Brooklyn Bridge

Brooklyn Bridge

Monday, July 25, 2016

We Are Now the Lords Missionaries

Hello dearest darlingest family, friends, acquaintances, and any others,

I have just completed my first five days at the MTC and my P-day is, evidently, on Monday! That will be very nice, I'm sure, for transitioning into the field. However, if you live in Utah you are aware that July 25th (today) is Pioneer Day. What this means is that unfortunately the Provo temple is closed. So, I will only have one opportunity to go to the temple before I leave for New York, which will be next Monday.
Hermanas Wiberg, Aguilar, me, and Hermana Pace

So much has happened, I hardly know what to say. My host on the first day took me to get my language materials and iPad and then I met my compaƱera, Hermana Pace. She is from Washington and going to serve in Tucson, Arizona speaking Spanish, and she is so lovely and sweet. Being in class that first time was perhaps a bit overwhelming, but so spiritual and lovely. Most of my district speaks Spanish as a first language, and much of the time I don't understand everything (or anything occasionally), but I figure that even with my broken Spanish, I can teach through the spirit. The gospel really is proclaimed through the weak and simple.

What really touched me about my initial night, though, was singing the song 'Army of Helaman' and getting to sing the words "and we are now the Lord's missionaries to bring the world His truth.' That was when it hit me that I was really and truly a missionary. The badge was evidence, perhaps, but singing that I was a missionary gave me personal conviction.

On Thursday we met our branch presidency, which was truly a very special experience. They have such a strong spirit and so much love. President Glazier, Brother Nilsson, Brother Flores, and their wives know how to bring such a comfort and strength to every missionary under their care.

Friday was so wonderful because for the first time we exercised! It was wonderful to have the release of jogging, playing volleyball, and lifting weights with my compaƱera. Also, it might help with my slight addiction to the chocolate milk and cranberry juice. It's only been five days, and already I'm fearing the all-you-can-eat approach. I'm eating salads an increasing amount.
Our District Elders
Me and Hermana Aguilar at the end of a long day
Me and Hermana Pace taught our first investigator on Friday, which was lovely. It went very well, mostly thanks to her wonderful Spanish. Our investigator, naturally, was our teacher, yet I was ecstatic to see I could communicate in the very least a basic amount in my language, and more importantly in the language of the spirit.

My district has become very close and we enjoy each others company immensely. On Sunday we held a meeting in which we all shared our testimonies. It was so special and beautiful. Truly, there must be a reason I am in my district, and with my companion. I have no doubt.

Sundays are truly magnificent in the MTC. In fact, the MTC President and his wife Sister Burgess came to my district for our Sunday meetings! There was such a special spirit having Sister Burgess in our relief society meeting. She shared a story about her difficulty learning language during her time in Brazil that really resonated with me. Since she loved to sing, she found the song I Know that My Redeemer Lives in the Portuguese hymnal. She could only learn the first line, but she knew if she repeated it eight times to the tune of the song, she would have sung the entire hymn. So she did that whenever she felt discouraged, and it gave her a confidence and strength she would not have otherwise obtained.

The Nashville Tribute Band devotional yesterday was so beautiful. It allowed me to think of myself in the shoes of so many wonderful biblical figures. Often we do not think of what those great men and women must have felt, but imagining different points of view is empowering and allows a kind of empathy one would otherwise not experience. After the devotional, me and my district listened to a message from Elder Bednar about the spirit which gave me a renewed energy and purpose. How does one know if a feeling is the spirit or "just us"? The answer is: quit worrying about it! The spirit will manifest itself in so many ways, and truly we should not be overly concerned what those ways are.

I wish you all health, happiness, and send my utmost love,

Hermana Voss
Me and Hermana pace enjoying the beautiful day outside 

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Why Serve?

Many of you who know me are aware that I did not, in fact, ever intend to serve a mission. I was really quite opposed the idea. When my sister was about to serve her mission my Stake President asked me, “Ally, are you going to serve a mission?” I said, “Nope.” Then he looked me in the eyes and said, “Sister Voss, what if the spirit of the Lord compels you to serve a mission?” I looked straight back and said, “I’m afraid I’d still say no, sir.” What changed? Well, it wasn’t a what, it was a who. Nothing changed, except me.

See, I went to BYU. And at BYU I had six lovely roommates, six wonderful Family Home Evening brothers, a Book of Mormon class, and a bishop who knew the spirit of Lord far better than I. One by one through the fall semester, my roommates felt compelled to serve missions. The only one holding strong with me was my fantastic roommate Meghan. Then January hit me and knocked me off my feet. I was seeing dozens of people submitting papers and receiving calls and heavens but it was completely overwhelming. I had been praying for over seven months at that point whether a mission would be right for me, and I kept getting the answer, it’s up to you, which was confirmed by my patriarchal blessing and point blank not helpful in the least. My Book of Mormon class talked about missions all too often and I had somehow coerced myself into taking a mission prep class so my tension and indecision as to whether to serve a mission were at an all-time high. February continued much the same, except by this point I had already gone to my bishop in tears at one point because of all the pressure I felt to serve a mission and a lack of knowledge whether it was right for me. His advice? To start my papers and see if I had a feeling whether that was the correct path. I said thanks but no thanks. Soon, though, my FHE brothers and two of my roommates were submitting mission papers and getting calls. I felt excited for them, but still when I thought of missions I felt unsure and overwhelmed.

In March something clicked. I’m not sure what, or if I could describe it, but I went directly to the bishop to start my papers. I didn’t think of it as an absolute. I thought of it as a “maybe”. So I had an option. I could decide to serve a mission. Or I could not. It was my choice. And what tipped the scales? To be honest, I think it was watching Jake, Ryan, Alex, Jacob, Maddie, and Kindra as they prepared to go serve. March turned into April and my papers, though technically begun, were untouched. I watched my FHE boys give blessings to us, enter the temple, and continue faith-building habits. I saw Kindra and Maddie finishing their mission preparations and heard them talk about their excitement to serve. And I realized, slowly, that I wasn’t the same person who I was at the beginning of this school year. I had grown, been stretched, and changed in such a way that though perhaps I wasn’t ready to serve in August, I was ready now.

I was still tentative; I certainly didn’t see a blazing bush or hear the voice of the Lord telling me to serve a mission. But while the thought of serving a mission had before been overwhelming, now I felt only a peace and excitement. I was going to serve a mission. I didn’t care where I would go or when I would go, because I knew why I was going. I was going, or rather I am going because I love this gospel and I want to share the joy it has given me with as many people as I possibly (or impossibly) can! God gave us a glorious earth with the tools and resources to learn, love, progress, and eventually return to live with Him. I have an opportunity to show the Lord my gratitude and devotion, and I am happy to take it. They say you have an eternity to prepare for your mission, and an eternity to reflect on it – but only two (or one and a half) years to live it. I’m ready to not only live it, but love it as well!

See you in a year and a half!

-Sister Ally Voss