Wednesday, November 27, 2013

''For My Thoughts Are Not Your Thoughts" Isaiah 55:8-9


     We've had some of the best lessons yet this week. In the one with our 'investigator' Benjamín we talked about following the example of Jesus Christ. In one of the pamphlets (the gospel of Jesus Christ one I think) there is the Sermon on the Mount painting by Carl Heinrich Bloch. Hna. Porter asked him to look at two of the listeners and decide which one he felt most like and which one he would most like to be. One that is to the left of the Savior is down on his knees gazing at Jesus hanging on to every word. The other is to the right of the Savior, and though he is sitting closer to Him, his back is toward the Savior and he's almost turning. Going into the lesson we thought for sure that Benjamín would say that he wanted to be the one on the left, but he said he would prefer to be the one on the right once he has turned back to the Savior. He explained that the man on the right would be stronger because he had to struggle to gain his testimony and the greater the struggle the more glorious the triumph. This struck me and reminded me that there is a purpose to my struggles and trials. They are opportunities to overcome, to turn to Christ, and to grow in faith. We knew that we were teaching by the Spirit when we as well as our investigator were being taught and edified. 

      We got to role play and pretend to be investigators just like in TRC! I really forgot how that feels, and I love it! I love it because it helps me understand more fully what my friends feel like. It's nice to have a change of perspective to refresh your own. 

       So, something I have come to realize over the past couple of weeks is that there is a difference between the way Sarah Thacker thought the lessons should be taught and the way that they have been divinely ordered and prepared. It has given new meaning to the scripture in Isaiah, ''For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts'' (55:8-9). I used to think that it didn't make any sense to use Book of Mormon scriptures to prove the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon, or to teach the Plan of Salvation second when it really would just answer most of their concerns if we taught it up front. Well, Hermana Thacker has learned that the point is not to convince or use logic to talk people into believing. Our job is to invite. We use the Book of Mormon because of the Spirit it brings into lessons, and we let the Lord touch the hearts of the people instead of focusing on proving logically to their mind how true it has to be. The first lesson comes first because it's central message is receiving revelation. It demonstrates God's love for us and how we can come to know of that for ourselves. It sets the foundation, because without personal revelation that testifies that our message has what they need, there is no point to continue teaching. We tried teaching the Plan of Salvation first with our investigator Reinaldo. Yes it met his needs and brought him comfort, but we are struggling a bit with helping him understand why he needs the whole picture and can't just isolate the Plan of Salvation buffet style. I really am beginning to understand how Heavenly Father's ways are higher than my ways. 

      Also, I have a greater appreciation for hymns sung at the right tempo. We sing hymns a bunch... and our district likes to sing slowly. I Know That My Redeemer Lives sung at a funeral march tempo is not terribly fun. However, we are doing better now that we are singing Christmas hymns. :)

     It´s crazy to think that tomorrow is Thanksgiving! We are all anxiously waiting to see what we will be fed for dinner tomorrow. My best guess is a turkey gravy with potato chunks and pineapple. :) Pineapple goes in most things. Especially in American dishes that they prepare...

Happy Thanksgiving!! Love you lots! Don't forget to count your many blessings! 

con cariño, 
Hermana Thacker

For all 7 girls in our district we have three washers and one working dryer. This happens to be the best way to get our clothes dry. I'm starting to wonder if they believe in dryers here. The elders told us that they have to check the dryers they use for laundry soap because the Latinos put their clothes in them thinking they are washing machines...

Lunch today. It was called ''goulash.'' It was more like roast beef with red sauce. It was good though.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

I Love Being a Missionary!

Buenas tardes!

     Life here at the CCM is still pretty great! We got to go to the temple again and got to drive through Mexico City on a holiday. I was expecting a bit more excitement, but turns out they celebrated this past weekend when they had Monday off. It is neat to be able to see a bit of what Mexico is like every other week. Today we drove past the Basilica de La Virgen Guadalupe. Our branch president told us that for Catholics the Basilica is the most sacred place in all of Central and South America. He said that on December 12th, the day they celebrate Guadalupe, people from all over will come and crawl on their hands and knees for the last half mile or so of their pilgrimage. Also on the way home from the temple he bought us bananas from a street vendor. Probably one of the best bananas I´ve had up to this point in my life. :)

     This last week we´ve been busy teaching 2 ´´investigators.´´ With one we´ve extended invitations left and right and he´s done what we´ve asked, but it hasn´t helped him the way we hoped it would. The other we keep forgetting to invite him to do anything, but the lessons with him have seemed to reach his needs better. Each has been challenging in different ways and we have really learned so much from them!

     We´ve gotten to the point that just about every day has about the same schedule. Breakfast at 7...or 7:15 if your companions have a hard time finishing getting ready in time...My companions are great, but they require a lot more time to get dressed and do their hair and make-up. Study for an hour, teach our first investigator (who happens to be our morning teacher), and then class. Class could be anything from language study to a section of Preach My Gospel, or even something out of our missionary MTC manuals. Our morning teacher is Hno. Muñoz and he went to high school here before his mission. After our morning class we have more study time, lunch, language study, gym, TALL (technology assisted language learning a.k.a. Rosetta Stone missionary style), study/planning, dinner, teach our second investigator (who happens to also be our night teacher), and then class. Our night teacher, Hno. Galicia just got married a month ago and he served his mission in Sonora Mexico. This will be our basic schedule for the next three weeks. I don´t know when exactly we leave Mexico, but my estimated departure date is 9 Dec. 

     Last night we had a really neat devotional from Elder and Sister Valenzuela (he spoke at the last general conference). They talked about how much the Lord is hastening his work. He shared a really neat scripture about this hastening. ´´And righteousness will I send down out of heaven; and truth will I send forth out of the earth, to bear testimony of mine Only Begotten...and righteousness and truth will I cause to sweep the earth as with a flood, to gather out mine elect.´´(Moses 7:62) We talked about how this wave that is flooding the earth is us (missionaries) and happening now. The members, the missionaries, and everyone who will be taught are being prepared. My companion mentioned how interesting the parallelism is. In Noah´s day God used a flood to kill all the wicked, but now in our day He is rescuing the righteous with a flood! It is so exciting to be part of all of this! Elder Valenzuela talked about how the work is moving forward and if we want to move with it we have to take an active part. It reminded me of the Noyana/Come Come Ye Saints arrangement that VocalPoint did. The lyrics roughly translate to ´´We are going. Are you coming?´´ So, God is marching on, and we are going. Are you coming? Will you join us?

I Love being a missionary! I have learned so much already, and there is so much in store! I love this gospel and I am so grateful for this chance to serve!

Con amor, 
Hermana Thacker
They are already decorating for Christmas here. I guess I would too if I wasn´t celebrating Thanksgiving in the middle :)

This is Hna. Granado, Hna. Miller, Hna. Porter, me, and Hna. Baird. Hna. Granado and Hna. Baird are so much fun! Hna. Granado is from Arizona, goes to Utah state, and has only been a member for 2 years. Hna. Baird is from Massachusetts and goes to BYU-I

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Week Two in the MTC

13 November 2013
I can totally imagine the robot voice.. I laughed out loud :)
Quick question, what exactly happened in the Phillipines? We watched a live devotional from the MTC in Provo yesterday. The Elder that prayed in the beginning prayed for the people there, and then Elder L. Tom Perry mentioned a tsunami. He said that yesterday morning the Quorum of the 12 spent most of their meeting thanking Heavenly Father that all of the missionaries were safe. He told us that there was a stake president that found all of the missionaries on his little island and provided trasport to get them to the airport. Once at the airport the missionaries, who all had tickets, couldn't get on the plane because everyone else was trying to leave too. A millitary cargo plane had arrived at about the same time as the missionaries and the commander came to see what was the matter. He looked at the missionaries, looked back at his plane, and said 'I've got a plane, lets go.' In three trips he transported all 24 missionaries safely back to Manilla. Elder Perry said, ''Coincidence? ABSOLUTELY NOT!'' It is amazing how the Lord protects and provides for His missionaries!

Me and My companions in front of the Mexico City Temple
This week has flown a lot faster! This week we have two investigators to teach but we have only taught one. It has been an exciting challenge bringing three wills to one in a lesson. Even though we all have the same purpose and end goal we each have our own way of getting there. We've learned the importance of planning. When we have a plan for how we are going to achieve our purpose and know what roles we each have the lessons go much smoother and are much more coherent. My companion,  Hna. Miller said that she's learned much more about how amazing it is that the Godhead is united in will and purpose. It is nearly impossible to get anything accomplished no matter how united you are in purpose unless you are united in will.
The Peanut Butter and Nutella Station
            Real quick, I'll tell you about the food. Every meal they have two options, a Latino option and an American option. So this morning I had ham and cheese rolled in a tortilla for breakfast. Lunch is the biggest meal and is usually the best. Here they are totally not afraid of reusing\using up what they have. For example, Monday night for dinner we had hot dogs. Tuesday morning for breakfast we had papas con salchicha (potatoes with cut up hot dogs). Tuesday for lunch la ensalada had cut up hot dogs in it. Tuesday for dinner, as a side to huge slices of pizza, we had a pasta dish with... cut up hot dogs in it... I really do love that they don't let anything go to waste. Also, at breakfast and dinner they have a peanut butter and Nutella station. Last week when we served in the Comedor(cafeteria), we were in charge of preparing that station. We got out 8 brand new jars of peanut butter and 10 new jars of Nutella. I wish I had a picture of the pantry shelves where they keep the Nutella and peanut butter.
            Oh, to answer your question about the temple. We had the option of having the head set to hear it in English, but I just listened in Spanish. My companions had 3-4 years of Spanish, but it was still rough in the beginning.  
            Lastly, before I try to send some pictures, this week for service we worked in the laundry folding bedding. I learned how to fold fitted sheets! Once you know it is actually pretty easy. It was actually pretty cool.

Con cariño, Hermana Thacker
PS. Funny story... my companion was teaching our investigator about how he needed to take steps of faith, but she kept saying pesos de fe. Finally he looked at her with a really puzzled look and said ''¿pasos?  She was so embarrassed. That’s OK though, an elder in our district  always said pasas which are raisins.
My MTC District
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Sunday, November 10, 2013

Every Minute Has Been Worth It

Hola Familia! 
            We just had a devotional about how important understanding who God is in gaining a testimony. Elder Johnson (from one of the quorums of the Seventy) talked about how the sons of Mosiah always began teaching by making sure who they were teaching understood who God was. After Lamoni and the King of the Lamanites understood the basic doctrine of who God was, they were willing to believe everything else they were taught. What an important place to start in teaching Jayden! ... It's been a crazy week! I am in a trio with Hermana Porter and Hermana Miller.  (I will send a picture of us next week.) Hermana Porter is from Alpine, UT and just graduated from high school like Bekah.  Hermana Miller is from Boise, ID, and has done a year of school at Boise State. Both of my companions are really great, and I am so grateful for what they have already taught me!
            I've always heard that at the MTC (or CCM, el Centro de Capacitacion Misional) you just have to make it until Sunday. After that it is easier and a lot less overwhelming. It is totally true. The first few days were truly hard. The first day of classes my companeras and I were not prepared at all.  We didn't have any of the books and materials we needed because we didn't know what we needed to have when. And we were late to nearly everything. We finally figured it out though, and we haven't been late or unprepared for anything since.  
            On Friday we began teaching an 'investigator”.  It has been a wonderful experience to learn how to teach, but it is a bit frustrating when you cannot fully communicate the ideas you want to share. Our Spanish is improving fast though. Even just comparing our first lesson on Friday to the last lesson we taught on Monday!
            Sunday was amazing because it was a chance to focus on learning spiritually and not have to worry about our Spanish so much. The MTC President's wife taught a lesson in Relief Society about becoming who God wants you to become through the Atonement. In the evening we watched a devotional about prayer given by Elder Scott that helped me to evaluate my prayers. It was a nice gentle reminder of where I can improve and do better.
            Starting this week we have been less overwhelmed and less worried that our Spanish isn't improving as fast as we think it should. Yesterday we had a chance to serve by cleaning in the Comedor, and today we got to go to the temple. The Mexico City Temple is beautiful! It felt so great to be there and have a chance to be still. It is about 45 minutes away from the CCM and so we get to see a bit of Mexico City.  All of the especially important buildings--schools, hospitals, churches, colleges, etc--have a tall fence and guarded gates. If someone wants to advertise their business they just paint a big sign on the side of the building--the bigger and more colorful the better. People weave in and out of traffic if they have the right of way or not, and we even saw a troupe of jugglers as we waited a one stoplight. It was neat to see all of these little tiendas and street vendors lining the streets. However, I am grateful the CCM has a fence and guards and we get to be in the city but not of it.
            Truly, being here at the CCM has been a wonderful experience. Wonderfully hard, but I have learned so much that every minute of it has been worth it.

I love you all mucho!
Hasta luego!
Hna. Thacker