Sunday, June 30, 2013

Fun and Inspiration From Natalie - Choose To Be Happy!

Something that I've really learned this week is the importance of choosing to be happy. Really every day you wake up, you either decide that you are going to have a good day or a bad day. This week I chose to have good days. I am going to choose to have good days every day of my mission, and I hope every day of my life. 
Natalie and her district choosing to be happy.

Or at least to have fun....

Like pioneer children, missionaries can have fun with the most basic of toys.  (Note the candy necklaces.)

When things are hard and I start getting into a bad attitude or mindset, I consciously choose to change the way I think. I choose to be happy. It has made all the difference! I think I've enjoyed this week more than any other here at the MTC yet. Instead of just itching to get to Mesa, now I'm getting nervous to leave!

I HAVE 18 DAYS LEFT HERE. How crazy is that!!!!!!?

Here is the news from the email we received Thursday, June 27th.  I thought she was leaving the MtC on the 17th, but maybe not if 18 days is accurate!

Here are some highlights:
I met my mission president and his wife on Saturday night! Their names are President and Sister Jenkins. Mom - he graduated from Sammamish High School! (That's was my high school. -Mom) What a small world! It is so cool that someone on my mission is familiar with my hometown (but he said the last time he was in Redmond they only had one stop light and he said that Eastlake high wasn't built back then). Seriously they are so the best. I love them already! 
 I got to meet all the other Spanish speaking missionaries going to Mesa! Elder Glazier (in my district) was the only elder and all the rest are sisters. They seem so great. I'm going to have so much fun. Two of the sisters are in my zone Hnas. Duffin and Orr. (Hna. Orr's family farm got hit by the tornado in Oklahoma City a week before she left and the church made a video on her! The link is: Orr Family Farm Tornado )

All of the new mission presidents were here this week for their training seminar, so the apostles were coming and going all week long (not that I ever saw any though). The elders in my district got to pass the sacrament in the meeting with all of the apostles, prophets, and new mission presidents though! How cool is that? 
Its been so good to hear from all of you this week! Thanks for all of the letters, I really do love them! I seriously think that this is the fastest week ever. In Relief Society, the speaker described time here perfectly. "The days feel like a week and the weeks feel like days." So true. I can't even explain it. It's like I live in a time warp or something.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

So Natalie!

That's pretty exciting about the changes that they will be making! (Missionaries will now  be able to use internet tools like Facebook and Email as part of their contacting.) I wouldn't be surprised if my mission starts it off soon considering the amount of members in Mesa (17.5 stakes in my mission!!!! I think that's second only to the Provo mission or something. Soooo crazy!) I'm not really sure how using Facebook as a missionary will work, but I think that after it all gets figured out, then it will be a great tool! These elders actually came up to Hna Wright and I while we were studying and I guess they've been piloting a internet missionary program. They've been doing it for 5 months already. So they do their missionary work via facebook chat or skype with people in South America! One elder had 10 converts baptized over facebook chat! They are using the internet mission for disabled missionaries or for visa-waiters. 
Okay and the world wide broadcast, isn't that crazy that for like the 10 seconds that you could see sisters, how much I was on there???  
I kind of looked like ridiculously excited... They kept telling us that we all looked really sad and that we needed to smile more, but it looks like I was the only one who listened!
(Sorry about catching you with your eyes closed Sis. Wright.)
It was just so great to be sitting behind 11 apostles. They kept waving back at us and giving us thumbs up (especially Elder Maxwell! He was so excited!)  And what about that call for stronger member missionary work?? Sounds like you guys will be needing to do even more than I have to! I encourage you all to listen to what they said and start implementing it into your own lives! Remember how important this message is. God is hastening His work and wants all of His children to know of His love for them and to know of His plan for them. The worst people can say is no! And if you are motivated out of love, there's no way that they can be offended by you. The broadcast is online on if any of you would like to watch it again (or try to find me in the choir :) ).

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Quick Note From the MTC

Got another great email from Natalie this morning.  Sounds like she's enthusiastic and doing great!  I thought I would post an excerpt and a couple of pictures tonight and add the rest on Sunday. Here's what she says!

Hermana Wright and I have improved our planning, evaluating, and study times so much this week! I don't really know what happened, but its just been so good! We've really been trying to narrow down exactly what ways our investigators should be progressing. While we plan each lesson, we make a list of what we want the investigators to know, feel, and do. It's been so helpful. After each lesson, we've really been evaluating how we are doing as teachers and trying to find ways to improve. Let me tell you there's much more to being a teacher than I ever thought! It can get hard to focus on sincerely helping the person instead of just teaching what you know they need to hear. I'm trying to improve, and I know I won't be perfect by the time I leave, so I am just trying to learn as much as I can! We've been much more focused in our study times too and have been able to learn a lot from them. It's still crazy how much more there is to learn after we spend all our days studying, being taught, and teaching! It's so crazy that I am already halfway done! You guys will only get 2 more emails from me before I leave!
Who says they don't have fun in the MTC!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Week Two in the MTC!

“Week Two Finished,” was the title of Natalie’s email last Thursday.  I think she is finding time is passing quickly and that she still has a lot to learn
I will let her tell you what has been going on in her own words.
My favorite part about the MTC: THE DEVOTIONALS!  Some things that I've learned from them lately and just learned from my study this week: 1) Don't compare yourself to others. That always either tears you down or gives you pride. For example, you feel not so good at Spanish as everyone else which makes you sad, but then you feel so much better than the newbies and it gives you pride. I am trying to focus on comparing myself only with how well I know I can do and with what I know God expects of me. 

Okay... uhhh my week has been super good! We do lots and lots of studying. We are in class for 6 hours a day, have about 3 hours of language study (on the computer or with companions/district), 1.5 hours of personal study, and about 2 hours of additional study time (either prepare for lessons, companionship study, more language study). I know that sounds crazy, but honestly we can't even get done all that we need to in that amount of time. There is always more to read and more to learn, but never enough time.

Maybe it doesn't help that my district gets distracted pretty easily either :)
 Yesterday we did TRC for the first time. That's when we get to teach members who come into volunteer. We teach them in Spanish and just share a message for about 20 minutes. I never guessed that it would be harder to teach members than investigators! The first guy, we got to know him a little bit, said a prayer, and then my mind just blanked! We had something prepared, but for some reason I just had no idea how to get started on it. I think its harder because they pretty much already know everything, so its hard to know if we are making a difference or not. Anyways, we got going and it started coming better. We wanted to teach about prayer and personal revelation, but the Spirit lead us more to talk about member missionary work and how it is so important for us to be examples to others and help them (He was an RM so I think it was probably relevant to him). 

We got 2 new investigators this week (but yes they really are just our teachers)! They are Maria and Rodrigo
 I have been really trying to learn to teach by the Spirit. Every person has different needs and different things that they are going through, and the Spirit knows how to help them best. I am trying to learn more how to discern the promptings of the Spirit and how to distinguish the thoughts he gives me from my own thoughts. While we were teaching Maria, we were talking to her about prayer. I asked her if she felt like God answers her prayers. She said that she normally does, but she has been praying for help with her family for 2 months (her and her husband are separated and have a young child), but she hasn't received any answers. I was starting to say that sometimes God doesn't answer us to try our faith, stuff like that, but the thought just came into my mind that I needed to tell her that us coming to her and the message that we have is God's answer to her prayers. It never occurred to me to say that, but it just felt so right. I know that that was the Spirit directing me in how to teach her.
Natalie with Sarah, her roommate from BYU just before Sarah left the MTC for her mission in CA
The Spirit is so strong during the devotionals, and I become so enlightened every time. I leave them with such a strong conviction that I can do this, that I have God's help, and that I can improve in the ways that I need to. Some other things learned from them:
- This is the Lord's work. He is working on gathering Israel. We are here to serve Him, and He will help in all the ways that we need if we are truly trying our best. There are people who are waiting for me in Mesa, Arizona. I have a message that can change their lives for ETERNITY if they chose to accept it. How crazy is that? I cannot miss any opportunity to share with them because that is like denying them these wonderful, wonderful blessings. 
- The Restoration is real. This is the same gospel that Adam had. That Moses shared with Israel. That Jesus taught while He was on the earth. The way that the gospel was restored and now is spreading is all part of God's plan. It seems so crazy to believe, but I absolutely know it is true. I know that a 14 year old boy saw God the Father and Jesus Christ, and the gospel of Jesus Christ was restored to its fullness. I just know it.
- God loves us. He is involved in every single part of our lives. Jesus has felt personally everything that we have felt. We always, always, always, have support no matter what. He cries with us when we are sad, and He rejoices with us when we are happy. I was thinking about it this week about how it is possible that God can dedicate that much time to us as individuals, and I realized that God is not limited by the same things we are. He is not limited by time because He has no time. That is how He can spend all of our lives with us as individuals. It doesn't really make any sense to me because I don't know how not having time works, but it just helped reassure me that He really is there for me. 
-  PRAYER WORKS. It really really works. It is sometimes really really hard here. But prayer always works. When I just tell my Father everything that I am struggling with, all the ways that I want to improve, all my worries, all the help that I need, He always gives me the support I ask for. He always answers my questions. He always helps me in exactly the way that I need it.
Saturdays we wear stripes
Wednesdays we wear pink!

Okay. Spanish. I'm learning more and more I think? I'm not sure ha ha! Either learning it or remembering it from when I learned it in school. My grammar is probably super wrong, but I make sense to people. They can understand me, and I can understand them. That's a miracle. There's still much that I don't know, and really it does get discouraging sometimes, but I have only been here for 2 weeks! And I'm not really scared to talk to people in Spanish anymore. 
They haven't given me any natives to talk to yet - so I'm sure once that happens I will probably just sit there and cry, but so far I am doing good!
We are in the intermediate class, and are zooming right through our lessons. Its actually really weird though, because they don't really teach you Spanish here. They just kind of expect you to learn it somehow, and somehow you do.
Okay well that's all I have time for now! Sorry I can't really respond to what you guys all say in your personal letters to me, but know that I read them and cherish them! Just tell me about your lives please! Sometimes it's hard to remember that I haven't spent my whole life here. And its so nice to hear about the real world! I love you all so much! I think about you and pray for you every day! Know that I miss you tons! Stay strong!

We saw her singing!

Although the choir singing for the Worldwide Training Conference this afternoon was quite large, and the sisters singing were only shown during one song, we saw Natalie two times!  There is a fairly good shot of her towards the beginning of the first number, and then you can see her a bit later in the same song at the top of the screen.  She was wearing her orange shirt and blue skirt like she said she would be, and she also had her glasses on.

I guess I was so excited to see her that one of my friends who was in the chapel watching it were I was didn't actually see Natalie, but knew she was on the screen because I was so happy! It made my week!

Friday, June 21, 2013

She's Singing at Sunday's Leadership Conference!

Received a great email from Natalie yesterday that I will try to post on Sunday.  However, I thought I should post the part about her singing during the conference BEFORE it happens! I think it will be broadcast at 3:00 in the Redmond Stake Center, and that you can also catch it on-line.

Okay, so not the happiest picture of Natalie, but it's the only one remotely associated with choir that she sent! This is picture is "Choir practice with Hna. Tui'one."   
One more reminder - WORLD WIDE BROADCAST THIS SUNDAY. I AM GOING TO BE SINGING TO THE PROPHET. How cool is that??? There's about like 3,000 people in this choir, but hopefully you will see me for a second at least! In practices so far, I have sat in one of the first few rows, but we will see because a member choir is joining the MTC choir, so it will be a lot different. I think I am going to be wearing that orange shirt I wore to the temple and a blue skirt. And also, just watch the broadcast. There's a rumor going around (which I am pretty sure is real) that there will be a big announcement released!  There might not even be anything announced, but overall, it is going to be an awesome historic broadcast where all of the apostles will be presiding in the Marriott center (where I will be) sharing a message with the world in a random meeting about the importance of missionary work. Obviously its gotta be pretty important. I am super excited for it!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

 “I’M HERE & I LOVE IT!” The title of Natalie’s first email pretty much sums it up.  She made it fine and is diving right in.

We received our first letters about last Monday, and the first email on Thursday. Natalie mentioned that her P-Days are on Thursday, (P-Day is preparation day for missionaries, the day of the week when they take care of personal business like writing letters, shopping and laundry), and also that she LOVES receiving mail through .  Apparently, letters sent that way are delivered twice a day, lunch and dinner, so she does not have to wait until P-Day to get them like she does for email.  (I thought she would appreciate me mentioning that at the start of the blog.  For all of you who are interested in sending her a message this way, her mission right now is MTC,Provo and her unit is 185,  AZ-MESA, and 7-16 is the date she is expected to leave the MTC.)

Wednesday, June 5th, the day Natalie entered the MTC set a record for the number of new missionaries checking in at 950!  

Below are some excerpts from her first letter:

Hola familia!!!!!!!

How are you all? We only have an hour to write emails, so I am going to cram as much in as I can in that time. Okay where to start? How do I explain an entire life-changing week in just one short email? First of all, it is just great here.

 I have the best companion ever. Her name is Hermana Wright and she is from Highland, Utah.

We get along so well and work really well together too. 

The first few days here were pretty hard, but not too bad. They just put you right into the swing of things and you just jump right in. Those first few days were the longest days I have ever experienced, but they also just flew right by. There's a saying here that goes during you're first week, just make it to Sunday, and you will be fine. That's so true! At first you are just like holy cow how in the world am I supposed to be able to do this? It's just go-go-go, and super overwhelming. But Sundays here are absolutely wonderful. You have a lot more time to study, meetings with your district & zone, normal church meetings, choir practice, and devotionals.

Speaking of Devotionals, I guess on the 23rd, there is this world-wide leadership training about missionary work where prophet and all of the apostles will be. The MTC choir is singing for it (which I am in) - so watch it! Because I might be on TV!!!

I just absolutely know without any doubts that this is where I am supposed to be. I know that this the plan that Heavenly Father had in store for me. Although we are always working, and it is hard, I am just so so happy here. And that's because of the Spirit that is so strong here. This is truly the Lord's work, and it is such a privilege to be a part of it. I am learning so much everyday, and I just feel overwhelmed by how blessed I am. I am surrounded by wonderful people who make me so happy! 

   The sisters in my district are already like my best friends. but we also learn from each other and help each other. 

The thing that has really stuck out to me the most this week is the sacredness of my calling.  I have been called by A PROPHET OF GOD to go to Mesa, Arizona and to speak Spanish.  How huge is that????

We watched a movie called "The Character of Christ" by Elder Bednar (which you all NEED to see by the way), and that has really changed my perspective. It was all about how Christ always focused outwards, and never on himself. That just really got me thinking about how this time is not my own. I have covenanted to dedicate all my time and attention to this work, and I know that if I do that I will be able to see miracles. I am here to help other people, and I am on his errand. Sometimes I start thinking about how tired I am, or how a little break would be nice, or how I would just love to speak in English instead of Spanish, and I try to remind myself that my calling is sacred and it is such an honor to be a representative of the Lord Jesus Christ. 

I wish I could describe how it makes me feel. There is absolutely nothing better in the world. I have never felt like this before. I have never spent my days so focused and dedicated before. We really are moving from 6:30 am to 10:30 pm. But that's how it should be.  I know I have so much learning to do and I have a long road ahead of me, but I am learning and growing everyday.

Our district is absolutely the best. We all just clicked with each other right away and have sooooo much fun (sometimes too much!).

Okay so some more about I guess just the day to day things: Spanish.... I love it, but I also hate it. We try to speak it as much as possible, but it's hard to do that. I can pretty much understand everything that people say to me. But it's hard to know how to express myself back to them. I can pretty much say what I need to, but not really how I want to say it. But holy cow it is crazy to see how much I have improved. Especially my companion, her Spanish is already like 80 million times better. 

Thank you soooo much for all the love, prayers, letter and support! I love you all so much and I hope all is going well! Seriously your letters just absolutely make my day. It is so nice to have a little pick me up during the day. Oh and for all of you who do want to write me - please use We get mail from them twice a day, at lunch and dinner (around 11:30 and 4:30), and it also has people's addresses so I can write back hand letters if I need to. Oh and then I don't have to wait til P-Day to read them!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Off To The Missionary Training Center

Natalie made it off to the MTC successfully Wednesday.  She flew out of Seattle on a Delta flight to Salt Lake City, UT at 7:00 in the morning.  She had the best surprise when her big brother, Benjamin, unexpectedly showed up at the house at 5:15 a.m. to come to the airport with us.  Ben took care of getting her  checked in while I met up with them after parking the car. Natalie's dad met up with us at the airport.

I haven't decided if this is a lot of luggage or  not; we are, after all, taking about all of a woman's clothing, accessories, supplies, etc. for 18 months! She did squeak in under the weight limit with each bag toggling between 50 and 51 lbs, plus the two allowed carry-ons.
It meant a lot to Natalie that  her dad took time off so he could fly down with her and take her  to the MTC. 
June 4th, the night before Natalie went into the MTC, she was set apart to serve as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and given a priesthood blessing by Pres. Gordon Tanner of the Redmond, WA Stake.  Pres. Tanner invited all of Natalie's immediate family to attend this special, sacred event with her.  The Spirit was strong and sweet as Pres, Tanner instructed us about Natalie's calling.  He referred us to a scripture in the Book of Mormon, 3 Nephi 5:13:

" Behold, I am a disciple of Jesus Christ, the son of God.  I have been called of him to declare his word among his people, that they might have everlasting life."

The Spirit bore strong witness that as a missionary, Natalie is set apart to and is serving as a  representative and disciple of Jesus Christ in His name to do His work. Pres. Tanner reminded us of the spiritual gifts, that are given to Christ's ministers so that they may bless his children by bringing them the fullness of His gospel and Heavenly Father's plan of happiness for His children.

This was a very tender and sweet time for all of us.  Pres. Tanner had us start with an opening song.  Natalie chose the hymn, "I Need Thee Every Hour." I was doing just fine singing without crying for once until I looked up and saw my dear daughter singing in tears across the table.

After the hymn and an opening pray Pres. Tanner discussed many scriptures with us concerning missionary work.  Natalie was then set apart and blessed.  Before we ended, Natalie taught us a lesson on the gospel, and Pres. Tanner then invited each of us to give Natalie some parting advice. 

After her setting apart it was picture time!

Benjamin shared advice with Natalie that he learned from his mission to Paris France.  He told her to speak with everyone even if she felt awkward or afraid.  He pointed out that the Spirit can not touch others if she does not take the first step.
Natalie sure loves her little brothers, Seth and Brent, and was so happy the could be there with her.

Natalie's sister, Rachelle, has always been there for her.  She sewed a special dress for Natalie which she took with her on her mission.

 But it is her nephew, Maxwell, that Natalie said she is going to miss the most while she gone.  I think you can see why. He will be two before she gets back!

Natalie's dad, Derek, and her step-mom, Ti, were also there. Ti shared a special story about an experience she had with the gospel in Vietnam.  
Grandma Cheryl always makes it a point to attend the important events in her grandchildren's lives so of course she was there. 

Mom, Cherie, and step-dad, Luke, were so happy and excited to be there with Natalie.

All the best to you Hermana Haynes!  We love you! See you in 18 months!