Thursday, July 30, 2015

Vizte, jsem učedníkem Ježíše Krista

Elder Shirley doing new missionary security duty at the MTC

Elder Shirley with Sister Bartschi on the day she enters the MTC

July 30, 2015

Hello family and friends!

I found a scripture that I really like this past week. 3 Nephi 5:13. That is what is quoted as the title of my email this week. In class this week, we also read through Mosiah 24 and I really like that chapter too. The message from that chapter is that through our trails and our burdens, the Lord will be there with us to help us and lift us through the problems we are having.

On Sunday, my companion and I taught priesthood meeting for our zone. We taught on recognizing and relying on the Spirit. I have found that I learn the most while I study to prepare for the lessons that I teach. On Sundays, we have a priesthood meeting, sacrament meeting, and then a district meeting. We also get to walk to the temple every Sunday evening.

For Sunday night devotional, Stephen B. Allen came and spoke to us again. He spoke on how being a missionary is a lot of hard work, but that we will be blessed for it as well as our families. Tuesday night devotional was by Elder Kendrick. He spoke about prayer and how we can use it to receive personal revelation in our lives.

On a less spiritual note, I am still enjoying the MTC food! Maybe a little too much though. I have gained about 9 pounds since I've been here and hopefully that weight won't get any higher! 

Every day I get an hour for gym time and I spend all of it playing basketball. After being here a little over 5 weeks, I have to say that I've gotten pretty good! Haha. 

On my P-days, we get to go to the temple, which is pretty awesome. We also do our laundry and we get to write emails for an hour. So I apologize to those who write me and I haven't sent a reply back! I love hearing any news from people though!

That's about it for this week. I am doing well with the language. It feels like it’s getting more comfortable but I still have tons to learn. Thanks for everyone's support! I love you all! 

-Starší Shirley

Friday, July 24, 2015

Settled Into a Routine At The MTC

Czech/Slovak Mission t-shirt

Book of Mormon in Czech

Top bunk at the MTC

Small MTC closets

A taste of what it's like to learn Czech

July 23, 2015

Ahoj family and friends!

First off, thanks to my family for sending me a big package with lots of letters! That was much appreciated. This week was another good week, and it flew by once again.

Our schedule every week is the same. My companion and I teach 6 lessons per week and when we aren't teaching, we are in class studying grammar for Czech. Everyday my attitude for speaking Czech changes. Sometimes I'm really confident with the language and sometimes it's really frustrating. But overall, I'm learning slowly and will eventually be able to speak it.

I've started a schedule of studying the Book of Mormon recently. Through my study, I realize how powerful the scriptures are and that they can increase your testimony of this gospel through reading it. The Book of Mormon can help you in any stage of life you are in.
For devotional on Sunday, President Richards spoke. His talk was on repentance. He would direct a lot of questions to the crowd of missionaries. His talk was more of a discussion and it was cool to hear some insights from other missionaries.

This week, I found a Mormon message video that I really like. It's titled "Mountains to Climb." i would encourage everyone to either go watch the video or listen to the talk. 
Devotional on Tuesday was by William Walker. He gave us 10 points to be a better missionary. As I thought about these points, I realized that they can also be applied to everyone's life. They are: 1. Focus on the Lord. 2. Love the scriptures. 3. Forget about yourself. 4. Love people. 5. Follow you priesthood leaders. 6. Learn the language of the Spirit. 7. Work hard. 8. Be obedient. 9. Be a Preach My Gospel missionary. 10. Go home and be a faithful member of the Church.

That is my highlights for this week! My letters feel like they are getting shorter and shorter because I don't have much to write about with all the days being the same. But after being out as a missionary for a month now, I am still enjoying the Lord's work and being his representative.

-Starší Shirley

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Another Good Week in the MTC

Posing in front of the MTC map

Companion Elder Newman

With his companion and the Czech flag

With Elder Fleming before he headed out to Portland

Elder Stacey from Idaho Falls made this banana

July 16, 2015

Ahoj everyone!

This week was another good week in the MTC! 

On Friday, we got to watch President Boyd K. Packers funeral. Although the loss of one of our apostles is sad, the meeting was good. It's nice to hear from our other general authorities about the knowledge they have of the plan of salvation and that there is a life after this one!

On Sunday, our devotional was given by the MTC administration director. He spoke about the power and the importance of the Book of Mormon. The Book of Mormon is essential to our religion and is a great tool in our own personal conversion as well as the conversion of our investigators. 

I said goodbye to Elder Cameron Fleming this week as he is heading out to the mission field in Portland. It's sad to see all my friends head out with me still here at the MTC, but the time I have here is definitely needed in learning the language.

My companion and I teach multiple lessons a week to investigators. The language barrier for teaching is still a big problem and its hard to get our message across. But I'm lucky to have my companion, Starsi Newman, because he is really good at the language. Right now I'm relying on him a lot! 

Time here at the MTC is pretty weird. The days seem long but it feels like the weeks go by fast! And as an Elder at the MTC for 3 weeks, I feel pretty experienced with the MTC schedule! The saying here is "weeks feel like days, and days feel like weeks." I'm sure at the end of 9 weeks here, it'll feel like the time has just flown by.

For our Tuesday general authority devotional, we had Benjamin Banks speak to us. He talked on the Preach My Gospel missionary manual. Preach My Gospel is a great manual that teaches a lot of importance doctrines. Devotionals on Tuesdays and Sundays are my favorite days here!

The other day I was playing basketball for my gym time. As I was going to get a rebound, another guy swung to get the ball and hit me right in the eyeball. It hurt pretty bad! for the next few hours, I was seeing double of everything. Other than being a little sore, I'm alright now thankfully!

That's about it for this week. Everyday brings new experiences and new lessons to learn. Rely on the Spirit and you will be strengthened and guided in you everyday life. I'm thankful to be a missionary and to serve the Lord!

-Starsi Shirley  

Thursday, July 9, 2015

I Am Starting to Understand What Being A Missionary Means

Missionaries on the temple grounds
Provo temple

Elder Shirley and his companion, Elder Newman

Outside on 4th of July evening, waiting for fireworks

The one and only firework seen

July 9, 2015

Hey everyone!

The days here at the MTC are pretty much the same everyday, but I do have a few highlights for this past week.

We finished teaching our first "investigator" this past week. The day after we finished with him, he came walking into our classroom. As it turns out, he's actually one of our teachers! It was cool to get to hear the feedback from him about our teaching. And he is an awesome teacher and he makes class fun.

The next highlight of the week was the 4th of July! The whole day we had class like usual, but that night we had a special devotional. All of the countries flags that are here at the MTC were walked to the front of the room. It was awesome to get to see how "far and wide" we are coming from and going to to preach the gospel! We were released to go outside to watch fireworks afterwards, but we couldn't really see anything. After about twenty minutes of being disappointed, we walked back inside and got ready for bed. As luck would have it, the stadium of fire firework show started at 10:30, the time we go to bed. We were laying in bed and we could hear a massive firework show going on outside. So after being disappointed about not seeing any fireworks, I was even more disappointed when I heard a huge firework show a little later and couldn't even watch it!

For every fast Sunday in the MTC, we have a mission conference. All the MTC gathers to listen to our MTC presidency. President Burgess, the MTC President, gave a great talk. He spoke on trusting in the Lord and about our calling as missionaries. He said that we are set apart as literal representatives of Jesus Christ. He also mentioned that like Peter, James, and John, we all dropped our "nets" or our past lives to come serve the Lord. To be called a literal representative of Christ really changes how you think. I get to be called by the title of "Elder," a title only shared by other missionaries and general authorities. I feel like I am starting to understand what being a missionary means!

Every Tuesday night, we have a general authority devotional. This past Tuesday, Elder Condie of the seventy spoke to us. He spoke on the Restoration and the power of it. He said that the Restoration was the foundation of our religion. The Spirit could be felt by everyone as he spoke. He said "If you want to know if Joseph Smith really did see what he said he saw in the sacred grove, just ask God. He was there!" After he finished speaking, our closing song was "Joseph Smith's First Prayer." The power in the that song and in the room could be felt. It bore witness to me of the truthfulness of the Restoration. The Holy Ghost truly does testify of the truth of the gospel!

Last highlight of the week was my companion yesterday. Elder Newman wasn't feeling well and had a headache. One of the Sisters in our district gave him some medicine for his headache. The medication kicked in and it made him act super weird! He acted like he was lost and would say and do some pretty funny and weird things. He's totally fine now, but it was pretty hilarious.

The language is still coming along. It can be pretty frustrating sometimes. But as I keep learning and praying for strength, I know I'll be able to learn the language! I can't wait to see what another week brings here at the MTC! Oh, and I've been enjoying the food here, but maybe a little too much. I've put on a solid 5 pounds! Hopefully I won't gain anymore! Have a great week everyone!

-Starsi Shirley 

Thursday, July 2, 2015

The Mission Begins!

Missionary name tag in Czech

Roommates at the MTC - his companion is on the left (Elder Newman)

MTC companion, Elder Newman, from Reno, NV

The first MTC selfie

All of the Elders in his district

The district in the classroom with the Czech flag

July 2, 2015

Hey family and friends!

After going 8 days without a P-day, I'm glad to get the opportunity to share my first week experiences! The first day here was definitely a new and cool experience. As soon as I got the MTC they let us put our bags in our room and then took us straight into my Czech classroom. We were thrown into the Czech language study within the first 15 minutes we were here! We had class for a couple hours and then all the new Elders and Sisters went to a first day meeting with the MTC Presidency. We got to see where all the new Elders and Sisters were from and it made me realize how far and wide people come to serve a mission! That first night, the new Elders and Sisters also got to go to a first day training. Groups of about 75 of us got to talk to 3 "investigators" and try to teach them a first lesson. That was a good learning experience for everyone! 

My companion is Starsi Newman. He is from Reno, Nevada. He has a good sense of humor and knows the gospel well. Him and I get along pretty good and teach well together. My district consists of 8 Elders and 2 Sisters and we all came in new last Wednesday. My zone is made up of Bulgarians, Turks, Slovenes, Croatians, Polish, Slovaks, and Czechs. Our zone is a really cool group of people and we get along well. 

The schedule was weird the first few days since there was a mission president training for the first weekend I was here. All the general authorities were on campus with us! We never saw any of them, but it was awesome just to know that I was that close to the Quorum of the Twelve!

The second day here we got to meet our branch presidency. They are good men and I'll like having them as my leaders. We had a meeting with them and then they chose a District Leader for the new Czech district. My companion, Starsi Newman, was called to be the District Leader. And since he is District Leader, I am considered to be the senior companion. 

On the third day here, my companion and I had to teach our first lesson to an investigator, and we had to do it in Czech! Basically, we just read out of our phrase book and tried to listen and understand at least a word of what our investigator was saying haha. This experience really opened my eyes to what I'm going to be doing the next 2 years! 

Day number 4 was when I felt like I was finally getting the schedule down although that was the day I felt most tired! We taught our investigator again, and once again we had a pretty rough time. 
Sunday was an amazing experience for me. We had sacrament meeting and had priesthood meeting with our zone. That night we had a devotional. Elder Allen, managing president of the missionary organization (or something like that), spoke to us. He spoke to us about repentance and about our missionary experience. I really felt the Spirit in his talk. After that, we watched a past MTC devotional talk given by Elder Bednar. His talk was titled, "The Character of Christ," and it was an inspiring and amazing talk. He talked about how we need to forget ourselves and turn outward toward others as Christ would. He also talked of how everyone has a testimony, but not everyone is converted to the Lord. His talk was one of the best I've ever heard and it really got me to think. Am I really converted to the Lord? I have never felt the Spirit stronger and I feel the desire to do the Lords work more than ever. 

The last couple days have also been good. We've taught our investigator, Ales, twice more. He really likes what we have to teach him and he wants to learn more. He also says our Czech is getting better which is good to hear. Yesterday I felt like I hit a wall with the language. I felt like everyone was progressing faster than me and I was frustrated. But it made me think how far I've already come in a week! I've taught 4 lessons in Czech, I know how to bear testimony in Czech, I know how to pray in Czech, and I have a basic understanding of how to conjugate verbs. The Lord really does bless his missionaries with the gift of tongues! 

We got to hear a devotional talk from Elder Sitati of the Quorum of the Seventy on Tuesday night. He was a good speaker and brought the Spirit in. Devotionals and getting to sing with all the Elders and Sisters in the MTC are great experiences. I feel the Spirit so strong when we all sing as a group of Elders and Sisters. I also went to choir practice this past Tuesday

Gym time is a time that I look forward to everyday. After sitting in class for 3 hours at a time, its good to get up and moving. And of course, I go and play basketball as often as I can.

I see Elder Smith, Elder Bonnell, and Elder Fleming more than I thought I would. Its always good to see a familiar face. I've also seen Elder Nathaniel Coleman, Sister Emily Eckman, Elder Keller from Snake River, Elder Ricks from West J, and Elder Phillips from Teton. 

This first week has definitely been great and has been a huge learning experience for me. I love the Spirit that you can feel here with all the other missionaries. I'll make sure to keep everyone updated! 

Love you all!
-Starsi Shirley