Sunday, May 31, 2015

Elder Holland!!!‏

Kamusta kamo!

This has been a VERY exciting week! For one, I'm now in my THIRD week! Almost halfway through the MTC! Then on Sunday my companion Sister Ross and I were called to be the Sister Training Leaders of our branch, just in time for a whole new district of missionaries to arrive! We got to be the ones to pick up the international sisters and take them to the devotional and to their residence. Then we also got to give all the information, the MTC tour, and welcome all 9 of our new missionaries! It was fun to answer their questions, inspire them, and show them around! Even though I did have to miss some class.... Speaking of class, the language is feeling a little more comfortable! A VERY little, but still...! Nasayud ko nga magtabang and Ginoo sa ako! I taught two lessons without ANY notes this week, and my first TRC lesson. TRC is great- we get to meet with real people for about 20-40 minutes and we can only speak to them in our mission language. We just need to share a little message with them after we get to know them and decide what they might need to hear from us (that we can actually say in Cebuano).

 The next exciting news is that Jeffrey R. Holland came to speak to us on Tuesday night! We were late getting to choir because we had to pick up the international sisters, and I could tell they were really sleepy and it was hard to see the pulpit from the back SO I made the executive decision to miss choir just this one week and I marched those poor tired sisters up to the VERY front! I wanted them to be able to really listen and get this chance to see an apostle of the Lord up close! It was perfect since we were already early than all the non-choir people! When Elder Holland walked in, we were directly in front of him just a few rows back and I saw the two sisters perk up and they got so excited. That was worth missing choir just this once. Elder Holland's talk was amazing! It kind of blew my mind! He was very bold and everything he shared was specifically for missionaries. He said that "To be known, the truth MUST be stated!" Seems obvious, but every person we let pass by us without sharing the truth of the gospel with them, WE are accountable for! He also taught us that although no one can promise a specific number of people we may teach and baptize, we should ALL insist on having at least ONE convert to the Lord: ourselves. He said he just can't handle when missionaries return from their missions and slip back into their old ways or even worse ways. Our missions aren't a break from real life....they ARE real life! And they are challenging because they require us to change, to develop, and to become more like Christ. More patient, more long-suffering, more service-oriented, more loving, more diligent, more grateful. Another cool thing: starting next month (when I leave), all missionaries will get ipads! YOu can teach from them, learn and study, take notes on them, save things, pull up all resources! That means Jared will be using an ipad on his mission. I probably won't in the Philippines, but it's still pretty cool. There are booths all over the MTC where we can take surveys. We get so excited to hold the ipads because we haven't touch technology or social media (besides email and online language study) in a while.

 Today we went through the temple (as we do every week), but two of our missionaries from Fiji were going through for their first time! It was so special! I love being a Philippines-bound missionary because I get to be around so much diversity! Most of the missionaries are from Tonga, Samoa, New Zealand, Australia, and Fiji! So cool! They always joke that they're so fob (fresh off the boat). They are SO much fun! Also in our hall are all sisters many different countries. Some of them have to learn English AND a mission language...I don't know how they do it, I'm struggling enough with just learning Cebuano! At night in the bathroom and showers you just hear sisters quietly speaking in Cantonese, Chinese, Cebuano, Tagalog, and other languages. More exciting news: Elder Esikia and Sister Tiotaake and Elder Wilcox all left for the Philippines last night! It was so sad to see them go, but they promised to send emails and pictures of the Philippines! It made me nervous thinking about being in their shoes in just a month!

 I'm running out of time, but I want to share Mosiah 2:41 "consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments". I was taking a quiz on Assessment Tools and one of the questions was "Why does God give us commandments?" Do you know what the answer was? It wasn't "to punish us" or "to make life difficult" or "to make life difficult". The answer was because he loves us and wants us to be happy! This is His Gospel, and if we do it His way, we will be successful and happy. (Moses 1:39). I also want to share Alma 5:45-47 because as a missionary we only invite other to investigate (seek for themselves) if this gospel is true. True conversion happens between an individual and God as they choose to come unto him. They should feel their own desire to come to know him, and we help them take that journey (Alma 22:18). One last exciting thing: I memorized Moroni 7:33 in Cebuano! And I'm working on others. I memorize about 50 new words and 30 new phrases a day! My brain hurts! Also, read Matt. 7:7-11 and 3 Nephi 14:7-11 and remember that Ang Dios mao ang mahigugmaon imong Langitnong Amahan (God is your Loving Heavenly Father!) and just like your earthly fathers, he wants good things for you! Nasayud ko nga tinuod ang ebanghelyo ni Jesukristo. Have a great week everyone!

 gugma gyud,

 Sister Bertoldo ​


Kamusta kamo!

I hope everyone had a good week! I can't believe it's already been over a week in the MTC! I have now done everything at least once: service project, laundry, email, devotionals, and participating in the choir! It's pretty funny what is considered cool in the MTC that isn't really cool most other places. For example, in the MTC, everyone wants to be in the choir (they broadcast us to MTCs across the world) and missionaries all have clip on keychains that they put their card, key, and if their studying language, some flashcards. You'll see people studying anywhere and everywhere, myself included. Some cool things happened this week: for one, we have some local celebrities in our district! When I say celebrities, I mostly mean in the Philippines and at BYU haha.

One of our teachers is Brother Blount, who is a member of the HeyJoe!Show which is a youtube comedy channel that some RMs who served in the Philippines created as a way to stay in touch with all their investigators and the people in the Philippines that they came to love so much! So it was cool to meet him! Their show went viral in the Philippines! Another one of our teachers Sister Schaap, was one of the sisters in the famous new article about a year ago, about the missionaries in the Philippines that barely survived a major typhoon! It's a pretty cool story, feel free to look it up! And third, one of the elders in our district is the second missionary ever to come from Bangladesh, ever! So in other words, our district is great, and I'm inspired by them (all of them) everyday! Another butang mga nindot (cool thing): Brooke works as a teacher in the MTC so one day she cam into my classroom, right as we were about to start one on one coaching with our teachers, so Brother Johnson let her coach me and my companion Sister Ross! It was fun to both be wearing nametags that read Sister Bertoldo, and it's fun to call her Sister Bertoldo when she is also my literal sister!

 The language is getting better kada adlaw! The rule here is SYL, speak your language, at every chance! We've already taught 4 lessons in Cebuano! We still have a LONG way to go, but it's incredible how much we've learned in just a week. The MTC in amazing at teaching language. The government does so many studies, trying to figure out how we get droves of young 18-25 year old fluent in other languages in just 6-9 weeks. They ask, what are your methods? How much of the language did they know before? I'll tell you all the answer. The MTC teaches us language so effectively and so quickly by teaching everyone here (even those serving missions in their native language) yet another language: the language of the Spirit. For example, the temptation is to study nothing but the language during personal and companion study because the language is the obvious barrier between us and success as a missionary. But they teach us to use our study time to study the gospel and to read our scriptures and our Preach My Gospel manual in English. Of course, yes, we study and learn the language A LOT! But instead of just memorizing words and phrasing when teaching, they want us to speak from the heart, even if it means our sentence structure or grammar is off. As teachers, we invite the Spirit when we are kinasingkasing (sincere, heartfelt) and that is the key to success as a missionary. (D&C 100:7-8).

 I loved being a swimmer, but I LOVE being a part of something so much bigger than myself, this wave of missionary work (Moses 7:62). I know this gospel is true. I would NEVER have done this if I didn't know it was the truth. I know that Christ is our Savior (Romans 5:8). I know that his command for us to be perfect, even as God is perfect (Matt. 5:48), can seem like an impossible task. But that is why we need the Book of Mormon, because it explains to us how we can do that (Moroni 10:32). I'm so grateful for how deep and profound this gospel is, and at the same time how simple and clear cut it is. I know that it is true! Okay, I have run out of time, but I would like to invite you all to read Mormon chapter 7. In verse 7, it paints a picture of our ultimate goal! Let that motivate you to learn more about the gospel, deepen your testimony and come unto Christ! Love you all! (sorry there are no pictures, my camera is not working)

 -Sister Bertoldo

Kaya Nimo!‏


I've been on the other end of missionary emails for so long, it's weird to be emailing from the MTC! My district's P-day is on Friday, so I get to write to you guys after only being here for about 2 and a half days! It feels like much longer....

I heard so many descriptions of the MTC before coming here: strict, prison-like, exhausting, difficult, homesick, and wonderful. So far the two I would choose to describe it are exhausting and wonderful! We are always busy and get up early, but the work is uplifting and the Spirit is so strong here, so everyone is very happy, welcoming, and kind. It's an amazing place. 

I've already done so much and learned so much Cebuano! Our teacher, Brother Johnson, started talking to us in Cebuano the second we walked into class (our new home haha). In some ways it's a tricky language (like trying to pronounce ng and mg correctly), but it's so fun! It really rolls off the tongue! For example, to say "goodbye!" you say "ayo-ayo!" and to answer Kamusta ka? (how are you?) you say maayo kaayo! (very good!)

So far we have already learned how to say a prayer and A LOT of vocab, more than any of us can retain yet! We take turns trying to pray in Cebuano at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. And we have to teach an investigator (in Cebuano!) tomorrow! We are all pretty intimidated by that, but that's what the MTC is all about, pushing you out of your comfort zone and challenging you so that you can only do it if you are relying on the Lord. The motivational phrase Brother Johnson gave us was kaya nimo! You can do it! 

My district is all missionaries heading to the Philippines, and we are a very diverse group! We have a Samoan Elder from Australia who can draw amazingly, a Tongan Sister, Sister Lovelua, from Australia, a Tongan Sister, Sister Folau, from Park City, Utah, and one Elder from Bangladesh! And then we have 5 sisters who are American, myself included! As diverse as it is, apparently our district is normally ALL international. The branch president said this is the highest percentage of Americans they've ever had in 3 years! Normally they have mostly Polynesian missionaries! 

I'm loving my district, they are all so uplifting and so much fun! Our Elder from Bangladesh, Elder Mannan, grew up in a Muslim country with a very strong Muslim family. When he left home for college he left his faith because as he studied and practiced it, he said it didn't make sense to him. He studied other religions and identified himself as an atheist for a while. Then one day (3 years ago) he was walking and saw two men in white shirts and black pants riding bicycles and they stopped him and asked him if he would be interested in studying with them sometime? And he said yeah, I love to study! After reading with them, he took the discussions and said he felt at peace and 
​comforted by the Plan of Salvation and that the Gospel made perfect sense to him, where other religions had not. And the rest is history! But we all really admire him because he has been estranged from his family and he has been very courageous coming to the U.S. and living the gospel and deciding to serve a mission! This morning we all went through the Provo Temple with him because it was his first time and we got to be there with him!

My companion, Sister Ross, is awesome! We are very compatible! She's from Highlands, Utah and she's 19. She is the sweetest, always looking for ways to serve, really down to earth, and has such a strong testimony of the gospel! She's a great first companion!

The pictures are of me, Sister Ross, Sister Lavelua, and Sister Folau! We are all in a room together! We have the Filipino flag hung up on the wall! We're all so anxious to finally go to the islands, but at the same time we desperately NEED 6 weeks to learn this funny language haha. A few of the elders and sisters have to learn 2 languages! Luckily, because there are a few different languages being learned in our branch, we get to have church in English! If we were all learning Cebuano, we would have to have church in Cebuano!

Every Sunday we have to come prepared with a talk (they give us a list of topics for each week). Then they randomly call people up to speak in sacrament meeting! It's kind of a fun idea, but it means we have to prepare a talk every week on top of all our language study, gospel study, personal and companionship study, workshops, etc. 

During personal and companionship study, we are told not to spend that time studying the language, but studying the scriptures and Preach My Gospel in English (or our native language). It is really important for us to make the focus our investigators. Right now we only have practice investigators, but we have to keep in mind the real investigators that we'll have some day. Serving a mission is about people- loving, serving, and inviting them to come unto Christ. Although we help and teach and invite, the real work is done by the Spirit. The real conversion comes when an individual person discovers that they can have a personal relationship with God, that Jesus Christ died for them and loves them! We just have to be worthy of and able to invite the Spirit, and of course teach them about the restoration of the gospel! 

We talked a lot about how hard the MTC is because you come face to face with your weaknesses. He shared with us Ether 12:27 and really broke it down. It says in that verse that Christ GIVES unto us weakness. Our weaknesses are a gift from God. Then, if we 1. come unto him 2. humble ourselves and 3.have faith in Christ, our weaknesses will become strengths. The grace of God is His help! That verse in conjunction with the Cebuano phrase "kaya nimo!" helped me to not feel so intimidated and so inadequate. In a way is it a relief to rely on God because it means that we aren't putting pressure on ourselves to do everything perfectly without help.

Being humble is not thinking less of yourself, it's thinking of yourself less!

My thoughts are a little jumbled (you can thank all the language study for that!), but  hopefully I'll get the hang of writing more concise and meaningful emails :) God bless, love you all!

-Sister Bertoldo