in the world are we going to get everything done we need to today?"  

I know I have so much to learn and I am so grateful to be here right now, it's amazing!  Thank you for your prayers and for your letters/packages!  I love them and I love all of you!


Soeur Chard (Alyssa)

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Soeur Aleeeeeesaaaa Sssshhhhard

Dear FamDamily and Friends,

1.  The first week was sooooooo long.  It was good but it seemed like every day was like an eternity.  Everyone said to just "make it until Sunday" and they were right.  Sunday night was the first MTC devotional and it was amazing.  Since then I have loved it so much more.  It just keeps getting better and better.  My companion and I are opposites in a lot of ways.  Example:  She loves movies so some days when we're having normal conversations like 20% of conversation consists of movie quotes.  Which is hilarious because I don't watch that many movies.  I usually just guess it's from Finding Nemo or Nacho LIbre and I'm right.  We also have opposite eating habits.  She loves like hostess and I like salads for example.  It was an adjustment getting used to being with someone 24/7 but now I think we both just embrace our differences and I honestly love being her companion.  She's a hardworker, focused, really good at french and I absolutely love teaching lessons with her, she's really good at teaching.  So it's fun.

2.  My other roommate is Brazilian and a whole different culture.  I honestly really like her because she brings a whole new dynamic.  She's also going to Paris. She leaves onMonday!  Her dad is in the quorum of the 70... elder Soares.

3.  My district is wild.  It's living with a bunch of boys.  They're funny and the things they do are wild... in a good way... usually.  Our fake investigator just turned into our new teacher and she is AMAZING.  She pushes us so hard and makes us feel like every single moment we have in that class needs to be used so productively.  It has made our district have so much focus.  love love lvoe her.  **good mission prep idea:  she had us go through lesson one (takes 15 minutes) and had us write down only two sentence summaries for every heading.  Then we contacted someone (each other) on the street.  The person on the street had a random question they thought up (eg does God answer prayer today?)  Whatever their question was, the missionary started answering it and then wrapped around to entire lesson.  It was so cool because it taught us you don't necessarily need to start with the first heading of lesson 1, (God loves his children) you can start with (the spirit answers prayers) and circle your way around.  It helped us understand the material so much better.

4.  That's another thing, PMG is so cool because before I went into the MTC it was cool, but day one when we started studying it it's like everything takes on so much meaning and every single sentence is the most profound thing in the world.  It's cool, because our new instructor was telling us yesterday that's exactly how it was for her when she went on her mission. (Brussels).

5.  The food.... a lot bit gross.  (except the wraps and salads) the paris pounds are probably already coming on!  We think gaining weight here is inevitable. :)  The pillows and beds? (danielle asked) not comfortable at all.  But aside from those things it's great!  Yes, we went to San Fransisco last Thursday because we have to sign our visas, so I think that means I should get to go to Paris right on time!  (Nov. 21st).  We left at 5:45 AM.  There were 10 of us from the French zone who went last week (they send us in waves.)

We got to the visa place in san fran. and I decided I should probably change my personality for France.  My experience:
French visa man: "Aleeeeesaaa Shaaahhhrd?" (alyssa chard with the heaviest frnech accent ever.)
Me: Walk up to the window kind of smiling/laughing
man: "Why are you laughing at me?"
me: "I was just smiling"
man: "is it because of my accent?"
me: "ummm"
man: "how do you say it?" "SShhhard?"
me: "yes." That's right
man: "aleesa, aluussa,"
me: alyssa
man: 2 minutes later. "Now you're scared.  I like that." Says something quickly in french.  So I go put my fingers up for a fingertip scan.
man: "very good, you understand." (really it was like a whole different language.  they talk way faster than they do in the MTC.  You feel like that missionary in the best 2 years you has a southern accent and get's to holland and says, 'it ain't what they taught me in the MTC.'

Anyways, we spent the rest of the day touring around San Fran.  One of the elders is from there so he took us around.  It was my frist time in public with a badge on .  Everyone really does stare at you!  It was fun, ghiradellis, clam chowder, walking around, crooked street, etc.  but I was happy to get back to the MTC that night again.

Loved conference, some of my favorites, PARIS GETTING A TEMPLE!! And Provo too!  that makes me so thrilled! Elder Eyrings, Sister Dalton's and I loved Elder Yamashita about the missionary knocking on his door in Japan.  The spirit was incredibly strong as all the missionaries watched that talk together.  Missionary work is so cool and I haven't even started for real yet!  It's amazing to be here with 2500 other missionaries all preparing to go all over the world to be missionaries.  One devotional we had a couple of weeks ago was really good and one thing he said was, "you missionaries don't have time to get discouraged."  That really stuck with me, my comp and I decided we no longer complain about anything whatever it is and we refuse to get discouraged.  It's great.  Instead of focusing on how much we still have to learn we focus on what we have learned and just keep moving forward.  When I ask our mock investigators questions in french and they answer something completely different because I said it wrong, I laugh instead of cry and life is so much better that way.

Alyssa (aka soeur ssshhhhaaard)