Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Week 5...

Ok so this week has probably been the most emotional week since being here at the MTC!  I will talk more about that later in my email but first, Mom and Dad thanks for the package! And thanks everyone for all the letters, dear elders, and emails! O and Happy Birthday to Virginia this week, I can't believe she is turning 7!! Give her a big hug from me!
So this week we got our travel plans!! I seriously can't believe I am leaving the MTC a week from tomorrow, crazy! All 4 of us Hermanas and Elder Hodges in my district are leaving the MTC, Tuesday August 6th at 4:30 in the afternoon and the other 3 Elders in my district are leaving for Texas at 4:30 in the morning on that tuesday.  So we get an extra 12 hours and we think that our mission president is going to be at the MTC to pick us up! How cool is that, the Utah Provo mission has some pretty awesome perks haha! I think we will also be allowed to make a 5 minute phone call home so Mom and Dad keep a lookout and answer the phone! I will let you all know next email for sure if that will happen! 
So this week we got to do TRC (Teaching Resource Center) over Skype.  It was such a neat experience.  Hermana Read and I talked to a lady from Chile and a lady from Ecuador! The lady from Ecuador is from Quito!! We were a little nervous talking to them because they were natives and they both talked really fast but we understood them for the most part.  We gave them a little message about the Book of Mormon and they told us that our Spanish was really good for only being here 5 weeks in the MTC so that made us feel pretty good!
On Wednesday my district signed up to be missionary hosts for the new missionaries that were coming in.  We had to go to a training meeting before.  It was so fun to welcome all the new missionaries and to get them checked in, take them to their residence hall, take them to meet their district, and tell them how amazing the MTC is! Standing by the curb watching all the new missionaries come brought me back to when I was dropped off.  Not gonna lie I got a little emotional watching all the families saying goodbye to their missionary.  I thought about my family and all my friends that I am missing.  It is such a big sacrifice to be away from family and friends for 18 months/2 years but I can already see this mission experience changing my life and that this sacrifice is so worth it!

So our lessons have been going pretty well this week.  There is one lesson that I really want to talk about because it just went so well! So we were teaching Belgica and we have asked her about baptism but she said she's not sure if she is ready.  Her relationship with her dad is very strained and is very against the church and her mom is very sick with cancer.  So we have been focusing on trying to get her ready for baptism.  For our lesson we talked about the Atonement of Christ and at first I could tell our lesson wasn't really going well.  We were explaining the Atonement to her and she just didn't really seem in tuned to our lesson and she asked questions and we didn't really understand her and we didn't know how to answer.  So then I took my scriptures, notebook, basically everything that I had and put it off to the side.  I leaned forward and looked at her directly in the eye and told her that Christ loves us and because of that love he has given us the atonement so that we can be forgiven.  I told her that I know this church is true and that this gospel will bless your life and that it will bless your family.  I told her that she would be able to strengthen her relationship with her father through this gospel and that she could forgive him.  I told her that her family could be together forever and that this gospel has blessed my family's life and that I wouldn't have it any other way.  As I was telling her all of these things tears were running down my face.  I was so overcome by the spirit and I couldn't help my emotions.  Hermana Read then started to cry and shared her testimony.  When we came out of that lesson we were still crying, we couldn't stop.  Everything was starting to hit us in that moment that our testimonies have the power to touch peoples lives.  It was such an amazing experience! The minute we made our lesson personal, we could tell Belgica was more in tuned to what we had to say.  It was amazing!
Ok so Sunday was a pretty busy day for me.  I did that musical number with Hermana Derges.  I played violin and she played the flute.  We played As I Have Loved you and it went really well! So I think I mentioned in my first email that during sacrament 2 missionaries get chosen to give a 5 minute talk and we have to speak in Spanish......well no one thought I was going to speak since I was already doing a musical number but for some reason I had a strong feeling that I was going to get picked.  And I was right, they did pick me haha!! The topic was on faith in Jesus Christ and everyone said I did a pretty good job and that they could understand my Spanish.  I felt like that topic totally applied to me too and I knew I was inspired to give that talk.  It was great, now I can say I have given my first talk in Spanish!!

So this week is my last week at the MTC! I can't believe how fast the time has gone! My district is seriously the best! We are going to miss each other so much!! Every departing district sings a song the Sunday before we leave and we are going to sing the EFY medley (As sisters in zion/army of helaman) and we are singing it in Spanish! It sounds so beautiful in Spanish!

So yeah that has been my week! I am about out of time! I love you all!! Thanks for everything!

Hermana Veronica Garces

Friday, July 26, 2013

Week 4 at the MTC

So this week was another great week at the MTC! First off thanks again for all the letters and emails, they make my day here at the MTC! Dad thanks for sending the kettle corn, my district loved it! It is almost all gone! Charles, I still can't believe you know Elder Hodges sister!  It is such a small world!

This week Hermana Read and I had some great experiences teaching lessons to our investigators (our teachers).  One of my teacher's plays an investigator named Jamie.  He is married and has 3 kids and wants to change.  His relationship with his wife is very strained and he drinks and smokes a lot.  He wants to be a better husband and wife.  We taught him about the restoration of the gospel through the prophet Joseph Smith.  I ended up looking at him right in the eye and recited the first vision to him in Spanish.  I wasn't sure if I had it memorized or not but Hermana Read was following along while I recited it and she said I nailed it! It was so awesome! Those words are so powerful but there was something even more special about it saying it in Spanish.  We then taught him another lesson and we talked about the word of wisdom and how he needs to live this commandment in order to be baptized.  We came up with this really good idea to help him overcome his drinking and smoking.  We took a jar and told him that everyday he doesn't drink or smoke that he should put a dollar in the jar and after a couple of weeks he should use that money to do something fun with his family.  This way he can overcome his drinking smoking and it will give him incentive to stop so that his relationship with his family will be stronger.  Explaining that in Spanish was really hard to do but somehow we were able to do it and get the idea across! Our teacher talked to us afterward and told us we did such a great job that he really likes that we are not just teaching lessons but that we are teaching for our investigators and what we think they need and how we can help them. 

Our other teacher plays an investigator named Belgica.  She is 24 and has met with the missionaries before but her dad is very against the church and doesn't want anything to do with it so her relationship with her dad is very strained.  She really likes music so Hermana Read and I thought it would be a good idea to start our lesson with a hymn.  We sang to her I Know my Redeemer Lives.  It was a good way to invite the spirit and then we talked to her about the Attributes of Christ and the example that he sets for us and that we asked her if she would follow the example of Jesus Christ and she said yes! It was such a good lesson. 
Even though we are teaching are teachers playing as investigators they really feel like we are teaching real people.  Hermana Read and I pray together every night on what we should teach them.  We study really hard to try and make our lessons effective and how we can help them.  It has been really great.  As for our Spanish its getter there.  All of our lessons are all in Spanish but a lot of times are grammar isn't the best when we speak but we are able to communicate and understand which is good.  This week we are going to work on more grammar and vocabulary so that we can speak better in general and in our lessons. 

So this week we got a new district and we said goodbye to another district.  We got 6 new Hermanas which was way exciting! We are now the oldest district in our zone which is so weird because it feels like we just got here! I seriously can't believe I have only about 2 weeks left here! It will be a very sad day to say goodbye to my district but it is also very exciting to get out into the mission field! My district is already talking about reuniting after we are done with our missions! O and this week our district signed up to be hosts to the new missionaries that come in on Wednesday! That means we will be by the curb and help them take their luggage, take them to their residence hall, and classroom! It will be interesting to do since I was one of those new missionaries a few weeks ago!

The devotional this past Tuesday was amazing! It was pretty special, it was given by Richard C. Hinckley and it was broadcast to all 15 MTCs around the
world.  One thing that he said that really stood out to me was "The greatest suffering a missionary can experience is regret".  That really hit me because I don't want to regret anything about my mission.  There is a reason why I am here and I want to be the best missionary I can be. 
Also I get to play the violin for sacrament meeting this Sunday! The MTC has instruments that we can play for special musical numbers.  So I am playing the violin and another Hermana in my district, Hermana Derges is playing the flute.  An elder in our zone is playing the piano for us, we are playing an arrangement of As I Have Loved You.  We have already practiced a few times and it sounds really great.  I will let you know how it goes!

I am almost out of time but I would like to close with the first vision:

"Vi una columna de luz, mas brillante que el sol, directamente arriba de mi cabeza, y esta luz gradualmente descendio hasta descansar sobre mi, Al resposar sobre la luz, vi en el aire arriba de mi a dos personajes, cuyo fulgor y gloris no admiten descripcion. Uno de ellos me hable, llamondome por mi nombre, y dijo, senalando al otro: Este es mi Hijo Amado, Escuchalo!

"I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which was descended gradually until it fell upon me.  When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air.  One of them spake unto me calling me by name and said, pointing to the other.  This is my beloved son. Hear him!

Again I don't know how to do the accent marks on this computer but hopefully you get the idea.

I love you all and thanks again for all of the support and love.

Hermana Veronica Garces

Week 3 at the MTC: "Best week by far!"

So this week has probably been the best week for me at the MTC.  So first off thanks again for all the letters and packages.  Mom and Dad, I got the package! Thanks so much I have already been eating the snacks!

On Wednesday we had to go to this thing called TRC (teaching resource center) which is where volunteers come to the MTC who are members, less active members, or investigators.  And we have to teach them.  We had to teach two twenty minute lessons and you don't know if they are members or not.  Hermana Read and I were super nervous about it because we were teaching real people.  The investigators that we have been teaching have been our teachers pretending to be investigators so this was scary! We were literally on the verge of tears we were so nervous.  We said a prayer before we went in to teach. We went in there to our first person and somehow we were able to speak Spanish and we didn't use any notes at all.  We were teaching by the spirit, it was amazing! I seriously didn't think I could speak that much Spanish but I did! The second person we taught went super well too! We taught by the spirit again.

The purpose of the TRC is not to judge us on how well we speak the language but they judge us on how well they felt something about the message we shared about the gospel.  We talked about prayer to them and how important it is and we bore our testimonies about it.  They told us that Hermana Read and I did a very good job.  They could tell our sincerity and our strong testimony of the gospel.  It was such an amazing experience.  It gave us a lot more confidence in our Spanish and trusting the Holy Ghost
Later that day we had to teach our investigator which was our teacher Hermano Roden.  We had a lesson planned out and we wrote down what we wanted to say in Spanish.  We went in there and we ended up not teaching him the lesson we planned which means we didn't use our notes at all.  We talked about prayer and taught him how to pray and we shared Moroni 10:4-5 with him.  We challenged him to start reading the Book of Mormon and to pray about it to know that it is true.  We were speaking all in Spanish, maybe one or two words we said in english.  If we didn't know how to say something we would try to figure out another way to say it.  The next day we taught him another lesson and we followed up on the commitments we challenged him to do and we talked about the importance of families and reading and praying together as a family.  We also talked about the restoration a little bit. We also touched on the atonement of Christ and repentance.  He asked us a question "how do we repent?" and it took us a good 3 minutes to figure out how to respond in Spanish.  We didn't know like any vocabulary that had to do with repentance.  But then I started talking and I explained to him how to repent in Spanish.  He understood what I was saying and he said that he would repent for all of his sins.  It was amazing how much the spirit was guiding Hermana Read and I.  At the end of the lesson we bore our testimonies and we committed him to baptism for July 31st and he said YES! We also challenged him to read with his family 2 Nephi:31, it is about baptism.

Hermana Read and I were so happy with how our lessons went with him.  We gave each other a big hug and we had tears of joy this time! It is amazing how the spirit works.  We came to the conclusion we do a lot better when we don't use our notes when we teach that we do a lot better when we teach by the spirit.  We were able to realize that we actually know a lot of Spanish.  It gave us so much confidence in ourselves.  Our teacher Hermana Roden talked to us after we taught him and he said we did amazing.  He said that he could feel the spirit so strongly when we were teaching him and that our Spanish has progressed so much.  He knows that we have struggled a lot with learning the language so he was super proud of us. 

A lot of times we would dread teaching because we felt like our Spanish wasn't that great and that we couldn't communicate as well but now for every lesson we are so excited to teach.  We have a lot more confidence in ourselves now. 

So Sunday, Hermana Read and I had to teach a lesson about the Book of Mormon to our district, its like our Sunday school.  We got to do it English haha.  It went really well and it was a good topic for us because we both have realized how much the Book of Mormon and praying can bless our lives especially when it comes to learning Spanish and teaching by the spirit.  I also had to give the closing prayer in Spanish for sacrament, it went well!

Well I am running out of time but I would like to close with a little Spanish:

Yo se que El Libro de Mormon es la palabra de Dios.  Yo se que Jesucristo es el Salvador.  Yo se que el Evangelio de Cristo es verdadero.  Yo se que Families pueden son juntos para siempre.

I don't know how to do the accents on this computer so hopefully all of you that speak Spanish get the idea haha.  I love you all and thanks again for all the support

Hermana Veronica Garces

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Week 2: "Still love it here!"

So this week has been really hard but its also been really good! Tuesday was a bit tough for me, I was getting really frustrated with learning the language and didn't feel like I was progressing as much as I should.  I was putting myself down a lot about it and my companion, Hermana Read was feeling really frustrated about learning the language too but then we had the devotional at the Marriott center and it was amazing! It was what I needed to hear.  It was about how we have been called of God and that we wouldn't be here if we weren't supposed to be. They also mentioned that a mission is the best 2 years or 18 months of our life because it is so hard.  The devotional also reminded me that God is mindful of all of us and that I am not alone.  After the devotional we met as a district and other elders from our zone and we went around the room and shared what we learned from the devotional.  The spirit in that room was felt so strongly, It hit a lot of us that we are here for a purpose and that we are going to touch lives and invite others to come unto Christ.  It is going to be hard but it will bless our lives.

 So things got better throughout the week.  I have been working hard with Hermana Read and with my district.  We have set goals as a district.  We have memorized Called to Serve in Spanish.  We have taught more lessons in Spanish.  It is still hard but we are getting better day by day.  Hermana Read and I taught a lesson about the Plan of Salvation and that is a kind of a hard and long lesson to teach but we taught for a solid 30 minutes.  It was great! Our Spanish was still a little shaky but we understood everything for the most part.  We get the message across which is what matters and our investigator that we were teaching felt the spirit!

So for the 4th of July this week we had a normal day, we still had class all day but we had a special devotional that night.  There were a few speakers and we sang patriotic songs, we also got to watch the movie 17 miracles! That movie is so great, the pioneers had to go through such hardships.  After the movie we got ice cream and we were able to go outside to watch the fireworks from the Stadium of Fire. It was way fun! We usually have to be back in our residence halls by 9:30 and go to bed at 10:30 but we didn't get back till 11:30 so it was nice to stay up and see fireworks  considering we live in a little bubble here at the MTC haha.  It's a good bubble though, I love it!  Also while I was standing there watching the fireworks I met some sisters and elders going to the DC south mission! I talked to them a little saying that I am from there and that they will love it and that they better get ready for humidity haha!  They all seemed super excited since none of them have been to D.C.! So keep a lookout for new missionaries coming! Also while we were watching the fireworks I met an Elder that was going to the Quito Ecuador mission.  He's from Mexico and he thought I could speak Spanish cause of my last name so he started rambling on in Spanish haha. I could actually understand most of it but then I had to tell him that I am not that good yet haha.  A side note, before my district and I got to the MTC the elders in my zone had the names of our district before we arrived and they totally thought I was going to speak Spanish and leave early from the MTC because I would already know it haha.  They were so WRONG haha.

This Sunday was actually a little sad because one of the districts from my zone was leaving.  It was time for them to get out into the mission field. So we had to say goodbye to them.  They all bore their testimonies and it was very emotional.  Even though we have only known them for about 2 weeks, it was still hard to say goodbye! When a district leaves as a zone we sing God be with you till we meet again in spanish.   I can't even think about saying goodbye to my district when its that time to go.  We are all so incredibly close.  There will be lots of crying when that day comes which is only like 4 weeks away, crazy! So now that a district has left we will be getting a new district this week and they are all elders.  So now we will have over 30 elders in our zone and only 4 Hermanas! Within the next couple of weeks we should be getting more Hermanas though! Fast Sundays are a little different at the MTC, we have a Mission conference which is kind of like a stake conference and then we still have sacrament meeting (fast and testimony meeting) with our zone.  We still went on a temple walk which was nice and we had a devotional which was good.  Devotionals here are all so amazing! And then we could watch a movie.  My district decided we wanted to watch the Joseph Smith movie.  It was awesome, I love that movie.  The ending is so powerful!

This week I have also been studying the Book of Mormon more in depth.  I have read it several times but since being here at the MTC I have realized what an amazing effect that book has on me and how it can effect others.   I know that it is the word of God.  I can't wait to share that message with others! Hermana Read and I studied Alma 26 together and that is seriously such a powerful chapter.  Everyone should read it if they have a chance, its amazing!

Well my time is about up here! I love you all very much! My Spanish is coming slowly but surely.  I know I will get it eventually! Thanks for everything! You all are the best!

Hermana Garces

Monday, July 1, 2013

Hermana Garces - First letter from the MTC

Well today is my Preparation day (Pday) which means I can email! These past 5 days at the MTC have been amazing! 
My MTC District!

The first day I met my companion and her name is Hermana Read.  She is from Houston, Texas and she's 19 just like me! She is amazing, I admire her so much for serving a mission.  Her family is very inactive so she doesn't really have much support.  She has such a positive attitude on everything.  We have a lot of fun together and work so well together.  We met out district on the first day as well.  We have 4 Hermanas and 4 Elders so it is a nice size group.  3 of the Elders are going to Fortworth Texas, Spanish speaking, and 1 Elder and the rest of us Hermanas are going to Provo Utah, Spanish speaking.  The first day was super intimidating because our teacher was only talking in Spanish to us, they really weren't kidding about being fully immersed in the language haha.  Our teacher is super awesome though, he just got back from his mission in September and he served in Mexico.  His Spanish is amazing, he is a super fun teacher but also a super effective teacher.  I have learned so much from him these past 5 days.  A few of the Elders in our district have a little bit of background with Spanish but Hermana Read and I know nothing haha.  We have seriously come a long way with just 5 days being here.  So far I have the purpose in Preach My Gospel memorized in Spanish, I can have a basic conversation with someone in Spanish, I can say a basic prayer and testimony in Spanish.  Oh, and the second day we met our Zone leaders, Sister training leader, and Branch Presidency.  They went over the rules that are expected at the MTC and had us introduce ourselves and the Branch President interviewed each of us to get to know us better.

Hermanas in my District

 Hermana Read and I before a workout

 Hermana Read and I in front of the Provo Temple!

Our Branch President's name is President Wing,  He's awesome! The whole presidency is amazing.  Their wives are so nice and loving.  They are like our Moms away from home. Lets see...on the third day we were here we had to teach our first lesson to an investigator.  We were all super scared about it but we were allowed to bring notes with us and it went okay.  Hermana Read and I only talked for like 10 minutes and we didn't really understand what our investigator was asking in Spanish.  It was really frustrating but then again it was only the third day.  The next day we had to teach the same investigator again and it went so much better.  Hermana Read and I talked to him for 27 minutes!! We understood what he was saying for the most part and it just went so well.  It wasn't perfect and we still have a lot of work to do with our Spanish but it was amazing we were able to get through it and understand most of it.  We have seriously been blessed with the gift of tongues here at the MTC .  It is so amazing how much Spanish I have learned in just 5 days.  It has been a lot of hard work.  Our district has been working so hard at Spanish and Hermana Read and I have been nonstop studying Spanish.  It has been super fun though! There are 8 Hermanas and like 20 something elders in my zone.  The Elders are crazy and so much fun but I guess those are Elders for you haha.  I have seen Diana Tanner a few times since I have been here! I have also seen Katherine Weigl a few times! It is so nice seeing people I know here! So Sunday was amazing! Before Relief Society they broadcast Music in the Spoken Word and it was a Patriotic program this week which was amazing! For Relief Society we have a speaker come talk to us every week and this week it was Sheri Dew!! Her talk was amazing! One thing that stuck out to me that she said was "Obedience brings blessings but Exact obedience brings miracles". I have noticed that here at the MTC that being obedient is so important especially exact obedience.  Hermana Read and I have been working on being really obedient and trying really hard and we have seen the blessings and miracles.  We are learning Spanish so quickly and it wouldn't be happening if we weren't obedient and diligent in our studies.  We have sacrament meeting with our zone and they pick two speakers each week and you don't know who it will be until sacrament meeting.  So each week we have to prepare a 3 to 5 minute talk on the assigned topic and the first 2 weeks we can do it in English but then after that we have to do it in Spanish.  Its kind of scary but its also good though because once we are out in the mission field we will have to give talks like all the time.  After sacrament we went on a temple walk and took a lot of pictures with our district and zone.  It was such a nice day! And then we went to choir.  Choir at the MTC is so awesome! We are singing Faith of Our Fathers for the devotional on Tuesday at the Marriott Center.  And then we had a devotional.  It was really good, it was by Robert P. Swensen.  He talked about how we need to establish a vision of what we want our mission to be and that our mission will give us direction in life, it will teach us obedience, service and sacrifice.  It was so good and Sundays are nice because we get to watch a film after devotional and this week we watched Characters of Christ, it was a Christmas devotional given by Elder Bednar.  It was amazing. 

 I saw Diana!

So I don't have much time but thanks to everyone who have sent me letters.  Keep them coming, getting mail here at the MTC is the best! I will try to send pictures after I finish this email! I love you all and thanks for all the support you have given me!

Hermana Veronica Garces