Monday, October 29, 2012

Hey everyone! This is last week's email, October 23, 2012. She's doing so well! I'll add the pictures that she sent when I figure out how to put them up! :)

Hello my dear family and friends!

Wow, I have less than a month left! Crazy. It has been yet another wonderful week. Ever since that experience last week of Elder Vandyke reminding me to trust more in the Spirit, I have really felt an improvement. I am still struggling with the language a bit, but I have felt the Spirit in even greater abundance than I did before. As we have taught our investigators, we have had greater unity in our teaching, and we have had some great lessons. It's amazing how the Spirit does the teaching. We have a very simple and limited vocabulary, but we are learning to trust in the Spirit and God will do the rest. We open our mouths, listen to the Spirit, and say what we feel they need to hear. It has had an amazing effect. Our investigators can feel it, too. They are starting to become excited about the gospel and want to find out if it is true for themselves. It is so exciting!! I have really been working on focusing outward. I realized that I am too selfish, and I need to change. I've been praying a lot lately to help me think only of others and their needs, and look for opportunities to serve. When we are studying, (so...that means all the time), :) I am learning to think of our investigator's needs. As I prayerfully ponder on the messages of the scriptures, I am receiving greater insights and am being taught about how I can help others or what I need to work on.

We are now the ones that the younger districts come ask questions to. It's kind of fun, helping them and trying to give them tips that we wish we had known earlier so they can become the best missionaries ever. We are all striving to be the best that we can. We had a district meeting last night with the Zone leaders, and our zone leader talked about raising the bar and striving to be perfectly obedient. I was so excited to see all the elders in our district raise their hands with us sisters! We are making it more of a goal to follow every little rule, including no large gatherings in the residence halls, and observing quiet time at 10:15pm, lights out at 10:30pm. It has been a really big struggle for the elders sometimes, but they agreed to work on it and committed to be perfectly obedient to the best of their ability. Our district can have a hard time focusing at times, so I'm hoping that this will help them focus. I am worried about one of our elders though. He told us he was very unattached to the church for several years, but came back recently. His testimony is still wavering, and I don't think he understands his purpose for being out here yet. I'm hoping and praying that he will soon have a change of heart and be able to understand why he's here and the purpose of missionary work. If you could, please pray for Elder Hawkins. I'd appreciate it a lot. I know God can give miracles when people have faith. I love all our elders and I want the best for them.

I want to send a special thanks to all of you, my family and friends. Thank you for the letters and emails every week. You have no idea how much that means to me. It is always a special treat to get mail. If you want to do a special bit of service, feel free to send one or more of my companions or elders from my district letters or quick notes. I know it would make their day. They all have the same address as I do, just change the name obviously. Here is a list of the names:  Sister Campbell, Sister Elsmore, Elder Cox, Elder Watters, Elder Hawkins, and Elder Vandyke. It could just be something very simple and short, but I know it would make their days. :)  Just an idea.

As I was studying the Plan of Salvation with my companions one of the days this week, we read D&C 138. It is AMAZING!!!! I love how God is so merciful to His children. He has a plan for us! We can again return to live with him with our families for ETERNITY if we follow Christ, keep God's commandments and accept His gospel! How amazing! And EVERYONE will have a chance to hear it in this either in this life or after we die. I just get so excited when I think about it. Heavenly Father love each one of us so much!!! I love Him, and I love His son, Jesus Christ. I love this gospel, and how incredibly simple it is. I am forever grateful for my Savior Jesus Christ for being willing to take our sins upon Him. Without Him and without repentance through the Atonement, it would be impossible to return to Heavenly Father's presence for "no unclean thing can dwell in the presence of God." But we can!!! I stand all amazed.

I love you all!! Thank you for all your prayers and support. I pray for you all every day.

All my love,
Sister Harston

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

And here's this week's email from Amy: 
Now I'm ready for this week's email. :)
I am reaching the "one month" mark on Wednesday!! That's so crazy! I'll be in the Philippines in just over a month! That's such an exciting thought, but a scary one at the same time! I still have so much to learn for the doctrine and for the language especially.
Oh, Mom, here's the answer to your lastest question:
No, actually I don't need any more cardboard frames. In fact, I'll probably send the ones you gave me back home before I leave. I picked up a small photo album at the bookstore that is small and will hold quite a few pictures. I think it will protect the pictures from the humidity more, too. Thank you so much for sending those though! I'll definitely send the wooden frame home before I go.
Back to the letter. :)
I have had several "Aha" moments this week as I've been studying the language. It's going to take a lot more practice though. I don't have that much time left, and I'm really starting to feel the pressure. Me and my companions are making it a goal to do SYL (Speak Your Language) as much as possible. We taglish things a lot, but we try to use as much tagalog as we can. I think that will really help a lot. We've also had some very good lessons with our investigators this week, especially with Nel in particular. It happened after a lot of struggling. One evening last week I wasn't feeling the best, I was tired, and I was having a hard time thinking. I was trying to organize what I wanted to say to our other investigator, Mary Kate, but I had a really difficult time translating what I wanted to say to Tagalog. When I finally got it translated, I was desperately trying to memorize the sentences, but it just wasn't clicking for some reason. I was slowly getting it, but I wasn't feeling what I was saying. I was getting more and more frustrated with myself for being frustrated, which made me even more frustrated. It was a downward cycle. I was in the classroom writing my sentences out on the board for practice, when one of the elders said something to the effect of: "You're trying to memorize too much. Trust in the Spirit, and you'll be guided with what to say." That's not an exact quote, but something very similar to that. I felt like I had been socked in the stomach. He was completely right. I was memorizing phrases, not really thinking about what my investigator needed to hear. I really needed to hear that. That lesson went a little rough, but I went back to my residence that night with a determination to follow the spirit and think of the people I was teaching. The next day, I prepared enough to know how to teach what I wanted, but I mostly followed the spirit. Wow! What a difference. That lesson went the smoothest I think it has ever gone for me, and I was able to better understand him as he spoke! Miracles DO happen, and I know that we can witness them when we do what is right and follow the spirit. I am so grateful for that elder, Elder Vandyke for saying that to me. I am now more determined to teach the people, not just the lessons. They need to feel for themselves. That is how true conversion happens.
Every tuesday night here at the MTC, we have a devotional where all the missionaries gather in a huge room and listen to a great speaker. The last few weeks we have been blessed to hear from members of the 70! They have been amazing devotionals. But last week tuesday, we got a special treat. We had a visit from Elder Bednar from the Quorum of the 12 Apostles!!! It was soooo awesome! It was fun to see his more relaxed personality.
Random note... I found out that I am related to one of the elders in our district! Elder Vandyke's 6th great grandfather is William Clayton, who wrote "Come, Come, Ye Saints", and he's my 4th great grandfather! Awesome! So we are cousins!! :) Fun.
Anyway, time's up, but I want you all to know how much I love my Savior, Jesus Christ. He is the ultimate example, and I want to become more like Him. I love being able to represent Him daily as I study and prepare to teach the people in the Philippines. I love you all!
Sister Harston
Here's last weeks letter from Amy! There was a little mix-up, but we still were able to get last weeks. :)

Kamusta po kayo pamilya ko at mga kaibigan?!!
Thank you again for all your prayers, letters, quick notes, emails, and packages. It really means a lot. I want to appologize for the mix-up last week. I wrote a long email, even loaded some pictures, and sent it. But when I checked my email today, I saw that it had failed to send. I think there were too many pictures on it. If I have time, I'll try to send a couple this time. Sorry again for the mix-up. I'll send another email, but here's last week's:
Hello my wonderful family!!!

Kamusta po kayo??? I miss you all! The MTC is wonderful. I am so blessed to be here right now! Was General Conference wonderful, or WHAT??? Oh my goodness. If any of you haven't gotten a chance to watch some or any of it, I'd really encourage you to do so. You can go on, and there should be a link to the General Conference talks. Do it!! They are amazing!! So the official age for young men and women to serve missions has been lowered. Young men can now serve at age 18 instead of 19, and young women can serve at age 19 instead of 21. WOW. It gives me chills just thinking about it. The missionary force is going to increase dramatically. They are going to have additional housing added to the MTC to compensate for the soon-to-be increasing numbers of missionaries. So exciting. :) Saturday and Sunday were both wonderful days. We were very tired of sitting, but we were super spiritually uplifted that whole weekend. I know there is a prophet who leads and guides Christ's church today, and that there are modern day apostles, too. General Conference is a testament of that. They are inspired men. I know that God still loves His people today so he restored His church through the prophet Joseph Smith. That is so amazing to me! God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. And Mom, yes, I agree. Technology is amazing.

Christina, good for you for being modest at your Homecoming dance. It is hard to find anything modest these days, but you really stand out. I remember a time when I went to a high school dance, and me and my friends really stood out for being modest. People respect that, too. You show that you know you are a daughter of God. :) Also, good luck on your choir concert(s)! You will do amazing!!

Tell Grandpa and Grandma Yeates I say hi and miss them!! Give them hugs for me!

I love the temple. Today is Pday, and we get to go to the temple bright and early every Tuesday morning. It is a perfect way to start out the day. We actually decided to try out the cafeteria in the temple today. It was delicious! We're going to have to go again sometime. Today we've been doing laundry, studying, and writing letters. I'm going to try to send you a couple pics if I can figure it out on this computer. I want to show you what my companions look like!! They are awesome.

Speaking of my companions, Sister Campbell is really feeling a lot better now. She still has a little cough hanging on, but she has her energy back which is nice. Dad, to answer your question, yes, we did have to sit with her when she took that nap last week, but luckily it was Pday so we were in our room anyways writing letters and studying. It worked out perfectly.

We are learning a lot here. We learn a few new concepts every day, adding to our knowledge. I am studying like crazy and still struggling to keep up at times. But it's coming, slowly but surely. I have 6 weeks left to get this down as well as I can before leaving for the Philippines! 6 weeks isn't long, but I know I can do anything with the Lord's help. I am sooo excited to keep moving forward! I love that I can trust Heavenly Father to help me, and that I can EXPECT answers to my prayers if I am doing my part and asking him with real intent. "I am bound when ye do what I say, but when ye do not what I say, you have no promise." (I can't remember the reference right now, but it's a beautiful scripture.) I love my Savior, Jesus Christ. I love this gospel, and I am learning new things every day as I immerse myself in the scriptures. I am learning how it is to really be humble and trust in the Spirit. We are teaching two investigators now: Nel and Mary Kate. They are in totally different situations in life, and we are learning to trust in the Spirit to know what to say, and to know what they need. I love them! I can feel my love for the people in the Philippines already, and I haven't even met them. I know that Heavenly Father is preparing people over there to hear His gospel and accept it. I love this gospel so much! I want to share it with everyone. I get more and more excited the more I learn here in the MTC. The gospel is so incredibly simple, and so beautiful. God loves his people. He wants us to learn and grow and return to Him. He even sent His son, Jesus Christ to come down and atone for our sins so that we can again enter into His presence some day. What great love.

I love you all so very much. Thank you for all your prayers, letters, support, and love.


Sister Harston

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Well Hello my lovely family!! (And friends!)  :)

Thank you for all the prayers and support! Thank you for all the letters, too! They always make my day even that much better. :)  I am definitely getting into the routine of things here. A typical day goes close to as follows:
6:30am wake up, get ready
7am daily planning
7:30-7:45am additional study time
7:45am breakfast
8:20-11:20am class
11:20am-11:45am Language study/personal study time
11:45am-12:20pm Lunch
12:20pm- goes on like that. I don't have enough time to write the entire day out, but every minute is for something. I am really learning to manage my time. We have small daily planners so we can keep track of the time. I don't know what I would do without a watch now! I use it ALL the time!! We have to use every spare time for studying, because as you can see, there isn't a whole lot of spare time. :)

This week has been really great, except one of my companions, Sister Campbell got pretty sick yesterday. She slept for 3 or 4 hours today and we took her to the doctor to get her some medicine. She's just now starting to feel better.  I'm crossing my fingers that I don't get it! I hear things like this spread like crazy here. (Oh, and to answer Briana's question...yes, my other companion, Sister Elsmore's first name is Mandy! How awesome that you know her! She is extremely optimistic. She's a great companion, and a crack up.) :)

This past Sunday was the MTC Conference. All the missionaries met in a huge room and we had a great meeting. The Spirit was super strong! One brother who spoke said a quote that really hit me, talking about obedience. "Obedience brings blessings. Exact obedience brings miracles." What an amazing promise!! It's so true though! I have really been working on being exactly obedient this week, including having lights out and being in bed AT 10:30pm. I definitely need the Lord's help to learn this language this quickly. Only 7 weeks left in the MTC! That seems like such a long time, but it really isn't!  Oh, and to answer Jerry's question about the Temple Dedication the Sunday was beautiful!! I am so blessed to be here in the MTC at a time when I can experience such great things. Next week Sunday is General Conference, and I can't wait! I love an idea that I heard about it. If you have any questions, write them down and pray that you'll have them answered. Bring your questions to General Conference, and listen for the answers. You will receive answers! I know that. I challenge you to try it out! I'm going to.

I have amazing teachers. They are so full of the Spirit and love for us and for the gospel. I look up to them a lot. Sister Lewis, (I think I mentioned her before), has such a sweet spirit about her. She has a way of bringing the Spirit into the lessons/discussions, yet having a great sense of humor. She keeps the Elders under control. :) We now have a second teacher, Brother Roxas. We found out he was our teacher just this week. He is our investigator, Nel!! Wow, that was a turn of events. We were  not expecting that at all. We still teach him as an investigator during the week, but he's also our teacher. Haha. Kinda confusing, but it's true. We are now teaching 2 investigators.

I am so grateful to be a missionary! I am grateful for this opportunity to learn and grow and help bring others to Christ! I love this gospel so much. When we put our trust in the Lord, we can do anything! I love you all so much!!

~Sister Harston

P.S. I'll send a written letter home to answer the rest of your questions. Sorry, but I ran out of time. We only get 30 mins to read/write/add pics/etc. I'll see if I can send some pics next week! :)