Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Our P-day got switched to Tuesday this week.

I didn't take a lot of pictures this week so here is one for you. It's lovely.  But at least you will know I am alive.

Our P-day got switched to Tuesday this week. Sorry, I'm sorry if you all panicked yesterday and thought I got my visa or something this week. I promise I will call when I know what the plan is. This week we hit our one month mark as missionaries in the MTC! Time is flying by so fast. That means I'm already 1/18 done with my mission. That is way too quick. All of the days are starting to blend together so bear with me sometimes we get back to our room at night and as we start writing in our journals we ask each other "What happened today. Did we teach Marcos? No, that was yesterday. No, I think that was this morning." As of yesterday, we are now the oldest district in our zone.

Happy Birthday Dad! Hope it was great and I'm glad you got my postcard. I will have you know that my companion and I sang Happy Birthday to you in Spanish that morning. Speaking of Spanish, it is definitely coming a long. There were several days this week were we spoke in only Spanish. I prayed in English for gym this week and it was the first time I had prayed in English for almost a month. It was very weird. I actually stumbled over words in English. My weakness in my companionship is that I understand more than my companion so I sometimes forget that she doesn't always understand whats going on in lessons and I keep talking. I have had a goal to help my companion speak as much as I do in lessons this week and we have done a lot better. We have had some great lessons this week.
Love this book.
According to the schedule, this should be my last week in the MTC. We found out yesterday that Elder Kent got his visa but the rest of us are on the list for temporary assignment. We are told to check into the travel office on Thursday to find out if we have a temporary assignment. There is only a chance we will get reassigned because there are only 150 spots for reassignments and there is a long list. We were told that it is first come first serve so we will see what happens on Thursday. If not we will stay here for a few more weeks although I would much rather get out in the field. Often times we will be waiting in line around the cafeteria or bathroom or anywhere and we will begin the conversation of "Where are you from?" "Where are you going?" "How long have you been here?" When we say Peru and that we don't have visas and that we might get reassigned this week the response is usually, "That sucks, I would hate that." Quite frankly, I have never understood that response. I gave the Lord 18 months of my life to serve wherever he needs me. If that means stopping in another mission to help someone he needs me to help then I will be happy to do so. I am a servant of the Lord. I will go where He needs me to work, whenever He needs me to be there.
We got a note that said "literally the cleanest room I have seen all day" on our clean check this week.  You would be proud.

This week has been such a happy week. I will quote my journal from one day this week. "I really don't remember what happened today but all I really do remember is that I was happy all day long." The sun has come out this week! I love the sun. It is my favorite. I say lots of things are my favorite but I really do love the sun. My companion and I try to do our language study outside everyday to get out of the classroom. It's been so warm they opened the field and we go out to play futbol (soccer) during gym time. I am studying hard. My personal study time is my favorite time of the day. It is the shortest hour I have ever experienced. I never understand it. I studied Moroni 7 for 4 days this week and learned so much from it.

So what are the odds that my companion and I are the only people who are able to play the piano for sacrament meeting on Sunday? Not good. But we are. I played the piano for sacrament meeting even though I have never played in front of anyone in my life. My companion and I switched off because we both only know a couple of songs. I made two mistakes in prelude but during the meeting I didn't make a single mistake. I willingly played the piano for the Christ's meeting and he helped me to play well even though I'm not very good and hadn't been able to practice much since I have been here.
Silly Elders.  They were all trying to do a wall sit.  The Elder actually on the wall is trying to break the MTC record for wall sits.
This week for Devotional we heard from Elder David F. Evans (seventy) and Steven Allen (managing director missionary department). Steven Allen was Elder Kent's family so our district sat right up in the front row and we stayed for a bit after the Devotional and were with the entire MTC presidency. He was really funny and in my opinion gave one of the best talks I have heard since I have been here. At one point he called missionaries up from the audience and asked them what they had given up to be on a mission. One Elder said he had given up his girl. He said "Yea you did. And on behalf of all RM's thanks for the donation." It was so funny. On Sunday for Relief Society the entire new General Young Women's presidency came and we heard from the president. This was their first official assignment after only being called three weeks ago. They are incredible women.

I hope you all have a great week this week. This work is real. There are angels on both sides of the veil helping in this work. I can feel the prayers from people from all over the world. The Lord blesses me everyday.  
Con mucho amor,
Hermana Rhoten

Monday, April 22, 2013

Elder Richard G. Scott came to the MTC to speak to us at devotional!

Hola familia!

This week was awesome. On Tuesday Elder Richard G. Scott came to the MTC to speak to us at devotional! It was probably the highlight of my MTC stay so far. They don’t announce who is coming beforehand so when we saw him walk in the crowd was so excited. He started by saying "I almost feel like I died and went to heaven." He said it was wonderful to see so many sisters three times in his talk and testified to all of the sisters that we would bless the world and our future husbands and children more than we could imagine. He spoke about communication with our Heavenly Father and counseled us about how to pray. Towards the middle of the talk he paused and said "I feel inspired to bestow an apostolic blessing upon those of you who are learning another language", and told us that through our faith we would be able to master each of the languages that we are learning. Again toward the end of the talk he paused and said I invoke an apostolic blessing of peace upon you. He said the Lord has called each of us and that he would help us. The Spirit in the room was incredible and so many around me were in tears. We sang the closing song and as the Sister who was assigned to say the closing prayer got up, Elder Scott got up again to the mike and asked her to go sit down for a minute. He said "Remember the Lord has called you to succeed and not to fail. Remember he won’t abandon you. He will help you. He knows who you are. He inspired your call. You will discover strengths about yourself that you never knew you had and he will fit the task to your capabilities." I had never seen anyone get up again after the closing hymn and that was really neat. You know that those words must have been inspired. There was someone who needed to hear those words. Maybe lots.
This is the district in our zone that leaves tomorrow. We are sad to see them go. We have become such good friends. Most are going to California.

Our tree from our room‏

We moved homes this week. By home I mean our classroom changed. We call our classroom our home and our bedrooms our residence because we are in our classrooms all day long and we only sleep in our rooms. This room has a window! And a tree next to the window. We named the tree Mata Guillermo.

This is our tree that we can see out our window.
We are settling into our new home just fine. I am grateful for the experiences that I have had that allow me to be fine being in a room all day studying. Not everyone in my district has handled this transition quite so well. Most of our teachers realize this and give us a break every hour or so. This week Hermano Hopoate said during one of these times, "You can go and take a break for five minutes, get a drink, go the bathroom, play patty cake or do whatever you want for five minutes." He was obviously joking about the patty cake but little did he know that patty cake would become such a big deal among the elders in our district. It has become somewhat of a competition to master patty cake. Silly  Elders.
Hermano Hopoate and our elders in our district.

 One of the highlights of our week was that we committed one of our "investigators" to baptism! It was such an awesome moment. She is our most difficult investigator to teach. She was like a brick wall. We couldn’t figure out how to get her to open up to us so we had been working so hard to help meet her needs. At first when we asked her she said she didn’t feel ready but we shared a scripture with her we had found during personal study and she had another question then said in Spanish, "I feel like this is something I need to do." We didn’t understand her at first but as we came to the realization of what had happened we were so happy. I was skipping around the MTC the whole rest of the day.

These are all the girls in the new district. I love them too. Hermana scott is the redhead.

 No news on my visa yet. I am trying not to be impatient but it is hard because Hermana Scott (one of the sisters in our zone) has a brother who has been in our mission for a year and she tells us lots of wonderful stories. Every day in our district we say "Guess what! We are going to get our visas today!" Then when they don’t come we say "Guess what we are going to get our visas tomorrow!"  We have written a few songs about it as well. "Someday, my visa will come. Someday, my visa will come." (Sing to someday my prince will come, Snow white)

Hermana Johnson and I‏

Our door all decorated in our new home.

Today we went to the temple and did sealings. It was awesome. There was actually a couple there from Dayton, Washington doing them with us. When we were in the dressing room getting ready to leave we were stopped by Sister Cheryl Esplin of the general primary presidency! She asked us where we were from and where we were going and shook each of our hands. She spoke to us at relief society on Sunday so we knew she was in town but we were surprised to see her and that it was cool that she wanted to talk to us. When we walked out of the temple my companion and I were a little star-struck. We looked at each other and said "Did that really just happen?" The lesson she gave yesterday was so great. In the MTC all of the sisters in the entire MTC meet together for relief society. During her lesson she had us stand up and sing primary songs which was fun.

 Last night for Devotional the BYU men's chorus came and performed for us. It was incredible. I saw Tom Rowley in the stands but I don't think he saw me. It was cool to think that we were in the same room though.

Yo se que el evangelio es verdadero. Yo se que Jesus es el Cristo Viviente. Su camino es el sendero que lleva la felicidad en esta vida y a la vida eterna en el mundo venidero.

Love you lots!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Hola Familia!
So the big news this week is that Hermana Procell got her visa! She got it on Friday and she flew out to the Peru MTC this morning. We got up really early this morning to help her leave so I am tired. We are happy for her but we will definitely miss her. I don't know how to be in normal companionship with only two people, it already feels like something is missing. I am really grateful that I got the opportunity to be in a trio first because I learned so much. I also think it's good preparation for having kids. We constantly found each other saying things like, "I only see one of you, where is the other one?" or "Come here, I need you to be where I can see you." I got really good at always knowing where they are out of the corner of my eye.

Me and my sack lunch today on my bed. Yep I'm on the top bunk. Happy p day!

This week I have learned more fully what my role is as a missionary. My teacher, Hermano Hopoate, is one of the greatest teachers I have probably ever had. He is Tongan and speaks five languages. He had us practice teaching this week and gently corrected us and although we got better he said he still didn't feel that we knew our purpose. At one point in the class he picked on me and said "are you willing to let me dig deep into you a little bit?" I agreed and he started to ask me deep questions about my life. He found my needs and taught me doctrine that applied to me and bore powerful testimony. Our purpose as missionaries is to first move yourself until you are eye to eye, knee to knee with the investigator. You have to come to where they are, understand their story and when you are there you can say, "Now, come with me to Gethsemane or the sacred grove and experience it for yourself. " I hope that I will be able to do that as a missionary. That is my goal.

Hermana Procell found out about her visa during dinner time and we had to go pick up her flight plans which made us a little late for class. We got there and completely forgot that we were supposed to teach Ricarda right then. At that point we panicked because we realized we had forgotten our notes of questions and scriptures we had studied to use during the lesson back in our room. We dropped to our knees and pleaded with Heavenly Father that we would have the Spirit and especially the gift of tongues to help us in our lesson. Although the beginning was a little rough, it turned out to be our best lesson yet and one of the best highlights of my week. When I needed to say something my mind was filled with what I needed to say. She was greatly touched by the lesson.

On the right is Elder Valle who was our old district leader (the one in the Mormon message) and on the other side of me is Elder Kramer our new district leader as of this week.
This week Elder Kramer was called to be our new district leader and took Elder Valle's spot. I know he will do a great job. Our Elder's in our district made friends with some Samoan Elders down the hall and have come to class with leis every day this week. :) They have been picking up a lot of Samoan along with their Spanish. They call them their "brothers" in Samoan. They are silly.

It snowed today! It's April. It should be against the law to snow in April.
My Spanish is getting better! I have been working so hard to learn how to roll my r's and pronounce words better. I was told that if I say "buttered, butter" over and over really fast I will be able to roll my r's. I do sound a ton better but I have also been driving my companions crazy. "Buttered, butter. Buttered butter. Buttered butter......." all day long. It's alright though because Hermana Johnson sings songs from the movie "Oh brother where art thou" and they get stuck in our head all day so I feel like we even ourselves out.
The mailbox. We are always at the mailbox because our room is in the building right next to it so we volunteer to drop off everyone's mail. 
Yesterday I was called to be the Sister Training Leader for my zone. President Jackman pulled Hermana Johnson and I aside and I thought it was because he was going to be assigning a new Senior companion since Hermana Procell was leaving but then he said he was calling me to this position. I know I didn't hide my shock on my face very well because he laughed and asked me if I was going to be okay with this assignment.  I am going to be working with the zone leaders and my stewardship will be over all the sisters in the zone. I am really excited to serve in this position and I know the Lord will use it as an opportunity to push me a little harder.
We heard from several awesome speakers this week! On Tuesday we heard from Gerald N. Lund for devotional who is a released general authority and an author of quite a few books. He gave one of the best talks on receiving revelation I have ever heard. I learned a lot from this talk. He taught us that the reason the Holy Ghost is a still small voice is to protect our agency. On Sunday during relief society we heard from Mary Edmonds who was in the companionship of sisters that opened up the Philippines and she is also an author of several books. She was hilarious! I laughed so hard that I cried twice in her talk. She answered questions like, "How will I ever learn the language?" and "What if my district leader is 18 going on 12?" Last night we heard from Greg Droubay who is a director of media for the church missionary department. He showed us all the insides of what is happening with technology and spreading the Gospel in many different countries. He showed us God is hastening his work and made us excited to share the gospel.

One last story from this week. We had to wake up really early to do Hermana Procell's laundry on Saturday and while we were in the laundry room we met a senior couple. We talked to the sister for about 20 minutes. We found out that this was their ninth mission and they were going to Washington D.C. She told us about many of their missions and of the good people who they had taught the gospel too in many different parts of the world. Towards the end of the conversation she started to cry and said, "We have a special place in our hearts for sister missionaries. We were taught by sister missionaries 30 years ago after we had been married for 20 years. We owe everything to those sister missionaries. Your service will bless so many lives. You never know how much good you will do." She then told us she loved us and left.

I love being a missionary. We have the greatest message in the world. I wake up every day excited to prepare to share it. I know that this is true.
Love you lots!
Hermana Rhoten

Monday, April 8, 2013

Hola Familia! Happy Conferencia General!

This week was awesome. It is so cool to be a missionary during general conference and listen to the head of the church talk about you.  I saw Tom Rowley in the choir and that was also really neat. Elder Holland and Elder Uchtdorf were my favorite talks and seemed to hit right what I needed to hear. I loved conference but I think one of the highlights of my weekend was being in a room with thousands of missionaries singing, "We'll bring the world his truth". It has always been my favorite primary song but its really neat singing the song in the MTC because they change the words. It goes "We have been born as Nephi of old to goodly parents who love the Lord. We have been taught and we understand that we must do as the Lord commands. We are as the army of Helaman, we have been taught in our youth and we are now the Lord's missionaries to bring the world his truth. We know his plan and we will prepare, increase our knowledge through study and prayer. Daily well learn for now we are called to take the gospel to all the world. We are as the army of Helaman, we have been taught in our youth and we are now the Lords missionaries to bring the world his truth. We have been saved for these latter days to build the kingdom in righteous ways. We hear the words our prophet declares, let each whose worthy go forth and share. We are as the army of Helaman, we have been taught in our youth, and we are now the Lords missionaries to bring the world his truth. I can't really describe what that sounds or feels like to sing that song with thousands of missionaries but the head of the meeting said "It seems like your voices are so much louder than your numbers. There must be angels helping you sing." I think that describes it pretty well.
These are my elders last night during Elder Balzers last night.
Today is P-day and I got to go to the temple again! It was pouring rain when we left but we didn't care. We walked to the temple in the pouring rain singing "There is sunshine in my soul today". I did an endowment session with my companions which was wonderful because I felt like I hadn't done one in so long. I ran into Heather Willis (I apologize for not remembering her new last name) and gave her a hug. I also saw some of Rinamay's family in our session. I talked to them in the celestial room for a few minutes. It is such a small world.  Elder Balzer from our district left to Colombia this morning. It was sad to see him go because it seems like he is already part of our family. I will miss his comments and insights because he is a convert and seems to understand missionary work differently than we do and understands how important our message is.
For devotionals this week we heard from Elder Ringwood and his wife (member of the 70) and last night we heard from Vocal Point which is a group of nine guys from BYU that sing occapella. They competed on a TV show not too long ago and I guess they did pretty well. They sang different hymns and shared their testimonies and experiences from their missions with us. My Spanish is continuing to come so quickly. Its crazy how well the gift of tongues works. Sometimes I will look at sentences once and remember them. My companions and I have memorized a scripture in Spanish everyday so far. They are always scriptures that we use in our lessons with our investigator. We get to teach a new investigator tonight and I am so excited. That is the best part of the week.
   These are statistics that I compiled to give you a feel for what life is like in the MTC everyday. The phrase, "Esta bien" (Meaning its all good, its okay, alright) is used about 130 times a day. We go up about 476 stairs a day (our classroom is on the fifth floor of the building and our residence is on the third floor.) It feels like we go up and down stairs all day long. I pass Elders or Hermanas praying about 8 times a day. I love to hear people praying in different languages and I love praying in Spanish. Our district brings up ties about 13 times a day. When you have to stare at each other all day ties get pretty interesting. My companions tell me I am going the wrong way about 5 times a day. I always think I know where I am going but I never seem to. In my defense all the buildings look exactly the same. I accidently talk to people in Spanish probably about 4 times a day. I always feel bad when I start talking to someone in the cafeteria like they know what I am saying because of the look of confusion on their faces. I'm sure they get that a lot though. I open my scriptures about 13 times a day and take around 40 pages of notes every day. But the greatest statistic of all is that the Spirit is with us all the time, 24 hours a day.
My companions and some hermana in our zone going to California that we love. Their names are Hermana Nnah and Hermana Ballard. We sing Hermana Nnah's name to that muppet song all the time. Hermana Nnah, do do do do do. Hermana Nnah, do do do do. lol
Whenever I meet an Elder or Hermana that knows someone or is writing someone in my mission they always tell me that it is "So poor and very dirty". All I can think is Heavenly Father you picked the right girl. I am so excited to go to Peru. I love and pray for the people there every day. Also I found out this week that my mission is in the process of getting split. I may not be serving in the Lima East mission, but we will see when I get there where the Lord needs me. My companions and I were sad to hear the announcement because we may not be in the same mission. I love my companions, they are so patient with me.   
Thank you for everyone that has sent me letters. I have been surprised so far by how many people have written me. I will work on writing more letters today. I feel bad because it takes so much longer for you to get my letters than for me to get yours but I will do my best to write as soon as I get them. I know the message that I am preparing to share is real. It is true.
Hope to hear from you soon!
Hermana Rhoten

Monday, April 1, 2013

Hola familia! Feliz Pascua!‏

Hola Familia!
There is so much to tell you that I don't know where to start. I love the MTC! It is awesome. I cant believe how much I have learned in only a couple of days. I have already written about 100 pages of notes of things I have learned, and studied and revelation I have recieved. I am worried I wont have room for anything but notebooks in my suitcase when I get home at this rate. I love that nothing about this time is about me. I can focus on the Lord all the time and I think I am the most happy I have ever been. I feel like I fit right into the MTC. Everything about it is my favorite. I work hard and have changed a lot already. I am striving to be an exactly obedient missionary and so far so good.
I am in a trio companionship with two other sisters going to my same mission. I love them both and we all get along great. We were told that if we can have a good companionship in a trio that only having one companion will be pretty easy by our branch president. He said he always loved sisters that could make trios work. Their names are Hermana Johnson from Smithfield UT (No she didnt know any family of ours) and Hermana Procell from Payson, UT. We are three sisters in building 3M in room 333 which we think is kind of funny. We are sad though because we arent near anything or anyone we know. Our district has 11 missionaries, our companionship and the rest are elders. We are all waiting for Visas either to Peru or Columbia and you can tell that we are just the odd ones out that they had to make room for because we are all different levels of spanish, and we are the only foreign missionaries in our zone. But we still have a great time. We mostly study all day in a really small room on the top floor of a builidng with no air conditioning. We have a fan that sits in the doorway, and at this point I think just about anyone in the district would be willing to risk their lives for that fan. I am so impressed with so many of the Elders in our district. At times they share some of the strongest testimonys I have ever felt and give some of the best insights. Its funny though because a minute or two after that they will do something that will remind me that they are definitely still 18 year old boys at heart. Two of the Elders are converts and have only been members for a few years. It is so awesome to hear their stories. Our district leader is part Peruvian and his name is Elder Valle. He is pretty much a celebrity around here because he was the main guy in the mormon message Staying within the Lines. Go look it up on LDS.org. Its funny because everyone wants pictures with him all the time. We cant go anywhere without getting stopped by someone saying ,"Hey! You are the guy from the mormon message video".  We got to meet our branch president a couple of times this week. I think that he is a wise man and I learn so much from him. He was a mission president in Peru Lima South mission and was a temple president.

My spanish is coming so quickly. I could understand so much from the very start. My teacher and I have fun talking back and forth to each other in class. Most in my class cant speak very much except for Elder Valle and I. We got to teach our first "investigator" (teacher) the second day here and my companions werent able to understand what he was saying so I taught him for about 30 minutes and they bore their testimonies. He said my spanish was really good and he wanted a book of mormon. I learned after we taught that he was a teacher (which I had assumed) but the cool thing about them is that the investigator part, including the name and everything about this investigator is a real person that the teacher taught on their missions that they keep in touch with and  that some how stopped taking discussions. They said all teachers do this and as we missionaries pray for them by name and teach them miracles are happening with them.
Happy Easter (Feliz Pascua!) Yesterday was such an awesome day in the MTC. We had a special (they used the word historic) sacrament meeting where there were over 3,000 missionaries in attendance and the sacrament was passed by over 100 missionaries at once. That has never happened in the MTC before. The Spirit was so strong I dont think there was a saw in the world that could cut through it. We got to hear from Bishop Causse from the presiding bishopbric of the church and later last night we had a special devotional where Sheri Dew came and spoke. They were both incredible and it was cool to be so close to them. I could see their eyes blink.
Today has been a good day. We went to the Provo temple and did initiatories. It has been raining and the sun shining at the same time which is awesome.    
If you could let everyone know that I am allowed to email everyone but at the MTC I am only allowed up to an hour on the computer because there are so many people that need to use computers. If you write me on dear elder or snail mail then I will get it much sooner. We get to check for letters from dear elder twice a day and if you write me that way I will be able to write you more. :) Thanks so much for the easter packages from you guys and the Anson family. That was so nice of you guys.
I know that this Church is true with all my heart! I know that Jesus Christ is my Savior and the Redeemer of the world. It is real. The Spirit is real. I have felt it so much this week.
Hope to hear from you soon!
Hermana Rhoten 
P.S I apoligize for any spelling errors. Studying spanish makes my already bad english spelling and grammar worse.