I’m still amazed at how much can happen in a day here. From 6:10 to 10:30 it’s a constant stream of wonderful experiences, fast-paced classroom study, and unceasing spiritual instruction.
Just a quick point about Lithuanian. I was blessed to study Mandarin Chinese for 7 years of my public school experience. To paraphrase my sister Lauren, who speaks it fluently, it’s a language of “building blocks.” It’s an incredibly difficult language to learn, but its grammar systems, at least to my inexperienced eyes, seem established, and complex words are often combinations of simple ones. Lithuanian is….not like that. Strictly speaking, they don’t have a grammar system. Instead, they change the endings of words to reflect possession, action, grammar designation, etc. Correctly conjugated and possessing the proper nouns, a sentence can be ordered in any way the speaker chooses and still remain grammatically correct. It is at the same time both terrifying and fascinating. We’ve only just started learning about the language’s case and conjugation structures and I’m loving every minute of it. Our teachers are really helpful. They don’t speak Lithuanian but have both served missions in Russian, and are well versed in the confusing world of Eastern European grammar. Their powerful testimonies are such an inspiration to me, and I know I have so much to learn from them about becoming a better missionary.
(I love the multi-lingualism of the MTC. Since our small zone of ~40 missionaries contains Estonian, Russian, Ukrainian, and Lithuanian speakers, every hymn, prayer, testimony, and church talk is in a different language. It’s awesome.)
This week I have had many very powerful experiences about the power of prayer. Prior to coming on my mission my sister bore a wonderful testimony to me about how your experience with prayer changes drastically while serving a mission. At the time I did not doubt her, and now I’m already feeling the change. We needn’t just make a prayer the simple progression of, “Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for this, please bless me with this, Amen.” This style of prayer is still a sacred communication with our Father in Heaven, but I’m coming to realize now just how much more it can be. Just how much more the Spirit is instructing me it should be. As I have striven to more fully open up my heart and mind to my Father, and listen more carefully to his responses, I have felt His love so powerfully.
I think I’ve found a new favorite word in Lithuanian. Joseph Smith uses it to describe the Father and the Son during his recollection of the First Vision: “kuriu skaistumo ir šlovingumo neimaoma apsakyti…” (Directly, “Which brightness and glories impossible tell/describe”)
Šlovingumo directly translates as “glories,” and in my attempts to remember it my mind jumped to what, to me, was the obvious English word association. Š-loving-umo. Loving. God’s love is His glory.
I am so grateful for the love I so consistently feel from my Father in Heaven. Over the past two weeks I’ve often reflected on one of my favorite hymns, which almost never fails to make me cry. “Consider the Lilies.” Each time I reflect on this sweet and moving story from the New Testament I feel the Spirit testify of the Lord’s great and powerful promises to all those who have faith in him.
I love you all!
Thanks for the emails!