The Missionary Training Center is wonderful! Let me start with that. But it's not all fun and games, like some returned missionaries make it sound. It's hard. The following, in no particular order, have been my greatest challenges:
1. Drinking from a fire hydrant... of doctrine. THERE'S SO MUCH.
2. Resisting the chocolate chip cookies readily available every meal in the dining hall.
3. Keeping my focus on the task at hand. You know how my mind likes to float away all the time?
4. Not calling the elders in my district "homie G" or pinching their cheeks (there's so small and precious and faithful and valiant, all six of them!)
5. Realizing that I have weaknesses and that I don't know everything. This especially trying when learned the hard way, through trial and error. Teaching and realizing that you didn't do very well is often followed by the feeling that you just cost someone their salvation.
But, the Lord recognizes our sacrifices. Always. Here are some of the greatest blessings I've experienced in the MTC:
1. Singing in the shower and having your fellow bathers harmonize to hymns and Les Miserables.
2. Having a companion. My current one, Sister Creager, was made for me, basically. She picks me up when the work gets rough and reminds me not to be discouraged, only hopeful and grateful that we know how to learn from mistakes. Same goes for our dear roomies, Sister Cole and Sister Baker.
3. An entire district of hardworking missionaries, who at 18 or 19 years old have enough confidence in Christ to have given up 24 or 18 months of their lives in service. Few things are more inspiring than witnessing an 18 year old elder giving a priesthood blessing for the first time. The faith is strong with these ones.
4. Being called as a Sister Training Leader with my companion. We're entrusted with a whole zone of missionaries, and instructed to love them, lead by example, (kindly correct when necessary), and sometimes, walk across campus in our pajamas right before bedtime to retrieve a spare key for the rookies that locked themselves out. But we are honored to be so trusted.
5. Realizing that nothing will keep God's work from going forward. The Lord will have humble servants, and therein show us our inadequacies, but that is so we can more fully rely on Him to impart to us His spirit and His strength. Wherever I fall short, our Loving God will make up the difference, for we all are in His hands.
Ether 12:27 has taken on more meaning than ever before:
27 And if men come unto me I will show unto them theiraweakness. I bgive unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my cgrace is sufficient for all men that dhumble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make eweak things become strong unto them.
The first day here, I made several wonderful realizations. One, was that I'm a missionary. It's official. A) because I got this ministerial certificate with the prophet's signature that says I'm licensed to preach. B) because I have this name tag that tells the world who I am, a representative of Jesus Christ (And I thought putting on an EFY counselor tag was empowering! Small potatoes, my friend). C) because all 700 of us new missionaries stood in a room together that first evening and sang "We'll Bring the World His Truth" with the last line changed from "we will be" to "we are now.. the Lord's missionaries to bring the world His truth."
This is the real deal, friends. May you all find your greatest strengths in He who overcame the world, so we don't have to do so alone.