Monday, September 21, 2015

Week 2 in the MTC! I love this gospel with all my heart and I know I'm supposed to be here :)

September 18, 2015

What a week! To start off.. I'm actually staying another week. Apparently my mission president isn't ready for me to come. (lots of meetings or something). So I'm getting held at the MTC for one more week after this. I'm still not quite sure what they're going to do with me because my entire district will be leaving Tuesday or Wednesday. So... I have yet to know what's happening. My MTC address will probably change though.... so don't mail me after Tuesday if I don't let you know any info. I'm not sure what's happening. But I'll be leaving early on the morning of September 29th. I think my flight leaves at 7:30ish for Atlanta, then I have a 3 hour layover there before finishing up in Montreal :) I'm so excited. I feel like we've learned SO much this last week. Holy cow we've learned tons. But at the same time I feel like there's so much I still need to learn. We're working to teach by the spirit though and to allow it guide us more. We have taught investigators and been taught by teachers amazing lessons this week.
So we teach two "investigators"--Todd and Alexandra. Both are going really well actually. Last night we finished teaching Todd about the Restoration. He said it just makes sense and that he doesn't understand why everyone else in the world doesn't believe this. It's just so clear. It is clear... because it's true :) It was the most wonderful feeling and I really felt the spirit as we talked about Joseph Smith and the First Vision. He understands the importance of the Book of Mormon and reading it to gain a testimony of God and of the Church. He is reading :) We also invited him again to be baptized and he said yes! We just have a lot more to teach him. Alexandra is also progressing. She's grown up Catholic, and wants to really know for herself because of what the scriptures say about false prophets. But she also said the message of the Restoration makes sense. She said she's been brought closer to God and felt him more in her life since meeting with us. She also commited to be baptized as she felt it was the right thing that God wanted her to do. It's amazing! I know these aren't necessarily "real" investigators. But they are real people. Both our teachers play the role of someone they love and taught as missionaries. The spirit is real as we teach them about the gospel of Jesus Christ. Teaching these things has already strengthened my testimony so so so much. Wow my testimony has grown.
We also do Zone teaching quite a few times a week. We had an amazing experience our first time doing this (Saturday night I think). Sister Wisanbannawit and I were assigned as companions, assigned to teach Sister Teekiu (my wondeful Tongan sister who was converted last year). She played the role of Sio. A Tongan woman whose son had died a few years ago. We all felt the spirit SO STRONG as we testified of God's love for us, Christ's atonement, and the ability to live with our families again. Sio was so hopeful. She was so touched by our message. As we spoke with her, I felt as if we really were sitting in the humble home of that beautiful Tongan woman. We really were telling her what she needed. Sister Teekiu said she felt such a strong spirit as we taught. She felt like she was Sio. She felt that she was sitting there, a sad mother whose son had died. She had wanted to cry as we taught her the truth of the Gospel. It was an amazing experience!
I love this place so much. I love these sisters with ALL my heart. I am going to miss them so much. I can't begin to describe it. I feel like I know them so well after a week. They are my family here. We have the most amazing gospel discussions. I've never had such amazing gospel discussions with a bunch of 19 and 20 year old girls. But we talk about the most amazing things. We laugh SO HARD together. And we cry together too. I love them. I'm already planning my trip to Tonga and Taiwan, Thailand, Korea, and Figi to visit them all ;) They really are amazing.
Wednesday our wonderful Tongan sisters got assigned to another district (so they can start learning Korean for their mission to Korea). I was so sad to see them leave. Every time I see them I give them the biggest hug. They are so kind and loving. Oh my goodness. Sister Teekiu and Sister Faanunu. I wish I had more time to talk about them. They have the strongest testimonies. Sister Teekiu has been a member for about 19 months. But she knows SO MUCH. She has so many scriptures memorized, and has studied so many deep gospel topics. She is amazing. Sister Faanunu. I love her so much too :) Both get so into what they are discussing. They can be very calm and quiet, and let the spirit in so well. And then they can be so loud and lively. I love how hard they laugh sometimes ;) So yes, we miss them terribly. It doesn't sound all bad to stay in this place for the full 18  months of my mission if I could just stay with these wonderful sisters. I will miss them terribly.
But I'm so excited to get into the mission field. I can't wait to really bring others unto Christ :)
Oh, and we have two new sisters in our room. From Samoa and Tahiti.... so I've been able to practice a bit more French! So that's wonderful :) I'm still waiting for a French tutor, but I'm trying to study a bit on my own:). It's hard though with no free time.
Also, one more thing. Last night we talked about the importance of the Sabbath. Have you ever sat and really thought about the importance of the Sabbath, of going to church, and especially the Sacrament? I was just pondering the sacredness of this ordinance. We partake of the sacrament every week, so I think it's easy to forget how important it really is. So I want everyone to read the Sacrament prayers. Ponder all we promise to do and what we are promised in return. Also read D&C 59:9-10. And any other Sacrament or Sabbath-related scriptures. This is our time to partake of the blessings of the Atonement. Our time to be cleansed from sins. To begin a new week with our baptism renewed, to repent of our mistakes from the week and to commit again to do our best. But it's also the time for us to partake of the other blessings of the Atonement. Strength, comfort, healing, stability, peace. Everything. Grace is able to heal us and strengthen us where we fall short, as we take the sacrament. It really is an amazingly sacred time. We are so blessed to be able to go to church EVERY Sunday and partake of the Sacrament. So I just wanted everyone to make an extra effort this Sunday to focus on that spirit. Pay attention to the strength you receive from going to Sacrament meeting. I know Sacrament meeting was SO welcome for me after such a crazy first few days here. We are always learning about the gospel. But there is something different about sacrament meeting. I hope you all can feel that too :)
I love you all! I'm running out of time now. Everyone do your best this week and be your best and pray for strength. I know the Lord will give it to you.
I love you all so so sos os oso so so so much!
Love,

Sister Heather Shelley

Friday, September 11, 2015

Heather's Mission Farewell talk on August 31, 2015

Bishop Dyer asked me to read President Eyring’s talk, “The Comforter” and connect it with my preparation to serve my mission. So first I’d like to talk a bit about the spirit’s influence in my decision to serve and my actual mission call. After I’ll talk a bit about some of the ideas in this talk by President Eyring.
As soon as I heard President Monson announce the missionary age change, I knew I wanted to serve. There was no doubt in my mind that this was what I WANTED to do. The question was what the Lord wanted me to do. I knew a mission wasn’t right for everyone I knew the Lord’s timing was also important. So I pressed forward, seeking the answer of what He would have me do. I kept up my faith, I continued to build my testimony, I waited for that answer.
One day Senior year I was sitting at the foot of my bed, reading my scriptures. I don’t remember what scripture it was or what it said. I just remember that I suddenly had the clear and absolutely sure thought enter my head: “I am going to serve a mission”.
From that moment I knew. I changed my words from “if I serve” to “when I serve”. And eventually everyone else knew too. I was going to be a missionary.
I know the spirit guided me as I determined when to serve. Originally I planned to leave in December, after just a semester of college. Eventually I decided on a year of school before my mission, then to go after the summer had ended as well. It was the best decision to wait until the year of school had ended. School was so good for me. I grew and learned so much. I needed that time away from home and away from my family. I needed the growth that came from the callings I had in my student ward. I was called as a Sunday school teacher and then as the first counselor in the Relief Society. Those two callings helped me to grow and learn so much.
So I put my papers in just as school ended. I got my call in the middle of May. I just wanted to share some of what I wrote the day my call was assigned.

“I hoped they’d call me on a mission and now they have! I have yet to know where that will be, but the Lord has called me. I don’t know where I’ll be called to. It could be on the other side of the world in some obscure country, or it could be in Provo, Utah. But the Lord has called me where he KNOWS I am meant to serve. I know preparing to serve a mission is what the Lord prompted me to do. Yes I have fears. I know it will be harder than anything I’ve faced. I know I will have huge trials, fears, complaints, struggles. I will miss my family and friends, and probably have problems with investigators and companions. But it is such a HUGE peace to know that I have been called to serve as a missionary. I do know Christ lives and I want so badly to bring people to that knowledge. That eagerness overpowers any fear or worries. I know who I am, I know God’s plan, and I’ll follow him in faith.  I’ll go where you want me to go, dear Lord. Over Mountain, or plain, or sea. I’ll go where you want me to go dear Lord. I’ll be where you want me to be! I will go and do and be and serve wherever the Lord commands and calls me to go.”

My call arrived and I felt pretty overwhelmed as I looked at that huge world map. Where was the Lord going to send me? What crazy language would I be required to learn or what culture would I have to attempt to understand? I was nervous, worried about where that call might be. But I knew that the Lord would call me where I was meant to be.
And so, I was called to serve in the Canada Montreal Mission, speaking French. It was like receiving a huge hug from my father in Heaven. I knew this mission was for me. I don’t think I could have selected a mission I’d be happier with than this. I knew it was where I was meant to be called. I knew beyond any doubt that I had been called of God. It is such a tender mercy that I have been called to speak French. That wasn’t a coincidence decided by a bunch of old men in suits. The Lord knew what it would mean to me to be called to speak French. For those of you who don’t know, my family has some very close friends who live in France. This family is like an extension to my own family and I love them dearly. The opportunity to better learn their language, to really communicate with them, is the greatest blessing I could ask for. Only my Heavenly Father could have known what a gift of love it would be to be asked to learn the French language.  There was no doubt in my mind that this call was the right one for me.
And so I prepared for my mission. We felt the need to prepare nearly everything before our trip to Europe. I felt strongly that I wanted to go through the temple before our trip. Even if I could only go that one time. My family went on our trip to Europe. There I was able to spend 3 weeks in France, 2 of which were spent with our wonderful friends.
Yesterday morning I was called by President Jackson with a decision to make. The MTC found my French good enough to put me on a faster track. But as a result, I could either enter 3 weeks early or 3 weeks late. September 9th or October 21st. This was the hardest decision to make. My siblings all begged me to stay longer. Plans for the next month also seemed to nudge in the direction of the later date. But my heart just wanted to serve. September 30th had felt far enough away, and waiting another month sounded almost unbearable. I prayed, I read some scriptures, and I talked with my family. Last week studying Preach My Gospel, I read the scripture D&C 15:6. As I was pondering the decision of when I should leave, I remembered this scripture.
“And now, behold, I say unto you, that the thing which will be of the most worth unto you will be to declare repentance unto this people, that you may bring souls unto me, that you may rest with them in the kingdom of my Father”
The thing of most worth will be to declare repentance. I had been so eager to get into the mission field, why not accept this opportunity to enter even sooner? So I decided that I would leave with only one and a half weeks of notice. I would put aside my plans for the coming month, and instead head out to do this thing which will be of the most worth.
It’s a hard decision. I had to change my mentality completely. But as soon as I voiced my decision to leave now rather than later, I felt the greatest peace. I felt such great comfort and I felt so happy, knowing that this was the right decision.
I have felt the influence of the spirit so much in my life the past few years as I have decided and prepared to serve as a missionary. I have no doubt that the spirit has guided me. It has comforted me in my times of trial or lack of surety. It has strengthened me to keep moving forward.

Now transition a bit to President Eyring’s talk. I just wanted to echo a few of the things President Eyring said about The Comforter.
Matthew 11:28-30
“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart; and ye shall find rest unto your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
His way is the only source of TRUE comfort. He is the only way to find strength and rest from our burdens
President Eyring talked of our baptismal promise to mourn with those that mourn and comfort those in need of comfort. He said:
“You promised that you would help the Lord make their burdens light and be comforted. You were given the power to help lighten those loads when you received the gift of the Holy Ghost.”
I love this. Yes, we have the Holy Ghost as our comforter. But we don’t simply sit back and allow it to do its job alone. We are all instruments in helping people to feel of this spirit. We are responsible for helping to bring others those promised blessings of the comforter.     This applies to me as a future missionary and to each of us as members. We mourn with those that mourn and comfort those in need of comfort. We are ALWAYS needed to stand as witnesses of God.
As President Eyring put it, each of us feel, at times, “uncertain of our capacity to move forward”.
To give us the necessary strength to press forward and endure, our savior gave us the gift of the Holy Ghost. The presence of a comforter to comfort us when the ways of the world fail to do so.
In John 14:16-18, 26-27, Christ talks of this promised gift of the comforter.
“And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him; but ye know him; for He dwelleth with you, and shall be with you. I will not leave you comfortless; I will come to you.         But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you; not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”
The comforter is my source of peace. In times of worry or loss, temptation or sadness. He truly is our only source of true and lasting peace. This verse really does a lot to calm my heart in times of trouble.
“Peace I leave unto you, MY PEACE I give unto you; not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”
The comforter brings us peace and strength REGARDLESS of what we face in this life. Regardless of the hard times we face, the spirit gives us the strength to continue. It allows for us to get through trial which are necessary to this life.  President Eyring said:
“That is part of the great plan of Happiness the Father gave us. He allowed his son to provide, by his atoning sacrifice, the hope that comforts us no matter how hard the way home to him may be”.
The spirit allows for us to feel that comfort of the atonement. It gives us the strength and courage to continue on, the peace and love to do so in a Christlike way. He allows for us to live joyful lives despite great times of trial. He helps us to feel the truth of our father’s plan and have the strength to endure.
In closing I wanted to share the words of one of my favorite hymns. It became very special to me after some hard times this school year. At times when I felt alone or worried about what life had ahead, the words of this song would put me at peace.              (hymn 129, where can I turn for peace)

I bear testimony that he is our own source of true comfort and peace. He is the one who understands. He truly is our savior and friend and his truly is a love without end.
Atonement (words cannot express)
Excited to declare
Peace and revelation granted by the spirit
Share this comfort with those I teach. To comfort, mourn, and stand as a witness in ALL that I do.
Grateful for this gospel, testimony, joy in my life

Echo these words I wrote in my journal the day my call arrived:

“He is with me now, and he will be as he sends me off in his service. My Lord is with me. He knows me and loves me. This I know—that God is real. Christ lives. He is my source of comfort, strength, peace, and joy. In him I can find the strength to do ALL things he might require of me. I love this gospel with all my heart, and I am so happy I can prepare to go out and serve with all my heart, might, mind, and strength."





Less than 48 hours in the MTC and loving it!



I've been here in the MTC for less than 48 hours, but I already love it and have learned so much. It's pretty busy. But that's what I was expecting. We wake up at 6:30 a.m.  and from then on are running all day long. We're supposed to be able to plan and do companionship inventory from 9:00 to 9:30  each night, but so far we haven't been released from our meetings or classes until after 9:30  each night. 9:30-10 is supposed to be our time to get ready for bed and do companion prayer, but we usually don't get back to residence until half way through that time. Then we shower and get ready for bed. By the time "lights out" is announced, we're barely starting to settle and things are pretty crazy. At this point, we haven't been able to get to bed before 11. Hopefully the schedule gets a little better as time goes on though.
First off, I was surprised to find that I'm not in French classes. I guess because I've been fast-tracked they decided to put me in  English-speaking classes. Because of this, I also don't have any language study time planned into my schedule. So that's pretty crazy. BUT it has really turned out to be the most amazing thing and a wonderful blessing.
I have been placed in the advanced English branch. So that means all the international missionaries who already know English pretty well, so are just learning here for 12 days like me. Wow these people are amazing. I am one of two Utahns and American born missionaries in our entire branch. The other is Elder Bosil from Orem, who is also French speaking on the fast track (serving in the Paris mission). We have missionaries from EVERYWHERE. And they are really the most amazing people. I feel so blessed to get to know them. It's harder sometimes because we can't communicate as easily as with native English speakers. But they speak so well and they are the most wonderful people. Wow I love my branch. So, about my companion :) Her name is Sister Lyu (pronounced kind of the way the French pronounce tu). She is from Taiwan and speaks Mandarin natively. She's serving in Canada Calgary speaking English. She is 25, a convert of 2 years, and has the most amazing testimony. Today she told me a bit about her decision to serve a mission. She is the only member in her family, so hasn't had the most support. She is amazing though. There are two other companionships in our district, our entire district is sisters :) Sister Kwansing (from Figi) and Sister Wisanbannawit (said just how it looks ;), from Tailand ). The other two sisters are both from Tonga (I always forget their names :/). The are amazing. They are best friends and have been for years. The one is a convert, brought to know about the gospel with the help of the other. She has been a convert for about a year and a half. They both are amazingly strong and have such strong testimonies. They both entered the MTC the same day and received their call to Korea. Both going to the same place and they're BEST FRIENDS! It's so amazing. Because they'll be starting a Korean class, we only have them in our branch for about a week more :( We will definitely miss them. 
There are two other districts of new missionaries that I have come to love. I was originally assigned to district 14B until things got moved around. But my first day I spent really getting to know them. There are 3 sisters and 2 elders. Sister Leewin (It's not spelled that way at all, but I'm not even going to try spelling it right ;)). She was born in Vietnam, but moved to the US at 6 years old and has since lived in Texas. She went to BYU last year and worked in the cafeteria here, so she knows what's going on and can help us out a bit here :) Her entire family are converts, all baptized on the same day. She is amazing and so kind. Sister Kwon is from Korea. The sweetest girl ever. Oh my goodness, I love her. They have a trio with a Somoan sister (I just can't remember these islander names :P). They are all so wonderful :) Then there are two elders. Elder Boutoille is from FRANCE! So even though I haven't had any French classes, he's spoken to me in French a bit and he said my French is great :) actually, he said he thought it was better than his English. I know that's not true though. It was so wonderful to speak French though :) His companion is Elder Taka from Tonga. I haven't talked to him as much, but he seems pretty cool. :)
The last district of newbies is 14G. I haven't gotten to know the Elders very well. Elder Bosil (the one serving in France) and Elder I don't remember (from Norway :). The sisters are all going to serve in Temple Square. One companionship is from Japan and Mexico. I've talked a bit more with the other companionship--Sister Rauta (pronounced How-ta [from brazil :)] ), and Sister Dechesne (from FRANCE!). I've spoken a little French with her as well :) They are all wonderful people. 
We have only had 2 days together, but already have so much fun and love each other so much. They each have AMAZING stories. I wish I had time to share all of them. They really are such wonderful people. So I'm not in a French class and sometimes it's hard having a companionship where we can't always understand everything or converse perfectly. But it is amazing. I feel so blessed to get to know and serve in the MTC with all of these wonderful people. Seriously from EVERYWHERE. They are wonderful :) I'm so happy to know them. Can you tell I love my Branch? :)
Our sister training leaders are also so so sweet. They've been here a couple weeks already. They are both oriental (I'm not sure from where). But they are always so sweet. They remember all of us and are always smiling :) And then there's our roommates. Sister Lyu and I are in a room with just two other sisters. They've been here a week. One is also from Taiwan, the other from Hungary! (tell Ella :) . They are such wonderful girls. I love talking with them, although we only see each other the crazy hours before and after going to bed. I love them though. They are such a wonderful companionship. 
The people here are wonderful, and everyone is so happy and friendly (which is good since we're all missionaries :). I've met so many people, in my branch, at the gym, in the cafeteria... everyone is amazing and all have their own story. It's pretty amazing :) 
I love it here. Oh, and the branch President said he was going to try to get a French tutor for Elder Bosil and me, so we can learn some French words for teaching while we're here :) So that would be great.
The MTC is amazing. The food isn't as good as I've heard... it's too processed for my liking ;) But they feed us well and I eat lots of fruit to make up for the unhealthy stuff they try to feed us ;) I'm grateful to be here. Now that I'm here, I have no doubt that it was right to leave early. I feel so blessed that I'm able to enter the mission field before I'd otherwise be arriving in the MTC. This is all for a reason and I know it :) I know I'm supposed to be here and I'm so grateful for that. I'm so so so excited for the coming year and a half and for the people I'll get the chance to serve :)
Also... feel free to let the letters start coming. I'm sure that would be lovely. They days are great as is, but a little added excitement is always welcome ;)
I love classes and my teacher though. I love all that we have learned. I love the gospel and I love being a missionary.
All my love,
Sister Heather Shelley

Heather's MTC address is:
Sister Heather Brooke Shelley
SEP22 CAN-MON 
2005 N 900 E Unit 222
Provo, Utah 84602

Her mission email :
heather.shelley@myldsmail.net

Thursday, September 10, 2015

To the Rescue...Entering the MTC

Heather's blog wil be updated by her mother for the next 18 months while Heather serves as a                                              missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.



 My daughter Heather entered the Provo Mission Training Center yesterday to begin her service as a missionary in the Canada Montreal mission. I'll post her weekly emails, letters and hopefully lots of photos. Eleven days ago she learned she would be entering the MTC three weeks earlier than planned.  But she insisted we keep our scheduled camping trip to Goblin Valley over Labor Day weekend,  so we had one last hurrah with family before she left.



                                           Camping in Goblin Valley with the Burton family



           Wild Horse slot canyon....wading through knee deep muddy water added to our adventure.


                                                                          Goblin Valley


                                         Saying goodbye to Clark and Fatima and their family.











                          Heather  was  so eager to serve and could hardly wait until Wednesday.




                Heather asked me to take photos which captured  her enthusaism for the work.So the day before she entered the MTC we drove to the Bounitful temple and got these darling photos of her.   Heather tied the Canadian flag around her neck and with her French Book of Mormon in hand exclaimed,"TO THE RESCUE!!"














                           Tuesday evening  she was set apart by President Jackson. Grandma and Grandpa Burton and Carter's parents were able to be there with our family for this special evening.




























September 9, 2015 Heather entered the Missionary Trainig Center.  On our drive down to the MTC I looked at her MTC address and noticed that her MTC deparure date was  September 22, a  week earlier than she was expecting...THAT  is really being FAST TRACKED!! She has a lot to accomplish in the next 11 days but she'll do great!!



Saying our goodbyes at the Provo temple grounds




Heather  worried most about leaving her little brother Hayden. He'll grow up sooo much while she's gone. 





















Heather's last request....Can we please build a pyramid? 


So long, farewell...See you in 18 months.