Tuesday, January 31, 2017

January 31,2017 Email :D

Subject: WOAH!!! WE'RE HALFWAY THERE!!! *living on a prayer* 

Hello everybody!!!

This email is going to be a smorgasbord of a bunch of random things, but hopefully I will be able to fit everything in!

First, something funny...we were sitting in our classroom last night doing some practice teaching, when someone outside decided to wiggle his pen under our door just to tease us. Being me, totally focused on everything at all times, I decided to try to grab it when it was sticking under the door. I got my hand ready, and lunged "gracefully" to grab it. I fell on the ground...taking my desk/chair combo with me. XD BUT I got the pen! hahaha that was definitely a bonding moment for my district. And the poor Elder that had been the culprit...we don't even know him. XD

Speaking of my district, we are all growing so close! It's going to be hard to say goodbye to all of them!! We eat every meal together, and tease each other like siblings, and 'work out' together every day! By work out, I mean we play lightning/speed/knock out..whatever you call it. The game where you shoot free throws with two balls and get each other out? It has become our thing. All 12 of us, plus whomever else wants to join. It's the funnest thing! We are all out of breath cheering and running...no hard feelings, but competitive!! I love them all so much!!!

As many of you know, when you are dropped off at the curb, a host missionary comes and helps collect your luggage and lead you where to go. I get to do that tomorrow!! I'm so excited to invite missionaries to the MTC!! ...kinda going to be hard pulling them away from their families....but It's going to be such a cool experience to be the first smiling face they see on their journey as one of the soldiers in God's Army!!! :D :D

The other day, we were practicing some different elements of teaching by teaching one on one the first part of the Restoration. As I began teaching, the teacher came over to observe me. I got overwhelmed, started teaching the wrong lesson, just drew blanks. Even with the teacher's help, I hardcore just couldn't teach effectively. I was frustrated and just ended up focusing on not having a come apart as he basically taught the pretend lesson for me. My confidence was shot. When I came back to the dorm for bed about 15 minutes later, I sat down to write in my journal. Before I write in my journal each night, I read over my notes from the day to remind myself of things I wanted to say. I saw a scripture I had written down earlier that day, and felt inspired to find it again.

John 15:16 "Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he may give it you."

I bear testimony that Heavenly Father is always looking out for us. I already knew that Heavenly Father works through other people frequently to help us in our lives. Little did I know, sometimes he works through yourself to help yourself!!! :D Heavenly Father knows when we are down, struggling, or lost. He will always be there for you. :) I'm so grateful for this experience I was able to have to strengthen my testimony!

The missionary broadcast was cool! I'm sure most of you have heard that the schedule for missionaries got changed! I don't understand completely all the details, seeing as I'm on MTC schedule and it doesn't quite apply to me yet...but one of the things that applies now is an extra HOUR at night!! WOOHOO!!! More time for journal writing and organization. It has been glorious. :) 

Something I really wanted to write about was the devotional on Sunday. Richard I. Heaton, administrative director of the MTC spoke. He started by having all converts who joined the church within the last two years stand. Quite a few stood. He then selected two, a boy and a girl, to come to the stand. Even when he simply had them stand, I was filled with the spirit. Brother Heaton had the girl go first. She is from Oregon going to Thailand, and used to be a Quaker. Her story was pieced together by him asking questions, but it started with her going on a five week mission for her church. At the end of it her leaders asked her what they could pray with her about. She said she wanted something to happen in her life to bring her closer to Christ. So they prayed with her. Fast forward to I think that school year, she asked the boy at school known as the "Mormon boy" to a dance. They had begun to talk about their religions, and challenged each other to pray which church was true. Long story short, she started taking the discussions. ;) She was already 18, but waited 9 months to be baptized because her family was against it. One night, she was reading the Book of Mormon and read Alma 26:27. This gave her courage, and she told her mom she believed the church was true and wanted to be baptized. Now, here she is on a mission! The spirit was so strong as she bore her testimony through her story. Then, Brother Heaton commented on how special it is to hear stories like that and sometimes people even point out other missionaries  in the room as being influences. There was some commotion, then he said "People are pointing. Who is that?" She smiled and said "That's Elder Parker." The 'Mormon Boy' was in the MTC with us! Everyone cheered as he walked to the front. Brother Heaton asked "What was it like to be a part of this?" Elder Parker smiled and said humbly and almost reverently, "Well it is easiest if I talk about the day she got baptized. I have a picture of it I always keep with me." He proceeded to pull a picture out of his shirt pocket, a photo of them on her baptism day, and bear a powerful testimony of the joy he felt baptizing her, saying he has never felt the spirit that strong before. I cried. The spirit was so strong! Elder Parker bore testimony of the joy he felt, saying THAT is why he is on a mission. I cannot wait to partake of that joy! I know that going on a mission is the best decision I have ever made! Having the privilege to be set apart as a disciple of Christ to share this message of joy to the people of Canada...! There is nothing I would rather be doing than the work of the Lord!

I love you all so much!!!! I am going to try to send pictures in a separate email this time....we took them all on my companion's camera so maybe they will send! *crossed fingers*

Until next week,

Sister Alissa Van Valkenburg

ps. I fly out a week from tomorrow!!! AHHHHH!!! :D :D :D

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

January 24,2017 Email :D

Subject: I'M A MISSIONARY!!!! 

The title of this email has been a reoccurring realization every day. I am so grateful for the opportunity I have to be a missionary!!! I have loved every second of it!!! Okay. Maybe like one or two seconds have been a bit sub-par...like when my alarm goes off in the morning...etc. ;) But in all seriousness, nothing I have done so far in my life has filled me with so much joy and purpose as my calling as a missionary. I absolutely love it!

Coming to the MTC was so crazy! I got dropped off, collected some packets, and Ipad, and my BADGE, and was straight in the classroom!! WHAT?! Speaking of the Ipad...I can only use it when I'm here at the MTC...but it makes it so I can read emails any day, but just can't respond until Tuesday. SO feel free to email any time!!! I absolutely love my companion!! Her name is Sister Clark, she is 6' tall and plays Volleyball for Laramie County Community College. She is so sweet, filled with the spirit, and I love being her companion! We teach together so well! She is committed to drinking water 24/7 and is trying to convert me! Hahaha we will see!! 

Something I wasn't prepared for with the MTC was so many stairs! I'm some people have it easy, but Sister Clark and I have class on the top floor (5) of one of the buildings, and our bedroom is on the top floor (4) of another! We climb stairs A LOT!! 

Something interesting: For sacrament meeting, nobody is assigned to speak. Instead, we are all given a topic and are to come prepared to speak. Missionaries from your zone are selected at random to speak! It's really cool!

I've been told many times just to "Make it until Sunday." Oh man...it is so AWESOME!!! You would expect the usual rest for a Sunday, but not on your mission!! It's a full 15 hour Sunday! But it is a day filled with the spirit!! The devotional that night was by Stephen Allen, the manager over all the mission stuff! He told a story about a drinking fountain. You know how you can change the water pressure of the other drinking fountain by holding down your own at the same time? He told of how he did that to a poor little kid...but compared it to something really cool. The little kid never realized that the reason the water kept going away, then splashing in his face was caused by someone right next to him. He compared it Satan. There are many buttons of yours that Satan tries to push to get water splashed up in your face. He wants you to give up. We need to acknowledge that it is coming from him, that he is right next to us, and most importantly to never give up.

A story told about having the character of Christ was told by Elder Bednar in a talk we watched Sunday night. He told about how the natural man wants to turn inward, calling it the "Cookie Monster" and that Christ turns outward. In every situation we are to turn outward and serve. To love others. He told about a woman, who called him when he was a stake president. She was calling to say that there were 3 girls who had been seriously injured in a car accident. At the same time as she was on the phone with him, she was on the phone with a nurse on another phone and he could hear the conversation. One of the girls was dead, and was identified as the woman's daughter. She instantly turned to Elder Bednar's phone and said that he was to contact the other moms, make sure they were okay, and to go identify the girls when they reached the hospital. (she was too far away, hence the call) In the instant she found out her daughter had died, she turned outward and was instantly conscerned about the other mothers. Elder Bednar continued to say that she was the Relief Society president, a single mom, and that the girl was her only child. On the morning of her daughter's funeral, a lady from the ward, not knowing about the death of the woman's daughter, called her to complain that she had been sick and nobody had brought her any meals! On the way to her only child's funeral, that mother dropped off a homemade meal to that woman. THAT is the character of Christ.

I have so many more stories, feelings, impressions and more...but Unfortunately I have zero time left on the clock!  Know that I love all of you, and that I love this gospel. I know that the church is true. And I am so grateful to be here learning and loving every step of the way!

Lots and lots of love,

Sister Alissa Van Valkenburg

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Friday, January 6, 2017

So Long! Farewell!

I will be speaking in Sacrament Meeting on Sunday, January 15th. All who would like to attend are welcome! It will be at the church on Lava Flow at 9:00 am.

You've Got Mail!

Here is my current mailing information :)

While I'm in the MTC (Jan 18th - Feb 8th)

Sister Alissa Jean Van Valkenburg
2005 N 900 E Unit 94
Provo UT 84602

To send to Canada (Feb 8th-ish and beyond)

Sister Alissa Jean Van Valkenburg
Canada Vancouver Mission
8440 Williams Rd
Richmond BC V7A 1G6

Hello Everyone!!

In addition to a group email, my personal secretary (my mom) will be posting emails onto this blog! If anyone would like to email me personally, please feel free to do so! My email is alissa.van.valkenburg@myldsmail.net :) I hope this blog will bring insight into the mission life and, well, how I'm doing! I hope to hear from you soon!