Saturday, February 26, 2011

Second pday in three days!

Hey family!

We went to the Temple and I got to doing sealings. It was really special for me because I just got sealed only two months ago. I paid extra attention to the blessings, and interestingly enough the sealer told us to pay extra attention to the difference between the children and the parent's sealing. It was a really special experience, near to my heart, and I could feel the Spirit strongly, especially with some of the names. I knew that they were so happy to have the work done.

We then had a fireside! It was all about faith. About how faith brings miracles. One of the things that Brother Keaton said that really struck me was that even Nephi, a prophet to God, had his doubts and his sorrows in his sins. He pointed out in 2 Nephi Chapter 4 how Nephi's soul sorrowed but he knew in whom he trusted, and that was his Lord, his God. He told us that he knew that we all seemed strong during the day, but it was at night, when our head touched the pillow, that the feelings came out; of inadequacy, loneliness, sorrow, etc., and when that happens we should turn to Nephi and his example. I thought that was really powerful. For in whom do we trust? Do we trust in man, do we trust in football, or do we trust in God? I know in whom my allegiance is and that is to my God because he has helped me so much in these past few weeks and really throughout my entire life. I know that He loves me.

On Wednesday we started visitor center training (VC training). It was OK. Honestly I like the regular English program better merely because we teach more, and I LOVE TEACHING. However! The VC training has been a learning experience for me as well, and an experience where I've grown a lot more. Throughout the first two days the teachers have really focused on the fact that we aren't any less missionaries just because we are in a VC. They told us that Dallin H. Oaks said in Winter Quarters, that we were picked because of our strong testimonies, that the brethren could see them as they looked at our pictures, and that we were picked carefully. It gave me a great deal of comfort to know that I wasn't placed in a visitor center just because they didn't know where else to place me, and that a visitor center does a great deal of good for missions everywhere. We were called specifically to San Diego, but our mission boundaries could potentially reach the world. I needed that encouragement I think. All the other sisters were so excited to go to VC's, even when they first opened their call, and by the time VC training started I have been getting more and more excited about how inspired my call is, that I know it's where the Lord wants me to go, and that people are being prepared for me personally. The extra encouragement was really nice, and I think important for me. The Church is true. =) Teachers are inspired.

Last night we had a mock visitor center experience. That was when I finally got into VC training because we FINALLY got to teach. Holy cow, I didn't realize how much I missed it until I got to do it again. We set up pictures on the wall and had a recording of the Christus. Then we got to take a (mock) investigator through for 20 minutes. I was with a sweet lady named Virginia Beard, and she didn't know whether to be a member or an investigator for most of the time, but I really connected with her, and I knew that she was teaching me even as I was teaching her. I think I'll be a life long learner in the gospel. I learn new things every day! The second person was a girl named Sarah Wood, a returned missionary of about a year and a half who just graduated from BYU. As I got to talking to her I just loved her! Everything she said was inspired! We actually talked, like real people, and I gave her a message from my heart and from the Spirit. It was a really incredible experience. At the end I thanked her, because she taught me a lot about something I'd been struggling with, and she told me that she had almost not come tonight, but that she was really glad that she had, and that I had asked her inspired questions that had really helped her. I can't wait to get to San Diego! I'm so excited that I get to help everyone! Member, non member, less active! I'm excited to teach and to learn and to bring the Savior's love to the world!

The Temple today was really good too. =) I was feeling a bit grouchy, even though I got to run stairs for 30 minutes this morning. I don't know what was wrong with me *grins* but I went to the Temple, and I was flooded with peace. The walk to the Temple was good too because it was lightly snowing and it looked like a winter wonderland. But I learned some really important things in the Temple about myself, and about my work, about charity. It was really, really good.

If you want to send Dearelders do it on Monday before 12. Because I leave Tuesday at 4 in the morning! Woohoo!!! Otherwise here's my San Diego Address.

California San Diego Mission
2510 Juan St
San Diego California 92110

I'm so excited to leave the MTC (although I love it here) to go out to the field and get to work! The field is ripe and ready to harvest!

One other thing that I learned that I really loved was that when we are converted we can speak with the tongues of angels. We are all angels. We can all help other people, be their angels when they need something. So be on the lookout - not just for other people, but for those angels in your life. It will be amazing what you find. =) You are all angels in my life.
I love you!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The life of a missionary 3 weeks into the MTC...

So this week was pretty much a blast. I'll catch you up super fast because I only have 24 minutes!!! AHHH! I tried to attach pictures but my access was denied...lame... I guess I'll have to print 'em out and send them home so you can all see my wonderful self and my amazing spectacular district. =) And Utah... and the MTC... and just funny things that happen.

We had a devotional last Tuesday that was amazing! It was by Brother Pearson and he gave a really motivational talk about how to become a disciple of Christ. =) 100 % obedience baby... all the way! Because we already have the authority, and we are promised power once with obedience and personal righteousness. It was the most motivational thing I think I've ever listened to in my entire life. It definitely helped me improve.

Running up and down stairs definitely gives me happiness. Don't look at me like that! Running up and down stairs is the epitome of good exercise AND not being bored! We've continued going to the 6 am classes... except I tend to run or run up and down stairs instead of the class. I guess yoga and step aerobics are not my thing? HOWEVER! Then in gym I get to play around! Like playing basketball! YEAH!! I LOVE basketball! Yesterday I won a game of knock out and the elder didn't even let me win. I mean... we aren't competitive here at the MTC... not at all .=P Also playing 3 v 3 is way fun. I enjoy my gym time quite a bit... maybe that's why I bring it up in every email.... =)

My district is leaving me!!! Off to North Carolina they go! And Houston tomorrow! We sang "God be With you Till we Meet Again" in sacrament meeting before they left. They're some of my favorite people. The funny thing is that when I first got to the MTC our coordinating sister told us we'd become best friends with our district. I walked into the classroom, looked around and thought "no way, not gonna happen." Surprise! I love them all! I'm so impressed with them and how diligent and hardworking they are. I have learned  a lot from every single one of them. So some funny stories from before they left. Elder Brewer got some tomato sauce on his white shirt and started going crazy, in a funny way. So Sister Nelson poured water on him hahaha. It was funny. I feel like a lot of my stories are stories where you had to be there. Another funny time was watching the movie Legacy with a room full of 19 year old boys who have just sworn off girls for 2 years. So the main characters kiss and everyone hides their eyes and go "ewwww." I'm so excited to go out in the field! Since all of them are leaving we got the same pep talk about finding people and how people are waiting to hear the gospel from us and I'm ready for that! But I bet that the people I'm supposed to be teaching will wait a week... if not, Heavenly Father would have sent me a week earlier.

15 minutes!!

So we are leaving for the airport at 4 in the morning and leaving on a jet plane at 7:05 with a layover in Las Vegas. I don't know if I'll be able to call because there are 12 people in my traveling group and not a very long lay over. I'll do my best through. It'll probably be between 6 am and 6:30 my time in the morning.

Sorry this email is so random. I'm trying to cram a lot into one. OH! But I have pday on Friday so if I miss anything then I'll fill you all in there.

We had a music fireside on Sunday. They had us stand up for the final chorus of "Called To Serve" and I thought we were going to die. There were like hundreds of us in the bleachers and we all stood up at the same time. It definitely rocked the boat and creaked a bit. That would have been an interesting and mildly comical way to die. =)

At the MTC this is honestly one of the happiest I've been in my entire life. I've told some people this via letter but I feel like I've waited my entire life for this mission, even though I didn't realize it, and now that I'm finally here I'm just... so happy. So full of joy... so ready. I love the doctrine. I love doctrinal questions and getting to know the scriptures better. I love having time to study and being able to teach people, and help people. I love randomly asking people to bear me their testimony. I love the tender mercies that I've had here every single day. I just love it. Love it and am so excited to be here and serving the Lord. I'm also so glad I'm English speaking. The longer I'm here the more I realize how special it is to be able to teach, right off the bat in a language you are fluent in. I can show my personality. I can make jokes, I can use whatever words I want. It's just really special and a really great opportunity.

One more week!!

Oh doctrinal question! Lets see if you can answer it!

So if Adam and Eve were like children, not knowing good from evil, but they knew that breaking God's commandments was wrong... how does that work?

I've met elders going to Romania, Paraguay and Mexico. Tons of elders going to Mexico.

Oh dangit! I had something I wanted to say and now I forgot....

Uhm.. I had to give a talk in sacrament meeting it was about baptism. Elder Simmons now owes me a letter, a cookie and 10 spiritual acquaintances... whatever that means. =) He's a funny kid. He's one of the ones going to North Carolina.

Hmm... Oh! Our teacher went around giving us attributes. That was a pretty neat experience. The attribute he gave me was powerful... haha and tenacious. I don't really know what that means but I'll take it. =)

Sister Kearsley is amazing. I am really blessed to be her companion.

I'm out of time! More on Friday! Maybe I'll plan out my response better so it isn't so jumbled. The sad part was that I DID plan out my response and it still didn't work. haha

I love you all.

~ Steph

Monday, February 21, 2011

Second Week at MTC

Hey Familia!

So this week was kind of different then any other normal week a missionary could have, based on the fact that I got to call mom (my grandfather died) and have an extra e-mail time on Thursday - or was it Friday... I'm not really sure, but either way it was different. I struggled a bit for the next two days after, because I wanted to hear from home and make sure that everything was going alright, and it really affected how I served. I still worked hard because that was my goal - to work hard for my entire mission. But the enthusiasm and excitement, the love for teaching wasn't there any more. Too much time thinking about myself I guess. On Sunday I was doing my personal study and I came across a section in preach my gospel called Christlike attributes. One of them was "diligence" the definition of diligence is to work hard, and work enthusiastically. It was really the answer to my prayers. I have a new goal now, to be a diligent missionary for the entirety of my mission. =)

Thank you to everyone who wrote me letters and know that I'm working on getting back to them, but it might be this week or next week. =) I promise I'll respond to every letter I get. =)

We had two pretty late nights in a row. It was necessary (not like we stayed up just talking cuz we wanted to giggle) but we were all dead tired the next day. It's really good to know that all of us have the support of each other. I'm lucky I get to spend my whole mission with these girls/sisters.

Other than that the MTC is going great! I don't do any phones... I don't know if I will next week. This first three weeks are just regular English missionary proselyting weeks, and then the fourth week I'm here is when I start doing VC/ HS work. So I'm actually pretty psyched for that! There are going to be tons of girls and we're all going to be doing the same thing! AND I get to learn history. It's the best thing every. There is a lot of role playing. Like a lot. I love being an investigator cuz I love getting into the role and seeing what would be confusing to new people learning. I also learn a lot from being taught by other missionaries. Some people are so dang smart!! I have a lot to learn still, and I need to be BOLD. Since when was I shy? I'm not really sure... but it's sure playing out here.

So funny story - two actually, and they were both yesterday. My comp and I were teaching an investigator at the TRC and she said that her husband has left her... I had death on the mind because of my grandfather... and so I thought that meant her husband had died.... whoops. I acted like that for literally HALF the lesson, until she corrected me and told me that her husband had divorced her. Hahaha.... I'm such an awkward turtle.

The other funny story is that I ran into an MTC teacher who looked a lot like one of my friends from Liberty Square. He came up and talked to me and my comp and finally I told him how familiar he looked. "You look a lot like one of my friends" I said. He looked at me with this really odd look on his face and said "Steph - I AM one of your friends" HA! Yeah, I laughed about that for a while. He just looked different... and married... I guess I look through different lenses as a missionary?? Just kidding! But yeah it was Nate Miller.

My district is the bomb. We played basketball last week in gym, 3 v 3 and I love it! I've been playing basketball a lot actually. Some of my skills are coming back as in I can actually shoot somewhat decently again. Pretty exciting. Also, Sister Nelson and I have started going to the early morning gym classes and that has been SO good. Today we did ZUMBA, which is a type of dancing to music. So fun. I'm totally going to do that when I get home. Working out in the morning is a blessing. It gets me so hyped up for the day, and ready to learn. Life is good =)

All the firesides and devotionals are great! Sunday is just like any other day, except we don't have class; we just have study time ALL day except for meetings and sacrament and temple walk! WOOOOOOOO for being in the outside world. That's also when we take pictures. We have some funny ones of us sisters trying to get out behind fences, and others of the Elders clicking heels, and one of all our name tags. We're a good group. I love it. All the Elders are leaving on Monday/ Wednesday. It'll be weird to have them leave, and us stay, but cool that they get to go out in the field! I'm ready!

Speaking of which... I'm falling in love with San Diego. Have I ever been there? Nope! Do I now really, really, really want to be there? Definitely! I can't wait!

Teri could you ask where Susie is and why haven't I seen her in the cafeteria? It is always fun to see Melissa, and Brother Moss, and Jimmy (Brother Taylor), and all the other random people I know.  Elise how many dino's have you found? =) (I told you I'd put your names in here randomly =))

On Wednesday night, I had the best night at the MTC. It was really, really incredible. We split up two districts and each companionship was going to teach another companionship in another district. We got paired with another threesome of sisters. Their job was to bear their testimony about the atonement. It was powerful. It was amazing. I don't think I've ever been in a room when the Spirit was that strong. So when our turn started, we were teaching with the help, and love of the Spirit. It was really... I don't know; there are no words to describe it except that I want that for every teaching experience I ever have, ever.

It's crazy. I'm a baby missionary (only two weeks old) but I know that this is the right place for me. I know this is where I'm meant to be. I know that this church is true. And I know (already... weird huh?) that this mission is going to be one of the greatest blessings in my life.

My branch counselor? I don't know if that made sense, but he told me something that really helped me. He told me that there are going to be ups and downs, but we need to make sure that we just keep moving linearly up. So that our downs in the future, are higher than our present ups; another goal that I now have. Let me know if that didn't make sense and I'll try to explain it better.

I love you all. I wish I could be there at the funeral. Know that my love is there, and that I love all of you so much. I have a testimony and I have a lot of the Savior. I truly think about all of you and keep you in my prayers. You are amazing examples to me, amazing siblings and parents. I really, really love you! I wish I could write more but my time is up. You'll all get letters. =)

Love you!

Sister Tardiff

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

First Week at MTC

The first week has been kind of hectic for sure. Lots and
lots and lots of studying! We literally go from 6:30 in the morning till
9:30 at night with breaks for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and GYM!! I love gym!
It's fun. I get to run around in circles and play volleyball. The outdoor
fields are closed though so I don't get to play soccer and they outlawed
Frisbee because some poor soul (elder) lost two of his front teeth playing
it. Maybe someday it will come back  =)

Thank you, thank you, thank you for all the letters and love everyone has
shown me. I have awesome friends and family =) I really appreciate all the
Dearelders, like a lot. You guys are the best!

I'm super happy! I have loved the MTC from day one, so everyone who guessed I'd love it was completely right. I love learning and I love the atmosphere. I love all the cool experiences we get to have like the firesides, devotionals, and mission conference. I think one of my favorite experiences was actually on the first day. They took all of us "dork dot" newbies into an activity with investigators, allowed us to watch more experienced missionaries start the lesson and then we were told to finish it. We could ask the investigator any questions we wanted, teach them any principle we thought was right. The Spirit was so strong during that activity. I learned so much from all the other new missionaries by the questions they asked, the Spirit they followed, and the testimonies they bore. It really inspired me and got me excited for the the service that I've started =). My favorite "investigator" that night was a man named Daniel from Mexico. I could see when he finally started to feel the Spirit because we were finally asking the right questions and relying on the Spirit to give testimony.

My district is awesome! We have six elders and four sisters. All four of us are going to the same mission, San Diego Mormon Battalion historic site. Names - Sister Kearsley from Portland Oregon (my companion) and Sister Smith and Sister Nelson from some part of Utah. I would ask them but I just don't have very much time. We are all in the same room too =). It's super fun! I'm lucky that I get to spend the rest of my mission with them in near vicinity because they are truly amazing people. The elders are going to Houston, Texas and Raleigh, North Carolina.  Elder Lewis is the district leader, then we have Elder Wade, Elder Gardner, Elder Brewer, Elder Simmons, and Elder Stringham. They're all awesome! I think I have the best district in the MTC. Challenge me if you wish =) The second day we heard a story from Elder Stringham that Elder Lewis woke up in the middle of the night and  thought he was stuck on an elevator, so he woke up yelling "HELP, HELP!" and banging on the doors =). We still laugh about that. We've really become really good friends. Sometimes I get frustrated because we aren't being productive and wasting time goofing off when we should be focusing on studying;  because after all we are on the Lord's time, but they are a really good support.

Another funny story;  On Saturday we taught Elder Jenson, who's going to Denver, Colorado. He was pretending to be an investigator who didn't believe in God. My companion and I were both really frustrated because we didn't know how to deal with it. However, when we got into the room (after saying a prayer) we actually managed to pull off a pretty good lesson, even though the only thing we taught was about faith, God's love, and prayer. Afterward, Elder Jenson gave me really good advice that will probably affect the rest of my mission. Anyway - that wasn't funny was it? The funny part is that afterward my companion was talking to me (because this Elder is a brainiac- he knows TONS) and told me that when we were talking about orthopedics and feet (his "investigator" was the owner of a footwear company) she didn't know if the bone he was talking about was in his butt or in his face or what! That made me laugh for a good minute or so. I guess having a bunch of knee surgeries is good for something =).

The hardest day for me was yesterday. We got into a lesson and I just felt like I had absolutely nothing to say, and when I said it, I was saying it wrong, or didn't have any time to say it and wasn't contributing at all. Fortunately my companion was on the ball, but afterward I got upset, frustrated, etc. Sister Kearsley and I had a good conversation about it and I learned two really important things from it. One, it doesn't matter who does the converting as long as we bring a soul to Christ. Two, I have SO much pride. It's ridiculous. One thing the MTC has really done has shown me my weaknesses, but I was warned  about that. Change is good. =)

I really do feel like my testimony has grown a lot. This is a place where you can constantly feel the Spirit because there are no outside distractions.  For the first couple of days I was really sad that I wasn't learning a language and it was definitely holding me back. I walked around and saw all of these missionaries going to Brazil, Cambodia, Spanish speaking Texas and I was so jealous. It made me sad every day. But the more I'm here the more I'm realizing that the Lord is preparing me for this work. He has people waiting for me in San Diego, and that this mission is NOT about me, it's about the Lord, His children, and His work. I need to make HIS work, my work. I need to be excited to preach the gospel no matter where I'm going, and I hear San Diego is really pretty =). It's improving every day.

In one of the work shops we had it was about finding those who you can teach and he sent us on a treasure hunt for four candy bars. I found one by asking him. This lesson was really the one where it hit me that this was God's work, not mine, and I was called for a reason to an English speaking visitors center. Hurray for the small and simple blessings found everywhere, and for the learning curve.

Life is good! I'm happy and growing!