Sunday, August 31, 2014

If it is to be, it is up to me

Hi everyone! Okay so I made a list this week of everything I wanted to say, so hopefully I have enough time to say it. 

First of all, I want to tell the story of the actual miracle of Slovakia! We were asking our teacher, Brat Zabriskie, about miracles in slovakia, and he reminded us that Slovakia in and of itself IS a miracle! 

The story is this:
The church wasn't allowed in Slovakia after it split with the Czech Republic. In order to become an official practicing church in Slovakia, you have to get 20,000 people to sign a petition. Well, as most of you know, there are only 239 members in Slovakia right now, and most are Roman Catholic. So the church hired professionals to go in and convince people to sign this petition in 2004. The professionals went in and worked and worked, advertised and promoted, and after two weeks, they had collected a whopping 150 signatures. It seemed hopeless. What came next was completely inspired--church leadership decided to send in the Czech speaking missionaries into Slovakia. It may have seemed hopeless to send missionaries in that are speaking a totally different language. However, the missionaries, valiant and determined, proselyted for 3 days, asking people everywhere to sign this petition. In those three days, they managed to collect 24,000 signatures!! President Uchtdorf dedicated Slovakia later that year for missionary work! How incredible is that?

Next, some very exciting news. We had some new bibles brought in today!! Apparently, the bibles that our teachers have used in the past were very difficult to align with our King James version. This brand-new version is all in Slovak (not czech, like D&C and Pearl of Great Price), and is almost exactly identical to the King James version! (minus Joseph Smith Translations) The work is truly hastening! I cannot contain my excitement and am already so excited to teach the people there. They are so ready to receive the gospel!

Haha. Funny story #1. Sis. Parsons and I have INCREDIBLE companionship studies, and yesterday, we had a particularly emotional one. I started crying because I was so overcome with the spirit, and as I was wiping tears from my face, a Czech sister named Sister Fredrickson pops in the classroom and says "Anyone want a cookie?" We were laughing at how perfect the timing was. (Is this actually even funny? Am I finally becoming a missionary with poor humor?)

I finally gave in to the desserts at the MTC. Poor/best decision. THEY HAVE CARROT CAKE WITH CHOCOLATE ON THE BOTTOM.

Our slovak is really coming! We were even able to have a testimony meeting this week in Slovak, and most of us were able to say a simple but very powerful testimony. The spirit was SO strong--and although our sentence structures are SO bad (I never know when to say Josephovi Smithovi or Joseph Smith or Josephom Smithom or....) (PS that is a real thing with all nouns. There are like 12 different forms of them.) it was still so incredible.

We have a new teacher named Sister Palanikova! She is SO wonderful and is actually a convert from Slovakia! She converted at 21, and after a year and a half (just like Sis Parsons!) went on a mission to the Netherlands. So she also teaches Dutch here at the MTC. She speaks English, Dutch, Polish, Slovak, and Czech. Apparently, after my mission, I will be able to understand most of the languages in this area. Most teachers in my zone talk to each other in Slovenian, Slovak, Polish, Czech, Russian, Croatian, and a couple others, and they can all understand each other! Woah. 

Fun moment with the slovak sisters: All of us using my foot scrub (thanks mom) in the bathroom singing "Lean on Me" (We are basically a travelling choir; no joke) and the Sound of Music. Sometimes missionaries have more fun than we should.

Haha. On Tuesday, Sister Parsons got paged down to the front desk. We were so frightened when we were walking down because we had no idea what it was about. Really. We were freaking out. Turns out, it was just her really good friend (a Covey) who was working there and wanted to talk to us! She was President Nally's secretary (!). President Nally comes in, and all of a sudden wants to talk to Sis Parsons in his office! It was really actually quite perturbing to be separated from my dear spolocnicka. Turns out, he had just heard about her from his secretary and just wanted to talk to her about herself and her family for a minute. So now we are popular. 

LAST NIGHT Sister Russell HID IN THE CLOSET for over TWENTY MINUTES , and as Sister Parsons and I were in bed telling a story she starts MAKING NOISES and the door starts CREAKING and it was probably the MOST FRIGHTENING THING THAT HAS EVER HAPPENED. Sister Parsons pushes me off the bed and we both leap into sister Eggers bed, trembling and shrieking. I've really never been so scared in my whole life I don't think. I thought there was a ghost/murderer. SO SCARY. 

The thunderstorms on friday and saturday were just such a blessing. Not only did we have rain, but I just absolutely am in love with the weather and the rain and lightning etc. Just one of those tender mercies.

Other tender mercy: I was walking down the hall one morning, and I just said "All I want is some steamed broccoli." Because we never have any fresh steamed veggies, only canned. That night, we go to dinner, and the menu was something like "Beef and Steamed Broccoli". We were all laughing so hard.

2 Quotes from this week that I absolutely love, the first is the title of this letter, and it was given at the devotional on tuesday:

If it is to be, it is up to me. 

The speaker, Elder Martino of the seventy, spoke to us of hard work and diligence. I've never been so motivated in my life! The devotionals are always so amazing. Another quote he read from Thomas S. Monson talked about "Taxing our Talents." I think that is so important to remember! Sis. Parsons and I were talking about how taxing our talents means to make sure that we share our talents with EVERYONE and that we shouldn't be exclusive about who we share them with.

Quote 2 from choir practice:
If you are all wrapped up in yourself, all you are going to have is a really small package.

How true is that? I have so much to say about this quote but really not enough time, so how about everyone else can just say what they think and, Voila! Testimony meeting!

Next, MTC volleyball is probably the best thing ever. People can actually play volleyball! And it is so fun! They even have sand volleyball outside. I love playing with the elders and sisters in our zone. We always yell, (Sorry, no accents on this keyboard), "Ja chcem SMRT!" or, "I want death!" or "TY CI MUKEL!" which is, "you are a muggle!" Of course, we don't keep score, so it always ends well. Tied fun to fun every time!

Haha. Funny embarrassing moment. S. Parsons and I were teaching our new investigator Bajo, said Bio, (AKA brat Bateman), and I messed up big time. Haha. We sat down and said our how do you dos and all that, and then I was going to ask him if we could say a prayer. However, instead of saying 'Do you mind if we say a prayer", I accidentally said "Can we come back tomorrow?" Hahahahhaha so awkward. I then proceded to say/yell, "Nie Nie Nie!" and rephrase. It was a good thing he isn't a real investigator. Haha. I'm still laughing right now. 

For some reason all these people we don't know know who we are...we will be walking around campus and this group of elders will yell, Hey! The Slovaks! And we will be confused/weirded out. 

This week, our district is focusing on Christlike love. I know that this is something I need to work on. I just can't believe the difference that it makes when I have the spirit with me all the time--I become so conscious of the things I said, and am so inspired to change the way I do things. Making goals daily helps too. I just know that I am so surrounded by love and prayers, and am so grateful for that. My relationship with my Heavenly Father grows stronger every day, and as my prayers grow longer and longer, I get happier and happier. This gospel is so true! This knowledge has never been so tangible to me in my entire life! I feel like I understand His plan for His children so well and know the love that he has for each and every one of them. I feel this for people I haven't even met yet.
I also have found so much peace in the words of the scriptures. I don't remember which apostle said that every time they read the scriptures they learn something new--but it is so true. I could read the same chapter 15 times in one day and get something different out of it each time. I get so lost in personal study between footnotes and scriptures and preach my gospel and I feel like my mind is expanding 12,0000X! I'm like seriously the grinch. I came here, and my heart has grown 3X in the short amount of time I have been here. The light that is this gospel is spreading, and it is spreading fast! 

Here are some scriptures I/we have found:
1) Jeremiah 15:16: Thy words were found, and I did eat them;
This scripture literally describes my life right now. I am not going to write the entire scriptures that I list here because I want YOU the person who is reading it to look them up and mark the parts that apply to you because they are so amazing! 

2) D&C 123:12-14 and Exodus 18:18--wear yourself out in the work. The news of the gospel is HERE and there are people who are blind only because they do not know where to find it. It is our responsibility and duty as missionaries, members, and those who know the truth to spread it so that others can find happiness! We can't be selfish and hog the whole cake.

3) Isaiah 26:2-4--How can I keep the Lord in perfect peace? I hope that I can heed the promptings He sends me quickly and without hesitation so that I can become His trusted servant. This one also, for me, ties into Jacob 5:72--because not only can I become His trusted servant in His vineyard, but I can serve side by side with my Lord and God. 

One last thought I want to leave with everyone from the tuesday devotional--If we act on our faith, we have to set goals. And when setting goals, sometimes we have to believe in impossible things in order to push ourselves! Think of the parable of the sower--a sower plants seeds in many places, and some spring right up where they are planted, and others aren't so lucky. Elder Marino gave the example of a tree planted in the middle of the sea. Sometimes we have to believe that that seed will grow into a tree in the middle of the sea. Sometimes we have to set goals for ourselves that seem far-fetched in order to see how far we are able to go. Sometimes we have to believe that other people will be willing to accept things, even if they seem completely hopeless. 

All my love,
Sestra Abbott

P.S. I sent a few of you some fun Slovak words. Hopefully next week I will have even more to put in the email! But it is hard to type them, because I can't have accents, so it is silly.


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