October 22, 2014 – Week 5

Hello everyone! My last week in the MTC has arrived! I leave on Monday to fly to Amsterdam and I am so so excited! The title of this stream of consciousness email is “ja ik zal u daar ontmoeten”- that is the name (probably spelled wrong) of one of our favorite Dutch hymns.  It is so so beautiful – I guess you could translate it to “yes I will meet you there”. It is a funeral song but the lyrics are beautiful and happy about how we will one day all meet again on “the other side of the ocean.”  So, I guess I just thought it appropriate as I am going to be crossing a ocean soon and the next time I see you all will be when I cross back! Thanks again everyone for the support and prayers. I miss you lots! This week has flown by and been amazing. The MTC is such an amazing place of learning and spiritual growth.  And it has been so fun, too with our new Danes and Swedes who have joined us! I keep hearing about Meet the Mormons, the new movie, and it’s incredible sucess! We haven’t been able to see it but hope to see it this Sunday if they show it!

This week we have met some incredible new investigators of the church- men and women who live in Provo area that come to the MTC to talk to missionaries for employment! I learn so much from hearing the diverse backgrounds of people.  Sometimes it is hard because they have so many questions that we can’t immediately answer. But I’ve learned that teaching them about the Gospel and inviting them to pray turn to God are often the best answers that we can supply.  He always knows better than we do! That being said, I am learning an incredible amount here-I love having personal study time.  I have been studying the topic of “light” in the scriptures-it is amazing! I have also found the most incredible insights as I’ve studied the story of Job, and Jacob 5 in the context of missionary work, and Alma 26, which I am convinced was written about the Netherlands.  I already love the people of Belgium and the Netherlands so much.  We have amazing teachers who have instilled in us so much respect and love for them which makes us want to work so hard in all aspects of missionary work!
This week Elder Goodoy of the 70 and Sister Linda Reeves from the Relief society presidency spoke to us.  Another cool thing that happened this week is that at the Sunday evening devotional, my companion accompanies an elder in my zone who sang “Savior Redeemer of My Soul” for the special musical number-it was so powerful! I got my 3 seconds of fame on the camera as I turned the page for her 😉
If you want to hear a funny story – so apparently some people in the Dutch districts originally memorized the wrong word for “can” as in ability, the verb. Instead they memorized can, as in a can of food.  So they taught in lessons that you “can of food” read your scriptures….which is pretty funny.  I make mistakes like that all the time too! The language is still pretty hard but we are exercising faith and trying our best.  Can’t wait to get to the Netherlands and not be able to understand a word though:)
I am so excited to head out! To be immersed in the culture, and to meet my new trainer! In a way though, I think I’ve had many “trainers” before my mission.  I think of my parents, and the sisters from back home: Sisters Nieman, Hansen, Flink, College, and countless others who I think about often when I think of how to be a good missionary.

Well, it’s time to sign off! I’m so grateful for the MTC, my companion, my experiences, and for the gospel! Can’t wait to share it!

P.S. I have attached some pictures (including an accidental blurry/scary selfie) and also including our sister with our travel plans and with our pinata!
Zuster Joshlin Manning

October 15, 2014 – Week 4

Hello family and friends! I’m afraid my time is limited today but my report is that I have had an absolutely wonderful week! I wish I could put in these simple emails the countless things that I learn and come to understand by the spirit here in the MTC.  The insights, miracles, and blessings from God are so abundant! I am learning how to be a better teacher.  Learning principles of the gospel. There are definitely humbling moments when you get a what I would consider “spiritual slap in the face” about how to be better!  I am learning more of the language slowly! Although I am by no means good, I feel like things are starting to click a little bit more now. Dutch isn’t really a super descriptive language and all of the words seem to look and sound alike so it’s easy to confuse! But the differentiation of words and pronunciation of words is coming along and our teachers think we are doing really well.  I can’t wait until we get to the Netherlands and realize we know nothing! 🙂 Speaking of which, we should get our flight plans this Friday! We should also find out then if we got our visas! Exciting times for sure! Last week, we did indeed, make a pinata (basically just a trash bag filled with candy, to celebrate our half way mark.  Being blindfolded and whacking at it with a hairbrush was quite the rush, I’ll tell you what 😀

I think more than anything, the devotionals this week were top notch! The director of media came and spoke to us, and told us about things the Church has done in the past to hasten the work through technology, which was so amazing and we got to watch a rough cut of a Christmas video that will come out with a new campaign. It is SO cool!  I’ll have to write more about it when it comes out, but one awesome thing is on December 7th I believe, the Church paid for a shortened version of it to show on the 30 second home page banner on the youtube.com!
Another devotional was based on how we are the Lord’s army, every one.  We sang “We Are All Enlisted” and the spirit was felt so strongly!  I know that we really our fighting for the Lord’s kingdom and for ours.  The Lord is on our side and there are angels around us to bear us up! This work is real and the gospel of Jesus Christ empowers us.  I love you all so much and thank you for your support! Have a wonderful week and catch you here again real soon!

October 8, 2014 – Week 3

Hello dearest family and amigos! This week marks my halfway point in this crazy experience that we call the MTC.  Also happy P-day, something always worth celebrating.  I think tonight as Sisters in the district we are going to make a pinata (a trashbag filled with candy to celebrate).  Sounds so swell:)

As always, thank you so much for your emails, dear elders, prayers, and telepathic sendings of love-all are so appreciated! It is so nice to hear from you.  It is so fun to hear about how well KC sports are going! Jared made me cackle because in his letter he wrote that Obama made a comment about their amazing successes and it was the only thing he’s agreed with him about 🙂 I can’t believe that Camille and Bryant get home this week! Give them big hugs for me!

General conference this week was definitely a highlight- it was so amazing and spiritually uplifting! And for sure a nice break from our rigorous class schedule. I loved Elder Bednar’s talk- it was so applicable! I also loved Elder Goodoy and Robbins.  One of my favorite though was Elder Uchdorf’s in the women’s session- it was so cool about our eternal potential.  I really learned through conference how to be a better disciple.  It’s also crazy because the whole time during conference I thought about our investigators, it was like every talk was about Claire! ALSO big shout out to our two elders who sang in general conference during the Priesthood session! We felt like their mothers, so proud of them singing the wonderful missionary songs.  And crazy-ness, Elder Hunter (more about him later), who we saw in the Nauvoo pageant, is so talented and was the elder who sang the solo at the beginning of “ye elders of Israel.”  He’s somewhat of an MTC celebrity now, so talented!

So in my past emails I have written things that have happened in the MTC but not a lot of specific stories. The next part of this email will just be comprised of random stories/ tender mercies that have happened! I love the MTC, it has helped me grow spiritually and our district is so united and close.  Okay, here goes!
–In Dutch to say “how are you”, you can say “hoe is het” which sounds like “who is it” in English.  So one of the first times we spoke with our investigator Judith, she answered the door and said “how are you” but I thought she was saying “who is it” and so I responded enthusiastically in Dutch “It’s the missionaries!” She laughed and let us in and I didn’t realize my mistake until much later.
–Another funny Dutch story – I had a “ELDER THAT AIN’T THE LANGUAGE THEY TAUGHT ME IN THE MTC” moment! last week we got to do TRC for the first time(not to be confused with TLC and all it’s cake boss and honey boo boo wonders), where you get to go teach lessons to Native Dutch speakers-most of them are old people and so sweet! So our first time, Zuster Johansen and I went in to teach this nice older gentleman about obedience.  His voice was deep and he spoke really quickly so it was hard to understand him but for the most part we at least knew what he was saying.  Then we asked him,. “How have you seen the blessing of obedience in your life?” Suddenly, he seriously starts telling us a story about his days in Vietnam and it was seriously hilarious because Sister Johanson and I had NO IDEA what he was saying.  We maybe knew two words, five tops. Most of the time that would make us feel despaired, but in this moment it was hilarious!
–I want to tell a funny story about how hilarious our elders are but I can’t think of a way to put on ein words-bacially they keep us laughing.  And we don’t know whose accent is stronger- Elder Hunter’s Scottish or Elder Silva’s Portuguese! They are both so kind and spiritually strong though.
–Funny story about Sister Johanson – when you go in the gym, you have to take off your name tag and put it in a cubby, and one day after leaving the gym, she accidentally took an Elder’s.  She wore it for a couple of hours and no one even noticed! We even took a picture that morning – so I have it documented when she was an elder!! She was so mortified:)
Tender Mercies:
–In our district, we call tender mercies “pop tart moments” because one night when Zuster Johanson was having a really rough time I gave her a not and poptart which she described as manna from heaven.  So good things, are poptarts!)
–Sister Twiggs has been feeling a lot better! We have been praying for her a lot.  But what really helped was the combined faith of the elders in our distirct who have given her blessings and fasted for her one day this week.  Her improvement has been incredible.
–I’ve been able to see SO many people that I know in the MTC! Like it is crazy – at least 8 people from my student ward, people I knew from BYU (like a teacher here who was in my stats class!), people I met from EFY,  Maggie Brown and Andre Fuller from our stake, the list goes on and on! It is amazing to see so many good people enlisted in God’s army!  Speaking of crazy connections- I learned new things about Elder Hunter this week-he basically has done so many performance things in the church.  You know that wonderful song Kiki sang at my farewell “Come unto Christ?” He is the one in the music video playing the piano! He also told me that all of the people singing in the music video – their stories are true! To audition for the video, you had to include a description on how coming closer to Christ has helped in your life, so they are acting our their own stories – incredible!  Also Elder Hunter and I realized that we had met each other before–family-remember how I went on that roadtrip with strangers (haha) to see that performance in St. George that Andrew from my ward was in? As it turns out, we met each other after the show but neither of us remembered that experience until a couple of days ago! Crazy times.
–We learned how to sing “Jesus wants me for a Sunbeam” in Dutch and it always cheers us up!
–I have learned so much about faith here.  In order for me to learn the language, I have to have faith that God could help me and I can do this.  We’ve struggled with one of our investigators but we have to learn to have faith that she can change and use her agency for the better!
–Speaking of Claire, we had an amazing lesson with her this week! Zuster Johanson and I have amazing experiences on how the Spirit can guide us as we prepare lessons to our specific people we are teaching
–This week for devotional Vai Sikahema came and spoke to us (who apparently is some big whig football/TV star) so that was cool and so so inspiring!
–Sister Johanson and I have grown so close in our service with each other. I have come to love and appreciate her SO much! We can’t wait to welcome in the Danes.
There are a million more things I wish I could tell you, so sorry I rant so much in these emails:) Ik hou van julie!  Thank you for everything!  You make life so amazing!
Love, Zuster Joshlin Manning

October 1, 2014 – Week 2

Hello to all!!

I wish I could write a lot of details about this week but honestly, it was just a blur of amazing things here at the MTC! So many ups and downs and miracles to sum up week 2. How about those Royals right?? This MTC experience is amazing and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.  But it is hard! I am learning more than ever to rely on the Lord and I am learning more about what faith actually is.
So, here are some random updates!
First of all, on Sunday, I was fasting that I would be able to better love Sister Johanson and that I could learn the language better.  The Lord answers prayers but not always in the ways that you would expect them. The Danish zone is leaving the MTC this week so Sister Johanson and I were surprised that on Sunday we were extended the assignment to be the Sister Training Leaders for the Zone.  This is humbling and overwhelming but I know it will be a good experience for us to grow closer together and hopefully help the new Danish Sisters that come feel comfortable in the MTC.  I am looking forward to interviewing the other sisters and getting to know them but we have big shoes to fill: our sister training leaders were so great and our zone right now is the biggest that it has ever been. Oh yes, update from last week : we have two Swedish districts, two Dutch districts, one Suriname (no sisters), one Norwegian, and one Danish.  I have been promised that as I serve others, my language skills will come.  I have learned this week, through study and prayer, that I can pray all I want to better learn the language, but it is so important that I have the faith in God that it will come. And trust in myself, which is sometimes difficult!
Teaching is great.  We have two new investigators this week, Claire (who seems very typical European in her mannerisms and beliefs) and Beja who we are meeting tonight.  We are no longer teaching Judith which is sad because she is the nicest ever.  For now our investigators are our teachers so this means we have two teachers! They are both so amazing and have so much love for the people of Belgium and the Netherlands.  My favorite word I learned this week is “t’jonge jonge” which means “boy oh boy” so can be used for excitement or disappointment. But it is pronounced like “chonga yonga” and sounds quite….Chinese? It’s amazing.  Dutch is so so hard for me. It’s good and I am learning a lot but sometimes in class I feel like the village idiot! 🙂
Sister Johanson and I had the experience this week to break out of the MTC bubble because she had a doctors appointment off campus.  It was so weird being in the real world and all the stereotypes are true because you still expect everyone to be missionaries! I would wonder where someone’s companion was and then remember, oh wait, this is the real world!
Sundays here are amazing because the sisters are able to watch music and the spoken word, meet as a giant relief society, and be so spiritually uplifted in many aspects!
We have a sister in our district, Sister Twiggs, who is such an example to me and that I have been really praying and fasting for.  She has had serious stomach problems all her life and here at the MTC they have been really flaring up, so she is afraid she won’t make it through the MTC. But she is so strong and has such a good attitude.  And it is a tender mercy of the Lord that yesterday she spoke with our branch president and he works at the medical center she used to go to (she lives only 10 minutes away) and can skip the process of setting up appointments and just get her in with her same doctors! The Lord watches out for His missionaries.
Another uplifting story-our last lesson with Judith, in my opinion went fairly alright.  We taught her about the atonement of Jesus Christ and encouraged her and bore a powerful testimony. (It is amazing how much the spirit can testify even when our words are simple).  Afterwards, Sister Johanson broke down crying because she is so compassionate and just felt terribly about the lesson (I’ve also learned that people can interpret situations very differently).  We went outside to talk about it and these 4 elders saw us and came to talk to us.  They were so nice and gave her a handkerchief, uplifted our spirits through kind small talk, and gave her a beautiful blessing.  In the MTC, I truly know that there are angels here to lift us up.  Some are unseen, but some are in the forms of genuine, Christ-like people.
Thank you everyone for all of your love, prayers, letters, and support! I wish I had more time to tell you about this crazy ride!  I have learned so much this week about how fundamental the doctrine of Christ is: faith in Jesus Christ and his atonement, repentance, baptism, and enduring to the end! And with God’s help, we can endure well!
Sister Joshlin Manning

September 24, 2014 – Week 1

Dearest family and friends, greetings from the missionary training center! #thataintthelanguagetheytaughtmeintheMTC.  First of all, thank you for you outpouring of love and support!  I so appreciate it 🙂 Also, please do not feel obligated to read this email! It’s going to be a lot of jibberish. I am having the most incredible experiences here! I really do love the MTC and all that I am learning.  Even though sometimes it feels like all we do is wake up, study, eat, study, eat, study, bed.  Haha. They (whoever “they are”) say that in the MTC, the days feel like weeks and the weeks feel like days and the days feel like weeks and I think that is totally true.  It seems like just yesterday that I was being dropped off but it feels like forever ago as well! And days are pretty long but amazing.  So I’ll try to answer some general questions here and then answer some specifics in different emails/letters.

My companion: her name is Sister Johansen and she is 20 and from St. George Utah.  She is so sweet and kind! Our strengths and weaknesses definitely support each other and we get along really well although we are different.  But I love that she’s a hard worker. She loves to read and work out.  Hahah so I’ve been doing some good exercise, we try to run a mile together every few days but otherwise might do weights or cycling or the likes.  Kickboxing was an interesting experience.  Anyways, we have a good time together! She also sometimes talks in her sleep or her alarm clock will fall from above onto my head which always keeps things interesting and funny! One morning the alarm clock fell off her bunk and woke me up.  I wondered “what time is it??” and boom, there was the time right on my pillow:)
My district- There are 3 Dutch speaking districts.   There are about 6 elders who have already been here 3 weeks and are going to the West Indies.  The other 2 districts are comprised of us new Dutchies who have only been here a week! These two districts going to the Netherlands are very sister heavy- each one has 6 sisters and 2 or 3 elders.  The sisters are so amazing.  I don’t know the other district’s sisters very well.  But in my district, there is so much unity and love and support.  And oh my goodness, we laugh a lot.  This is mostly because God blessed us with hilarious elders as not only priesthood examples but comedic relief.  All the sisters are from the US and all 5 elders in the districts are foreign: :a Brazilian from Canada, an american who lived in Belgium, a Brazilian, and in our district a Scot and a Brazilian who lives in Portugal.  Mom and Kiki, the Scot, Elder Hunter, was in the Nauvoo pageant-the first one to speak on the Trail of Hope! He like knows Carrie Underwood and Elder Holland and these awesome connections. Crazy random happenstances are everywhere I tell you.  So yes, my district is fun but we are also very goal oriented and want to work hard to support each other.  Our zone is comprised of other languages too: the Danes (who we love), the Swedes, uhmm actually I can’t remember the other countries, I’ll get back to you on that.  we don’t really interact with them much.  But yes, some other fun Europeans fa fa fa fa fa.
The language: where do I even begin.  Dutch is easy but it is extremely hard.  It is easy in theory because conjugations and grammar follow distinct rules and is fairly simple.  However!! These sounds are like nothing I’ve ever made or experienced hahah.  It is so fun to learn a new language but frustrating.  Especially because I think I had this notion that in the MTC the teacher would teach us Dutch.  Not so much.  Our teacher tells us some simple things but mostly just answers our questions and most of the studying is up to us.  Which is laborious but amazing because, after all, the spirit is the best teacher.  It is going better now, but no joke the first couple days were so so hard.  I don’t think I’ve ever been so emotional in my life! But it was good and humbling and I am learning so much about myself and the Lord’s plan for me.
My biggest struggle is the pronunciation.  I am doomed to pronounce things in a French accent or when I’m teaching a lesson, I’ll subconsciously put in French filler words.  In fact, in our second lesson, our investigator, Judith, asked me if I was French.  SO EMBARRASSING.  Luckily, for me, my awesome companion is really good at pronouncing things and a fast learner.  Speaking of teaching, it is overwhelming but amazing.  On our 3rd day at the MTC, we taught a 20 minute lesson in Dutch.  It was hard.  We cried afterwards 🙂 But it was awesome because if you prepare the best you can, the Holy Spirit really does guide and direct you.  Our investigator, who technically is an actor but based on someone she knows ((prayers in behalf of that person really do work!!)) is so so nice.  Her name is Judith and we have been teaching her about the Book of Mormon and the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Yes, Dutch is hard.  But I have faith that if I study as hard as I can, not for my sake but so that I may bring others to Christ, I will be helped in my efforts.
Okay, highlights of the week:
SUNDAY.  The most amazing, spiritual day.  We got to watch the broadcast of the Ogden temple dedication and it was so powerful.  I loved singing “the Spirit of God” with all of the other missionaries.  It felt like angels were with us in the room.  President Monson and Elder Bednar spoke and it reminded me of the dedication of the Kansas City temple.  How incredible.  But at the same time, it meant more now that I have gone to the temple and understanding more and deepening my respect for the Lord’s holy house.  I get goosebumps just thinking about it.
Also on Sunday, our district just had a random testimony meeting in our classroom.  We actually do this quite a bit, we all just love sharing with each other how much the Gospel means to us and has blessed our lives.  Lastly on Sunday, we got to watch this talk by Elder Bednar called “The character of Christ.”  On Sundays, there is “movie night” at the MTC where old devotionals are shown – you can only watch them in the MTC. This talk was seriously amazing, it changed my whole outlook on missionary work and I can’t wait to watch it again. He spoke of Christ’s selfless service to all and how missionary work is about turning outward not inward and serving others, and you become strengthened through that.  I wish I could explain to you how much of an impression it has left on my heart.
Participating the MTC choir is so amazing, the director gives wonderful insights.  And select elders are singing in general conference priesthood session which is so cool!  I got to sing in the choir for devotional – we sang “Oh How Lovely Was the Morning” and it was so powerful.  And guess who spoke at devotional?  M. Russell Ballard! It was fantastic because he said he wanted to speak to us as if we were his grandchildren.  Basically it was a pep talk about doing your best every day and remembering the worth of souls.  I loved his remarks.  I am here not to be an okay sister missionary, but the very best version of myself that I can be.
Sorry for the giant rant and probably a lot of errors 🙂 I know there is more to say but for now this will do.  I love you all and am so so thankful for all of the growth and instruction I have here.  These grounds truly are hallowed. I love to see all the missionaries and can’t wait to bring the testimony of God’s love to the work.
Onward and upward!
Sister Joshlin Manning