Monday, September 29, 2014

                                  We saw a cool barn so took some pics. 

Hello my loved ones,

I have one word for you:  Arachnophobia.
I've seen about 3 huge spiders in the house this week. A few more than that outside the house.  I mean they're not tarantulas or anything, but they are some scary-looking suckers.  They're called "Cat-face" spiders.  But at least they aren't Hobo spiders-- Idaho has a lot of those, and apparently they're very poisonous. Needless to say, sleep doesn't come easily when you know that the 8-legged monsters are coming inside for the winter.

 Man, there are just so many people we see and teach here. I'm really still working on getting names and wards and faces straight with the members.  Something hard about teaching is when you are teaching more than one person and they are on two very different levels.  For example, we are teaching this couple, and the woman is less active and has all these questions about really deep doctrine, and her fiance is a non-member and has no religious background.  So he's pretty lost when she starts asking about the deep-doctrine stuff.  But we just have to keep it basic enough where they both can understand the really important foundational things about the gospel.  I've learned that many people, members and non-members alike, can get hung up on little details about the church and it keeps them from gaining a testimony.  It all comes down to the basic foundations of the gospel, though.  God lives, Christ is our Savior, and the Book of Mormon is the word of God. If a testimony is gained of those basic things--of the Book of Mormon and the restoration of the gospel--  the other little concerns that we have won't really matter as much.   

It's also really sad to see when people leave the Church because of what other people do or say.  Please remember to be kind to all.  Love and support other members through thick and thin.  And if someone is unkind to you, remember that although the gospel is perfect, the people in it are not.  Other people's mistakes are no reason to lose your faith in the restored gospel.  Never lose hope! 

We had a baptism on Saturday!! Ethan, who is 10, and his 8-year-old sister got baptized.  Their Dad had just received the priesthood and was able to baptize them! Such a precious moment.  Those kids are amazing and so faithful.  After the girl got confirmed with the Holy Ghost, she was in tears.  The spirit was so strong and you could feel the bond that family has strengthened over the last couple weeks, and it's all because of the gospel.  Because they shared in it with each other.  

Women's conference was awesome. Loved the little korean kids singing.  Elder Uchtdorf is a boss.  I love the women and all but he is just awesome.
Being a missionary here is weird sometimes.  People just know the Mormon missionaries, whether they have a positive or a negative view of us.  Bonding with the investigators has proved really important.  Both members and investigators need to trust us, which is why we need to do everything we can to be trustworthy representatives of Christ.  One of our investigators makes these awesome metal art sculptures, and he's in the process of making one for me and Sister Worrall right now, one for Oklahoma and one for Texas.  I just love the people here.       

So on Sunday, we were just finished with sacrament meeting in 1st ward when we get a text "Hey Sisters, making sure you're good for your talks today?" It was from the Bishop of one of our other wards.  Talks?? We had completely forgotten! That ward was starting in 30 minutes, and it was in the other building on the other side of town.  I've never written a talk so fast in my life.  But we gave them and mine wasn't half-bad, and Sister Worrall's was awesome--it sounded like she had prepared all day for it.  

So something funny that happened this week was that we discovered that Sister Worrall can communicate with turkeys.  There is this flock of turkeys that's always just walking down the road. The other day we drove up to them, Sis Worrall made a turkey noise, and they gobbled back.  She did it several times, and it was so funny! I got a video and I will try and send it if I can. 

Love you all! Pray and study daily and go forward in faith!

Sister Moreland

Monday, September 22, 2014

 Met up with Elder Goodsall, one of her fellow actors from the theatre program at BYU (notice the appropriate arm's length missionary handshake.)
                                                          This is where we're going!
                                     Watch out for missionaries lurking in random cornfields

My dearest loved ones,

Blackfoot is beautiful.  The leaves are starting to change and the weather is perfect--sunny and cool. The people here are awesome.  Members are really supportive (not to mention they feed us every night) and the investigators are excited about the gospel. The only hard thing is that there are a lot of inactives here who really want nothing to do with the church.  The funny thing that Sister Worrall and I get a lot is whenever we knock on a door and the person isn't interested at all, we always ask them if they know anyone that we could visit.  And they always point to other houses and say "That person is mormon, there's a mormon family there..."  Hmm, not exactly what we meant, but okay.

  It's getting a little more difficult to stay  motivated every day now that I'm not as fresh out of the MTC.  At the MTC, we practice teaching so much and watched the teachers role-play teach a lot (and the MTC teachers are AMAZING at giving the discussions).  But here, it's a whole lot of driving, knocking, planning, talking...not as much teaching as I did at the MTC.  I worry about getting rusty sometimes.  But we continue to study and pray to keep the doctrine and the spirit with us. "Then, if you desire, you shall have my spirit and my word, yea the power of God unto the convincing of men."  I don't remember what verse that is at the moment. But we recite it every morning before companion study.  I like it a lot.  Also, I'm trying to re-memorize The Living Christ.  I love The Living Christ.  I have a little laminated copy in my scriptures, and I try to read it as much as I can.  The knowledge of God's love through Christ's Atonement keeps me going. 
Also there is a movie coming out in a week or two called "Meet the Mormons".  Look it up. Invite everyone you know.  Tell everyone about it. Everyone.  It will be awesome.  

 The amazing thing is the variety of people here.  There are all different types of people from all different places, from all walks of life, but they all need the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Every one.  They have different ways of getting there, but it will bless every one of them, no matter how different they are.  Be member missionaries.  Spread this gospel in whatever way you can.  I love you all. 

God Bless,
Sister Moreland  

Monday, September 15, 2014

Sister Moreland with trainer, Sister Worrall.  See letter below.

Oh, my goodness, what a week.  At the beginning, I was going to write and tell you all about the end of my time at the MTC. But then I came here, and I was going to write about the first few days of the field. And now so much as happened I just don't know what to say.  Well, I will start at the beginning, I guess.

Fast Sunday at the MTC was great. We had a lot of bearing of testimonies, and we really all grew closer as a district.  Have I mentioned I love my MTC district? I love my MTC district. They are awesome. The last day of the MTC was really awesome and spiritual and fun. The next morning we took a bus to Pocatello and met President and Sister Brinkerhoff at their home, where we had a yummy lunch, had some orientation, relaxed a bit, and then found out where we are serving and who our trainer is! (Blackfoot area with trainer Sister Worrall.) 

We stayed the night with different members, then parted for our different areas the next morning. It was sad parting from our district and from Sister Brimley, but we saw each other in the field later so it was all good. 

So. Blackfoot, Idaho.  Honestly, if I didn't know I was in Idaho I wouldn't think I was in Idaho.  (Except for the fact there are potatoes everywhere.) It looks more like Kansas or some rural parts of Texas even.  The hills and small mountains are so far in the distance, you hardly notice them.  Our area is a lot of farmland.  Like all. Farmland. Potato farmland.  All of it. So we have a lot of driving.  Sometimes there are just cows chilling in the middle of the road.  That part kind of reminds me of Ireland.  

So Blackfoot is the Potato capital of the world.  I thought the whole "potato" thing was an exaggeration, kind of like it's an exaggeration to say that everyone in Texas wears a cowboy hat.  Let me tell you something. The potatoes are not exaggerated.  I've had potatoes for every meal so far.  In Shelley, Idaho, they have a day this week called "Spud Day".  There are trucks everywhere just full of potatoes.  It's harvest season, so all the fields we live around are being harvested here.  It's kind of weird how stuff revolves around harvest here.  Like people aren't at home because of "harvest" and  school is out because of harvest.  It's really foreign.  Example of the kind of place I live in: the other day, I saw a fence around a field that was made out of cars.  A wall of cars, each one turned on its side with the driver-side door face up.  Weird. 
Also, my trainer and new companion, Sister Worrall, is AWESOME. She likes Harry Potter and Stick It, so basically we are best friends.  We've got a good balance of goofy friend-ship-ness and good teaching companionship, so it works out really well. I will send some pictures later.  

Yesterday was the longest Sunday of my life.  You don't know what a long Sunday is until you've been to 8 hours of church. 8 HOURS. Do not complain about how long church is until you've been to 8 HOURS OF IT.  It's because we cover 5 wards here.  Also, I gave a talk.  Sis Worrall didn't tell me I was supposed to give it until Saturday night.  So basically I wrote my talk Sunday morning during a meeting.  

I've met a lot of investigators and less actives here, each one very different. Already loving it here and loving the people.  Some are just so ready for the gospel, all they need is a gentle nudge from the spirit to get  going.  I'm getting the hang of talking to people and inviting them to be baptized. (we do that a lot the very first time we meet people, which was so scary at first!)  Sis Worrall is helping a ton with getting familiar with mission life and teaching.  The spirit is the essential tool in this work.  It edifies both missionary and investigator.  I love you all so much.  Please share this great gospel you have with others in whatever way you can.  It will bless their lives and yours.

Much love,
Sister Moreland

Friday, September 12, 2014

President and Sister Brinkerhoff with Sister Moreland, arrival day in Pocatello, September 9, 2014

Friday, September 5, 2014

My dearest loved ones,
It has not been a week since I have written. I mean, obviously it has been, but it does NOT feel like it. It feels like this week has been like a month.  So much learning, so much growth, so much of the spirit, so many rollercoaster of emotions, so much's crazy. 
 I've learned quite a few lessons from this week. 
The first is that it is okay to not be in a happy mood all the time. I think some missionaries think we just have to be happy and positive and upbeat all the time, but we just can't be, we are still human, and to try to do that 24/7 is just exhausting.  Realizing that everyone has ups and downs and that it is normal is important.  
Second, that even though we can't be happy all the time, at the MTC (and I expect out in the field as well), you will have about as good a day as you decide to have. Even if you have some trials, lingering in frustration or disappointment will do nothing for you.  I decide to get over it and just get engaged in the work and its like, Boom, I feel great again.  I learned that on Sunday. I was having a pretty bummer day, just struggling with the stress and the rules and the work, and it wasn't until the beginning of Sunday devotional that I thought "you know what, I want to get something out of this devotional, so I'm going to be in a good mood!" All of a sudden I became a sponge, soaking up every great part of that devotional, and what an amazing one it was.  Then we watched a talk by David A. Bednar called "Character of Christ" (don't bother searching for it, it's exclusivley MTC) and wow.  One of the most motivating, inspiring talks I have ever heard. 
It brings me to lesson number three I learned this week.  When you learn to turn your attention away from yourself and outwardly to others, that's all you care about! Who cares if I miss home? Who cares if the rules are hard to follow? It's not about me.  This is not just about doing, it's about becoming. Becoming as Christ was, and turning the attention towards others to serve them 100% selflessly.  Since Sunday, I have determinedly worked to acquire the characteristics of Christ to quit thinking about myself and focus on my purpose--to bring others to Christ.  
We've been teaching "Marcus" (our teacher as an investigator) which is a really good learning experience for recognizing the needs of investigators and teaching them according to their needs.  Our district has gotten so extremely close.  Something else I've learned is that laughter is a fantastic way to relieve stress and having fun is important.  However, if we're having too much fun during class, it can be impossible to focus.  We're still working on that. Because we have great laughs every day.  But the spirit is also felt really strongly, and we are all learning together and growing together and struggling together and picking each other up...I'm really going to miss these guys.

Example of our antics: we had a "complaint jar" drawn on the white-board and if you complained, someone would write your name in it.  But it got so ridiculous, every tiny thing you said, someone would say "Is that a complaint??" and write your name, so everyone had their name in so many times.  One of the Elders called it the "Salem Witch Trials" of complaints. 

We had in-field orientation yesterday, which was learning about goal-setting and working with members and other stuff we'll need to know once we get out there.  One of our teachers was Brother Christiansen, who was a missionary in "The District" training videos that everyone has to watch before going into the MTC. So now that he's an RM he teaches here, and basically everyone knows who he is.  He's like a reality star here at the MTC.  And he's a fantastic teacher too. Sis. Brimley and I have been teaching an investigator at TRC (teaching resource center). That has been a tough trial, because it's hard to know what to teach when you don't know someone well, especially if they are reserved, because if they're not open and you don't know what they need or want in this life, it's really difficult to tailor the lessons to them.  We have one more lesson with her, so I hope it goes well.  We just have to teach by the spirit and hope she uses her agency well. 

I love and miss you all so much! My p-day next week will probably be different, so just send emails whenever you can! 

With love,
Sister Moreland