First I must share a pun. There are protestors on the corners of the MTC that we pass every time we go to the temple and one is Jewish and very nice but we’re not supposed to talk to them for legal reasons I think…but anyways, one of the sisters I was walking with answered him when he asked where we’re going and he said: “Russia? Are you just russian (rushin’) to get there?” hahahahhahahahahahhahahahahahahahahahhaahhhhhhhhahahahahahhahahahahahahahahahhahaha why didn’t I think of that?!! But the answer is yes, I am rushin’ to get there! Sometimes I remember that I actually get to go there and I just get the biggest smile on my face. However, I do love the MTC and definitely need this extra time to learn the language more
Also, I forgot to tell you there are so many dopplegangers (sp?) There’s an Elder Davis (friends with Jessie Connor) who looks just like Ian Ellis. And then Ryan McFadyen must have gotten a fake ID and come to the MTC, too, because I see him a lot. And then there’s a personality doppleganger that is a tender mercy from God: there’s an Elder Samuelson in my district who’s voice, laugh, mannerisms, personality, testimony, background/experiences, etc. remind me so much of Ian Blackwelder and it is the best! We were instant friends and I felt kinship with him immediately–he’s our district leader and I’m so grateful for his example. Like Ian, he’s one of the most Christ-like people I know.
Oh and Dad scouts sounds so fun!!! I hope I can be a den mother someday or something–that’d be a dream come true! And to answer your questions, I’m making progress with my ability to communicate but “cases” are easy for me to understand because I’m a grammar nazi (Kevin–I know you always hated it, but I always knew it would come in handy!) so reading/writing in Russian and understanding the grammar is pretty easy for me but cases are super hard to actually incorporate into my vocabulary/speech. And so that definitely impairs my ability to communicate. Also “stresses” are something that you learn from time/practice and completely change the meaning of a word so that’s hard because I”m really bad at that…
But anyways, this week was life changing, as cliche as that sounds, it’s the truth! I don’t know where to begin and even if i copied my pages and pages of journal entries, I still wouldn’t really be able to explain it all but bottom line: SUNDAYS ARE THE BEST!!! All throughout my childhood I looked forward to church and taking the sacrament and just being with the family and going to Huntington and walks etc etc and here at the MTC it is still the day I look forward to most. And I know it should be like this every week, but this week especially I felt like the whole week was just preparing me for Sunday. On Thursdays we have “workshops” where we go into different rooms with MTC staff (not our regular teachers) and there’s a theme/lesson/activity and they are always amazing! And actually the guy who does the one I always go to was in my ward Spring semester Freshmen year when I lived in Chandell and is now married which is so odd haha but I he’s so inspiring and this last workshop was on revelation and I had such a sacred spiritual experience. And the lessons we taught the rest of the week were so wonderful and the Spirit was so strong and THEN Sunday happened. And Relief Society and Sacrament Meeting were amazing and I was frantically trying to take notes.
Then for the devotional, the President of the Provo temple spoke. He had tears in his eyes the entire time and spoke with so much love and so much conviction, I had the chills the whole time. He shared some sacred experiences about the temple and shared some insights I had never thought of before. And I was just dumbfounded by how well the Lord knows me because I had been thinking about the temple this last week and how I can better show my love and appreciation for it and learn more–more of what the Lord wants me to learn. But I actually hadn’t prayed about it (because I am foolish). And yet! My unasked prayer was answered and I know the devotional was exactly what I needed and today I had an incredible experience in the temple and just felt so grateful for that devotional that prepared me to learn what I learned today–I was able to focus more than I ever have before. Then after devotionals on Sundays, we get to watch movies–in the previous weeks I have watched Joseph Smith: The Restoration and Legacy, The Testaments, etc. but this week our zone leaders encouraged us to go see a talk by Elder Bednar that was playing (and they informed us that we should always choose the talks because the other movies we can watch our whole missions and our whole lives but the talks shown to missionaries in the MTC cannot be found elsewhere and are exclusively shown to missionaries, apparently). But I am so glad they told us to go to this particular talk because it was called “Character of Christ” and my mind couldn’t even comprehend/soak it all in and I think I cried 75% of the talk, but the bottom line was that the Character of Christ means to turn outward. It was so simple and nothing “new” or “revolutionary” but it hit me so hard. I’ve been studying about Christ so much and trying to think, “Okay, I need to be more humble and more meek, but more confident and trusting in the Lord and I need to be a better listener but also a better mouthpiece for God and I need to work harder and serve more and be more kind and loving and forgiving…” the list goes on infinitely….But application of all of these principles I was learning from Christ’s example is the tricky part: how do I actually develop these traits? And I felt like Elder Bednar was speaking directly to me and I realized, once again, that this is not about me. And everytime I turn outward, I show the Lord how much I love Him and understand Him. I realized I have SO much to learn but I’m starting with the little things and hopefully won’t be so consumed with “self.” And at the end, he bore his testimony and he said something I’ve known my whole life and that I teach everyday, and yet, I needed it. I needed to hear it when I did and from who: and I’m not referring to Elder Bednar, but I’m referring to the Spirit that spoke to me so clearly: God knows your name, and He loves you. I know that that’s true! And it’s empowering and uplifting and comforting and real and I’m so grateful!
I love you all!

-CECTRA Hawkins