Wednesday, May 27, 2015

String of Emails

Sister Monica Walker and her new companion Sister Applegate
This is me and my new companion Sister Applegate:) She's nice enough that she took a picture and sent it to me so I could send it to you. Also, if you have time, can you send me Hollie's email address? You should be able to find it in my email if you search for her name. (Hollie Applegate). I want to be able to email her while I'm here. At least to tell her where to send letters and stuff, because I forgot to tell her that before I left.

-Your loving sister missionary daughter:)

PS they aren't of any relation, but I do think its cool that Hollie and my new trainer have the same last name.

Email 1
Subject: Are you home?
I have about 40 mins to email, and I'm done emailing everyone. You have any questions?
I have to be off by I think 4:30 my time so 1:30 your time

Email 2
Subject: Emails
I've decided to send you a bunch of emails that are really short, so you either see it sooner that I emailed, or you just get a bunch of emails from me when you get back from where ever you are

Email 3
Subject: Pictures
I totally should have brought my camera and sent the pictures, but I forgot it in my apartment. Oh well.

Email 4
Subject: Home
Isn't it cool that I get to not only live super close to the mission home/office, but also so close to the transfer meeting? We drive not quite 20 mins to reach where I live. And its in a gated community! My trainer said its the nicest place she has ever lived in her entire mission. Before this she said she used to live in a trailer. what a switch!

Sister Monica and her new companion Sister Applegate
Email 5
Subject: Umm
I honestly don't know what else to say. Hurry and get home!

Email 6
Subject: Emails
Wouldn't it be funny if these emails all arrived at the same time?

Email 7
Subject: (No Subject)
I'm super bored....
Maybe I will email Alex to see if she is there

Email 8
Subject: (No Subject)
nope. No one has answered yet. I bet it is because of the emails. They will probably all get there in an hour or two..

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Arrival of Sister Walker

Sister Monica is the middle row far right.
This is just a short note to let you know that your missionary arrived in the Georgia Macon Mission safely. Today is such a long day for them that I will be sending out only a group photo today. You will receive an individual photo of your missionary with President and Sister Cottle on Wednesday.

Everyone was in good spirits and anxious for dinner since they had been up since about 3 am already.
Tomorrow they will find out where they are assigned and who their first companion in the field will be.  But for now…

Good night,

Sister Westbrook
Georgia Macon Mission

Thursday, May 21, 2015

"I Used To Think I Was Basically Ready"

MOM!!! I love it here at the MTC. You should have gotten my letter already that I sent home, and if you haven't, well its on its way. It is most definitely weird to be called Sister Walker, but I at least respond to it now when it is called out by someone trying to get my attention.

I have learned so much here. I used to think I was basically ready, with a few things here and there to which I would need fixing, but everyday I learn so much.

On Sunday after the Sunday Devotional, our district watched a talk given by Elder Bednar at the MTC. It's titled "Character of Christ." If you can find it, you should watch it. Its absolutely phenomenal.

One of the stories he shared I wrote down so I could share with you because I thought it was really cool. Elder Bednar was a Stake President, and one night in the middle of the night, he received a phone call from a Young Women's President who lived about two hours away. She told him that three young women had been involved in a serious car crash, one of whom was pronounced dead at the scene. She needed him to go to the hospital (which was super close to where he lived) to identify the girls who were in the crash, who were on their way there. At some point in the conversation, Elder Bednar realized that the sister who was on the phone with him actually was speaking on two phones, and on the other phone was an LDS nurse who was with the girls in the ambulance. He could sort of hear what the other person was saying, and shortly after the Young Women's President had asked him to go, and he had agreed, the nurse on the other phone said that the girl who had died had been identified. It was the daughter of the Young Women's president. Amazingly, the first words out of her mouth were to Elder Bednar, and she told him that the mothers of the other girls needed to be called and told that her daughters were still alive. Not once did she break down and become incoherent or even focus on the fact that she had just been told that her daughter had died. One of the other mothers was a Relief Society President, and was a single mother to her only child. That girl died later as well. After the body had been prepared for the closed casket funeral, this sister called Elder Bednar, and invited him to come and see her before her casket was closed, because she didn't want the last time he saw her to be when she was nearly unrecognizable in the hospital. How sweet of this sister to think of how Elder Bednar was feeling in the midst of all this sorrow for her. When this sister was about to leave for her daughter's funeral, she received a phone call from another sister in the ward, who didn't know that the Relief Society President's daughter had just died, and she called to complain that she had a cold and no one had come over yet to deliver her food. This mother, who was on her way to her only child's funeral, stopped by this other sisters home and brought her a dinner, without complaint, with love, and without telling this other sister where she was going. 

The point of Elder Bednar telling this story was to show how these two sisters exemplified the Character of Christ. Christ in the midst of adversity and pain and suffering turns outwards to see other's pains, when the human wants to turn inward. These sisters could have turned inward and been completely justified by crying and thinking only of their loss, but instead they turned outward and helped those who needed it. This is who Christ is. This is who we need to try to be. It's hard, but we have been promised great blessings if we do.

I have so many more insights and notes from that talk. Sometimes I really wish I could call home and talk to you because I am just learning so much that I didn't know before, and I want to share it with you, but emailing and writing letters just take a really long time and I have so much to do. All of our "investigators" are just members acting like investigators, but even still we are learning so much. My companions Sister Pilimai and Sister McCulloch are amazing teachers, and both are about half a year older than me, so its strange being at this same stage in life when we are all learning the same things, when sometimes I feel like they should know more. Its also strange that at the MTC, even though I haven't been here for very long, the new missionaries in our Zone think we know everything. Its kinda funny. 

OH! One of the Branch presidency members and his wife are from the Modesto area somewhere and they know Brother and Sister Tolboe. I thought that was cool. Their names are Terry and LaNiel Nielsen. You should ask the Tolboe's if they remember them.

One of my branch presidency members said something I liked and wanted to share with you all. He said "A short pen is mightier than the longest memory" -Brother Gallacher. Basically it means that we need to remember that writing things down will make the thought, impression, or lesson last longer, and be more effective than if we just tried to remember it all. I've definitely seen that considering I teach three times a day, and if I didn't write things down, I'd forget what I had taught everyone and just gotten it all confused.

The last thing I wanted to tell you is concerning the sacrament. We usually refer to the sacrament as a renewing of our covenants that we make at baptism. No where in the scriptures does it say this. In fact saying it would be incorrect. Partaking of the sacrament isn't renewing our covenants, we are actually making new covenants every single time we take the sacrament. Think about that next time you take the sacrament, and then ask yourself, why do I need to make new covenants every Sunday? Its interesting what you might find.

Love you all:)
-Sister Monica Lyn Walker

PS Robert, I read this in the scriptures the other day and I thought of you want want you to read it. It's in the Bible Dictionary under "prayer". Read it, study it, then tell me what you learned. Will you do that? (The rest of you can do it too if you want.)

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Snail Mail

[Transcript of the above letter]

Dear Mother,

I have been told I'm supposed to write you a letter telling you that I am alive. So...
I AM ALIVE... probably. After all, it's been a few days since I sent this
so... haha. I did feel out of it my first day. I honestly had no idea what to expect.
Everyone always talks about their mission and rarely their stay at the MTC. So other then knowing
I had some kind of class I had no idea what to expect. Every day is packed from start to finish
but despite how tired I get I honestly love it. It's a little hard sometimes transitioning, but once I
get started it is hard for me to stop. And that's even though the lessons we make are for fake investigators.

I have two companions who are both wonderfully fantastic people both of whom are going to
Georgia Macon mission. Sister McCullock* served a mini 3 month mission in Salt Lake City
South (started after Josh left) and was released from that mission a week before being set apart as
a missionary for Georgia. So she actually only has 15 months left of her mission. She's from
Sandy Utah and she's super nice. My other companion Sister Pilimai** is from Sandy, Utah too.
She grew up in Ventura, CA. She's pretty awesome too :). Both of them are a few months older
than me and I love their spiritual though. It's just great.

I love the MTC, but I am so anxious to get out to the mission field and talk to
real investigators. The classes we take are super helpful in letting us know what to teach, or rather
how to bring the Spirit so it can teach. Everyday is scheduled to the brim and I don't 
even know how we can have enough time to sleep.

Well, I love you all, but this is all I'm going to write because I have a lot to do.
I will be emailing you next week and you will probably hear more then.

Love, your favorite missionary :D
Sister Monica Walker

P.S. I forgot stamps, can you send some to me?

*pronounced (Mec-cull-ock) it's Scottish
**pronounce (pé-lé-my) it's Semoan

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

I'm a Missionary Now!!!

Leaving on the airplane!
Yay! I'm a missionary now!! It's kinda weird because I'm still at home, and not on my way to the airport, and its also weird because I don't feel all that different except for the fact that I can't use my phone, go on FB, read, watch TV, play video games, etc. Oh and that I can't go anywhere without a companion. That's kinda strange, but not too weird.

I was glad Aunt Jill, Uncle Jeff, and Nick were able to make it to my setting apart. That was very nice of them:) The time that I was supposed to get set apart kept changing because we weren't sure when Robert's Invitational MMC Track Tournament ended, but I am glad we pushed it back, even though Robert's track meet ended at like 4 because then Jeff and his family could make it since Nick was at Elder Bednar's conference thing.

I still think its really cool that I get to go to the same mission as Ben, with the same mission president and everything. President Marshall didn't realize that it was the same mission president too. He thinks that super special, and not at all a coincidence.

One strange thing about my actual setting apart was being the one sitting in the chair facing everyone. I've been in the other seats with both Ben and Josh, and its way different being the one sitting in that chair. I missed having all my siblings there, but I was really glad Robert came:) (Not that he wouldn't have, but he was good representation for the rest of my siblings.)

Before I was set apart, President Marshall invited everyone that was there to give me a bit of advice. (Which if you remember he does every time.) Its definitely different being the one receiving the advice than giving it.

Uncle Jeff told me to learn the importance of revelation. That while I'm on my mission I need to learn to recognize the spirit and follow what it says. He said he thinks I already have a good grasp on it, but he wasn't me to remember to listen when I'm out in the field.

Aunt Jill told me that she remembers that even when I was little I had great faith. That it would serve me well on my mission. She also said that when she served her mission, she had an English speaking state side mission, and that at first, she was a little disappointed that she wasn't speaking another language, but since then has come to appreciate that she spoke English on her mission because she learned how to bear her testimony in English. So many people when they learn other languages for their mission will associate the language with their testimonies and their mission work, and for her and she feels like for me too, speaking English helped increase her testimony, and her ability and likelihood to use it after her mission.

Nick said that there will be times that I will feel alone, that there will be days where it is just so hard, you feel like you can't go on, and he said that if I just kneel down and pray, and then go to work that it will be all worth it. He told me though not to forget that it is hard work and not just all fun and excitement like we might sometimes think.

Robert talked about the example that I am to him, and to others, and that I need to continue to be that example on my mission because I never know who is watching. He also said all his older siblings were great examples to him, and he wants to be like us:) (I think he misses his siblings, and is sad that I am leaving so fast) I love you kiddo:)

Mother's Day with family
Dad expounded on what everyone else said (cried too) and told me that in relation to what Nick said, that in those times when I feel alone to realize that will never be alone, because the spirit will always be with me. Christ is there to answer my prayers. He also said to remember that as a missionary I will have a greater dispensation of spirit and so it will be easier to not feel quite as alone as you might otherwise feel.

Mom talked about my great faith. She recalls my patriarchal blessing and how although I am a very smart person, my blessing doesn't go into a super a lot of detail about that, it really only mentions it in passing, but that the vast majority of my blessing focuses on my faith and the impact it has on others. She told me that I know the Spirit well, and that I need to use that to help me teach the individuals learn rather than to just teach the information.

I then was set apart, and that was really cool too. Mom and Dad cried, and can you believe it?  President Marshall didn't have any Kleenex left. I am glad everyone was there, and I'm sad none of you were, but I'm grateful you all Skyped Sunday on Mother's Day so I can see you one last time before I leave for real. I love all of you, and you better all read my emails, because I will be putting a lot of effort and time into them, and tis the only time I get to talk to each of you:)

Love, Your favorite sister,

Sister Monica Walker

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Mother's Day Farewell Talk

Sister Sheri L. Dew in her talk titled “Are we not all Mothers?” spoke on the divine role of motherhood, but not just in the manner that we have defined it, as a woman with at least one child, but also through the definition of our Heavenly Father. Motherhood is more than bearing children. It is the essence of who women are. It defines our identity, our divine stature and nature, and the unique traits our Father gives us. 

We are taught that in the preexistence, before we were born, our Father blessed his sons with priesthood ordination. Women were not left as an afterthought, nor were we forgotten. Our Loving Heavenly Father gave us an unparalleled role in helping His children keep their second estate. As President J. Reuben Clark Jr. declared, motherhood is “as divinely called, as eternally important in its place as the priesthood itself.”

Sometimes for reasons only known to the Lord, motherhood in the traditional sense is delayed, but that does not mean we cannot find another way to mother. While my own mother has been a huge and constant part of my daily life, in nurturing me and teaching me as I grow, I have had other women do the same for me as well. The leaders I had in Young Women’s being the prime example, but not the only ones.

Sister Watson for example, is definitely a mother figure in my life. In fact last year, a few weeks before I graduated high school, the missionaries from the Young Single Adult Ward found out I was graduating, and every week would say hi to me and ask me when I was going to come to the YSA Ward. Sister Watson overheard once as she was walking by and basically told them they couldn’t have me because she wanted to keep me forever. I smiled gave her a hug and she walked on. The missionaries then asked me if that was my mother. I laughed, and explained to them she was my Young Women’s leader, and didn’t want me to leave the Young Women’s program, because she would miss seeing me all the time. While she is not my biological mother, she still has been a mother not just to me, but to all the young women she has been over. When I needed help, she was there. She was the driving instructor I had for my permit driving, and sometimes she would sacrifice her days off to teach me how to drive because I was too excited to wait.

It’s not just the current Young Women leaders either. The ones I have had in the past have been an example to me as well. Sister Tolboe, Sister Smith, and Sister Boothe, Sister Anderson, and so many others have each had such a great impact on me, that every time I see them, I don’t worry about how long it has been since I have seen them, I go up to them and give them a hug, because I know that they care about me.  

Women outside of church have also been like mothers to me even though they may not know it. People like my teachers and my martial arts instructor have had an influence on my life, because I spent so much time with them and their goal was to teach me, to help me learn something important. Each one of them cared about me as a person, and not just as a number or a check on a list, but as me. 

My math teacher of three of my four years in high school Mrs. Gaines taught me to find the joys in life, even during something that might be tedious and boring. She everyday would push me to do my best, but to have fun while doing it. My freshman and junior science teacher, Mrs. Merenda taught me to see the worth of things that might be otherwise seen as trash. My martial arts instructor, Mrs. Vanbelle taught me the meaning of honor and respect. 

I could go on and on naming all the women who have had an impact on my life, but it would take too much time. Suffice it to say, that as wonderful and loving my own mother is, there are many others who have adopted that role in my life, and once adopted, it never really goes away.

This is what motherhood is about. It is being there for someone, being someone a child or youth can look up to and follow her example. Each of these women is such a great example to me, and each has given something for me to emulate to improve my life.

That is another way each and every woman can be a mother, through her example. Sisters of the Relief Society, one of your responsibilities as mothers preordained by God, is to help the youth in your ward. This means that instead of waiting until they turn 18 to talk with them, talk to them when they are children, and continue to be a part, either small or large, in their life. Be an example they can follow when they struggle. Be the one they can turn to when life threatens to destroy their peace. As amazing as our own biological mothers each individually are, there will be times in which they cannot help their child because their child refuses to listen to them. It is in those times that the example and teachings of other women can help that child understand where something went wrong. Sometimes, that other woman could be a leader, sometimes it’s an aunt, maybe even a sister, or even just a friend. Every good relationship we as women have with others fulfills the sacred trust God gave women as mothers.

This does not mean we are supposed to mother everyone we know. Motherhood is more than just that. A mother’s role in their child’s life has so many facets that they cannot be completely listed, but some of the main roles a mother plays is not just a mother, but a referee, taxi, cook, maid, friend, teacher. Each of these roles can be played by one person or many people, but one of the most important is the role of friend. Every time a woman makes a friend, or continues a friendship, our divine nature is magnified. 

My own mother has played each of these roles in my life. She will forever be teaching me, and she will forever be my friend, but some of her roles will be done when I leave. She won’t be there to cook for me, or dive me places when I can’t, but she can and will be there when I need someone to talk to about my day, or advice on an issue I might be having with someone else. She doesn’t always sugarcoat things either. 

When I was at college, I split teaching my gospel doctrine class with one of the other women in my ward. As with any calling, (especially in a ward of college freshmen) there were sometimes that this other teacher and I conflicted. One of these times was such that we ended up “nicely” arguing. Frustrated, and feeling that I was right, I had called my mom to vent my frustration and confusion as to why the other person wasn’t understanding what I was saying or what I was feeling. My mom after listening to me told me that it didn’t really matter who was supposed to teach, and while she understood why I felt the way I did, the contentious feelings that the argument had caused would make whoever taught the class unable to have the spirit as strongly because there would still be resentment and pride on both sides. She told me that I had to put my pride aside and apologize to the other teacher. She reminded me that my calling wasn’t about me teaching, but rather about my class learning. It didn’t matter who taught the class, as long as the spirit was there to touch the hearts of the class. After I hung up with my mom, I grabbed a few cookies my roommates and I had just made and walked over to the apartment of the other teacher. Previously most of our communication had mostly been through texting, and it was the first time I had been over to her apartment. I apologized, and she apologized, and what a relief it was to have fixed the problem. Had I not called my mother, or had my mother said what I had wanted to hear and validated my frustration, I would have been left to my pride and potentially ruined my class with all the negativity. 

My mother has also taught me the most important thing she could have ever taught me. She has taught me about my Savior. She through her example has taught me the importance of reading my scriptures on a daily basis, praying regularly, and leaning on Christ when I needed strength. Her testimony, and the testimonies of all the women in my life, has made it so that I have had the foundation on which I have built my testimony of my Savior and the sacrifices He has given for me. My mother taught me the value of the atonement in my life, and has taught me to cherish the relationship that I have with my Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ. 

On Wednesday, I leave to report to the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah, where I will stay to learn and prepare for two or so weeks for the rest of my mission in Georgia. 

While I am in Georgia, I will be a representative of Christ and his plan for our Happiness. It is a full time responsibility, and while I am there, I have promised that I will dedicate all my time to bringing others closer to Christ. I am not going to be paid any money, but am rather going to pay to have this opportunity. I am putting off my schooling and my future family to help others have eternal families. I will not be calling my mother or father everyday like I did at school, but will only email once a week with a phone call on Mother’s Day and Christmas. 

Throughout my life, I was never 100% about my wanting to go on a mission, but I prepared for the possibility. When the age for women to go on a mission dropped from 21 to 19 a few years ago, it became a more prevalent choice. Before, if anyone ever asked me if I were going to go, I said I might, but I seriously doubted I would because I had hoped to be married before then, or at least in a serious relationship at the very least. So it was a possibility, but never a goal. 

If my mother hadn’t been the example that she was in her testimony and her faithfulness, I may have not been prepared for this moment in my life. When I did finally decide to start my papers for my mission, I was glad my mother had raised me in a manner that left me prepared for whatever I wanted to do.

Elder M. Russell Ballard gave this advice for daughters in his talk in the April 2010 General Conference, “And so, my dear young women, with all my heart I urge you not to look to contemporary culture for your role models and mentors. Please look to your faithful mothers for a pattern to follow. Model yourselves after them, not after celebrities whose standards are not the Lord’s standards and whose values may not reflect an eternal perspective. Look to your mother. Learn from her strengths, her courage, and her faithfulness. Listen to her. She may not be a whiz at texting; she may not even have a Facebook page. But when it comes to matters of the heart and the things of the Lord, she has a wealth of knowledge. As you approach the time for marriage and young motherhood, she will be your greatest source of wisdom. No other person on earth loves you in the same way or is willing to sacrifice as much to encourage you and help you find happiness—in this life and forever.”

He later then followed that with advice to mothers, “Now may I share a few thoughts with you mothers about the special role you play in your daughters’ lives. We have a family friend who travels often with members of her extended family. Her primary observation after each trip is how much the young women behave like their mothers. If the mothers are thrifty, so are their daughters. If the mothers are modest, so are the girls. If the mothers wear flip-flops and other casual clothing to sacrament meeting, so do their daughters. Mothers, your example is extremely important to your daughters—even if they don’t acknowledge it.”

This is truer than I can say. The influence of a mother is immeasurable. In fact I was even discussing this with my own mother in that the places that she would shop at for clothes, like Target, or thrift stores, are where I like to shop, even though many of my friends will go to the mall to buy their clothes. 

I love my mother. I appreciate all that she has done for me in my life. I love and appreciate everyone who has had an influence in my life. I cannot reiterate enough how much their influence has gotten me to the point that I am at. I would not be the same person without them. Brothers and Sisters, I hope each of you remember your mothers today, and if possible have talked to them today. 

Remember the things they have done and sacrificed for you. Today is the day specifically set aside to for the honoring of mothers, but it shouldn’t keep you from honoring her everyday of the year. Love them, love your children, and do not forget that it was the Savior’s sacrifice in Gethsemane and on the cross that allows us to be together forever as a family after we have died. 

In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.