WARNING...This will be a long post.
On Tuesday, May 7th, Megan left the MTC for the airport enroute for Seattle, Washington. We got to talk to her on the phone while she was at the airport. She was a little teary at first, which really caught me off guard. There isn't anything quite like answering the phone and hearing "Mom" mixed with crying on the other side of the line. She reassured me that she was fine but just glad to hear my voice. We were able to talk to her for about 20 minutes before she needed to catch her flight. She was excited to be leaving for Seattle. There were 18 missionaries total travelling to the Seattle mission on her flight. Jeff mentioned that is quite a big group. He said when he left for his mission, it was common to have maybe 6 or 8 missionaries and sometimes even less than that departing for a mission. We are sure the large group is a combination of the increase in youth serving missions and the new Federal Way mission (which begins July 1st). The Federal Way mission takes in some of the current Seattle mission. It is located just South of what will be the new Seattle mission boundaries.
After we talked to her on the phone, we watched Flight Tracker online to see where her plane was and when it landed in Seattle. We knew the flight was roughly 1 hour and 40 minutes from Salt Lake since we had just flew to Seattle as a family the first part of April. I will admit, having her get on the airplane and flying away from Utah was a little crazy in my mind. When she was at the MTC, I knew she was only 30 minutes away and I could get her a box or a letter on the same day. Seattle is much farther, even though it is still fairly close to Utah. I'm sure having a missionary fly 1/2 way around the world is even tougher than what I experienced or will experience when I send a letter or box to her. I'm thinking that Seattle is good...
The next day Wednesday, May 8th, we got a letter in the mail from Megan and also an email. The letter talked a little more about the MTC so I decided to type it up and share it here on the blog. The email from Megan will follow the letter.
May 3, 2013
Thank you so much for the sugar cookies and the banana bread! They were so good! I like the banana bread...it kinda tastes a lot like yours but it was yummy and of course the sugar cookies were great! I'm going to take a few with me to dinner to have with some milk! (I used a new recipe for the banana bread)
So about my teaching experiences. Sister Morrow and I are teaching a lady named Barbara. She is such a sweet lady. Her Mom died when she was a baby and then her Dad died when she was 14. Because of that, she ended up in foster care to finish growing up. Since being in foster care, she has had the religious backgrounds of Catholic, Jewish, Protestant, Methodist, Lutheran, and Baptist so she knows some basics but she doesn't have a real set idea on who God is. Our first lesson with her was so confusing. She had a bunch of questions and we just tried answering them which I think made her even more confused. So after that lesson, we decided to focus more on who God is and His love for her. It ended up going fantastic! The spirit was there 100% and you could tell that she knew it. At the end of the lesson, I asked her, "Will you follow the example of Jesus Christ by being baptized by someone holding the priesthood authority?" and she immediately said "No"... I was devastated! I felt so sure that she was ready and that she had progressed quite well. We then asked her why she didn't want to be baptized and guess what she said! She said, "None of the other members of my family are baptized (and we couldn't tell her that they can get baptized too because they died in the Holocaust- at least not on the same day) and so I don't want to be baptized because heaven wouldn't be the same without them." I thought that was the sweetest thing ever to hear someone say that. It made me realize that she really cares about her family. It got me thinking about how heaven wouldn't be heaven if you guys weren't there. I know I sometimes annoy you or disobey and it's the same from my end, but you guys are my life and I wouldn't trade that for anything in the world! I love you guys and am so thankful of your examples in my life!
Our other investigator was Violet. She was 18. She just graduated but isn't very successful academically. She loves art, has a job, and no religious background. Her Dad left when she was 2 so now it's just her Mom and her. We got to teach her for a couple of lessons the first week we were here but then we got new teachers so we got new investigators as well. So now our investigator is Elizabeth. She's 24, has member friends, is an Atheist/skeptic, she is in college but she struggles. She sang in the church choirs, her parents are divorced, lives with her Mom and her 12 year old sister. Her 26 year old sister is a party girl, family is very important to her, she is pregnant with her boyfriend's child and she is friendly. We have had some amazing lessons with her! She has been so prepared to hear about the gospel. Today we had the opportunity to teach her about prayer and about God and who He is. Last lesson, we left her with an assignment to read Alma 32. As we were planning out what we were going to teach her, Sister Morrow leaned over to me and said "you are going to lead where the lesson is going to go today instead of me". All of the sudden a sheer panic washed over me and I started to freak out a little bit to myself. At that moment, I felt totally and completely inadequate to teach basically by myself (with a few side comments by Sister Morrow). Immediately, I called out to the Lord and pled with Him to help me and calm my troubled heart. I honestly didn't think I could do it. As I started to study, my mind wasn't really working and I wasn't feeling anything. I kind of broke down in class silently to myself because I felt completely lost. Sister Morrow noticed and walked with me out into the hall to talk. I told her about how nervous I was and how I didn't think I could do it. She was sensitive to the spirit and knowing what I needed in my life at that point in time that all she said was "Sister Hills, personally I think you are the one who brings the amazing spirit that we always feel in our lessons. I'm mainly there just to talk and get the lesson rolling. You are the one who has the spirit with you all the time and I know you can do this, let's go pray". We went and found an empty classroom and she said such a sincere prayer that it made me feel a little bit better. I still was WAY nervous but I felt a little bit more confident. So we went into our lesson and there I was talking to get the ball rolling. Surprisingly, it went so smoothly. I was able to express my feelings and those things that I thought Elizabeth needed at that time of her life. We asked her to pray at one point in the lesson (after helping her understand more about who God is) and let me tell you...she said probably the most sincere prayer I probably have ever heard in my life! She was so honest about how she was feeling and what she really wanted to know. I was tearing up thinking about how far she had come since we first met her. It was so fantastic! I'm hoping when we teach her tomorrow we can actually invite her to be baptized! I know that if you teach by the spirit miracles will happen. I have really come to know what teaching by the spirit really is!
Can you believe that by the time you get this letter, I will have already talked to you on the phone and I will already be in Seattle! Crazy! I am so excited though! It is going to be the best. Dad, I forgot to include this in my last letter to you guys but we don't have any classes that we learn about our area unfortunately. That sounds like so much fun! I would love those classes.
I love you guys so much!
And finally... Her email yesterday, May 8th:
Just letting you know I got here to Seattle safe and sound! :) I am in an area in Kent (maybe I will get to see Meghan) :) and my new companion is Sister Crockett. She's super nice and fun to be around :)
After we got here, we drove to the mission home on Mercer Island and had some training and a lunch (it was super good!) and then President Larkin interviewed all of us to determine who our companions were going to be. He's going to be such an excellent President. After he did the interviews, we went over to the church and we had some more training (President Larkin wanted all of us to try and put someone on date for baptism last night) and then we got our companions. I had butterflies in my stomach the whole time I was waiting for my name to be called. :)
Once we got our companions, we headed back to our apartment and dropped everything off and then we were off! Sister Crockett and I went tracting and it was kinda nerve-racking but it was fun too! :) We had a bunch of people tell us they weren't interested (little bit of a bummer but oh well) but we did talk to some people about the church and left them with pass-along cards. We ended up running into a lady who we talked with for about 10 minutes and we gave her a copy of the Book of Mormon. After we talked to her about the Book of Mormon, I extended the baptismal commitment to her and she said YES! :) It was so exciting and I was trying so hard not to yell and jump around because I was so excited! :) She's on date for June 16th so hopefully we can get her to that point! :)
We also went and talked to the ward mission leader and got to know him and his wife for a bit and then we got to go over to an investigators house and share a scripture with him. He's going through some trials and so we talked about faith and having the faith to overcome the trials we face. It was so cool! :)
It still hasn't really phased me yet that I am actually out here! It feels like I'm just sitting at home and watching "Errand of Angels" or "The Best 2 Years", or that I'm still in the MTC! Crazy how it doesn't seem different :)
I love all of you guys and and so thankful for your support! :) Thank you for everything you have done for me in my life!
Sister Megan Hills