Sestra Chauncey, Sestra Kropushek, and Elder Brat West. He is one of the MTC teachers, who went on his Mission to Croatia and Bosnia.
(Edited letter #2, by Mom, the blog-keeper)
The MTC is so crazy. How can it feel like it is taking forever yet also, going by REALLY fast. It just feels like I've been here ONE long day.
I appreciate all the letters. You don't have to limit them to one a week. If something is going on, tell me about it. It is not a distraction to get letters - it is motivation, at least for me.
We had a visit on Sunday, from LDS church songwriter and lyricist, Janice Kapp Perry. She came to speak to us and sing with us. How cool! She had us sing 6 primary songs, and I hadn't realized before how many songs she had written. We sang, "Army of Helaman," "Child's Prayer", "I'm trying to be like Jesus," "Love Is Spoken Here," "I love to See the Temple" and "I Belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints." It was so powerful. In the beginning of the meeting, we sang "As Sisters In Zion," but the projector wasn't working so we all messed up the lyrics. Even though we have sung it 100 times, we still didn't know the whole song. But, when it came to singing six primary songs she had written, we didn't even need to look. What a powerful testimony to me that was, of the importance of raising your children in the church. These lessons we teach them and these songs that they learn will last with them forever. They will never forget them. What an amazing spirit it was to sing those songs with her. This place is the coolest.
The Elders is my zone are so funny: Elder Brown told me that they are supposed to be amazing breakfast burritos in Croatia. Like, he knows some missionaries who went there, and they never even cooked. It was just cheaper and easier for them to buy breakfast burritos every day. Oh. My. Gosh. Can you imagine? And Elder Mason and Elder Pitt are like me and my companion's best friendizzles. They are both really funny. Elder Mason and I played a basketball game the other day where we tried to test each other in our vocabulary. And we thought it would be tricky and fun, because he's learning Czech, and I'm learning Croatian, but it is less tricky than we thought because we have a lot of the same words. Elder Pitt looks like he's 22 but he's actually 18, and makes me laugh. Can't forget Elder Prochaska either - (he is from Switzerland) so Dad, seriously he is your long lost son. He's sooooo Swiss and he's adorable. He also has diabetes, but that doesn't stop him from eating Swiss Chocolate all day every day. It's like, his family sends him a box a week. He hates Hershey's chocolate. He always shares his chocolate too, which is great. I can't forget Elder Frahm! (He is going to England, speaking Czech) We bonded the other day over our love for Carne Asada Fries. We had to stop talking about it, because we were getting too upset. Elder Dyer is a good one too. The other day, we had our first lesson with our new "investigator" Katrina. (a Video teaching lesson with a person who speaks the language, and is a pretend investigator) It was so bad - we had challenged ourselves to go in there and not bring notes, but we totally didn't know what we were doing. I just felt so embarrassed and upset and I was crying like a loser, because this is so difficult. So my companion and Elder Dyer came into the room to cheer me up. And Sister Kropushek said, "What used to Cheer you up at home." And I said, "I don't know, watch movies and stuff." So then she said, "All right, let's watch some Mormon messages." So we turned them on, and turned the rest of the night into a mini devotional and just uplifted each other. It was fabulous. There are angels in mortal form here…I'll tell you that much.
Brother Hansen, our teacher, is seriously the greatest. I can't even tell you enough. He gave us a devotional the other day about the true meaning of missionary work, and it was incredible. he is so straightforward and honest, and you can't help but be motivated by him. He said, "I can promise you that the Lord KNOWS where we are supposed to be. We are not trying to turn you into missionary robots. We are trying to instill the rules into you, so you know what you're doing, but you cannot forget to be yourself. That's what people will love about you -- it's you.! When you pray and when you ponder on what your calling is, and when you realize that you are literally the offspring of God, on the errand for the Lord and Savior of mankind, Jesus The Christ, I can promise you, you will wake up in the morning with a sure and firm purpose in what you are doing. I can promise you that. It will be like a fire in your bones. You will never regret it, and you will never feel greater joy." He must think I am crazy because I pretty much cry every time he talks. He's the best teacher I have ever had, and probably will ever have. He also co-wrote the textbook we are using for Croatian. How cool is that?
And he's so funny! He just created a language plan for me and S.K., about how to track our language studying and his reward system involves him showing us pictures of his mission and his wedding and stuff. As IF we asked him to do that. He always shows us pictures of his life and he's like, " OKAY, fine. If you insist, I'll show you one more." And I'll say, " We never asked that." But that's what's so funny.
Also we found out that our "investigator", Valentino, is actually our THIRD TEACHER. I pretended like I saw it coming, but I was actually stoked. We walked into the classroom, and I was like, "VALENTINO?" His name is Brat West. He is super nice and speaks just as quickly in English as he does Croatian. But the story of Valentino is real. If you listen to the talk, "We are One" from the April General Conference Priesthood session, the beginning story references Valentino. DO IT. It is amazing. He is this incredible person, and he lives in Bosnia. Elder Brat West, and his companion are the missionaries who found him and baptized him. I could totally meet him for real. My mission is so cool.
It's seriously so hard though. I can't even tell you. I was really getting down on myself the other day, because I thought I could learn a lot faster than this. But then cutie Sister Lefler helped me out. She said, "I could not have blossomed in an English speaking mission. I envy them every day, but it's not for me. I'm too smart and witty to have been humble. I needed this mission so I could get so down, and fell so inadequate, that I would NEED to turn to the Lord. And it's made me a better person." And I feel that's where I am.
Here's a spiritual thought I discovered during personal/companion study yesterday, which is the best study we have ever had - it was amazing:
Faith is developed by reading the word of God.
Faith is nurtured by prayer
Faith is strengthened by keeping the commandments
THAT'S IT. Faith, Faith, Faith and we can endure to the end, and that is essentially the exact formula it takes to do it. it was a perfect answer to the prayer I had in how to strengthen my faith, and it is so important for all of us to develop and keep strengthened too.
I love you stinkers! Thanks for all of your love and support.
Sestra Catherine Chauncey is shown here with the Elders and Sisters from her Zone at the MTC Most of them are going to Croatia, but one is going to England, speaking Czech. Another one of headed to Slovenia - speaking Slovenian - even though he is technically a part of the Adriatic North Mission with Sestra Chauncey. Catherine's Companion, Sestra Tiara Kropushek is the blonde sister standing next to her. The missionaries spend part of their P-day at the Provo Temple.
Elders from Catherine's Zone at the MTC, from left to right: Elder Prochaska (from Switzerland) Elder Mason, Elder Dyer, Elder Pitt
Hello everyone!! First of all, Thank you to all the dear souls who wrote me emails and letters through "Dear Elder." I had no idea how special and amazing it makes a missionary feel to hear from the people she loves. I LOVE YOU GUYS!
Dad, Thanks for the letters you sent me through "Dear Elder." I love to read them everyday, you guys are such a strength to me. I love you all so much.
I had no idea the MTC would bring this many ups and downs. The first few days were so hard. I was homesick, my companion was homesick, and we were both lost when it came to Croatian, but we were so blessed to have our neighbors (who are also in our zone), Sister Lefler and Sister Riddle. They just took us under their wings and told us they were in the same place when they first got here, and they made us feel so much better. That, combined with your letters and some humbling and prayer, I have just felt the weight of homesickness being lifted off of my shoulders.
I now LOVE the MTC.
THE MTC: MY NEW DAY-TO-DAY LIFE
First of all, my zone is absolutely amazing. We have the left half of the top floor of building 9M, and we all hang out every day for every meal, and every gym time and everything in between. There are people in my zone going to Croatia, Slovenia, Bulgaria and the Czech Republic (although there is an Elder named Elder Frahm who is going to England, Czech speaking). They are all SO funny. Elder Dyer and Elder Brown are the two Elders who are also going to the Adriatic North Mission, but Brown is going to Slovenia, so he isn't learning Croatian with us. Sister Lefler (the neighbor) and Elder Dyer and his companion Elder Gelhaus are all going to Croatia though, so it will be fun to see them all again. There is also an Elder Prochaska, who is from Switzerland. He is so funny and so charming with his accent. He always has Swiss Chocolate that he hands out to us. He's great - he's from a little town outside of Zurich called Winterhurst.
Second thing. Oh my gosh, my teachers are also amazing. Sestra Jolley (see photo in the blog post beneath) is so sweet and so patient with us. Brother Hansen is also the absolute best. He has all of these fun activities for me and my companion to do so we are active all class time and have a good time learning. He came back from Croatia about a year ago, and he has a way-adorable wife, and he is great. He is good at teaching about missionary work, which he tells us so kindly about in English, no Croatian. He makes class so enjoyable - it is my favorite part of the day.
So I went to sing in the MTC choir! That was fun. Brother Egget is the choir director, and Caroline is totally right about him. He is so cool and spiritual about what he does. (I cry, like every time we sing) We sang "Precious Savior, Dear Redeemer," and it was absolutely amazing. We started singing a'capella in one verse and you could see the entire audience life their heads like, "oh…right…well, let's listen to this." It was awesome.
My companion, Sister Kropushek is from Saratoga Springs, UT. She is really athletic, and fun. We both love green beans, and we get along just fine. One of her grandfathers is from Croatia, and spoke it as a boy, but she never learned the language. So now she is learning it with us.
Also, my favorite part of the day is studying the language. When we have language study time or additional study time, I whip out those flash cards like nobody's business. It is so fun to memorize stuff!
My schedule is this: Eat. Go to class. Eat. Go to class. Eat. Go to Class. Not even kidding…They make you eat like every four hours. We eat dinner at 4 p.m., and then somehow we make it through the rest of the day. The food is ok, but it is sometimes bland, and could use some salt.
BEING CONVERTED TO HIM.
This past Sunday (January 19) was incredible. I didn't know you could feel like you were drowning in the Spirit, but that's what it felt like. First of all, we had an amazing Relief Society meeting with Sister Rosemary Wixom (The church's General Primary President) and then we had an amazing Sacrament Meeting, and then we had choir, which was overwhelmingly good. And then we had a devotional with Sheri Dew. (I know, RIGHT!) And then it was Sunday film time which was a Christmas devotional given by Elder David Bednar a few years ago, that they replay on Sundays. It was absolutely incredible. I wept, and wept and wept, especially because it had been building all day. He talks about how important it is to not only have a testimony of Christ, but to be converted to him. We all have testimonies, that's why we are here, and that is why our investigators will join the church. But we all need to be converted to Jesus Christ, and to become like Him, because that is our overall purpose. He talks about how the character of Christ is to reach out to people when you are down, or are going through trials, instead of pulling into yourself and saying, "Woe is me, help me." Christ, through all the things He went through, reached out to people every day to heal them and help them. Elder Bednar told a story about a woman who called him and said, "There are 3 girls who have been seriously injured, one of them is dead, but we need you to identify the other two girls." He could hear on the line, when a nurse walked up to the woman on the phone and said, "We've identified the deceased. She's your daughter" and without even blinking she turned back to the phone and said, "We need to call the other mothers right away and tell them what happened, and make sure they're OK." In the very instant she found out her daughter died, she reached out to others to make sure they were OK. That is the Character of Christ, and as missionaries we will be going through so much trial and tribulation that we can't start to pull into the natural man, and say "woe is me." We have to reach out to others and strengthen them first, and as we continue to do this, and to study Christ and the person he was, and try to emulate him, then we will be converted. It is a life-long process, but it is worth it.
Coming on a mission - this is the absolute best decision of my life. I am so much stronger from just a week of being here, and I am so happy to be here. I'm excited to loose myself in this work and this language, to learn about these people and how to care for them. I have made friends here and I love them, and I am loving class, and there are incredible spiritual experiences here every day.
I love you all.
This is me and my companion. Her name is Tiara Kropushek, and she is from Saratoga Springs, UT. She is a granddaughter of Croatian grandparents, but she is just now learning the language, just like me…
The picture in front of the Provo Temple, is me with Sestra Kropushek, and one of the Elders in our Zone. He is Elder Brown, who is going to the Adriatic North Mission also, but he is learning to speak Slovenian. He will go to Slovenia on his mission. He arrived on the same day as me. The photo with six of us, is a group of all of us who are going to the mission together. The bottom photo is Me, Sister Jolley (in the middle) and Sister Kropushek.
This is my name tag for the next 18 months. You can probably figure out, it says, "Sister Chauncey, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints"
Provo: My Sisters, Caroline and Candace, and Candace's husband Taybor Abplanalp, took me to the MTC on Wednesday, January 15, 2014
This blog documents the journeys of Sister Catherine Chauncey on her mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She is serving in the Adriatic North Mission, from January 2014 to July of 2015.