On Monday, after doing all our final packing and last-minute shopping, we had the opportunity to go with Alison to be "set apart" as a full-time missionary. We met with our Stake President (a local church leader), who shared some of his thought with us about missionary work and also shared his testimony. He then placed his hands on her head to give her a blessing and set her part for mission service. Click here for more information about what "setting apart" means. She was now officially a full-time missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints! It was a special and spiritual experience, and I am thankful to have been able to be there for it.
Tuesday morning we left early for the airport, where we met Grandma and Grandpa, to see Alison off. We tried to make our goodbyes quick, so it wouldn't be as difficult for Alison to leave. But it was still hard, especially when the four sisters huddled in a group hug, crying. They all have a special bond, which I absolutely love. I'm sure these are the three people she will miss the most!
After flying to Utah with her dad, Alison was able to spend the evening with our dear friends before heading to the Mission Training Center on Wednesday morning. This is a video that tells a little bit about the MTC:
I have heard a lot of people say that the first few days in the MTC can be an overwhelming experience. It is hard being thrown into this new, regimented and busy schedule, spending much of your day in gospel study, missing home and family, and for some, learning a new language. This has been true for Alison. She wanted me to share with you her experience "without sugar-coating anything". She wants others who may be entering the MTC later on to understand that it is a difficult experience and to prepare for that. But also understand that through this struggle, missionaries can become closer to God and learn to rely on Him for support.
On Wednesday evening, I received a phone call from Alison. This is not typically allowed, but in some circumstances, missionaries might be permitted to call home if they are struggling. She had been having a really rough time and went to visit with a counselor on site. She was feeling completely overwhelmed, stressed, and anxious. She was feeling unprepared for this experience and wanted to come home. I have heard of many missionaries that feel this way in their first few days. I was able to talk to her for quite awhile and help her feel better about things. I assured her that her feelings are completely normal and that I knew she could handle this. She felt she could keep trying for a little longer.
Friday we were surprised with an email!
Surprise! I get to email you real quick this morning just to say hi and let you know how I'm doing.
On Wednesday I had a meltdown and went to talk to the counselor who's on call here at the MTC 24/7, and then I ended up calling my mom. I felt like a wimp but it really helped me so much. Yesterday was really good most of the day. But I have Spanish class for 5 hours straight every day, and about half way through I started to lose my cool. I was just getting stressed and restless so I ended up going to the counseling place again after dinner and talking to my district president. It helped me feel a little better, and he gave me a blessing. Then I went to meet my branch presidency and their wives and got a good "mom hug" from Sis. Hughes. It made me cry, but then I talked to her and Bro. Hughes for a minute and felt totally better. I keep having to remind myself how many people are rooting for me.
My compañera es (companion is) Hermana Aldrich. Also there are only 4 Hermanas (sisters) in my district and usually there are 6 or 8, so we have a lot more space in our bedroom. (all the sisters share rooms with all the other sisters in their district) I room with Hna. Aldrich (compañera), Hna. Naulu, she is Tongan, and Hna. Alexander, who is actually from the Yakima Mission! Both me and Aldrich are going to Yakima, so that's cool because we will get to see each other after the MTC. The other two sisters are going to Fresno, California.
I normally will write emails and send my letters on Wednesdays (so this is not my usual p-day), but this morning we are doing a service project, cleaning someone else's residence hall, so we get to wear p-day clothes and use email for 15 minutes. (P-day is “Preparation Day”, when missionaries are able to get things done like laundry, grocery-shopping, and emailing home).
We are teaching our first mock investigator today, too. His name is Antonio, and he actually joined the church a few years ago, but he is pretending to be an investigator at the MTC, using his own story, to help us practice. I have to teach a 20-30 minute lesson completely in Spanish!! Also, we have to prepare a 3-5 minute talk every week for Sunday, because the branch president just randomly calls on people in the congregation to speak!! AAAH! I barely have time or energy for that! Oh gosh, it is crazy.
Right now I'm surviving, but this is seriously, seriously hard. I didn't even put on makeup today because it's pointless. I'm always crying about something. Either the anxiety and stress, or I'm just super tired and emotional, or I feel queasy, or I am just feeling the spirit super strong. It's funny because I thought I was going to like the break in the day of having Spanish and being purely intellecutal, with out a lot of church stuff, but I find myself craving the church stuff during Spanish class, because the only time I feel peaceful is when I am feeling the spirit strongly.
I don't have much time left, so I just want to end by bearing my testimonio en Espanol!
Yo testifico que JesuCristo es el Salvador, y mediano el Espiritu Santo nos puedemos superar todos luchas tenemos. Yo se que las familias son eternales. Yo se que el Libro de Mormon y La Bibila son veredades, y Jose Smith es un Profeta de Dios.
Te amo mucho,
Please join with us in praying for Hermana Knight and the other missionaries in the MTC, as they are getting used to their new routines and being away from home. Also, she would love letters! If you would like to write, her address is:
Sister Alison Irene Knight
2005 N. 900 E. Unit 50
Provo, UT 84602