If Only In My Heart

la Orana Mau Hoa! Another fantastic week has gone by here at the MTC! Much has happened so I'll just go by day: Tuesday : Last w...

la Orana Mau Hoa!

Another fantastic week has gone by here at the MTC! Much has happened so I'll just go by day:

Tuesday: Last week after writing emails, Soeur S and I spend the remainder of our p-day writing some letters and cards home, as well as taking the opportunity to practice the piano. The pianos here feel like a much better quality than the ones in the dorms at college, so that's nice. Still not quite the same as my piano back home though ;) That night we had a lovely devotional from Elder Brent Nielsen of the Seventy and his wife. I was in the choir, and we sang "He Sent His Son," which you don't normally think of as a Christmas song but it really is! My favorite thought from the night was that normal people can make better missionaries than angels, because it forces people to rely on faith and gain their own testimony and conversion. On that vein, the shepherds were some of the very first missionaries after Christ's birth!

Wednesday and Thursday: The days blur together here so much that I honestly can't remember exactly what we did on Wednesday or Thursday morning other than it mostly involving a lot of studying and class time. I had a slight cold, but nothing major and I'm feeling better now. Thursday afternoon, however, class ended early because of Christmas Eve, and our afternoon/evening consisted of choir practice (it's pretty cool singing the First Noel with 700 other people), hanging out with my district (ie I was studying while we listened to Christmas music and they played card games, haha), and a Christmas Eve Nativity. I mean, Christmas Eve just isn't the same unless people dress up in bathrobes and pretend to be shepherds, is it?

Friday, or in other words JOYEUX NOEL!: Probably one of the best days so far here at the MTC. I woke up to everyone you pass saying Merry Christmas in a dozen different languages, and finally opening the stocking that my family had sent me earlier in the week. They know me well: shortbread, skittles, goldfish, and more chap stick! (Why is Utah so dry???)  After a final choir practice we had a special Christmas devotional with... Elder Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve! It was so sweet to have an Apostle come and take time out of his Christmas to be with us. He gave us all so much amazing advice! It was interesting; they passed out a bunch of cell phones (gasp!) and we all had the chance to text in questions and he would answer them from his "magic iPad" as he called it. Other MTCs around the world also had the chance to email in questions. In other words, he had no talk planned! All of it was straight from his heart! I don't have much time now to write what he said, but a lot of it involved the same ideas I shared in my last email from his talk "Character of Christ." One thought I don't think I shared though: as a missionary, investigators rarely remember what you say so much as the Spirit you bring. That brings a lot of hope to us foreign missionaries who have no idea what we are saying anyway ;) Alright, moving on! After a special Christmas meal, we returned to the gym for a two-man reenactment of the Christmas Carol, which was a lot of fun! The actors were so good. Oh, and on my way there, I ran into my big brother Jacob! He works at the MTC, so it's been weird knowing that he's here but not seeing him, so it was fun to get to see him and give him a quick hug! After that was one of the best parts of Christmas, too: calling home! Missionaries only get to call home twice a year, on Christmas and Mother's Day, so it was really a special treat, especially since we originally thought that missionaries in the MTC wouldn't get that chance. 

Okay, one last thing about Christmas: In the evening, we had a concert from (drum roll please)... David Archuleta! It was really, really awesome, and it goes without saying that us missionaries were pretty excited. I actually missed when he walked in though, because I was distracted by saying "Isn't that Lexi Walker?" about the girl that walked out in front of him. And I was right! For those who don't know, Lexi Walker is a 14? year old girl that pretty well known in the Church for her amazing voice. And, not to brag or anything, but my grandma was her Primary teacher ;). She joined David on a few of the songs, and I think she's even better in person. Anyway, the highlights were a) O Holy Night, because how can you give a Christmas concert without singing that song? It is so, so powerful, especially when sung by someone with a voice like David Archuleta's. b) Come, Come Ye Saints, which was one of the only non-Christmas songs he sang, but one of my favorites because I had never thought of it from a missionary perspective! and c) Il Est Ne, my very very favorite French carol! It made me so happy to hear it sung with the perfect amount of power and enthusiasm!

Saturday: Okay, while Christmas was awesome I need to move on! Saturday we were back in classes, so nothing all that exciting, though I did run into Jacob one more time in the cafeteria. 

Sunday: was lovely as usual. We had church with the other French missionaries, and my favorite thought from that was "We worship the Great I Am, not the Great He Was." It was bitterly cold, but Soeur S, Soeur M, Soeur L, and I took a rare opportunity to leave the MTC and walk around the temple grounds for a bit. It was Soeur L and Soeur M's last Sunday, so we wanted to get a few last pictures together! Choir practice was followed by a devotional, which was followed by the regular Sunday night films. We chose "Missions Are Forever," by Elder Holland, which was fantastic, and I'll try to share some insights from that next week if I have time.

Monday: We woke up super early to take Soeur M to catch her ride to the airport at 3:30am, then again to take Soeur L at 7:00. It was bittersweet, and while it's unfortunate that their MTC stay ended up longer than planned, I was so grateful to have even that short time with them. Even though we knew each other for less than two weeks, we are around each other all day long, so it feels like much longer. I'll miss them so much but I know they will be amazing in Montreal and Tahiti respectively! And maybe Soeur L and I will see each other again when we join her in Tahiti in just a few weeks. The rest of the day was fairly regular, except for a rare trip outside the MTC to visit the eye doctor, because Soeur S's eye has been bothering her. He gave her some medicine and the problem should go away in a few weeks but any prayers welcome!

Alright, one last thing before I sign off: I want to share with you one of my very favorite poems. It's about Christmas:

Green leaves all fallen, withered and dry;
Brief sunset fading, dim winter sky.
Lengthening shadows, Dark closing in…
Then, through the stillness, carols begin!

Oh fallen world, to you is the song—
Death holds you fast and night tarries long.
Jesus is born, your curse to destroy!
Sweet to your ears, a carol of Joy!

Pale moon ascending, solemn and slow;
Cold barren hillside, shrouded in snow;
Deep, empty valley veiled by the night;
Hear angel music—hopeful and bright!

Oh fearful world, to you is the song—
Peace with your God, and pardon for wrong!
Tidings for sinners, burdened and bound—
A carol of joy! A Saviour is found!

Earth wrapped in sorrow, lift up your eyes!
Thrill to the chorus filling the skies!
Look up sad hearted—witness God’s love!
Join in the carol swelling above!

Oh friendless world, to you is the song!
All Heaven’s joy to you may belong!
You who are lonely, laden, forlorn—
Now unto you, A Saviour is born!
                                                 -Eileen Berry

I bear my testimony to each of you that our Saviour lives! "For God so loved the world, that He send His Only Begotten Son."

I'll be home for Christmas, if only in my heart <3
Much love and bonne annee,

Soeur Ladd

p.s. according to my teachers, I was pretty close with the pronunciation of Papeete: "pa pa yay tay" is the best way I can describe it phonetically.