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)