Tuesday, March 26, 2013

My 1st P- Day (March 25, 2013)


Hola Familia!
 
There is so much to tell you! I don't even know where to begin. I sent a letter home from the first day but you probably won't get it until today anyway because I didn't even have time to mail it until like a day and a half later. We have so much to do every second I don't even have time to close my eyes or sit on my bed. So I won't write about the first day here and will trust that Mom or Dad can type it up and post it on my blog so you all can read it. Today is P-Day obviously and it is my favorite thing ever! But I only have 26 minutes left so I'll make this quick. Everyday here feels like a week. I can not believe it has only been about five days. I already feel like a different person. The MTC hasn't been as bad or as stressful as I thought it would be but it has been frustrating at times. Our class is intermediate so we are the most advanced at the language in our Zone but I still have so much more I need to know. All of my inadequecies, weaknesses, and lack of language skill has really come out. But you know what? I am really grateful for that. The unofficial theme since I have been here has been the atonement. I don't think we talk about it enough in the church. IT IS INCREDIBLE. I am amazed by how much love I feel for the savior and the Lord. I don't feel homesick at all and I haven't missed anything about the world yet. One of the favorite things I have been told about the MTC has to do with the role of the comforter. I am so grateful that I can't listen to music or take a drive to comfort myself because that makes me rely on the REAL comforter- the Holy Ghost. I just love thinking about it. I pray so much. And I wish I had more time to pray at night. I am also constantly crying here. And not for the usual reasons. But because I have felt the spirit so much and so often in the last few days that sometimes I feel like my heart my burst from the feelings. God knows exactly what I am feeling, what I need, and he answers all my prayers. It is just incredible how everything my teachers have said, and how every talk or devotional has felt like it was said exactly for me. My teachers are amazing and even though they don't actually instruct us that much they give me just enough guidance to help me realign my plans and put my priorities back in order.
 
Sunday was a Godsend. At night I was able to watch a MTC-specific devotional given by Elder Bednar last Christmas about the Character of Christ and now I feel like I need a whole new life plan haha. I knew I was selfish before my mission but that talk just made me feel it even more keenly. Christ is incredible. You parents and Bishops know what I am talking about. So I encourage everyone to turn outward and forget about yourself because that is exactly what I am striving to do. I've said it before but this work isn't about us, it is about being an instrument in God's hands and completely giving ourselves to Him. I really am living the law of consecration here. All I do is for the work. It is hard to get accustomed to the fact that we have absolutely no personal time (except for P-days) but I am grateful for it.
 
I have two companions (Hermanas Johnson & Shaumann) and we all get along really well, which I am soooo thankful for. And I love our district. Anytime we are away from them for a few minutes we already miss them. I am the oldest of my companionship and the second oldest in the district. There are only 8 of us (the rest are Elders). You know what the hardest habit has been to break? Saying the word "Guys". Oh man. It is so hard to avoid it. We are only allowed to say missionaries, Hermanas, or Elders. I have also had Nacho Libre stuck in my head since I have gotten here. Phil, you should appreciate that. My companions and I are constantly quoting it and singing the songs, it applies so well hahaha. ("I am worried about your salvation and stuff.")
 
8 minutes left! Ah! Okay, send me letters or Dear Elders more that emails because we get those twice a day and only see email once a week and it is timed. Also shout out to Sharsten for being my first letter in the MTC so far! Any words of encouragement or declarations of love are welcome ;)
 
Also I can't believe how much I miss the outdoors. We basically sit in a classroom until 9pm and all I see from the window is dead trees and buildings. Our temple walk on sunday was so great. Gosh I love sundays here. I want so much to be able to express my feelings when I teach in Spanish but I lack the words, so I am trying to work on opening my mouth anyway even when I think I can't say it. But my companions are much more fluet and ready with the words. We have already taught two lessons in Spanish to our "investigator" and they went pretty well but it is hard for me to get a word in so that is frustrating. But I do love being here. I am going to send this and try to attach pictures in a second.
 
 Companions- Hermana Schaumann & Johnson
(we love seeing Andrea with her name tag)
 Provo Temple....
 ~~My District~~

First Day at the MTC

Hola Familia y Amigos !                                                                                                3/20/13
     It's 10 p.m. and we get to write a letter home the first day.  No email until Monday, because that's my P-day.  It has been a long and busy day.  But way less stressful and intimidating than what i Expected, so that's good.  It's helpful that I am not alone - I am actually in a trio with dos otros hermanas (2 other sisters for you gringos).  Hermana Shaumann from Nashville and Hermana Johnson from Sandy, Utah.  Hermana Johnson is going to Malaga (like me) and Hermana Shaumann is going to Madrid.  And we have the 6 person bedroom to ourselves which is muy bien ! (very good).  Hermana Johnson actually lived in Santiago for a year because her father is in the 1st Quorum of the 70.  Cool huh?  After I was dropped off they just herd you through to lots of places quickly and everyone is really nice and keeps asking if you are okay.  No crying for me !  I was actually surprised I didn't see one single person cry.  But I was pretty overwhelmed and it felt surreal.  All day I kept looking at my name tag and saying "we are real missionaries! Weird!"
   Then my host took me to class (my district) which has 4 other Elders and us.  Our teachers only spoke in Spanish so that was an expected shock.  But I understood a lot which was good.  Not that I offered to speak up and answer questions yet.  But our teacher Hermano Beesley was funny and nice, so the laughing helped ease my anxiety.  We also had a "teaching experience" around 7 p.m.  It was like a rotating workshop where a group of like 100 of us observed a lesson and then they had us as a group chime in to help teach.  The investigators were amazing actors and it really helped for me to see what others did wrong/right.  Oh and I saw my good friend Carolyn Carter, who is going to France Lyon, today so that was a lovely surprise!
   I am doing fine, I am still me, and will take it one step at a time.  Pray for me and send me mail.  Also, they don't have hangers or blow dryers ! ! Ahg!  Anyway, I love you all and thanks Mom for putting up with me today.  Love, Hermana Thompson
Final Goodbyes...
 Andrea & Mom
 Ashley, Andrea & Mom
Cousins (Sharsten & Andrea)

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Farewell!



As of March 20th, 2013 I am serving a 18-month mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Spain M├ílaga Mission. For those of you who missed my talk here is some of my testimony from it. I didn't write the whole thing out but here you go! My mom will be posting from here on out. See you in 2014!


I feel grateful to have the opportunity to serve a mission and to be considered worthy, but I will admit that I feel extremely overwhelmed and inadequate. But I know that this is what I am supposed to be doing and that if I have faith in the Lord's plan he will help me become the missionary that he would have me be. I know that we all have a purpose and I believe that we meet everyone for a reason.

I know that there are people in Spain that Heavenly Father would have me meet and teach and that I can be an instrument in His hands to find those children that he loves and help them know of His gospel. I have had this confirmed to me over and over again in the five months leading up to my mission. God has a plan for us, he knows us so well, he loves us, and he wants us to share the truths of the Gospel so that all of his children can find happiness.

Pray to have missionary experiences, pray for the missionaries in the field and in this ward, and please pray for me as I enter into the MTC this week. I know that God hears our prayers and that he will answer them if we are willing to listen. There are so many new missionaries in this ward and they need your help. Go out and teach with them, give them referrals, and pray to know which of your friends or family members Heavenly Father would have you share the gospel with. I know I am blessed every time I am with the missionaries and I know that God is so grateful for any help we can give them in moving this church forward.

This time right now is critical in history. Opportunities are opening up that weren't available before. 58 new missions were just created, record numbers of missionary applications were submitted, and new missionaries entering into the field. Now is the time to share the gospel of Jesus Christ and now is the time to uphold our covenants and stand as a witness and example to all that come in contact with us that we believe in Christ. "Share the gospel and if necessary use words." Serve others, be kind to everyone you come in contact with, and treat everyone like the child of God that they are.

We all have the potential to become like God, not just church members, and as we look around us everyday we need to remember that and see ourselves and others as God sees us. Now is not the time to hide our beliefs or shrink from responsibility. These are souls and eternity at stake. Having the courage to talk to others about the church is hard. Feeling the responsibility of being a representative of Christ can be scary. Especially since I do not have a perfect knowledge of this gospel and am only 20 years old. But The Lord doesn't call perfect servants. He calls those of us who are willing. And through the Atonement he makes weak things become strong unto us. I know that if we pray to have the strength and courage to share our testimonies with others that God will help us and that he will fill our mouths and provide opportunities for us.

This Gospel is true. I testify to you this day that it is. I know with all my heart that God loves you. He is aware of everything you are going through and he wants so much for you to be happy. And I know if we are doing the simple things of the gospel like reading from the Book of Mormon and praying everyday that we will be happy. The Book of Mormon is the word of God. It changes our desires and behaviors better than anything else in this world can. Reading that book literally changes lives- I have seen it in myself and I have seen it in others.

If you don't know of these truths for yourself seek out answers, read the Book of Mormon, and pray to know for yourself. Don't wait. I am pleading with you to do it and to make the gospel a priority in your life. God needs strong members to build up the kingdom. We can't become complacent or rely on others to do the work. I have such a strong testimony of the temple. It really is the house of The Lord. Go often, have a current temple recommend; if you haven't received the ordinances of the temple yet prepare yourself, make it a goal. Again don't wait. Repent, take care of anything that would prevent you from being worthy to enter the presence of The Lord.

I have been preparing for this moment all of my life. Everything I have learned and done has been preparation for my mission. I have been wanting to serve a mission since I was about 13 years old. As soon as my sister Audrey served a mission in Taiwan I knew that it was something that I wanted to do as well. I never thought this day would come but it finally has and I have never felt this excited or this nervous in all my life. But I know Christ lives and I know this is his restored church. And because I know this and have been truly converted I know that everything will be okay and I have faith that God will take care of the rest.