Sunday, December 29, 2013

The First Week in the Empty Sea!

December 25, 2013

Hola everyone!

So this past week has been amazing!  What an experience!  It's been just over a week, but time here is crazy!  The days are super long, but the weeks are super short, and I can't believe I've only been here for a week!  Everyone says the first few days are the longest and the hardest here at the MTC and they are so true!  Everyone always says, "just make it to Sunday!"  And Sundays really are the best!  It has been super fun!

Guess what!  I have met 2 missionary celebrities from The District here!  It's super funny!  

So a little bit about life here, my P-days are Thursdays, obviously, and Tuesday nights and Sunday nights we have devotionals, which are amazing!  Monday mornings are also pretty relaxed because we do a quick service project in the mornings and then gym and lunch with long breaks in between.  So those days are nice breaks for sure!  

My companions (I'm in a trio now) are HNA. Andelin and HNA. Cook.  I love these sisters so much!  they're super cute!  We are in a district with 4 other elders who are headed to the Hermosillo mission in Mexico.  We also have a district of all sisters and a district of all elders and a district of 4 sisters and 4 elders in my zone.  Everyone is so great!

For Christmas we had Elder Bednar come speak, and I again witnessed history!  He passed out phones to us in the Provo MTC, and then in the other MTCs they were able to email.  He then told us that this was our chance to ask whatever questions we wanted to ask an apostle, and he would answer them.  It was really cool.  Every thing he said was just so powerful!  I was going to ask a question of my own, but I felt that I really shouldn't, and here's the cool part, just as he was closing his talk, almost in an out of the blue way, he was able to answer my question!  It was really cool!  After that we went as a zone and had a meeting about his talk and our testimonies.  The spirit was so strong there!  I love my whole zone!

We also had a Christmas talent show, a concert by Ray Smith, and watched the Mormon Tabernacle Choir's Christmas thing.  It was such a good day!

I'm living over on the west campus, which is just the old married couple housing at BYU.  It's really nice over here, because we're separated from everyone, and everyone here speaks Spanish.  The spirit is a lot different on this campus as well, because were not living in dorms, so everyone is more respectful and responsible and really more spiritual.  It's such a blessing to be here, even if the food really isn't as great! :)

Thank you again for all of the gifts!  That was so fun!  I am currently wearing my cow socks!
I will upload my pictures in another email though, because this computer won't let me. 

Oh and I just thought I'd let you know, even though I said I didn't think I would cry, I have been crying way to much, but it's all from just laughing so hard!
The MTC is by far the most "slap-happy" place on earth!!!

On one of my first nights here, it was so great, because when I got home, I looked in the mirror and saw myself for the first time all day.  I was exhausted looking, my makeup had all come off, I looked super tired, but I also looked super super happy!  What a great feeling this is!

Well I love you all and miss everyone so much!  You can me and I will be able to read letters from you the day you send them!

Hermana Skeen! :)

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Farewell Talk

Mairyn did an awesome job today at her farewell and we are so thankful to all of you that supported her in person and in spirit!  Her talk is below for those that couldn't make it:

If you looked at my life just over a year ago, you would see a young teenage girl with pretty much no sense of direction in her life.  I had dropped out of high school and didn’t care to try and graduate or even get a GED.  I might have thought that I would want to go to college, but that would have been someday in the far future.  I wasn’t progressing, and ultimately I hadn’t been happy.  At some point though, there was a wake-up call of sorts.  I realized how unhappy I was and knew that I couldn’t continue that way.  I knew I needed to change and move forward.    Changing was hard.  It meant that I had to admit that I was wrong.  I had been lying to myself and I needed to go back and correct this.  What could have potentially been a difficult journey for me though, was made easier because I turned to Christ.  He tells us, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”(Matt. 11:28-30). 
When we take advantage of Christ’s offer, life becomes easier to bare.   It wasn’t until just after I was moving towards a whole new life that the historic announcement of the age change for missionaries was made.  I knew then that I would be serving a mission at 19.
Most of us do not think about the miracles of the Lord in our lives on a daily basis.  If we did though, we would often find many small yet precious miracles that help us every day.
Now that I look back at my life, I can recognize that receiving the opportunity to change led to being able to serve a mission, and that was a miracle for me.  At the time, I didn’t recognize it as such, even though I was grateful overall for it, but I didn’t fully appreciate what an impact it had made in my life.
When we do think about miracles, we think of the significant, life changing events.  We think of the classic bible stories like the woman who was healed of her issue of blood by touching Christ’s garment, or when Christ restored sight to the blind.  We all recognize the miraculous elements in the stories where Jesus fed thousands with just five loaves of bread and two fishes, or when Christ only needed to speak the words “Peace be still” to calm the stormy seas.  These are the well-known and loved miracles.
But miracles in our lives today are not as blatant and obvious.   More commonly, they are the small tender mercies of the Lord.  Like someone reaching out to you unexpectedly when you’ve had a hard day or receiving needed inspiration that helps you complete a task, or even receiving an opportunity to change so that when the Lord calls, you are ready and willing serve a mission.  These are not always life changing, but they are miraculous just the same.  
All miracles are simply exceptional events from the power of God, which, as mortals, we are unable to explain or duplicate.  Miracles are a blessing given to us out of complete love.
We cannot be worthy to receive our own miracles in life though, if we are not willing to do that which our Savior has required in order to give them to us.  We are taught that “it is by faith that miracles are wrought (Moroni 7:37),” and that “if there be no faith among the children of men God can do no miracle among them(Ether 12:12).”
Miracles are granted to us in our life, not as a sign to build our faith, but as a sign of the faith that we have already gained.  It is only after we have acquired faith, even if it be but a small amount, that we can be blessed with miracles from our God and Savior.  We can still be blessed if we listen to Alma’s counsel and “...exercise a particle of faith, yea even if ye can no more than desire to believe, let this desire work in you…” (Alma 32:27)
I love the point that Elder Holland made in his April 2006 General Conference address when he states that “Every time we reach out, however feebly, for Him, we discover He has been anxiously trying to reach us.”
Christ is always there for us, and he will never give up on us.  This knowledge itself is a miracle to me.  Knowing that even when I don’t measure up to my full potential, or strive to be who I could be, Jesus is still there, waiting for me to turn to Him and allow Him to help me.  It’s just up to me to let Him in. 
The most incredible and important miracle of Christ though, was His Atoning Sacrifice.  Jesus Christ is the only begotten of the Father and the birthright son.  Christ’s birthright entails “all knowledge, all power, and, most important, the ability to generate that which [God] has generated: Spirit bodies.”
Even though this was Christ’s birthright, Christ is perfect, and in accordance with the will of our Father, He wanted to share these blessings with all of us.  This could only happen though, if we were all Christ’s children, and in order to obtain the blessings of the full inheritance of the Father, we must be sinless.  That would rule out every one of us on this earth, except for Christ(Ester Rasband, Confronting the Myth of Self-Esteem).
So this is where Jesus steps in and truly offers himself as the greatest miracle of all time.  “And he shall come into the world to redeem his people: and he shall take upon him the transgressions of those who believe on his name; and these are they that shall have eternal life, and salvation cometh to none else.” (Alma 11:40)
If we follow Him, and we show our faith in Him, we can have the opportunity to receive much more than just a plan for this life – and as I learn of that plan for me, I know that that is an incredible miracle itself.  But we get more!  He will bestow His birthright upon us.  In D&C 50:41-43 we are comforted with the Savior’s promise of this when he says, “Fear not, little children, for behold you are mine, and I have overcome the world, and you are of they that my Father hath given me; And none of them that my Father hath given me shall be lost. And the Father and I are one. I am in the Father and the Father in me; and inasmuch as ye have received me, ye are in me and I in you.”
So why does Christ bless us with these miracles?  He blesses us with the smaller, yet meaningful miracles, the great and life changing ones, and ultimately the incredible miracle of salvation through Him, but why?  Because He loves us.  He loves us with a perfect, unfailing, and incomprehensible love.  Just as we show faith and love for him with an outward expression of an inner commitment, such as baptism, the miracles he grants us with are like His outer expression of His miraculous inner love for us. 
Even though we learn from Moses the harsh truth that “Man is nothing (Moss 1:10),” our savior still loves us and wants us.
Christ proclaims “I shall lengthen out mine arm unto them from day to day, they will deny me; nevertheless, I will be merciful unto them, saith the Lord God, if they will repent and come unto me; for mine arm is lengthened out all the day long, saith the Lord God of Hosts.” (2 Nephi 28:32)
For someone to be perfect and to reach out and love us, the imperfect, unconditionally and be rejected by us, must be so incredibly hard. 
Still, “while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).”
What a comfort that knowledge is to me, that even though we are nothing, and that we are sinners, Christ is still completely willing to make the sacrifice for us to have the chance to be saved through Him.  That Christ loves me and you enough to give himself for our chance. 
Christ is a God of Miracles in every aspect, yet how grateful are we for this?  King Benjamin gives us a great reminder in Mosiah 4:11.  “And again I say unto you as I have said before, that as ye have come to the knowledge of the glory of God, or if ye have known of his love and have received a remission of your sins, which causeth such exceedingly great joy in your souls, even so I would that ye should remember, and always retain in remembrance, the greatness of God, and your own nothingness, and his goodness and long-suffering towards you, unworthy creatures, and humble yourselves even in the depths of humility, calling on the name of the Lord daily, and standing steadfastly in the faith of that which is to come, which was spoken by the mouth of the angel.”
Christ’s love will always be there for us, but “Gratitude is the Key to collecting God’s love.”