Saturday, April 30, 2016

Last Week In the MTC

Week #6

You know you're in the MTC when the first thing 400 sister missionaries think of is to kneel on the ground and pray.

It's been another fast week and I feel like I emailed yesterday. We've mostly been focusing on Spanish in our classes. Most of our investigators are done, but we do have one more lesson tonight. Hermana Clausen left this morning and Hermana Swapp leaves Monday so I'm not entirely sure what is going to happen to me.

The fire alarms have gone off three times since I got here. Once, the first day I got here, once, a false alarm on my second week, and Thursday night. I live in the biggest residence hall on campus and there are always so many sister's around, but I never saw them all in one place until Thursday night. The sisters in my Zone were all in my room having a spiritual thought and the fire alarm went off. We went out in the hall and sisters were running all over (some screaming). We made it outside and it was so chaotic. We all got a safe distance away and knelt down and prayed. It was such a powerful experience. 400 sisters kneeling on the cement at 10:30. We sang hymns (The Spirit of God, like a fire is burning) and waited for it to all get figured out. It was just a microwave, but the 3rd floor was full of smoke and all of the windows don't open so we had to stay outside for awhile. Even though nothing was really damaged, it made me think. Some of the sisters were really freaking out/traumatized, but our first instinct was to pray. I don't think that 6 weeks ago that would have been my first thought. 

I've changed so much since I have been here. I can't quite put it into words. There is physical evidence (bruised/calloused knees) and spiritual evidence. My testimony has grown so much. I think of new questions everyday and find the answers in the Book of Mormon and in our lessons with investigators. I feel like I learn more for myself in those lessons than the investigators do. We had In-Field Orientation yesterday and we talked a lot about the purpose as missionaries.

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.

It's still not quite real to me that I am leaving Wednesday. I don't feel prepared, but I know that there is only so much I can do here to prepare. I need to actually get to Oregon before I can start fufilling my purpose.

We have been super lucky. We were told that Apostles only visit the MTC and give a devotional 4 times a year and we have been blessed enough to be here for 2 of them. Easter with Elder Ballard, and Elder Oaks came on Tuesday. He talked a lot about Preach My Gospel and how it can help us so much on our missions. One quote he shared that really stood out to me was

"Do your best, your very, very best. Say your prayers and work hard and leave the harvest to the Lord."

That is actually a quote from President Hinkley, but I feel like it really applies to me. As long as I am doing my best, I am doing everything that the Lord expects of me. He will do the rest because this is his mission, not mine. I'm not here for a vacation. I'm not here for a break from "real life". I am on a mission to do my father's work.

I love you all,
Hermana Dickson

Last picture of the trio.  
Last visit to the temple.

Hermana Swapp and I at the temple this morning. 

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Nearer My God to Thee

Week #5

You know you're in the MTC when…

This week has gone by so fast. I don't even know what to type because I feel like I emailed yesterday. They really keep us busy here. We teach so many lessons a day. and don't have any spare time. I haven't prepared the music for tomorrow's Sacrament meeting yet... Oops.

I was called as a Sister Training Leader for the new districts. (Well Sister Dickerson was. They never get my name right. I'm either Elder Dickson or Hermana Dickerson. :) It's okay though.) It has been a really good experience so far. We get to meet the new sisters and help them adjust. Our relationship with our Sister Training Leaders wasn't very good and we don't want it to be the same for the new sisters so we decided to share a thought and pray every night with all of the sisters in our Zone. It was really an inspired idea. We have all grown so close and grown together spiritually. It's wonderful to hear the stories of how we all got to where we are in our lives. The new Sisters are Sister Mcphie (Washington, Vancouver), Sister Anderson (Arizona, Gilbert), Sister Greenlaw (Illinois, Chicago West), and Sister Jones (Nicaragua). The Elders are Elder Noyes, Elder Tyler, and Elder Mammott (all going to Nicaragua). Hopefully we get another district this next week as well.

This week was full of familiar faces. The BYU Mens Chorus came and sang on Sunday and I saw Tanner Hafen, Sister Emily Olsen is here, my long lost cousin Sister Jessica Steinagel (3rd cousins), and I have seen Elder Jonathon Stucki multiple times. It's so nice to see people that I know. I didn't get any pictures with them this week, but I will try to get some before I leave.

Music has saved me this week. I play piano in Sacrament meeting and sing at devotionals. I was invited to sing for the Branch Presidencies last week and one of the sisters recorded it and sent it to my parents. I was asked to sing again at the departing devotional this Sunday and I can't wait. Music gives me peace and a break from the craziness of the schedule here. I've talked my companions into singing tomorrow in Sacrament meeting with me and even though they aren't super excited about it, I am. I loved the Devotional last week with the BYU choir. The Spirit was so strong. They sang some very beautiful and inspiring songs. Believe it or not, they sang "I Can Go The Distance" from the Disney Hercules. I've never really listed to the lyrics, but it was really applicable to a mission. 

Music is such a blessing in my life and I have such a strong testimony about it. God created everything for his children, including music. I remember struggling to focus in Sacrament meeting when I was younger and I would pull out the Hymn book and read the words. They are scripture and are inspired. This last week I couldn't sleep and I was upset. I knelt down to pray, but couldn't get any words out. I started singing a hymn on my knees and felt such comfort and peace. I was finally able to calm down and fall asleep.

"Nearer My God to Thee". That's all I wanted, to feel closer to him and to feel his love and support in my struggles. We all come closer to Christ in different ways. For me, it is music.

I hope you are all doing well and are coming closer to Christ in your own way.

I love you all,
Hermana Dickson

The Hermanas in the Zone.

We decorated the new Hermanas' door. I made the dresses because I'm super cool.

The Elders in the Zone

Hermana Anderson, Hermana Greenlaw, and Hermana Dickson

The Zone 

The Companionship

Monday, April 18, 2016

Touch My Soul and Make Me Whole

It's always great when you receive a random email from a stranger with a recording of Sister Dickson using one of her many talents and sharing her testimony through music.

We assume Sister Dickson sang this song in Sacrament Meeting yesterday.


Saturday, April 16, 2016

The Worth of a Soul

Week #4

You know you're in the MTC when your knees are bruised from praying.

My knees are purple. It's been a hard week. Remember how I said the MTC is like church Disneyland? Well its definitely been a roller-coaster this week.

Wednesday I got a new companion. We found out about her the night before she got here and the Branch President gave us her picture and said "So who is her companion? You have 40 minutes to let me know" and he walked out of the room. We were all super nervous, but I knew that we needed to be companions. Hermana Clausen is amazing. She has already helped me with my Spanish so much! I was scared because we had finally figured out the trio companionship and we didn't want to have to adjust. BUT I didn't have anything to worry about. We adjusted quickly and on her first whole day here we taught 4 investigators. Talk about throwing her straight into it. It was a little stressful. Yesterday Hermana Tracy went home. She has been so sick and not been able to eat and keep anything down. I miss her so much, but I know that she needs to get better so that she can serve the Lord with her all. I pray she gets better soon.

Less than two days being in a companionship with Hermana Clausen and we are back in a trio with Hermana Swapp. Yet another adjustment. We've all been super emotional the last few days, but the Temple this morning was amazing and I know we are all where we need to be.

Being in three different companionships in a week has taught me about the worth of a soul. We are all different and each companionship will be different out on my mission. Every person is worth so much to our Heavenly Father. I've learned the worth of my soul here at the MTC. It's personal, but I feel like I need to share it. Two weeks before my mission I was shopping for clothes. It was really hard to find clothes that fit me modestly and weren't a fortune. I remember standing in a dressing room with a three sided mirror in my work clothes. I had just tried on so many clothes and nothing had worked. I started crying. I was frustrated and I felt so ugly. I didn't think it was worth it to keep trying. I was tired. I struggled every day before I got to the MTC. The first Sunday I was here was Easter. We had been running around all day. I walked by a mirror and I smiled. My hair was crazy, my make-up worn off and I was exhausted. I smiled because I am beautiful. I am worth so much to my Father in Heaven and I have so many people who love me. The Spirit is so strong here. You can not deny it. "Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God"(D&C 18:10). One of my teachers told me that we can not know the worth of souls without first knowing our own.

In one of my prayers at the beginning of the week I prayed to be able to see God's hand in my life. I know he is helping constantly, but I wanted to be able to learn to recognize and appreciate his help. This week was the hardest one yet, but I saw his power in my life more than I have before.

God is almighty. He has power enough to move mountains, power enough to create a world for his children. He has power enough to give us strength and to bless our families. God has the power to calm the anxious and comfort the lost. His power is limitless, but there is one thing he will not use his power for. He gave us our agency and he will not take it away. We have to choose to open our hearts to him and if we do, he can truly show us his unconditional love. We have to give him that power.

I know that he is using his power to help me. As he helps me prepare in the MTC, I know that he is also preparing the people that I will meet in Oregon. They are being prepared to hear the truth.

I have seen Gods power in my life and in my companions' lives. I see it everyday. Pray to see God in your life and you will be witness to miracles. I know this to be true. 

I love you all,

Hermana Dickson

My new companion Sister Clausen. 

Saturday, April 9, 2016

The Gift of Tongues, Vocal Point, and Answered Prayers

Week #3

You know you're in the MTC (and still learning a new language) when you accidentally tell your investigator that Jesus Christ is the Father and the Son. . .

Seriously though. This Spanish thing is hard. So much, all day, every day. BUT I'm getting better every day. The gift of tongues is very real. So much has happened this week that I don't know where to start. General Conference was amazing! I hope you all watched at least parts of it. Maybe its because I'm in such an uplifting/spiritual place, but every talk somehow applied to me. You all know how important music is to me so "Come thou Font" was my favorite part :) I just could feel the spirit so strongly. The only thing that was hard about conference was that I was literally sitting and staring at a TV all day. 2 sessions of conference and Women's conference on Saturday and then on Sunday we had the 2 sessions, a devotional, and videos (which are other devotionals that are recorded). The chairs are so uncomfortable! We also had meetings about each session/devotional after each one so lots of sitting. Another cool thing this week is that we had a topping off ceremony for the new MTC building being built and we got to sign the beams.

Speaking of devotionals, Vocal Point came and gave one this week. They sang songs (obviously) and each told stories about their missions. It was a super cool experience. During another devotional this week we had a bat flying around inside the building while the speaker was talking. Everyone was already distracted so the cameras started following it around instead of focusing on the speaker. The MTC is definitely a unique place.

I got to host this week. It's kind of an interesting experience. It's weird to think that I was getting dropped off only 2 and a half weeks ago. I got to bring new sisters in and help them get situated. So many tears! I really loved it though. I think I get to do it again this week. I met a sister going to serve in the St George Temple Visitor Center. She is from France and will be speaking French, but keep a look out for her. It was fun to tell her about St George.

Music, music, music. Even though we aren't allowed to listen to music in our classrooms or dorms, it is still all around me. I am music coordinator and so I am supposed to get someone to play piano for church and set up musical numbers, but I am the only music person. I had to learn some hymns really quickly. I know the Lord is helping me though because I don't have any time to practice and I was able to learn songs quickly. I also auditioned to sing at a devotional soon. We'll see when that happens, but I am super excited. Sister de Souza is playing piano for me and we both find any excuse we can to go play/sing. It is a nice break from Spanish. Sister de Souza is definitely a blessing. I've been struggling with my district and having a friend outside of it is so helpful. I'm so glad I met her. I'm sad that she won't be here much longer, but for now we get to be friends. It's nice to be around someone who loves music as much as I do. She is from Canada and going to Belgium in a couple of weeks. 

I'm running out of time, but thank you so much for the Dear Elders that you sent. I really do love hearing about your lives.
I love you all,
Hermana Dickson

Our cute mission shirts.

Getting ready to host

Our names and missions on the beam of the new MTC building.

This is my new missionary dot. It lets everyone know that you just arrived.
I stuck mine on the back of my name tag with the date I got to the MTC. 

My schedule and my name tag. 

This is the sister going to the St. George Visitor's Center. Sister Royer I think. 

Saturday, April 2, 2016

"I love the MTC. It's hard, but so amazing."

Week #2

You know you're in the MTC when the fire alarm goes off just to tell you "Sisters, there is a man in the building, there is a MAN in the building"!

To quote my companion: "This place is like church Disneyland"! I love the MTC. It's hard, but so amazing. The schedule today is super wack because of General Conference so I don't really have a PDay. So I have to type really fast, forgive me if my words are jumbled.

So much Spanish! They really cram the language into you. The teachers will not speak English! It's amazing how much I've learned, but the expectations are so high. I can understand a good amount when people are talking to me, but speaking Spanish is a whole other story. I am way behind the rest of my district. Like me, they all studied Spanish in school. Unlike me, they actually retained what they had studied. All I remember is Pinatas... BUT being behind everyone else motivates me. I bring at least one book back to our dorm and study (which we really aren't supposed to do). I know I shouldn't compare myself to the rest of my district, but I just want to catch up. It really is amazing how much I have learned though. Only 5 more weeks before they throw me out into the real world.

Our Investigator this last week was Mayra. They really throw you to the sharks that first day. We are expected to go in and teach in Spanish before even learning much at all. It was hard. I only recognize a few words and so by the time I figure out what she has said, they (my very capable companions) have already moved on to something else. I finally got more involved by the 3rd lesson, but it is still hard. We re-met Mayra yesterday as our new teacher Hermana Lister. She is amazing and makes learning Spanish so much fun. We were talking about a scripture and she said "Pide pan" Which means "He asks for bread", and I just sat there trying to figure out how Peter Pan came into the lesson. We laughed way too hard about that one. My other teachers are Hermana Bradshaw and Hermano Corbin. They are awesome as well.

The food is still making me sick. My mailing address is 
Sister Lauren Elizabeth Dickson
2005 N 900 E Unit  211
Provo UT 84602
... Hint hint...
Also, my body is super sore because one of the elders in my district is a marine and apparently we all joined "boot camp" this week so that's cool. Speaking of my district, I love them. We are already like a family. Elder Moore is from Canada and he said that he met Amy! He is headed to Georgia (Belen...). Elder Haight is from Redlands California (Myia) and he is going to Nebraska. Elder Flores is headed to Fresno California and is from Utah. My companions and I are all from Utah and are headed to Kentucky (Hermana Swapp), San Diego (Hermana Tracy), and Oregon (me obviously). I'm a little sad that we are all splitting up when we leave the MTC, but something neat is that none of us were planning on missions a year ago. A whole district wouldn't be here if we all hadn't changed our minds.

Our zone is super small, only one other district so that means that we have to have a talk ready every Sunday and "Elder Dickson" has been called as the music coordinator... I'm freaking out because I have to learn a bunch of hymns to play in church, but there is no time to practice. Speaking of time, every minute of my life is scheduled.

Wake up at 6 (or 6:30 if we are tired)
Class at 7
30 minute breakfast
Back to class until
40 minute lunch
Back to class
50 minute dinner
back to class

Over 16 hours of go go go. Add an hour of "boot camp" into there and I am tired. A couple of nights ago I fell asleep while studying, woke up and then fell asleep while praying. Woke up and crawled into bed and my companions said that I said "Buenos Noches" and immediately started snoring. How embarrassing, but boy am I tired. Easter Devotional was amazing. Elder Ballard came and spoke and we got to sing in the MTC choir even though we were newbies. My Zone is what is called a "choir zone". We are required to go sing in the choir (no complaints from me). It is amazing. The conductor tells us stories and teaches a small lesson in between verses. I LOVE that we get to attend the temple each Saturday. The peace that is felt there is amazing.

Sorry this is so long and gold star to anyone who actually reads the whole thing. I just have so much to share. Only being able to email once a week is hard. Letters are better than emails. I can read and send them every day (hint hint).

I love you all,
Hermana Dickson

Hermana Tracy, Hermana Swapp, and Hermana Dickson studying our lives away.

Ignore my awkward face, but Oregon! 

Elder Moore, Elder Flores, and Elder Haight