For this travelogue, we’re going wayyy back into February of 2019.
At this time, I had just started my mission and was pretty excited to be in a new state that naturally grew palm trees instead of importing them like Vegas did. Oops, sorry Vegas 😅
I was still getting used to the ‘uniform’ we were required to wear as ministers/missionaries of Jesus Christ- dresses and skirts. Sometimes slacks, but honestly, slacks in that weather was not great. On a usual Sunday back home I enjoyed the breezy, flowy feel of my dresses and felt confident in them. I would often plan out my outfits and choose the right shoes to go with them, deciding on the perfect hairstyle, etc. But in Florida… in Florida I would grab the nearest dress to me, slip it on, and do the same with my shoes. I would proselyte in the muggy heat of summer daily, getting little rest and often times not enough shade.
My companion and I (she was actually training me at the time) would walk and walk and walk for several hours a day in Florida. I remember walking through the warm rain and heat waves, wondering, “How on earth am I going to do this?” It felt like I was running a marathon with inappropriate attire.
But I wore those dresses and I wore those skirts. Looking back, I’m still very proud of myself for doing that. I remember being called to a few last-minute service opportunities while in a dress. It was fun and exciting, don’t get me wrong.
I loved serving and I still do. I ended up getting used to wearing dresses and skirts and it became second nature to me. And yes, sometimes my dresses would get ruined and that was okay, because I learned something important while I moved out furniture from sewer-flooded homes:
I learned about dedication while in those dresses in Florida. I learned to be strong while dressing my best. This may sound like a silly travelogue, but it means something to me and I hope it’ll mean something to you, too.
The clothes we wear really tells what type of person we are and I believe we would learn a lot from thinking about the attire we choose to wear. In my case, it was mandatory, but I learned to love it.
What good do you do in your uniform?
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On January 23rd, 2019 I entered one of the many MTC’s located in Provo, UT. Other MTC’s are located in England, Brazil, South Africa, and the Philippines. There are 10 active MTC’s in total.
For those of you who don’t know, MTC is short for Missionary Training Center. This is where missionaries go to train and learn how to be ministers of Jesus Christ. We learn how to teach for those three weeks as we learn the Gospel of Jesus Christ on deeper levels. And for those of us learning a language, we learn a new language as well.
Each class focuses on the core necessities of the Gospel of Jesus Christ:
The Restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ
The Gospel of Jesus Christ
The Commandments of God as taught in the scriptures and through modern prophets and apostles, and
The Laws and Ordinances of the Gospel of Jesus Christ
It sounds like a lot- and it is- but we managed to learn enough to be ready for the the mission field when our time was up!
On the day I entered the MTC and said goodbye to family and friends for 18th months, I was feeling scared, uncertain, and nervous. My stomach was doing backflips and my mind was almost numb with worry.
To be honest, the training itself was not so concerning to me- preparing to be in an even more unfamiliar place was. After my three weeks of studying, I would be flying out to Florida and starting missionary work that day. It was nerve-racking. Plus, I had never been to Provo, UT before and yet here I would be living, eating, and learning for the next 3 weeks.
When we drove into the parking garage, my fears heightened. It almost felt like I was about to drop from the climax of a rollercoaster.
While I said goodbye to my family- crying my eyes out the whole time-another sister missionary waited nearby. After my final ‘goodbye’ she helped me take my luggage up to my room.
No one else was in the dorm when I entered the room, but I could see that there would be at least six girls in there since there three bunk beds. Four beds had already been claimed except for the top bunk by the door and the top bunk closest to the window. I decided on the one by the door since it would be warmer and I was so happy to get a top bunk! Call me weird, but I actually really like the top bunk. I just think it’s more fun!
Before leaving for my classroom I looked at myself in the mirror hanging above the doorknob and left. While walking through the frigid cold wind I told myself it would be great and we would all get along.
I was also concerned about not having a companion who I didn’t get along with. When you’re a missionary, you don’t choose your companion. Each one is assigned to you through inspiration.
And luckily, my fears were in vain because my companion and I got along very well! She was my choir buddy and my voice of reason. We ended up serving in the same mission field, as well! The Florida Orlando Mission.
If you’ve ever seen missionaries on the street, you’ll have seen that there were at least two together at all times. This is because the scriptures state:
We take this seriously as missionaries- for safety reasons and so that there would be more than one witness testifying of the gospel topics being discussed in a lesson. Jesus Christ Himself even had another witness of His divinity and that was His Father. So, as missionaries of the Lord we follow His example and share another witness along with the Holy Ghost as a companionship.
Soon after I fixed up my hair and outfit, I made my way to the T4 building where I would meet my new family for the next 3 weeks.
I was not expecting, however, that I would soon be meeting some of my best friends.
The MTC puts the missionaries in groups in order to make sure everyone’s needs are met and classes are organized. Our ‘class’ was called Branch 31 and was seriously the BEST. Shown in this photo was another branch that we called Oregon since nearly all of them were going to the Portland Oregon Mission. In response, Oregon called us Orlando since all 11 of us were going to the Florida Orlando Mission.
The gospel doctrine lessons, artwork, and excitement of the MTC were all amazing- but I have to say, the people really were the best part of it!
When we weren’t running up the stairs to wake up at 7 am or have fun role plays together, we were studying in class and learning how to become servants of the Lord. And we had a lot of fun together, too! I remember socializing together as a Branch or with Oregon in between classes, sharing what we were learned in class or talking about our hobbies or families.
After long days of studying the scriptures and playing a hardcore game of volleyball during our exercise time, we’d often have girls nights in the dorms.
These girl nights were the times we had heart-to-heart conversations, do face masks, eat vending machine snacks, and bond.
We were all on the same boat and it felt really good to have a community of people who we could relate to!
I remember how sweet the “older” Sisters were (those who had been in the MTC longer). They brought a lot of comfort to the other Sister missionaries and I through their examples and kind words. Because of their help, I felt much more excited and prepared to serve the good people of Florida!
To this day, I still have the name tag I received on my first day at the MTC. I managed to salvage it for as long as I could until I sprayed DEET on it one day before tracting 😥 DEET is a really strong bug spray needed in Florida. It was a sad day, but I promised myself I would always keep this anyway. It means too much to me!
This name tag represents the hard work I put in, the love I felt and gave, and the miracles I experienced.
My name tag’s home was my dresser no matter what city I lived in. It was the last thing I put on in the morning and the first thing I took off at night. It represented me as a representative of Jesus Christ.
I learned about who my Savior Jesus Christ really was while serving in Florida; from the boondocks to the city to the beach, I learned a very consistent lesson and that was that Heavenly Father truly loves His children.
It was an amazing slice of my life and it all started with the MTC. I’ll never forget my time there and how it affected my mission so positively!
I hope you all enjoyed this post! Comment below your experience at the MTC or if you know anyone who’s been to the MTC! What are some things you’re curious about missionaries or missions? Message me and we can talk about!
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“Look to the Temple”. He looked me in the eyes across from the clammy table and I looked back. After a moment he promised me special blessings as I did so.
Shortly after I returned home from my mission, I pondered how his words were going to impact me as I went throughout my life. I ended up buying a necklace to remind me of those special last moments with him. It’s a simple necklace; a miniature Salt Lake Temple encompassed by a golden hoop, a small pearl dangling beside it. It is an accessory I wear often.
Almost two years ago I arrived on my mission without a huge testimony of the temple. I knew a few basic things, but besides that, there wasn’t much knowledge. It just didn’t have a huge impact on me. I remember entering the Florida Orlando Temple for the first time and felt a familiar peace I had felt before in the temple in Las Vegas. It was very comforting to me and I liked being there. This was the temple that I would eventually perform sacred ordinances for my grammie (grandmother) in. It became a special temple for me after that!
I’m grateful I went to the temple as often as I did on my mission because those experiences kept it in my view.
One of those experiences was doing baptisms for the dead with a recently baptized friend of mine named Henry and my then companion, Sister Jensen. Henry was seriously the best. He had so much faith and took this step in stride as he adjusted to life in a new religion.
Henry was one of the best examples of faith I’ve ever seen!
We performed proxy baptisms for several of those that had passed, including my grammie. I felt so much love and gratitude in my heart for the privilege of helping my grammie have a chance to accept the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I could feel her there, thanking me, happy. My personal testimony of the Lord’s temple and its blessings grew stronger that day.
Like I said before, I didn’t have a huge testimony of the temple like others seemed to have. After that temple trip early in the spring, I began to ponder this and study it.
I’m nowhere near where I want to be now, but I’ve learned a lot since then. I’ve learned that there are promised blessings there that I would never be able to attain anywhere else in any other circumstance. I’ve also learned that true peace is found within or even on temple grounds. Real peace. Not rest, but peace. I would describe it as a stable comfort deep within your soul; kind of like a hug, but inside.
In Las Vegas (where I’ve lived for years), there is a temple on a hill. It isn’t too far away from the noise and disorder of Nellis, Charleston, or Flamingo, and yet it is completely still inside. If you were to look out the windows of the temple at night, you’d see the Las Vegas Strip glowing brilliantly, strobe lights colliding with the haze overhead.
Looking back, I realize that my mood improved every time I went to the temple while living there. Every morning for 5 days a week I would go and volunteer in the temple as a worker. And while I was there, it felt as if I were in another place. Truly, I felt like Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz sometimes.
I remember my temple Matron telling me to never forget how important the temple is. She served a senior mission herself a few years back. Every day she would bear a simple but strong testimony to me of why she knew the Temple was a sacred place. I think this was a huge aid in my growth.
One day we were speaking about my mission call with the other sisters and I marveled at how I would be leaving in only a few short months. This sister, although I don’t remember her name, gave me advice in order to help me prepare for my 18-month mission. She instructed this for my friends specifically:
I remembered that advice all 18 months of my time serving.
It was very impactful for me as an individual to hear those words because I began to think to myself, “Well, shouldn’t I have the same testimony as those I’m teaching? Is the temple important for me? What power does the temple truly hold?”
And although I’m still seeking answers for these questions of my soul, I invite you all to do the same. Ponder, dig deep, question what value the temple has for you. Do you value it as much as my Temple Matron did? As your parents or Church leaders do?
Let me offer some resources as an additional study that may help:
Most of the Old Testament is riddled with Temple doctrine. Look for it in Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers
The Pearl of Great Price holds precious temple doctrine
I would take these additional resources and run with it! Take some time to expand on your understanding of unknown words, unfamiliar doctrines, and new insight. Try more cross-reference and reference techniques. Anything to get the most out of this precious knowledge!
I hope that y’all can gain a more personal testimony of the Temple that will prepare you to be ready when the doors open again!
It is so chaotic right now. A lot of fear and uncertainty is being shared around social media. People are sending chains about COVID-19 and the horrible affects that have come as a result.
I want to focus on love. We could share all of the deaths around the globe and cases in our immediate area, but we could also share love.
We could pass along LOVE instead of fear, death, and sadness. Send a message to someone you love. Take time to pray with and for your family. Read the scriptures!
In the middle of it all is Christ. He knows what He is doing. And He will provide a way.
Jesus once told His prophet Nephi, that He would provide the way for Nephi, to build a ship to cross the Atlantic.
I formatted it to apply to March 2020:
“…I will also be your light in the [chaos]; and I will prepare the way before you, if it so be that ye shall keep my commandments; wherefore, inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments ye shall be led to[peace and joy]; and ye shall know that it is by me that ye are led.” [1 Nephi 17:13]
#HearHim in the chaos. Seek out His whisper and hone in to the light He provides.
The heavens are opened again! God is communicating with us, with YOU!
An apostle once said that sometimes we imagine that all of God’s blessings are packed up in some cloud, refusing to rain down on us. [Elder Uchtdorf, “Living the Gospel Joyful” October 2014 General Conference]
Do you feel this way, too? I know I do sometimes. A prophet of the Lord will speaks on behalf of our welfare and joy, ultimate and lasting happiness, and this because the heavens are not sealed but pouring their plenteous blessings on us daily.
Today I felt impressed to share with you the prophet Joseph Smith’s experience. He saw God the Father and Jesus Christ in 1820 as a 14 hear old boy. He saw them in the flesh.
Joseph Smith learned for himself that God was real, that He knows us by name, that He knows our hearts and can answer the questions we have, and that God wants us to follow His commandments His way.
Below I pasted what the prophet Joseph said in his own words. Listen to the feelings you receive. I invite you to pray to God and ask Him a question that has been in your heart. I promise you with my witness that God the Father and Jesus Christ are REAL and that they KNOW YOU. They will answer you and I know that you will feel more complete when you do so. Seek to be complete!
“After I had retired to the place where I had previously designed to go, having looked around me, and finding myself alone, I kneeled down and began to offer up the desires of my heart to God. I had scarcely done so, when immediately I was seized upon by some power which entirely overcame me, and had such an astonishing influence over me as to bind my tongue so that I could not speak. Thick darkness gathered around me, and it seemed to me for a time as if I were doomed to sudden destruction. But, exerting all my powers to call upon God to deliver me out of the power of this enemy which had seized upon me, and at the very moment when I was ready to sink into despair and abandon myself to destruction—not to an imaginary ruin, but to the power of some actual being from the unseen world, who had such marvelous power as I had never before felt in any being—just at this moment of great alarm, I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me. It no sooner appeared than I found myself delivered from the enemy which held me bound. 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!” #HearHim