Tuesday, June 25, 2013

It's So Beautiful Here!


I MADE IT TO CALIFORNIA! I am still in the Ventura Mission! 

We're here! We flew into the Santa Barbara Airport.

Only one of my MTC people went to Bakersfield.  Brother Howe went to Bakersfield.  I almost cried when I found out.  He was basically my dad in the MTC, even though he is younger than me. He gave me a blessing before we left the MTC and he basically took care of us sisters.  He is the nicest person, and I am devastated that I wouldn’t be able to run into him anymore.

The new missionaries. What a group!

Seriously this week has been so great. On Monday we were picked up by President and Sister Castro. We had interviews and training, then all split up to spend the night at members' houses. The next day was transfers where I saw Angela Linford!!!! [Melia's friend from Mesa] I love her and it was so great to see her the second day I was here! 
I saw Hermana Linford on transfer day this Tuesday!
I was so excited, I couldn’t stop smiling!

Basically I love my area and my companions! Yes, companions plural. I have not one but two trainers! Sister Randall is 19 and from Centerville, UT and Sister DiLiberto is 23 and from Milan, Italy. I love them so much and I have already learned tons from them so far.

Sister Randall, Sister DiLiberto and Me

I am in the Agoura Hills area and let me tell you it is GORGEOUS. The location itself is gorgeous and all the houses are just so cute and nice. Mom, every house has the prettiest flowers in their front yard and every day I wish you were here to see all the wonderful flowers we see because you would just love it.

The beautiful mountains of Agoura Hills

So the mission field isn't as bad as I dreaded! I thought it would be completely exhausting and I would feel so out of my comfort zone. That hasn't been the case. Don't get me wrong, it still is exhausting and tons of work but I have been able to handle it! I haven't been as shy as I thought I would be and it is awesome because I have been so blessed to be surprisingly outgoing and bold. I love it because I don't feel too much like a greenie and I am picking it up so fast. I honestly love it so much here and I wouldn't rather be any other place! It is exhausting to knock on so many doors and no one answers or to talk to people who just want to criticize and argue, but it is still so worth it. I know the work I am doing is so important and it can bring so much happiness to the people I am teaching, so that's what gets me through! Also, I think my hardcore side is coming out. Hahaha, I am always just so excited and I just push my trainers to meet with as many people we can each day and to basically run from house to house. Haha, ya I bet you can imagine what I am like. 

On my first day, we taught a FHE lesson to investigators Devon and Forrest. I am so happy because Devon and Forrest have had trouble quitting smoking. This week though they took quitting smoking seriously and they have been clean for about 5 days! They seem like they are doing great.

We went over the baptismal interview questions with our other investigators the Pernicones to get them ready for their baptism and that went really well. It was a great opportunity to see how strong their testimonies are and how well they understood the material we taught them.

 I am just sad because our ward mission leader called us yesterday after talking with Chris. Chris told our ward mission leader that he felt that he wasn't ready to be baptized. We are praying for him because we don't know if he is going to be baptized this Saturday, but hopefully Heavenly Father will give him the strength to press on and he will still feel the desire to be baptized. He has made such a huge change in his life and has come so far so hopefully he will be able to come through and make this important covenant with God. We also taught their daughter Alyssa about The Plan of Salvation. She is just so sweet and is really excited to get baptized on Saturday! This family is getting baptized this Saturday and we are so excited! 3 people are getting baptized on my second week here! 

The awesome thing is that Sis Randall and Sis DiLiberto have been working hard in this area over the last transfer so we have 9 investigators with baptismal dates. Crazy! We met with some other investigators and less actives this week. Some of the people we met with were frustrating because they were very contentious and were asking very controversial questions. It was hard to know what to say to them and to keep the spirit with us during a discussion like that.

I also went tracting many times this week! It wasn't as bad or scary as I thought and I kind of liked it. I know, I'm weird. I really loved the less active people I met this week. We met with this woman Barbara and she was the best! It was a miracle that we finally were able to find her house because she lives up on a hill with confusing roads. Anyways, when we got there she was so happy to see us and even though she had no idea we were coming, it seemed like she was just waiting for us. She was so great to talk to and she also ended up calling a potential investigator we have met before and invited her to church! That person showed up and we plan to meet with her and Barbara for a lesson next week! It was so cool to meet her and it was awesome that Barbara got Frieda and her husband to come to church. Also it was great because we didn't have any contact information for Frieda and now we got her number from Barbara and we will get to meet with both of them next week. What a miracle!

 We also we able to have 11 investigators at church with us this Sunday so that was so exciting! This week has been so great and I made it through my first week in the mission field!

We saw the broadcast yesterday! I hope you guys are all ready to become awesome member missionaries and refer a million people to the missionaries in your ward. Seriously, the missionaries need your help in this great work! Like they said last night, your job is to fill the missionaries' planners with people to teach! 

-Sister Mason

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Sister Mason's Letter from the Mission Home

Me with President and Sister Castro
They are both from Ecuador.
He was a professor at BYU-Idaho
before being called as a mission president.

Letter written the 2nd day in California, before being assigned her first companion.
(Click to enlarge)

Monday, June 17, 2013

Last Glimpses of the MTC

Here are some of the last pictures and memories from the MTC

Sister Mason & Roommates

Sister Mason & Roommates at Provo Temple

My district at the map

Our zone girls' hardcore missionary team "go out and convert the world".
We have our game faces on!

Sisters in Melia's Zone - All going to the same mission

My district and our teachers Bro. Starkie and Sis. DeArton

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Missionary Model

Dear Mom & Dad,

Did you know that you have a missionary model for a daughter?!?!  Last week was the first time that all the missionaries at the MTC had their devotional at the Marriott Center at BYU.  Well, there were tons of camera people as we were walking over, taking pictures of all the missionaries.  The sisters in my district and I tried posing for the cameras hoping that we would end up in the newspaper or in the Deseret News or something.  Anyways, a few days ago our Branch President came in and gave us all this picture he found in the Provo Herald Newspaper.  Hahaha, we made the news!

So much love!
Sister Mason

Sisters Snow, Mason & Anderson enjoy their walk to the MTC Devotional at the Marriott Center

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Only at the MTC...

My roommates in room 209 (aka Sis. Snow, Sis. Anderson, Sis. Hegstrom, Sis. Cusick and I) made a list of things that only happen at the MTC.  It is seriously funny because it is so true!  Some of them are particular to our group, (inside jokes, real life incidents) but anyone who has been there can relate.  Hope you enjoy it!

Only at the MTC…

 1.  Do you get free acting lessons.
 2.  Are you jealous of other people doing laundry.
 3.  You say “I just want to read my scriptures!”
 4.  Do you experience 20-30 year-olds singing “Called to Serve” at you.
 5.  Do you have hymns sung to you while on the toilet.
 6.  Do you feel weird that there’s not a closing prayer for breakfast.
 7.  Does the intercom announce there will be “male maintenance workers”
      coming to our floor.
 8.  Are church jokes really funny.
 9.  Do you forget you were given a first name.
10.  Do you get weirded out when you see a guy and a girl standing alone
11.  Do you have a constant “third wheel” in your photos.
12.  Nothing is strange anymore.
13.  Do you get so excited to wear tennis shoes.
14.  Waking up at 6:30 AM is sleeping in.
15.  Dinner is at 4:20 PM.
16.  “Outside world” stories like dating and hanging out are soooo
17.  When you see a cell phone, you want to touch it.
18.  Does finding Parmesan cheese for your spaghetti make your day.
19.  Is your best accessory a water bottle.
20.  Do you on Wednesdays, as a group, wear polka dots.
21.  Does the intermediate hymn have an intermediate hymn.
22.  Does Diet Coke feel like a drug.
23.  Do you go to bed at 10:30PM on a Friday night with 5 other girls
       in your room.
24.  Do you relate rocks to prophets and garbage bins to the apostasy.
25.  Do you leave an hour early to get to a devotional.
26.  Sunday night “movies” are General Conference talks.
27.  Do you have 5 extra minutes at lunch and don’t know what to do.
28.  Does a stranger from your hometown become your best friend.
29.  Does a teacher get mad at you for having an apple in your desk.
30.  Does deep doctrine make you squeal!
31.  Is family love measured in mail weight.
32.  You are so excited to go to the temple.
33.  Does your roommate have envelopes made of scrapbook paper.
34.  Going to the bookstore is the most real life experience you get in a day.
35.  Do you feel like being there a week makes you own the world.
36.  You are the cool kid for going English speaking.
37.  Do people talk to you in 5 different languages that you don’t
38.  Do about 50 girls turn around when hearing the word “Sister.”
39.  Do you get peer pressured into shaving your arms.
40.  Are people jealous of your hanging jewelry organizer.
41.  Do you feel guilty bumping into an Elder.
42.  Is there always someone wearing your outfit.
43.  Do 18-year-old boys carry around hankies for crying girls.
44.  Do you feel like a scriptorian when you go to a reference and it is
       already highlighted!
45.  Do you have to try to convert your teacher if you are late for class.
46.  Do you fight about the opening hymn.
47.  The only way to take out your frustration is to play foursquare.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

MTC Week 1



So I can't remember exactly what I wrote you in my letter earlier this week so I will just tell you everything that has happened over the past 8 days! On our first day we started off in class and had a whole lesson about the rules and obedience. Later we went to this thing called "teaching experience" where we went to 3 different rooms and started teaching an investigator. There were tons of people in the class so we were supposed to all act like we were one big companionship and stand up if we had something to say or a way to answer their questions. I learned a ton because it taught me how important it was to sincerely get to know the person and their religious background so you can figure out what they need to hear.

Also I hope you won't take this the wrong way but I am surprisingly not at all homesick and I don't miss everyday things as much as a thought I would! I am so glad that I am not distracted at all about home things so I can focus on my missionary work! 

Remember that one day you dropped me off?
On Thursday we studied ALL DAY. Really though, we had personal study, companionship study, additional study, more additional study, and more additional study. It was just a weird day because we only had one 3 hour class when we usually have two of those a day taught by two different teachers. Anyways, we used that time to memorize Our Purpose, memorize some scriptures, and prepare to teach our first investigator.  We had a meeting with our Branch Presidency where we met them and got to know the missionaries in our zone/branch a little more. 

Friday we had class where we learned about the Doctrine of Christ (faith, repentance, baptism, gift of the holy ghost, and enduring to the end), practiced committing people to be baptized, and learned how to handle when investigators turn us down. Haha we got down to business. We taught our "investigator" Lisa today and it went pretty well. She was just stoked to hear about Heavenly Father and prayer. We had our first gym day! A few sisters from our zone went running for gym which was torture but it was still exciting to get out and get to wear some comfy clothes!

  I thought my name tag would go really well with my pajamas

Our first gym day! Can you tell how excited we are?
In class on Saturday we learned about the Law of Chastity and the Word of Wisdom. I know, so exciting! Haha we actually learned how to teach those lessons and invite people to live those principles. We also took a break during class and tried relating random things like rocks, fire hydrants, and trash cans to principles of the gospel like the apostasy. Haha that was really funny. Thats the things we do here for fun!  It was cool though because during comp study, we ended up staying together as a district and teaching ourselves the Word of Wisdom lesson. It was awesome because we all shared things that stood out to us in the lesson, found some really powerful Word of Wisdom scriptures, and really learned from each other. We taught Lisa again and it didn't go very well. We ended up just preaching to her about Christ, Prophets, and the Apostasy. Really we probably didn't need to include half of the things we said because I don't even know if she understood them. The lesson ended up good though after she read an awesome scripture about Christ. The spirit was so strong and out of nowhere Sister Snow invited her to be baptized.. and she said yes! Hahah so it was a confusing lesson but it ended up great. We learned from that lesson that we had planned too much and we were just teaching her things we were supposed to teach instead of listening to the spirit for what things she needs to be taught.

Sunday we got to sleep in till 6:30!!! Seriously though.. that was a dream come true. Usually we have to be ready to go meet at breakfast by 6:45 am. All the sisters at the MTC met together to watch the Music & the Spoken Word broadcast which was cool and then we had Relief Society. Relief Society was seriously amazing! The lesson, the hymns, and the musical number was just perfect! Our lesson was about the 3 things we need to learn as a missionary: our purpose, how to be bold, and to expect miracles. After Relief Society we had a new sisters meeting where they talked about the dress standards and obedience. It was a surprisingly interesting meeting because they brought up things I wouldn't have thought about and they gave us great advice. Our branch meets together on Sunday for Sacrament Meeting. We all had to write a 3-5 minute talk on the Atonement and then the Branch President would announce after the sacrament was passed which missionaries would be giving their talk. I didn't have to talk but I am glad I was able to study and prepare that talk anyways because it was a great experience. We also went with our zone to take a Sunday walk to the Temple and take pictures there! We had a devotional at night where the MTC Administrative Director spoke. He talked about how lots of time the investigator and the missionaries are on totally different planes and how we need to find out about them and what they are expecting so you can teach them what they need to know. After that we watched "films" where Sister Snow and I watched an old MTC address by Elder Bednar about following the spirit. Sheesh that was one amazing talk let me tell you. It was just such a wonderful day! 

My District at the Provo Temple

Monday we learned about stress management, The Plan of Salvation, and "how to begin teaching" from PMG (Preach My Gospel). It was really funny though because as part of our stress management class we ran around doing some hardcore parkour off all the benches outside.

Hardcore parkour!
We taught Lisa again and it went way better! We ended up completely following the spirit and teaching her about the Restoration, how The Book of Mormon will help her learn about Christ, and committed her to start reading The Book of Mormon. It seriously was a pretty awesome lesson! We also randomly started teaching another "investigator' Jamie. It was kind of difficult with her because she is Catholic and says she isn't interested at all in joining the church. The lesson was kind of iffy because Sister Snow and I unknowingly tried to go two different ways with the lesson but I guess it was okay. We also taught this "investigator" Michelle and she was difficult too because she didn't believe it is possible to have a relationship with God, she doesn't believe in scriptures, she doesn't believe in Christ, and she wouldn't open up and answer questions we asked her. It was okay though.

Tuesday we learned how to teach about The Book of Mormon. We taught Jamie again and the lesson went a lot better but we ran out of time to finish our lesson about prayer. Sad. Gym time was so much fun though! Our zone usually gets together to play some hardcore foursquare and it it hilarious! So we did that, played a few games of speed, and played volleyball district vs district. It was seriously so fun! We had another devotional tonight and it was so awesome! There are too many missionaries here so we are now having our devotionals in the Marriott Center at BYU. This was the first devotional at the Marriott Center and it was just an amazing experience! Somehow our sisters got to sit on the floor on the second row so we had total VIP treatment. It was just incredible to have that many missionaries all in one room!

[Deseret News wrote a story about this:]
MTC overflows with LDS missionaries, moves devotionals to Marriott Center

Hike to the devotional at the Marriott Center
1st MTC devotional at the Marriott Center
Yesterday we learned how we can receive revelation through church attendance and how to teach people not lessons. We taught our first investigator Lisa again and explained the importance of the Book of Mormon. It went pretty well! We also taught our lady Michelle and although we didn't feel like we taught her much, she was way more open and it was a positive experience for her. Seriously the lessons have been stressing me out but none of them have ended up a complete disaster so far!

Today we were able to go do a session at the Provo temple at 6:30 am. It was so early but it was awesome! So today we have just been chilling, cleaning, and doing laundry! It is so relaxing!

We have 5 girls in my room (Me, Sister Cusick, Sister Hegstrom, Sister Anderson and Sister Snow). Three sisters are in a trio companionship and then there's just me and Sis. Snow.

My Sister roomies!

Sister Snow is my favorite! She reminds me a lot of Caitie Crandall. She is so hilarious and we get along really well. I actually love spending time with her!

Me and my lovely companion Sister Snow
We all are best friends already and they are the coolest! Seriously we have so much fun! They are amazing and strong girls! I love them I love them I love them. So we have us 5 sisters and 4 elders in our district. I seriously love my district and over the past week we have become so close. 

[This is what Sis. Snow says about Sis. Mason in her blog:
"Now for my companion Sister Mason! She is great. We became friends instantly and she gets my sense of humor and has quiet a funny subtle one (she'll give really good one-liners out of nowhere). She from Mesa Arizona and have her devils shirt which we took a picture of her wearing with her name tag. She started singing to me yesterday in the tune of the song "Hey Soul Sister" except she said "Hey Snow Sister" Ha it was pretty great, I still do my little singing songs and they rubbed off on her. This is my first companionship but I'd say it's really strong. Even though, or perhaps DESPITE, having to be next to each other ALL the time we talk to each other a lot even when in big groups or at lunch."]

The Sisters in our district decided to have polka dot day and the Elders randomly decided to have red tie day
The other district has 6 sisters and 4 elders. Our district, the other district, and 7ish Spanish missionaries are all flying together to the California Ventura mission on Monday! It looks like there are going to be about 26ish of us showing up together at the same time! 
Today we finally had our first p-day. I can't even tell you how jealous we were all week of people who got to wear p-day clothes and wash their laundry. Our day finally came!
Our "Abbey Road" laundry day
Basically the MTC has been hard and stressful at times but it has been amazing!
Sister Mason

[Here is what Sis. Snow said in her blog about teaching with Sis. Mason:
 "On Sunday we were both having a hard time trying to balance all the teaching semantics and the order and points of the material like they stressed in class versus going by the spirit. We had taught a lesson the day before that was very strange. We said what we were "supposed to" but there was no conviction behind it. We had rewritten our lesson a few times that day to incorporate what we had learned in class. But what we said only left the investigator confused. It wended well however when Sister Mason had Lisa read Isaiah 53:3-5 where it talks about Christ being bruised for our transgressions and by his stripes we are healed. The spirit was very strong at that point, for which we were grateful but knew we weren’t responsible. So Sunday we went into our meetings trying to learn how to better teach by the spirit.

"We had some great lessons on Sunday and a devotional and they all seemed to say teach by the spirit. They emphasized talking and ASKING the investigator soul searching questions not throwing doctrine at them. Sister Mason was frustrated and confused because she felt conflicted with the two charges (I was a little as well). We went back to our classroom to get our stuff and ended up staying an hour and a half talking it out. She explained her feelings and I suggested we pray. So we knelt down and I asked Heavenly Father to please help us. I told him we were confused and wanted direction "how God, do we teach?” We would study with faith that he will answer our pray. It was very empowering praying as a companionship. My eyes glossed over with baby tears (I say that because I have yet to cry) and we said amen, got up and started studying our scriptures. It's nice to have someone to support you and help you out. We are that for each other. And through that companionship we encourage each other to constantly rely on God."]

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The MTC is... a great, wonderful experience and a spiritual high (1st Letter)

Joyful Sister Melia Joy Mason enters the MTC on June 5, 2013

June 7, 2013

Dear Mom and Dad,

The MTC has been such a great experience!  Thank you so much for all the love and support you have given me as I have been preparing for my mission!  I love you guys so much and hope you guys aren’t having too much fun without me already!  (Ha, ha)

I love my companion, Sister Snow, already.  It has only been a little over 48 hours and I already appreciate her so much.  She is so friendly, kind, spiritual and hilarious.  We really get along well and I genuinely enjoy being around her.  We laugh about how a lot of times during meals we just ignore our whole zone that we eat with, and just talk to each other.  She is seriously so great and we have both learned a lot from each other.  BTW – She is from Holladay, Utah and is 23 years old.

In my zone we have 11 sisters and 8 elders.  Sister Snow and I estimated that the MTC looks like 50/50 elders to sisters.  On our first day here, we were told that over 900 missionaries entered the MTC that day.  That is a record high so far.

The MTC has seriously been a wonderful experience!  My teachers are great, the hours and hours of personal study and companion study have gone by pretty quick, and I feel like I am learning so much.  The one thing I have had to get used to is all the companion prayers.  We pray before and after everything we do and so Sister Snow and I easily forget to do that.  Today we dominated though!  I don’t think we forgot a single prayer!

The MTC has definitely been a spiritual high.  The spirit is so strong here and you seriously can’t help but know every second of the day of the truthfulness that is being taught.  I know that my time at the MTC is going to fly by, so I am trying to soak it in as much as possible.  It has been overwhelming at times to try to understand and apply all that we are being taught in such a small amount of time.  Overall, I am loving it even though it is exhausting!  I love you guys so much!          

 <3 Sister Mason

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Pre MTC time in Salt Lake City

Before Melia left for the MTC, we spent time in Park City and Salt Lake City, Utah. On Monday and Tuesday of this week we were at Temple Square and what a wonderful experience that was! We were able to do an endowment session and do sealings together in the Salt Lake Temple, take tours of Temple Square and the Conference Center, eat delicious meals at The Lion House and The Nauvoo Cafe, and just spend quality time together. The best part was that we saw missionaries everywhere. It was especially great to have a sweet set of sister missionaries take us around Temple Square. It was sweet because they gave Melia some great advice and were able to relate everything they showed us and taught us to what she will be doing on her mission. Melia's favorite part was interacting with all the missionaries because she says it showed her more of what to expect on her mission and got her excited to enter the MTC. This trip was just the perfect thing for us to do as a family before Melia left for her mission.

The beautiful Salt Lake Temple!

We were able to do a live temple session and do some family sealings here

Panoramic view of the Christus

This sister missionary was able to meet some really great people
on temple square, including some really great sister missionaries
who gave her encouragement and great advice
Sister Mason and Mom at the Joseph Smith Memorial Building

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Farewell Party and Setting Apart

Here are a few pictures taken the last few days at home in Mesa...

Cousin love! Melia is going to miss these girls!
Melia made this cake to match her outfit. 
Black ruffled skirt (bottom layer), cheetah print
blouse (top layer) and sister missionary name tag.

These guys :)

After being set apart as a new sister missionary with her bishop and stake president

With some of her family
Sister Mason with her grandma

Friends came by early in the morning to say one last good-bye,
but sadly they came by after we had left for Utah.

-Amy (missionary mom)