Sunday, August 31, 2014

First pics from the MTC!

Second week in the MTC!

There is so so so much I want to tell you!!! first off, the people I saw this week include... the wonderful elder Ryan Selfaison, Elder Elijah Lindstrom, Sestra Holly Holland of course, Elder Dillon Batt, MORGAN MAY, and JAXON AMES! like wuuuuut. yeah. it rocked. PS I met tons of incredible people! sister williams and I just started talking to EVERYONE! 
there are NO SISTERS here. literally. you would think there is a ton but in our whole zone there are 4 sisters. with like 30 elders. INSANE. so we are pretty popular around these parts, everyone gives us special attention because it's like we are the "lesser species" hahaha. 
We met some sisters that are here straight from Tonga, and the Tongans OWN THIS PLACE. In the wise words of elder giles (in my district) "don't mess with the Tongans, they'll just eat you." So we met these sisters and they liked us a lot, which meant that we were on all of the Tongan's good side. They would yell across the cafeteria, which is huge, and say "HEYYYY THOSE ARE MY SISTAAAASS!!!" hahahaha it was so funny, they just left though... for Sacramento and Salt Lake. 
We also have met TONS of people that we have connections with... for example... I met a sister Stotts going to the Phillipeans (dont know how to spell that) who is from the "sandy-eggo" and is palz with mahhh gurlz k-sheff and cozzzzy B.  so thats rad. I also met an elder Hayes from St. George who went to Desert Hills and was super good friends with HUNTER. yeah cray. He asked alllll about weston, and was just a rad guy. ALSO, we have new sisters in our zone this week, one of which is from Vancouver Washington, and is best friends with my one and only BYU roommate Becky Shirley! I also met some elders coming to Farrmingon NM this well! one of which is elder Caleb Thompson who is also friends with my boi Rudy B. so thats also rad ( I have said rad like 5 times haha, I apologize). PS President Eyring's grandson is here! whaaaa! he is going to like Taiwan or something. So cool.
Sister Williams and I play volleyball during gym time every day and we play with these super cool elders.  They think that sis W and I are total ballers so they wont let us play on the same team hahhaha. the last time, they all kept saying "sister kennedy you are such a blessing to us" hahahaha. they are seriously the greatest!! one of those elders is named elder... le'freance? something like that. he  is from Montreal Canada. He got baptized when he was 16 and he is the only member in his family.  he is serving in new york new york and I have never seen anyone so excited to serve! i see him and his comp like everyday and he always rocks my world. GREAT kid. 
There are two elders in our zone, Elder Clavel and Elder Pratt who are seriously the greatest.  Sister Williams and I were really worried about this investigator that we were NOT connecting with.  and these two elders came in and taught us everything we needed to know.  SO RAD. they are amazing teachers and they really taught us how to connect with people. I LOVE THEM. 
random sidenote: Elder Clavel is from Chile and is a DJ. yeah. real life. and he found out that I was a hip hop dancer and we have been super tight every since hahaha. he really wants to have a post-mission jam session hahhaa. 
OK. funny story. so the elders here at the lovely MTC have a code word when they think that an elder is flirting with a sister and his companion is not around. they all yell "NEE-HOW ELDER" hahaa so the night before elder batt flew out to eugene Oregon, I was telling him to email me. my comp was behind me and comp was inside the room we were standing in front of haha. anyways, I was giving him my email and his whole district was like "nee how elder!! nee how!" and I had no idea what it meant so I just kept talking and elder batt couldnt stop laughing. so I walked away, and them all the elders were like "ELDER B!!! gettin Sister K! OWW OWW!" they all thought we were dating. It was SO FUNNY. and we were both like what the heck! we are just besties! hahaha anyways, not that funny, but I was laughing. lolzzzz.
Now that we are all getting ready to head into the field, all these elders keep nonchalantly asking for sister william's and I's emails to "keep in touch". haha the poor girl deprived elders... *sigh. 
ANYWAYSSSS I have learned so much this week, I have met so many people, and I have literally laughed until I collapsed on the floor crying (that has actually happened hahaha). such a blast. my companion is seriously BOMB.

our teachers here at the MTC are brother littlefield and sister Bryan. SUCH INCREDIBLE PEOPLE. like seriously they have helped me learn and grow more than i could have ever imagined.  I LOVE THEM. 

PS SHOUTOUT TO ALL MY HOMIES WHO WROTE ME THIS WEEK!!! Grandma Joan, Rere and Mike, Momma Tiff, Father Kelly K, K-Sheff, Isabellaaaaa, E-Dizzle (effie lolz), Margaret :), my madeline moooo, and Landon :) I will write/email you this week.  I dont have any time today! An hour is like NO TIME. 

I wish I had more time to tell you everything! just know that we can all find true happiness through this restored church!!! 

Also ISABELLA!!! TELL ELIZAS MOM THAT SHE ROCKS!!! I dont have her email with me right now, she has written me more than anyone else!!! :)

I will talk to you when I am with my boi barrackyyyy ;)
God is Great, Life is Good, and the Church is True
with love, 
sister kennedy

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Just call me Sister Swaaaaag!

Sister Kennedy here! ALIVE AND VERY VERY WELL!!! I have literally had the most incredible few days of my life since I got here.  As I left the car after some sad goodbyes I entered the MTC knowing that this is where I am meant to be! I walked onto the campus and met perfect friends right from the very beginning.  Within 3 minutes of getting there, I ran into the wonderful ELDER DILLON BATT and felt right at home! HE went on to tell me that we were in the same zone!!! LIKE WHAT!? yeah. real life.  THEN! I made it to my room and then to my classroom. I HAVE THE BEST DISTRICT IN THE WORLD. I am serious.  The elder and sisters are absolutely incredible and we are already so close. THE POWER FELT HERE IS OUT OF THIS WORLD. My companion is sister Erica Williams from Kimberlee Idaho :) WHO KNOWS TY BLACKER FROM BYU IDAHO! mom, I told you about her... we met on facebook and are literally the same person. it freaks me out.  SHE ALSO KNOWS RUDY BOWMAN!!!! mom, you HAVE to tell him. She freaked out when she realized I knew him.  We get along so well that most all the missionaries here think we are old friends.  WE NEVER STOP LAUGHING.  I have taught her the art of swag and she has taught me the beauty of wearing socks and crocs ;) hahaha we are literally perfect for one another, I get teary thinking of how blessed i am to have her.  She has taught me so much and I love her SO SO SO much.  We have two other sisters that live with us in our little room and they are awesome! one is sister Hemenway and sister Belnap.  Sister Belnap is 21 and just got over fighting cancer a little over a year ago. She was assigned to DC South with us, but she can only be assigned to places with specific hospitals within the mission boundaries (due to her cancer) and we JUST found out that DC South does not have one of those hospitals! so she is currently "unassigned" SHE HAS NO IDEA WHERE SHE IS SERVING.  she is so strong though and patient as she waits. I really look up to her.
When we first got here we had a HUGE meeting with all the missionaries that got here that day. we all sang called to serve (SO POWERFUL) and heard from the MTC presidents.  One of the biggest rules here is that we cant call each other "guys" we have to say elders and sisters. SO one of the MTC presidents' wives was explaining this and she said, "we do NOT call each other guys. do you want to know who guys are? the boys back at home kissing your girlfriends elders." hahahahah I could not stop laughing. SHE ROCKS. she then shared this quote with us "God loves all of his children equally. but he loves his missionaries a little more equally" hahaha she is incredible.  I love how light hearted the MTC is. everyone is always happy and so dang cute!
NEXT COOL STORY. So one elder in my district is named Elder Thurston.  He is from St. George, went to Desert Hills High school, has an older Brother Named Brandon WHO IS MCKAY CUMMINGS BEST FRIEND who is also serving in Mozambique!!! WHAT!?!? yeah we freaked out when we made that connection. he absolutely rocks.
Dad, another Elder in my district is named Elder Jensen and he played basketball for Herriman.  He graduated this year, his name is Elder Jensen (i already told you that... haha)...I think his first name is... Jacob? Jake? Joe? maybe? haha i dont actually remember, but look him up! 
I have learned SO MUCH HERE!!! like a ridiculous amount. I have never felt closer to God and I have never felt so much love for everyone I know and everyone around me. The first night we got here, we taught an investigator.  THE FIRST NIGHT. It was horrifying. But so cool!!! ANd last night we taught another one and he committed to baptism! it was the first time we met him and HE ACCEPTED! the church is so true! God will help us with anything if we just ask!
I run into the LOVELY holly holland like ALL THE TIME. she is doing so well and is so stinking cute. She has pictures of us on her blog czech em out ;) haha
Elder Batt told me to tell you guys "the church is true". he is SUPER insightful. haha we get to go to the temple today as a zone and we are going to take a pic together to send to all yall ;) 
the most important thing I have learned here is to LOVE EVERYONE, talk to EVERYONE,and treat everyone as christ would.
a few shoutouts to the lovely sara parker for my journal! Rere and Mike for the hidden note :) Isabella for my lovely 1st night in the MTC letter, Gabe for that Swiss chocolate you gave me for my birthday... we do NOT get enough food here! haha, bridget for the AWESOME dear elder you sent me, and of course momma for the letter :) you guys rock!

I miss you all so much. 
ALSO I have tons of pictures but I cant figure out how to get them onto this computer... I am retarded I am pretty sure... 
God is great, life is good, and the church is true.
Sister Kennedy

Monday, August 18, 2014

Farewell Talk

To all my lovely blog followers, I will be set apart as a missionary tonight at 6 PM.  Yesterday I had the incredible opportunity to speak in sacrament meeting.  I wish this was  truly what I had said when I spoke, but unfortunately I am not a "write it down and read it straight off the page" kind of girl. So bear with me, and I hope you get a gist of what I spoke on :)
Love to you all

Good morning brothers and sisters.

SO first off.  I would like to apologize.  Sister Christensen asked me to choose the opening and closing hymns.   For our closing hymn we are singing God Be With You Til We Meet Again.  Now in my mind when I chose this song, I was thinking of the movie the other side of heaven when he is leaving Tonga and all of the people are singing the song to him as he rows back to the boat that will take him back to America.  So I was like OH YEAH. I ROCK. These songs are PERF. And when I went to brag to my mom about my perfect hymn choices she enlightened me with the fact that this is hymn is sung at just about every LDS funeral.  So I promise I was not trying to somehow lead to the idea that I was dying or something… so I apologize, and when we sing this hymn I would appreciate it if you all pictured cute Tongans waving goodbye to an incredible missionary rather than picture yourself at a funeral. Hahaha
Anyways… WOW. I can honestly say that I never thought this day would ever come.  Although I have always wanted to serve a mission, it always seemed like it would be miles down the road, and now here I am. J  I wish I could express to you the amount of crazy emotions I have running through me right now...  nerves, excitement, stress, joy, and mostly… GRATITUDE. If it wasn’t for this ward, I most certainly would not be here right now.  It was from you that I was taught primary songs, it was you who sent me home on Sundays with colored pictures of Jesus to give to my mom to hang on the fridge, and you who taught me that I am truly a daughter of God who is destined to be a queen.  It was also this ward that showed me incredible examples of service, Christ Like love, and of course, missionary work.  My heart truly is SO full as I stand before you today, and I have all of you to thank for that. 
I would like to echo the words Sahara and I just sang by repeating one of the last lines, “If by the still, small voice he calls me to a path I do not know, I will place my hands in His hand, going where he’d have me go”.  These words are so incredibly true. Every aspect of missionary work lies on faith in our Savior, and in obedience to him.  Brothers and Sisters, this is what I would like to talk to you about today; the principle of Obedience.  I have a story to share with you; and although lengthy, it is an incredible testimony of obedience.
            “A certain LDS couple wanted to go on a mission to someplace warm, so they put in their papers and mentioned that they wanted to go someplace warm.  The call came back: Mongolia.  After some discussion, they decided to decline the call and did so.  A few months later, they felt like they really needed to serve a mission so they put in new papers and this time wrote that because of medical conditions, they needed to go someplace warm.  The second call came back: Mongolia.  This time, as they talked about it, they decided the Lord must really want them in Mongolia to call them there twice and felt, maybe, they could handle it for a little while. If it got to be too much, they would come home.  So they went to Mongolia and were assigned to serve in the Mongolia Federal Prison.  He taught the inmates and she cleaned the kitchen for eight hours every day, doing the dishes, scrubbing pots, mopping floors, etc.  She didn’t understand a word of Mongolian and didn’t know what anyone was saying to her.  All she knew was that she did not come clear across the world to wash dishes in Mongolia for her mission.  One day, in Sheer Frustration and close to tears after cleaning for hours and not understanding a single word, she went out into the prison courtyard and screamed at the top of her lungs, “Does anybody here speak English?” No one replied.  Louder the second time, she yelled it again, desperate for some English response “Does anybody here speak English at all?” From the upper corner of the prison, a voice called back, “I do.  I speak English!”  That night she told her husband about the prisoner who answered back and they wondered about him.  For days they tried to get him out of their mind and couldn’t. Eventually, they went to the warden and mentioned the prisoner who spoke English. The warden asked where he had called from.  When she told him, he said, “Oh. We can’t go there. That is maximum security. It is too dangerous.  I have not even been there.” They asked to see the man’s records and were told the prisoners kept in maximum security have no records. Only the most vile criminals were there and they were sent there to die.  There was no parole for them, no chance of a second life- therefore the prison needed no information on them.  Still the prisoner’s response haunted them and they persisted in their desire to meet this man and promised the warden they would be safe.  Finally, after several more days, the warden relented and agreed to let them trust the Lord.  He took them there.  As they walked into the maximum security unit, all the cells were dark.  But from one cell they heard a voice they had not heard in 18 years, saying, “Mom.  I knew you’d come for me”. It was their own son.  They had not seen him in 18 years when he got caught up in a life of crime and left home.  Twelve years ago, they had been told he had been killed during a crime.  He had actually fled the country and, over the course of several years, made his way to Mongolia, where another run-in had caused him to be sentenced for life.  He had been in prison for years, unable to contact anyone.  No one knew he was there. Yet God did.  Through his fervent and lonely prayers, this prisoner knew he would be reunited with his mother one day- that someday , she would find him buried in a prison cell in Mongolia, and would come to help him.”
The man who told this story had served with this couple in Mongolia and after he told the story, he continued by saying that “the amazing story does not end.  The couple is still serving in Mongolia, but when they return home from their mission in five more months, because of the work of the church there, the Mongolian government had agreed to release their son.  They will be able to bring their son home with them. “
Soooo, chances are I won’t be serving in a prison in DC and I definitely won’t find my long-lost son, but this story should remind each of us that everything truly happens for a reason.  Heavenly Father is preparing all of us for great things if we can but obey his will and let him in.
I love the picture of Christ knocking on the door without a door knob.  Christ is RIGHT THERE fully and completely willing to help us out with every aspect of our life if we can but let him in.  Our obedience to his will can strengthen us and bless our lives more than we will ever know.  How merciful and great is our God to bless us so immensely for doing the simple task of following his commandments.  I use the adjective simple for a reason… because let’s be real… sometimes staying chaste, sober, and modest is the farthest thing from easy.  But if we try our best and let Christ in, We. Can. Not. Fail. 
Elder Henry D. Taylor, who was an Assistant to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, said: “I like the beautiful lesson taught and the impressive example set by our first parent, Father Adam. He was commanded by the Lord to offer the firstlings of his flocks as a sacrifice. He did not know the reason for the request, but without hesitation he was obedient to the commandment: ‘And after many days an angel of the Lord appeared unto Adam, saying: Why dost thou offer sacrifices unto the Lord?’ Adam responded with this magnificent, trusting reply: ‘I know not, save the Lord commanded me.’ (Moses 5:5–6.) To Adam it was not a matter of blind obedience, but rather it displayed his complete and unwavering confidence and faith in the word and instruction from the Lord” (“Faith,” Improvement Era, Dec. 1970, 44).
The scripture I chose for my missionary plaque is D&C 6:36. It simply states “Look unto me in every thought; Doubt not, Fear not.”  The Lord is truly standing before us with a merciful heart and open arms just waiting for us to heed his counsel.  If we can truly look unto him in every thought, and are obedient of his will I know we have no need to fear.
Now I have one more story to share with you guys… as a lot of you know, my cousin Weston was recently in a very bad car accident in Pensacola Florida.  This accident left him blind in one eye, with a collapsed lung, a crushed spleen, shattered facial bones, internal bleeding, significant brain swelling, and he was put into a medically-induced coma. They were able to get the internal bleeding under control after a couple of days, and they removed both his spleen and appendix. After a few short weeks he was responsive, squeezing his mom’s hand, opening his eyes, and even writing.  He just went upward, upward, and upward. Now before all of this, he served a mission in Mexico City and was absolutely incredible.  He was known as the missionary that was “100% Obedient”.  He was and is such a good example to everyone of obedience. Eventually he was transferred to a hospital in St. George and my family and I were able to go see him.  Because he was still in an unstable condition, only one person was allowed in at a time.  When it was my turn I walked in, we talked, and he told me how much he loved me.  Now hearing this from the mouth of my cousin that I wasn’t sure would ever be the same person was incredible.  He went on to tell me stories of his mission and about how important it is to heed every bit of counsel perfectly.  And before I left the room he patted my leg and said “elli, the amount of love and prayers I feel here in this hospital is the same amount of love and prayers you will feel on your mission.  And I will pray for you every single day because I am so proud and so excited for you” I looked at my angel of a cousin with tears in my eyes thinking, this perfect 22 year-old boy has every reason in the world not to be praying for anyone else and yet here he is, reminding me that I will be in his prayers.  He is an incredible example to me of obedience and selfless love. I only hope that I can be half the missionary he was. 
I am so so so excited to be serving a mission in Washington DC and I have a very strong testimony that if I can be 100% obedient I will be blessed beyond comprehension. Once again I would like to remind us all of the words from the beloved hymn I Will Go Where He Wants Me To Go by saying, “If by the still, small voice he calls me to a path I do not know, I will place my hands in His hand, going where he’d have me go.”  Let us all walk by faith, not by sight and have strong testimonies in the power of obedience.  Sending all my love, prayers, and hope your way over these next 18 months. I love you all.
In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.