Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Work is Pressing Forward, and I am a Part of it!!!

Hello family! How are you all? I am so so so great!

Things are amazing in the MTC. I've learned loads and had many wonderful experiences here. I'll try to give a good overview of the week.

We got our travel plans! We fly out on Tuesday, Oct. 6 (leaving the MTC at 5am), have a 5 hour layover in Texas (I'm sure we'll have missionary opportunities!!) and then we'll be in Guatemala! I'm very excited, although it's a little strange to be already leaving the Provo MTC. People who have been here a while are jealous that we're leaving already. I hope we get paired with native companions so we can really be forced to excel in the language, but if we keep our current companions, I'm sure it will be wonderful still. I've heard rumors from the Dominican Republic MTC that the time we would use here in Provo to meet with volunteers pretending to be investigators and teaching them is used to actually contact real people in parks or nearby the MTC! I wonder if it'll be the same in Guatemala. I haven't heard anything for sure, I guess I'll find out soon enough. Also, there's a temple in Guatemala City. Wooo!

Que mas... I had a great experience during personal study this week. I read Mosiah chapters 22 through 24, about the people of Limhi vs. the people of Alma, both having similar experiences but one group relying no their own brains and brawn and the others relying on the Lord. It applies to all of us, but forgive me as I apply it to me here at the MTC. We're all here going to the same classes, having the same schedules, hearing the same things in devotionals, etc. We can rely on our own knowledge of the gospel and handle our burdens on our own (tried that... it was hard and miserable) or we can be faithful and trust in the Lord, and He will make our burdens lighter so we can cheerfully serve Him, and even enjoy His miracles! I feel like everyone here at the MTC has challenges, but I want to be like many I've seen here: one to lift others and cheerfully, humbly learn from the things that are hard here.

There are are so many resources available to us here! I feel like my companion and I are spending our time pretty well. During MDT (Missionary Directed Time) we often go to the TE (Barney told me to do this, remember? :) ) and get help with teaching styles or language learning planning, etc. I've been amazed that I'm not tired and I'm able to do so much in a day. I hope that after my mission I can be dedicated to using my time wisely, and I think I'll do better in school when I get home if I can keep this as a good habit.

The language.... I'm not being super stretched still. I'm trying to learn extra during language study time, but in class I'm still a little bored. It's a good review, but definitely not challenging for me. On Sunday I shared my testimony in Spanish with my branch. I was surprised how easy it was to really speak from my heart. I wasn't nervous (like I am when I share my testimony in front of that many people in English) and I wasn't worried, I just got up there and felt like I had the gift of tongues. I'm grateful for the Spanish I've already had, and know I still have far to go. But what a beautiful language! I love it!!!

Top 15 of the MTC
Samuel Smith statue: I love thinking of our first missionary ever and his bravery to be the first to share this gospel with the world.

Ice cream on Wednesdays and Sundays.

Singing with all the missionaries in devotionals (especially Called to Serve!). It's amazing how powerful the Spirit comes when singing in unity (or harmony, you know my bass tendencies) with so many who share my purpose and love for the gospel and the Lord.

Hearing my classmates pray in Spanish, especially when I can tell they aren't reading off of the paper anymore.

My tag!!!!!!!!!

The temple walks.

Preparation days: it's nice to communicate with ya'll and do something a little out of routine.

Seeing the Elders get hair cuts.. they are so funny looking! :D

Volleyball at Gym time -- especially with uncompetitive, fun people.

The teachers here: they love us so much and I have already learned so much about how to really be a good missionary from them.

Meeting new sisters while brushing my teeth in the bathroom. I've already had a lot of small world stories.

The Referal Center. I had a chance to talk to a Born again Christian over the phone from the Bronx and I sent her the Book of Mormon and shared my testimony of it's truthfulness. It went well. My companion talked with a woman over the phone there for about an hour and we were both REALLY excited afterwards!

OK.. so I only shared 12 things I love. But as you know, "Top 15" doesn't necessarily mean 15. I love the MTC and even more I love being a missionary. I feel so honored to have this chance. I'm doing my best yet I know I can still improve. The Spirit is guiding me to obey with exactness and be more effective all the time. How amazing this gospel is! I know we can be missionaries wherever we are! Seize the opportunity to share the gospel with all those around you, please!!

Always remember that Hermana Francis loves you.


Hermana Francis

(Sorry for the redundancy at the end there. :) )

Monday, September 21, 2009

September 21, 2009

Hello!!! It's me, your favorite Hermana Francis! I have 26 minutes and 5 seconds to write you, since I don't have any emails to read yet. So this may be the best/longest email you'll get from me.

Can you believe I'm finally a full-time missionary? I am so happy and feel so honored to wear my name tag and have such a wonderful purpose: Invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His atonement, Repentance, Baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and Enduring to the end.

In fact, I was so excited about this great experience so serve the Lord 24-7 for the next 18 months, that I slept my first night with my nametag on. :)

Wednesday was amazing. The Spirit was with me all day, and I felt happy and amazed that I could feel His influence so much. I met my companion, Hermana Story, from Liberty Utah (near Ogden). She is 22, really really athletic, loves snowmobiling, hiking, soccer, and has been sky diving 3 times!!! Wow. There are 2 other sisters in our district, Hermana Kochevar (rhymes with achiever) from Vegas, and Hermana Fuka from Salt Lake (but with Tongan ties). We're in the same room together and we have a lot of fun together. I'm in the beginning Spanish track. This worried me on Thursday and Friday, because I felt like I slipped between the cracks or something, as I was never tested to know how much Spanish I knew. People were surprised to hear me speak, and a lot of people (teachers, my Branch President, etc.) asked me why I didn't take the test. I felt out of placed, and not challenged at all, since the Spanish we were learning was very simple and slow. But don't worry, I've had other challenges. :)

Anyway, I talked to my teacher, Hermano Jimenez (from Mexico!) about it privately, and he told me since us Hermanas will only be in this MTC for 3 weeks (It's true... we're going to the Guatemala MTC on Oct. 6), that it wouldn't make sense for me to change districts and companions and everything. He said that the best way to learn is to teach, and challenged me to help Hermana Story be at my same level when we leave here. She hadn't had any Spanish before coming here, and she really has been improving a lot! It's been amazing to see what the Spirit can do.

I wish I could say that I was worried about the lack of learning in the language and being out of place for only a day or only half a day. But it consumed me, along with feeling all the differences between my companion and I, and I wasn't happy and couldn't feel the Spirit all day Thursday and Friday, and some of Saturday. That may not seem that long, but the days here (at least at first) are loooooong. I was so frustrated. I prayed a lot, but just felt hopeless. I was feeling pressured about the great responsibility I had here, and wishing I could change districts or something just so it would be easier on me. Tears happened, and the other sisters saw Hermana Grumpy Frumpy Francis.

On Saturday I got a letter from my friend Paul, and he shared 1 Ne 7:16(?) with me. It's when Nephi's brothers bind him and he prays that he can burst the bonds. He doesn't complain, he doesn't ask for the bonds to be taken away. He asks to have the strength to burst them. Paul testified of the power of the Atonement to help us through our struggles.

I knew that if I wanted to be an effective missionary (and I do!!) that I would need to have a good relationship with my companion and have the Spirit with both of us. I prayed so long and so hard on Saturday night! It was past 10:30 and the room was dark, but I knelt and prayed and prayed, grateful for the reminder that I needed to rely on the Atonement, and begging to know what to do to be happier and to obtain the Spirit again in my life. At the end of my prayer, I said, "I'll wait and listen if there is anything you would like to tell me, Heavenly Father." and closed it. Soon I thought the words "Go to bed". This made me laugh, as it surprised me. But then I remembered I need to obey with exactness, and I was out of bed after 10:30.

The next day, the power of His answer was more clear. He was telling me to trust Him, to go forward with faith, to not worry so much, and that things really would work out if I would start doing things His way. Sunday was much better, and today has been really really good. Our companionship study went well, and I know that we are friends.

Every minute is important here, and I'm tempted to feel bad for wasting so much time being unhappy and lost for the days that I felt that way. But maybe here at the Provo MTC I don't need to learn Spanish as much as learning to connect with a lot of different kinds of people, not just people similar to myself. The Spanish though, is coming too. I'm still learning a lot. We have a computer program here that helps us learn the lessons and vocab etc. in Spanish, and Hermana Kochevar showed me a way to go to the more advanced things so I wouldn't be bored. She knows quite a bit of Spanish too - she did a study abroad in Ecuador - so we help the other Hermanas along.

I'm so happy now. I have learned this week, that without the Spirit, I really am nothing. I've been able to see a lot of my weaknesses, including pride. Maybe I was spoiled by the love of all of you dear family and friends. I was just over confident, thinking I know the language (at least better than my district) and I know how to be a good missionary. Wow. These experiences really put me in my place. I have confidence that the Lord can make me a wonderful instrument, but I am never going to try without His help.

I'm learning to love my companion, I'm learning to love this work, and I already love Honduras. And I love all of you, very very much. Thank you for your support, and help. The Atonement of Jesus Christ is enabling. I am so happy to be here!

Take Care!!

Love, Hermana Francis

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Dianey's Journey Has Begun!

We received this email from the MTC Presidency, and I thought I would post it for all of you who want to write Hermana Francis with the correct mailbox number, or who are planning visits to the temple on a certain days in order to run into her.

I'll continue posting her letters and updates on this blog--for all who didn't get this message before.

-Diane's sister, Mary

We are pleased to inform you that your missionary has been safely checked in at the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah. We thank you for supporting your missionary and know that your family will be blessed as a result.

Your missionary's mailing address while at the MTC is:
Diane Francis
MTC Mailbox # 267
HON-SPS 1116
2005 N 900 E
Provo, UT 84604-1793

Please note the following items:

1. Missionary service began upon arrival. Please do not arrange or request visits with your missionary, particularly "unanticipated" meetings at the temple or in proximity to the MTC.

2. All missionary mail must come through the US Mail or commercial delivery services. Hand delivered items will NOT be accepted. Do not send pizzas, fast foods, ice-cream, or any items that will spoil if they are not refrigerated within 24 hours. Missionaries are not called out of class to receive packages, nor do they have access to a refrigerator.

3. Communicate with your missionary weekly through letters sent to the above address or through the email account that the missionary will set up within the first two weeks. Only immediate family can send to this email account. Telephone calls for missionaries cannot be accepted.

4. Families and friends should not plan to visit departing missionaries at the airport or MTC. Farewells should have been said at home before the missionary arrived at the MTC.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Can you believe I'm finally going??!?!?

Interrobang(s). The day is here. Tomorrow.

Yep. Tomorrow, so in less than 20 hours, I will be in the MTC. I'm excited, slightly nervous, and hoping I won't be this emotional during my whole mission... I've been crying over everything! But good tears, mostly. Don't worry.

I hope to receive letters from all of you. Keep me posted on life! You absolutely must send me at least one, alright? This is the easiest homework assignment! I'm giving you a span of 18 whole months to send a letter to your favorite Dianey.

My first 3 weeks (Sept. 16-Oct. 7 I think) I'll be at the Provo MTC.

Sister Diane Francis
Honduras San Pedro Sula Mission
Provo Missionary Training Center
2005 N. 900 E.
Provo UT, 84604

*Not sure about the mailbox # until I arrive at the MTC... but my sister will post it on this blog.

After that, I go to the MTC in Guatemala for... however long. Don't have the address yet. And then...

Option 1: Pouch mail
"The Church provides pouch mail service to countries where other mail service may not be reliable. Each country regulates this service differently. To prevent possible fines or discontinuation of pouch service, only postcards and letters that are single sheet, folded into three-panels, and taped at the top only (no envelopes), may be sent through the pouch."

As this may be difficult to grasp, I will show you the steps. I'm not trying to patronize... I seriously did this wrong the first time. And after seeing these instructions and how easy and rewarding it is, you'll have no excuse... you'll have to write! :)
Write a nice, newsy, uplifting letter.Fold it in thirds.
Apply one piece of scotch tape.Flip it over...(Other side. :D )Place a stamp in the corner. Liberty stamps are good... they don't require additional pennies when the prices go up. Remember, as this is pouch, no international stamp needed. See how cheap it is??! Easy.Write my address and yours, because I will write you back!
Sister Diane Francis
Honduras San Pedro Sula Mission
POB 30150
Salt Lake City, UT 84130-0150
[Don't mess up like I did. ;)]And then the long journey to the mail box...And look how happy I will be when I get your letters!!!

Option 2:Packages[hint, hint, nudge nudge, ;) ;)]

Sister Diane Francis
Honduras San Pedro Sula Mission
12 Calle, Avenida Circunvalacion, S. O.
Edif. Yude Canahuati, 3 Nivel, Oficina 4
San Pedro Sula, Cortes

Option 3: There is no other option. Write to me!!!

Also, read my emails if you want! I'll be sending them to family, and my sister will be updating this blog with them.

I love you all.

Docterine and Covenants 128:22
Brethren [and Sisteren], shall we not go on in so great a cause?

Paul Epperson Appreciation Post

You knew it was coming. It's called karma, my friend.

I could tell that we were gonna be friends...
For a long time we were just tagalongs.
But then you finally asked me out.
It still took me a long time after that to realize that you were who I should be with. I'm so happy I finally came around.

Dear Paul, Thank you...
for your example, your goodness, your friendship
for the temple trips
for the laughs
for the gospel insights and discussionsfor letting me into your life
for letting me learn how to love you.
Nos vemos.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Don't hide your light under a bushel...?

and don't hide your needles inside a pin cushion.

This morning my mom ran out of needles and needed more. Being the smart and resourceful woman that she is, instead of buying some, she decided to just cut open an old pin cushion to see how many needles had wormed their way down into the middle. She asked me how many I thought she found.

I said 6, assuming I was exaggerating like a crazy person.

How many were really in there? 43. 43!!! In a small pin cushion, the size (and style) of a tomato. If there had been one less, I think we would find that pin cushions are significant when pondering life, the universe and everything.

There were also a few pins, including one with a huge ball at its head. How did that get in there?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

It's raining cats and dogs and chickens and pigs...

I don't know if they'll really come out of the sky, but those animals commonly roam the streets that I will be walking on by December. And if it's the rainy season, it'll be raining rain. Hard. Yay Honduras! Can't wait to meet you!!!

Speaking of rain, I went to a baby shower recently, and I've been to many a bridal shower. And let me tell you, it's awesome to have a party where people come bring you gifts and money and pay you a lot of attention! So... I was thinking of throwing a missionary shower. You know... presents, money, mission advice, attention, the works.

I'm registered at the Distribution Center and Sis. Missionary Mall. ;)

Jokes. I'm not crazy enough to throw that kind of party. In reality, I leave my home in Orem in less than a week for a little jaunt down the street to live in the Provo MTC for a few weeks. Which leaves me just 6 more days to do crazy-fun things that missionaries can't do. And then I'll have 18 months to do crazy-fun things that missionaries can do. :) But... any mission advice or ideas of how to live it up these last couple of days?

I will miss you, dear readers, tremendously. Don't forget me. Write to me at least once. I'll post my address here before I go.