Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Arise and Seize the Day!

Oh man! Ain't it a fine life carrying the banner of the Gospel of Jesus Christ!

Today is the half-way point of my stay in the MTC - and I love being a missionary more and more each day.
This week had far more high times than hard times...

Sometimes the livin' is sweet:

Thank you for the mail and sweet treats this past week! I know I sound like a broken record, but you all deserve a huge "THANK YOU!" with confetti and a mariachi band because that's how I feel every time I get your mail. Loves and Hugs!
Love getting packages
This Sunday was especially sweet. In the MTC, Relief Society is combined with all the sister missionaries. The meeting starts of with "Music and the Spoken Word", which is always the highlight of my Sunday. Seriously, you should all watch it on Sundays because it is fantastic. This Sunday however, my highlight was not "Music and the Spoken Word", because guess who the speaker was for our hour of Relief Society? Sister Linda S. Reeves - Second Councilor in the Relief Society General Presidency. How cool is that? She gave an amazing lesson keeping converts active in the church, and while she was talking I just kept thinking...

"We're not inviting people to church, we're inviting people to come unto Christ. And we're not introducing people to a religion, we're introducing people to a loving Heavenly Father."

In the MTC, they push us really hard to teach people not lessons, and that idea was illuminated for me while Sister Reeves was speaking.

And, sometimes there's nothing to eat:

Twice this week my companion and I ended up dining out of the vending machines, which is always a fun fattening adventure.
The first time was because my companion had a meeting during lunch hour. This week she was called as the Sister Training Leader for our zone; which is a huge responsibility, but she's going to rock it because she's so outgoing and fun. She's like the sister zone leader and that means that we'll be on splits a lot for the next few weeks while she's in meetings I'm not allowed to tag along to (during these meetings, her "companion" is the two zone leaders, crazy right?). It's sad because we love being together. But I'm also super excited for her and love being a trio with the other two sisters in my district while she's busy. My district sisters are the best!

The second time we had vending machine cuisine was yesterday because we were both sick all day. To avoid getting others sick we were told to stay in our dorm room, but we felt free as fishes and the extra hours of sleep were heaven sent. In the MTC, we spread germs faster than the Gospel, but we're feeling a lot better today. So, I always lands on my feet.

When you got a hundred voices singing...

Choir this week was amazing! The choir director is so great - it takes talent to make a choir of missionaries sound good, but he always does. Plus, he has the coolest spiritual insights and he's totally hilarious. This week's song for the Tuesday Devotional is, "Consider the Lilies", and it's beautiful.

Neighbor to neighbor...
Guess who arrived at the MTC this week and is my new dorm neighbor? Sister Lauren Taylor! My temple buddy. We went through the temple together and now we're in the same zone learning Portuguese together! She's so cool.

My temple buddy, Sister Taylor
I also ran into Maren Dunlop this week from Oregon. She's a teacher at the MTC.
This week as I tried my best with the language, teaching, and missionary life, I was constantly reminding that perfection is not the goal. I am not perfect, but that's life. Or rather, that's this life. I am not perfect, but I do aspire to be, and someday I can be, just like God, it's one of the things I'm going to Africa to teach. I am not perfect, but I am doing my best, and the great thing is my best is enough. And so, instead of worrying about the things that make life imperfect, I should enjoy the mess of this imperfect life. After all, you're only blessed with an imperfect life once. :)

And with that mindset, my companion and I rocked our meetings with our "investigators"! The spirit was so strong with Sister Maria Teresa, we made her cry. And she's not even a real investigator. But it was such a happy visit anyway, and how awesome is it going to be when that happens in real life? Totally awesome. 
We also had our first TRC meeting this week. TRC is appointments with active members from your mission who now live in Utah and volunteer at the MTC (except for we taught Brazilians because there aren't many Cabo Verdeans in Utah County). You teach them like you would a member (so visiting teaching), and the Sister we taught this week wrote on our feedback card that she could tell my companion and I really loved each other and it helped invite the spirit. Ah! Shout out to Sister Jones, the best companion ever! And when the spirit takes over while you are teaching, great things happen. I can't wait to start preaching happiness in Cape Verde, then the world will feel the fire and finally know!

Much love,
Sister Hanzel

* this week's theme was brought to you by the movie "Newsies".  Any quote confusion should be resolved by a family movie night. :-)

P-Day Excitement - Laundry and Letters


Tuesday, February 17, 2015

It's Been Two Weeks Going on Three Weeks...

The hills are alive with the sound of music. Actually most music is not allowed here in the MTC, but the hills are alive with the sounds of yawns and Portuguese.
Week two was great! It went much smoother than week one, we understand the swing of things now and have a little more of a routine established - which makes the days go by really fast. Most missionaries say that the days go by slow but the weeks go by fast. I feel the exact opposite, for me the days zoom by but last Tuesday feels like a lifetime ago.

To start off this email I think I should share my favorite MTC things thus far...
So, these are a few of my favorite things…

- P Day! Haha. But not because I get to wear pants. :) P Day is email day (hooray!), laundry day (I think that needs a hooray! too), and Temple day! Attending a Temple session is why P Day is one of my favorite things.
- "Golden Hour". This is the hour from 9:30 to 10:30, and this is the hour we have to get ready for bed, plan our next day with our companion, and write in our journals. This hour also ends up being Portuguese cram hour where we try to use and learn as much Portuguese as we can.  By this point everyone is so tired that everything is hilarious, and I love it! 

- Mail! Brown paper packages tied up with string… Mail is most definitely one of my favorite things! Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who sent me mail this past week. I loved every doodle, every poem, every design, every goal shared, and every thought expressed. You are all WONDERFUL and never fail to make my day.  I just have the most genuine and creative grandparents, parents, aunts, cousins, and friends - I love you all!! 

Mail Time!
Our first week here we heard rumors that a surprise awaited us during week two, and so all week we speculated as to what it could be! Well..... it turns out that the "investigator" we  attempted to teach in Portuguese every day our first week became our second teacher! SUPRISE! So our investigator "Tiago" is now our night teacher "Professor Lefevre", and he's awesome! He served his mission in Brazil and we love hearing his stories about being chased by grandmas with umbrellas and finding investigators simply because he was willing to tract for those ten extra minutes.
From here on out, we will now have two teachers instead of one (Sister Smith teaches us from 8:15 to 11:15 and then Professor Lefevre teaches us from 6:30 to 9:30). This also means that we will be teaching two investigators instead of one (by the way, our "investigators" at this point are just our teachers role playing). So our daily requirements have doubled! But it's good, it helps us to focus and really pushes us to learn Portuguese and teach all kinds of people. It's definitely challenging, but I know with God's help and gentle promptings from the spirit I can 🎶climb every mountain🎶  that gets put in my way.

So, how do you solve a problem like... no sleep?  Sleep at the MTC is a foreign concept, but we're all adjusting and, tired missionaries are very entertaining. Occasionally, if we're really tired, we use some of our gym time to take a cat nap. But running usually wakes me up just as much as sleeping so gym time is usually just better spent in the gym! 

To wrap up, I'll just leave you with these few "notes":
DO - At the MTC we "DO" a lot of service. My district's service time is on Wednesdays and Saturdays from 6:30 to 8:45 a.m. Because most of the buildings we clean are empty at this time, my companion and I have taken to singing musicals while we clean. My companion is so awesome, she's seen all the classics (White Christmas, Phantom, Les Mis, Disney) and so we usually have a great variety going on. The BYU students in charge of overseeing our service love when we come (not joking), they wish everyone made service as fun as we do. Dancing and listening to music aren't allowed at the MTC, but thank goodness singing is.

RAY - My companion and district have become a "RAY" of golden sunshine in my day. We've all grown so close and I love them all. My district sisters are so cute and down to earth, I never want to leave them. And all the elders in my district are my favorite, it's like we're all one big family. I guess everyone just needed some time to adjust to the MTC, but now that we've been here for two weeks and spent every second since we got here together, we love each other and never want to leave for our separate missions.  Our Branch President commented on our district, saying how happy he was we all got along so well because a lot of districts struggle with unity. Our district rocks! Also, my companion is SO AWESOME! I have never laughed so hard - she's hilarious. It's apparent we were friends before this life. I have to just share one story, Elder Katipunan, our Elder from the Philippines, is awesome. This week he went to the dentist's office up in Highland and had some dental work done, when he got back his face was still numb and when we asked how it went, he exclaimed, "I got a fruity!", which was apparently a Wendy's frosty, but with a numb cheek, "s" sounds were a no-go. We love having him around to remind us how lucky we are in America, and also to remind us how cool snowflakes are!

With Companion, Sister Jones

ME - The MTC is better without "ME". This week I tried really hard to forget about myself, and the MTC is a wonderful place when you do that.
FA - The "FA"rthest we get to go is to the Temple on Sunday for Temple Walks.  This is one of the best parts of Sunday. Thank you February for the beautiful weather.

SO - "SO" in Portuguese is "entao" (pronounced in-taow). It's one of our most used words because a lot of our sentences to each other start with "so.....".  Our Portuguese studies so far are just language, we haven't done a culture study yet, and I actually don't think we will. I think a mission has become more of a "learn by experience" deal, and your trainer in the field is in charge of making sure you don't do anything rude or wrong on your mission.

LA - One of the best parts of the MTC is choir. My district has decided to be part of the MTC choir which sings every Tuesday for devotional. We love it! The director is a seminary teacher and shares the best stories during practices. Choir is one of the most spiritual times in the MTC.
TEA - Nope, no "TEA" here. But with fish and chips, fresh sandwiches and wraps, guacamole hamburgers, pineapple, kiwi, cantaloupe, salads, jello, and many, many other things, we're not sad about that at all.  (Also, we don't drink tea anyway).

DO - "DO" continue to send mail, emails, Dear Elders, whatever! I'm sorry if my responses are slow or short, but I love and cherish every single one of them. 

Until next time, 🎶 so long, farewell🎶, I bid you all good bye.
Sister Hanzel

I love my District
Valentines Day

Peaceful Study - with a View

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Goodbyes are over, time to say Hello!

Hello everyone!

Well, I made it through my first week at the MTC and my first week as a missionary! For the first few days all the missionaries who have been here FOREVER (3 or more weeks) tell all the newbies "If you make it ‘til Sunday you'll make it your whole mission! It all gets easier after Sunday." And boy is that true! For the first few days we changed "Sunday" to "Someday" because we felt like we'd been here our whole lives! But the MTC is great, so here we go!

SAY HELLO! to minha compinhera (my companion) Sister Jones! She's from Spanish Fork and headed to Boston, MA - Portuguese speaking! She's the only one with the mission call in the MTC at the moment, so we are companions. She's way fun, we get along great! Head's up, she can't take a normal picture to save her life, no matter what I threaten her with.

Companion Study
SAY HELLO! to my district! All the Elders are 18 with various levels of maturity ;-), all are super funny and adjusting to the rigors of missionary life. The picture I'm sending you is with all of us crying from the sun, so we'll try for a better one next week. :) Left to right: Elder Puartas, Elder Saxton, Elder Trickler, Elder Bennet, Elder Katipunan, and Elder Hilton. All the Elders are headed to the Portugal, Lisbon Mission. Then front row left to right is my companion Sister Jones, me, Sister Burke, and Sister Capener.

The District
Elder Katipunan is from the Philippines and so funny! We were sharing first impressions the other day and he said his first impression of my companion was that she was the "it" girl and his first impression of me was that I was "that one dwarf from Snow White, maybe Sneezy?" (WHAT? Haha.) And after every sarcastic comment he makes he goes, "Jokes!" It's totes hilarious.

SAY HELLO! to my roommates! Sister Capener and Sister Burke are in my room-- both were gals I knew before the mission. The other two are Sister Wright and Sister McFarlene, headed to Brazil, they're super sweet and adorable and we just love them!!

SAY OI! to the Portuguese language. The language is very nasally and it's coming slowly but surely!

You've all already said HELLO to my new address, but no worries! I got all your letters, "Dear Elders", and packages you sent with the old one. :) Thank you, thank you, thank you for the mail! It seriously makes my day. Everyone's support is seriously the #1 motivator/source of happiness in the MTC. We all share our mail with each other and it's helped us get to know each other a little better, and has helped these little Elders to open up. MAIL IS THE HIGHLIGHT OF THE DAY! You should all check out Send me a knock-knock joke or something. Whatevs. We just love mail!

Alright, things that were easy to adjust to:
1. The FOOD!  Holy cow, I don't know what people were whining about, the food here is great! All kinds of fruit all the time! And wraps and salads and scones and all sorts of glorious things! The food is great!

Meal Time

2. Waking up at 6:30, I thought it would be hard, but it's not that bad - I actually have to get up at 6:15 so I have time to shower.

Things I've learned so far in the MTC:
1. It's not about YOU. Like, for real. There is no "you" time, no time to dry your hair or shave your legs or anything! The one thing I had the biggest problem with was having no time put my stuff away! I finally stole some time on Friday and could breathe easier after that. I'm doing really well with not worrying about other people's things! I have attached a picture or my desk and Sister Jones' desk - guess which side is mine? :)

Guess which side is mine?
2. It's up to YOU to make the MTC meaningful. In the MTC you have 10+ hours in your closet sized classroom.

A typical day in the MTC goes like this:
6:30-7:00 Prepare for the day
7:00-7:45 Personal Study (in our classroom)
7:45-8:15 Breakfast
8:15-12:15 Portuguese with Sister Smith (in our classroom)
12:15-1:15 Lunch
1:15-4:15 Personal Study, Companion Study, Language Study (in our classroom)
4:15-5:30 GYM TIME!!
5:30-6:00 Prep for dinner
6:00-6:30 Dinner
6:30-9:30 Teach Investigator/Plan for next day
10:15-10:30 Prayer/Journal
10:30 Goodnight!
So, as you can see there's 10+ hours in the classroom and only 4 of them are with a teacher. The rest of them are up to us - but do you think you can stick six 18-year old boys in a room and tell them to do personal study and "use their time wisely"? Yeah, no. It doesn't happen. Which is really frustrating but I've just decided to do my best to study in this room full of rowdy, stinky boys!Three things I would advise for the first week at the MTC:
1. Be flexible!
2. Work hard.
3. Don't be hard on yourself.

On Thursday night we taught our first investigator - in Portuguese! Ha! Talk about a joke. But by Tuesday night we were able to teach a whole lesson in Portuguese without notes and understand what we were saying! Granted the lesson was super short and very simple, "I love Jesus, you love Jesus, we all love Jesus!" But hey! Progress! And can I just say I am so happy I'm not learning a character language.

We got our first gym time on Friday, and after sitting for two days straight, gym time was GLORIOUS! It's my favorite part of the day. I mainly run while my companion and other district sisters walk.
Saturday and Sunday I was sick with a cold. Those were hard days. I was feeling really blah and starting to wonder what I was doing here (okay, okay first week is hard, you wonder that a lot, especially with so much wasted time), but then I watched Elder Bednar's talk "Characteristics of Christ" from Christmas at the MTC a few years ago and it was really good! He said "It's not about you." Well, duh, but then he went on to say that we all have a price to pay for our conversion, because it's not enough to just have a testimony. He said you can't rely on others for conversion, you personally have to be paying the price.

So are you paying the price to really know Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ?

What are you personally doing?

Because the number one convert on your mission should be you! But you achieve that by forgetting yourself. The world would have you turn inward, and this week that's what I wanted to do, but Christ never turned inward, he always turned outward towards others, and Christ was the perfect missionary.
I love you all! Have a fantastic week! Choose to be happy!

Sister Katherine Hanzel

Eternal Friendships Reunite - Cape Verde Sisters