Where do I even start??
Well this week has been crazy, uplifting, spiritual, discouraging, and exciting. I promise it was just like that.
So I guess I will start with last Sunday. So I have to admit I was a little homesick. As I was sitting in relief society I looked at my watch and realized that you were all at church and that thought made me really homesick. Then you know how the adversary works and I started to ask myself why I am even here and what I was doing. It was really hard. Then we stood up to sing As Sisters in Zion but they have new lyrics for it that are all about the amount of sisters serving a mission (google it. I promise they are amazing). It is so amazing to me that in that moment of weakness the Lord sent me a tender mercy and then the Spirit bore witness to me again of my calling to spread the gospel. Anyways it was great!
Then the week progressed full of classes and studying. The teachers here are amazing and I am learning so much. I feel however that I am always one step ahead of the others because of mission prep. I came in here with stuff like the first vision and my purpose memorized and now everyone is still struggling to memorize it. I also had a decent grasp on the Preach My Gospel lessons as well as how to teach them so that was really nice because we began teaching the second day we got here.
Now this week has been full of challenges though and I feel like I should tell you so that you get an accurate view of what I am experiencing. So here in the MTC we have what we call progressing investigators. They are our teachers who portray one of the investigators that they taught on their mission and we are supposed to teach them as they are a real person. Now I said before that I had a grasp on the lessons and teaching. However that doesn't mean that its easy. In fact the first lesson we taught was so HARD! I mean man I was discouraged. The next lesson however was so amazing. We even got him to pray with us. Now I technically what we are doing is role playing however Elder Holland said that this is how the Lord wants his missionaries trained and when we do the role playing it feels real. I see John (my investigator) as a real person and not as my teacher. And because this is how Heavenly Father wants it, the Spirit is just amazing. Sometimes I don't know what to say but I open my mouth and the words just come out and they are not my words. However this doesn't happen all the time and so that it the hardest part. There have been times, for one reason or another, that I have been left on my own and believe me I got no where. I know that Heavenly Father wanted me to learn something from these times, however I just got really discouraged. I began to doubt again whether or not I can really do this.
Then if that isn't hard enough, we had to do TRC this week. TRC stands for Training Resource Center. It is a bunch of little rooms in our classroom building that are made to look small sitting rooms and we go in and teach an actor playing the role of the investigator. You get a little slip the night before you are scheduled to go that tells you about the person and then you are supposed to go the the door at the appointed time, knock, and go in and teach them as if we were really in the field. The challenging part is that its like a guessing game. You have to try and figure out something that will open the investigator up and allow them to talk to you. Its hard to explain but its like a puzzle you have to put together just by talking with them. Well needless to say, my companion and I couldn't figure out the puzzle so we sat and talked in circles with this lady for close to an hour. She doesn't believe in God and we tried to teach her everything we knew about him but then she would just respond with stupid off topic questions. The worst part though is that we then had to return and teach her again two days later. My companion and I tried so hard to study and be in tune with the spirit and we prayed to be able to know Sarah's needs but then when we got in there it was a disaster! We would try to teach and she would spout off some stupid rumor about the Mormon Church like that we are serving a mission so that we can get more people to give the Church 10% of their money and just ridiculous stuff. I promise the hour we spent with her was the biggest waste of my life! It was so frustrating. The bummer part too was that everyone had terrible experiences. Now these actors that we are supposed to teach are lds people hired by the MTC and they do the same thing every day and it makes me wonder who wants to get paid for making missionaries hate themselves. Anyways after that I was really struggling. and so was everyone else. Thursday night was so bad and everyone was feeling so down that the teacher could just tell that he was getting no where so he just sat down and we all shared our testimonies and why we are here to serve a misson and that put everything back into perspective.
So another hard thing about this week came in the form of lifting each others burdens. So my companion and I are really close now but every time we taught a lesson she would share bits and pieces of the hard life she has had and how the gospel has helped her through it but she would never tell me all of it and I didn't ask. Anyways we had a devotional Tuesday night with Elder Nash of the Seventy and afterwards we had a district discussion about it and I could tell that she was really upset by somethings. So after everyone left the classroom I asked her if she wanted to talk. She then proceeded to tell me her story and it is one of the saddest things that I have ever heard and it even made me ugly cry. So when she was 8 her mom died of cancer and then three months later her dad remarried and this lady turned into this evil psycho and kicked her and her little brother out and she had to live with her older sister. Then her dad has pretty much treated her like crap and done all of this terrible stuff. He refused to go through the temple with her and he even walked out of her farewell because she was talking about her mothers. Then she found out later that night that her Dads cancer had relapsed and will probably kill him before she gets home. So now she is frantically trying to find it within herself to forgive him so that she can tell him before he dies but he wont even talk to her. Anyways she told me this and we just sat and cried together. But I feel like for that brief moment I was able to experience some of her grief and that means that it was grief that she didn't have to feel.
We are so close though and I don't know how I am going to say goodbye. She is so cute and funny and all we so is laugh together. Mom you know how you told me to mind my own busyness and let the elders mess around if they want to well funny story is me and my companion and then a pair of elders are really good friends and so we laugh and joke all the time and then we get some serious looks from this other elder. I am really surprising myself here! I have never been more myself and I really love that. Although it is hard sometimes, we do a TON of laughing and are really having a great time.
Ok funny story real quick I am running out of time. So I was standing in the lunch line and I hear a deep voice say Sister Simkins. So I look up and there is this elder staring at me but I have never seen him before. Then he says You re name is Sister Simkins, my name is Elder Simkins. It was spelled just like ours! It was so cool because I have never met anyone with it spelled like that and apparently neither had he! It was pretty Sweet! He says that he is from Idaho but his great-grandparents are from Arizona so maybe we are related.
So travel plans! AH! Anyways we leave the Salt Lake Airport on the 3rd at 5 pm and fly to San Fran. Then from there we fly to NZ! Its crazy because our flight leaves at 10 pm on the 3rd and we will get into NZ at 6 am on the 5th. Its like we are literally skipping a whole day. I will get to call you from the airport so I will let you know more about that later.
Alright well I have to run. I love you all so much! Just so you know my P-Day next week is next Friday. Sorry about spelling/grammar!
Send me mail! I am the only one in my distric that hasn't gotten any letters! Thanks to Kim and Wendy I have gotten two packages! Woohoo! Oh google dear elder and then send me stuff through that its way easy and I get your letters the day you send them. Tell my siblings to write me bacause I miss them! I love you all!!
Love Sister Simkins