It’s my LAST week sa MTC. I cannot believe it. Time really has gone by so very fast. I remember our first day here we did so many things and we were so super tired but we had to wait to walk back to our dorms because one of the districts was leaving and they all were taking forever to say goodbye. They were like “enjoy your time here” “It will go so fast.” I was kind like yeah right but now here we are and we are leaving Thursday(at 3am) and it’s totally surreal that it all happened this quickly. I will miss everyone here, but I feel ready to get out there and get working.
This week has been pretty awesome because Elder Russell M. Nelson came to speak to us with his wife Wendy. We also had the future Manila MTC presidency President and Sister Trask come to our district and teach us, which was really special and unexpected. AND last week’s Sunday Devotional with Richard Heaton who is the administrative director for the MTC was super great too. WOW so many great talks. And that’s on top of having great teachers here and learning so much from them.
Which now that I mention, I should tell you a little about a few of my teachers here. One is Brother Smith and he is really funny, always keeps things sorta light hearted but also asks some really good questions and tells us some sweet stories. He went to Naga on his mission and he speaks really good Tagalog. He told us this week about a little Filipino mom he met in his first 6 weeks out in the field who had 8 kids with one on the way, an alcoholic husband and not enough money to feed all those mouths. Despite all this, she was happy. Because she had the Gospel of Jesus Christ and because she was able to be so positive. She would wash her neighbor’s clothes just to make a little extra money. This woman became Brother Smith’s inspiration to study Tagalog as hard as he could and to be able to speak Tagalog better.
I feel already that I have that inspiration because of my Mamay and Nanay. I am so grateful the missionaries took time to talk to them, and I want to have that opportunity to be that missionary now. I know when I get to the Philippines that I will meet people like Brother Smith did and that I will feel that fire to study super hard and to speak Tagalog better than I do now. I feel okay about speaking Gospel Tagalog but as for understanding it or being able to hold conversations, it’s going to a challenge. Even though sometimes this makes me feel so overwhelmed and inadequate, it is also extremely humbling and I am learning to better rely on the Spirit and on the Atonement of Jesus Christ. I sometimes doubt if I have the faith to receive the gifts that Heavenly Father has in store for me. But I am trying to apply even the small faith I do have to be able to ask in faith for what I need.
My favorite scripture is 2 Nephi 2:27 in which it says “Wherefore men are free according to the flesh, and all things are given them which are expedient unto man…” when I think about that phrase “all things are given them” I feel so extremely grateful for everything that Heavenly Father has seen fit to give me already and truly feel at times undeserving of such blessings. Whatever things you may need in order to be happy, you will be given. You always have the ability to choose to be happy because God will always provide all that you need. And if you don’t feel that, it is for a purpose.
Sister Nelson in her talk spoke about the necessity of desperation. How so many people in the scriptures faced moments of desperation. One of my favorite bible stories is the story of the woman who is taken in an illness of the blood for 14 years and she reaches out to touch just the hem of Jesus robe. She was desperate to be healed, and by her faith she was healed. There is evidence in the scriptures that this woman was not physically ill but spiritually so. This story tells us that there is always hope no matter what the circumstance. To be stricken for 14 years! Or the story of Joseph Smith in Liberty Jail and he says, “Oh Lord where art thou? And where is the pavilion that covereth thy face?” At that moment he had reached his last thread, he was reaching towards heaven with desperation. This kind of feeling is not comfortable and we do not welcome it, but it does yield faith. When we are desperate, all excuses fall away. We find a way even if there doesn’t seem to be one. This is the way we should feel in missionary work, desperate for the salvation of others.
From my journal this week:
I have been thinking a lot lately about what it means to be a missionary and how much my investigators and converts will mean to me. The scriptures talk about how “if ye shall bring save it be one soul unto me, then ye shall have great joy in the kingdom of my Father.” Think then of how great the joy with many souls! We are creating our heaven here on earth. The friendships we build on our missions are not just temporal connections they are eternal relationships that will continue beyond this life. Nowhere else do you get onto someone else’s battlefield and fight for someone else’s family. Nowhere else do you care so fervently about your fellow man’s salvation. Nowhere else do you feel such a depth of love for someone you just met. The opportunity to be on a mission is a sacred blessing that is not extended to every person. I feel personally so privileged to participate in the work of salvation and to understand better the way the Savior loves us.
I cannot convey to you just how excited I am to embark on this adventure soon. I am preparing my heart to get bigger than it ever has been before, to love people in the way that the Savior loves them and to see them the way Our Father in Heaven sees them. The last few days I have been saying my prayers in Tagalog. One of the hard things about learning a new language is that sometimes you get so focused on what you are saying and how you are saying it that you don’t have room to feel what you are saying. I was feeling a little frustrated about this earlier this week when I was trying to express my feelings about the Atonement in Tagalog but I couldn’t connect the way I felt in English to what I was saying. One of the teachers recommended that I should start praying in Tagalog and so that is what I have been doing. I have been able to ask for things in Tagalog that I have a hard time praying for in English. I realized laying in bed last night that Tagalog is a purely spiritual language for me right now because the only things I can say are about spiritual things. I realized that in my prayers I have actually been feeling an increase of the Spirit as when I pray in Tagalog I really have to take my time and think about what I am praying for. I want you all to to know that I pray for all of you, many of you by name. I love you and God loves you. He will watch over all of your concerns and challenges and He will help you with them.
I know that if you will go to Him with these challenges and fears, you will feel divine help come into your life. If you will read the Book of Mormon, you will know of it’s truth if you ask with sincerity and real intent. I invite you to read even just a few verses of the Book of Mormon. Here is a story in the Book of Mormon I read this week that I love: https://www.lds.org/scriptures/bofm/alma/17
In verse 2 it mentions how the sons of Mosiah and Alma meet again. I hope this is the way I have the chance to meet with all my friends even if we go for a long time without knowing about each other’s lives. That I will meet with them again and like Alma knew “they were still his brethren in the Lord” I will know that you too are still fellow children of God. Till we meet again.
Love love always,
Sister Marissa McLean