Saturday, February 22, 2014

This week flew by SO quick!!! So many awesome experiences. I love it here.

Sunday we had an AWESOME devotional about Joseph Smith by Mathew R Holland. Elder Holland's son. Both Elder Holland and his wife were there. It was so cool. I sang in the choir. Actually our whole zone does every Sunday and Tuesday. My testimony of the reality of the Prophet Joseph Smith and love for him was strengthened SO much. I also lead the music in our Branch. Trying to become a little more musical :)  
Picture with our Branch Pres and wife. He reminds me of a mix between Grandpa Rhoten and Gordon B. Hinckley.
Wednesday I got to help welcome our new district!! They are all so great! I love them. I made little welcome card things for them and had everyone in the zone sign them and all the Hermanas donated leftover Valentine chocolate to make little candy bags. We had lots. 

The MTC is so great. We work hard and play hard. Since most of our time is spent studying in the classroom, when we get the chance to play and relax we make it super fun. Our zone usually all meet at gym and play volleyball or 4 square. Both are SUPER fun. If the weather is nice after gym we'll all go get sack lunches and eat out side "a la playa" which means "at the beach" There's a sand volleyball court by our apartments with some picnic tables close by. P-days we ride the bus over to main campus for breakfast together. We've gotten pretty good at bus surfing. Then for dinner we're allowed to walk down the street to Brigham's Landing. There's a Jamba Juice and some burger place and a Kinkos to print pictures there. And we have initiation. Our zone leaders buy all the first timers wheat grass shots from Jamba Juice, which is already 50% off for missionaries. Everyone thinks they're gross and taste like a lawn mower but I really liked it. Pretty fun. 
For the rest of the time here our teacher, Hermano Wright will be acting as one of our investigators. He is pretending to be his younger brother Caleb who is 18 years old and hasn't gone to church in 3 years, struggled with depression, OCD and although was raised in the church, decided he is not agnostic. Hermano Wright chose him as our investigator because he wants to know how to better help his brother. It has been one of the greatest experiences ever because it feels so real. It was hard the first couple lessons when we couldn't get him to understand and feel the love of our Father in Heaven and he didn't want to pray or even try. He had no desire. My comp and I worked really really hard to try and find more about Caleb and truly put ourselves in his shoes and meet his needs. In all of our studies and planning we talked about Caleb and how we could get him to know that he is loved and important. That he is not alone in what he's going through and give him hope. We weren't sure where to go with the lesson and Thursday night during our planning we did our best to follow the Spirit and turn it all over to the Lord. Yesterday during the lesson I finally felt like we hit it right on with what he truly needed and the Spirit was so strong during the lesson. Its hard to describe but it was a really AWESOME experience. 
Thursday I went to Salt Lake for part of the day to go with a group to appear before the Mexican consulate for our Visas :) That was exciting but to be honest I was bummed to miss out on a few hours of studying. Never thought I'd say that but definitely was. On the train thing back to Provo my companion and I were trying hard to find someone to share the gospel with. Every stop we moved to a new seat and talked with someone new. A lot of them were already LDS... but we got to talk with one girl who is thinking about serving a mission and at the very last stretch of the ride we sat with an older Hispanic lady and had a good talk about Mexico City and the gospel AND it was in Spanish!!!! She said she already had a Book of Mormon and it wasn't for her but it was still a sweet experience to share our testimonies in Spanish outside of the MTC. I was really grateful for it. 

I love it here and am trying my best to become a more consecrated missionary and give my whole self to the Lord. I saw Aubrey Callahan today at lunch! After the temple we ate at main campus. It was so fun to see her! I also saw Kelsey Turner's cousin, Alec! I was so shocked that he recognized me. But that was cool. And congrats to Kimmi Facer!!! I am SO excited for her. Another Mexico missionary. She will LOVE it and be such an AWESOME Sister Missionary. That's actually the same mission Nathan McBride just left to. 

Well about time to get off. Still lots to get done today before class. Nothing better than being a missionary. Spanish is coming well and I'm doing great!  Thanks for sending pictures! My room looks super different! Adorable. Good work Madi :) Talk to you next week! 

Love you lots!

Hermana Rhoten

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Hola! I love everything about this place and am so grateful for the time I get to spend here.

James and I
So sorry last week my email was pretty quick and so many of the pictures didn't go through. The room we were in was super full so it got pretty loud and computers kept crashing so I had to restart my email a couple times but today should be better :) I kept notes during the week so I could remember what I want to share because so much happens in one week here!!
My zone the first night

We had an extra district then that left earlier this week

Thank you so much for all the letters and package! Its so fun to hear from you and know how you are doing! Sounds like we've had some crazy weather at home!!! Glad to hear Madison is all moved in and settled in my room. What a fun project. Pictures look great! Congrats to Shelby Kurtz!! Las Vegas! How exciting!! I am so stoked for her and know that she will make an incredible missionary :) Dad~ I've asked around for some Peru missionaries cause that would be super cool if I could meet some girls going to Miranda's mission but I think they are all at the Peru MTC cause I've had no luck. The west campus is all Spanish speaking missionaries. All that I've talked to are either Mexico or Argentina.. a few stateside.. or Spain. But that would be really cool! I see Isaiah Stanfield and Nathan McBride quite a bit and run in to James a lot still but he has different times for meals and gym. And yes! Myranda Jones my Facebook amiga! She is awesome and we get a long super well! We have the whole apartment to ourselves so we have gotten to know each other really well and become great friends! 

My district and comp in our classroom the first week

Here's kinda the week's rundown. 

On the bus

Church was awesome! In Relief Society all the Hermanas stand up and sing "The Sisters of Zion" Its like As Sisters in Zion but the lyrics were recently changed a little.. You should try and look it up. Its super good. We had a really great lesson about how to develop habits and traits on our missions that will help us throughout our entire life. Before our Branch Council Mtg President asked to meet with me and assigned me to be in training as Sister Training Leader for our Zone rather than just my district and Hermana S was gonna be training me. I was really surprised because I was still feeling like I just barely got here ya know. But I was really excited because I look up to Hermana S SO much and she had been my go to girl with everything since I had gotten here. We are a lot alike and get a long well. Well then Tuesday night after devotional President pulled me aside again and informed me that Hermana S had gone home and I was now the acting leader for our zone. Once again I was completely in shock. There are 15 Hermanas in our zone and many of them really looked up to Hermana S like I do. It was a tough night for all of us. My heart aches for her but I know she made a good choice and I am excited to hear from her. It sounds like she is planning to come back when she can :) I've been working really really hard to get to know each girl in my district and help them know how much I love and care about them. We get a new District this Wednesday with 5 more Hermanas!! And 3 Elders. But the Elders will still be outnumbered. 21 to 10.
Today at the temple
All Hermanas in our zone at the temple today
The girls in my district have gotten so much closer this past week! We are all the greatest of friends and I adore each of them so much. The 6 of us will usually spend gym time together playing volleyball or doing fun workout together while we quiz each other on vocab or recite memorized scriptures. Yep. We're pretty cool. And yesterday I threw a little Valentines Day party for the Hermanas in our zone. We didn't have a ton of time... but we had lunch together in my apartment and combined all of our treats that people sent and it was super fun! I love everything about this place and am so grateful for the time I get to spend here. It really is an awesome atmosphere and I look forward to everyday. 
  • My district with Hermana Hansen. She left this week to the field.‏

There's a picture of my teacher Hermano Wright I'll send. It was his anniversery this week so we wrote him a card, decorated the board and gave him some chocolates to share with his wife. He is seriously such a great teacher! Very animated. My other teacher that we got this week is Hermano Christofferson! He is Elder Christofferson's nephew and also married to Trevor and Melissa's Anderson's niece. I think he said her name is Rylee.. Pretty cool. Small world. 
Hermano Wright
Spanish is coming great!! I am SO amazed by how quickly it has stuck with me as well as the other girl's in my district. We all are improving so quickly and becoming more comfortable with the language and teaching in Spanish. I know that this is because the Lord is at the head of this work and he is helping us every step of the way. Thursday during my personal study we were told to pick a topic to study that we want to better explain to our investigator. I chose to study the very first principle that God is our Loving Heavenly Father. The whole study I was trying to think of how I could bless others with this knowledge. It was a very powerful experience and I came to know the nature and love of our Heavenly Father better than before. I know He is in the very details of our lives and loves us with a perfect and unconditional love. Enough that He gave His Only Begotten Son to suffer, bleed and die for us. He blessed us with a perfect plan for us to make it back to Him, the Plan of Redemption. I know that He desires all of His children to return to live with Him again. I am so grateful for the opportunity I have to serve Him for the next 18 months. I know that this gospel is true and it is such a blessing in my life. I am grateful to my parents, grandparents and other leaders who have set such strong examples of faith for me and know that I am truly blessed. I am excited to share this blessing with others not just on my mission but throughout the rest of my life.  

Girls teaching
Well time is about up! I'll send some pictures and hopefully they actually go through this time!! Love you all so much and glad to hear everything is going well at home. The first day I was hear we were advised to read D&C 31. It gave me so much comfort to know that the Lord would be watching over my family while I was away and serving Him. Love you guys! Have a great week!!

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Today is my p-day!!!!‏


I am super lucky!! The preparation day for my zone is Saturday!!! So yeah we totally lucked out getting to email home so soon and having a little break from studies today. 

I absolutely love it here so far! Our schedule is really busy and it already feels like I have been here for a really long time!

Wednesday was great!! The other missionary on my flight was also going to Mexico! Saltillo I think. He is from Moses Lake and knows Mitch from EFY. His name is Elder Earl I think.... yeah that sounds right :) Lunch with the cousins was super fun! I am so glad I got to see them all for a little bit before going into the MTC.

I am in the west MTC so its about a 5 minute bus ride from the main campus and we only go over there on Sundays and Tuesday night for devotional. In the west campus we are all Spanish missionaries so everyone greets each other in Spanish and a lot of us try to speak in Spanish all the time. Elder James Olsen was my host when I got to the west MTC. He showed me around and carried my luggage up 3 flights of stairs to my apartment. What a good friend. It was fun to see a familiar face.

On this campus we have apartments rather than dorms which is SUPER nice. I sent you some pictures of our empty apartment. We don't use the kitchen or the couches really. We rarely are in our apartment but its nice to have so much space.      My companion is Hermana Jones!!! She is AWESOME. We actually met on facebook through a sister missionary group and have been messaging the past several months so it felt like we already knew each other. We get along great and work hard together. My district is all Hermanas. 6 girls and no Elders! Its so great. We have the best teacher too. He's very animated and encouraging. We sing and pray together as a zone in Spanish every night.
Thursday night we met our Branch Presidency and had interviews with our President. We talked for about 30 seconds and he asked me to be the Sister Training District Leader. Usually there is a Sister Training Leader per district and an Elder as a District Leader but since my district is all Sisters, I am both. He talked about all my responsibilities super quick and then said he wished he could have me for 18 months but 6 weeks will do. I was totally shocked a little overwhelmed, but  I am SO excited to serve the girls in my district and am trying my best to fill their every need. I truly love each of them very much. They are all from various areas in Utah and all super determined and smart. I made it in an intermediate language district so we jumped right in with the Spanish. All the other districts in our zone are beginning so they are always telling us that we are the new district that is way more advanced than them already. I don't know about that... but I/we have learned a lot in the past few days. I am so amazed by how much our district has improved. 

I am running out of time soon but I am doing great! I am working hard and love the whole atmosphere of the MTC. Yesterday my companion and I taught our first lesson in Spanish and it actually went alright. It is definitely tough with the language barrier but it is incredible how much the Spirit can help you remember words and help you know what to say in the moment. It was an awesome experience. This morning we got to go to the Provo Temple too! I love the temple. 

I thought the MTC would be a time for simply studying Spanish and the gospel.I am learning quickly that this work is much more. It is more about learning to love those around you as Christ would and teaching according to the Spirit. I am trying so hard to serve the girls in my district and know how I can meet their every needs and help them feel loved and encouraged. I am trying to turn my thoughts completely outward and remove any form of pride. I hope everything is going well back home! I love you all and yes Mom I got all of your dear elders and I love hearing from you everyday!! It makes my day. :) One of my jobs is to pick up the district mail but we don't get to open it until 9:30. 

I know that this gospel is true and am loving every minute I get to spend being a missionary and serving others. There is nothing greater than being a missionary!! 

Con amor, 

Hermana Rhoten

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Farewell Talk- Come unto Christ

This is a version of my farewell talk. It was never typed up word for word before I spoke but I wanted to share the main points here to let everyone who reads my blog know that I have a testimony of Jesus Christ and of the reality of His life. I know that He lives and I know that His way truly is "the path that leads to happiness in this life and eternal life in the world to come." I can't wait to share this message with the people in Mexico City! I know it is true and will bless their lives as it has mine.

My Talk:
The purpose of a missionary is to stand as a witness of Christ and invite others to come unto Him as He did Himself in the New Testament. In Matthew 11:28-30 He says;

           "Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden and I will give ye rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn of me, for I am meek and lowly of heart and you shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." 

A yoke is a wooden crosspiece fastened over the necks of two animals and attached to a cart for them to pull. The animals work together as a team to share the load. Christ promises here that He will help carry our burdens and we can pull through life together as a team.

     So how can we do this?
     How can we take His yoke upon us?

First, we must have faith. We have to believe that there's something more and have a desire to find it. "Faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things; therefore if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true." (Alma 32:21)
Our faith should then lead to action. 
"May God grant unto you, my brethren, that ye may begin to exercise your faith unto repentance, that ye begin to call upon his holy name, that he would have mercy upon you." (Alma 34:17)

Second, our faith will give us a desire to repent. It seems like we often look at repentance as punishment. Recently I overheard a friend bear his testimony and express how grateful he was for the opportunity to learn obedience. I thought this was such a neat perspective to have on repentance and obedience. It is important for us to remember that repentance is not a punishment but a blessing given out of love from our Heavenly Father for us to change; for us to learn and grow and become something more. I am so grateful for repentance in my life. 

Once we have the desire to repent and have exercised our faith, we are then ready to show our faith and humility by covenanting with the Lord through the act of baptism. When we are baptized we take upon us the name of Christ and promise to follow Him. Jesus Christ Himself was baptized to set the perfect example for all.

His Father then sent His spirit in the form of a dove. We all need to receive the gift of the Holy Ghost given by the laying on of hand by someone holding proper authority in order to have the constant companionship of our Heavenly Father's spirit, giving comfort and direction through out our everyday lives as long as we are worthy of it.

We are then asked to "press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men." (2 Nephi 31:20) or endure to the end. These are not only steps but a lifestyle choice that is continuously lived in order to receive the promise of having our burdens made light.

The full purpose of a missionary is to "invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through FAITH in the Lord Jesus Christ and His Atonement, REPENTANCE, BAPTISM, receiving the gift of the HOLY GHOST and ENDURING to the end." This is the message I will be sharing in Mexico with anyone who will listen.

In Christ's invitation, He then asks us to "..learn of Him.."
Who is Christ?
The summer before my sophomore year of High School I decided I wanted to learn for myself more about my Savior and who He was rather than relying on the testimony of my parents, grandparents and older sister. I spent hours studying "The Living Christ: the Testimony of the Apostles." Their testimony lays out the life and mission of Christ so perfectly and has made a such strong impact on my life. It reads,

        "As we commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ two millennia ago, we offer our testimony of the reality of His matchless life and the infinite virtue of His great atoning sacrifice. None other has had so profound an influence upon all who have lived and will yet live upon the earth.
        He was the Great Jehovah of the Old Testament, the Messiah of the New. Under the direction of His Father, He was the creator of the earth. “All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made” (John 1:3). Though sinless, He was baptized to fulfill all righteousness. He “went about doing good” (Acts 10:38), yet was despised for it. His gospel was a message of peace and goodwill. He entreated all to follow His example. He walked the roads of Palestine, healing the sick, causing the blind to see, and raising the dead. He taught the truths of eternity, the reality of our premortal existence, the purpose of our life on earth, and the potential for the sons and daughters of God in the life to come.
        He instituted the sacrament as a reminder of His great atoning sacrifice. He was arrested and condemned on spurious charges, convicted to satisfy a mob and sentenced to die on Calvary's cross. He gave His life to atone for the sins of all mankind. His was a great, vicarious gift in behalf of all who would ever live upon the earth.
        We solemnly testify that His life,which is central to all human history, neither began in Bethlehem, nor concluded on Calvary. He was the Firstborn of the Father, the Only Begotten Son in the flesh, the Redeemer of the world.
        He rose from the grave to “become the firstfruits of them that slept” (1 Corinthians 15:20). As Risen Lord, He visited among those He had loved in life. He also ministered among His “other sheep” (John 10:16) in ancient America. In the modern world, He and His Father appeared to the boy Joseph Smith, ushering in the long-promised “dispensation of the fulness of times” (Ephesians 1:10).
         Of the Living Christ, the Prophet Joseph wrote: “His eyes were as a flame of fire; the hair of his head was white like the pure snow; his countenance shone above the brightness of the sun; and his voice was as the sound of the rushing of great waters, even the voice of Jehovah, saying:
       “I am the first and the last; I am he who liveth, I am he who was slain; I am your advocate with the Father” (D&C 110:3–4).
          Of Him the Prophet also declared: “And now, after the many testimonies which have been given of him, this is the testimony, last of all, which we give of him: That he lives!
         “For we saw him, even on the right hand of God; and we heard the voice bearing record that he is the Only Begotten of the Father—
        “That by him, and through him, and of him, the worlds are and were created, and the inhabitants thereof are begotten sons and daughters unto God” (D&C 76:22–24).
          We declare in words of solemnity that His priesthood and His Church have been restored upon the earth—“built upon the foundation of . . . apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone” (Ephesians 2:20).
          We testify that He will someday return to earth. “And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together” (Isaiah 40:5). He will rule as King of Kings and reign as Lord of Lords, and every knee shall bend and every tongue shall speak in worship before Him. Each of us will stand to be judged of Him according to our works and the desires of our hearts.
          We bear testimony, as His duly ordained Apostles—that Jesus is the Living Christ, the immortal Son of God. He is the great King Immanuel, who stands today on the right hand of His Father. He is the light, the life, and the hope of the world. His way is the path that leads to happiness in this life and eternal life in the world to come. God be thanked for the matchless gift of His divine Son."

I want to bear my testimony that I know that Jesus lives, that He overcame death and that He is our Savior, Redeemer and Friend.

Another way we can learn more of Christ is to study His attributes. My sister Miranda once made a goal to focus and study one attribute a week so that she could draw nearer to Christ and strive to become more like Him. So of course I copied her and spent many weeks through out this past year trying to focus on the Christlike attributes. She is an incredible example to me. Some of my favorites are:
        Faith, Hope Charity, Love, Virtue, Knowledge, Patience, Humility, Diligence & Obedience

Faith. He showed faith in the Father as He said "not my will but thine be done" (Luke 22:42) He trusted in Heavenly Father and His plan, demonstrating a perfect faith and hope.

Charity. Christ was the ultimate example of charity. In the Book of Mormon, Moroni 7:45- 47 it reads, "
        And charity suffereth long, and is kind, and envieth not, and is not puffed up, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, and rejoiceth not in iniquity but rejoiceth in the truth, beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
       Wherefore, my beloved brethren, if ye have not charity, ye are nothing, for charity never faileth. Wherefore, cleave unto charity, which is the greatest of all, for all things must fail—
         But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him." 
I love this description of charity and know that it is tough to reach this point but this should be everyone's goal. The perfect recipe to help each of us come unto Christ.

Love. Christ's love for us is unconditional. He loves us with a perfect and everlasting love. Enough that He gave his life in our behalf so that we could have a way to return to live with our Heavenly Father again. 
Patience. It amazes me how patient Christ can be with me and each of us.
Humility. "Though sinless, He was baptized to fulfill all righteousness" Having already lived a perfect life, Christ showed His humility and submissiveness through baptism.
Obedience and Diligence go together as He was diligently obedient in every aspect of His life to fulfill His Father's will.

Christ then tells us that He is "...meek and lowly in heart..."
In a recent General Conference talk titled "Be Meek and Lowly of Heart" by Elder Ulisses Soares he explained,
               "Meekness is vital for us to become more Christlike. Without it we won't be able to develop other important virtues. Being meek does not mean weakness, but it does mean behaving with goodness and kindness, showing strength, serenity, healthy self-worth, and self-control."

I love how he teaches us that meekness is not weakness, but rather what gives us the ability to develop the other virtues that Christ displayed throughout His life. In Mosiah 3:19 we learn that the perfect example of meekness comes through children. It states,

              "For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father."

It is wise for us to look to the children in our lives as examples and recognize how much they have to offer. I am grateful for the young friends I have and for the incredible example they are to me of how to live a Christlike life. They truly demonstrate the attributes found in this scripture so well.

The best ways to come unto Christ, to take His yoke upon us are; to live His gospel, learn of Him, and strive to be like Him through meekness.

I am so excited to teach the people in Mexico City and help them understand the joy that comes through living the gospel of Jesus Christ and allowing your burdens be made light through Him.