Monday, October 28, 2013

Companion Loss Grief Syndrome

This week has been up and down and kinda all over the place. Saying goodbye to Hermana Zapata was hard and I miss her a ton! I'm officially in a trio. Hnas Buno and Stradling have been really nice about it so it's honestly not as bad as I was expecting. But it is more difficult to coordinate 3 people's wants and needs and ideas than 2 for sure. But it's good! Teaching is easier mostly because you have an extra person to stare at until they start talking when you run out of things to say!

In Relief Society each week we have a guest speaker so no we don't use the manual, and yes the devotional from Elder Oaks was broadcast to all the MTC's in the world! Yes I'm in choir for each one cause it's the best and you just show up to practice, and actually apparently they panned across me singing during the Elder Oaks devotional so Jason in Mexico might have seen me. 

There’s not a point where we're not allowed to speak English but our teachers are telling us we need to speak if more because the hardest part is forcing yourself to use it when English just comes out so much easier.

We're officially moving tomorrow! Which means I have to pack everything today, yay. We're all pretty excited for a change of scenery though! I checked today and they said mail sent to my current address will forward so whatever.

I have a new found testimony of gym-time (yes I just said that). One of the days this week was just so hard and hna stradling and I were so frustrated and overwhelmed so we sprinted on ellipticals next to each other and ranted and it felt soo good. I really like her, she's the hermana here I can be the most 'real' with, if that makes sense. 

Also this week was our first week in the TRC (teaching resource center) which was AMAZING!!! We shared a message about God's love to people (who were being themselves, not investigators) and like everyone started crying basically and the spirit was so strong. So that was awesome and then during music and the spoken word they were going across the aisle of men in the choir singing and we were like WAIT that's the man we taught!!! hahaha so we taught a lesson to a member of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir! in which he cried. Not that that's the ultimate goal, but still. :)

love you all a ton!!! Also sorry this letter isn't very spiritual, we've had some amazing talks and experiences I promise!! This is definitely Christ's church on the earth and I can see His hand in it everyday.

lots of love,

Hermana Rawlins

me and hermana zapata before she left!

new companionship!!

me and my mole day package!! let's not talk about how chubby i look the mtc diet is killer

My outfit when hermana buno told me i could totally pull off being at hogwarts - probably the best compliment I've gotten in my whole life :)

me and hna sparacino from efy (especially for youth)

Monday, October 21, 2013

In the Swing of Things

It's so good to hear from all of you!

I'm doing well here!! I've gotten more into the swing of things and am still loving it! The worst thing right now is that Hermana Zapata is leaving early tomorrow morning so I have to say goodbye to her and get put in a trio. We're really really going to miss each other and so it's hard saying goodbye because she's just the best. It's crazy how much you can love someone after only 12 days (It's really only been 12 days?!?!)

Elder Oaks was the speaker for the devotional on Tuesday and the best part was feeling a rush of the Spirit as soon as he walked into the room. The Spirit here is just so so incredible. 

It's official that we're moving to another MTC campus, I think next week. Apparently there are some pros and cons to the different campus so it'll be interesting to see how it is! One of the cons being that 12 girls are in the same apartment sharing 2 bathrooms. But I'm happy here and loving it so it's all good! It doesn't sound like my address will change but I'm not sure.

This week we start teaching 2 new 'investigators' and that's still the most stressful thing for me with Spanish so that should be interesting! Also the past couple days I've been nicely reminded that almost all of the Elders here are 18. And I don't necessarily like the way they go about doing some things. But then I was like "wait, compared to all of the other 18 guys on the planet it's really really amazing that they're here". Mostly just working with people in general is hard sometimes cause I like my way and I think it's a good way hahaha :) *but I do have to include an exception to that about the Elders in my district because they're all super mature and amazing and we hermanas are really spoiled having them around.

No word on visas yet! Sounds like I'm in pretty good shape with mine though because two missionaries in my district haven't even mailed theirs in yet (what?!). So yeah I'm not too worried about that.

Have you guys watched the new Mormon message God's greatest creation? It's my favorite thing ever. Watch it!! Also we watched President Uchtdorf's quote about creation and talked about how the more we rely on the Spirit, the greater our capacity to create things. Not necessarily crafts and stuff, but like smiles and good relationships and testimonies. Creativity is the capacity to change-- Creation is improvement. And so as we let the Gospel work in our lives, we are improving and creating better versions of ourselves.

I love you all and I love this work and I pray for you every time I say a prayer! Cause familia is a super easy word to remember :)

Lots of love,

Hermana Rawlins

Friday, October 18, 2013

Learning and Laughing

Hello family!

It sounds like you guys are all doing so well! Elisa asked if I get dear elder's ( letters) on the same day. It depends. They're not delivered over the weekends, and I only get mail when my district leader checks it. Which is after lunch & dinner, but dear elders basically only show up in the mailboxes for his dinnertime check. And sometimes he forgets, like I don't think he checked yesterday. So long story short I'll usually get them the night you mail them. I have like zero time to write letters so sorry for lumping all you into a mass letter but I figure it's better than nothing!

Dad, Sunday was the best! The devotional speaker was Brother Heaton, the administrative director of the MTC and he talked all about the Holy Ghost. And choir is the greatest. Yesterday we sang for Elder Oaks!! Hna. Zapata's understands pretty much everything but has a hard time forming sentences like me. But we make a pretty good team because she knows what's going on and I have a better memorized vocab so we help each other out. I love her so much! Teaching together in Spanish is scary but we manage with the Spirit. It's so amazing to see that working. It doesn't make us perfect speakers (darn) but we are given what to say in the moment, enough to get the message across.

The first time we taught I got stuck trying to say "remember how you feel when you pray" and then all of a sudden I was saying "what is in your heart when you pray". So that's how the Spirit's been working for me, breaking things down into simpler ideas. We really like singing to our investigator (she's really our teacher just getting to know us through our teaching), so we've done that a few times & it really brings the Spirit. Music is the best!

The devotional from Elder Oaks was amazing! Sister Oaks spoke first and she said, "It is your time. It is your test, and it will be your triumph." She also said to keep our promises & find the people we promised to find before we came here. Then Elder Oaks spoke & it was actually really interesting what he spoke about. He identified 3 things that make this church the only true & living church on earth. Because Christ has given us:
1. The fullness of His doctrine
2. The power of His priesthood
3. Our unique testimony of Christ.

He said that the declaration from God during the First Vision condemned the creeds of other religions but NOT their faithful seekers. God has given us nothing that should make us arrogant or superior to other churches. But we do have the fullness of Christ’s doctrine, and this church is LIVING because of a prophet who continues to communicate with the Lord. So our invitation is “come & see how we can add to your truth.”

NOOO I just found out that Hna. Zapata got her visa & is leaving on Tues. Estámos muy tristes. It’s amazing how much you can love someone after only knowing them for a week. To do Anne of Green Gables proud, we’re definitely kindred spirits. I’m going to miss her a ton. Today we taught a lesson & she wanted to start with a joke, so she tried & accidentally asked the investigator “Why did you die?” We laughed for like 5 minutes with the investigator before we could finally keep a straight face to say the opening prayer. It feels good to not take yourself too seriously. 

Oh Alli I really hope you’re saving these letters because I want them when I’m back por favor. It’s pretty much write you guys letters or write in my journal so in an effort to keep you updated my journal is lacking. It’s actually really hard to find time to write letters & still be invested in the work, so please be patient with me!

Yes Mom, my schedule is very full! During gym time me & the hermanas like to go out to the field & play fútbol, or when the field’s frozen sand volleyball, which is actually pretty funny when it’s freezing. We also like to go to the indoor gym & play volleyball with the guys in our district. All of the sisters in my district are in the same dorm room, but it’s not too bad crowded-wise. We’re basically never in our room except to sleep. I should ask you guys to pray for things more often, because I’m feeling so much better! íGracias!  I have tons to study so I’m going to go but I love you all mucho! I miss you guys but I know I’m exactly where I need to be and I love it!

Mucho Amor,
Hermana Rawlins

P.S. Pray for me as Hna. Zapata leaves because I really don’t want to be in a trio but I will be. 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

In Good Hands

We woke up this morning to a surprise email from Amanda’s Branch President at the MTC. We’re grateful to know she is in good hands! 
Thank you for sharing your daughter with us. She's amazing! We just love her. We'll take good care of her.


Brother and Sister Price

Monday, October 14, 2013

Loving the MTC

I love it here!!! Like so much. The Spirit is amazing. I love how even when you're overwhelmed or stressed if you just stop and take a breath the Spirit is instantly back with you! 
Okay I made a list of things to tell you so I'm going to try to go fast through it. 

Thanks for the dearelders and the package! Getting mail is the best feeling and brightens every day. Sorry in advance if I don't respond to every question, just ask me again. 

Mi companera is amazing!! I love her so much and we were basically instant friends. Her name's Hermana Zapata, she's from Chicago, is 20 and did two years at BYUI before she left. She's going to Bolivia Santa Cruz and so we're sad that we won't be together for our missions. She cracks me up and we have so much fun together, but then can turn around and say a prayer and the Spirit is instantly there. I feel so blessed to start off my mission with such an amazing companion. My district has 10 people (I think) and we're all kinda going all over. Elder Prince is the only one going to Posadas with me from my district, and actually the only person who seems to have heard of Posadas here at all. So dad no, I haven't heard much about my mission here at all. Apparently the majority of the Spanish districts are in Provo West and there's a chance that we'll get moved over there at the end of the month, so maybe I'll meet some hermanas heading to posadas there! Hopefully. 

Hna. Brotherson in my district saw my nametag and immediately said "my aunt works with your aunt Carrie in the timpanogas district! She told me to watch out for you!" Also Hna. Sparacino is her companion and I went to EFY (Especially for Youth ) with her at SVU (Southern Virginia University). Fun coincedences. Oh no I already can't spell English words.
I officially think in Spanglish! That's the hardest part right now, teaching in Spanish is very frustrating. To only half-understand what they're saying their problem is and then to only know how to say "God loves you" back is hard. But considering I couldn't form sentences a week ago, I'm trying to be patient with myself but also force myself to learn it. It's a weird balance. 

Mom, yes they put my tag on me right away and yes I love wearing it!! My new favorite accessory. Although let's be honest it doesn't have much competition.

Here at the MTC it is apparently normal to walk into Relief Society and see that Sister Bonnie Oscarson, the YW (Young Women’s) General President, is giving the lesson for today. It was super great!! She talked about how in Jacob 5 when they call more servants to the vineyard is our day. Also everyone's a buzz because this next Tuesday's devotional is being broadcast to all the MTC's which means it's supposed to be a pretty cool speaker. We made it a point to be in choir so we could be in the same room as the speaker and we're singing a great version of Praise to the Man. So I'm really excited for that!!

Oh I love everything here but the food. It tastes good but doesn't sit well at all. So I usually just feel pretty sickish, and have broken into my supply of pepto. Prayers for health would be appreciated! Especially cause I'm still just in provo oh dear.

One thing I forgot to do is waterproof my shoes before I left, specifically the leathery ones. The missionaries here were talking about like a beeswax substance you can rub on them to do it, can you guys look into that for me?

I love you all so much!! I love what I'm doing right now, it feels so so good. I know that our Savior makes any problem or challenge possible through His infinite love and Atonement and I am so grateful for that knowledge in my life.

Hermana Rawlins

p.s. I'll send pictures!

me and hna. zapata

I think this is her reaction to receiving a package

us and good ol' Samuel Smith

ok this tree actually smells like cream soda everyone's telling the truth

the district

Saturday, October 12, 2013

First Day!!

On Friday Amanda’s twin, Allison received a letter in the mail from Amanda that she’d written after her first day at the Missionary Training Center (MTC). We loved hearing from her and she sounds like she is doing really well!


I’m writing this super quick before I have to go to bed, but I just wanted to tell you that I’m doing really well! After you dropped me off I went and got my name badge, yay! I love wearing it so much. Then I went and they gave me a HUGE bag of books. Sidenote: They gave all of us going out of the country the Seychelle water bottle that I had already bought – boo-yah. 

Then I went to my classroom and met my teacher, but I only remember one of their names – Hermano Angel. Dad, when he was telling about himself he used “mudarse” and then asked who knew what it meant, and I was like I do! Only because we studied together too J He’s super cool, I can understand his Spanish cause he sounds like Dad, and he talked about how he really feels strongly that his job is to make sure we feel the love of the Lord and are happy as we work hard. 

Then we had dinner and did this teaching experience thing where we (like 30 of us) say and tried to collectively teach 3 different people. It was hard and really showed that as much as you can talk about doctrine and facts and stuff, you end up going in circles until you invite them to come to Christ. He is the only way to salvation and He is the only way to do effective missionary work. 

My companion is Hermana Zapata and she is SO sweet. The two things she says most often are “that is so cool” and “I am so sorry” in a total sister missionary voice. I love it. J She’s going to Bolivia Santa Cruz and was called to the Peru MTC (Missionary Training Center) and then reassigned to the Columbia MTC and then on Friday was told to go to Provo! But the Columbia MTC still wants her to come so if she gets her visa (meaning if the govt. starts back up) she’ll leave to go there and I’ll be most likely in a tri-panionship. Noooo. So here’s hoping she stays cause we really like each other. Her dad’s from Chile, Dad! 

I love my district and zone leaders and everyone so far! I love it here. It’s hard and intense but it feels so good. K I’m out of time. I love you all a ton! My p-day (preparation day) is on Monday so I’ll email then!


Hermana Rawlins 

She's off!!

Amanda flew out from Philadelphia early Tuesday morning after lots of hugs and tears from the family here.

She was able to spend Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday morning with her grandparents and twin sister in Utah before reporting to the Missionary Training Center (MTC) for six weeks before heading down to Argentina.

Though we've all cried and still will when we miss her, we know she is serving the Lord Jesus Christ and sharing His love and His gospel with the people of Argentina and Paraguay. We know that He will protect her and watch over her while she is far away from us. She is doing His work and will be in His care.

On a lighter note, before leaving, Amanda had me sign a contract regarding use of her blog and Facebook. For your reference (and amusement) below are some of my instructions.
  • It is up to Emily's discretion to edit out or explain certain parts of each email. Amanda would like the blog to be honest, but also for people to still like her when she gets back. 
  • If Emily does make comments, please make sure they are distinguishable. (My words /edits will be in green)
  • Emily is welcome to post things not directly related to an email from Amanda, but still relevant. For example, pictures from a wedding with Amanda's head on a popsicle stick, selections of hand-written letters Amanda sends, pictures and stories from skyping, etc.
  • All first names MUST be shortened to one initial for privacy. This is church policy. (ex: Pedro is referred to in all blog posts as P)  However, this is not necessary for companion's last names.
  • Links to Amanda's blog are to be posted occasionally to Amanda's facebook. However, Amanda thinks every week is annoying. She suggests every other week, unless something super exciting happens
  • I would also like to add that Emily is under no obligation to translate any Spanish Amanda may use in her letters because that would be a disaster for everyone
And most importantly,
  • Emily is the best sister ever for loving Amanda enough to upkeep her missionary blog for 18 straight months. 

You’re welcome to comment here and on her Facebook in response to her letters. She will not see those comments, but if you say something like “Tell Amanda…” then I’ll do my best to put it in my emails to her.

She loves you all and appreciates all your thoughts and prayers.
 - Emily 

Friday, October 4, 2013

Why I'm going

I never really thought I would go on a mission. My church sends missionaries all over the world, not just to third-world countries -- because really we could all use a little help. So I grew up watching the local missionaries; I always liked them but never really thought I would be one. It was always a decision for much farther in the future, one which quite frankly I was afraid to think about, afraid to think about sacrificing all I knew and loved. That is until a year ago, when the eligible age for girls was changed to 19. All of a sudden I realized I could go, and soon. I was SO happy the day it was announced. Like SO happy. And I didn't even know why. I just thought to myself "I could go" over and over again, with a big cheesy grin on my face. I thought about it for about a month, and then I prayed. I told God I couldn't think of a reason to not go, and asked if that was what He wanted me to do with the next 18 months of my life. And He answered me, incredibly clearly, yes. As soon as I finished my prayer my heart was immediately filled with such peace and love and happiness that I couldn't deny I had received an answer.
And so that is why I'm going.

Because I know that God loves us infinitely and perfectly.
Because I know that He listens to and answers our prayers.
Because I know that He will direct our lives to great and marvelous things if we let Him.
Because I know that He sent His Son Jesus Christ to Earth to provide us a way back.
Because I know that Christ's church was restored again on the earth through Joseph Smith.
Because I know that the Book of Mormon testifies of Christ as our Savior, just like the Bible.
Because I know that Christ's church today is led by a living prophet, just like in biblical times.
Because I know that my faith in Him gives me power to overcome anything.
Because I know.

I've been assigned to serve in the Argentina Posadas mission. It includes the city of Posadas and the surrounding area of Argentina, as well as the bordering area of Paraguay. I'll first be at a training center for 6 weeks where I'll study Spanish, the culture, and how to teach people. Then I'll go to my assigned area, most likely suffer from culture-and-language-shock :), and start working to help people strengthen their faith and find peace and joy in life. Because I'll have limited time to keep in touch via email, my lovely sister Emily will be in charge of updating this blog with my weekly emails to my family. Written letters are encouraged and will be cherished. :)

I am fully expecting this to be the hardest thing I have yet done in my life.
I am also fully expecting it to be the most rewarding.

I'll be voluntarily sacrificing everything that is familiar and comfortable for the desire to simply make others happier, because I know that's what Jesus Christ would do. So here I go!!

Oh Savior if Thou wilt be my guide
though dark and rugged the way,
My voice shall echo the message sweet,
I'll say what You want me to say.
So trusting my all to Thy tender care 
and knowing Thou lovest me,
I'll do Thy will with a heart sincere,
I'll be what you want me to be.