Thursday, September 26, 2013

Week 3

Well it’s official......

I'm half way through with the MTC. Germany is fast approaching! I'm learning really well to communicate with my hands. I feel like I do charades whenever I talk. The Germans will think I'm crazy. 

I think the theme for this week is: Es lohnt sich. We learned this in class and it means "it's worth it." I don't know if you know but.....the MTC is hard. It's hard when you get little sleep or if you totally bomb a lesson or you get in a disagreement with your companion (or if your other two companions have a disagreement haha!). But I am learning that this is worth it!! 

Our district of dritts (trios). We had an extra elder with us, Elder Riddle, for five days because he was on the fast track for German. He left for Germany a couple of days ago.
We really loved getting to know him and miss him dearly.
Last week, my companions and I gave an awful lesson to our investigator. There was no unity between us and we kept going off track. Our investigator stopped us (who is actually our teacher) and started talking in English, which he never does. We knew we were in trouble haha! he lectured us for a bit but we learned that the way we planned was not working for us. We basically started from square one. Although it was a little embarrassing, I am so thankful our teacher stopped us so we could correct what we were doing wrong. Teaching is hard, let alone in another language. But it will be so worth it when I will be able to share a message with someone who has been prepared by God to hear it. What a blessing!

Sister Hamner and I were twins one day.
...not on purpose at all. We walked out and were like UM.....
In other news, my companions and I were chosen to sing at the General Relief Society broadcast! Hollah!! We are so excited! And Sister Hamner and Sister Fowlke have never been to the conference center. So make sure to look for me!!! We have practice every morning from like 7-9. It's intense! And the dress code is so strict. We have to wear a jewel toned, collared shirt, no sheerness, it can only go two inches lower than our neck, no earrings, no jewelry, shirts un-tucked, no braids in our hair, name tags by our chins, hair pulled back with only bobby pins! What the?! 

My companions and I had literally nothing to wear that fit the criteria. We were freaking out. Then the other night the branch presidency's wives knocked on our door at like 10 pm. They came in with a bag full of jewel colored collared shirts and were like "fashion show!!!" They had gone out and purchased 15 shirts for the three of us to pick from. They said we could pick our favorite and keep it. Seriously the nicest thing ever!! So look for me wearing a periwinkle colored shirt and I'm singing second soprano if that helps haha! I'm so excited that Mom and Mackenzie got tickets to come!!! We will be in the same building haha!

Our last night together as a district of dritts.
Last Sunday I was picked to give the talk. So how it works here is that they give you the topic for the upcoming Sunday. We all prepare a talk in German on that topic and then the Branch President, right before we are supposed to talk, randomly chooses two of us to speak. Well I was picked! It felt a little like the Hunger Games when they pick a name. So special....The topic I was assigned to speak on was Repentance. My German was special and it took me FOREVER to read like two scriptures. But it was so humbling to stand before all the missionaries and bear my simple testimony on repentance. Cool fact: the German word for "to repent" is "umkehren," which literally means "to turn." 
Use that in your next Sunday school lesson haha! 

I have also been chosen to be the Sister Training Leader. I have no idea what that means but I think it's like the Zone Leaders for the sisters. It's kind of funny because there are only three sisters in our zone so....all I really do is go to meetings all day Sunday. Yay! Sundays are really busy here but I really do enjoy them. It's like general conference all day. In relief society we have a guest speaker and then that night we have another guest speaker for devotional. It's so great!

Bye Elder Riddle! I totally made him do that pose.
"Pretend like you're walking away with your luggage and look over your shoulder." haha
I love running into people I know here at the MTC. I see Elder Bueno every day! He's here at the west campus. Then I've seen a lot of sisters from my freshman ward. And the other day I saw Sister Alcazar (I think I spelled that right). They are all doing so wonderful :)

This week I've been studying how the Book of Mormon was important to my own conversion. How would I be able to ask people to pray to know the truthfulness of this book if I never had done it myself? I've pondered a lot about how the Book of Mormon was such a comfort and consistent source of truth during a time in my life when things were so unsure. I treasure the Book of Mormon so much because of those experiences. But I am also making sure to strengthen my testimony of it daily. Our teacher wrote a quote on the board that said, "The honest seeker of truth will soon come to feel that the Book of Mormon is the word of God." 
So my question for you is, how have you felt the Book of Mormon is true? 
Just something to ponder....

This is me sitting here writing you this email! Yay!
I know that Book of Mormon is the word of God. The Book of Mormon shows me that God loves us. It was translated through the prophet Joseph Smith and contains the fullness of this gospel. We are so blessed!

I love you all sooooooooo much! I look forward to getting your letters and hearing from you! I'm doing really well and I am so happy. Although it is really stressful here I feel really peaceful. I know I am at the right place at the right time. Just remember: Es lohnt sich!

Liebe,
Sister Madsen

p.s. keep the letters coming!!! 
Chandler and Carter- you better write me punks!!!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Week 2

Guten Tag! 

Well I have officially made it through my second week here at the MTC! Holy cow! Time is really flying by. I'm 1/3 of the way through the MTC! Weird....

Classic map pic! My district.
It's been really hard spelling in English for some reason. German is taking over my life! I always spell Tuesday like "Teusday." So special....I do love speaking German though. I'm starting to think some words in my head in German and I find myself saying my personal prayers in my head in German. Last Thursday we had all four of our teachers in the classroom. There are only 5 of us in the class so it was a little overwhelming. It felt a little like an intervention. They want us to start speaking German more! I'm trying! But it's hard not being quiet because I don't know how to say it in German!! 

Just studying some German on the computer. Ja Wohl!!
I love my teachers! Seriously the best! There's one teacher that always makes us feel good about ourselves and his spiritual thoughts are the greatest. Sister Hamner and I just keep a tissue box by our desks because we cry every time he teaches. We.are.girls. It can be really hard at times. We can feel really inadequate about the language or teaching our lessons. But I swear there is a small moment every day when I am reminded why I am serving a mission (whether it's a scripture I'm reading or a sentence my teacher says, or a 2 minute video clip). I hold onto those moments dearly because it really helps when I am stressed. 

Sister Winn and I. Sister Winn was in my freshman ward and she left the other day for Chicago! She got here the same day as me. It was fun to see her all the time!
Speaking of stress....we had a stress management lesson on Saturday. Afterwards my district and I decided that we were more stressed talking about stress. We realized that maybe we are all a little stressed. I may or may not have gone into the bathroom and cried a little bit....haha! 

Sister Hamner and I found a full bag of chips in the garbage can....WASTEFUL people!
We ate some....
Sunday we had a devotional and I'm sorry but it was hilarious! The lady said that God only loves you 99% until you’re baptized. Um....ok... And then her husband showed a bunch of clips from this church movie he produced and it made NO sense! There was like a romantic scene and all the elders were hooting and hollering...haha! 
Oh elders...

Elder Gerratt and Elder Black at the map
Last week we had the opportunity to attend the temple! It was great! But once we got to the session it was really hard to stay awake. We go go go all day long that when we sit for a couple hours it's hard to keep your eyes open. I looked over and all the elders were nodding off. 

So....yesterday during gym time we played an intense game of lightening or speed or whatever that game is with the two basketballs. It was with all the elders in our branch...so like 17 of us. I made it to the final two! Hollah! I made like 5 three pointers in a row! Every time I shot I shouted Ja Wohl!! Haha! All the elders thought I was so boss. I thought to myself....my family would be so proud. 
I'm pretty sure it was luck.....or the spirit....

My companions and I...so precious!
I love my companions! They are both so different and the other two have a lot of disagreements but I have found myself to be the peacemaker and mediator. But we are definitely learning a lot about working with others. I think trios are significantly harder but I just imagine how better prepared I will be when I get a new companion in Germany. Luckily Sister Hamner likes to have massage time at night haha!! We take turns rubbing feet or something like that....it's bonding time. Sister Fowlke just laughs at us but I don't care because it feels good! We laugh so much together and it really helps with the stress. The other night while we were writing in our journals Sister Hamner randomly said, "Jesus was so lucky that other people wrote his journal for him....like 'Jesus wept.'" 
Sister Fowlke and I were laughing so hard! 

My companions and I during our field trip to the main campus.
Last night we sang in the MTC choir up at the Marriott Center. It was so fun to sing with so many missionaries. We sang Joseph Smith's First prayer. It was so wonderful! We also found out that the sister missionaries are singing at the General Relief Society Broadcast! Yay! They can't take all the sisters so they had us fill out a survey. I hope we get to sing for it! I'll let you know if I am and you'll have to look for me! 

I know I've only been here for 2 weeks but this has been a very humbling experience. I'm pretty good at studying but my academic study skills don't get me very far. It's taking a lot of faith to learn this language and to have faith that I WILL learn it. I am learning to get out of my comfort zone. 

Some of the missionaries from our zone at the temple! Yay!
It can be easy to think about myself and to feel inadequate but what I'm learning quickly is that all I can do is my best and God's grace is sufficient for the rest. I've spent the last couple days studying what God expects of me as a missionary. It's been really enlightening and I feel God's love for me so much. What's stressful is when my expectations for myself are way higher than what God expects. I challenge you all to study for yourself what God expects of you right now in your life. I know the Lord will bless you as you seek the answer to this. I feel so blessed to be learning so much about this gospel. The MTC is so unique in that we dedicate every hour of the day to becoming better Disciples of Christ and learning! I love it! It has been very humbling to testify in German. I can only state simple truths but I'm learning that is all I need to do. 

Ich weiss dass, Gott uns liebt. Ich gebe Zeugnis das Evangelium wahr ist. Jesus Christus ist unser Erreter. Diese Erkenntnis hilft mir, wenn ich Trost brauche. I weiss dass das Gebet hilft mir Antworten zu finden. Ich bin meinem Himmlischen Vater dankbar fur diese Erkenntnis.

Cheesy map pics!
I love you all so much! I miss you dearly and think of you daily. I pray for you every day! Always! I can't thank you enough for all the support and letters! Mom you are the best! The packages you send are above and beyond. My district thanks you too!!! 

Thinking of you always,
Sister Madsen

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Week 1

Meine Familie!!!

So first things first.....I hope you are checking the mail because I've sent like 3 letters home already and it doesn't sound like you've gotten them already :( I hope they made it!!! Also, thank you so much for the package!!! Seriously made my whole week.

Thanks for the package!!!
And please tell everyone, thank you! for sending all the letters. My district and zone is a little jealous of all the mail I get haha! It really helps receiving letters and Dear Elder seems to be working really well. Keep them coming....even if you just tell me a funny story!!

Can you believe I finished my first week in the MTC!! Every time I look down at my nametag I freak out a little because it's still a little surreal.

Name Tag
The first day was crazy and within just a few minutes I found out that I was going to be at the new West Campus!!
So I am living at Wyview (just a few buildings down from where I lived my freshman year) and we have classes at Raintree.

Branches laying everywhere from the storm (literally Raining Trees)
I feel like that was such a tender mercy of the Lord because a lot of my worries involved the living situations at the main campus. But it is so comfortable here! I walk by Mack's old apt every day and I think about how mom and I stayed there one night and mom threw up all night haha!!
Bless those missionaries who use that bathroom.

Where we spend the majority of our days studying
I'm in a trio which means I have two companions.
They are Sister Hamner and Sister Fowlke.

Companions on the first day
Sister Hamner reminds me sooooo much of Jaclyn Brim (ps I saw her new husband here like the second day--congrats Jac!!!).
They are really great!!!
We seriously laugh all the time together.

Typical Sister Hamner Face
On the flip side trios can be really tough. 
We seriously have companionship inventory every day (the elders make fun of us for that) but it really helps. Sister H and Sister F butt heads a little and I'm kind of the mediator. It's special.....

In my district there's the three of us and then two elders, 
Elder Garrett and Elder Black.

Elder G & Elder B
They are hilarious. I think they secretly love having the sisters in the district. Elder G is from Payson and we always make fun of him that he is a cowboy because he is from Payson.
Elder Black is a little more quiet, but he can be sassy at times too.

We have about 17 missionaries in our zone. Some are going to Frankfurt and some to Berlin. And that's pretty much who makes up our branch.
Such a small branch.
We won’t get any new missionaries in our branch until we leave in 5 weeks.

Me & some Elders from our zone
Our district laughs all the time together. When we eat in the cafeteria, we are spitting chocolate milk out our noses because we are laughing so hard. Sister H and I joke that we laugh to hide our tears....it can be stressful here.

Our district waiting for the bus to the main campus
I really like our zone and there are some great Elders!
I am the oldest in our zone but it doesn't feel like it.
They are great!

Our zone leaders, Elder Randall & Elder Hogan
We have 3 teachers- Brother Alston, Brother Davis, and Brother Brogden. We pretty much spend our whole days in the classroom with our district. Our teachers are great and 
I can't believe how much German I have learned so far.

Our special district :)
Luckily our whole district has had previous German experience so we have moved pretty quickly. I can say a prayer and my testimony in German and we have already taught 4 lessons to our "investigator" Hans in German. I've really learned to get out of my comfort zone and make mistakes. We speak a lot of Danglish (Deutsch and Enlgish)...it's really hilarious. Elder Black, in his lesson, said in the prayer: "Wir danken dir fur Allah"....he meant to say 'alles' which is like 'all' or 'everything-ish' and he said 'Allah'.
Hans was like "Allah?" Wa? haha so funny.

Brother Davis can't look at me without laughing. Apparently I make funny faces....and sounds. We also made a rule that if you say 'guys' or 'dudes' you have to do 15 push ups. Sister H is up to like 215 haha!! 
Let's just say, she is sore.
 
Sister H doing some of her 215 push-ups haha!
The days are crazy here. We wake up at 6:30 and then usually don't get back until 9:30 or later. I shouldn't be able to stay awake during the day, but it really hasn't been that bad. I haven't cried myself to sleep...yet haha! But I warned my zone that I am a crier. I cried once in front of my district after we had a little one on one meeting with our teacher, Brother Alston. I don't know what it was, but it was nice to have him talk in English and to know he cared. I walked out of the room and just started bawling.....
......oh special.
Elder G was like, "if I cry too will that help." "No!"
 
All our books! So many! (Elder G)
Sundays are like general conference. It really is great!
Our Branch President served his mission in Germany about 50 years ago. 
He is really soft spoken but is nice and kind of old.

Each week we have to prepare a talk in German and then he randomly picks three of us to speak in sacrament meeting. Sister Hamner has had a hard time speaking German. She gets nervous to speak so she doesn't, which is the worst when you are learning a lesson. So we made a goal with her that she would learn how to say a prayer without any notes. Then on Sunday our President asked her to bear her testimony and the Zone Leader asked her to say the closing prayer. She did both of those without her notes. 
I was like a proud mother....I was crying of course.
 
Sister H & I
For some reason I keep getting bit by bugs. I have 10 bug bites! What the?! Do you remember that one time I got a bug bite on my hand and it was soooo swollen like a balloon? Well that happened...except on my ankle. So hideous! I think there are a lot of mosquitoes outside. Could someone send me bug spray? I get a new bite every day.

Today is our P-Day so we get to go up to the main campus and run some errands and then go to the temple.
I am so excited and it is definitely much needed.

Sister F & I on P-Day
I am so thankful to be a missionary. I feel so blessed and trusted to be able to teach the people of Germany. Sometimes I feel like a newborn who has so much to say, but can't say it. I have so much I want to say to our investigator but I can't find the words in German. But then I take a step back and realize that I just taught about the plan of salvation in German on my third day here. Crazy! I know the gift of tongues is real. I know it will take work but I am definitely putting my trust in the Lord to help because 
there is no way I could do this on my own.

Me & my companions
I know this church is true with all my heart. I am learning so much about myself and working with others. But most importantly I am learning so much about my Savior. He lives and loves us. I am so excited to share a message with people that has brought so much happiness into my life.

I love you all so much!! I love hearing from you! I miss you dearly! The work I'm doing is important and I'm thankful for the sacrifices you are/have made so that I can be here! You will be blessed because of it. 
I know I have already!!!

I'm a missionary!
Auf Wiedersehen for now!

Liebe,
Sister Madsen

Friday, September 6, 2013

Called To Serve

Tomorrow on September 4th, 2013, I will begin my service as a full time missionary to serve in the Germany Frankfurt mission. It’s strange to think that just a year ago I had the desire to serve a mission and now I am here….a day away from leaving. Preparing to leave has been the strangest thing. It’s hard describing to people how you can be so extremely happy and excited but also sad at the same time. Or how you just can’t wait to be out there but also wishing you had more time to prepare. The past few months have been full of contradictions. But as I think of my life as a missionary I can’t imagine the next 18 months of my life any other way. The Lord has definitely prepared the way for me to serve a mission. My family and I have been blessed even as I have prepared to leave.


On My 23rd, I received my call in the mail. The fate of my future was held within a white envelope. People always asked me if I had any impressions of where I would be going. I had one dream that I would be called to north Florida?! What the?! So random…but other than that I really had a strong feeling that I would be going stateside. Secretly, I had always wished to go to Germany! I took 4 years of German in high school and my dad served his mission in Hamburg. But I never wanted to tell people where I wanted to serve because honestly, to me, it didn’t matter. I wanted to go wherever the Lord wanted me to go. I looked forward to that feeling you have when you open your call and you know that is where God wants you to be. Well I opened my call surrounded by my family in a small practice room where my mom teaches voice lessons. As I pulled out the call I immediately knew it was a foreign call because there was a ton of papers (passport application). I started reading the paper and I became very emotional (big shocker!). I read the words, “You have been called to serve in Germany Frankfurt mission.” To be honest I was completely shocked! I never thought I would go to Germany. But it was a testimony to me that God was completely aware of the desires of my heart.

This is the video of me opening my call. I’m a little hesitant to share, mostly because I’m embarrassingly emotional, but also because it is something very personal to me. But I love watching videos of others opening their calls! And when I was waiting to receive my call, it really helped calm my nerves. So here it is….

video

I can’t even describe how much I know I am supposed to serve a mission. Sometimes I am afraid to leave my family or to be in a new country or learn a new language. But I know that I am not alone in this work. This gospel has brought so much happiness into my life and I feel so grateful to my Heavenly Father. There are many reasons why I choose to serve a mission but the number one reason is because I love God!

This quote has been a comfort to me over the past few months:
“The perfect place to begin is exactly where you are right now. It doesn’t matter how unqualified you may think you are or how far behind others you may feel. The very moment you begin to seek your Heavenly Father, in that moment, the hope of His light will begin to awaken, enliven, and ennoble your soul. The darkness may not dissipate all at once, but as surely as night always gives way to dawn. The light will come.”
– President Uchtdorf