Monday, September 30, 2013

Family! Week 1 in the Field!

Dear Familia!!!

I am in Knoxville Tennessee and absolutely loving it! I have a lot I want to tell you so hopefully I can fit it all in! First off, it was SO nice to talk to everyone! Definitely gave me a nice little booster before I came out in the field!
My mission president, President Irion, met me at the airport with his wife. He is a nice man, but honestly I have not had that much contact with him. After he picked me up, he drove me straight to my apartment, dropped me off, and then said goodbye. I didn't have an interview or anything with him, so can't say that I know him all that well.

I have two companions. My companions names are Sister Horkley and Sister Stone. They are both very nice! (Side note, I counted up, and they are the 13th companions that I have had so far. Kind of crazy!). Sister Stone really enjoys cooking a ton. She said that she got a minor in culinary. It has been fun getting to know her a little bit and what not. She has done some cake decorating in the past, so she showed me pictures of what she has done, and I showed her a picture of Tara's wedding cake. It was pretty fun. My other companion is Sister Horkley. She is a very nice person as well. We all have been getting along pretty well. On my third day here, both of my companions pretty much had a blow-up at each other.... talk about awkward. Anyways, everything is figured out now and I feel a LOT more unified with both of them!

My first few days here were a little hard. The missionary work here is going VERY slow. When I came out, I don't think we had one progressing investigator. With the first lesson that we taught, my companions basically talked to the person for a good hour and a half and then gave a 5 minute spiritual thought. That was my second day here so I was kind of disappointed with that. With all of the work that we were doing, I didn't feel that great about it and honestly like I wasn't able to give my all... or even enough to make me tired at night... A little discouraging. Things have been getting much better though. I have learned that just because I am the "new missionary" does not mean that I have to be quiet. lol. Ever since my companions and I had the talk about things that were bugging us, things have been getting better little by little. It's definitely interesting to see how different people have different meanings for the words "hard-work."

Well I have had a TON of tender mercies this week! Let me share some of them with you! On my first day here, we decided to do a little bit of tracting. We went to a few houses, but on the third house that we went to, a lady answered the door. We weren't able to give her a lesson, but we were able to share a quick spiritual message and leave her with a prayer. She mentioned how her bosses brother had taken his life and how it was a divine mercy that we had showed up to giver her some more peace in her life.

A few days ago my companions and I needed to get lunch but we didn't have enough time to stop back at our apartment to get food so we just dropped by subway. When we were at subway, I started talking to this girl named Beth (:D). Anyways, at the very end of the conversation I asked her if she would feel comfortable giving me her name and number and if we could come visit her sometime. I don't know if it will turn out to be anything, but it sure was nice to go up and talk to someone and actually get a name and number out of it!

The other day we were going to visit a less-active member named Trish. When we were going there, we saw a person walking his dog so we stopped and talked to him. His name was Brandon and we set up an appointment to go and teach him the next day (Sunday). Trish wasn't there, but we did get an appointment with Brandon so we felt successful! The next day when we went to visit Brandon, his very grumpy dad answered the door. He went to go and get Brandon so we could teach him, but he decided that he didn't want to meet with us, so we got BONKED. Thank goodness we make back-up plans because then we decided to go and visit another less-active member of the ward! The timing that we got there was absolutely perfect. It could not have been any better. This LA name was Sarah. Sarah had her roommate just barely move out unexpectedly that day meaning she had to come up with double the money to pay all the rent herself, and she was super stressed with her two year old child (who she had just put to bed because he had thrown food ALL over), and she had just gotten off the phone with her boyfriend so she could clean up the mess. She was honestly about ready to have an emotional break-down. We came in, helped her clean up just a little bit and we shared a spiritual message with her. The spirit was so strong! It was wonderful. We invited her to start praying and just the timing with everything, we could definitely see the Lord's hand working through us. It was wonderful!

This week we packed up a lady named Patsy and helped her move. She lives right next to us. It was honestly SUPER frustrating. When we came over to just move all of the big things, she had not packed one thing. She expected us to do all of it. I don't know the full background on this lady, but she does have a history of using the missionaries and I definitely felt used. :P Anyways, thanks for teaching me to do things on my own before I ask for help!!

I saw my first firefly this week. It was pretty cool! I am in a driving mission. Hopefully I will get transferred to a biking mission sometime or something. I think I would really enjoy that. My foot is doing well. I personally think that I will be here until my foot fully heals. Oh, all of the meals that I have had here have been lasagna. I guess everyone here REALLY loves lasagna....

Mission life is good!

All of you are in my prayers. I love you VERY much!! Church is true!!! 


Sister Spencer :)

Friday, September 20, 2013

Week 10 . . . And still counting!

Dear Family! 

This now makes 10 weeks that I have been at the MTC.... super long. There have definitely been ups and downs here though. I figured out that I study about 6 1/2- 7 hours by myself a day. Super long. I have been trying my hardest to stay productive and keep my mind focused, but it can get a bit hard, especially when I don't have any investigators and lessons to prepare. There was one day in particular where I was getting pretty down. I said a prayer asking that I would be able to have some people to help teach, or some investigators. Not even two minutes after I had said my prayer, one of my old teachers, Irmao Van Wagenor, came up to me and told me that there was a Sister in the district that he was currently teaching that wanted some extra help and asked if I would be willing to help her out! I was so excited!!! Then, after we had finished talking, not even a minute later, another teacher came out and started talking to me. He mentioned how the district he was teaching just barely got here 5 days ago and asked if I would be willing to help them out during their coaching missionary study. Dang, immediate answer to my prayers!!! While these were answers to my prayers, the best part is that I was actually able to help them! The very next day I helped out the whole new district, and the day after, I helped out Sisters (Sister Passey and Sister Eddington) from Irmao Van Wagenor's district. It was so awesome!! My prayers were definitely answered, and it was definitely an answer that I needed right then! 

For devotional this Tuesday, I was still on my little scooter so I got to take the shuttle over to the Marriot Center. It was pretty cool though because on the way to the Marriot Center, we stopped at the Wyview west MTC campus to pick up missionaries who also couldn't walk over. When we stopped there for a minute, I saw one of my good friends from freshman year at BYU. I got to have a quick 30 second conversation and it was definitely very nice! Then, once we got to the Marriot Center, because I was limping and can't really walk like a normal person, one of the workers took me down to the floor level on the elevator and so I actually got to be on the floor instead of climbing all over the bleachers! Super nice!! On the way back from devotional, the driver went and dropped all of the senior missionaries off at the Marriot Hotel first, so we got to drive around Provo. For being in the MTC, it was definitely a tender mercy for me just to see the outside world! 

As it turns out, for the Relief Society General Conference, they wanted to do a sister missionary choir for it. All of my companions are SUPER into singing, so we have been going to every possible choir practice so that we could get in there. Last Sunday, we filled out a survey and we all made it into the choir, so for the Relief Society General Conference session, you might see me on the camera!! My companions are all unbelievably excited about singing in the choir and I find it to be kind of funny. I'm not much of a singer, but I am very excited at the prospect of being on TV and getting to go down to Salk Lake! :) 

Probably the news that I am most excited to tell you is something that happened to me yesterday! I was sitting outside in the hall, studying like I always do when the person in charge of the referral center walked past. I introduced myself to him when I first got here and he knows some of my situation now so we got to talking. He invited me to come and start working in the referral center until my foot heals so I can leave. As soon as he said that, it just sounded right. It felt right, it sounds right, and I REALLY want to do that! On Monday morning, he said he would be in his office again so he told me that I could just come on over and that he would get things figured out for me to be there! This sure beats studying by myself for 6 1/2 hours a day!! AND there is a possibility that I could talk to people you speak Portuguese so I could practice my Portuguese as well. I am so excited for this!! I'm going to talk to my Branch President about it on Sunday, but I put in a good word with his wife when she came to talk to us last night, so I think that it will all work out! I sure hope it does! If it does work out and I get to be there, and then I get a re-assignment, it would be super cool because it would be like I would have 3 missions in one! I am SO excited for this!!! :) 

They have started making these divine salads at the MTC. I am in love with them. It sure beats all of the other food that they have here. They had a SUPER good pulled pork one the other day. It reminded me of cafe rio and made me very happy! :) 

Here are a few quotes that I thought were really cool: "There are at least two angels for every missionary. We are definitely among heavenly beings at the MTC." and ..."Let us love at all times. Our own spirits become healed, more refined, and stronger as we serve others." I thought both of those were super cool! 

I love you all! Thank you for all of your letters and support this week! You are in my prayers!! 
The church is true and Christ lives! Prayer is amazing!! 

Sister Spencer

Friday, September 13, 2013

Final Countdown!!! . . . Almost

Dear Familia,

Well, yet another week and I am still here at the MTC. I think they are having trouble getting rid of me. ;) JK! 

So for companions this week, they have been switching up quite a bit. At the beginning of the week I had Sister Francis. She was awesome and I loved her! And then she got her re-assignment to Salem, Oregon and left Saturday morning. After that, I went into a trio and my companions were Sister Reeve and Sister Leonard. They were so fun!! I really liked being their companion. One thing that they did which was super nice is that they included me in their lessons instead of just trying to ignore me thinking that I was only their companions for a few days so it didn't really matter. That made such a huge difference. But, they got their visas, so they left for Brazil on Monday.
Now, my companions are Sister Nielson and Sister Hardester. They are so fun!! I feel like I am learning a lot from their example and they are definitely very inclusive as well. Sister Hardester's mom sent a package with socks for all of us in there. And her mom even included me! It was so nice!! I should be with them for the rest of the time that I am here! I am pretty excited for that!! 

My foot is doing well. It is continuing to heal and the nurses here have given me a scooter to go around on so I don't have to walk on my foot. It's pretty fun- I named the scooter Sam (gender neutral name). I've learned how to drift on my scooter and it is pretty fun to do going around corners and everything though! (don't worry, I am definitely being smart!). Because I am on the scooter though, I've been getting a ton of comments from people saying "Oh I wish I had one of those"... or..." Dang, I want to hurt my foot so I can ride on a scooter. As fun as my scooter is to ride, it definitely not worth hurting my foot to purposefully have one. My foot hurts sometimes, but not a lot of the time. It's good just as long as I stay off of it--the scooter is very helpful. I can tell that it is healing quickly. i am definitely very glad that I got a blessing before I went in for my surgery. That is definitely helping out a ton. :)

I talked to my branch president and because I have been at the MTC for so long (I am on my 9th week right now), they do not know what to do with me. My branch president has declared me as a "solo/appendage" missionary. Sounds pretty cool, right? Well, it really isn't that cool. The district that I am with right now has only been here 3 weeks so I am pretty far ahead of them. My branch president basically told me that I get to sit right outside the classroom door and study on my own. I am trying my very hardest to stay diligent with studying, but it is pretty difficult at times... especially since I sit right next to the drinking fountain and everyone and their mother who comes over asks me "where is your companion" and "oh, what did you do to your foot?" It can be a bit frustrating to explain my situation 20 times to everyone who asks. I guess it is really good patience testing for me though.... 

I had a really good lesson this week about "making the mission count." It really energized me to help me continue to do my best. Even though I am in the MTC, I think that I have come to realize that this IS my mission. I can't wait to go out in the field, but I am here now and I am most definitely going to make the time count here and do my best to be a positive influence to others. In my scripture reading this past week, I've noticed the phrase "and the Lord comforted his people." I really like that phrase. I can feel the Lord's comfort in my own life and I know that there have been countless tender mercies which I am so grateful for! (One of which was that I saw my good friend Haley Brogan at work--she works MTC security-- the other night. SO awesome!!!)

I love you all VERY much! You are in my thoughts and prayers! 

Sister Spencer

Friday, September 6, 2013

Uneventful,Yet Eventful Week

Dear Familia!!

How are you all doing? My week has been pretty uneventful and eventful at the same time. I had my surgery on Wednesday and it went pretty well. I am currently in this boot weird thing and I am not allowed to walk a whole lot or at all really.
It is kind of frustrating. During the day, I go to the health clinic to this place called the "sick bed." During the day I just stay in there basically. I really like it in there though. I am the only one back there, so I just read things in Portuguese out-loud, work on my pronunciation, practice learning vocab and sentence structure. It's pretty great and honestly I really like it. I am going to be sort of sad when I have to go sit in a classroom again and re-learn things I have already learned. Oh well, things will work out the way that they are supposed to. With the original bandage that they put on my foot, it bled through that, so the nurse put another one on top and said that if it bled through the second one that they would consider it to be excessive bleeding. It sort of started to bleed through a little bit, so later today I am going to go into the nurse and see what she thinks. In all honesty though, I am not super worried though. I know that the Lord will help me to get everything figured out. 

I met some sisters who are going to Campinas and they live on my Residence hall floor. There are 6 of them and they are all SUPER nice. I am definitely super lucky and have the best mission! That is a fact. I really hope that I will be able to get my visa soon. We'll see what happens though. I'd appreciate your prayers to help my visa come through quickly! :)

This past week I have had a TON of companions. My companions have been Sister Van Wagenen, Peterson, Dunn, and my current companion is Sister Francis. I really like Sister Francis. She is super fun, nice and level-headed. One of the companions that I had, Sister Dunn, I was only with her for a few days, and honestly I am glad I was only with her for a few days. She was SUPER attached to her old companions and so when they left, she had a hard time. I tried to do everything I could to make her happy, but I guess it was hard on her when I had to go to doctor's appointments so she couldn't eat dinner with her district. At least it was only for a few days though. Oh, so super funny though. She left Wednesday morning at 2:30 in the morning and on Tuesday night, I told her to wake me up so that I could say goodbye to her. On Wednesday morning, right before she was ready to leave, she said my name to wake me up, I literally sat straight up in bed and sort of let out a weird noise. She said it was one of the weirdest things she had ever seen and was pretty freaked out. I thought it was hilarious and could not stop laughing for a good 5 minutes after she left. ... some things are definitely only funny when you are in the MTC. :P 

This past Sunday was fast Sunday. We had missionary conference for two hours. On Sunday I was worried about my foot, so I was praying for comfort with it and for it to heal quickly. It was amazing, I felt like the speakers wrote the talks specifically for me to hear. Pretty darn cool. In the talks, they mentioned how the Lord will answer your prayers, he may not always tell you what is going to happen, but if you have faith in him, he will definitely watch over you and do what is best for you. I definitely needed to hear that. 

The past district I was in, was definitely very unique. I am glad I was not with them for my entire time at the MTC. They are kind of super weird and touchy. During class times, I would look over and the Elders would be giving each other an in-depth back massage.... AWKWARD. Yeah, I'm glad I moved districts. On Monday they were all taking pictures since they were leaving, and since I am the awkward person district jumping right now, I got loaded down with all of the cameras. It is kind of hard to feel like I don't really belong anywhere and that I am just there to be the photographer. I was pretty much on the verge of tears, when Seth walked around the corner. He is such a good brother. Such a tender mercy that I saw him!! 

One of the teachers that I had this week was named Sister Tirrell. She is super nice AND she went to Campinas on her mission. I've been asking her a ton of questions and it is super cool to hear all about it! One thing she mentioned to me is that she gained 40 lbs on her mission.... That is NOT happening to me. I guess that kind of worried me. 

On Tuesday night we had one of the best devotionals that I have been to here. The speaker talked about how right now there are 76,000+ missionaries serving in the church and how by the end of fall, there should be around 85,000+ missionaries. Such a cool time to be a missionary. The speaker also went and talked about Jacob 5. The whole olive tree analogy. One thing he mentioned about it, is that all of the prophets just asked for more time for the trees to produce good fruit, and the last servant, asked for more servants to help the trees produce good fruit and right after they got more servants, the Lord came. The speaker mentioned how we are fulfilling a prophecy to be "more servants" for the Lord. He said how the Lord had invited us to be more servants and we were fulfilling that calling. It was a super cool talk. I was so glad that I got to see it. 

It is hard being at the MTC always seeing people going, but I am doing my best to stay positive. I have taught some pretty killer lessons to the walls and chairs in the "sick bed" area. I'm grateful for the alone time though. That's always nice to have. I am so grateful to be a missionary. I love you all VERY much!! 

♥ Sister Spencer