Dear Mom and everyone,
So they've been waffling back and forth on the new email policy, so our branch president said to only email family today and then just find out what our mission president's rule is when we get there. So for the time being, will you please forward these emails? Thanks. Having you forward vs. me copy is a small distinction, but I guess there are two ways to look at small distinctions - you can say "Well it's just a little thing so it doesn't matter," or you can say "Well it's just a little thing, so it's really not a huge sacrifice to do it."
The MTC has been super awesome so far. We had a practice "investigator" to teach, and apparently some of them are non-members so you never know if you're really teaching, but the lady we taught was REALLY obviously a member. During our second lesson, she said she'd read through 1 Ne 5, but when she was talking she was saying all sorts of stuff that isn't in the first 5 chapters. And there were other things that made it obvious. It was pretty funny. One good thing she said though was "The last girls who taught me looked so sad and grumpy all the time, and I thought to myself, why would I want to become a part of your religion if I'm already happier than you are? But you girls seem happy." It was a good reminder that we should all do our best to really live the gospel in our lives, and that this is a gospel of joy.
We also taught two volunteers - one of them was practicing teaching a less-active member. We're pretty sure the girl we taught wasn't role-playing much at all, because at one point she accidentally broke character and said "Yeah, that's why my dad made me come here," so we're pretty sure she's actually inactive and that it's really because her mom died and she lost faith after that. It was really nice though because we were able to testify to her pretty powerfully and she agreed that what she'd been doing hadn't been working and she committed to pray and come back to church.
Then we had another investigator, where we went in just not knowing them and we were basically practicing tracting. The lady said that she had just moved from San Diego to Provo and her neighbor had been telling her about the church. It wasn't really clear whether she was playing a role or not. The funny thing is, at the end we committed her to read the Book of Mormon, but then we realized we'd forgotten it! So she said she'd just get one later. But I wanted to run upstairs and grab one, and Sister Thompson thought it would be awkward to come back, so she was lagging behind. I ran back downstairs and just barely saw her going around the corner of a different floor than the one she was on, so I caught up to her and gave her the Book of Mormon. Afterwards, Sis. Thompson asked how I knew she was there, and I was really tempted to tell her it was the Spirit. Haha.
The weather has been super weird here. Last week is was in the mid 20's and I got a sunburn from sitting outside on P-day. This weekend, it snowed and I wore my winter coat and leather boots to the temple. It's also rained. So we've basically seen all 4 seasons in the space of two weeks.
My friend James works at the MTC Cafeteria, and I've basically seen him more in these past two weeks than I did all last semester, which we both think is pretty funny.
We've had some really great devotionals. Last night we watched a recording of Elder Bednar's devotional "The Character of Christ," which is really amazing. He basically says that the character of Christ is to turn outwards in love and compassion when the natural man would turn inwards in selfishness. For example, he healed the guard's ear after Gethsemane, and he looked after his mom while he was on the cross. He said that becoming converted is putting off the natural man and becoming more like Christ, by losing ourselves in our service to God. He also said something I thought was really nice - testimony is knowing the truth, and conversion is being true to what you know.
The Elders in our district left today, so we said goodbye to them last night. Goodbyes are kiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiind of awkward when you have to just shake hands, haha. We also said goodbye to our teachers, Brother Yack and Sister Sandstrom. They're both completely amazing. We filled out teacher evaluations, and in the comment box I said we should clone Brother Yack and have him teach everybody, because seriously, we should.
Yesterday, our district did a musical number in Sacrament. We arranged "The Spirit of God," and Elder Chapman played the violin and I did the piano accompaniment and also sang. It was surprisingly good, especially considering that some of the Elders in our district can't sing and that we'd only been able to practice a cappella, so I had to improvise an accompaniment on the spot. The Branch Presidency's wives were all crying. Then I got asked to give the talk. The way that works is they give us the topic ahead of time, and then they call a few of us up right in Sacrament meeting, so everybody has to prepare it. Well, the topic was "Baptism," and when I saw that I thought to myself, "If I can't stand up and give a 5-minute talk on baptism by now, I'm not doing it right." So I didn't prepare the talk, so of course they called me up. So I turned to the first scripture I could think of on baptism in 2 Ne 31 and then just started talking, and I ended up talking about how the Old Testament prophets testify of Christ (Jacob 4:4), and how baptism is a witness to Christ, so of course they had baptism in the Old Testament, and I think I also talked about the differences in the Hebrew and Greek words for baptism and how that's why you never see the word "baptism" in the Old Testament.
The other day in the cafeteria, a random girl asked me if she could bear her testimony to me in Tagalog, and of course I said okay. Then she said it's too bad I could only do English, and I was like, I bet I could do it in French! So she said, go ahead, and I tried it, and it was awesome.
I don't know what scripture I want on my plaque yet, although I've been keeping in mind that I need to choose one. I'll choose one on the plane or something and send it to you next week.
Sounds like everything's going well with everyone, that's awesome about Carmen going to Canada Wide, and I'm glad I have a valid excuse to not help with all the re-testing :P Is Chloe ever not planning a party? And I'm glad football's started up again, Steven's always so much more cheerful when it's fooball season.
Thanks also for the scripture in Moroni, that's a really good one. I've been praying for all of you too.
I told Dad when my layovers are and that I'll do my best to call sometime then, but no promises about whether it'll work out, and don't waste your day waiting for the phone to ring or anything. Also, I'm not sure if those times are in Mountain time or if they change with the time zones. But yeah, we leave the MTC at 3 am tomorrow and we don't get to the mission home until like 9:30 at night what with two layovers and a time change.
I love you all! The MTC has been treating me great and I'm loving every minute of it, except for when the only dinner is fried chicken and gravy and I don't want to eat salad AGAIN. I'm really excited to get out there and serve!
Sister Jaclyn Olson
Elders Spackman, Irvin, Mathews, Chapman, Hansen, and Peterson; and then Sisters Pizzey, Keeler, Thompson, Lee, and Sandberg, with Sister Olson in the front.