Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Week one in the MTC

I have waited for this day forever! After every lesson I just wanted to call my family and tell them all about it! I just want to say that I love the MTC! It really is what you make it! Let me say that the first four days were rough. But I feel like it was rough for everyone. I LOVE AND MISS YOU FAMILY SO MUCH! I absolutely love my companion! She has become my best friend and I am so thankful for her and her testimony. We work so well together. She has helped me a ton throughout the past week. Also my district is so fun, we have all become great friends. I feel like I have made more friends in the past week than I have in the past year! So many amazing things have happened each day so I am just going to go through them. 

After my family dropped me off, I got my name tag and put it on, which I seriously love wearing my name tag! It is so cool to wear Christs name and represent Him every day. Sometimes as I am walking around I will see missionaries walking behind us or something and be like, "Hey there are missionaries behind us!" forgetting that I am a missionary too. I seriously cannot express how much I love being a missionary. I went to my classroom to meet my district and companion. My companions name is Sister Johnson. Still getting used to calling every one sister and elder. You also can't say, "Hey guys..." You have to say Elders and Sisters. Everyone struggles with that one haha. In our district, we have three sister companionships the other two are going to Long Beach California and we were supposed to have three elder companionships too but one guy didn't show up so there is a trio of elders who are going to Virginia and the other companionship is going to Colorado Springs Colorado. We went to this class called People and your Purpose there were a lot of missionaries in the class, just like a school classroom and then an investigator came in and we got to know them a little bit and then they handed the mic over to us to pass around and teach her. Teaching investigators the first day! (I think they were just acting) It was really kind of frustrating teaching this way because people would stand up and talk about something that had nothing to do with what someone else said and I feel like we just confused the crap out of the investigator. But, hey first day. We did that with three people.We ended the day meeting our zone leaders and they are very crazy. But the sister training leaders are super sweet and nice. They gave us a tour of the MTC. I can find my way pretty good now, but the first and second days were rough. The sister training leaders always have zone prayer with the Sisters every night which is fun. I love our zone!

Let me tell you, waking up at 6:30 is very hard for me. I need my sleep and getting 8 hours feels like nothing. I wake up in the morning and am so tired, but there is this girl in my zone who has seizures, and worried about that being a problem on the mission, she has faith that the Lord will help her. I have faith that the Lord will help me either not be tired, or to work through it. I feel like I have been at the MTC for about a year. time goes so slow here! I have learned that they put so much trust on us missionaries to do what we are supposed to do. We went into class today and just did an online class thing together without the teacher. The teacher did finally show up at 9:20. His name is Brother Johnson. (let me tell you he is so cute and the most spiritual person I have probably ever met in my life. I want to be a missionary just like him. He just got back in July). Something that our teacher focuses a lot on is needs. What does the investigator need? What do they need to feel? If you are feeling the Spirit in a lesson, the investigator is probably feeling it too. What does our investigator need to experience to have greater faith? So we met Phil, our first investigator. (our teacher acting like Phil a guy that he taught on his mission) Yes, teaching on the second day. Phil loves the missionaries and thinks that we are just always smiling and just so nice, but he said that he is in the lowest place in his life that he has ever been. His life has been really hard lately and one day he just woke up feeling good, he said, thank you Jesus and walked outside and saw the missionaries. (Anyone that I meet on my mission will not be a coincidence.) Sister Johnson and I thought that what Phil really needed was the Atonement. We were very nervous to teach, but we got to know him and then taught him what the Atonement was and what it can do for him in his life. Alma 7:11-13 my favorite scripture on the Atonement. We had him read this in our lesson, and the Spirit was SO STRONG. It was amazing. We invited him to pray that night to know that God loves him. I learned that we are supposed to invite someone to be baptized either the first or second visit. Which at first I thought was kind of crazy. But if you read D&C 20:37 you really don't need a lot to be baptized. At the end of the day we met with the Branch Presidency and got to know them and I was introducing myself and everything and one of the councelors said, "tell them how tall your grandpa is." So he worked with grandpa before. 

You know how I was complaining that waking up at 6:30 sucks? Well today we had to be ready to do service at 6:25. Ya I was tired. For exercise time, the sisters in our district run around the field in front of the temple and then go play sand volleyball and then run back. It is tons of fun but there are also always seagulls in that field and when we were running they all flew into the air right for us and we all ducked and screamed but they were like circling us and coming right by us. It was crazy!! Anyway, we spend ALL DAY in our classroom. But our teacher and our district is amazing! So I don't mind as much, going outside is always a treat though. Especially outside of the gates, like real life! I kind of forgot that it existed for a while. We taught Phil our second lesson today and sister Johnson and I planned our lesson on the restoration and practiced it a ton of times. When we went in there we asked Phil if he prayed and how it went. He told us that he feels like he can't pray because he is unworthy and that God doesn't want to hear from him. He kept saying that he feels guilty. Sister Johnson and I just bagged our lesson and taught him more about the Atonement. I told the analogy of how if you had a child, or someone that you really care about go out of your life and never talk to you or want anything to do with you. If they would come back and say sorry and want to be with you, would you forgive them? I like almost started crying and the Spirit was so strong and Phil really felt it. He said yes. We invited him to be baptized and he said that he would. Such an amazing feeling when he said that!!!! I know that when you feel the Spirit that is when your faith grows. Later our teacher told us that that lesson was super powerful and that her really felt it, he really wanted to be baptized. Gosh I love teaching.

Today was a little rough. But filled with tender mercies. Heavenly Father truly loves His missionaries. I hate to admit that I pushed snooze today. I just had to. I was so tired. Today we had our other teacher, her name is Sister Dahle. We learned how to begin teaching, which is asking questions to get to know them spiritually. To figure out their need. During our companion study today, we planned our lesson for Phil, which we decided to teach him the restoration this time and maybe we would actually do it. Brother Johnson taught us how to teach the restoration focusing to someones need. We taught Phil the restoration focusing on God's love for him. We asked Phil at the beginning if we said the opening prayer he would say the closing. We taught Phil the first lesson and it went really well! He still feels like he isn't good enough to be a part of this church. I told him that we have to repent every single day because everybody is always making mistakes but we just need to try our best to do what the Lord wants us to do and those desires to do otherwise will go away. We told him about the Book of Mormon, and he said he would read it and pray about it. When he said the closing prayer he prayed for sister Johnson and I and said that he still wanted to be baptized. I love that! Today our district was struggling a little bit and getting stressed and homesick and things like that so Brother Johnson decided that we would do district Book of Mormon study. It helped so much I was looking for my strengths and 2 Nephi 2:9 helped me because I am still here and I am still trying and that is important. verse 22: "inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments thou shalt be made a ruler and a teacher over thy brethren." Follow the Lord and HE will make me a teacher. 

I did it! I made it to Sunday, literally everyone said to just make it to Sunday. THIS IS SO TRUE. You think that Sundaywouldn't be any different but it really is true, just make it to Sunday. Today was such a good day! Today we had breakfast at 7:30 instead of 7:10 so I pushed snooze again. Today we had lots of study time which was good because I needed to write my talk. They don't tell you who is speaking until after the sacrament so everyone has to be ready. The topic was obedience and doing the Lord's will and that was practically my farewell talk so I was ready. As a zone we were able to walk to the temple today and take pictures which was tons of fun. Then we had relief society which was a little weird because normally we have sacrament first. Lunch. huge tender mercy, they had graham canyon ice cream which is my favorite from the BYU creamery. But as I sit down to eat it the girl next to me spills her water all over me and as I am trying to clean it up, I get my hair in the ice creams so that was great haha. District meeting was good, the Mission President talked to our district about how the Lord will be with us every step of our mission. Then the Mission President met with Sister Johnson and I, and asked us if we would be Sister Training Leaders. I am so excited for this calling! We obviously both said yes. So we will get to welcome the newbees on Wednesday and do the zone prayer at the end of the day and everything. I am so excited and feel so blessed for this calling. So they announced that in Sacrament, and luckily I didn't have to speak today. I think they mostly focus on the people leaving to their missions that week.The person who knew grandpa got a video of grandma saying Hi and when I saw that I just started crying! Luckily I have the best district ever! We had an awesome devotional after dinner. Sister Johnson and I were apart of the choir which was amazing. When around a thousand missionaries all sing together (especially called to serve or armies of Helaman) it is so powerful! Some things I got from the devotional: 
I have the AUTHORITY to teach. The Lord is going to tell the missionaries (me) what the investigator needs to hear. 
I have a year and a half to serve and eternity to think about it.
I will never regret my mission.
Make your family your strength rather than your weakness. 
I don't know what is around the corner but the Lord does. He will protect me and guide me through the Holy Ghost. 
There is no perfect missionary.
After the devotional we go​​​​​​​​​​​​t to watch a video. sister Johnson and I watched the Character of Christ by Elder Bednar and oh my gosh it was amazing! I learned so much from it!
Missionary work is more about who you are and what you are rather than what you say. Preach my Gospel isn't a manual it is who you become. 
The character of Christ is turning out to others when the natural man would turn inwards. The natural man is an enemy to God. Natural Man=cookie monster, I want cookie I want cookie now. You will never see the Savior selfish, just always turning outward to others.
This mission is not about me. Who cares what I want? Don't think about success, get over yourself. It is about Christ and serving Christ. 
Atonement: strength beyond my own. I can't do this. But with Christ I can do anything. When I am weak, I am strong. 
This comforted me a ton, when I felt discouraged, or missing my family, I thought of this. I need to forget myself and get lost in the work, and eventually that is where I will find myself. 
I feel like I have learned more in the past week than I have in the last 18 years of my life. 

Yesterday we talked a lot about obedience and the blessings you get from that and Sister Johnson and I felt really guilty about pushing snooze. Today I did not push snooze and I AM NOT TIRED. We are so blessed when we follow Jesus Christ. My faith was strengthened today. We get to teach a real investigator today, not our teacher (one third of them are actual investigators and not members acting). Her name is Kristen and we have had amazing lessons with her! The Spirit is so strong and we have made her tear up and things like that. She had grown up living with a family that is lds, but doesn't know why we do all of the little things. She doesn't want it to control her life. Sister Johnson and I focused on the Atonement with her. I told her that everything that Christ has done for us is for our benefit. At the end of the lesson she told us that she needs to reevaluate everything and she really likes what we said. I asked her if she came to know that these things are true if she would get baptized and she said yes! Best feeling ever!

Today we taught Kristen again. We are also teaching Tom who doesn't really know anything about our religion so it is fun teaching him. We had a Devotional by Gregory A. Schwitzer of the seventy which was pretty cool!
Everything in this gospel is learned through action. It was more about following the commandments and how to teach that.
Following the commandments shouldn't just be something I do, it should be who I am. 

I know that this email is really long, but I just wanted to tell you all the good things, and seriously there are so many. Next time it will be shorter I promise. I just got caught up telling you everything. Thank you so much for the letters and emails I got this last week. You have no idea how much they helped me. I am always find myself looking down at my name tag reminding myself that I am a missionary. I have always loved seeing the missionaries and now I finally am one! I know that this is what Christ wants me to do right now. The feelings that I have felt this past week testify of that. I love this Gospel with all of my heart. I know that these investigators might not be real, but seeing them change and feel the Spirit and accept our invitations, has made me such a happy person. This truly is the Lord work. I see miracles every day in myself and in others. I love my Savior Jesus Christ with all of my heart. I would not be here without Him, and I cannot do this mission without Him either. He is in every part of the work. The Atonement is so real. I love missionary work and am so blessed to be a missionary.

All my love, 

Sister Ruffner

Story behind the stuffed dog: We went to lunch at Kneaders right before we took her to the MTC and her dad bought this for her and told her this will remind her of all the wienies (her family) she left at home. Lol.  

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