Sunday, March 29, 2015

One Month Down!

Family and friends! 
Hard to believe I have completed one month of my mission already! The MTC is still great and I am having awesome experiences :) It's amazing how much I've learned in that time- language and gospel wise. 

This week we continued teaching our 3 investigators. Most of my week consisted of learning the Plan of Salvation lesson in Cantonese. It's difficult because there's a lot of hard vocab and sometimes they don't understand so you have to explain it. But this week I made the whole Plan of Salvation in cutouts. I drew pictures, cut them out, laminated them, and even copied Cantonese characters onto them so the investigators can read them. That was pretty fun! :) We also started memorizing the first vision in Cantonese as a district. I'm excited for when I will be able to recite that! In my personal study I've started studying Christ-like attributes I want to develop and that's been great. Preach My Gospel has an awesome section on that if you want to take a look at it :) 

Our devotional this week was Brother Clarke who is the Church's missionary department director. He gave an awesome talk on not letting Satan affect you. He said, "Don't let Satan push your buttons. He will do everything he can to give you grief and stop the work of God." He explained that as a missionary he whispers things to make us feel inferior to others, want to give up, and other things that aren't true. This applies to life in general as well. He told us when that happens to stand and say, "NO, Satan. I CAN do this! I am a disciple of Christ and have been set apart to preach His gospel." It was a talk I needed to hear and it was a great one! So don't let Satan push your buttons :) 

Oh! This week was my first time seeing a protester in front of the MTC haha! Apparently it happens often which I didn't know. There was an old man outside carrying a cross and American flag yelling at all the missionaries and saying crazy weird stuff. He was pretty intense! Just goes to show that there is and always will be opposition against the Church. I love that no one was phased or reacted to it, in fact we were excited to get entertainment haha! ;) I think of Elder Holland's quote that "If this were not the true Church of God, the adversary would not try so hard to bring us down." And I know that is true! That's kind of a random thing that happened this week haha!  

Only 13 days until Conference! I am seriously SO dang excited! :) Rumor has it that President Uchtdorf is coming for an Easter message in a few weeks, not sure if that's true haha. But I hope it is, he is my favorite! I love that the MTC and temple grounds are blooming with signs of spring! We are so close to spring and Easter :) It has been so pretty and warm lately, we love it! It's amazing to be among so many faithful, worthy missionaries and the work is definitely rolling forth. The kingdom of God is growing and I love being a part of it! 

Have a fantastic week everyone! 
Love, Sister Escher 

Monday, March 23, 2015

MTC week #3

Leih houh ngoh chan ngoi gathing tuhnmaaih paahg yauh! 
(Hello my dear family and friends!)

It has been an amazing week here at the MTC! I can't believe that on Wednesday it will be my 3 week mark and that I'll be 1/3 of the way done with my time here! This week has defintely been the fastest week so far. 

First off, we got three new investigators- Yanni, Bill, and Walter! It has been so fun to see how much better I can communicate with them every time we visit. Yanni and Bill have been very receptive and great to work with! Walter on the other hand hasn't been keeping his commitments and seems to be lacking interest for the gospel. But we are still working on him! Actually during his lesson this week, I had a cool experience. We were teaching him and I got a prompting from the Spirit to ask him to come to church right in the middle of a lesson! I didn't think I should because we had planned to give another commitment and I wasn't sure if I knew how to ask in Cantonese but I did anyway. And he said yes! :) We were so excited! We will find out this week if he actually went. But it was such a realization for me that the Spirit does work through me for these people. 

My accomplishment this week was I can now pray in Cantonese with no notes and I memorized the missionary purpose in Cantonese! So that was good :) It's coming along well, my biggest struggle is the tones and pronunciation. In fact, there's an elder in our district who had a funny experience this week with tones. He was teaching a lesson and meant to say, "Jesus Christ is God's son." But instead he said, "Jesus Christ is God's coconut." she was super confused and showed them a picture of a coconut so they could realize what they had said. Hahaha! Turns out that son and coconut are the EXACT same weird but with a different tone! So if you get the tone wrong you get the word wrong :P That's the hardest part for sure! 

We had our first TRC this week, which is on Saturday mornings we go to the resource center and get to teach a member lesson. They are volunteers who speak your mission language- so usually RMs that are attending BYU or live close by. So it was a different experience teaching someone who doesn't know anything about the church. So we got to know them then left a short message about faith. Afterwards they evaluate how you did. Our reviews were pretty good for our first time! :) I still have plenty to improve on though. My new goal for this week is to just open my mouth and speak because sometimes I am afraid I'll say the word wrong or the structure but that's the best way to practice.  

The highlight of this week for me was definitely Tuesday night. Elder Quentin L. Cook (of the Twelve) came for our devotional!! :) We sat four rows away from the pulpit and the Spirit was so strong! He gave an amazing message personally for the missionaries, it was great! So that was awesome but an even better part was the testimony meeting me had after. It was just with the girls in our zone and the Spirit was so strong from the meeting. Sister Weaver (branch presidency member's wife) asked that we bear our testimony of the Savior. It was probably one of the most powerful meetings I have ever been in! We were all bawling haha and it was so amazing. I just wanted to share a few thoughts I had about the Savior in hopes that you can feel the same Spirit. 

Someone once told me that every time Jesus Christ looks at the wounds in His hands, He thinks of YOU. And I love that! I think sometimes we think of the Atonement as Jesus taking on the sins and pains of the world, which He did. But we need to realize and understand that He did it for us personally. Every pain, sickness, sin, temptation, or trial you've ever felt, He has felt it too. He knows what you've been through. And what amazes me is that He loves us so much that He volunteered to do that. He knew we would be imperfect and ungrateful but HE DID IT ANYWAY. One of my favorite quotes is from Elder Okazaki and it says, "Christ is not waiting for us to be perfect. Because perfect people don't need a Savior. He is the Lord of the living and the living make mistakes. He wants us in our imperfections, our sorrows, our brokenness, and our grief." He wants us to be happy, to repent, and come unto Him. I have such a strong testimony of the Atonement and am so grateful for my brother, friend, and Savior Jesus Christ. I know He lives and loves each of us perfectly. And I promise you if you turn your life over to Him, He will guide you and comfort you. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Thank you for all the continued love and support! Have a great week!

Love, Sister Escher 

Friday, March 20, 2015

This is where we will be going in 4 wks!!!

All the sisters in my zone!

Sister Beckstrand and I are matching w flower dresses and pearls. We had to take a pic.

I ran into Rachel and Breanna at the temple grounds! It was so fun to see them (HS friends).

The famous MTC map!

Monday, March 9, 2015

Week #2- MTC

Hello everyone! 
Well it's been another great week here at the MTC! I have officially been here almost 2 weeks, about 10 days. The Spirit here is amazing! Our branch president compared it to the temple because everyone here either a missionary or employee is endowed and qualified to be here. Everyone is always so happy and humming hyms, praying, and bearing testimonies. It's the best! The language seemed to be coming a lot better this week, I could understand more of what my teacher was saying which was awesome! :) Obviously I still have a TON to learn but it's slowly coming! 

This week was rough physically. I wasn't feeling too well for the first few days and I wasn't sure why. It was kind of hard to focus and I just didn't feel like myself. I went to the health center and come to find out I had a UTI. So thankfully I got some medicine and now I'm fine :) And also this week there was a mishap in gym time with some weights. Haha it's kind of a funny/embarrassing story. But Sister V and I were using the weight lifting machines and with this certain one you had to bend down to change the amount of weight on it. So I was switching it then suddenly the huge bar fell on my head! I fell down and was kind of out of it for a minute :P Then Sister V was helping me up and she looks over and she was like, "Forty pounds just dropped on your head!!" And yes, it hurt a lot haha. But amazingly, I didn't even get a headache when I should've gotten a concussion or worse. So I am completely fun but just some interesting stories this week! Defiently tender mercies! the Lord is watching out for me and I know all your prayers helped protect me so thank you!! 

Our investigator, Willy, is no longer our investigator but is now our teacher! He is great, his name is Brother Yim! He is from Hong Kong and served a mission in Boston. He is super funny and makes class enjoyable! 

This week I have really been trying to focus on the gift of tongues. There's a scripture (can't remember where, sorry) that says all you need is a strong desire and to do your part and God will do the rest so you can speak. It really inspired me! I really want to be able to learn Cantonese so I can speak to God's children in HK. A quote shared in the devotional was "You must labor, struggle, and do all you can to learn a language." and I love that, I wrote it on a card and hung it in my room! Also this week I have decided to be more committed to the work. I want to be able to say I gave EVERYTHING to my mission- my heart, soul, and mind! Missionary work is hard and exhausting but already so worth it! 

Again, thank you for all the emails and dear elders! I really appreciate it :) I try to reply to everyone individually but sometimes run out of time so if it takes awhile to hear back from me don't be offended haha! We come and print emails off in the morning so we can read them then come back to reply to them so don't worry about writing long emails, I love them! and I love hearing how everyone is doing :) thanks again! Have a great week!

Love, Sister Escher 
Cantonese Class!

Doing our language study online!

Our sister training leaders, Sister Killian and Sister Sheffield. They are awesome.

My district on a temple walk.

Cookies and care package from my family. Thanks fam!

My roommate (Sister Hayes) and I have the same glasses, water bottle and brush!

Thursday, March 5, 2015

"Trial by Fire"

My name tag. Isn't it so cool?

My companion Sister Villasin. She does great origami.

My district- all going to Hong Kong!

Leih houh, everyone! (hello, everyone!)

Wow, it has been quite a week!! One of the best but longest and most exhausting weeks of my life haha! The MTC is incredible and I am loving it! :) Some days are better than others but overall I think it's been a good week.

My companion is Sister Villasin from the Phillipines! She is amazing! She is a convert of two years, her parents aren't members, and she has a great testimony. We've gotten along great so far! There are 8 people in my district and we are all going to Hong Kong and will fly over there together. Sister Villasin (my companion) and I are the only girls. We've all gotten along really well and we have fun! My zone is big, 59 people! It consists of people going to Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Hong Kong. And I am convinced that the nicest, most hardworking people get called to Asia because they have all been so welcoming and helpful and we are all so close already.

Saying goodbye to my family was rough!! But as soon as I walked into the MTC I felt so happy and at peace because this is exactly where I need to be right now, timing and everything :) The first day is pretty cruel if you ask me haha! After you get the sad curb drop off, they put all you in a room together for a devotional and you start by singing "Called to Serve." Yes, I cried the entire time haha! Truly one of my favorite songs! Afterwards we also sang, "We Will Bring the World His Truth" and there's a line that says "We will be the Lord's missionaries" but they changed it to "We are NOW the Lord's missionaries" and wow the Spirit was so strong! I just got goosebumps! I am so thankful I have chosen to serve a mission because it's already been one of the best decisions I've ever made.

Cantonese is insane! We have two teachers, Sister Chan and Brother Johnson and we've never heard them say one word in English!! All our lessons are in straight Cantonese! The first day, right after we got dropped off we went to class and they were speaking Cantonese and this one elder is like, "Talk about trial by fire!" And we all just started laughing because that's a perfect way to explain it :P But I can testify that the gift of tongues is VERY real! We were asked to teach an investigator in Cantonese on our third morning here and there is no way I would've been able to do it without the Spirit. Our investigator is Willy (he's an actor) but he's from China going to school in Hong Kong. Our first lesson was frustrating because we hardly understood anything and he said no to praying what we had taught him. But we taught him the next day and he was way happier and more receptive! We teach him again today. Cantonese is really hard espeically with the weird sounds and tones but I can now have a conversation, bear my testimony, and pray all in Cantonese and I've been here for 5 days! It's truly amazing! 

The Chinese name they gave me is "Ngaaih Ji Muih" pronounced Ni-Gee-Moo and it literally translates into Sister Beautiful so that was cool haha ;) Everyone else got lame ones like Elder Plum and Elder Gwok. 

Everyone loves Sundays at the MTC! They are great! It was extra special because our district did a 24 hour fast for the gift of tongues and that really brought a spirit. We had a mission conference since it was fast Sunday and it was fantastic, I took so many notes! The speakers were amazing. Our sacrament meeting was really good too! Sunday nights are fun because they have ice cream in the cafeteria and then we get to watch an approved church movie. My companion and I saw "Meet the Mormons" and it was so good! I recommend seeing it if you havent :) This morning (P-day) we got to go the temple! Sister Villasin didn't have the chance to be endowed before coming so I got to be her escort for that. It was a great experience! 

I have only been here for five days but my relationship with my Savior has already grown so much. It's amazing to see His love and tender mercies for me everyday! I thought it would be hard to get used to wearing a nametag but it is my favorite thing to put it on every morning and see Jesus Christ' name next to mine. I feel so honored that He trusts me enough to take the gospel to His children in Hong Kong. I found a scripture during personal study that has been my theme for the week. I forgot to bring my scriptures so I can't type it out, but it's Moroni 7:26 and 33. It talks about asking in sincere faith and desire and God will help you so that's been a comfort with learning Cantonese. Some days I really miss my family and want to be done with class but I just remember why I am here and that helps a lot. 

Do jie!!! ("thank you" pronounced doe-jzay) for the letters and emails! It is seriously the BEST thing getting mail!! And it makes me less homesick so thank you! I'll try to send pictures but it might not work haha. I will talk to you all next Monday! Remember to always put the Lord first! Have a great week!

Love, Sister Escher