Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Week 9 in the MTC

Dear family,

The MTC is school good, as always. I love being here and there are only two more weeks for me to enjoy it, so I am trying to soak it all in. On December 7th I should be leaving on a plane for KOREA! Yes, I know, most of you probably think it is far past time, ready to kick me out of the country and all of that. But it still seems so surreal. To think, by this time in two weeks I will be speaking in Korean 24/7 and trying to understand when people talk back to me. I will be telling people about the gospel and eating kimchee for every meal and using chopsticks and all sorts of fun things.

This also means that if you wanted to send me anything before you have to pay for it to go international, now is the time. Thank you for everything you have sent so far, I really enjoy receiving things and knowing that people are still alive, that sort of thing. By no means feel obligated to send me anything, however, if you would like ideas, things that I enjoy include:
-those microfiber towels look really useful/compact
-shirts (usually size Medium, anything that is longer than cap-sleeve, high neck, machine washable, cute ^^)
-small snacks (chocolate, hazelnuts, skittles, peanut M&Ms, pretty much anything)
-True to the Faith book

Forecast of events for the next couple of weeks:
-Thursday: Thanksgiving! Elder Holland is coming to speak and we will have a fun filled day of service projects and sack meals!
-Friday: receive flight plans (find out how early I have to wake up to catch my plane)
-Next Tuesday: last P-day and last chance to check email and things like unto it until I reach Korea, so if you have anything important to say to me before I leave, tell me before then.
-Monday Dec. 7- KOREA here I come!

I love the Gospel and my Korean is improving every day. We have a native Korean sister that is kind of our companion and so we get to escort her around. She doesn't speak any English and so it has been helping our Korean improve as we take her around, explain what is happening, ask about her life, etc. I had to give her an orientation of the MTC all in Korean and it convinced me that I need to purchase a translator as soon as I get to Korea.

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I would love to hear what you are all thankfull for. My list includes:
*All of you! I love having the support of my family and knowing that you love me and that I can always count on you
*The restored gospel which gives me peace, confidence, joy, guidance
*The opportunity to learn Korean and just in general, can you imagine if you finished with school and just decided that you had had enough learning. How boring would that be!
*Office supplies- there is just something so wonderful about being able to use colored pencils and tape in your everyday life
*fresh fruit- nothing better than peeling an orange to wake you up and start your day.

And the best way to show that you are really thankful is to give. This thanksgiving I would challenge all of you to think of something you can do for others, do it, and then tell me about it.

I love you all,

Sister Rebecca O'Bryan

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Week 8 in the MTC...not that I'm counting

Dear family,

News from the MTC. The food is the same as always (a little risky, but you can find things if you look for them). And the spirit is just as wonderful and permeating as ever. We were able to hear from a lot of great powerhouse speakers this week, including Elder Oak's wife- Kristen Oaks who talked about testimony. She was so fun and is so knowledgable. She talked a lot about how when we bear our testimonies we can keep it simple and let people know the core things we believe, that God is our loving Heavenly Father, that Christ is his son and that through him we can repent, that Joseph Smith was a prophet for our day and that he restored temples and the Book of Mormon, and that we have a prophet on the earth today to guide us. She then gave us these cute little "testimony gloves" that have pictures on each of the fingers of Christ, God, Joseph Smith, Thomas S. Monson, and the temple. So fun!

Then Sunday night we heard from Sheri L. Dew who talked about becoming a greater seeker of knowledge. I love that concept of continual growth, it seems the more I learn that instead of satiating my thirst I just want to learn more. She talked about how if we are to fulfill our missions, not just as missionaries, but in life, that there are three things she would suggest we all learn:
1. Who we are- D&C 138; we are God's children and he has a purpose for us
2. What the Savior did for us when he atoned and what He is willing to do for us now - She talked specifically about how she has felt the comforting and healing power of the atonement in her life and the promise that Christ makes in Luke 4:18 when he says that he has come to healt the broken hearted.
3. How the Lord speaks to and guides us- there are a lot of things that can distract us in life, but if we learn to heed what the Lord wants us to do then we can be guided in our lives.

I have realized while in the MTC that my sense of time has been somewhat diminished. Last Wednesday I was helping to host new missionaries (again) as they came into the MTC and I realized that it was Veterans day. Then on Friday we all realized that it was Friday the 13th, but we didn't realize until about 9PM at which point my companion, Sister Kelley, exclaimed "make sure not to pull any pranks, just because it is Friday the 13th." We had to remind her that that traditional is actually for April Fool's day. Who knows what I will be like in a year and a half when I come back from Korea.

I love my companions and they are a constant source of joy. One of my companions, Sister West, is a little bit hard of hearing and so although she can hear what people say when they are talking directly to her, she often has a hard time picking up on things around her, like if something is happening in the hallway or if someone whispers something under her breath. I think this contributes to the fact that most people think she has no sense of humor, when really she just can't hear them. However, the other day we were all laughing and I realized that there was no way that they were laughing at the same thing I was, so we went around and said what it was that we were laughing at and when it came to her she simple said, "I'm so used to not hearing things that I've learned just to laugh when everyone else does." It made us laugh so more, but the more I think about it, the more I realize what an eduring quality that is. Imagine if you could laugh at any time, you could lighten any mood.

Just a thought that my Branch President left us with this week:
"Let obedience be our quest. When obedience ceases to be an irratant then we know we have made a true change of heart." I think there's actually more to it than that, but I can't remember all of it. I just know that I realized the more that we align our will with God's then the more we are able to become truely free to be ourselves.

I love you all,

Sister Rebecca O'Bryan

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Week...7? in the MTC

Dear Family,

Life is going well here. The weather is getting cooler, but my excitement is not. It's exciting to think that in only four more weeks I will be headed to Korea. There are definitely times when it seems like the MTC is my life, always has been and always will be, but then you get those moments when you realize that you are here only as a preparation for something grander.

Fun story from this week:
While we were teaching about Knowledge to our district this week our Branch President's counselor, Brother Shin made a comment. He was reading from a scripture in D&C that discussed how when we obtain knowledge from God we are able to better understand the way to salvation and to receive joy. As an Asian, he explained, he and his wife are very serious people and the only thing that makes them laugh is when someone farts. For some reason everyone in my district looked at me and started to laugh. I suppose the O'Bryan curse is really more of a blessing, because at least if I can't speak Korean I can make them laugh and win my way into their hearts.

The more I do it, the more I love to plan. I have always like to carry around a planner with me and schedule things, but I am learning now more how to combine my goals, like my life/spiritual goals into my plans and not just to get things done, but to really accomplish things so that I feel like I am progressing in all areas. There is more of the Why behind the What.

Our new districts are great. We have five Sisters and seven Elders who came in last Wednesday which tripled our numbers. I think we are the only zone in the MTC that is almost half and half with our Sister to Elder ratio. I am alright with that. They are all very nice and wonderful and spunky. A few of the girls have already graduated from college and had careers that they put on hold in order to go on missions. One was a teacher and the other worked as an IT analyst in Washington DC for the Federal Reserve. Neat, eh?

While reading in 2 Nephi 25 I came across verse 26 which says:
"We talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophecy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of sins."

Previously we had had a fireside by Richard Heaton who discussed the importance of remembering your purpose as a missionary. He explained that we do not share the gospel for the sole purpose of baptizing people, but for the joy that comes when they realize that they can receive a remission of their sins because of Jesus Christ and his atonement. Putting it into that perspective really helped me to realize that it is all about love. God put us here on this earth so that we could become better, so that we can return to him, but in order to do that we had to have the Atonement. We had to have Christ and because we do there is no end to the potential happiness we may feel. Doesn't that just give you hope?

I hope that we can all speak of Christ, write of Christ, rejoice in Christ and that it exudes from us in a way that people cannot help but notice.

Challenge for the week, write down how have you seen the Atonement of Jesus Christ work in your life? How have you changed because of that knowledge? I'd love to hear your answers.

I love you all, I hope you are doing well.


Sister Rebecca O'Bryan

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Week 6 in the MTC

Dear family,

It has been exciting, as always. Last week we got to hear from L. Tom Perry who spoke with his wife. I love everyone who comes to speak, but hearing from an apostle is always a special privelage.

I learned a lot more about Korean culture this week, some interesting things include:
*The two biggest Korean holidays are both 3 days each, Chusok- which is the Korean thanksgiving and happens in late September. During this holiday everything gives everyone presents and then eats really well. Sole-all (not spelled quite like that, but nothing translates exactly) which is in February and is the New Year. During this time everyone goes back to their traditional home and pays respect to their grandparents. The Grandmothers and mothers control the purse strings in every family so the more respect you pay to them the better your present it.

This week is exciting because we get a new district of Elders and Sisters-- 12! That means that our Sacrament meeting will go from 6 people to 18. This past Sunday was interesting, during testimony meeting not only did everyone bear their testimony, but we even had a musical number and we still ended 15 minutes early. It's interesting to think that I have passed my halfway mark and I only have a little over a month left in the MTC.

One of the new elders is from Uzbekistan, but he has a Korean name and says that the language spoken in the home is Korean. So it will probably be difficult to speak to him, we're not sure if we will need to talk in Korean or Russian (neither of which we really know how to speak). Maybe Natasha can send me some phrases so I can help him get around.

It is interesting because most of Korean comes from Chinese characters and the symbol for Virtue means having your actions, heart, and eyes in 100% accordance.

I have been thinking a lot this week about trusting God. How much do we really trust that he hears our prayers and that he will provide for us? A story was told in mission conference by a man who used to be a mission president in the Canary Islands. He retold a story about one Christmas when he and some missionaries made cookies and then went around caroling at various member's houses. On the way back they had some extra cookies so stopped by a lady's house, her name was Claudia. Claudia had been baptized a year earlier and was a stalwart member, but had gotten a divorce at the same time that she joined the church and her children were all grown and had recently moved to the Peninsula (Spain). As they came to the door they noticed that her table was set with a nice dinner, she was dressed up, and it looked like she was preparing for a party. They told her that they would just sing and leave as they didn't want to intrude, but she insisted that they stay. She then explained that the Christmas before had been spent completely alone and was quite sad, so she had prayed a week before to God to have company on Christmas. "Lord," she had bargained, "I will provide the party if you will provide the guests" so she went out, got her hair done, prepared a five course meal, and here were her guests. I thought it was really neat.

For those who remember Peachie Jones, I saw her at the temple last week. I guess she is going to law school at BYU and I don't really know much else, but it was neat seeing her since I haven't in AGES.

I love you all, thank you for your love and support.


Sister Rebecca O'Bryan