June 18, 2014
Missionary Training Center
I love hearing from you all! Thanks for all of the emails and letters. I swear, nothing makes a missionary happier than getting a letter. My entire district makes fun of me every time I get a letter, because I get so excited. Thank you for keeping me updated on life, sending me pictures, donuts, and Dear Elders. You are the best.
What a week it has been! The MTC is a crazy place to be. I love it, but it is so hard. Hopefully I’ll answer all of your questions (and then some)!
The first day was a blur. As soon as I said goodbye to you, I walked up the hill with Sister Curtis to get checked in and oriented. When they gave me my missionary name tag, I may or may not have teared up a little bit. Sister Cobb. I love it. I am so honored to be a missionary for the Lord. This is the greatest calling in the world, and I am grateful to be here.
I ran into Elder Karlinsey within minutes of entering the MTC! It was great. He shook my hand (in a very missionary-appropriate way) and we were able to talk for a few minutes. I see so many of my BYU friends here. I see Elder Karlinsey, Elder Siebach, Elder Dreesen (and tons of other missionaries from my ward) every day. It’s so fun. My poor companion stops with me every time I run into a friend (about every five minutes) and patiently lets me talk with them.
After talking to Elder Karlinsey, I threw my bags into our residence hall and then went straight to class. Here’s what my daily schedule looks like:
I wake up at 6:00 am to get ready for the day. We then have personal study from 7:00 – 8:00, then breakfast, and then gym time. I usually play four square with our district, and we have a blast. I am the four square CHAMPION. Seriously, I was the queen of the court for so long yesterday, that I literally asked someone to please get me out. After the gym, we have a few minutes to shower, and then we go to class for three hours. At one, we have a short break for lunch, and then we go back to class for three more hours. Then, we go teach our investigators for an hour, get dinner, have another hour of personal study, an hour of district study, and then an hour of zone study. At 9:30, we head back to our residence halls to get ready for bed and go to sleep. It’s exhausting, but I know that Heavenly Father has been strengthening me and helping me do this.
The MTC is destroying my body. I have only gotten anywhere from 1-4 hours of sleep every night since I’ve been here. I use the extra time at night (while I’m trying to fall asleep) to practice reciting the missionary purpose, the First Vision, and the baptismal invitation. I’ve committed my ceiling to baptismal about a million times. My back makes it really hard to sleep, but it’s been getting better. I’ve been trying to do some stretches to ease the discomfort, which has helped a lot. I got a record time of (almost) 5 hours of sleep last night! Yay! Also, the stress has really gotten to my face. I have a beautiful constellation of zits that extends across my forehead. My companion and I have fondly named it “The Waters of Mormon”.
The first three days of being here were quite the struggle for me. I had the hardest time concentrating and feeling the Spirit. They shove so much information at you so quickly, that it’s hard to absorb anything. It’s like trying to drink from a fire hydrant – you barely get to drink any of the water, and your face hurts a lot. However, Sunday was a real turning point for me. I know why missionaries love Sunday. We’re still extremely busy, but we aren’t in class. Instead, we are learning and growing through church attendance and attending the devotionals.
Dad, you will be so proud of me. The zone leaders came in to ask our district if anyone could play the piano (apparently, out of the four districts, no one had volunteered to play during church on Sunday), and I raised my hand! You are looking at the new ward pianist. I actually loved being able to play in church on Sunday. I played the prelude, opening hymn, and the sacrament hymn. It was so therapeutic for me to be able to play the piano, even if it was just a few songs. Mom and Dad, thank you thank you THANK YOU for making me stick with piano! It is such a blessing in my life!
They don’t pre-assign talks for church on Sunday. Instead, they tell everyone to prepare a 3-5 minute talk on a certain topic (this week was repentance and baptism), and then the Branch Presidency randomly picks four missionaries to speak during Sacrament Meeting. Scary! I woke up on Sunday, and I had an impression that I would be asked to speak during church. I still hadn’t written it yet (oops…bad Sister Cobb), so I came up with it while I was taking my shower. The talk just flowed straight into my head, complete with scripture references, scripture stories, and a personal experience. It was amazing, and definitely a blessing from Heavenly Father. While I was playing the prelude, the Zone Leaders came up and told me I was giving the talk (I wasn’t surprised, but I was excited). I felt the spirit so strongly while I was speaking, and it was wonderful to be able to bear my testimony. On Sunday night, Sheri Dew came to speak to the missionaries for the devotional. She gave an exceptional talk on grace. I was taking notes like a mad man, trying to write everything down. Sister Dew went into great detail about the doctrine and application of grace, and it was extremely interesting. As soon as I have time, I hope to make grace a topic of personal study.
After her devotional, we watched a devotional given by Elder Bednar called, “The Character of Christ”. It was one of the best talks I have ever heard. It really inspired me to make a lot of changes in my attitude and the way I approach missionary work. Elder Bednar said that the character of Christ can be stated simply: Christ turns out in love, service, and compassion, when we (the natural man) would turn in and be self-absorbed, self-centered, and selfish. On the cross, as He is dying for the sins of the world, the Savior would have every right to be a little self-centered in that moment. He could easily think of Himself, His suffering, and His sacrifice for the world. However, instead of being self-absorbed, self-centered, and selfish, He acts in love, service, and compassion. He takes care of His mother, does missionary work, and prays for Heavenly Father to forgive those who crucify Him. Elder Bednar’s talk re-focused me and inspired me to change my attitude. This mission is not about me, how hard I’m trying, or what I want to accomplish on my mission. Who cares what I want? This mission is about the Lord, and for the Lord. I know I’m not explaining this well, but I’ve been trying to “turn out” in love, service, and compassion. As I’ve been working on thinking of myself less, the Lord has blessed me more than I have any right to ask for.
My Branch President called me to be the Sister Training Leader for the Zone, and I feel extremely unqualified for this assignment! I’m supposed to be an example to the sisters and be a substitute mother for them here. I get to welcome the new missionaries who come in today, and I am supposed to help them feel welcome, feel the Lord’s love, and help them to know that Heavenly Father has a plan for them (and that plan includes being a missionary). It should be fun.
Sister Aultz is such an amazing companion! Don’t get me wrong, there are things about her that drive me crazy. However, I am trying my hardest to be the best companion she will ever have. Some days, it takes more effort than others, but the more that I try to love and serve her, the easier it is. I love her so much, and I’m grateful to have her as my companion! She is so kind and dedicated, and I’ve learned a lot from her.
We teach 1-2 investigators every day here. It was terrifying at first, but I’m grateful for the practice. My biggest struggle is teaching by the spirit instead of from my knowledge. However, I have the greatest teacher in the world – The Holy Ghost. I’m learning how to rely on the Lord more, which has made a huge difference in our discussions with our investigators. Sister Aultz and I had such a great experience teaching Dreazo (one of our investigators) yesterday! The spirit guided us to the right scripture and helped us know what to say to him. It was amazing.
My district is wonderful. We laugh a lot, which I’ve found is essential to my survival here at the MTC. It’s extremely stressing, exhausting, and (sometimes) frustrating, but we all love and support each other. We have so much fun together and everyone is very dedicated to missionary work. We’ve become a family here, and I’ll be sad to leave them all (I’m the only one from my district going to New Jersey. The other missionaries are serving in Washington, Georgia, and New Mexico). My favorite friends are, of course, the elders. Go figure. I love the elders in my district so much (in a missionary-approved kind of way).
I’ve seen a lot of miracles here and had many spiritual and revelatory experiences. I have learned to be exactly obedient (not mostly obedient – there’s a big difference) and to be charitable. I have noticed that when I act out in charity, it results in direct blessing from the Lord and answers to prayers. I am grateful for all of your prayers for me! I couldn’t do this without them, so thank you.
I leave the MTC on June 23rd at 4:30 in the morning! It’s exciting, but also scary. I’m not nearly as prepared as I’d like to be. However, if I’ve learned anything here, it’s that the Lord is always with me and supporting me. Besides, it’s the spirit that will bring souls unto Christ, not me. Our flight leaves at 9:41, Utah time. I will be able to call home from the airport and talk to you all! I don’t know what time I’ll be calling, so I can’t give you any more specifics. I’ll call Dad, unless you send me a letter telling me otherwise. I can’t wait to hear your voices!
As far as a package goes, there are a few things that I would really appreciate having sent to the mission home: my bedding (sheets, blankets, pillows), my rain coat (Mom knows which one), a camera cord, pictures (Mom – I wrote a list of which pictures I’d like to have on your phone!), and an alarm clock. Thank you for taking such great care of me. You are the best.
I love you all! I absolutely love being a missionary. Next time you hear from me, I’ll be on my way to New Jersey!