Saturday, May 25, 2013

What's up my pamiyla?

Kumusta po kayo!
I miss everyone so much!  The MTC is great but it is hard to know that so many great friends are just down the street at BYU.  I am trying to block out the sound of the belltower but it isn't working.
Funny things about the MTC-
1. It is cold everywhere.  The strong spirit may fill your heart with warm fuzzies, but my body temperature is close to zero.
2. Learning your language is by immersion and speaking Ingless is supposed to be bawal...I knew that would be the case, but when you barely know any Tagalog, the Taglish gets pretty hilarious.
3. Everyone is confused by the Tagalog missionaries.  Our nametags are in English so a lot of people assume that we are serving in the states.  And Kumusta ("hello" or "how are you?") sounds like "Como estas?,"
so the Spanish missionaries thing we are just really bad at Spanish.  We make sure to set them all straight.  We are going to the best place ever- the Philippines! 
4.  Speaking of Spanish, I have never been able to speak it so well!  I have had so many opportunities to speak with others in Spanish.  I think that the Gift of Tongues is working for me in the wrong language.  I am already mixing up the languages.  I won't talk about the multiple times  I have said "Como se dice...?" ng clase.  I do thing the Tagalog accent shares a lot of similarities to Spanish which may help me out.
My kasama is Sister Foster.  I know that she has gone through a lot and her reasons for serving are amazing.  Because she is so inspiring, I will excuse her constant singing.  Also, she is amazing at Tagalog.  She knows so much more than I do already!  My district is awesome.  The 6 of us sisters are all roommates and our 3, hopefully the 4th is on his way, elders are awesome!
And sorry about the lack of pictures.  Totally forgot that cord at home...
Also, I have seen so many familiar faces here! SICILY BENNETT...Hermana Bennett, lo siento, Gill, Elder Jared GIles, and Michael Shields are all here!  I cannot wait to see more people that I know around, especially those who are entering as missionaries next week!
The MTC is a really interesting place.  All we do is study...arwal arwal.  Brother Langer is a great teacher.  We have already given our first lesson in Tagalog to an investigator who is named Lovely.  The funny thing is that the investigators are different teachers from the MTC.  I knew that just from friends telling me, but you are really not supposed to.  Yesterday our district walked into an orientation and there was Lovely with her MTC ID and all.  She told us to forget that we had ever seen her and ran out.  Not gonna lie that was really funny. 
I want to hear from you all.  A great way to reach me is by using beacuse I receive those letters the same day.  I also will be happy to get real letters here!
I hope that you are all doing well.  I think about you all a lot! 
Ingat po!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

I received a call in January from our Prophet.  It read, “Dear Sister Copeland:  You are hereby called to serve as a missionary of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”  My call is specific.  I have a date and time that I will arrive at the MTC to receive formal training after which I will report to another country to help spread the Gospel.  Yet, we have all received a formal missionary call.  We covenanted at baptism to be missionaries!

We promised to take upon us the name of thy Son, and always remember him and keep his commandments which he has given us.  We covenanted to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places.  What better way is there of being a witness than to actively share the truths we understand? To bring others to the Gospel and to build the Kingdom of God? 

For those of you familiar with the Missionary Training Center in Provo, you may have seen the field directly across from the MTC campus.  A sign in the field clearly reads “Missionaries only.”  In the past an additional sign was posted by others wanting to use the field.  It stated, “Every member a missionary.”  Although the sign was quickly removed, the thought remains true and has an even increased importance today. 

I am thankful and excited for my opportunity to serve as a missionary for the Church.  I know that the Lord has been preparing me for this time.  He has prepared me from before I got my call and long before I even made the decision to serve a mission.  And, to stay in the spirit of the occasion, I would like to discuss the ways in which my mother, a member missionary, has prepared me for a mission.  She was preparing me from the start, before she or I knew that I would formally serve.   Although she has never served an official mission, through her service, guidance, and example, my mother has slowly taught me how to be a good person, a mother and wife, and currently of importance to me, a missionary. 

The Church is coming forth out of obscurity and we must become better missionaries by overcoming our feelings of inadequacy.

Whether it is Mitt Romney, Prop 8, or Broadway, the spotlight on the Church has never shown brighter.  It is our duty to make sure the light that is shown on us is a positive one. In March I was in New York City for ten days staying at a hotel in Times Square.  It was refreshing to see the large “I am a Mormon” ads shining all over the lit billboards.   We cannot remain in the shadows any longer.  Our name is out there.  People want to know who we are.  Now, sharing the gospel is much easier said than done.  Giving out Books of Mormon or inviting others to Church is scary.  But what if we found ways that may be less intimidating to us and less foreign to others?

My mom has helped teach me simple steps to share the Gospel.  We must first learn to create common ground.  By finding things in common with others, we can more easily share our differences.  For example, the doctor that my mom works for is Muslim, yet, she has found that our morals closely align with his.  Forming the foundations of our friendships with common beliefs and ideas can make them strong and gives them potential to grow.  Our friends are our best listeners, and now is the time to teach them more about the Gospel we hold so closely to our hearts. 

And we don’t have to fear scaring off others when sharing our beliefs.  Instead of inviting a friend to church, we can invite them to a mutual activity.  Instead of giving the missionaries the name of our neighbor, we can ask the neighbor to dinner at our home where the missionaries will also conveniently be in attendance.  Giving out a Book of Mormon may seem daunting, but making a profile on and chatting to those already interested online lacks intimidation.  We can do small things each day, like posting Mormon Messages to our social networks and inviting friends to events where other members will be present, which can be simple ways to open a dialogue with others about our beliefs. 

Clayton Christensen has said, “I love my life as a missionary, keeping myself on the front lines. The image in my mind is that God, my general, stands at the door when I go out every morning; and, knowing what the war is like, day after day he gives me his most powerful weapon: his Spirit. For this I am grateful.”

Like soldiers on the front lines, we must always be prepared to  be a missionary; any time can become a time to share the Gospel.

My mother has taught me over and over that when in doubt, make the logical choice.  Our hard work is more important than our intellect.  The power of the Spirit can replace our inadequacies with the abilities to share and testify. 

As we are reminded each Sunday during the Sacrament, if we stand as witnesses, we will be blessed to always have His Spirit to be with us. 

We are entitled to the same Spirit the Sons of Mosiah were fueled by through their great missionary endeavors; we read, “Now they were desirous that salvation should be declared to every creature, for they could not bear that any human soul should perish; yea, even the very thoughts that any soul should endure endless torment did cause them to quake and tremble.  And thus did the Spirit of the Lord work upon them.”

L. Tom Perry stated, “If you will respond to the invitation to share your beliefs and feelings about the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, a spirit of love and a spirit of courage will be your constant companion, for perfect love casteth out fear.”

When Lehi partook of the fruit, he was filled with joy, so much joy that he felt the strongest desire to share his new found knowledge and joy.  We read Lehi’s words, “ I began to be desirous that my family should partake of it also; for I knew that it was desirable above all other fruit.”  We have also partaken of the fruit and we do not desire to be the only ones filled with joy.  The spirit of missionary work is the spirit of joy, a spirit that is meant to be shared and spread. 

Possibly the most important lesson my mom has taught me about being a missionary is that being a missionary means working hard.  Being a follower of Christ is a daily commitment to not stand idle but to actively engage yourself and others in the work of the Lord. 

President Ezra Taft Benson once said: “One of the greatest secrets of missionary work is work. If a missionary works, he will get the Spirit; if he gets the Spirit, he will teach by the Spirit; and if he teaches by the Spirit, he will touch the hearts of the people; and he will be happy. There will be no homesickness, no worrying about families, for all time and talents and interests are centered on the work of the ministry. That’s the secret—work, work, work. There is no satisfactory substitute, especially in missionary work.”

I know that my mom never received a letter in the mail assigning her as a missionary, but my mother, and your mothers also, have received and fulfilled divine mission calls to motherhood.  They have cared for us and through each moment, they have taught us the layers of the Gospel.  Through their service and limitless sacrifice, they have showed us the meaning of Christ’s Atonement and the love that our Heavenly Father has for us. 

In words more eloquent than mine, Robert D. Hales related the sacred home to the sacred act of missionary service.  He said, “The greatest missionary work we will ever do will be in our homes. Our homes are part of the mission field. Our children and grandchildren are our most important investigators.

The greatest family history work that we will do will be within our own homes. It is the spiritual preparation of our children in the rising generation that will, through their obedience, ensure the eternal preservation and perpetuation of our families for the coming generations.

The greatest rescue, the greatest activation will be in our homes.  There is no failure except in giving up. It is never too early or too late to begin.

The greatest faith we have will be within our homes as we remain strong in the trials and tribulations of parenthood.”

I know that the ability the mother has to fill her home with a loving spirit.  She is foundational to the success of the home and the role of the Gospel in the lives of her children.  I have been blessed to have a mother set an example for me in my life.  I pray and know that by following her example and by honorably serving a full-time mission, I can become a worthy mother in the future.  

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The Parable of the Grateful Cat

James E. Talmage told the story of a naturalist in the nineteenth century who had been called to a grand estate in Great Britain to be honored for his contributions in the world of science. He left his cottage early in the morning to go for a walk, and while he was out walking, he saw two boys down by the lake. He also heard the frantic meowing of a cat; and so, curious, he walked down to see what was happening.
When he arrived he saw the two boys with a mother cat and some kittens. The boys were taking each kitten, tying it up in a rag with a rock, and tossing it into the lake. As you can imagine, the mother cat was just frantic, watching her kittens being drowned.
A little upset, the naturalist asked the boys what they were doing. It turned out to be quite innocent on their part. The mistress of the great estate had an old mother cat that she loved, but she didn't want any more cats around. Whenever the mother cat had a litter, the woman hired the two boys, who were children of some of the servants, to go down to the lake and drown the kittens.
The naturalist talked to the boys and said he would make sure they didn't get in trouble, but he would take care of the remaining three kittens. To the scientist's surprise, the mother cat behaved as if she understood exactly what was happening. As he walked back to his cottage with the kittens, she ran alongside him, rubbed his leg, and purred happily. He took the kittens into his cottage, gave them some milk, and put them in a warm boat.
The next day, when all of the company was gathered together in the great house to honor the scientist, suddenly the door pushed open and in came the mother cat with a large fat mouse in her mouth. She walked to the scientist and laid the mouse at his feet.
In the words of Elder Talmage, here is the marvelous parable that he drew from this story:
"What think you of the offering, and the purpose that prompted the act? A live mouse, fleshy and fat! Within the cat's power of possible estimation and judgment it was a superlative gift. To her limited understanding no rational creature could feel otherwise than pleased over the present of a meaty mouse. Every sensible cat would be ravenously joyful with such an offering. Beings unable to appreciate a mouse for a meal were unknown to the cat.
Are not our offerings to the Lord—our tithes and our other free will gifts—as thoroughly unnecessary to His needs as was the mouse to the scientist? But remember that the grateful and sacrificing nature of the cat was enlarged, and in a measure sanctified, by her offering.
Thanks be to God that He gages the offerings and sacrifices of His children by the standard of their physical ability and honest intent rather than by the gradation of His esteemed station. Verily He is God with us; and He both understands and accepts our motives and righteous desires. Our need to serve God is incalculably greater than His need for our service."

Friday, May 3, 2013

Testimony of a Missionary

“The following event took place in a ward in Salt Lake City in 1974. It occurred during a sacrament meeting and was told to me by a Regional Representative of the Twelve who was in the meeting. A young man, just before leaving on his mission stood in sacrament meeting and bore in essence the following testimony:

Brothers and Sisters, as you know, the past two weeks I've been waiting for my mission call. During the time I was waiting I had a dream. I knew it was not an ordinary dream. I dreamed I was in the pre-existence and awaiting my call to come to earth. I was filled with the same anticipation and excitement that I had before I received my mission call. In my dream I was talking to a friend, and I felt a special closeness to him, even though I've never met him in this life. As we talked a messenger came and gave me a letter. I knew it was my call to go to earth. In great excitement my friend and I opened the letter. I gave it to him and asked him to read it aloud. It said: "You've been called to earth in a special time and to a special land. You will be born to the true church and you will have the priesthood of God in your home. You will be born into a land of plenty, in a land of freedom. You will go to earth in the United States of America."

My friend and I rejoiced as we read my call, and while we were rejoicing the messenger returned. This time he had a letter for my friend. We knew it was his call to earth. My friend gave me the letter to read aloud. His letter said: "You've been called to go to the earth in circumstances of poverty and strife. You will not be raised in the true church. Many hardships will attend your life. Your land will be fraught with political and social difficulties - which will hinder the work of the Lord. You will be born in Costa Rica."

We wept, my friend and I, as we read his call. And my friend looked at me with tears in his eyes, and said, "When we are down on earth, you in your choice land and me in Costa Rica, my friend, please come and find me."

Then this young missionary, with tears in his eyes, said, "Brothers and Sisters, I have received my mission call. I am going to Costa Rica."

There is a sequel to the story. About a year after the sacrament meeting, the bishop received a letter from the missionary in Costa Rica. The letter had one sheet of paper in it and on that sheet written in capital letters were four words: I FOUND MY FRIEND