Sunday, May 31, 2015

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 

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