Friday, January 17, 2014

1/17/14 - Front Row when Elder Bednar speaks

   Here is Jess’s 1-17-14 letter – she actually sent it this morning and I just happened to be on my email, so we were able to chat back and forth for about ten minutes and it was so wonderful.  I actually got answers to some of my questions I had asked her in previous letters!  She sends her love to everyone and is so grateful for the emails, letters and prayers in her behalf.  As a mom, I second that and say thanks a million!!

  This week has been so much fun, but still crazy. Just starting to get into the swing of things. The days go by so slow, but now I look back and it’s weird to think I only have 3 more p-days then I’m outta here. The first district we were with in our zone was English speaking, so they left us on Tuesday to head up to Idaho!! Awesome;) Our new district that we are with are all English, though one girl is really good at sign (go figure). So, before we leave we will go through a total of 3 different districts in our zone. Cool cool.
   So, Elder Bednar came and talked to us Tuesday, and being ASL, and needing a translator, we got to sit front row.  Two sisters in our district actually got called up by his wife to speak for a sec, super cool! Man, when those apostles talk you can just feel the authority and power when they speak, super super cool! He answered questions that he had been asked when he came to the MTC Christmas Eve last year. I really thought it was cool how he told us missionaries to stop asking for miracles, because if you do, guaranteed you won’t get any. He spoke about faith and works need to be shown first. He mentioned when the Israelites were carrying the Ark, and they were promised that they could pass through the river, and it wasn’t until the Israelites’ feet were wet before the water departed. He blessed us missionaries as an apostle of the Lord that if we have humble faith and work diligently, we will have eyes to see and ears to hear the small and simple tender mercies of the Lord. Not miracles, but mercies.
   One kind of frustrating thing is that using scriptures can be a challenge in lessons. Unlike other languages, you cannot write ASL, and a lot of Deaf people have a hard time reading English. And, as far as cd's, they only have the Book of Mormon on cd's with a person signing, so forget the Bible. It can be frustrating, because a scripture can tie so good with a person's life, but because I have to try and interpret and explain the verse in sign, it rarely has the same impact. So, watching the Book of Mormon cd is my new language study goal!! My teacher said if I watch half an hour each day, I should finish it in close to four months! Whew hooo bring it on!! =) 
Love you all! Stop waiting for miracles and look for His mercies!
-Sister McNeill

Friday, January 10, 2014

1/10/14 - 1st Week of the MTC, adjusting to new alarm clock

January 10, 2014
  Hey! Halloo from the MTC!  Well, first week at the MTC feels like a year! I have grown so much, and know 3 times as many signs as I learned from taking it two years back in High school! So yeah, that's been fun!
  So, funny small random facts, I have the nice benefit of not having to set my alarm for the next 5 weeks. Why? Because there are two deaf sisters in my dorm, and turns out a beeping alarm clock doesn't exactly work for them.... so it also flashes.... and vibrates.... and screams like a banshee. (never got that part, I think the sound waves are so strong it wakes her up. So tha'ts been funny for both me and the other hearing sister to get used to.
  Lame note, I've been sick the past few days, bedridden just for a little, but I had to miss asking our first "investigator" to be baptised. My comp. Sister ingram switced with another comp so I could get some rest, and she accepted, yaya!! Frustrated I couldn't be there, but if anything it just gave me more motivation for the next one.
 Cool spiritual thought I had- The Bishop of the church came and talked to us on Tuesday- he was talking about Moses and how the people simply had to look at the snake on the rod to be healed. If they swallowed their pride, and turned to the Lord, they were healed. A miracle, right? So cool; but it's interesting that in the scriptures it doesn't give us a time frame- it just simply says those who looked were healed. So, it might've been a few days, or maybe even weeks before these people even recovered. Regardless though, it was still a miracle. Funny how time seems to alter or shift our perspective on things. Each night I pray with all my heart to understand my companion, to be able to understand my investigator so they don't have to finger-spell everything slow motion... But you know what, I have felt the Lord's power through me. Going through the temple tonight, the MTC forgot to tell the provo mtc workers that there is a deaf sister who needs an interpreter. Well, they were able to do close captions, but that can only get you so far. So, I had the opportunity to attempt to translate an endowment. I testify to you that God makes weak things strong. Not perfect, but strong and able. I love this gospel. 
 Love you all to pieces. Be safe. Just remember to turn to the Lord. He is right there. Right there! Just waiting for you to lean on Him. He won't take away your burden, so quit praying for that, but He will give you strength that is impossible for you to comprehend. Faith, trust, and work. That is the theme of my mission=) Love you all, thanks for the support.  I'm writing letters, slowly but surely. God bless you (if you work)
-Sister Jess McNeill

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Jessica's 1st Letter from the MTC

Hey there!
So, first P-Day at the MTC. Suh-weet! Its crazy how I've only been here for 3 days and already you start to look forward to when you can wear jeans again! Haha but no the MTC is phenomenal! People aren't exaggerating when they say the spirit is overpowering here. Its nice, just having a constant peace, except for the few moments when you realize you now that having the Spirit apparently gives your tear ducts free will to go all at it whenever they want.
So my companion, Sister Ingram, such a kind darling girl. What patience she has! In case you missed my last email, she is completely Deaf, and cannot lip read.... and unlike the other four sisters in my district who've had 4+ years of training/experience, I don't. I know this will help me learn so much faster, but it can be a little hard because whenever I talk to other elders or sisters from other districts, I have to try and interpret the conversation, which then I forget half the time, or don't know the words, so besides being the companion of the "cool deaf girl," I haven't really met a lot of missionaries outside our district. But they are all so vigorously trying to help catch me up, and I feel God trusts me with this challenge and I know without a doubt that if I can just keep smiling/laughing and trust in the Lord, and give Him everything I can that He can work through the most unqualified vessels and edify them in ways I can't imagine. DC 6 has inspired me, like it was written for me. Verses 10-17 (I'll make you look it up), phenomenal. Doubt not, fear not. I doubt myself, and fear my first lesson to teach tomorrow. But I don't doubt my Father in Heaven and I have no fear that if (or when) I fall He'll help pick me back up.
Details... well, my room is bigger than my apartment was at USU. Bunkbeds are... fun. But hey, its not a roach-infested floor in Africa! The food is good, occasionally edible=) Nah its just cafeteria food. Unlimited icecream though, that's a bonus!! Both my Language teachers are Deaf, and my main one, Brother Patterson, has been helping us prepare to teach an "investigator tomorrow (Saturday) ahhhh! Well, if nothing else, I'll just let my brilliant companion take it away while I just smile and nod. I tried to pray in sign language today, totally sincere, not just using the words I know.Man, its amazing how much more natural your true feelings come out when you sing. Its no longer just words, just your mouth, its your whole body. Its the coolest feeling in the world, signing Hymns. I looooove singing, and so I thought it would be kinda hard to learn the sign when my throat wants to sing... Wrong-O. You put that same passion & that same energy into your hands, and your soul still catches on fire.
Anyhow, I gotta go. That's another thing, you have- no free time, especially when it takes a half hour to read through the first chapter of PMG with your companion as you flip back and forth to teach the English word and then learn the sign. But hey, it makes me happy tho think that my Heavenly Father entrusts me with this adorable girl, and I will give my heart, my will, my soul to my Father to help edify and perfect me. Love you all!  Love you Seth. Love you Dallin. Love you Dad. Love you Mom. Love you random citizen who is reading this eternally long email! If ever doubting, read Alma 34- major comforter. 
Talk to ya in a week!
Doubt not; Fear not.
Sister Jess McNeill