Hello everyone! Life is going really well! Things here at the MTC are coming to a close and it is crazy!! I don't even know what to do about it! It is so weird and stressful that time here is coming to a close. The language is far from ready, but I'm definitely doing my best to have it ready! I study a lot and hardly do anything else! This week has been awesome! We continue to teach, but nothing super special has really gone on with our teaching this week. We are still teaching the investigators and struggling to learn how to be good teachers. We have our good lessons and our bad lessons, but we do our best to learn. I'm not sure we are getting better but I'm doing my best to really get this done and to learn all I can now! It isn't always easy, and I have my down moments, but I keep the faith that I am doing my best and I can't do more than that. I just have to rely on the Lord for everything and never falter. There has never been a time where I have had to depened on the Lord more than I do now. I depend on him to help me with everythign that I do!
Well, this week we are been so spiritually fed. First off though, this Sunday I was an accompanist for a violin duet! They did amazing and I enjoyed being able to help them out. We just played for our branch, but our branch isn't so little anymore. Last Wednesday we more than doubled our branch. We had 15 and added another 22 missionaries going to Indonesia, Malasia, and Singapore. And then yesterday, we got another 14! Our Branch is going to be huge for a couple weeks and then 11 of us leave in a week and a half. I know part of the new group is going to Madagascar, but I don't know where the rest of them are going. So, our branch is now very diverse! It is awesome though! I found out that other branches do their meetings partly in the language that they are learning, becuase they'll have a big group of French speakers or Spanish speakers. That was so weird for me to find out because we do everything in English, because now we have 9 languages in our branch! And they are all so completely different!!
Also, for relief society on Sunday we were very priveledged to hear from Janice Kapp Perry. For those who may not know who that is, she has written one of the hymns in the hymns book and tons of primary songs! She was so great to listen to! She talked a lot about how music changes her mission with her husband. She also said that there is a two fold purpose of a mission, 1: to bring people into the fold, but 2: to sanctify the missionary. She said that this is important because the mission will be a stepping stool for the rest of our lives and will affect everything we do from here on out. We also sang a lot while she was with us. We stood and sang a medley of primary songs that was beautiful, all of which she worte. We sang, A child's prayer, I love to see the temple, I belong to the Church, I'm trying to be like Jesus, Army of Helamen, and Love is spoken here. It was beautiful! There is a lot of power when sisters all stand and sing in unison! Also, she and a committee of people are working on songs for sister missionaries. She said that the church is excited for all the sisters that are going out. I thought that was pretty cool. I didn't know that the church is as excited as I am about the opportunity that I have to be a missionary. So, at the very end of the meeting we ended with one of the new songs she has written. She changed the lyrics of her song as Sister of Zion, to be The Sister of Zion. It was all about sister missionaries and what we are doing! It was beautiful and it held so much power! I cried through the whole thing because it perfectly stated my testimony and feelings about being able to be on a mission. I didn't really sing at all. I wish I could share the words with you, but I don't remember any of them. I just know that I am so excited to be in this wave of sister missionaries going out to serve the Lord! I love being a missionary!
Also, this Tuesday for devotional we were very priveledged to hear from Elder Russel M. Nelson and his wife Sister Wendy Nelson! What a spiritual feast that was and I learned so much! I wish I could share it all with you, but I will share some highlights of the talk. The general theme for them both was family history and missionary work and how they are related. I already have a HUGE love for family history, but I thought that I wouldn't be doing much with it these next 18 months, but they made sure to point out that a huge part of my mission will be family history work as well, and helping others with their family history work. Just like there are tons of people that I need to find that are living here that need to hear the gospel. There are even more people on the other side just waiting for their work to be done. And if I can just bring one person into the fold and help them do their family history work, then I can bring thousands into the fold! I thought that was so amazing! So, I just need to focus on helping as many people as possible! Sister Nelson siad that we need to pray for help from the other side. Especially we need to pray to the ancestors of those that we need to teach. She said exactly, "Pray to be led to people who's ancestors in heaven are praying for me." I thought that was so cool. She said the people on the other side are very awayre of what we are doing. She said that we can pray for specific people to attend us each day when need that extra help and that we will have angels surrounding us. I thought of Grandpa Darrell at first (my mom's dad) becuase he is so special to me and how I know he would be right there to help me out. Also, I got a letter from Grandma Sharon that evening and at the end of the letter she talked about her dad and how much he loved mission work and he loved his mission. She said at the very end that he is pleased with me and what I am doing. I cried pretty hard over that because I know my grandpa Leland Foote is watching over me. My namesake is watching out for me. He is an incredible man, and I'm glad that I have him to help me and to assist me in this great work.
Well, I don't have a ton of time. I'll just end with the fact that I love to be a missionary! I know it is something that is so important! She said that mission work will go on whether we are here or not, but it will go faster if we choose to serve and we will be changed dramatically if we do serve. We will make waves in what is going on. I want to challenge all who read this to support the missionaries in any way you can. Pray for them, contribute to the general mission fund, or if you are able, go on a mission. The Lord needs missionaries now! It is so important that we all do our part to assist in the Lord's work and to help his children find their way back to Him through His son Jesus Christ. I love you all and this is so important. I know this church is true and that Jesus Christ is our savior. I know that we much strive to do all we can to become like him. I also know that we can do it! God loves us and he wouldn't give us anything that we couldn't do. Always remember that. You are loved and we can do everything through Christ. Pray and use the atonment to receive strength and guidance. He will give you what you need to do what he asks. If we are obedient we will see success in our lives, and if we are exactly obedient we will see miracles. I know that is true and that if we follow the commandments exactly and remember the Lord in all things, we will experience miracles in our lives! Again, I love you all and thank you for all the letters and support! I will do my best to respond! You are all amazing!!!
With much love and gratitude,
Monday, May 20
Saturday, May 11
Sveiki, visi cilvēki!
How is everyone doing? They weeks are just flying by. I am down to two and a half weeks left in the MTC. I have three sundays left and 2 preparation days! It is crazy and I'm not sure where the time has gone. This week has been wonderful, but not a lot different has gone one. We (all the sisters going to Latvia) got a letter and a postcard from two of the companionships in Latvia right now. They gave us some advice and gave us encouragement. Also, one sister was just in the last group of missionaries from the MTC and will be one of our trainers when we get there. She has only been there for twelve weeks so that is pretty cool. There will be four sisters in Latvia and four sisters going so we are doubling the mission. That will be pretty cool. It will be fun for all of us to be over there together. Well, some of the advice that the sisters gave us is they told us about the music allowances over there. They said that we are only allowed to play music that could be played in the halls of the temple. So, Mormon Tabernacle choir, and maybe instrumental if it is soft and uplifting. So, if anyone wants to help me out I don't have any CD's with me. So, if you want you are welcome to send me a CD with your favorite Mormon Tabernacle choir music. That would be greatly appreciated. Also, I found out that the we aren't allowed to eat with the members really, so if you would also be willing, I would love recipes! The sisters said that grocery stores over there are pretty much the same as they are here so I should be able to get everything I need. :) So, if anyone wants to support some sister missionaries, I would love recipes and CDs! Thanks!
Also, this week, I got to sing in the choir. I love singing in the choir! It is so fun! We sang "Come Follow Me" and I loved it! It was beautiful! Also, I forgot to tell you but a week and half ago I was asked to be in charge of music for our branch. So, I am in charge of coming up with a special musical number and making sure that someone is playing the piano and I pick the hymns. I really like it. I've used my abilities with the piano a lot more since I got here. I love that. I also was asked by two sisters in the branch who play violin if I would accompany them on a violin duet. It has been a lot of fun so far. We tried out this morning to do a big musical number (like in one of the devotionals or something like that). We'll find out sometime next week if we got it. We are also playing the piece in the Branch this week. It is a mix of Sweet Hour and Prayer and I need thee every hour. I love it! It is beautiful. The sisters are both very talented violinists.
Also, this week our branch finally got bigger. We have been just 15 missionaries meeting together every week and now we got 22 new missionaries this Wednesday that will be in our branch. I'm looking forward to that. And next Wednesday we get another 14, so we have a pretty good sized branch now. I love it! It'll be nice to have some more missionaries. And all of the new ones, but two are elders. So, finally we'll have more priesthood in our meetings. Before we only have 4 elders.
So, this week, we are still teaching three investigators. Lauren asked if we are teaching real investigators and we aren't. We teach our teachers who pretend to be investigators that they really taught. They are very good at being investigators and it feels pretty real. We teach two in Latvian, and one in English. They are incredible opportunities to learn. I love it! We are getting better because we are learning to listen to the spirit more as we teach. Last week we had a great opportunity with the spirit. We were teaching one of the Latvian lessons to someone named Aivars who is awesome! He has a strong testimony and desire to serve the Lord and keep the commandments. We were teaching about fasting and it was really cool to listen to. As we got to the end of the mission, I had the strongest desire to talk about testimonies and testimony meetings. It was pretty incredible! The spirit was strong as I in my halting Latvian did my best to explain what a testimony was and what testimony meeting is. It was hard and as I struggled the spirit helped me to know what to say. I also have great companions. My companion Sister Ormsby and I teach together along with the solo Elder, Elder Webb. We are getting really good at teaching with each other and teaching with untiy and as we work to teach with unity the spirit is stronger and stronger in our lessons. We also had a great experience with our investigator, Renārs. When we started with him, he didn't believe in God and had no concept of prayer or what that was. It was really hard to teach him at first and our first lesson with him was like talking to a brick wall. He was catching on to anything we were trying to teach him. Well, we went into our next lesson and talked to him more about prayer and what it is and who God is. By the end of the lesson, he was truly listening to us and we were able to really touch him and talk to him. At the end of the lesosn, Elder Webb asked him to pray. He was pretty resistant, but Elder Webb persisted. It was incredible! He prayed right there and distinctly asked, that if there was a God and he was God, that he wanted to know if he was there. He then thanked God for his family and asked for a blessing upon us and his family. It was incredible! The spirit was so strong and afterwards we talked about what he was feeling and helped him recognize that that was the spirit and it was testifying of the truth of this stuff unto him. And since that lesson we have seen a change in Him as he is really beginning to want to read and pray and do what we ask him to do. It is awesome and I love to see the change that the spirit can make in our lives and has made in his life.
Well, to end my letter today, I'll share an insight that I gained from the Tuesday Devotional talk. The talk was by Elder Gavarret of the seventy. He talked about the gospel of Christ and what that was. It was awesome and it was a strong talk. It held a lot of power and I loved it! It cumilated at the end to a point for me. I realized that I'm teaching exactly what Christ taught when he was on the Earth and what he continually is teaching us. I realized that that makes me one in purpose with my Savior Jesus Christ. I realized that that means that I am on with Christ. Just like how Him and Heavenly Father are one in purpose, so they are one in each other and can speak and act for each other. It is the same for me and Christ. I am his missionary preaching his word. I am one in Him and He is one in me. He will truly be with me as I preach His gospel and will be my support mate and friend as I teach and through me, He will touch those that I teach. It makes me very excited to go and preach in Latvia!
Well, I love sending these emails, but even more than that I love getting emails and letters! The language is coming and I feel your love and prayers! You are all amazing and you are loved by me and even more than that, you have a Heavenly Father who always loves you way more than you can comprehend!
Love you all! (Es jūs mīlu!)
aka Sister Cloward :)
Thursday, May 2
Hello all! I'm not sure if this email will be as long as my last as I find that my weeks are blending in to each other. The big things that have happened this week is they changed our schedules up. Our schedules are completely different, and the only thing that is the same is we kept the same Preparation Day, but even the schedule on Preparation day is different. That is why this email is coming so late! :) All is well in the field. I love the work and I love being a missionary.
Well last Preparation Day after I emailed I had a wonderful experience. I went to the temple and while walking there had the thought, more like a prayer, that I really wanted to see a familiar face besides people that I see in the MTC all the time. It was a silly prayer, but I did ask to just see someone from my life before. I knew that God would answer my prayer if it was his will. Well, I went in the temple, and we enjoying our time there, when I just had the feeling we needed to go. I didn't want to go yet, but the feeling was there anyway. Well, I turned to my companion and told them that I needed to go. They luckily were willing and we left to go get ready to leave. As we walked into the dressing room I ran into Sister Kiser! I haven't seen her in so long. For those of you who don't know who that is, she was the Relief Society president and was my friend's mom. She always cared about me and what was going on in my life and she always made me feel so special. Well it was a super sweet experience to see her! I cried and she was so excited that I was on a mission. She told me she would call my family if she got a chance and send you my love. Even if she didn't send my love. I was so happy to see her and to be able to receive that love. I know that God answered my prayer. He knew my desire and while I hadn't even considered Sister Kiser to be the one to come, she was the perfect person to lift me up and provide me with that love and comfort that I was seeking.
Also, on Sunday for Relief Society, the new General Young Women president, Sister Oscarson, came and spoke to us. She shared an amazing talk about being children of God who loves us. Before she gave her talked, she told us that at age 25, her husband was called to be mission president in the Sweden mission. She then had all the missionaries going to Sweden stand up. Later talked about how her husband served as temple president to the Sweden temple and she was the temple matron. She had all the Dannish missionaries stand up then becuase they were in her temple district. And then what was so awesome, is she had the missionaries going to Latvia stand up! No one ever remembers the Latvian missionaries. So all four of us sisters stood up as well as the one russian speaking sister going to our mission! It was way cool! She then when on to talk about how awesome and humble the sisters are in Latvia and how much she has come to love the people of Latvia! It was so special! Afterwards, my companion, Sister Ormsby, and Sister Bates (she is going to Lithuania and is a solo sister who very often is part of our companionship), and I waited in line for an hour and a half to be able to briefly shake Sister Oscarson's hand. It was so special, and she again shared her love for the Latvian people with us and asked her to share her love with them. I was really touched by all this and I truly got so excited to be able to go over to Latvia and meet these people and share their Heavenly Father's love with them! I'm so excited to go to Latvia and it couldn't come soon enough!
Also, on Tuesday, we heard from Elder Allen of the seventy. His talk was about families and how the gospel can bless them. It was a great talk! I loved his insights about Heavenly Father's plan and how our families are so central to that plan. It was incredible to listen to! I came out of his talk with a reaffirmed testimony of the eternal families, and the fact that my own family can be together forever! I'm so excited to live with my family forever! It makes these 18 months away so much easier knowing that I have eternity with my family! I can't wait for that!!
Also, I sang in the choir this week! I love singing in the choir! We sang "Precious Savior, Dear Redeemer". It was a beautiful arrangement and I loved it. The choir director talks a lot about not singing, but teaching as we sing. He said as we sing we need to remember the message of the song. To me the messag of the song was the scripture Philippians 4:13 "I can do ALL things through Christ which strengtheneth me." I know that is true. I know that when life is hard we have someone who understands us and is going to be there as a support and a friend. I love my savior Jesus Christ. He is incredible and He made the ultimate the sacrifice so that I can live in Heaven again with my Heavenly Father.
Besides that I'm not sure what to talk about. The language is coming along. I love the gospel and I love this work!
I'll bear my testimony in Latvian again this week:
Es zinu, ka Jēzus Kristus ir mans glābējs. Es zinu, ka Jēzus Kristus mūs mīl. Es zinu, ka Dievs ir mūsu Debesu Tēvs. Es zinu, ka šis baznīca ir patiesa. Es zinu, ka Džozefs Smits bija Dieva pravieties. Es zinu, ka Džozefs Smits tulkoja Mormona Grāmatu. Es zinu, ka Mormona Grāmata is patiesa un Mormona Grāmata is Dieva vārds. Es jūs mīlu. Jēzus Kristus vārdā, āmen.
translated: I know that Jesus Christ is my savior. I know that Jesus Christ loves us. I know that God is our Heavenly Father. I know that this church is true. I know that Joseph Smith was God's prophet. I know that Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon. I know that the Book of Mormon is true and the Book of Mormon is God's word. I love you all. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Es jūs mīlu!!