Monday, November 30, 2015

Last Days at the Missionary Training Center

The card reader she has been using accidentally got packed before they could email this week, so unfortunately no pictures. But here is the exciting conclusion to her stay at the MTC:

Hi friends and family! 

I seriously cannot believe I am leaving the MTC tomorrow. I will finally be going to Yakima! I am so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so excited. I thought I would be more nervous, but I'm really not! I'm mostly just excited. I didn't go on a mission for the MTC, I went for Washington. 

So first off this week I got a package from my ma with a couple shirts and things I asked for from home and it was so funny because I opened it and they all smelled like home! My roommates were making fun of me, because I just kept sitting there on my bed smelling my sweatshirt. I didn't even want to take them out of the box because I wanted to keep the home smell on them. Ha ha! I guess I'm just weird. But I just loved it.

Random funny this week- my teacher Hermana McBride randomly started talking in a stitch voice in class a couple of days ago. It was so weird and out of character but so funny. We were all having a hard time paying attention but that snapped us right back into focus!

Wednesday we had in-field orientation, which was surprisingly not as bad as everyone told me it was going to be. It was nine hours, so we were all really exhausted afterwards, but they did a good job of keeping us entertained. They even did a "play" for us. It was an insult to the theater and Hannah would definitely not approve, but it was so funny and I really loved it.

So Thanksgiving was pretty weird. Really good but really weird, too. We had so many devotionals! I guess that’s all they could think of to entertain us. In the morning we had a devotional with Elder Dallin H. Oaks. His address was good, but my favorite part was when a bunch of his grandkids all got up and played the most beautiful version of "Love is Spoken Here". There was a pianist who looked about 11, three violinists, probably all teenagers and older, two cellists, probably 8 or 9 and 13 or 14, and a guitarist who was probably 8! It was impressive, beautiful and totally my family goals! It really helped me feel the Spirit so strongly. They also played two other songs.

After the devotional with Elder Oaks, we had some study time, and then we went to lunch. We packed sack dinners (PB & J) and lunch was our Thanksgiving meal, so the cafeteria employees could go home and be with their families for the holiday. It was actually really delicious. Real turkey, real corn, real pie, even real cranberry sauce! I am told the mashed potatoes, stuffing, and rolls were good too. It wasn't like home, but it was a ton better than I was expecting, so that was good. After our feast we went back to the classroom and had a district meeting to talk about what we were thankful for. It was really special, and also kind of hilarious because everyone was in a food coma.  I wish I could have taken a video.

So then after that we had another devotional to talk about our service project. The opening song was "Over the River and Through the Woods” and it was SO WEIRD. Everyone was like....uh, please, no. Ha ha! But we had fun with it and then we learned about our service project with "Feeding Children Everywhere". They basically taught us about the organization, shared some great Thanksgiving thoughts, and then we went to the cafeteria to do the service project. We got into teams of about 8-10 people and made bags of dehydrated meals. Each bag has spices, rice, veggies, and lentils and feeds six people! By the end of the day we made 367,900 meals!! I felt so awesome afterwards. I love doing service.

For a news story on this service project, click here or here.

Then after the service project we watched a film "17 Miracles" which I actually hated because it just made me cry the whole time... It's like, "All these people die in the end--what kind of movie is that?!” I'm just kidding, it's actually really inspirational but sad, and I don't like crying. 

After the movie we had... you guessed it... another devotional. This one was kind of just a series of Mormon messages, Thanksgiving scriptures, and special musical acts from all over the MTC. It was really fun, because it was way different than other devotionals at the MTC. There was a girl who yodeled! A girl who made duck noises?! A couple of elders who did improve blues piano! (I obviously loved that one) Then we went outside after the devotional, and the presidency surprised us with Christmas lights all over campus! It's so beautiful! A bunch of us broke out in Christmas carols and stood out in the cold singing for about a half hour. It was so fun and really got me in the Christmas mood.

Friday and Saturday one of the Hermanas in my zone was sick so we all took turns sitting in class with her companion, since they are the only girls in their district. It was so weird to be in class and remember what it was like at the very beginning of my MTC stay. That district has only been here a week and a half. I feel like people grow up so much here.

Saturday we had our last class all together with our whole district (Elders Rogers and Farley left this morning), and a zone meeting to say goodbye to my district since we are leaving this week. We all got up and bore our testimonies, and I even sang a song I wrote about being on a mission. 

Yesterday was our last Sunday here and was kind of sad. We did a musical number, which was fun. But it was also weird because we have our new branch president. I really like him though. Then we all went home and packed like crazy!

This morning at 3 am we took Elder Farley to the travel office to go to Ecuador, it was so sad, so cold, and so tiring, and I almost slipped on ice three times. But it was really good. We said one last district prayer together and even got some hot chocolate from the cafeteria in the middle of the night! Then at 6 am we took Elder Rogers to the office and he's going to Ecuador too, just the opposite side. It was really sad too, but I don't remember much of anything because I was so tired from waking up two times! I'm so tired today but it's worth it to support my friends. 

Today has been pretty good besides being tired and a little in denial! But I am seriously so stoked for tomorrow. And seriously looking forward to grocery shopping. Anyway I have to go eat dinner now and finish packing, but I love you all so much! Talk to my family tomorrow morning! 

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

"Fun" Week!

Can y'all believe I have already been on my mission for over a month?! Sometimes it seems like the time is flying by, and others I'm just like...I can't remember what it's like to not be here. It feels like forever. I miss my family a lot, but my homesickness is almost gone. Don't worry though, I'm still showing off my Texas pride all the time though. Ha Ha! :)

So tons of "fun" things happened this last week. First I got my nose cauterized on Tuesday, and then Thursday I chipped one of my two front teeth!! It was so weird and hurt my lip so bad because it was sharp! I went to the dentist and got it fixed though and you can hardly even tell. They were playing Christmas music in the waiting room and I was so excited, because "Merry Christmas, Darling" by the Carpenters came on and that's one of my momma's favorite songs by her favorite singer ever. It made me miss her, but not in a bad way.
 Going to the Dentist

Finding Nemo at the Dentist!

We like listening to Karen Carpenter!

My tooth is fixed!

Then on Sunday night Hermana Naulu ended up in the emergency room!! It was pretty scary because I was on a split with a couple of the other sisters, and my companion was on a split with Hermana Naula and Hermana Alexander. They were all three gone, and I didn't know what was going on. All I knew was that Elder Harman said Hermana Naulu got really sick and couldn't feel her hands. Then the Sister training leaders got a phone call from the front desk saying they sent them to the ER! We didn't know anything until about 10:30 that night when they finally got back, so my district was all praying together a bunch. Turns out the other day when we were playing volleyball Hermana Naulu got hit in the head by an elder's elbow on accident and got a concussion!! So she's been taking some naps, trying to take it easy in class, and we're all trying our best to help her when we can.

We've been playing the nativo game in my district this week. It’s where we have 10 slips of paper that we all draw from in the morning or the night before, and they all say something but only one says “nativo” on it. Then everyone has to talk like a native Spanish speaker all day and then at night we vote on who was the native. If the person who actually was the native wins, they get 2 points, and if the person who wins isn't the actual native they get 1 point. So far I have 0 points because I already talk in Spanish so much, my friends can't tell if I'm doing it for the game or not.
The New District

The District boys being silly

Random hilarious thing- Sunday night devotional the speaker asked a few people to come up and tell everyone something they sacrificed or gave up to be on a mission right now, just to help us realize that everyone is relatable and has problems. Most of them were like "being with my family" or "going to school" but then this one guy was like "spending time with my three cows". It was hilarious.

This week all the English-speaking Yakima missionaries got here. It's weird because they are traveling with us, but they just got here! The stay for English missionaries is so short! I got my travel plans. I have to go to the travel office next Tuesday Morning at 3:30 am!! It's crazy! I’m not looking forward to that but definitely looking forward to finally going to Washington.

I ran into some sisters from Mexico the other day and started talking to them. They are going to Tokyo, Japan, but they said my Spanish is really good. They were surprised when they found out I had only been here for 5 weeks. They said they would have expected 9 weeks with how well I was speaking. I was so happy to hear that. Also, we talked to a lady at the temple today who is from Peru. I love using the language! One of the teachers here, Hermana Boza is from peru and the other day my companion and I got to help her translate something so she can give a talk in church at her English ward this Sunday. It was really nice to be able to do service and help someone using both of my languages! I love Spanish so much. It just makes like 10,000 times more sense than English. And it's so much prettier!

I realized two weird things this week about being here at the MTC. First, that I will probably never again in my life spend this much time with a group of nine other people. Seriously! Even married people don't spend this much time together. I'm amazed we haven't had a fight or anything yet. (Knock on wood!) There's actually a few districts I've heard of around that are having feuds... That is so sad. The other thing I realized that's kind of weird, is that I know these kids so well but I don't know their social media personalities at all! 

P.S. Don't forget my address is changing in 6 days people! So if you want to write me please send it to Yakima, not the MTC.

Sister Alison Knight
Washington Yakima Mission
1006 S. 16th Ave.
Yakima, WA 98902

The last district that was here when we were here left this week. It was so sad, it feels like our zone died or something! We have a bunch of new missionaries that came this week and I really like them a lot, but it's just not the same. We're the oldest now, so it's really weird. Hermana Naulu and Hermana Alexander are the new sister training leaders, and Elders Cordon and Morrison are our zone leaders. Also, our branch president was released, so that was sad. I like the new one a lot though.

One of the Hermanas that just left this week is Hermana Taylor Clegg. I found out that she went to Lone Peak HS and is actually best friends with my friend’s little sister! Small world! It's really a shame that we didn’t' figure that out sooner, because we really had a good time reminiscing about Mama J and choir. 

 Hermanas Clegg and Knight

Hermanas Knight and Quintana

 Hermanas Staker and Knight

Hermanas Clegg, Quintana, Frost and Staker

All the Hermanas before they left

An hour ago when I was doing my laundry one of the counselors in the MTC presidency came in and asked us if we could help move some stuff for our Thanksgiving service project. So we did, and then we got to go to this weird place at the MTC where I have never seen before, and they were blasting the Beach Boys through these loud speakers! It was so weird, but I was excited about "Barbra Ann" (shout out to my pa). 

Anyway, I have to go so I can send pictures, but I love you all so much. Thank you for all the support. Shout out to Candi for her sweet Thanksgiving email. Thanks Candi! And thanks to my sister Emily for her letter. Love you, Em. Talk to ya’ll in a few days!  We are allowed to call before we get on the plane just to let them know what's going on. I'm looking forward to hearing my mom's voice. And maybe one or three of my sisters.  I miss you all so much. Love you. 

 My Mosiah pages are getting really colorful!

 The "Cream Soda Tree" smells so good!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

One Month Down, 17 to Go!

Hello family and loved ones!

My teacher, Hermana McBride fell and hit her head on a shelf and got a concussion this week!! She's doing better now, but please keep her in your prayers!

My friends!

I'm playing volleyball a lot lately and I'm starting to get actually decent at it. At first I was awful because I had never played it before, but Hermana Alexander was on a team and so she gave me a lot of tips and helped me practice and now I'm slowly improving. I'm not really good at sports, but I love to play them. Gym time is one of the highlights of my day.

I noticed something really cool this week, I got here on 10/21 and I'm leaving the MTC 12/01! Interesting, huh?

Hermanas Knight and Hulme

Other exciting things this week were first of all, I got to teach Relief Society (women’s Sunday class), which was really great. The subject was on the Spirit's influence in our lives and trusting God's plan for us. I shared a personal story about my sister, Libbie, and it made me cry because I sure miss and love her so much. It was hard talking about her because I miss her so much, but it was worth it because it really brought the spirit into the lesson and several of the sisters came up to me afterwards and thanked me.

The second “exciting” thing that has been happening is that I have been having horrible, gushing nosebleeds every day for like 10 days now. I went to the clinic here to have them look at my nose, and the second he touched it, it started to bleed again!! It was crazy and it wouldn't stop for like an hour! So I actually got sent to an ENT here in Provo and got to leave campus for the afternoon. It was SO WEIRD and FUN. They were playing country songs in the lobby at the doctor’s office, and I was in heaven. I seriously almost cried tears of joy when "after the storm blows through" by Maddie and Tae came on. It was so refreshing and just the boost I needed, because right after that I had my nose cauterized!! THEY STUCK A FLAME UP MY NOSE. They had to get the veins shut though (sorry kind of gross) It hurt so, so, so bad and I was sneezing all the whole rest of the day. But now it’s been almost three days since my last nose bleed, so I think it's working. I also have to put Vaseline up my nose every morning and night. This dry air is killing me! So anyway, that was fun.

When we got on the shuttle to go back to the MTC, we met a pair of elders from Hungary! It was so cool. They both speak German, Hungarian, Italian, and English fluently. Impressive.

In other news, I wrote a song for my district this week! One of the other districts just left (sad), and they wrote a parody of the “cup song” about their district and sang it to us before they left. My district liked it so much they asked me to write one for us. It's to the tune of "Battle Hymn of the Republic," because that song is really fun to sing in Spanish, so we sing it every day. It's kind of our district’s theme song.

I wrote Elder Rogers a song, he drew me a picture!

Last night at choir practice the director said something that was really true and inspiring to me. He said that Love is the essence of life, and that when you think about it, it's so true because everything good that happens in the world is because somebody loves somebody else, and everything bad is because somebody is being selfish. Genius. 

Our investigator, Olga was sick this week, so unfortunately we didn't get to teach her, we did get to leave her a short video message on Skype though. It was actually really fun. Hermana Aldrich and I were being so dorky. We had fun with it though, and it was fun to use the computer.

Elders, being studly!

Before I go I want to tell an amazing story we were told at the devotional last night by Kim. B Clark of The Seventy. He said there was this man who grew up in Idaho Falls in a faithful Mormon family, who ran away from home when he was 14 and went down a dark path of life. He joined the Hell's angels and got heavily into drugs and alcohol. One day he was passed out in the front yard of the home the Hell's Angels have in L.A California (a place to dry out if you are too wasted to drive), and some Mormon missionaries came walking up their street. He started mocking them, because he used to be Mormon and thought these elders were so naive. They had two dogs in the yard that were trained to attack and kill anyone who tried to come into the yard, so he wasn't too worried about them trying to preach to him when they walked by. But then when they got to the end of the street, they talked for a minute and turned around and came back to the Hell's Angels house. The dogs started growling and acting like they were going to attack. But as soon as the Elders stepped foot on their sidewalk, the dogs walked away and laid down and went to sleep. Then one of the elders came up to the wasted man from Idaho, and said, "What's up?" The man said, “Oh, nothing,” and then the elder asked, "Where are you from?" and he said "Idaho Falls." Then the elder said, "No way! Me too! Do you happen to know the So-and-sos?" And then the wasted man said, "Yeah, they're my parents." Then the elder said something that changed both of their lives. "They're my parents, too."

It was the Hell's Angel's younger brother, all grown up and called to serve a mission in California. The elder said to his older brother he never knew what happened to him, but that he knows that God sent him there to bring him home. He ended up helping his brother turn his life around, go back to church, find Jesus again, move back home to Idaho, and reconnect with their parents. He ended up getting married in the temple five years later. The Hell's Angel ended up being in the Stake Presidency (local church leadership) with Kim B. Clark, which is where he learned the story from.

HOW AMAZING IS THAT?! God sure works in mysterious and amazing ways.

I love you all and I love my Father in Heaven. I'm so grateful for the opportunity to go out and help the people I know God needs me to help. Thanks for all the support. Please keep the letters coming! They are such an encouragement.

Much love, Hermana Alison Knight

My Zone
Elders in my Zone

View of the mountains

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Is it Wednesday already?!

The time here is FLYING by. It's crazy. I seriously feel like it was just barely P-day!

Anyway, this week Elder Harman said something that was SO true. He said that he can't remember what it was like not knowing all of us in the district and that he can't imagine life without knowing us. Everyone was like "Yeah! That is so true!" and I was just thinking how always whenI move to a new place, that's how I know I have become adjusted- when I can't remember not knowing people. It's awesome. I'm so glad so many of the people in my district are going to Yakima, because I'm really going to miss these days. It's kind of like EFY all the time but like times 1000.

Another thing that I've noticed being here is that everyone is starting to look so much older! I was looking at some of our pictures from the first week and we looked like babies! And the new district that came this week all looked so young too! It's so crazy how much people mature in the MTC. Also, Elder Rogers is HILARIOUS. The other day at lunch he was telling us these stories about when he was going hunting with his dad and I thought I was going to throw up from laughing so hard!!

District Selfies!!!

Thank you family for my awesome letters! And also a few more people, but I can't remember exactly who...all the days are starting to blur together. Anyway, THANKS! Also, Elder Harman and Elder Rogers and I all three got word from our moms last week that all three of them are now friends on Facebook. It's pretty weird but awesome. It's fun to kind of have this little joke between us about our moms being besties. It's also really a weird thought though that we all three know each other, and we all three know our moms and our moms all three know each other and know us, but they don't know each other's kids.... if that makes sense. Ha ha! That’s just how my brain works. 

Another insight that was said this week by Hermana Aldrich was that it's so cool to think about how many people have been through this MTC. We have had people from at least every continent on Earth, and from hundreds of countries! This week alone I have met 4 British guys, a German guy, a Swedish guy, and a guy from Samoa. There's also an Elder from Georgia who keeps showing up everywhere I am and getting all excited when he sees me. The hermanas like to tease me about him having a crush on me. What can I say? I'm adorable. A couple of people have been calling me Texas which is awesome, because it was my nickname in high school. 

Okay, random hilarious thing- there's this tree right outside of the building where my classroom is and nobody knows why or how or who figured it out, but it smells like cream soda! There's this one particular spot on it that smells so strongly of cream soda and it is so weird. I was going to take a picture of it but I forgot. Next week! I just think it's hilarious, because people have apparently known it smells like cream soda for decades, but who figured that out? Were they just going around smelling all the trees on campus one day? It's so great.

 My name badge

 The back of my badge, with my "dork dot" (used to signify new missionaries the first week)

If anyone is wondering about the grace/works ratio for going to heaven, read John 15:11. It's so good! I love theology. Maybe I'll be a seminary teacher if I grow up.  I'm also trying to learn more about humility, because I've been really struggling with that lately. It’s so easy to get a little prideful at times, after we teach a really good lesson or something, and then God is like NOPE!! and has to bring me back down a little. It's good to have confidence but not be cocky. It's actually been very funny, because my journal entries the last week have been like that part in Tangled right after Rapunzel leaves the tower and she's running around like "This is awesome!" "I'm a horrible person..." "I love being free!" "I am the worst daughter ever". Ha ha!

Rainbow Trees!

 Christmas Lights!!!

Thursday night was really bad. We had the worst lesson ever with our “investigator” Olga. She wants to believe in God, but doesn't , and we were trying to help her see the blessings that He has given her and all the ways that he is involved in her life. She told us she had a lot of struggles and problems in her childhood. So I (in an attempt to level with her, seem empathetic, and give her some hope for the future) told her that I had some really hard trials in my childhood too, and that even though I don't wish they had happened, looking back I can understand the important life lessons I have learned because of it and how much the Gospel has helped me get past them. Then she got really upset and offended and told us that she was physically and sexually abused as a child and that she has PTSD and that she's not grateful for what we learned from it. My companion started crying, and I was overwhelmed with guilt. That was not at all the response I was going for.

Suddenly the pretend investigator Olga personality turned into the real Olga, and she said "You want to cry? Why?" and then I just burst into tears. I just felt like a failure. I told her my favorite thing to do is to help people and that I tend to be a perfectionist sometimes, and that now I not only didn't help, but I made her dig up all this deep nasty stuff from her past and feel like I was belittling her pain. I learned my lesson that I need to go way deeper when getting to know investigators and be extremely, extremely careful with the language, because I think I must have worded my Spanish wrong and that's why she got offended.

So anyway, my confidence was shot for a few days over the weekend. I got a couple of blessings and prayed and studied my scriptures more than ever before. I have been feeling a little lost. It's important to not think about myself too much and focus on serving others, so I won't feel homesick. But I'm starting to really miss Alison. Hermana Knight, is pretty awesome, but I really need to let Alison shine a little more. My companion and I share a lot of the same talents (music and Spanish are my only exceptions) so I haven't really had the opportunity to use these things I'm good at, or feel very needed.

On Monday night we had another lesson with Olga and went in with the simplest plan ever. First, apologize for making her feel unimportant or like her feelings aren’t important, Second, share our love for her, and third, tell her that we understand that she wants to feel God's love, and that we can bear our testimonies as much as we can, and we can share as many personal stories that we know, but the only way she's going to know for herself that He is here, and that He has always been here, is if she asks him. She needed to pray. AND IT WORKED. OLGA PRAYED HALLELUJA. It was amazing. AMAZING. I have never felt the spirit stronger. It took a little bit of convincing but she prayed and it was perfect. My companion was bawling her eyes out, and I was just laughing with joy. It was so sweet to see this amazing change that came upon her. After she finished we asked her how she felt and she said that she feels like her past is really hard still and her future is a little scary and unknown, but that she feels like, right now she can have peace, and that everything is okay. Then I shared the song "All is well with her" It was amazing. 

That night I went home and read all my old journal entries, and songs I have written from the last year or so, and it was so weird it was like coming home or something, like "oh yeah, this is who I am. This is Alison". I realized that the last few days the whole reason I had been struggling was because I was missing myself (if that makes sense). I want to continue focusing on others and their needs, and have a servant's heart, but I also want to make sure I am using my talents that are uniquely me. I am compassionate, I am stubborn (a talent!), I stick up for the underdog, I am a good listener. I have a lot to offer that I have been holding back. 

Elder Buchanan is a doll! 

 This is actually hilarious because the wall is half brown and half white and so is Hermana Naulu!

Trying to write on the chalkboard upside down

All of us missionaries in the district have started this awesome new idea, kind of like the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, except it’s a journal. We bought a big journal and we are all bearing our testimonies in the front, and then we are all going to send it around to each other every p-day after we leave the MTC. Like a district journal! There are 8 of us in the states, (unfortunately we can't send it to Elders Rogers and Farley in Ecuador), so one of us will have it each week. Meaning, we will each get to write in it once every 8 weeks. I hope that makes sense... it's such a cool idea. Elder Harman came up with it. It's genius! We're each going to just write a recent spiritual experience, a little bit about our life right then, and our favorite scripture. I'm really excited about it!

Anyway, I have to go now so I have time to send pics. Love you all so, so much. SUPERAR!

Love, Hermana Alison Knight

 Hermanas Knight and Naulu

 Hermanas Aldrich and Knight

Goodbye, Hermana Laursen! 

 Goodbye, Hermana Allen!

Goodbye, Hermana Douglas!  

 Goodbye, Hermana Waterlyn!

Goodbye, Hermanas Calel, Connolly and Hulme! 

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

The Days Feel Like Weeks and the Weeks Feel Like Days

Hola todos mis amigos y familia. Me amo mucho! 

This week was pretty good for me. Most of the time it was really, really good, but a few days I was just so tired!!!

Thanks to everyone who has been writing me! I have gotten 2-3 letters every day this week! My district is always so amazed when we open the mailbox! Thank you so, so much. Seriously, it is so encouraging and so sweet. I can't think of everyone who sent me letters right now but I'm trying to write each of you back as I get a few free minutes here and there. My little Sunbeams at church (3 year old class) drew me pictures! They are on my wall next to my bed, along with pictures of my family and friends, my favorite guitar pic, and a picture of my dogs :) Also, feel free to write emails if you want to. I can print them out on Wednesday mornings and then have a little time in the afternoon to respond.

The other day we did show and tell with our district, and everyone brought pictures of their families and friends, etc. A bunch of the Elders are obsessed with Libbie now. They're like “WHOA! WHO IS THAT BLONDE GIRL?!?! SHE IS SO BEAUTIFUL!" Ha-ha it was so funny. I'm really beginning to love all the kids in my district. They are all so different but so awesome. Elder Buchanan has the most hilarious laugh I have ever heard! Plus everyone is getting sick and losing their voices right now so his voice keeps cracking when he laughs, and it makes it 100 times funnier! So far I haven't really gotten sick, besides the fact that the food here is bleh and the air is so dry. But my district as a whole could definitely use some prayers for health! Four elders slept through gym time yesterday, and that's a big deal because we love to all play volleyball together. I'm chugging Emergen-C and Airborne like crazy, so hopefully I won’t get sick.

My district (from top left) Rogers, Farley, Buchanan, Harman, Cordon, Morrison, 
Knight, Aldrich, Alexander, and Naulu

We got to go to the temple this morning, so that was super fun. They actually have a cafeteria downstairs where we got to eat breakfast after we were done and the bacon was amazing! My dad would be so pleased.

Spanish is going SO GOOD! The gift of tongues is for real! I'm basically fluent, and by that I mean I'm fluent in all the basics. Haha! But I'm getting better. We actually had a really cool experience the other day where a random girl just walked into our classroom and was pretending to be an investigator asking us questions. And I was just talking back to her like it was nothing. Everyone else in the district was just like "uh what?" And then she asked the question of how can we feel God's love when we read the Bible if there is so much war in it. Then it was crazy--my companion just started speaking fluent Spanish out of the blue, and she told this really amazing analogy of a tunnel. She said it's like being lost in this long dark tunnel and you're scared and alone and sad and just wanting to find the light, when all of the sudden you see this tiny little light way off in the distance, so you start running towards it. The closer you get, the bigger and brighter it gets, and when you reach the end of the tunnel it consumes you. You feel so much joy and peace and happiness. Then she paused for a minute because she realized she was speaking perfect Spanish, and the "investigator" was crying. Then I piped up again, because I realized the moral of the story. I said "If you didn't experience the darkness, you wouldn't appreciate or understand the light." and then I started crying, too, because the spirit was so strong in the room! Everyone was just staring at my companion in disbelief. It was so, so, so, so, so cool!!! She has never studied any Spanish before the MTC and has been really struggling, so I know it was only through the grace of God that she was able to speak that well. It was SO COOL. 

Another really amazing realization we had this week was last night at a devotional. Someone said "Joseph Smith's first vision is the first missionary work in our day. Joseph was the first investigator, he had the same questions as investigators now do. And Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ were the first missionary companionship of this dispensation. Their answers to him were the same answers we help our investigators find." It was an amazing realization, because I literally wear Jesus' name on my chest every day. My name tag says "Hermana Knight" AND "Jesus Christ" on it, because I am literally a representative of him. It is such a powerful thought. (For more information about Joseph Smith and this vision, click here.)

I've been studying a lot lately about some deeper doctrine stuff because we have a pretend investigator named Olga who likes to ask really, really hard questions. She doesn't believe in God, but we are still making some decent progress anyway. She understands all the basics like the first vision, the atonement, the apostasy, etc. But she asked us “Why do you pray to God and your church is the church of Jesus Christ? Why isn't it the Church of God?" So anyway, now I'm learning so much about the deep doctrine of Christ as our mediator between us and Heavenly Father. If you have the chance look up some of the verses in the Topical Guide for "Jesus, Mediator." It is truly fascinating. I'm so glad we have an investigator like that, because I love an intellectual and theological challenge. 

The first district in our zone left this week. It was so sad!! We don't get to see the people in other districts too often, but we do have church services on Sundays, and nightly devotionals with all the other people in our zone. So it was still hard to say goodbye, especially to these two sisters, Hermana Jarvis, and Hermana Bower. They were my trainers here at the MTC, so I'm really going to miss them.

Now that the other district left I'm the only pianist in our zone! I am playing hymns all the time. It's a good thing I was playing for my Institute class the last few months so I got a lot of practice reading hymns. This Sunday I'm playing four new hymns and accompanying a musical number. At first it was little stressful, but I'm actually really enjoying it because I get to take a break from study time for about a half hour every day to go practice piano. That really relaxes me and helps me feel God's love. 

Speaking of music helping me feel God's love, I had a really cool experience last week. We were having a devotional with the entire MTC on Sunday, and for the opening song we sang "Onward Christian Soldiers." IT WAS SO COOL. Like 3000 missionaries all singing this Christian anthem together in an auditorium. It was so powerful. I was getting choked up through the whole thing. I'm so grateful for this opportunity to be a part of such an important cause. 

I also wrote a song about my time here so far which was pretty fun but made me miss Dolly (my guitar) so much! Also I'm losing my (guitar-playing) calluses, and I'm very upset about it. :( My branch president thinks I'm like the coolest person ever though because I know how to play the mandolin.

The last thing I wanted to say is that my companion is having a bit of a hard time right now. She's just struggling with some different things, I don't want to say any details, but I wanted to ask that all of you could send a special prayer out for her. Please and thank you! 

I think that's about everything. I'm having a good time here and trying to enjoy every day to the fullest. Thanks for all the love and support. Keep the letters coming!! I love you all!

Love, Alison 

Knight, Aldrich, Bower, and Naulu

 Goodbye Sister Bower! I will miss you!

 Class time

 The view from my seat in class

Our chalkboard 

Our classroom