Friday, January 30, 2015

Almost half way through the MTC

​​this week, what to even say about this week...

excellent news!! the only thing that I need to get into Nicaragua is $10. I will need a visa to leave the country in 18 months, but this means that February 16th, I will be headed to see the people in Nicaragua!!

another apostle came and visited on Tuesday, which means there was a lot of people ready to sing in the choir. i love it! we sing songs as a congregation as prelude hymns, and we always get to sing the ones similar to "behold! a royal army" and "i'll go where you want me to go," songs totally focused on missionary work. there is such a tangible spirit there during every devotional. M. Russell Ballard addressed the missionaries in MTCs worldwide, and one of the things he shared has really stuck out to me. He said that when you are having a bad day, think about the time that Joseph Smith spent in Liberty Jail. write a letter to comfort Joseph, Hyrum and others there and see how small your problems become. 
These are my saving graces. The hymns bring such a peace to my life, and the scriptures are the place that I find the answers my soul is searching for.

all i can say is, thank you to mom and a patient piano teacher that got on me to learn the hymns. saturday night at dinner, guess who got asked to play the piano for sacrament meeting the next day? if you are pointing a finger back a missionary, you are correct! and thank goodness that my companion and i had remembered to go back to the room and grab my talk, or i would have been toast. i guess playing music in sacrament meeting, doesn't excuse you from speaking in spanish either.... 

three new investigators in a week make for some very interesting and some very stressful study times, but somehow we taught five lessons this week and the spirit was present during all of them. we have figured out that the better our spanish becomes, the worse our english becomes. there has to be a sacrifice somewhere, and my english grammar and spelling are suffering.

i proudly have the first vision and the missionary purpose memorized in espanol. while sharing about the first vision with an investigator, she thought that we sounded a little bit like ghosts, and i haven't quite decided how to take it yet...

We were supposed to be working, but you see that that wasn't really what was happening. This picture also kind of just sums up the entire companionship...

During a break between class, I found the mysterious Elder Nelson. He and I grew up in the same small town and are headed to the same mission. Oddly enough, we never knew each other before the MTC. 

One night, we had some extra time, so Hermana Garfield and Hermana Cornell wanted me to play with their hair. Nothing fancy, but Hermana Garfield didn't know how to even express her excitement.

plus, look who I finally caught a picture with! Sorry, it's super zoomed out, but an Elder took the picture, so.....

all is well, and I can't wait for the 16th of February. (and yet, I could wait....)

lots of love,
the tennessee Hermana

NOTE FROM MOM: I'm sorry 2 of the pictures are sideways. I can't get them to rotate nor to download from the folder where I rotated them from.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015


they say if you can make it to Sunday of your first week, you will be okay. and if you can make it to Wednesday, you will be golden. 

this week was kind of hard, but at the same time, I enjoyed it so much. Saturday was a blur of classes, Spanish and preparation. Sunday was the best day. Being apart of the largest Relief Society meeting in the world is a very neat experience. Especially when there are people from all over the world there.

​Hermana Garfield, myself, Hermana Smith, and Hermana Cornell during our Temple Walk.

 ​A few of the Elders that left on Monday... The middle two (Elders Mendoza and Elder Clemens) were our Zone Leaders. Great Elders.

​The Sisters of Branch 41. Sisters Butler, Richards, Laudie and Himle all left on Monday, so we are the four sisters in my district are the only ones left in our zone. sad day...

                                  ​We found the world map! So of course, we had to take pictures...

Can I just say how hard it is to say goodbye to people that you just met four days ago, but already love? We sang "God Be With You Til We Meet Again" in Spanish to the departing districts and it was one of the hardest things to do. I love and care for all of them and I want the best for them all!

Tuesday though, was one of the best days. I have been in the same room as an apostle (or apostles) four times in my life: a youth fireside with Elder Bednar, a stake conference with Elder Oaks, a Christmas Devotional at Temple Square, and the Devotional on Tuesday. There were several members of the 70 there, as well as Russell M. Nelson and his wife. Such a neat experience. As the MTC choir, we got the chance to sing one of the most beautiful arrangements of "Joseph Smith's First Prayer" I have ever sung. Plus, the devotional was broadcast to all of the MTCs around the world, so that's pretty neat.

We got a new investigator on Monday, and I totally love her! Maribel is not a member, but she "understands" more English so she helps us a little bit more with our English to Spanish translations. I get a little bit frustrated with my Spanish sometimes because I used to be able to speak better Spanish, but I lost a lot of my vocabulary. I have to work at it, but I'm building my vocab back up again.
Last night was one of the highlights of my MTC experience so far. As a district, we spend 2 hours getting to know each other better. We talked favorite movies, fun facts about ourselves, and then secrets. We also went around and told everyone in our district something that we love about them, and it was one of the most amazing experiences. We all got to know each other on a much deeper emotional level, and it was fantastic. I love these Elders and Hermanas like family and I know that we were put together in this district to help each other grow and to share the burdens that we have.

We went to the temple again as a zone, and I absolutely love the temple. It's just an amazing place to be when you have a question in your heart, or when you just need a little bit of relaxation. I got to see Moe, a friend's fiance, in the session, and it was great to catch up. She's busy planning a wedding and going to school, but she still asked if there was anything that I needed that she could call and ask my parents for. I love having friends like that!  

I know that is gospel is true. I know that Joseph Smith was called of God and that he was chosen to begin the last dispensation on this Earth. The Book of Mormon holds the answers to all of our questions, if we just ask God for guidance. Christ came here to help us be able to return to live with Him and Heavenly Father in the eternities. This is where I am supposed to be. The people of Nicaragua need me, and I will do all I can now to prepare to help them in any way I can. Until next week!
Elder Muirbrook and Elder Jungers

Elder Rankin and Elder Jagneaux

Thursday, January 15, 2015

First letter from the MTC

****Note from Mom (who is updating this blog): Janelle sent this email last Friday. It was a bit of a surprise as we were expecting a Monday or Tuesday p-day. I will do better at posting her emails the same day she sends them.****

before i begin, i need to let you know of a FREE (yes, free) way to write me while i am here in the MTC. it's called using the information from my MTC mailing address, you can send me a letter or note that I will get that day! i will have to wait until p-day to write you back, but it can get it then and there!

i had originally thought that my p-days would be on mondays or tuesdays, but our zone's pday is going to be on friday. hence, why i am writing you today!!

so, how did the week go?

tuesday everything went super smoothly with airplanes and layovers. i didn't get everything i wanted to get done on the plane, but am i okay with the fact that i got some good sleep. i miss my afternoon nap. hahahaha there is a lot of information to learn in just a few short weeks, and they don't waste any time getting you into the espanol. by two o'clock on wednesday, i had already started speaking spanish and the instructor didn't say more than about three words at a time in english. total immersion helps the spanish.

wednesday was great! i got to see Sister Kah in the Ogden mission home, while she and her companion tried to get her companion's luggage out of the impound lot! i won't bore you with the details, but it really is a funny story now that we are a couple days away from it...
that night was a throw into the deep end of the pool in the hopes that we could swim. lots of spanish, and some amazing elders and sisters from the district headed out on monday, i was feeling a little bit on edge.

by thursday afternoon, i was wound tight with anxiety. the language wasn't coming back, i was exhausted, and i was anxious over our lesson that we have to teach in spanish tonight. thankfully, we got to spend some time in the gym, and i am feeling much better. it's amazing what exercise does for the body.

hermana garfield will be my companion while i am here in the MTC, and she's a cutie. she's from grands pass, oregon and is one of nine children. she's currently the senior companion, so i get to follow in her capable footsteps here in about three weeks. she, along with hma cornell and elder jungers will be going to the same mission i will, so we will all leave the MTC on the same day, visa's permitting. the other three elders and remaining sister in our district will be headed to the new york new york north mission at the end of these six weeks. they like to say that they got the lucky end of the draw because they don't have to worry about gross water, or living without certain first world comforts... elder jungers and elder muirbrook (our current district leader) are companions, along with elders rankin and jagneaux (pronounced jag-no). hma. cornell and hma. smith (the sister going to new york) are companions as well. i love these people already. we kind of have an advantage over the other districts because we are the coolest hahahaha

(me and my new companion, Hermana Garfield)

spanish. spanish. spanish. while we are in class, its as much espanol as possible, and we try our best to speak it outside of class as well. two days here and i can say a simple testimony and say most of my prayers in spanish. spanglish is getting easier to use, and they actually prefer you use it so that our teachers can let us know what words we want/need to know! we all get overly excited when the meeting is going to be in english, because it is mentally difficult right now to think in spanish. i just don't have the vocabulary any more. it's coming back, but it's definitely not what it was in high school (props to senora maldonado!) i found out yesterday that i have to have a talk prepared in spanish for sacrament meeting on sunday... no pressure! it only needs to be about five minutes long, and our district probably won't be picked on to speak because this will be our first sunday in the MTC, but they want us to have them prepared so that we can use them in the field. because heavens knows, that they will get used... many, many times. they don't announce who will be speaking until after the sacrament has been given and so you have about thirty seconds, or five minutes notice.
i know that this work is the lord's and that i have been called to do his work. there are people in nicaragua that need my testimony and i will do all in my power to be ready to teach those people. and when i am not enough, i know that the Spirit and the Lord will make up the difference. i know that as long as i am striving to be the best hermana graves that i can be, the lord will bless me to be the best missionary and servant of the lord i can be. this work is not for the faint of heart, but i can do hard things. 

thank you call for the support that you have given me in making and following through with this decision. thank you for all of your amazing advice and your amazing examples.

best of wishes for the coming week,

hermana graves

On my way to being a missionary

December 12th: Atlanta, Georgia temple for endowment session.

                     January 5th: Set apart by the Stake President as a full-time missionary for
                                            The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

                                 January 6th: Leaving Knoxville, TN for Salt Lake City, UT.
                                  (A teary Good-bye and long hugs proceeded this picture.)

Aunt Stephanie serving as companion after picking me up from the SLC airport.

Open House hosted by Grandma & Grandpa Graves