Saturday, July 27, 2013

First Email Home

One Week and 2 Days since Entering the MTC!

My dear "Elite force writing me"

As things would turn out, I did end up getting my luggage the next day so I had to spend a night borrowing things from my companions and roommates. [Sister Spencer's luggage was sent to Memphis when she flew to Salt Lake City from Denver . . . oops.] They were so sweet though. Thank goodness.

The MTC is definitely very different from anything before. I have had some hard days where I just miss home a bunch but then there are also some moments where I just absolutely love it! When I first got here, everyone told me "wait until Sunday... wait until Sunday" As to why they said that I am still not sure. Sunday was the HARDEST day for me. I got so homesick and what not. But there was an awesome devotional at the end of the day. There were a few lines in there that really hit home. One of them was that "there were angels walking among us" (I just thought that was really cool and I felt the spirit really strong to) and also that your family is praying for you. Dang, I don't even know how to describe it, but I can feel all of your prayers and am SO thankful for them! Thank you so much!!! 

The best time of the day is exercise time in my opinion. I get to sit in a classroom for 10-12 hours a day and absolutely love the time that I have to get out and move around. My companion is super awesome and does the hard workouts with me too!!! :D We found out about these 6 am exercise classes that they have for sisters and have been going to them. They are like kick-boxing, yoga, cardio, things like that. They are only for a half hour, but are really fun to do. I find that this is SUCH a good stress relief for me!!

My companion is Sister Pennington. I don't know how I got this lucky, but I really do have the best companion possible! She is from Boston and is super smart and helps me out a lot. She is also super patient with me, especially with learning Portuguese. (she is a bit better than me, but that is okay! :)) I thought it was kind of funny though, we were having a companion inventory and she called me "easy going" haha! oh I'm not sure if I would even describe myself like that sometimes!!! My other roommates are Sister Acevedo and Sister Guynn. They are fantastic and we all get along so well. I just love it! We laugh quite a bit. It's very nice!

My district consists of 10 elders and 4 sisters, me included. At 9:25 at night we get our mail from our district leader. My district leader told me that I have "an elite force writing me" to which I responded that I had recruited and trained my troops well. It was funny... but seriously, thank you so much for all of your letters! They really do make my night so much better and I just love it so much!!!! Anyways, back to my district. My teacher (I'll talk about him later) is single, so we decided that as a district that we should pray for him to find a wife. Well, the person who was saying the prayer messed up a few words, so in Portuguese he basically asked that our teacher could find a wife who was beautiful in a masculine way. We all got a good laugh out of that! My district is super strict though. I think that they have a lot of super silly rules. I am trying my best to obey them though, even if I think they are stupid. Every Sunday we have to prepare a talk, just in case we are randomly called up to speak. Since we are past our first week here, if we give a talk, it has to be totally in Portuguese.... talk about intimidating. Haha. Oh man, I hope I have a few more weeks before I have to give a talk so that I sound better and all... but whether or not I get a few weeks, I will be ready!!

The language is coming along pretty well I think. I think I have learned A TON in the past week and a half that I have been here. On our second day we learned how to pray in Portuguese and now my companion and I try to say most of our prayers in Portuguese. On our 3rd day in the MTC, we had to give a lesson all in Portuguese to our investigator, Leonardo. My goodness, talk about nerve racking. Since then though, we have given 5 lessons to him in Portuguese. On our 4th lesson, we invited him to be baptized and then on our 5th lesson we set a baptismal date for him! It was THE BEST FEELING!!!! .... Really though, our investigator was just a teacher who was already a member here. But still, it was very exciting!!!

I have ran into quite a few friends in the MTC though!!! I have seen Andrew and Colby Thomas, and Eric Garn!!! I thought he was going to be at the other campus, but apparently not, so that was a very pleasant surprise! I was really nervous that I would not see Arden, so I kept praying that I would. There was one day when I thought she had left, but I came out of my residence and THERE SHE WAS! It was SO great to see her! And then I also saw her on Sunday and sat next to her in RS. That was so great. We talked for a while and that was super great!! I love being at the Provo MTC because I get to see all of my friends here. It's very comforting!!!

Okay, so PACKAGES are the BEST!!!!! I absolutely love them!!!! When you get a package, you get this absolutely beautiful slip that says you can leave your class and go and get your package. THEN, once you get your package, it is just about as exciting as Christmas day!!!!!

My teachers are super nice and good at explaining things. Although, they only speak in Portuguese. But I am getting alright at understanding.

Well this system is down and my computer is freezing every half sentence.  I'll try to write more next week!

Sister Spencer

Monday, July 15, 2013

Farewell talk


Black name tag upon our chests,
We are men, the Church's best.
Some may boast. Some may brag,
But very few wear the Black Name Tag

Twenty four months without a date
We are tough, we can wait.
Our girl's at home, they never brag,
Their brave men wear the Black Name Tag.

Back at home our young girls wait,
But not for long-she starts to date.
Her interest soon begins to lag,
She "Dear Johns" the Black Name Tag

On return home, we resume life.
Start the search to find a wife,
But finds are few, and efforts lag,
Such is the life for the Black Name Tag

You find a Babe, she has a man,
You find a chick, she has a plan,
You find "The One", and what a drag,
'Cuz now she wears the Black Name Tag.

My name is Beth Spencer and I have received my mission call to the Brazil Campinas mission. I leave on Wednesday to go to the Provo MTC and I am very excited to go and serve! For the past year, I have been attending Brigham Young University and am looking at studying either child development or communication disorders, I’m still trying to decide. My parents have been helping out at the Young Single Adult Ward. So if you haven’t seen much of us in the past while, that is why.
As many of you know, the Lord is beginning to hasten his work here on the Earth. He has changed the missionary age making it possible for girls to serve missions at age 19 and men to serve missions beginning at age 18. However, this does not end there. The Lord is also asking ward members to become member missionaries and share their religion more.
Elder Bednar has outlined seven steps that can help others share their religion more.
The First step was to live our religion. A latter-day Saint’s life is his or her best sermon. Our conversations ought to be open, genuine, and engaged in with a spirit of kindness. As followers  of Jesus Christ, we are most believable when our actions are in harmony with our beliefs.
When my brother was on his mission, he taught a woman who had moved from New York down to Utah. She was so impressed with the Mormon’s and their kind example that from there she became interested in learning more about the church.
I’ve often heard it said that people do not care how much you know until you show them how much you care. By always striving to live our religion, we can show them that we do care about them.
When Christ was on the Earth, always taught others and showed love towards individuals.
Christ gave of himself to the outcasts of society. A despised leper worshiped the Lord and said, “Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.” The scripture records—note it well—that “Jesus put forth his hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be thou clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.” (Matt. 8:2–3.)

In one of his most dramatic miracles, Jesus still paid attention to individuals. As he prepared to raise Lazarus from the dead, he saw Mary weeping, and, the record states, “he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled.” And then, “Jesus wept.” (John 11:33–35.)

Just as Jesus taught through his example and actions, so can we.

The second step was to establish a foundation. Rather than responding to random questions, it might be helpful to establish a foundation. It can be helpful to explain to others that we embrace Jesus Christ as our Savior and accept the Bible’s teachings, but believe that the Christian world departed from basic truths, and so Christ needed to restore His church.
Helaman 5:12 says: “And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon thearock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your bfoundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty cstorm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall.”
One of the most commons myths that I have heard is that Mormons do not believe in Jesus Christ. If we explain when we get simple questions that we do believe in Jesus Christ and attempt to share some of the founding basics of our religion, many of the myths about what we believe will dissipate. By establishing a foundation, we can show others that we most certainly do believe in Jesus Christ and the teachings of the bible as far as they are translated correctly.
Often times by living our religion, we will get questions arise about what we believe. This is where Elder Bednar brings in his third point. He says to connect the dots. Try to discern the gospel principle at the heart of a question, and connect the answer back to the Savior. We do not need to be complicated, sophisticated arguments when the principles we try to live by come from the Son of God.
Sometimes in our lives, “connecting the dots” is just the same as living by faith. The Lord doesn’t give us the “full” answer or vision typically. We only have a part of it. If we are only asked one question, by answering it and connecting it back to the Savior we may spark an interest or another question in that person.
In order to answer other people’s questions, we need to know scripture stories and have a testimony of Jesus Christ and the works that he did. During his mortal ministry, Christ went out of his way to go to Samaria. In John 4 it tells the story that at Jacob’s well, Christ took the time to teach a woman of Samaria some glorious eternal truths. She accepted his testimony that he was the Messiah and returned to the city to testify, “Is not this the Christ?” (John 4:29.
Christ went out of his way to teach the woman at the well. It was not convenient for him to go to Samaria, and it was out of the way and not the normal route to take. However, this did not stop him. Christ went and taught this woman even if it was not the most convenient thing for him to do. In our own lives, there can be people that we can tell the gospel to. It may not be the most convenient thing and it may take us out of our comfort zone to teach others, but just as Christ went out of his way, if we go out of our way, we may be an influence for good.
The fourth point that Elder Bednar gives is to share experiences. Answering questions is not about reciting memorized answers. Sharing genuine, personal experiences can invite the Spirit to bear witness and carry the message into the listener’s heart.  
Being able to start talking about the experiences you have in your life will make others more interested. One thing in particular that I have noticed is that by recording the tender mercies that I find in my own life, it helps to create more opportunities for me to share experiences with others.
When my family was getting ready for my sister’s wedding, my mom ended up needing more help than we initially thought we would for the reception out in Utah. As the reception was coming up, my mom got an email from a friend asking if she would need any help because she was out in Utah and was willing to help. It didn’t stop there. When my sister was at the temple, waiting to go in to be sealed, my mom found an old friend who also offered to help out. Although for these friends it was a simple offer to help, it was a God send for us.
There was one time when my mom asked me to go the store. I ran upstairs to grab my wallet. However, we had just gotten back from a trip to Utah so I had not yet had time to unpack and organize everything. I quickly realized that I did not know where my wallet was, but I knew that I needed it soon because we were in real time crunch. I quickly kneeled down and explained the situation to my Heavenly Father and told him that I knew that he could help me find my wallet and asked him if he could help me. After I finished my prayer, I immediately started to look again. It wasn’t long after looking that I found my wallet in some obscure pocket of my travel bag.
When my brother was going through cancer treatments, my parents always made a point to point out the tender mercies and the hand of the Lord in our lives. Whether it would be a meal that someone would prepare for us, a kind word of encouragement, someone coming down to the hospital to visit my brother, or even just someone helping to give us a ride somewhere.  
As we share the experiences that we have with others, it can help them to know more about our faith and what we believe. It does not have to be some big story of how the Lord saved your life, but it can be a small story of how the Lord blessed your life and made your day better. The Lord does care about us and blesses  in our lives. As we share our experiences with others, it can help them to know as well that the Lord does care about them as well.
In my life, I have known for quite some time that I would be serving a mission, I just was not quite sure on the timing. When the Lord changed the missionary age required for service, there began to be a ton of people who were excited about missions. Just as I am excited for my mission and love to talk about with anyone who will listen to me long enough, sharing the tender mercies and stories that we have in our lives can help to change another person’s life. 
The fifth point that Elder Bednar mentions is to understand your audience. The same conversation isn’t going to work for everyone—we all have different backgrounds. And remember that a casual question doesn’t require a half-hour lecture as a reply. Be sensitive to interest, comfort, and level of understanding. Signal that sensitivity so that those who are curious can feel at ease.
Elder Bednar says that “the gift of discernment operates best when we are listening. So while talking about the Chruch, remember that it may help to ask clarifying questions and to do as much listening as we do talking.  
My family has a neighbor that dealt with a serious illness in their family. When we would go over there to visit, we would always say “we are praying for you” as we left.” Not after long, we soon learned that this particular phrase really annoyed this person because he was an atheist. Rather than being a comfort like we had meant it to be, it was more of an annoyance. When we found this out, we switched our words to some that would relate to him better. We would tell him “You are looking great today” or “that small trip you went seemed like so much fun.” We remained positive with this young man to help him know that we were still thinking about him.
When a friend asks you a question, you don’t always have to explain the entire gospel at once to them. When Christ was on the Earth for his mortal ministry, he did not sit everyone down and tell them everything all at once. He lived by his example and answered questions that people had as they arose. As you are talking to your friends and neighbors, questions may arise about the word of wisdom with why we do not drink coffee or tea,  or why we pay tithing or have temples. With the new temple being built in Fort Collins, it provides a great opportunity for us to bear our testimonies to our friends about the importance of temples and of family. Maybe your testimony will help to spark an interest in them. In church statistics it shows that in order for a person to become serious about what we actually believe, they have to be exposed to the church many times. By sharing your testimony it can help to give your friends a little bit more of an idea of what you believe and why you believe it.

The sixth option that Elder Bednar talks about is to use resources. Matthey 7:12 reads: “Say unto them, Ask of God; ask, and it shall be give you; seek and ye shall find; knock and it shall be opened unto you.” The church has created online resources that can be helpful for members to share with those who have questions. Church magazines are available online and in print, and items available at distribution centers may be helpful. Sharing a copy of the Book of Mormon may also be appropriate. You can also create an online profile on
One thing in particular that I have found helpful is that you have to materials ready to give to people or you have to be familiar with the information online to send your friends where they need to be. Having or knowing where to direct people online is a big step to utilize the resources that the church has given us.
My brother often tells me that in the morning, he prays that he will be able to help someone out during the day. However, due to the business of his days and all that he has going on, he does not always remember his prayer. There was one day in particular, when he told me that he also included in his morning prayer that he asked Heavenly Father to help him remember throughout the day that he wanted to help someone. As he was driving to walmart to get a few items, my brother saw a homeless person on the side of the road and remembered his prayer from the morning. He looked at her and thought that he might be able to help her. My brother wasn’t quite sure what he had to give her, so he started searching around the car to see what he had. He ended up with 67 cents and then he found a Book of Mormon in his glove compartment that he always keeps there just in case. After sitting and thinking for a minute my brother realized that the Book of Mormon had changed his life for the better, so he figured that he could give it to her. He parked his car, got out and went up and talked to the homeless lady. As he started talking to her, he gave her the 67 cents and asked her to look at each coin and find out what each of those coins had in common. She responded that she did not know. He told her that each of those coins had the words “In God we Trust” on there. As he bore his testimony about God, he gave her the Book of Mormon and told her that this Book had changed his life for the better. The lady did not know quite what to do getting a Book of Mormon and my brother did not even know if this lady could read. But by bearing his testimony and giving her the book of Mormon, he planted the seed for her. We don’t know what will happen in that situation, but because he took the effort and taught this woman a little bit about what he believes, her life may be better.
One thing growing up that my parents have always done is kept a box of Book of Mormons in our closet so that if we ever feel like we want to give a friend of ours a Book of Mormon, we have some available to us. Growing up, my parents have taught me that it is always important to share what you believe in with others. A few years ago the church came out with a special ensign about Christ. We got some of these, and we would give them out to family friends to let them know a little bit more about what we believed.
Another good option for sharing the gospel is keeping pass-along or cards in your wallet or purse. When my brother was flying out to Colorado, he sat next to two people on the plane ride. One person had his head phones in and was in his own world, the other person my brother was able to talk to about his beliefs and the church. Near the end of the plane ride, my brother gave this man a pass along card with some information about the church on there. This was not a super big effort, but it was just enough so that my brother was able to introduce the church to this man.
When we use the church resources to share with others, it does not always have to be some big drastic experience for us or for them. We can simply share what we need to and be loving about it.

The last point that Elder Bednar talks about is to be a force for good. Members of the Church can help clear up misconceptions and increase understanding of who we are and what we believe. People may see differences between what they believe and what Latter-day Saints believe, but they may also find common ground on which to build better relationships.
In Fort Collins, we are lucky because we have a unique opportunity with a program with just serve. Through this program, we can find out about different types of community service and get involved.
Before I left for college, there were plenty of opportunities that I had. For mutual we went to the alpha center and made baskets for mothers who had decided to have their baby after all. In the relief society, we made pillow cases and stuffed them with hot chocolate mixes for little kids. These were not huge things that I did, but they were easy to do and helped out. As we watch out for situations to serve others, we will find that more and more opportunities arise.
When Christ was on the earth, he showed the importance of serving others through his actions. He was always helping someone else out and putting others before himself. In one specific instance, Christ gathered together all of his disciples and washed their feet for them. While this was maybe not the most fun job in the world, Christ did what he did with love and by choice. With the attitude Christ had and the works that he did, he was a force for good in the world.  
By following the steps that Elder Bednar has put forth, we can show our love to others, teach them about what we believe, and be influences for good in the world. As I prepare to go on my mission on Wednesday and put on my black name tag, I have been getting very excited and also a little nervous. One of the things that has really helped me out is the knowledge that I have that God loves me and that I am his daughter. I know that we are all sons and daughters of God and that he loves us all very much and wants the best for us. Even though I do not know the people of Brazil, I know that God loves them and I am thrilled to be able to go share that message with them.