Tuesday, July 30, 2013

July 30, 2012

Kara familj,
I would love to write you a whole email in Swedish, but unfortunately I don't have access to Google Translate and we don't have Swedish dictionaries yet. But you'll be happy to know that I could read your whole email. I didn't have to look down at the translation until I got to alpaca burgers. How were those? This keyboard is set for Russian, so I have to use the on-screen keyboard in order to type a question mark...so I disregard my poor punctuation if I get sick of that.
THANK YOU FOR THE PACKAGE!!!!!! It was like Christmas morning, really! I got to wear new clothes to church on Sunday! And the candy is yummy! Did you happen to find my glasses? I'm really missing them right now...I had a dream that they were on the bottom shelf of the big bookshelf in my room, so maybe look there? That would be great if you could send them to me because I'm having to wear contacts right now even though it's P-day! Blech! Oh, and you might have noticed the attached pictures. The bookstore finally had those cords, so I bought one yesterday. So you can just return the one that you forgot to send me. (More on the pics later)
This week has been a crazy week since I last wrote home. Syster Guinn went to the ER last Tuesday night because of some severe flu symptoms that escalated into an anxiety attack. Then we had an elder break his ankle (I guess it was never healed from a break a few years ago and he tweaked it). He went home this morning because he's been struggling with really severe depression and anxiety. Syster Dawson and I caught him just in time to say goodbye this morning, but most of our district didn't even get to do that. It'll be some tough sailing from this point forward in our district. In the last week, at least one member of each companionship in our district has talked with their family, besides Syster Dawson and me. I guess we're next, but hopefully you won't have to get a call from me for any reason. They haven't all been emergencies, don't worry. That would be really crazy.
Our investigators are doing mycket bra! Jonatan committed to keeping the Word of Wisdom. He's come so far since we started teaching him, and we love him so much! His baptism is scheduled for August 23, which is his birthday. (I think I already mentioned that.) Adam is also doing great! Yesterday we had an amazing lesson with him. We shared 2 Nephi 9:21-23, which talks about how the atonement is for ADAM and his family. Syster Dawson stopped him after that part and said "Wait, for who?" And he got so excited when he realized it really was for him! Then we pulled out some chocolate and he was REALLY interested from that point on. We used the chocolate to explain the Atonement: Sometimes you want to buy some candy at the store but you don't have enough money. Since your mom loves you, she helps you pay for it, but you still have to give her what money you do have. Once we gave him chocolate he was eager to do anything we asked. He said he and his mom will come to church on Sunday. It's going so great! We also set his baptism date for August 17.
To answer some of Mom's Dear Elder questions: Weekends do kind of feel like weekends. The only day of the week that stays true to itself is Sunday. Then Monday feels like Friday, Tuesday is Saturday, and Wednesday through Saturday are Monday through Thursday. So we go Thursday, Sunday, Friday, Saturday, Monday. On Saturday nights we have an hour and a half of computer time where we can watch Mormon Messages and listen to conference talks and such. So that's kind of the start of the weekend. Then Sunday is just amazing. The devotional speaker on Sunday was Cheryl Lant, who used to be the general primary president. Monday is sandwiched between Sunday and P-Day, so it's always good. On Monday nights we get done with classes early, and we have an hour for exercise in the evening. So that feels like our Friday night and helps us cool down into P-Day.
Sounds like you guys had a fun 24th of July! The only thing we did to really celebrate it was have a lot of devotionals about pioneers. Syster Dawson did say she wished she had a bonnet. I always feel like a pioneer on P-Day because I always put my hair in two braids, since I'm too lazy to blow-dry it. I think I DID teach Sister Knecht and her son in TRC! They were very nice and patient with our Swedish. TRC is kind of like doing a visiting teaching appointment in Swedish. The volunteers don't pretend to be investigators or anything, they're all members, and we just share a message and discuss the gospel. It's a completely different experience than teaching a lesson because they talk faster and we don't have to explain everything we're talking about.
Time is definitely flying for me! The saying here is "Days feel like weeks and weeks feel like days." It's so true. I can't believe how long I've already been here, how much I've learned, and how much I've grown. Syster Dawson pointed out this morning that we're as close to Sweden as we are to when we got here. Is that crazy or what?
So I'm not sure if you could tell, but I'm in most of those pictures that I attached. Hopefully you can also tell that the one who's always standing next to me is Syster Dawson. She's amazing. And the group standing in front of the temple is my district. From left to right, the elders are Elder Christensen, Elder Hansen, Elder Demke, Elder Schram, Elder Ward, and Elder Lundquist. (I don't think anyone has a picture of Elder Lundquist just looking at the camera and smiling...) Then the sisters are Syster Byrd, Syster Guinn, Syster Dawson, and me. Sorry my eyes are closed, it was a really bright day. That's the only one I have of my whole district so far because it's really hard to get everyone together on those temple walks. And the last picture is to show how FAT my journal is with all the letters I've gotten in the last three weeks. I am so loved! I'll probably be sending some of them home before I leave because there are just so many of them. Also, I reached page 40 in my journal this morning...so it might not last me 18 months...
I love hearing from everyone! Good luck with everything! Jag alskar er!
Love, Syster Smith
PS-Your Swedish was pretty good. There were a couple of interesting things. Like I'm pretty sure when you said the weeds looked better, you said it in a way that meant they have better vision now... Oh, and we did the same thing that Elder Neu did in the MTC! This week in our lesson with Jonatan we sat down and said "We'd like to talk about life after we kill." Instead of after we die. ... He thought it was pretty funny.



Tuesday, July 23, 2013

July 23, 2013

Kara familj,
Hej san!
Glad to hear everything is going well. Except I was hoping the horses would be perfect little devils for you so you can never sell them. You have a lot of questions, which is great because I can never remember what I've already told you. I write so many letters. I have more time for letter writing because I get ready really fast, so I usually have like an hour on Thursday and Friday mornings, plus some extra time at night. We get an hour to email but it's kind of confusing because the computers are still set to only let you email for half an hour, so after a half hour a warning comes up and says to finish up, then it starts counting how long you've gone over your time. It really stressed me out last week but the Zone Leaders said not to worry, and that President Hill (our branch president, he's basically our mission president for the MTC) said it's fine if you go over an hour because emailing your family is important. So I get an hour with a little wiggle room.
The broadcast was good. Of course we sang like angels, it's the MTC! We sang Nearer My God to Thee, and the choir director is really cool so he told us the whole story of the song and everything. Did you know it's about when Jacob was running away from home after "stealing" the birthright from Esau? It just made me like the song even more. Oh, and the speaker was good too. Richard G. Hinckley. He had some really good advice for missionaries (like, USE THE AREA BOOK.)
We found out on Friday that Jonathon was actually our teacher, Brother Rowley. But, before we found that out we committed him to getting baptized on his birthday! I tried to tell him it would be a great birthday present but I'm not sure how much of it was understandable Swedish. We meant to say August third, but our Swedish skills were interpreted as August twenty-third. But it's his birthday so it was great. We haven't taught him since then but he's taught us since he's our teacher. That was a little awkward because we were trying to plan our next lesson with him and he was sitting right behind us... All three of our teachers are Americans, but they all returned from missions in Sweden within the last two years. Broder Rowley just got back in December. We TOTALLY thought he was really Swedish because he's blonde and his accent was spot on. When he started speaking English we were all amazed that he had an American accent. He speaks Swedish like a Swede. Broder Jorgensen and Broder Bush speak Swedish like they speak English, so it's a little easier to understand but I'm not sure if we're getting the right accent.
We started teaching a new investigator yesterday, Adam. (It's really Broder Jorgensen). He's a ten year old boy from China who moved to Sweden with his mom. He didn't even know any Chinese though! That was kind of funny because I heard he was from China and I said "Oh, ni shuo zhong wen ma?" For once I was the one that knew the language! But we still had to speak Swedish. It is REALLY HARD to explain that Heavenly Father is the father of our spirits when the only words you know about the subject are "body," "ghost," and "spiritual." We kind of just dropped that one and moved on. He had been researching Jesus Christ on the internet and had a lot of questions. He doesn't understand any English. With Jonathon we can ask how to say words and he'll help us, but Adam just looks at us like a typical ten year old and shrugs. We might still get to teach Jonathon too. Everybody's going to have two investigators and we haven't heard who our second one is yet.
What are you guys doing for Pioneer Day? Our devotional Sunday night was by the author of "Tell My Story, Too." I'm sorry I can't remember her name, but you should look her up because it sounds like a really cool book. She was one of the historical advisors for Seventeen Miracles, and also for Ephraim's Rescue. Have you seen that yet? She talked about how missionary work rescues people and she shared a lot of cool pioneer stories. I almost thought she was going to share Anna-Christina Peterson, but she didn't.
Peyton-HAVE FUN AT THE ONE DIRECTION CONCERT! I'll be thinking of you come Thursday! Make sure Matty doesn't get too excited when they all come out on stage. You might have to tell him to calm down a little.
So, would you like to hear the cool news? Syster Dawson and I were assigned as the new Sister Training Leaders for our branch! It's kind of like a zone leader over the sisters. Mostly we're just supposed to make sure they feel loved and interview the senior companions. (By the way, I'm the junior companion for now since Smith comes after Dawson, but we'll switch next week. In case you were wondering.) So it's pretty cool and we're going to get to know all the girls in our zone really well! The Dutchies left Monday morning, and with them half of our sisters, so there's only twelve sisters in our zone at the moment. Eight Swedes, three Norwegians, and one Dane. Tomorrow we'll get 30 new Dutchies, but they're ALL ELDERS. It's kind of ridiculous. So Syster Dawson and I have a pretty easy job since there will be no new sisters to welcome. Sister Packard, the one Dane, moved into our bedroom, so now in my room there are me and Syster Dawson, the three Norwegian sisters, and the Dane. The other bedroom just has Swedish. We're pretty cool. The languages are really similar too, so we can all pray together at night and mostly understand each other.
I still don't have Swedish scriptures. I probably won't get them until next week. Luckily Syster Dawson has them so I can just use hers. I memorized the first vision over the weekend, which was pretty cool. So now I can recite the first vision and my purpose as a missionary, I can pray, bear testimony, teach (sort of) and invite you to be baptized! (Vill du folja Jesu Kristi exampel genom at bli dopt av nagon som ber Guds prestadomes myndighet?) In Swedish "vill du" doesn't mean "will you", it means "do you want to," so sometimes I mess up on extending commitments. I say "do you want to read the Book of Mormon?" and they say okay, but I forget to follow up with "are you going to?" So far though, the commitments we've extended have been kept. So that's good.
I'm always so excited to press send, because I imagine Mom's phone ringing and her checking it so excitedly! By the way the DearElder.com letters you send are AMAZING. We check the mail twice a day so if you don't get a real letter after lunch, you still have a chance of getting a DearElder after dinner. I love them! Every letter is great!!
Jag alskar er!!
Love, Syster Smith
PS-Mom, in my package you could really send just whatever t-shirts you want. I just need a couple more for working out so they have to be the baggy kind. Maybe like the Riverton Half Marathon Volunteer ones, or my blue BYU one, or something like that. Doesn't really matter. Except remember that I have bright red exercise pants, so it kind of matters. Also, have you seen my glasses in my room? I can't find them anywhere. I haven't seen them since I got here. So if you could find them and send them, that would be great! Love you!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

July 16, 2013

Kara familj,
Halla! I can't figure out how to do the Swedish letters on this computer either, so imagine some of the A's with little circles over them or dots. How are you!? I'm sorry the chickens are slowly dying and I'm hoping that Matt won't find time to ride the horses so you won't be able to sell them. We did get chocolate milk. They actually never ran out, I was just doing it wrong. You have to push up on the dispenser instead of down. Syster Dawson figured it out. She's really smart like that. We study Swedish at least six hours a day, usually closer to eight. We're already teaching lessons and it's so great! (more on that later.) So yeah, if you are wondering what I'm doing, you can assume I'm working on Swedish. It's more like we learn the gospel and how to teach, the teacher just teaches it all in Swedish and we have to figure it out.
I have like no time so I had to figure out which experiences I want to share with you. Reading through my journal (I've been planning out my email time for a couple of hours already before I dared to actually start) I decided to share the first sentence of each day and my favorite part of that day. Ja.
Day one, Wednesday: "This is really it!" As I mentioned earlier, I was in Swedish class before I'd been there more than half an hour, where the teacher Broder Bush talked at us in Swedish. I was at a disadvantage because I was in the last group to get here, so some of the people had been in the class for almost an hour already. But I'm picking it up really fast. The coolest part of the day was when we were in the little welcome devotional meeting, and we sang The Army of Helaman. I wasn't paying attention to the words on the screen because I thought I already knew the song, so I almost missed that one line had been changed to "We are NOW the Lord's missionaries." It was so cool to be able to sing that! Except I didn't have much of a voice, so I didn't sing it very well. My voice came back on...Friday I think. Yeah, Friday, right before we taught for the first time.
Day two, Thursday: "I prayed in Swedish today!" Rest assured that I pray for you every day, partly because "familj" is one of the only things I know how to say that I'm thankful for. That and Undersokare, investigators. I also wrote out my testimony in Swedish on Thursday with minimal notes.
Day three, Friday: "Another great day in the MTC!" Friday was really cool because Syster Dawson and I taught our first lesson. In Swedish. It was really intimidating. First, we forgot our scriptures, BUT it turned out to be a good thing because later we found out they'd given us Norwegian scriptures (like we could tell the difference) so it would have been bad. Anyway, so I've been learning Swedish for less than 48 hours and they put us in a room with an investigator who only speaks Sweidsh. Our conversation went something like this: "Do you believe in God?" "Uh...yeah." "Do you believe God loves you?" "Uh...no." "Well I KNOW God loves you!" (blank stare) "Uh...do you believe Jesus loves you?" "Uh...(indistinguishable Swedish. Note that we have no idea how to say "what did you say?" by this point. So, blank stare/awkward silence)" "Well I KNOW Jesus loves you!" (more blank stares) "Will...will you pray with us?" "Uh...jeah." "Will you say it?" "I don't know how." Luckily we were prepared for that. Not that we'd learned it in Swedish, but we had marked it in the Restoration Pamphlet. (By the way, in the Swedish pamphlets, all the pictures are of Swedish people.) So we handed him the pamphlet, he read it and said a prayer. I have no idea what he said in the prayer, but hey, he prayed. I also bore my testimony and promised that if he prayed, he would feel God's love (Guds karlek). We left him with a commitment to pray about God's love. It was pretty awkward but the Spirit was still SO STRONG!
Day three, Saturday: "The MTC is seriously the coolest place ever." We taught Jonathon again on Saturday (that's our investigator. It's pronounced Yo-nuh-tahn.) It went really well and I knew a lot more Swedish, including how to ask him to repeat himself, which was a real blessing. We had our fourth teacher in four days by then, but we finally found out that we have two official teachers, Broder Bush and Broder Jorgensen. They were both gone for the first few days which is why we were so confused about who was supposed to teach us. But they're great teachers.
Day four, Sunday: "Sundays are the best. Every day is the best." Sunday really was like 12 hours of church, but I loved it! We learned so much and it was great and Syster Dawson and I got so much inspiration about what to teach Jonathon. The relief society speaker was Carole Mikita and she still talks like a news person in real life, you know how they are talking and then randomly they............pause and then keep going like nothing happened? Yeah. She was really inspirational though and had a great conversion story about her whole family. Our branch is the Swedes, Norwegians, Danes, Icelanders, and the Dutchies. It's got 89 people right now which is apparently really huge. For Sacrament meeting, everybody has to prepare a talk and you don't know who's talking until they announce it over the pulpit. We went to choir practice, and it was really cool too. Which reminds me, they said they're broadcasting tonight's devotional but I don't know where to. So if you happen to see it, I'll be wearing purple and (if we sit in the same spots) I'll be about the fifth row from the front in the middle of the girls. (I ended up as a second soprano, don't ask me how.) We're singing Nearer My God To Thee, so you'll know if you're watching the right one. Look for me tonight!
Day five, Monday: "I love being a missionary!" We had the BEST lesson yesterday with Jonathon for three reasons. Number one, we brought a hymn book because he loves music and had him read the first verse of Joseph Smith's First Prayer before our lesson. Number two, because we asked him to say the opening prayer and to invite the Spirit to be with us that day. It was even better when HE was the one who invited the Spirit because he was so sincere about it. And it was so strong! Number three, because I let Syster Dawson do more teaching and she bore the most powerful testimony in Swedish. She said so many inspired things that I wouldn't have even thought of, like relating the feeling of the Holy Ghost to how he feels when he plays music. It was great. The best part was, at the end of the lesson he asked if he could finish reading the song.  We said OF COURSE, and he finished reading it and looked up at me. I'd just opened my mouth when he said "I'm just like Joseph Smith." He took the words right out of my mouth, only in better Swedish. It was the best ever. I know I keep saying that but it really was just SO POWERFUL.
I've been so excited to hear from you and get to email you. Just so you know, Dear Elder letters are awesome because they really do come the same day and mail is the best. And I can reply to them right away instead of having to wait  all the way until P-Day. I don't think Syster Dawson is a hunter, but she is a dancer and we have a lot in common. I'm so thankful that she's my companion. I didn't have to do any running because we found out that you don't have to do the same activity as long as you're both in the gym, so I can play volleyball. I've seen pretty much everyone I know who's here. They're everywhere. The MTC is a small world.
I'm doing great! Gud alskar er! Jag alskar er!
Love, Syster Smith

Saturday, July 13, 2013

1st Letter from the MTC

July 11, 2013

Dear Mom, Dad, and Family,

Hello!  How's life without your favorite syster?  I'm doing great except I still can't talk and I'm starving.  We had dinner at 4:15 yesterday and haven't eaten since.  (It's 6:45 a.m. right now.)  The food was good.  Chicken fried chicken with gravy and cheesy mashed potatoes.  Cody, I didn't try the chocolate milk yet because it was all out.  Yesterday wasn't quite like I expected.  They didn't waste any time on orientations.  They dropped my stuff off, gave me a nametag (magnetic-Do not use with a Pacemaker!), and stuck me in Swedish class where my teacher, Broder Bush, talked at us in Swedish.  I was the last one to show up except for one elder, so I was at a disadvantage.  Some people were dropped off at 12:45, so they had a whole hour before me.  Nobody really knew anything about the language though.  Some of the elders think they do, but they don't.  The great thing about learning Swedish is all of my Chinese came rushing back!  Everytime I answered a question I wanted to follow with "Delaney wrote chinese characters here" (ni ne?), or "y tu?" (they both mean the same thing but I don't know how to say it in Swedish.)  There are 20 Swedish missionaries, so we're split into 2 districts.  The two girls I know from Facebook are both in the other district.  We have 6 elders and 4 sisters.  All from Utah.  My companion is Syster Dawson.  She's from Cedar City, she's a dancer, and she's really nice.  She also has a little brother named Cody, but he'll go on a mission next summer so she won't see him for 3 years.  The two of us share a room with the three Norwegian sisters, and the other Swedish girls are next door.  I'm in the original MTC, not the West campus.

It was weird to not call you last night and tell you everything that happened.  Luckily we have a bunch of random un-planned time this morning.  It's normally when we would be getting up and ready for the day, but we got up early to go to a yoga class.  (I'm trying to be agreeable.  And it's kind of a compromise since I think Syster Dawson really wants to go running during our gym time, but I really don't want to.)  I didn't sleep very much last night.  I was worried we wouldn't wake up in time for yoga - isn't that lame?  The beds are also really creaky.  It's a good thing I'm used to jumping on and off my bed, because the ladder to my bunk is so sketchy I hate to use it.

Last night we did a teaching experience as a large group where we practiced listening effectively and following the Spirit.  I didn't participate much on account of having no voice, but I did ask one of the investigators a good open-ended question, and another time when my companion shared something I had said the teacher said "Someone's been reading Preach My Gospel!"  So I felt pretty good about it. It's amazing how many things you can pick up on when you listen effectively instead of planning your response.  It's something that I'll have to work on.

I've seen a lot of people I know.  One from Chinese, one from Folk Dance, some people from high school, Elder Gerrard (he's in my zone) and another girl from BYU who's also in my zone.  From what I can tell, my zone is the Scandinavian (minus Finland) and Dutch missionaries.  We're the Swedes, and there's also the Norwegians, Icelandics, Danes, and "Dutchies".  Mostly Dutchies.

P-day isn't until Tuesday, so you won't hear from me until then probably.  Hopefully I can figure out how to send mail soon so you'll get this before then.  Don't worry about me, I'm happy and having a great time!  I love you!


Monday, July 8, 2013

The Final Countdown

Ain't nothing says it better than this! I'm freaking out, just a little, because I'm going to be set apart as a full time missionary...tomorrow. Crazy, huh? Where has the time gone?

But anyway, my farewell last week was a huge success. People laughed at my joke, and what more can you really ask for when speaking in church? I learned a lot by preparing my talk, so I'm thankful for the opportunity. I also got to play my violin with Peyton one last time, which was really great. And so many people came to support me, it was overwhelming. To everyone who made it, as well as everyone who was there in spirit, a HUGE THANK YOU! I couldn't do this without friends and family like all of you.

I've been blessed with the opportunity to attend two family reunions this week, one for my mom's side and one for my dad's side, so I've been able to talk to most of my extended family members and spend time with them. I'm going to miss these giant family gatherings while I'm gone, but it's good to know that all these people will be thinking of me and praying for me. My family members are great examples to me of faith, love, and hard work and I love them all.

And now, for the moment you've all been waiting for, I've finally received my MTC address! Since I know all of you are dying to write me letters while I'm still in the country and it's cheap, you can address them to:

Sister Delaney Shay Smith
2007 N 900 E Unit 71
Provo, UT 84602

There's some debate about whether the "Unit 71" part means I'll be in the original MTC or in Wyview or Raintree. It definitely means one or the other, I just don't know which. I'll let you know as soon as I have the chance. I'll be there until August 20th, when I fly out to Sweden! You can send mail for free while I'm in the MTC using dearelder.com, but after that it's not a pouch mission or anything so you'll just have to pay the $1.10 if you want to send me a letter in Sweden. (I'll appreciate it greatly if you do!)

This is probably my last post, but my parents are going to post my emails up on here so you can all stay up to date. Wish me luck! I'm excited! The church is true!