Sunday, September 15, 2013


So, yeah, no big deal, just going to RUSSIA on Monday morning. 

So we got our flight plans on Thursday! We leave the MTC at 4:30 AM and our flight leaves around 8:30 AM. We'll fly for about 15 hours. We should get to Russia around 10:30 AM Russian time. The day we get there, we're going to be thrown into the middle of Red Square by St. Basil's cathedral, and we start contacting right away! How crazy is that? I think I might pee a little. 

Anyway, this week has been one of many trials and tests, but I can honestly say that I have never felt like my faith has been strengthened so much. Amidst the tears and prayers and laughs and lessons, I've learned to honestly put my trust in my Heavenly Father. I've learned that trusting Him is really the only option that I have. I know that I can't fix things, but if I have faith in Heavenly Father, things will work out for my benefit. And He takes care of things way better than I ever could. He knows each of us. He knows our name, He knows us personally. And having faith in Him is of utmost importance. 

This week my companions and I were also released as the Sister Training Leaders. I can honestly say that this calling has been my favorite calling that I've ever had. I've gotten to know these sisters so well. I'm going to miss all the new friends that I've met here at the MTC. But I know that the time has come to go on my big adventure! Russia awaits, and in 5 short days I will be there. It's hard to believe that it's actually happening sometimes. But I know that once I get there, it will all become very real! 

Sorry that I don't have much news this week. All we've been doing is reviewing, practicing, and getting ready to go to Russia. The study time here is so intense, but it's exactly what we need. The language is coming along, and each day we feel more comfortable. I just can't wait to get to Russia and speak Russian WITH A RUSSIAN. How crazy is that going to be? And the next P-Day letter I'll have for you is going to be FROM RUSSIA. Did you know I'm going to RUSSIA?? Hahah, I couldn't be more excited. I can't wait to get out into the field and teach the gospel to those who need it the most. 

Anyway, I don't have much time, but I wanted to let you all know that I love you so much. I love your letters and emails. Also, I wouldn't send anymore hand written letters after Thursday, because chances are, I won't get them. It looks like emails are going to be the best route from here on out. I don't trust the Russian mailing system! So let's stick with emails, and I'll do my best to email each of you back! I love getting stories and updates from all of you! I can't wait to hear all your adventures!

Well, it looks like I've run out of time. Please keep me updated! I can't wait to hear from you. I'll see you soon. I love you. I pray for you. I miss you. I LOVE YOU!

All my love,

Sister Biorn

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Extra P-Day? Woo!

Hey family! I had just one more quick minute to write an email. Since we had to move yesterday, they gave us half of a P-Day to write our families again and tell them what we did.
So yesterday was an adventure. We packed up and left main campus and got over here to west campus. We live in the apartments called WyView (I think...?) and we have class in RainTree. It's really interesting actually...imagine a college apartment exactly how it is (fridge, couches, sink, kitchen, bathroom, etc.) and then imagine putting desks and a whiteboard in the living room and bedrooms. Yeah, kinda weird, but it's the best we have for now while they're still working on real classrooms. We have class as a district, so all 11 of us, plus our teacher, squish into this little living room and have class. Then the 5 of us going to Moscow go into one bedroom/study room and study for a few hours, and the other 6 go to the other bedroom/study room. It's really weird, but we're making it work. Our district has become pretty tight over the last 6 weeks, so it will be really sad to have to part with them when we leave. I love these Elders and Sisters, and I can't wait to see the amazing things that they accomplish!

I'm not entirely sure why they moved us over here for only 3 weeks, but that's okay. It's pretty nice over here. They didn't give us a tour or anything...and they don't know the answers to ANY of our questions because this West Campus thing is still getting up and we don't have answers to questions and we don't know where anything is.. so we just wandered around looking in random buildings until we figured it out. Which is funny because my companions and I are the Sister Training leaders and we have to give the new Russians a tour TODAY. WE'RE GETTING NEW RUSSIANS TODAY! I'm SO EXCITED. We've waited about 4 weeks for them, which, in MTC time is A LONG time. I can't wait to meet them! I can remember my first day at the MTC like it was yesterday. Overwhelming, crazy, insane, bittersweet, LONG, and I couldn't believe it. And now, here I am, 6 weeks later...3 weeks to go and going crazy because I can't wait to get to Russia! But I'm so excited to meet them. I can't waaaaaaaaaiiiit. I want to be their best friend..hahahaha! I can't wait to see their wide-eyed, deer in the head light, faces. :D I love them already and I know even know them. Just like the real Russians in Russian. I love them so much. I'm so homesick for them, even though I have never met them. I'm homesick for places and faces I haven't seen..but I'm POSITIVE that when I meet them, I will recognize them. I may not have seen their faces in this life, but perhaps the life before. Anyway, I'm still homesick for them. It feels like I've been on a vacation away from them and I'm now just going back home. It's like I have two homes now! :) Anyway, I can't wait. I actually got an email this morning from my mission president about the day we arive in Russia. I BAWLED like a BABY when I read it. Both my companions and I read the email out loud here in the computer lab. We were crying and laughing about it all. I can't wait to get to Russia and start contacting IN RED SQUARE. Can you believe that? And then we get to meet our trainers. Oh trainer's going to have a lot to deal with with me, but that's okay. I've been praying for her for a long time. Hahaha! I'm so excited. I get to go to Russia in 19 days. 19 DAYS. I'm going to Russia...has that hit anyone else like a bus yet?
Anyway, coolest experience happened yesterday for devotional. We went to devo and guess who spoke! Elder Neil L. Andersen! It was so great. We had Elder Richard G. Scott came last time, and now this week it was Elder Andersen. It was amazing. The Spirit was so strong. He spoke about love and sacrifice. He said, "We sacrifice for the things we love, and we love the things we sacrifice for." He also talked about how love and sacrifice didn't start with us. We know what love and sacrifice is because of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. It was so amazing. My favorite part, though, was when he said that the Atonement couldn't be understood physically. There is no possible way that we could understand what Christ went through because we can't fathom that much pain PHYSICALLY. The Atonement can only be understood spiritually. However, understanding the love of God and the Atonement is the quest and journey of a lifetime. We will never be able to comprehend the Atonement, even spiritually, in this life. It will only be when we have a perfect knowledge of all things that we will understand it fully. Elder Andersen also said that he is a living WITNESS of Jesus Christ and the Church. That part hit me hard. When he said "witness" it made me think about when I was in debate and we did mock trials. What IS a witness? Someone who knows the story; someone who has witnessed, or see, what has happened; someone who testifies in front of a judge and a jury to tell the truth about what they have seen and heard. How applicable is that to apostles and prophets? They know the story. They testify of the truths they have seen, heard, and know. They testify before us, the jury, and God, the judge. It was amazing to think that an apostle, a witness, of the Lord Jesus Christ spoke to us. It was so inspiring!

So after the devotional, the rain, thunder, and lightning was so strong that they couldn't let us walk back to campus yet. So we stayed in the Marriot center and just sang hymns and shook hands with Elder Andersen until it was safe to walk home. The lightning had stopped, but the rain continued to pour as over 4,000 missionaries walked back to the MTC campuses. It was amazing to see that, even in the rain and cold, every single missionary still had a smile on their face. The weather could dampen our clothes, but not our spirits. It was amazing! And even though we were wet and cold, we continued through our meetings afterwards. It was amazing to feel the Spirit so strongly even though we should have been miserable, according to the weather.
Anyway, the West Campus is pretty nice. The language is coming along for us. I'm learning new things every day and I'm actually starting to forget English more and more. My brain is making room for more Russian by pushing out English. Hahaha, but it's great. Our entire district decided that from 10 am - 4 pm EVERYDAY we would ONLY speak Russian. No English at all. Then the last week we're here at the MTC, ALL WEEK is Russian. No English at all. It's going to be so awesome! When you can only speak Russian, you find out really quickly what you need to learn to get around. Which will be SO helpful for the field. It's going to be awesome! I'm so excited!
So, this week, I've been praying to feel the Spirit more. Sometimes it's easy to forget that the Spirit is always here because we ALWAYS feel the Spirit. So in an answer to my prayers, Heavenly Father has put us in so many positions to feel the Spirit. In our lessons, in devotionals, and even during the quiet moments of the day, Heavenly Father lets us know that we're feeling the Spirit. I can remember yesterday when I was reading the scriptures, I wasn't reading a chapter that was particularly powerful or anything like that, but I can remember feeling like I didn't want to stop reading. And during the devotional yesterday, when it was over and it was time for us to come back to campus, I didn't want to leave the devotional. I didn't want it to be over. And I decided that that's what "having the Spirit" is all about. When we go into people's homes, we have to bring the Spirit with us because the Spirit is what makes them want to know more. The Spirit is comforting and when we feel the Spirit, we never want it to leave. The Spirit is also the one who does the converting. We, as missionaries, don't convert people. THROUGH US, the Spirit works with people's hearts to make changes and to help them see what they're missing. And isn't that amazing? Isn't it amazing to know that Heavenly Father trusts us, set-apart missionaries, AND member missionaries, to preach HIS Gospel to HIS children? How humbling is that?

Anyway, I want you all to know that I have a testimony of our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. I don't believe it anymore...because I KNOW it. I know that through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, we can be healed from any ailment that we have, be it physical, emotional, mental, or spiritual. I don't know HOW, but Christ knows exactly how each and every single one of us feels. He knows what we feel, what we think, and how to help us? How does He know that? Because He went through EVERY SINGLE pain. He knows it all because He suffered for it ALL. There is nothing that we have done that can't be overcome through the Atonemtent of Christ. I know that God calls prophets in our day to give us direction and comfort and guidance. He called Joseph Smith to translate the Book of Mormon. Joseph Smith had a third grade reading and writing level, MEANING that there is NO WAY that he could have translated that book through the power of God. I know that's true. I know that through Joseph, God restored His gospel and priesthood keys. I know that Thomas S. Monson is the true and living prophet today and that he is a prophet, seer, and revelator in these latter days. He holds all the keys and powers of the priesthood. I know God lives and loves each and every single one of us. He is mindful of us ALWAYS. We are His children and that's why He loves us. He helps us in EVERY aspect of our lives because that's His purpose. God doesn't have anything else to do except help us return to Him. Moses1:39 says, "For behold, this is my work and my glory to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of MAN." That's all God does, is watch after us! His purpose is to help us fulfill OUR purpose. And our purpose is to get back to Him. And if we are faithful, keep the commandments, and do all the small things like reading scriptures, going to church, keeping ourselves worthy, then we will be able to return back to live with God and bask in His eternal glory forever. If we will do the things that He requires of us, even when we do not understand them, and even when the trials we have hurt us, we will be blessed from on High because of the faith that we have had in Him. He will ALWAYS be there to help us and to take care of us. Even when it seems like He's not there, He is. Why would a loving Heavenly Father created children only to forget them? He wouldn't. God loves us. I KNOW that's true. We have to give it everything we've got, because HE has given US everything we HAVE. I know this Church is true. I know that Jesus Christ is our Savior. I know that we are God's children and that He loves us.
I love you all so much. I pray for you every single day. Keep me updated on everything! I look forward to hearing from you all!
All my love and then some,

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Week 6...? 5...? Bueller...?

Hello my beautiful family and friends! 

Boy, this week has been pretty interesting. So much happens during the day that it's almost impossible to tell you everything. But I've had some pretty great experiences this week and I wanted to share them with you! 

I've been thinking a lot about the Spirit lately and why we feel the Spirit more in some instances than in others, and why we feel the Spirit in a particular way. Being here at the MTC, I've heard people say that we become so "comfortable" with the presence of the Spirit that sometimes we feel like He's not there, even though we're still having help from Him. Does that make sense? So I've been thinking about that, and why and HOW we get so comfortable with the Spirit. This made me think of the idea that when we're so close to something beautiful for a long time, we often overlook or become used to the beauty of it, and the beauty is diminished a bit. Seeing a beautiful landscape can be breathtaking at a first glance, but sometimes, if we drive by it every day for 30 years, the beauty may become regular or normal to us instead of retaining its beauty. The same can be said about the Spirit. Sometimes we take the Spirit for granted, or it becomes "normal" to us, and we let ourselves become accustomed to its beauty. So it's not that we're NOT feeling the Spirit, the Spirit is still may be that we've just become accustomed to the way the Spirit works within us. Anyway, just food for thought.

We also taught our "investigator" named Sasha this week. He was SO receptive! It was AMAZING! We taught him the First Vision and then asked him that, if he found out for himself that these things we had taught him were true, would he be baptized? He thought about it for a minute and then said, "I don't want to make a promise with God that I can't keep." We then tried to explain a little bit about repentance and the Atonement. He still isn't completely 100% for sure with it all, and hasn't committed to baptism yet, but the Spirit was SO strong will he read the First Vision out loud. We can tell that he really wants this. He's trying to understand and he is definitely making sure that if he's going to commit to this, that he's going to do it the right way. Man, he's such a good example!

We also have been teaching Viktor a lot about going to Church these last couple of weeks. I don't know if I told you, but he came to church with us last week and this week! He's actually coming to church!'s amazing to see our investigators progress, even though it's not REALLY an investigator. They're both making some pretty great progress and we feel like we're heading in the right direction.

Another thing that happened on Sunday was the President Cranney told us that we're 100% for sure going to move over to the West MTC Campus next week. I was kind of bummed about it. I mean, you all know how attached I get to places and people. But it will be a good change. The MTC wants all the Ukrainians and Russians in one spot, so they're sending us over to West Campus. That means that when we make the move I will have a NEW MAILING ADDRESS. I have NO idea what it's going to be yet, but I will let you all know as soon as possible.

And the last experience I wanted to share happening REALLY early this morning. I told you all about my companionship being called as the Sister Training Leaders, right? Well I have come to love all the sisters in our zone SO much over this short amount of time. But sadly, ALL of our Ukrainian sisters, and 4 of our Russian sisters left for the field this morning at 3:30am. My companions and I said goodbye to them last night at 10, but I couldn't bare sending them off without seeing them one more time. So, I set the alarm for 3:10 and I woke up to see them get on the bus. Man, my heart almost exploded because of the love I felt for my sisters. I was so sad to see them go, but I felt an overwhelming happiness knowing that they are going exactly where the Lord needs them to go. It's amazing how strong the relationships we are developing here are gettnig, even in the short amount of time.

One thing that I have been thinking a lot about this week is RUSSIA. Go figure, right? But seriously. Amidst the MTC hustle and bustle routine, you kind of get sidetracked and lose sight of the end of the MTC. Somedays it feels like we're NEVER leaving the MTC. I keep forgetting that there is actually something that comes after the MTC. But recently I've been thinking about Russia a lot. Somedays it feels like I'll never get there, and then somedays, when I realize what the actual date is, it feels like I'm going there TOMORROW. But I know that the Lord has a time and a season for everything He does.

I have learned so much this week. I've learned to have unconditional love for everyone I come in contact with. I've learned that in some instances, we have to exercise EXTREME patience, but the Lord will always bless us 10 times more than what we've sacrificed. I've learned that sometimes you just have to sacrifice things. And yes, sacrificing is hard, especially when you feel like it's all you do. But that's just the way it works. We have a Savior who sacrificed LITERALLY everything for us, so why can't we sacrifice a little time, effort, or comfort for someone else? I feel incredibly humbled to know that Heavenly Father trusts me with this calling, even though He knows that I can't do it alone. He loves me. And He loves every one of you, too. I love you all! Keep the emails and news coming my way! I love you all!

- Sister Biorn

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Lord Will Have a Humble Sister Biorn!

Oh hello, my beautiful friends and family! I have had quite the eventful week! And it's only getting better!

So this The Lord will have a humble Sister Biorn. Either I can choose to be humble, OR Heavenly Father will make me humble. And I tell you what, I have had my fair share of chastening...and I love it, don't get me wrong. But it's been a little rough. BUT despite the rough, I've learned SO MUCH. So stinkin' much it hurts my brain. My "Monday" is really on Wednesdaybecause P-Day (Tuesdays) is like anyway, my week, meaning from last Tuesday til now, has been intense. It started with Viktor. Viktor is really our teacher (Brother Wells) acting as an investigator he taught on his mission. After each lesson he gives us feedback on how we can be better and stuff like that. So, we taught Viktor all about prayer and testimonies and stuff like that. I felt like the lesson went so well! I was speaking Russian and understanding him! He actually even prayed in front of us right there and it was BEAUTIFUL! I felt the Spirit so strongly. But then, afterwards, Brother Wells was giving us our critique and he started talking about the importance of testimonies. I said I felt like Viktor didn't quite have his own testimony yet, and then Brother Wells looked into my SOUL and asked, "Well...what is a testimony good for? Why do we even need one? What do we use it for?" And I SHUT DOWN. I had no answer. I had no idea what to say. In that moment I said to my self, "Sister Biorn, why IS a testimony important? Is it some celestial currency that gets you into Heaven? Do you have to have one to get into the Celestial Kingdom? Why do we need it? I mean, I HAVE one, and I know it's important, but why...?" And I looked at Brother Wells and I said, "I don't know." Because that's all I had. My soul felt barren and I felt like I was going to vomit. I had no answer. In that moment, I felt like Heavenly Father was saying, "Sister Biorn, you know this. You just have to go remember it again." So that's what I started to do. I DUG through the scriptures, I listened to talks, I watched video after video after video about testimonies and I relentlessly searched for an answer. This is what I have so far: A testimony is a shield against the forces of evil. In this day and age, Satan has the hearts of many of God's children, and the testimony I have will keep me safe from that. A testimony is also hope. It's hope that things will get better and that, in times of utter distress and grief, we can KNOW that we're never alone. Because really, a testimony is just what you know. It's what you know to be true. And if we don't believe that the things we're taught are true, then how can we ever expect to have hope for the future?  I know that answer isn't complete yet, but neither is my research. I KNOW that testimonies are important and that if we obtain one, and stay true to things that WE KNOW are true, then life will turn out just fine for us in the day that we meet our Maker. If any of you have any more thoughts on this, please feel free to share them. I would love to hear from any of you! 

I'd also been having a hard time controlling my anger and frustration. I felt like I was having a really hard time loving people around me when I was so irritated and mad. These are unusual feelings, especially for me, as you know. So I was wondering what was making me so angry. I felt like I couldn't love anyone here because I was just mad ALL THE TIME. So on Sunday, President Cranney (branch president) pulls my companions and me into his office to talk to us. This is when he asks us to be the new Sister Training Leaders for our Zone. My heart almost EXPLODED. It was SO CHUCK FULL of love and peace and I almost wept. I felt instant love for each and every one of the people in our branch and I could hardly contain it. It felt like Heavenly Father was showing me just how much love was required for this calling. I now had to be in the position to love people unconditionally, as Christ does, and to serve and love them without holding back. It was incredible to feel such love for these people that, not two minutes before, I had been frustrated and hateful towards. It was AMAZINGLY humbling. So I have a new extension to my calling! My companions and I are now the Sister Training Leaders for sisters going to Russian and Ukrainian speaking missions! How exciting! I CAN'T WAIT. I love them all so much. 
And then (yeah, it gets better!) yesterday I had a little medical incident. Let me preface this section of this entry with a few things: 1) I DID NOT PASS OUT. I say this because I know how much you love to remind me of that. 2) I AM 100% FINE. 100%. No need to freak out. 3) I DID NOT PASS OUT. I DID NOT PASS OUT. 
So, last night, while playing volleyball, I started to have incredibly sharp pains in my chest. I felt like I was going to vomit or die...or both. So we went back to the main campus from the MTC fields and the elders in my district gave me a blessing. As soon as the blessing was over, I felt so much better. I felt the power of the Priesthood immediately! It was quite amazing! I could hardly believe it. But it happened. Despite this, however, my companions wanted me to tell someone about it. So we told the front desk and they made me go to the ER. ONLY BECAUSE a doctor wasn't available. We went to the ER, they said it would be about 3 hours until I could see anyone. So we sat and waited. We talked to people and stuff...but then I felt 100% better, and so after an hour and a half, I told my companions we could leave the hospital. So we did. End of story. Hahaha, my chest pain is completely gone and I have every confidence in the world that it is because of the Priesthood blessing that my worthy elders gave to me. I am going to the health clinic tomorrow to get an EKG (is that what it's called...??) because Dustin has a history of heart disease. So that ought to be fun. Anyway, those are the adventures for the week! 

The only other thing we've been doing is teaching and learning, learning and teaching. It's been amazing to be a tool in the Lord's hands to build up the kingdom of Zion. It's been truly inspiring to have to COMPLETELY depend on the Spirit for guidance, especially when you don't speak fluent Russian. ;) The Spirit is real. The gift of tongues is real. I know it because I live it every second of every day. 

I love all of you. I'm so glad to hear all good things from all of you! I love you! Keep writing! I love your letters and your pictures! Don't hesitate to send me anything either. Clothes, cookies, scarves, kittens, ALL welcome. ;) I love you. I pray for you. I miss you! Take care, my friends. 

Sister Biorn 

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

It's P-Day Again . . . Whaaaaa . . . ?

Hello everyone! Oh, it's been so nice hearing from you all throughout the week! I love getting your handwritten letters and DearElders! They make me so happy! :) Also, BECKY IS MARRIED!!! That's so exciting! Congrats, Beck! Your pictures are SO BEAUTIFUL. I sobbed in a computer room full of elders (embarrassing moment of the MTC #9082049820958590). I'm so so so sad I couldn't be there, but thanks to Nikki, I got to feel like I was there for 2 seconds. Thank you to all who contributed the photos! I love them! Thank you Camille for your pictures too! AND JAMIE! Thanks to everyone who has written me and sent me pictures! I love them. :) Speaking of wedding things, Whitney and El'ayne! I need you to write me and tell me how things are going! Beth and Melody, you too! AND Liz Biorn! I need your address!
Oh man, this week has flown by. It seems like it was P-Day just yesterday. My days are still weeks and my weeks are still days. The MTC time warp has taken hold of my life. Hahaha but I love it. AND GUESS WHAT! WE GOT NEW RUSSIANS LAST WEDNESDAY! Oh my goodness, I just love them. I'm really sad because the district that welcomed us in and took us under their wings, they left yesterday... :( So sad to see them leave, but I know that they'll all be wonderful missionaries! They already are, and I know they'll be so great for the people of Russia. The next district, the ones just that are just a little bit older (in MTC time) than us leave in 2 weeks. After that, we don't get new Russians until the 28th! So that means that when the district above us leaves, that Sister Taylor, Sister Miller, and I will become the sister training leaders for sisters going to Russian speaking missions! TRAINING LEADER...? ME? Hahaha oh man. That will be interesting. But the newbies are coming along nicely! They're all so smart already. I actually know two of them, Sister Staley and Sister Cardon, from BYU-I. They took Russian 101 from Sister Jensen while I took 102 from Brother Felt! How crazy!
So...this week's been all about our investigators. I love them so much. It's so cool how the Lord lets me love people I don't know very well, or that I just don't even know! We've been teaching lesson after lesson after lesson! We have 2 investigators now, Makc and Victor. I think I told you a little bit about them (I...can't..remember..! AH!). But Makc is 25, really laid back and seems pretty chill about life. Which is great...except when it comes to taking and keeping our commitments, he doesn't want to do anything. He doesn't have a reason for it, other than he just doesn't want to. It hurts my heart because I KNOW that if he would just pray that things would look up for him and his family. He's such a special person and he's looking for light. I know the gospel would give it to him if he would just pray. But we're working on it. He enjoys the lessons and always calls us his friends. So that's been awesome! I love teaching! Even when it's hard and I feel like a failure...I always learn so much from teaching! 
Victor...ah, Victor. He's so cool! He's 50, nearly homeless, and looking for a job. We've been working with him a lot on hope and faith...So funny story. We committed him to pray, but he thought he had to be in church to pray. So he went to the church WITH THE BOOK OF MORMON WE GAVE HIM! And...his pastors yelled at him. In the lesson we didn't know what was happening so it was just like he was yelling at us! Hhahahah then I took a second to translate it and was like, "Oh...oh...wait...OH! I UNDERSTAND!" So then we taught him about not having to be in church to pray and all that stuff. It was a little scary to have a Russian yell at you even when he's not really yelling at you. :P But it's amazing. Victor's so amazing. He's so willing and able to learn the gospel...and he WANTS to do the things we're committing him to do. It's amazing. It's the best feeling in the whole world when an investigator finds out the truth for themselves. It's amazing. I've never felt happier for another person like this!  I love my investigators and hope that they keep progressing!
So...anyway..the language! Russian is so cool. I'm struggling a little bit because I still feel like I'm being held back. We haven't quite caught up to the level I'm at yet, but I'm doing everything I can do learn more and more. I still get asked a TON of questions, but now it's fun because they actually know what I'm talking about when I answer something. I don't have explain the case or the verb conjegation (how on earth do you spell that?! AH! My brain is making room for Russian by taking out more and more English), or declinations.. So that's nice! And our district seems to be surpassing the district above us in skill. :) Which is AWESOME! It's so cool so see individual progress in just the 3 weeks we've been here. The gift of tongues is real, everyone! I know it.
Speaking of the gift of tongues, I bore my testimony on Sunday for Fast Sunday. I bore a simple testimony about the gift of tongues. I said that recently I'd been frustrated because I wasn't where I wanted to be in the language, and so I couldn't bear (is that the right bear...? bare...? AH!) the testimony I wanted to, used the words that I wanted to. But then I realize...a simple testimony borne in broken Russia is way more important and powerful than an eloquent, beautiful testimony in English that doesn't have any feeling. I also talked about how I KNOW that the Holy Ghost is real. I know it because I've had to HEAVILY rely on the Spirit to guide conversations during lessons. I mean, we've been teaching lessons completely in Russian since day 3! There is NO way we could have done that without the Spirit. I'll admit, I am awesome at Russian, but not that awesome. If we don't have the Spirit, then we don't have anything. I also learned that I have to give the Lord everything that I've got because He has given me everything I have.
I love you all. I really do! I pray for you every single night. I hope that all is well in your families and I can't wait to hear from you! Don't hesitate to write, email, or send pictures! I would love to hear from each and every one of you! Pray always, love unconditionally, and stay excellent. :) 
All my love and more,
Sister Biorn
P.S. ...guess what! I'M ON AN ADVENTURE! And what a beautiful adventure it is. :D 

Thursday, August 1, 2013

MTC Time Warp

Hello everyone! 

This week has been so crazy! Last week, I won't lie, was a little terrible. The first couple of days adjusting to MTC life were so overwhelming and it seemed like I would never be about to catch my breath. But it looks like everyone else's MTC happiness is rubbing off on me a little bit! I'm actually starting to enjoy it here. The people are so nice and so will to help whenever help is needed. 
By the way, Mom and Dad, thank you for the package you sent! All of that stuff is exactly what I needed. :) I love you. 

This week we received another investigator. His name is Victor. He's about 50 years old, he's nearly homeless, he collects bottles in the early morning hours to trade them in for money so that he can feed himself and his daughter. It hurts my heart to see him living in such poor circumstances. It's really weird being a missionary love people that you just barely met. You want them to know the truthfulness of the Gospel SO BADLY. It seems like Victor has no hope for the future because of the current circumstances that he's in, but I know without a shadow of a doubt, that we have the message that he's looking for. I know that in the time we spend with him, that he will come to understand the light and the hope that comes along with the Gospel.

This week seems to have flown by so fast. Last week was the longest week of my life and now it seems that this week has gone by so quickly! The MTC really is a time warp. I've felt pretty homesick this week, what with it being Pioneer Days and all. But I'm really coming to an understanding that I am here, on this mission, at the right time, and I'm in the right place. I haven't quite figured out why yet, but I'm sure that answer will come eventually. 

I've been thinking a lot about a certain topic lately, and it's been on my mind a lot. I just talked to my companions about it the other day. I've been thinking that, for the longest time, I have been having this feeling that I miss people and places that I've never met and I've never been to. I miss people I don't now, and I long to go back to places that I've never been to! I'm starting to realize more and more that Russia is what I'm missing. As I learn more of the language, my respect and undying love for the Russian people grows as well. I love them already. I feel as though I've just been on a long trip away, and now, in 7 more weeks, I'm going home to them. It's a really interesting feeling. A lot of the speakers and lessons I've been listening to also have said that the Russian people have been prepared from the beginning to hear the message that we have to bring them. Isn't that amazing and humbling to think about? It's amazing to think that Heavenly Father loves them and knows them so well that He knew exactly what circumstances He needed to put them in to be able and ready to hear our message. I just can't wait to get over them and finally meet the people I've been missing.

So much has happened this week that it all seems like such a blur. So much goes on here that it's impossible to tell you guys everything. For the most part, all missionaries do in the MTC is study and eat. Really, that's it! But when you're actually doing it, it's the most exhausting (spiritually, emotionally, AND physically) thing that I've ever had to do before. I'm always tired and I never seem to get enough sleep. BUT a councilor (oh my that the right word? gave a talk in Sacrament that said, "We as missionaries need to be willing to exhaust ourselves for the work of the Lord." And how true is that? We aren't the ones converting people. The Spirit is. BUT we also have be doing our part, learning the language, being worthy vessels for the Spirit to come in and reside so that these people can hear Heavenly Father's message. We are the tools that Heavenly Father uses to take the Gospel to these people. Being a tool in the Lord's hands requires every ounce of energy that we have...and that's okay. :) That's what missionary work is all about; being willing and able to work hard, love the people, and preach the Gospel as best we can. And if we do, if we endure it well, then God will endow us with power.

Another fun thing about this week is that our district seems to be getting closer together. We're all getting used to the dynamic of the group, and all the different personalities we all have to offer. We say some of the goofiest things! The elders in my district remind me so much of Dustin! It's crazy! Here are some of the hilarious quotes we've accumulated over the last week:
- "Oh it's okay, it's my blind eye!" - Elder Stebbing in response to Brother Wells throwing a pack of Skittles at his face.
- "Is that buffalo wearing a sombrero?" - Sister Taylor in response to Elder Hyde's drawing on the blackboard
- "Have you ever gone...cougar tipping?" - Elder Sitton in response to my story about cow tipping.

Anyway, super fun group! They're all so unique and different, and yet our district is one of the funnest groups here! It's been pretty amazing getting to know all of them. I'm sure gonna miss them when the next 7 weeks are up! The Russian is coming along, I suppose. I still feel like I'm rather far ahead of everyone, so that's been frustrating to try and teach myself Russian while everyone else catches up. But it won't be long until they do, I'm sure. They're all really smart and ready to learn and grow.
Anyway, how are things going in Idaho?  I don't get many letters, so I would love to hear from any of you at any time during the week! I have P-Days on Tuesdays, so that's really the only time I have to write and receive emails. Handwritten letters are so nice during the week! :) I love them all though. Speaking of Idaho, Becky! How are wedding plans going? I want details!

I love you all! I know this Gospel is true. I know that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the true Church of God on the earth. Through the Gospel, we can find a happiness and undeniable joy that is noticeable to all those who don't have it. I love you all so so so much and I think about you constantly. I see your faces in the faces of those who are at the MTC. I pray for you every single night and I love hearing from you! Keep me updated on everything! I love you, I pray for you, and I can't wait to share all of my adventures with you! 
All My Love,
Sleepless Near Salt Lake,
Sister Biorn

First Week In the MTC

Hello my beautiful family and friends! It has been so nice hearing from all of you! Thanks to Cody, Beth, and Jamie for their DearElders! Just a reminder to everyone that I do receive handwritten letters and DearElders every day, not just my P-Day (which is TUESDAY!). So feel free to send those whenever you’re thinking about me :) Just a foreword, my English is slipping just a little bit (which is sorta sad for an English Major…oh well.) so don’t judge me if my English and grammar isn’t the best. ;)  
Wow. There is SO MUCH TO TELL YOU. I feel like I have been in the MTC for YEARS. There is this thing called the MTC Time Warp. It feels like the days are weeks and the weeks are days. And that is SO TRUE. I won’t lie to all of you, the first couple of days in the MTC were REALLY hard for me. I cried, I struggled, and I almost packed up and came home. I have never thought that I would have struggled within the first few days of being here at the MTC. I felt so lost and confused and I honestly felt like I was going to explode at any minute. I kept asking myself, “Why am I here? What am I doing? This isn’t fun! What is this?!” Everyone was so happy and cheerful to be here and I was thinking, “Why am I not feeling that?” But, everyone did keep saying, “Just make it ’til Sunday! Sunday is the best!” And how true that was! SUNDAY WAS MAGICAL. We got to hear MUSIC at the program called Music and the Spoken Word for the first time in the MTC (music isn’t allowed…unfortunately). It was so beautiful that I cried! I can’t believe the amazing influence music has on my life, and to go without it for so long has been rough. I loved Sunday though. Relief Society was amazing. The speaker talked about Pioneers and our Heritage. It was so neat! Then we got to watch Elder Bednar’s talk about Christlike Characteristics. Y’all should look that up, because it was AMAZING. I especially loved it because duringWednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, I felt so distant from Heavenly Father and the Spirit. I felt like I wasn’t feeling the Spirit because I was focusing SO MUCH of my time and energy on adjusting to MTC life, and was trying to get the language down.
I also felt very limited in relation to the language. Having taken two semesters at BYUI before I came, that put me ahead of my entire district. So that means, when our teacher isn’t here, I’m the one they go to for answers. The first couple of days I felt VERY overwhelmed with the amount of questions that were being asked of me. BUT, I remember in my setting apart blessing, the Stake President told me that I would be able to master the language, not just know it. So I believe that teaching it is definitely a form of mastery. So it’s been good not only to speak it, but to test how much of the language I actually know. 
Companions! I HAVE TWO! They’re so great. Sister Taylor (skinny, with brown hair) is very particular and likes to do things her way. She is also a very strong person, but gets frustrated with herself. I think part of it is because she wants to be SO good at the language SO SOON. We’re working on handling stress right now, so that’ll be good for her. And Sister Miller (red hair, tall) reminds me so so SO much of Karly Moore (In a good way. Shout out to my Karkarmoo!). She’s very athletic and has a great attitude. The MTC does seem to be a more social thing for her, than an actual learning program, but I guess it’s because she knows SO many people here. Every other minute we have to stop and say hi to someone. But it’s going well! We are three very different personalities, and we all have something to bring to the table. I feel like they’re teaching me a lot about myself and about the Gospel as well. I’m learning a LOOOT here. We actually taught our first lesson for our first investigator (Antone) on FRIDAY. That was TWO DAYS after we got into the MTC. And yep. It was in RUSSIAN. The other sisters knew a lot, but I felt like I did take control of the lesson because I knew more than they did, and could understand more of what he was saying. So I do need to work on not taking control of the lessons all the time. We have been teaching just about every day and it’s getting better every time we do it. So hopefully we’ll continue to grow and learn by the Spirit. 
I know Dad asked about the food, and some people hate it. But honestly, I think they feed us a little TOO well here. Hahaha, seriously. There’s so much good food here that it’s hard not to over eat and it’s hard not to eat all the sugary good stuff. But we get fed really well here. So no worries on that! 
Also, this is exciting news! I was able to a few people I know! Shout out to Jenny Wilson! I saw Elder Wilson (it’s weird not to call him Dakota..and to shake his hand…). He says hello! I also saw Becca Huber, Rachel Claire, Elder Wineager from the ward, and I saw Elder Kidd (it was really weird not to be able to hug him and call him Connor!). 
So, I have to tell you about our district. Our district is called District 9 (which I just learned is funny because of something to do with…aliens? I dunno. Fill me in on that, will ya, Dad? I know you know!) There are three sisters in our district (me, Sister Taylor, and Sister Miller). We’re all going to Moscow, and only two elders, Elder Stebbing and Elder Hyde, going to Moscow. The rest of the Elders are all going to Vladivostok, which is on the other side of Russia. Their names are Elders Laws, Raymond, Sitton, Hasebi(who’s grandpa is Iranian! SWEET!), Erickson, and Basset. These elders just BARELY graduated high school! It’s weird…they all seem so much younger than us. They’re like our little baby brothers! They are hilarious though. They kind of remind me of you, Dustin. They were all quiet and reserved the first few days, but yesterday, they started to come out of their shells a little bit. They are SO GOOFY. And you’ll see that in some of the pictures. They seem so young and goofy when they mess around in class, but on Sunday they seem like men when they pass the Sacrament and have respect for it. It has been so amazing to see them grow in such a short amount of time. They have a fire and a passion for the Gospel that is unfathomable. They’re going to be such a good driving force for the Church in Vladivostok!
So…tomorrow (the 24th) is Pioneer Days. That is my FAVORITE holiday. So please, PLEASE, PLLEEEEAAAASE!! Send me pictures of everything. I’m going to miss the parades and the picnics and the plays and the rodeos. So send pictures so I can feel like I’m there. :) I love you all so much, and I think about you all the time. I pray for every night and I hope that you are all doing well. I love your email, letters, and DearElders. Please do not hesitate to send me letters, packages, and DearElders. They’re like gold over here and you wouldn’t believe how badly us missionaries (hah…I’m a missionary!!!) hunger for them. We long to hear from home and to know that someone is thinking about us. You could also send me some poetry too, since I’m an English Major…starving for something beautiful (besides the scriptures of course) to read. I love you all SO MUCH. I wish I could share all of these experience with all of you. But a year and a half will go by so fast and soon we will see each other again. I know The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the true and living Church. I know that God lives and that Jesus Christ is my Savior. He lived and died for each and everyone of us. Things happen for a reason, and we can do things that we never thought we could through His help. I love you all so much and I look forward to hearing from you soon! I love you!
-Sister Biorn