March 11, 2014 MTC Provo, Utah

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Why Hellloooooo Family and Friends!

Guess what I got this week??? My reassignment!!!!! I am so excited ( of course getting a visa is pretty darn exciting too but I’m settling)… Soooo I hope that ellipses was enough time for you to solidify your guesses! I’ll give you a hint…its somewhere west… somewhere coastal, somewhere with lots of movie stars… California Los Angeles!!!!! I will be serving in areas such as: Beverly Hills, Malibu, Bel Air, Hollywood, Santa Monica etc. Talk about visa compensation!!! If anyone has any requests, I’m making a list of movie stars to baptize! We have our reassignment, but we don’t know exactly when we leave, I have my suspicions that we will be leaving at 4 in the morning on Monday the 17th. I may be  completely wrong, but I will get my travel documents by the end of this week and shoot you a quick email detailing what my travel plans are! Try to be awake and alert then because I can call you from the airport and say hi if you answer!!! You might be in class, but this is important too haha.
I also have more exciting news concerning Brazil visa waiters! Apparently there are so many Brazil waiters in the US that the church travel office is giving the elders and sisters who have been waiting the longest a temporary visa (about 2 weeks) to fly down to the Brazil MTC to hardcore review the language! It is super crazy and kind of confusing, but there have been elders and sisters waiting MONTHS and they get the opportunity to fly down to Brazil for a short time to review Portuguese! We’ll see if I’m out long enough in L.A. to need a temporary visa.
In other not as exciting news, I got my last shot this week and am all prepped to go foreign. I also got a hair cut at the MTC barber shop! I have to admit that I was scared to get a free hair cut here (I wasn’t so sure how it would turn out) but it is great! Nothing drastic, just a couple inches and redefining things, I’m really relieved!
I forgot to tell you last week, but I am the Sister Training Leader over the zone and it has been an AWESOME experience. I am in charge of training new sisters that come into our zone and this last week I had a really neat experience. There were 3 districts in my zone, one of which were missionaries who were headed to Cape Verde in Africa. They were really awesome, but they left this last week and we miss them! Also, every Wednesday some elders and sisters are chosen to welcome the new missionaries to the MTC. I hosted a few sisters, but the last sister that I hosted, we started talking, and I found out that she was the one missionary coming into the MTC who was headed to Cape Verde! I got really excited and brought her to meet the district in my zone who were leaving and they talked forever. Then I realized that she was one of the four sisters that I was training that night! It sounds silly, but it was an awesome coincidence and I was so grateful I was able to ease her fears and introduce her to a bunch of missionaries going to her mission   before they left and she felt alone!
 In other news, my time at the MTC is coming to a close! I am so grateful that we don’t have to try and learn more Portuguese grammar rules this week! Just LOTS of review. We even had the opportunity to Skype with real Brasileiros last friday! We talked to this adorable couple who just got their mission call to Mozambique. They talk very fast, but they were wonderful! The wife was talking to us and we figured out that she was trying to ask us if we knew any African music. We shook our heads no and told her we didn’t and she kept saying “yes you do!” we were so confused, then she broke out into the opening of the Lion King theme song lololol “WAAAAAAAA SAVENYAAAAA” We all laughed so hard. She told us that as soon as she and her husband walked off the plane in Mozambique she is going to sing that at the top of her lungs 🙂
The last update I have is kind of a funny one too. Our zone is very small since the last district left we’ve shrunk even more. The bishopric wants our zone to have musical numbers every sunday during sacrament though… so guess who has done one every Sunday? haha. Yup. It’s kind of silly, but a wonderful opportunity. I sing to my companions, 6 elders and the mission presidency and their wives. I’m kind of glad I’m not very good at playing the piano.
Sorry if this letter seems really scatter brained, I am multitasking and running out of computer time! I’d love to leave you a message though! This week and very recently I have been thinking about all of the callings we have in our lives. We are called to be and to do so many things in this life. Do you realize that in our deepest and most important calls, we are called of God? We are called as sisters, daughters, mothers, fathers, students, teachers, primary teachers, relief society presidents, visiting teachers etc. This is intimidating and overwhelming, I know! But I have the epiphany this week that God does not set us up for failure. We are his children and he will ALWAYS provide a way for our ends to be met. Sometimes not in the ways we expect or want, but I testify that He knows what He is doing. I love Him and I know that I am called as a missionary and although it is hard at times, I can only succeed when I turn it over to Him.  I love you all and can’t wait to write you from Cali!
-Love Sister Dean
ps. make sure to take note of my new address! I love getting letters and would cry if letters were sent to the MTC and I was not there! I don’t have my new address but I will share as soon as i get it!
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March 4, 2014 MTC Provo, Utah

Dear Family and Friends,Image

Bom dia!  I am starting my 5th week here at the MTC and I am learning so much! Tomorrow marks my one month… it’s crazy to think I’m 1/18 of the way done!  My mission is seriously going to fly by so incredibly fast.  I have news about my reassignment!  My companions and I will be reassigned this next week if our visas do not come through. There have been so many rumors floating around about visas and the Brazilian government.  I’m just hanging on tight and I know whatever happens is where the Lord needs me.  I do have to admit though that I am secretly excited to get a reassignment!  It’s like a second mini-mission call. I hear that California is a big possibility, but there really is no guaranteed way to guess (trust me, I keep trying!)  I will most definitely (hopefully) have my reassignment by next Tuesday and will share it in my next email. Guesses are welcomed 🙂 .

I also have some exciting news about Wisconsin missionaries!  I met a pack of sisters going to serve in Wisconsin and I am sooooooo excited for them and for all of you who get to spend more time with them, their names are:  Sister Elkington, Hunter, Wood, Cosgrove, Osmond, Woods, Oscarson and Matteson!  How’s that for a ton? They are all lovely ladies who are so excited to finally get to the midwest. I told them there is a very high chance at least one of them will make their way to Green Bay 🙂 make sure to say hi from Sister Dean again!

I also have some pretty exciting news that ties into the Wisconsin Sisters. Yesterday I broke the all time female record at the MTC for wall sits! (haha) What a silly thing to claim, but I am very proud of being able to push myself.  One of my companions and I were training to break records ever since we got here; Wall sits for me and pull-ups for her… she can’t do one yet but she is very determined to get three before we leave, and although we think it’s a long shot, we help her work!  So I made a record of 9:07 and the MTC worker who timed me told me all about her family and she has a sister serving currently in WI!  Her name is Sister Blood. How neat is that?  From this week, I have definitely been realizing what a wonderful and occasionally small world it is we live in.

Image I secretly envy the sisters serving stateside a little because they are only at the MTC for 2 weeks. There are benefits to being here 6 weeks though! This past week I was a host missionary to all of the incoming missionaries! We wait by the curb side and as my slightly cynical companion puts it “we are ripping families apart one elder/sister at a time… don’t heed the tears, it’s for the best”.  I was chosen to help with a few of the international sisters which was an amazing experience.  I hosted a Sister Osa from Samoa and thankfully she knew enough English that we were able to communicate without a hitch.  It was very funny hearing her complain about the 65 degree sunny day as cold though! My companions and I are super lucky to have the opportunity to welcome new sisters again tomorrow!  It is really such a wonderful thing seeing families hug and send their son or daughter off into the Lord’s hands.  One of my favorite things is looking the mom and dad in the eye and thanking them for their missionary. Image

Of course there have been many wonderful spiritual experiences since my last letter and I would love to share another quick thought!  Our purpose as missionaries is deep, but summarized, we are to “invite others to come unto Christ”.  I’ve thought about this so much lately and I had a precious epiphany yesterday. Who are these “others” I am inviting?  The more appropriate word would be “All”.  As a missionary, I am not simply bringing the good news of Christ and His gospel to those who don’t know about Him,  I am inviting members of the church and even more importantly I am inviting myself. This gospel is beautiful and it is not stagnant; it is alive!  Being invited to Christ means constantly developing and growing the desire to live a better life; the life He wants me to live. Being invited to Christ is an eternal pursuit of happiness.  My purpose in life this next year and a half is to invite ALL to come to Christ, to invite ALL to grow.  It is not enough to have knowledge, we must act upon our beliefs and change who we are to become better and that journey of growth will never cease. I love the Gospel so much and I am here because I have a sincere desire to share the beautiful message of hope and love with ALL. I love you all so much and am so grateful for the love and support I receive 🙂   HURRAH FOR ISRAEL!

-Love Sister Dean

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February 25, 2014: MTC Provo, Utah

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Dear Family and Friends!

I am doing so good! Everything here at the MTC is wonderful and I can’t believe how much I am growing! We got a new district last week, and all of the Elders in our zone are pretty awesome! One of them aspires to be rich just so he can become a Disney platinum VIP member and get into all of the parks around the world for free lol, we sing Disney often and have wonderful conversation. I have to thank you all for the letters and packages! It is seriously such a spirit lifter to see a letter with your name on it 🙂 . Mom, I got everything and it is wonderful!

Portuguese is coming along well, we teach lessons without any notes (I might have already told you that) and it is a super big accomplishment for us! I’m sure we still sound funny, slow and make mistakes, but we are so much more confident in our speaking abilities.

Not only is the language coming along wonderfully, but there have been so many spiritual epiphanies and growths. In order to be a missionary, I need to exhaust all my resources to growth and a desire to teach. Recently I realized, that here is the place to polish new habits and behaviors before I get out into the field. In a recent devotional, we were reminded of a list of Christ-like attributes and told to really reflect on our lives and the Christ-like attributes we do and do not use.

I took this assignment very seriously and decided to look at a list of attributes and pray intently to have one attribute pop into my head and even more importantly, I was planning to take on a simple task like, ‘be on time’ , ‘give 10 compliments a day’ etc… but that was not what the Lord had in mind for me! This next part is funny. As I was praying, I was putting too much dependence in the miraculous enlightenment that comes with being a missionary, and I thought of a random scripture and decided that it must be divine inspiration and all my answers would be in that scripture! The scripture was Amor 1:3-5. lol. A lot about fire and brimestone. I read the verse about 5 times over to make sure that there was not something directly applicable to my quest for christlike attributes.

I continued my scripture study and came to a pretty wonderful conclusion.  If I were to produce one task (like giving a certain amount of compliments), I would be building Christlike attributes, but being the prideful person that I am, I know that I would take some of the glory because I want others to see me as more perfect, and that is a bad foundation to build Christ-like attributes on! I have such a strong testimony of prayer and that our Heavenly Father knows our needs better than our own, and when we turn to do His will, we are happier. This may not be medicine for everyone else, but I came to the perfect solution to bettering myself without taking pride in myself. I need to study out the source. Rather than focus on the “WHAT” I can do to be better, I need to study out the “WHY” I become better.

This next year and a half is going to be a time in which I conduct a study of the Savior’s life. I have such a great love for His sacrifice and I know I have an un-prideful desire to be like Him because it is all He asks in return. I am going to forget the Preach My Gospel list of attributes that can make me better, and I am going to study the actions of Christ out and implement similar behavior into my life. I hope this makes sense to everyone! I know this makes perfect sense in my head and I can become a better person by doing so. Just like we don’t want to just teach our investigators ‘what’ to do (stop drinking coffee, go to church etc.) They need to know ‘why’ they should do it.

When we convert ourselves upon the doctrine, the ‘why’ we do something, I know it will touch our souls and impact our life far more than if we were only focused on the ‘what’ we need to do. Again I hope that all makes sense!!! I love this Gospel so much and have a sincere desire to be better. I testify that God wants desperately for us to become better and if we turn to Him with a sincere desire to grow and we are willing to act, then He WILL aid us.

I’m healthy, working, learning and happy! Don’t worry!

Love,

Sister Dean

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MTC Provo, Utah

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Dear Family and Friends!

I made it past the first week! I have to admit I was a little shell shocked the first few days, but I am loving the MTC now! We still are working extremely hard, but we have adjusted and are learning to love the work. I have lots of cool stories to share! Guess who I saw this last Sunday? I’ll give you a hint:  he’s an apostle…his name starts with an ‘H’ and he strikes fear into the hearts of the sinners everywhere! Yup, Elder Holland came to the MTC! He and his son spoke to us during devotional and it was really great. They testified of Joseph Smith and I was in the choir and we were able to sing Praise to the Man for the apostle and his family and I swear we were one step below the Mormon Tabernacle Choir :).

I know I mentioned it before, but I am in a trio and the three of us make up our district lol. We have two teachers, Irmao Lefevere and Irmao Neilson and they both bring so much to our learning. We still teach lessons about every day, and it is crazy how far we have come! We are able to teach lessons without any notes now! I admit, we take a while to think and conjugate and then to speak, but it is so nice to be able to communicate what I want to say, even if it is slow and sometimes difficult. My companions and I have been setting some awesome goals and we are memorizing 10 new words a day (5 verbs and 5 nouns) and 2 phrases. It doesn’t seem like much, but we already have 100 new words memorized and at least 20 phrases! (Memorizing phrases is super useful because you memorize the grammar and sentence structure of that phrase and it is easy to substitute out words and make similar phrases, which makes speaking a WHOLE lot easier). Image

My companions are super fun! Sister Mobley has a very loving, yet matter of fact demeanor and she always references her cats in our lessons (when we have to make sentences etc.) Sister Horn is a very sweet and outgoing individual as well; we are all different, but I am so grateful to have them in my life. We have found our niche and are all able to get along and laugh with one another all the time! I always have Sister Mobley stories, (she gave me permission to share these 🙂 ) #1) I was talking to an elder and he asked me how I felt about the Vikings, and I was like ‘I’m not a fan, mostly just because of where I grew up and the support I have to have for my team” Sister Mobley chimed in eventually and said “I like the Vikings! They were a very commanding people with good war tactics” lol. “Sister Mobley we meant the football team, not the people.” Another of my favorites was just the other day when we all were home getting ready for bed. We were talking about dehydration and sister Mobley told us that she heard about a woman who was stuck in her car for weeks and survived dehydration by sucking on a button! We told her we just couldn’t believe it and we all laughed. A little while later Sister Horn and I said “Sister Dean, found dead in a ditch. She choked on a button, but her body was hydrated” LOL, this may not be so funny to you, but we were all bent over with laughter! After a long day of Portuguese we get very silly at night.

Not only is the language coming along wonderfully, but the spiritual growth I am witnessing is crazy! I know that this year and a half is not in the least bit my time, but it is all His time. I want to be as obedient as I can so I can be privy to His guidance and to be an instrument in His hands for bringing happiness to all of my brothers and sisters. It really is indescribable the things that are happening to me as I turn my cares over to the study and to the work :). One of y companions is having a slightly more difficult time with the language, but we set goals and practice HARD  and pray HARD. We were going into teach our first lesson to a new investigator, Thaigo, and I was worried for her because me and our third companion had been advancing more rapidly and I was afraid she was discouraged. We had been planning for this lesson for quite a time and we said a powerful prayer before we knocked on the door with pleas to let the language come smoothly so we can convey our love and our message to Thiago. We met Thiago and as it was this sister’s turn to speak I looked over ready to help her, but she didn’t need it! She looked him in the eye and delivered her portion of the lesson and the spirit was there and touched me immensely! I know she worked so hard to deliver her part of the lesson, but that was a witness of the aid Heavenly Father gives to His missionaries.

We were also able to go the Temple in Provo! Every P-day we get to attend 🙂 . I love the temple so much and am so thrilled to have it in my life. I love all of you and cherish all of the family and friends who took the time to go to the temple with me over the past few months!

I love you all so much and pray that you will find missionary opportunities in your daily lives because they are wonderful and make me happy beyond explanation! Keep your letters coming! I cherish them while I can!

Love,

Sister Dean

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MTC Provo, Utah

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Dear Family and Friends,
     I made it to the MTC (or CTM as you would say in Portuguese)!  I’m trying to type as fast as I can to get in as many details that I can, but the p-day computers have been typed on so vigorously that the letters are half faded off of the key board and it is really psyching me out and interrupting my WPM.

I got the the MTC Wed. night and I was absolutely loving the orientation and all things missionary. Day 2 was our first lesson day and there we found out that we were expected to plan our first 30 min lesson for an investigator the next day IN PORTUGUESE!!!! I was freaking out at first and it was super stressful, but we’ve been teaching lessons to investigators in Portuguese every day since and I feel sooooo much more at ease! Our investigator’s name is Leandro and he is such an insightful man, it is really cool seeing how the Gospel works on people (even if the investigator is paid to be there, I know we all can feel the Spirit). It’s kind of funny, in our district there were only 4 sisters! (Imagine a district all of sisters 🙂 . My first companion was Sister Taylor from Florida and she didn’t speak any Portuguese (or Spanish). During our lessons with Leandro he would ask a question that we would understand, but our Portuguese is so limited that we didn’t know how to answer. I’d look to Sister Taylor and she just shrugged her shoulders, then I racked my brain to try and use words and hand signals to convey an answer lol. It’s kind of funny, but I’m pretty proud of myself for using my Spanish and little Portuguese skills to create a comprehensible answer.

I had heard so much about the MTC and I can testify to two truths. 1) You are busy busy busy and 2) the food is fantastic. You hear stories of people gaining so much weight at the MTC and it is totally possible!! There are SOOO many different extravagant dishes and it’s all free! The problem is they stick a starving college student with a tray in a Mecca of food with a billion different options and let her loose… there is no end to the possibilities. Don’t worry though, I like to think that I have a handle on it… even though It kills me sometimes to show self restraint and choose between the cheesecake and the super deluxe mouthwatering brownies :).

I love you all so much and know that this is an inspired establishment 🙂 The work is hard, but it comes with more ease every day; especially as I am learning to identify my blessings and commit this learning to the Lord! This is a beautiful work and I pray earnestly to be a better instrument in my Heavenly Father’s hand!

Todu Bem!! Tchau!

-Sister Whitney Dean