Week 1 (at the MTC) Friday, May 24, 2013

Anyway, it is been just over a week! I made it a whole week! Honestly, it feels like so much longer, but now the days are starting to really go by fast. Plus, I’m not a newb anymore, so that’s good. I am so happy! The MTC, despite its quirks (food that is just a little questionable, and blankets that smell like prehistoric Elder), I am loving every second of my time here. I am really learning that this is holy ground, and we are entitled to blessings while we are, especially as we are obedient and diligent. I am learning so much, and I am working my hardest –  I want to make the most of this time, and I don’t want to hold back anything from the Lord!
I just have so many things that I want to share with you all, and I’ve been making little notes all week of things to put in my email. So here goes.
BABY LUCY! She is the cutest thing! I think she looks like a little Joseph, but I will need more pictures, updated regularly, in order to decide 🙂 I hope she is being a good baby. I can’t wait to meet her. Mom, I hope you are having a great time in Houston! I wish I was there!
In my news, we finished five whole lessons in Portuguese with our investigator, Raphael, and they got better each time. I still sound like a caveman (You pray now?) but I feel the Spirit and am learning more each day. Plus, I can now pray, testify, and speak basic sentences! Raphael actually became our new professor yesterday, Irmao Owens. Can you say embarrassing? But at least he knows what I need to improve on. Plus, he’s not bad to look at either…anyway. I am working on creating more challenging goals and really pushing myself.
Everyone at the MTC just kept saying “Make it to Sunday!” I didn’t really understand what they meant, since I was already loving my time there. But then, Sunday came. AND I UNDERSTOOD. Sunday was amazing. I have never felt such a powerful Spirit then I did on my first Sunday here. It was like electrity volts through my body, but also like melted butter to the heart. I know that sounds weird. I can’t even explain it. We had our Relief Society meeting and to start it off, we had the opportunity to sing a new version of “As Sisters in Zion.” Have you guys heard about that? Yeah, wrong day to not wear waterproof mascara. I was crying almost immediately as I read the words. Luckily minha companheira had the words:
“The sisters of Zion are called to God’s labor
We willingly serve Him with spirit and might.
We go to the nations with truth everlasting
We teach of the Savior, our Lord Jesus Christ.
We thank thee, o God for a prophet to guide us,
We trust in His words and our purpose is clear.
The angels of heaven are walking beside us,
We’ll share our glad message with all who will hear.
We go forth enlisted with Helaman’s army
In numbers much greater than ever before.
With power and spirit we’ll faithfully witness
The heavens have spoken and truth is restored!”
Isn’t that incredible? I feel such a strong spirit just reading the words now. Then we had a special musical number, a Sister singing “Savior, Redeemer of My Soul.” It was the most beautiful thing I have ever heard. Would someone look up those lyrics and send them to me? They are so incredibly powerful. I am just crying the whole time. Sister Robin Bonham of the General RS board spoke to us and it was so wonderful. Then we had our sacrament meeting, ALL in portuguese. Our bishopric gets to call us up at random to give talks, so that’s a fun few minutes of anxiety. We had some other meetings, then we got to have a devotional by Mary Edmunds. You guys. You HAVE to look up some of her talks. She is SO funny. The whole room was dying during her talk, but she also shared some really powerful words. At the beginning she was like, “We are a church of meetings. We believe in all meetings, we have endured many meetings, and are prepared to endure all meetings. If there is anything that resembles a meeting, we will make it a meeting.” Then she laughed at her own joke. Mom’s new potential friend perhaps? 🙂 She told us that we are at the beginning of one of the most incredible and rewarding experiences of our lives. !!! I know this is true! Then she said, “In the premortal life, two plans were presented. The plan of happiness, and the plan of misery…and dumb stuff.” It was funny, but really, so true. We are here because we chose the better way. A plan of happiness! And every one we know also chose this plan. The fact that they, too, shouted for joy at the plan of coming to earth and gaining a body, should transform how we see and act towards other people. They are also His beloved spirit children. She also said that she calls the adversary “what’s-his-no-face” because she said “it annoys him.” Oh, man. It was so great. Then we got to watch a devotional by Elder Bednar. I tried to write down as much as I could, because it is one of those MTC-only talks that are stuff of legend around here. And let me tell you, it was POWERFUL. In essence, he talked about the Character of Christ, discussing a quote from Elder Maxwell that said “There would have been no atoning sacrifice without the character of christ.” While the natural man always turns inward in selfishness, Christ ALWAYS turned out. I have made it a goal to find these examples in the life of Christ and learn how to develop them in my life. Maybe you guys could study that also and we can share our findings. Elder Bednar also said a testimony will never be enough for us. We have to be CONVERTED unto the Lord. A testimony is not a final destination. Are we paying the price to get what we need? He told us missionaries to just get out of the way, and let the Lord use us as his instruments. Also, look at Ether 3:6. Notice the period at the end of “finger.” This is significant. The lighting of the stones didn’t happen all at once. It was a repeated trial of faith. I found that so instructive. It makes me want to do more and be more every day. I want to look back on every day of my mission and know I gave the Lord 100%! One last thought I had from his talk – whenever you are struggling with something, or have a question, get a new copy of the Book of Mormon and study it solely with that purpose in mind. When you find your answer, get a new copy and move on to your next question. Being a big journaler, I found this idea incredible. It can be a spiritual chronicle of our learning and study. Also, on Tuesday, we had an MTC devotional from Elder Nash from the Seventy. First, we got to all sing “Called to Serve” together. Wow. So powerful. I will just share one thought from his message, one that has been burned into my heart. He read to us Doctrine and Covenants 138:53, 55-56 and told us: you have been preparing for this mission for your whole life, including the premortal life. Whoa.That makes me more motivated every day to give it my all. This 18 months is a tiny portion of time that I can give, so I want to truly consecrate every minute to being his servant. There is so much I am learning, and being touched by here! It is incredible!
I am getting so close with my District. I know that I will be friends with some of these Elders and Sisters for the rest of my life. We’ve finally started getting gym time, which is such a blessing. I found a running buddy in a sister in my District, Sister Keenan. We actually know each other from volunteering at the TRC, so it was like, whoa, instant bond. We’ve decided to run RAGNAR together when we both get back from our missions. We all also have so many things to laugh together about. The other day I put lemon juice ALL over my salad, thinking it was dressing. Everyone got a kick out of that. Sister Peart tried to convince us one of her zits was leprosy. Elder Hamrick read us a gospel lesson in his Bane voice. Elder Thomas cried on the first day when he saw all the food in the cafeteria. Mom, I tell everyone stories about and they so badly want to meet you. They are now familiar with the tap-tap on the heart peace out greeting. It has also been amazing seeing us grow and have spiritual experiences together. I witnesses a struggling Elder who got a blessing from his companion, and there is real power and growth happening every day.
Things that I thought would be sacrifices really aren’t. I know I am absolutely where I am supposed to be. Again, a sacred privilege to work in the vineyard, working side by side with the Master. (See Jacob 5:72, 75).
Well, I better go. Thank you so much for all the thoughts and prayers. I can truly say that I feel them, and I am so grateful. OH! To whoever sent the cookies: BLESS YOU! They didn’t have a name on them, but they were so appreciated! I shared them with my district and they were gone in like, 5 seconds. So tasty! Thank you, thank you! Also, I am working on trying to send some pictures we took of our district. But the computers hate me. Dad, could you send my camera cord? The one that connects to the computer?
Lastly, I will leave with you all my testimony. The gospel has been restored. Jesus Christ is our Savior and Redeemer. He lives! The tomb is empty! How glorious is this truth. Dizemos estas coisas em nome de Jesus Cristo, amem. 
Sister Baldwin

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