Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Week 3

This week has pretty much flown by!  Which is a miracle in and of itself!
After I emailed last, we went to the temple and enjoyed a heavenly meal at the temple cafeteria!  Tilapia and potatoes!  I felt like I was home eating a home cooked meal!  Then, we headed to choir practice and devotional.  The choir sang "Consider The Lilies."  I love that song.  It talks about Christ's love for us and how He knows every small detail in our lives and is there to help us along our paths.  Look it up if you've never heard it!  I think the Mormon Tabernacle Choir does the best arrangement! :)  Before the meeting started, the choir director shared a beautiful experience he had when his four year old son was diagnosed with Leukemia.  It really touched me as he shared that he and his son and his family felt the love of Jesus Christ carrying their burdens as they struggled.  His son passed away peacefully at 4, and the director said that the song Consider the Lilies is the perfect song to describe the peace he felt after his son passed.  I was so touched by the story and know that Christ is there to lift us, even in the hardest times. 
On Wednesday, I made a zillion flashcards.  If only they turned to dollar bills...I'd be rich!  Then, we hosted missionaries!  That meant I got to go to the curb and welcome new missionaries entering the MTC!  I took them to get their name badge, books, dropped off their luggage in their rooms, and took them to their new classroom.  It was a great experience!  I loved seeing the new missionaries as they said goodbye to their families knowing that the service they would be doing would be worth the separation.  It reminded me of how wonderful my family and friends are!  I am grateful every day for the support I receive.  I can feel it!!  Hosting took a little longer than expected, but right after we hosted, we went to the worldwide missionary broadcast.  Church leaders in Salt Lake did a big training broadcast on the different aspects of missionary work and helping others come to Christ.  Elder Clayton spoke, and it was great to see him, even if it was just on the projector screen! 
Thursday was great!  We had a man from the BYU English Learning Center (ELC) come in and talk about how we will be teaching English in Mongolia.  We will take online classes at the MTC and do some training in the ELC in March.  An organization will sponsor our visa, and that will determine where I will teach.  So I guess I could be in a school or a post office or at the department of labor.  I'm keeping my fingers crossed for a school! :)  I miss the sweet kids at my school every day, and I really want to be in another school! I'm excited to be a part of such a wonderful service to the people of Mongolia!!
Friday was awesome because I learned "Head Shoulders Knees and Toes" in Mongolian!  It's the fastest I've ever learned 8 words! I got the package from mom (thank you!!) and overdosed on gummy bears.  Totally worth it.
On Saturday, we taught lessons called TRC (aka teaching members of the Church a spiritual message in Mongolian...I have literally no idea what it stands for...).  We taught 2 really nice people a lesson on faith, hope, and charity.  We asked a lot of questions.  I understood about 10% of what they said, but they seemed to like the lesson! :)  It was funny because in one of the lessons, we were speaking Mongolian and going along with an awesome discussion (at least from what I understood)!  So then I went to say (in Mongolian) that Charity is the pure love of Christ.  I opened my mouth to speak and I literally said the word "Charity" in English, followed by the rest of the sentence in Mongolian.  I didn't even realize I said any English until after the sentence.  We all got a good laugh! :)  We had class afterward and studied a ton.  We are learning 1-2 grammar principles every day. 
Sunday, as always, is my favorite!  All the sister missionaries gathered for a Sisters Conference, which was awesome!  From what I could tell, about half of the missionaries at the MTC are sisters!!  We learned from two great women about how powerful the Book Of Mormon is and how it really does bring us closer to Christ.  Church was also centered on the power of the Book of Mormon.  I met with my Branch President (the leader over our congregation of about 30 missionaries) and it is always good to meet with someone who has wisdom and a big perspective.  He told me that God knows Mongolian, and He wants me to learn it.  Through His love and mercy, I have actually learned a lot, and will continue to know the things I need to know.  I know that is true.  We went on the temple walk, ran into one of our Mongolian teachers, and then headed to choir.  The choir is singing a song called "Hurrah for Israel".  It is powerful!!  I'll write down the lyrics tonight when we sing it! :)  We had a Sunday night devotional with the head of the missionary department about how we need to serve with all our hearts.  We all did a little evaluation of where our hearts are, and it was such a powerful message about being engaged in the work without distraction. 
Yesterday was great because I got letters and a package! :)  Thank you!!!  We had class, as always, and taught a new person, who is our teacher, Brother Standley.  He is pretending to be a man he taught in Mongolia.  It has been such a wonderful experience to teach him about Christ. 
My Mongolian is kinda coming along!  I am trying to learn all I can!  It is sounding more and more normal, and I find myself thinking random words in Mongolian!  It's not like I'm thinking in Mongolian, but knowing that the words are somewhere in my brain is helpful!  We do flashcards all day err day.  It seems like this week has been better than ever!  There's still a LOOOONG way to go, but I'm seeing progress and finding myself less frustrated with myself!
Also, I have been playing volleyball during gym time every day, and I'm actually improving!  They say language really improves in the 3rd or 4th week, and I guess the same is true with volleyball! :)
I hope everyone is doing well!  I love all the letters and updates!  Love you!
Sister Bottorff

The Sisters in the District.

The Zone out for a walk.

Mongolian Sisters in their room.

Throwing snow at the Temple.

A picture of the Temple from under the water in the fountain.

The Zone with their teacher, Brother Higgs, on the far left.

Week 2

Wow!  It seems like it's been forever since I emailed last!  So much has happened!!
On Tuesday, after emailing, my companion and I had to get some blood work done for our visas.  We took a little field trip to the health center across the street and felt like rebels! :) It was fun to get out and walk a little bit!  Then we went to the temple and had a lovely time! :)  After that, we went to dinner and choir practice where we practiced one last time before we performed in the devotional that night.  Elder Neil L. Anderson was the keynote speaker.  It was amazing to sit at the feet of one of the Lord's modern day apostles.  As he walked in, the entire MTC was singing "I'll go where you want me to go" and there was such power!
On Wednesday, we had a pretty typical day with a bunch of language study, but in the afternoon, our Mongolian class was invited to a teacher training.  A bunch of the language teachers had a seminar, and our class was able to be the example.  Our teacher was a big wig on campus, and she taught us so much about how we can represent Jesus Christ.  That is our goal.  Her class was just what I needed for a pick-me-up! 
On Thursday, we started the day with service.  Sister Hansen and I mopped all of the bathrooms in the women's residence halls.  It was fun to serve together and not have to think much.  (Sometimes I feel like my brain will explode with all of the information I am receiving!)  In Mongolian language class, we went over the past/present/future tenses.  I made a goal to become more fluent in reading, which after working at Scott, I value much more than ever!  I felt like a first grader again, taking literally 20 minutes to sound out one verse of scripture.  But I look forward to the day that I can read quickly, and I know that with practice it will come!  We ended the evening teaching a Mongolian native.  We didn't know all of the words, but the Holy Ghost was there to fill in the gaps.
Friday was pretty typical.  I was super bummed I couldn't be at Jordan's wedding, but I felt like I was there in spirit!  I made a language plan and saw Elder Goolsby in the dinner line.  We had a great chat about Mongolian vs. Russian, and how excited he was to go to the Ukraine.  The day ended on a SUPER high note when I was asked to say the closing prayer in our language class.  I said it TOTALLY IN MONGOLIAN!! It wasn't one that I had rehearsed (which I had done a lot previously just so I knew what I was doing.)  It was straight from the heart, and there was no English!  I was so excited and grateful for the improvements I have made.
Saturday was funny because we found out the woman we were teaching from Mongolia is actually our new language teacher!! I have learned SO much from her because listening to a native is different than our teachers.  But I'm glad to be able to make that adjustment now before I get to Mongolia.  She said my Mongolian has improved!  We memorized words and phrases together.  At the end of each day, we have about an hour to write in our journals and get ready for bed.  It is coveted time.  But on Saturday, the four girls in my room (all going to Mongolia) had a super fun time talking.  We bonded. And I love and respect them so much more after our deep conversation!
Sunday was AMAZING!!!  We started out studying.  Sister Hansen and I were asked to teach Relief Society (the class for all the women in the congregation), so we prepared that.  Then, every Sunday, each person in the congregation is supposed to prepare a 3-5 minute talk to share and then translate later in case we need to use it in Mongolia.  We had some extra time before church was going to start, so we sang songs.  Then, after the sacrament was passed, the person conducting the meeting said, "and now we will hear from Sister Bottorff...and 2 others.)  I thought for SURE I'd be off the hook, but I wasn't.  So I got up and gave a talk.  It went pretty well.  And then I gave the closing prayer in Sacrament Meeting.  It was kind of the Sister Bottorff show.  But I laughed and figure I'll be off the hook for doing anything else the rest of the 10 weeks! :)
Then, we did the temple walk, and met up with a Sister going to Temple Square.  She is from Mongolia, and we love her.  She left on Monday. :( We will miss her!  Then, we had choir practice and the devotional.  SISTER JANICE KAPP PERRY was the keynote speaker!  She was inspiring!  It was amazing to sit at the feet of someone who wrote songs that brought me closer to Christ as a child.  And then we all sang the songs she wrote.  I could hardly sing at all because I was so happy! 
Monday was great!  We have a new person to teach, which happens to be our teacher, so the pressure is on.  We prepared a ton and I learned lots of new phrases!  Dinner was also awesome because they had Chick-Fil-A catered!  It was like heaven! 
Today has been fun!  We have just done laundry so far! Its so nice to have a day off! :)
I am looking forward to tomorrow because I get to host new missionaries coming in.  I get to pick them up off the curb and show them around.  I'll be sure to let them get a last hug and picture with everyone dropping them off! :)
Another funny story was someone at dinner was making characters of everyone.  He asked for a nickname for my character, and Elder Wilding said "RObottorff!"  It was so funny!  So he's been calling me ROBottorff!  hahaha
I hope this wasn’t too long!  I love everyone!  And I love hearing from you!  I hope you are doing well!!!!
Sister Bottorff

Mongolian nametags of the Zone.

Sister Bottorff going to have her blood work done.
Mongonian Sisters with a Sister from Mongolia who is headed to Temple Square.


Week 1


Where do I begin???

Wednesday - I woke up early and got ready.  Amy took me to Kneaders and we headed down to Provo.  I said my last goodbyes to my family (by phone) and headed to Zupas for lunch.  A bunch of missionaries were eating there with their families, and it turned out a girl going to my mission was there!  I got dropped off at the MTC, and was taken to get my 1000 pounds of language books, put my stuff away, and head to class.  I came to find out that the girl at Zupas would be my companion!!  She is amazing!  We get along so well, and she provides such a strength to me!  We laugh so hard and seem to be on the same page.  Her name is Sister Hansen, from Kaysville, Utah.  We had our first language class, all in Mongolian.  It turns out they will NEVER teach us in English.  It is part of the MTC language learning method.  (I have only heard my teachers speak English once when they were going over VISA paperwork.)  My district, or class of Mongolian learners, is comprised of 9 people.  4 sisters and 5 elders.  They are amazing!  Our zone, or the couple of other classes in our group, have people learning Cambodian, Thai, Hmong, and Laotian.  They are super fun, and they have been here a few weeks, so they have been helpful in getting us around.  

Thursday - WE LEARNED THE ALPHABET!!! I feel like a 5 year old, which can be frustrating at times, but it was great to have the alphabet memorized.  I sound out every word, slowly but surely.  I am doing my best to learn phrases, but the alphabet was a major accomplishment.  Sister Hansen is great because she and I can do flashcards together and help each other.  We think similarly, so we can come up with weird ways to remember things.  One of the common letters sounds like the "S" when Sid the Sloth talks in Ice Age.  That letter is all about the airflow in the cheeks.  

Friday - It was kind of a rough day.  Mongolian is NOT AN EASY LANGUAGE TO LEARN!!!!  And after 2.5 days, it felt like I'd been at the MTC long enough to know most things, and I most certainly didn't.  I got super overwhelmed as it became awfully real that I had a lot to learn.  Think about all of the little words and phrases we say in the span of an hour or so!  I have to learn all of those in another language!  And it takes time.  I just need to be patient with myself, but it's MUCH easier said than done.  On the plus side, I learned to pray in Mongolian!  I have memorized the beginning of the prayer, "Dear Heavenly Father," and the end "In the name of Jesus Christ Amen."  I speak as much Mongolian as I know, but it is hard to remember the words.  They seem to go in one ear and out the other.  Friday was also crazy because we taught a Mongolian woman.  She is so nice, and we can feel of her goodness.   It was just difficult because we didn't know many words, and Sister Hansen and I just did our best to convey that God knows her and loves her.  That is hard to do when you can't ask questions, understand her answers, or hardly say the words on the script we wrote beforehand.  But things will get better!! And, really, they already have!

Saturday - After struggling on Friday, Sister Hansen and I worked really hard to have a good attitude.  We have been playing volleyball each day to release some steam.  We had another lesson with our Mongolian friend on Saturday night, and this time, we made it a point to be better prepared and have some phrases memorized!  And it worked.  She felt the Holy Ghost as we taught her to pray.  

Sunday -  THE BEST DAY EVERRR!!!!  We had some language study before church, and then we went to church.  It was such a relief!! We had great meals and lessons and made some great friends!  Then, we had a meeting as a district (just those speaking Mongolian) to make sure we were all on the same page.  After the meeting, we got to walk around the temple.  It was amazing to get fresh air and totally have a break from the stress of the week.  After the temple walk, we went to choir.  The director is amazing, and we learned to sing Joseph Smith's First Prayer.  Not to brag, but we sound AMAZING!!!  Then, we had a great devotional (a talk) about repentance, and how it means "to turn toward God".  I love the Gospel, and I have been so inspired to keep turning toward God and away from thoughts and actions and feelings that keep me farther away from Him.  After the great devotional, we got to watch the church film on John Tanner and John Rowe Moyle.  Both were incredible men in the early days of the Church who sacrificed their all because they knew the Church was true.  Look them up if you get a chance! :)

Monday - It was a great day!  We studied and played volleyball and studied some more.  We taught another lesson, and that went well!  I am amazed at how much I know, even thought it really isn't much in the grand scheme of things.  But really, it is amazing to look back on the past week.  A week ago, I had no idea how to say a single thing in Mongolian, and now I can say my name, pray, tell someone that families are eternal, and a few more phrases.  My mouth is getting the hang of making sounds that we don't have in the English language.  

Today is a super fun day because we do laundry, write emails, and go to the temple.  We also get to perform our song at tonight's devotional.  I'm trying to make our breaks an actual break.

Let's see...in other news, I saw Sister Cyleste Fister (from my mission prep class) my first hour at the MTC, and she gave me lots of advice.  She left on Monday morning, but she is amazing, and I know she'll be great in Nashville!!

I saw Elder Goolsby a few times, too!  He looks great, and ready to preach the Gospel to the people of the Ukraine.  It is fun to see familiar faces!

I have been consuming my fair share of chocolate milk!  The food is pretty darn good! :) 

Miracles are happening here, at the MTC!  I know that I am being watched over, and I can feel your prayers blessing my life!  Thank you for all of your emails and DEAR ELDER letters and kind words!!

I love you all!!

Sister Sarah Bottorff

Sister Bottorff's Missionary Nametag!

Sister Bottorff's Mongolian Prayer

The Zone

Sister Bottorff and Sister Hansen

The Call