Jessica's mom here. We were so excited to receive our first email of Jessica's mission today, so I'm posting it here. I'm sure you'll be able to feel the Spirit as well as feel of HER spirit as you read her words. Nothing terribly personal in today's email, so I'm publishing it in its entirety. I've shortened the names she mentions for privacy reasons.
Sister Viraldo here, reporting live from the MTC in Provo, Utah.
This first week has been the longest week of my life. I'm being 100% serious when I say that time in the MTC is exponentially different than time outside. We're truly on the Lord's timing. I've been here, what, almost 6 days?? It literally feels like it's been a month. I've learned SO much and grown a lot. I've learned to rely on the spirit; to trust in the Lord in all things. I've learned that I am not the teacher. The holy ghost is the one who truly touches people's hearts and makes their testimony grow. I am simply an instrument in the Lord's hands. I have been humbled. This work is not about me. It's not about what I will do, where I will go, what I will wear, or what I will say. If I am in tune with the Spirit then I will know what to say and when to say it. It's hard. I've heard people say that missionary work is the hardest thing you'll ever do, and they couldn't have been more right. It's also so worth it. The schedule is crazy long every single day. I'm not used to 16 hour days FULL of learning. Every hour of every day is planned out. I've never been more exhausted in my life; not physically exhausted, but spiritually and mentally, and even sometimes emotionally. I've heard different things about the MTC from everyone. Some love it, some hate it. For me, I love seeing all the missionaries here. Seeing so many young men & women who came to serve the Lord for 18-24 months is amazing to me. I love the MTC because of the love that everyone has & the light of Christ they have with them. The spirit felt here is so real. I cannot deny that this church is Christ's church. He knows us & loves us. Christ is the perfect example of selflessness. When the natural man's tendency is to turn inward and think "me, me, me" Christ is always found turning outward; helping, teaching, serving, and loving.
The first 3 or so days here were awesome, I was feeling SO good. Then Saturday rolled around and everyone's patience was being tested, tensions were rising, and heads were butting. We learned to be honest with our feelings because that is the only way to resolve conflicts. Then it was Sunday. Sunday is the best day (close call to p-day). Sunday was so crucial to rejuvenating our minds. We still had our schedule, but it was different. Less class time, more devotional type things. My ward consists of my district & another district. together that is our zone. I sang in Sacrament meeting "I know that my redeemer lives" just from the hymn book. I wanted to do the efy arrangement I did for my farewell, but the sister who was playing the piano didn't have enough time to learn it. I joined the choir!!!! I was really on the edge of joining because it cut into dinner time & I love meal times. but that decision was the best I've made thus far. We're singing "Praise to the Man". After that we had a devotional from Elder & Sister Condie. They are so awesome. I didn't have a notebook to take notes so unfortunately I can't quite remember what they spoke about, but it's not what they say that will be remembered, it's what you feel. After that each district got to pick what film they wanted to go see a couple options were a talk by Elder Holland, Legacy, and one that our Branch Pres told us is "lifechanging". It was a talk by Elder Bednar given at the MTC many years ago on Characteristics of Christ. It truly was life changing. Again, I didn't have a notebook.... but Christ never turns inward, always outward; loving & serving. Elder Bednar said that many of the missionaries in 5/6 years will be less active. The reason for that is because they simply have a testimony. We need to have more than a testimony. We need to be truly converted to the Lord.
My companion is Sister D. She has a really sweet spirit & is super happy pretty much all the time. I'm trying my very best to truly love her as Christ does. Our personalities are so different, though. The other sisters in my district(also going to Rancho) are Sister M & Sister S (who is from Jake & Marie's ward in Lafayette!! We both remembered each other from when I'd go to YW and sunday school! super weird huh?) I love them both!! The elders in my district are pretty cool. A couple need to grow up & mature, but we're discussing issues and they're trying to be better. I met all the elders going to Rancho and they're pretty awesome! I've met some really awesome people and made really good friends. It'll be hard to leave for that reason. The food isn't bad. Not everything is good, but it's not bad. The first few days I didn't eat much, but I don't know if it was because I was nervous. I don't think it was. Maybe a little stressed, but not nervous. Also, I'm really into socializing at meal times because it's one of the few times a day we're real people. I've been eating better lately, but don't ask my sisters (comp & roommates), they'll say all I eat is fruit. They're taking care of me :) My teachers here at the MTC are Sister F & Brother F. They're really cool. So this week my comp & I met an investigator named Andres (bro f is acting as Andres, all situations are real though). Even though it's a role play, the spirit that can be felt in those lessons is real. It's been hard figuring out what we need to teach Andres, what he needs in his life, but we're trying to learn to rely on the spirit, because He is the real teacher, not us. We are simply instruments in the Lord's hands.
Today's p-day!! I'm sooo happy. This day is much needed. We get to do laundry, go to the temple, and hopefully take a nap!!! I'm so excited for choir practice tonight. Tonight's the devotional that we sing at. Not sure which general authority will be here, but I guess I'll let you know next week! Well, I don't have much time left. I'll try to figure out how to send pictures....
I'm doing good. Don't worry about me.
LOVE YOU ALL!!!