Monday, February 3, 2014

My First Week at the MTC!

MOM!!! (and the rest of the fam and blog readership)
Things are going just swimmingly here at the MTC.  I have learned so much it is crazy.  My companion is named Sister Whitten and she is truly wonderful.  Her scriptural knowledge is out of this world.  We were preparing a lesson for our first investigator and I was telling her we should use the story of King Lamoni from Alma because our investigator is an agnostic, and Lamoni was as well.  At the drop of a hat she knew exactly where the story was. I was proud of myself for even remembering the story--she went and one-upped my limited knowledge by pulling a reference for it out of nowhere.  She actually was in my stake this past semester at BYU, but we didn't know each other.  She helps me be a better missionary because she is so focused and her knowledge strikes a nerve with my competitive side, so I work so much harder to try and catch up with her. 

We are in one of the first all sister districts at the MTC and I really like it.  We are in a zone with two districts of only elders, but that will change tomorrow as one district of elders is leaving.  We have six sisters total in my district; Sister Whitten, Sister Clift, Sister Adams, Sister Pulley, Sister White, and myself.  I get along really well with Sister Clift because we're both 22 and have similar personalities.  We hope to be companions together on the res.  She actually wants to serve on an Indian reservation, whereas I clearly do not...unless she is my companion.  Sister Adams is her companion and I love her as well.  She is 20.  We actually only have one 19 year old in our district.  The elders in our zone that are staying are also going to Mesa (with the exception of one Elder who is randomly with us and is serving in Australia).  Elder Sweeten, Elder Hepworth, Elder Belio, Elder Pitts (The Aussi bound elder), and Elder Murray are the Elders in our zone.  Elder Sweeten is my age as well (there are 4 22 year olds in our zone--I am the oldest of the old though with my April birthday).  We get along really well and have connected because we have a lot in common and are both ancient.  We have some great chats at meals. 

As far as studying goes I have been truly blessed.  I have probably studied more in the last five days than I did throughout my entire college career.  Oh and I pray all the time.  It's actually been such a blessing to be able to have this time apart from the world to study and learn and grow.  We've done a lot of role playing and talked with some investigators.  Our first night at the MTC we did a large group (about 40 missionaries) teaching experience.  Some elders were being cocky and spouting out scriptures and the investigator was clearly getting frustrated.  No sisters had spoken yet so I decided to take the wheel.  I raised my hand and when he called on me I didn't share a piece of doctrine.  I asked him why he invited the missionaries to his home.  That lead to more questions about his life and we connected and he told me some deep stories.  At the end of the exercise one of the elders raised his hand and said the lesson wasn't successful "until the Sister finally talked".  Another few missionaries approached me individually and told me I truly humbled them because I focused on the individual and they were focusing on the doctrine and the lesson.  I've found that focusing on the individual really is my strength.  All of the positive feedback from my district members, teachers, and investigators I've worked with has revolved around my ability to make people feel comfortable and loved.  I think that's why I was called to an English speaking mission--my greatest asset is my ability to talk to people and I think that would be diminished if I was speaking in another tongue.  I also have a knack for making analogies for difficult gospel principles so people understand them. While these abilities are wonderful, I don't want to rely on them.  I definitely need to work harder on truly being a scholar of the scriptures so I can integrate the word of God into my lessons as well. 

Please pray that I can absorb all that I have learned and that I can have patience for the sisters in my district.  I am working so hard on being Christlike and I am already turning out to be kind of nice.  So that's good.

Thanks for all the letters, thoughts, and prayers.

I miss and love you guys.
Sister Poppe

P.S.  I  had brainstormed some really great things to write, but never wrote them down and subsequently forgot them.  So this letter is boring.  I am so sorry.  I may just be boring for the rest of my mission because I feel so rushed my writing creativity is stifled.  I'll also send pictures next week.

PSS.  We went to the temple today as a zone and it was a really great experience.  It was nice to unwind and just feel the Spirit and listen.  While I was there I thought,"Man what I wouldn't give for a string cheese right about now!"  Lo and behold I found string cheese in the bookstore when we got back to the MTC.  Tender mercies, people.  So great.