How 6 months has gone by so fast! … but also not fast. It feels about right that it’s been 6 months, but at the same time, it’s hard to believe that I am a third of the way through my mission. I have some wonderful moments and some… less… wonderful moments. 😅 I guess it depends on the day/week that determines how fast it seems my mission is going. But I am so grateful to be here right now. The blessings I have been able to see in my life and the lives of the people close to me since I’ve been out here are so amazing. I’ve seen changes in my life, in my actions and thoughts that I couldn’t see myself having been able to learn from nearly as quickly and efficiently as I have on my mission. It would’ve taken me years, if not most of my life to learn some of the things and make some of the changes I am making now. I will be forever grateful for this time I have to learn from my companions, leaders, friends, and ward members. When the Bennetts came to our mission and talked to us, one of the things they said was that the MTC (Missionary Training Center) prepared us for our missions. But a mission isn’t a job where we take our badge off at the end of the day. At this time we are dedicated to using our time and energy to serve, preach the gospel, and love others. This time during our missions is also an MTC, a Marriage Training Center. Now the Bennetts didn’t say this was the reason of missions, but it was something that we could gain from a mission along with many other things. After watching other friends and family for years in their various relationships, I feel like I learned a lot about relationships and what I can do to prepare myself to be the best I can be, and decide who I want to be, and therefore who I want to surround myself with.
Since being on my mission, I’ve lived with another sister missionary 24/7. We are instructed to stay within sight and sound at all times (with the exception of the bathroom) for various protection reasons that I have come to truly appreciate. You don’t know terrifying until you’re in a public place and your companion disappears and you haven’t been alone for 6 months. Well, I suppose many people have had the experience of going to the store with their mother, looking at something, only to turn around and realize you have no idea where she has gone. Then you either find her a couple isles over, or 20 minutes later, you hear on the intercom speaker in the store,”<your name>, your mother is at the cash register waiting for you.”
Anyway, it’s very different living with another person 24/7. If you’re not a missionary, you can typically take a walk or go hang out with your friends if you have a roommate that you just need a break from. It doesn’t mean you don’t love them or care about them, but it’s difficult at times. As missionaries, that break does not exist, with the exception of exchanges, where we switch companions for the day. But this difference has absolutely taught me something important. You have to get along with your companion in some shape or form or doing the work is going to become very difficult. We have been told that “… if ye are not one, ye are not mine” (D&C 38:27). There is so much love and unity that comes from finding one thing in common (and resolving things, and having open communication): serving the Lord, sharing his restored gospel, and serving and loving others. I have never learned more about this unity till my mission. I encourage each one of you to study unity in some personal study time. I’m also going to re-extend the invitation I gave a couple months ago when I invited all of you to study the Book of Mormon with charity in mind. Learn what charity is and study it in the Book of Mormon. You will find it more in your life!
Well, now I have to talk a little more about what happened this week! I’ll start with Tuesday. Tuesday we had a Super Zone Conference, where (for anyone unfamiliar with mission terms) we had a giant group of missionaries from three different zones join us. Really quick I’ll relate the different group names. We have districts which comprise of 8-10 missionaries (kind of like a family). There are 2-5 districts part of a zone (kind of like a ward). Then, all of the zones make up a mission (like a Stake). Hopefully that kind of helps with the terminology haha.
So back to Tuesday! We had a Super Zone Conference with three zones and had a big devotional/training, and then lunch and a hike! For lunch we had one of my favorites, Jimmy John’s, and we took a ~3 mi hike through a state park! It was absolutely beautiful, and I got to see so much of my OG district, including Sister Harris, Sister Anthon, Elder Zacher, & Elder Moray! I also got to hang with my MTC companion, Sister Evans! We also had Elder Call there who was part of my district right before I left. We of course took a picture together, but I think the cool thing was we kind of just merged as far as companionships go and I hung out with Sister Harris for the majority of the hike, but we got to talk to Sister Anthon and Elder Zacher and Elder Moray. It was so cool to be with them again! I’ve missed them a lot, especially bc my district now doesn’t feel nearly as tightly knit. But it’s okay, because my OG district is still all in for our district reunion in a year and a half!
We had some really good training about three words the First Presidency is focusing on right now: Urgency, Simplify, & Focus. Though I would love to talk about all of the things we discussed, I’ll talk about it another time because I still have a lot to write!
On Friday, I hit my 6 months as a missionary! For lunch we went to Sooubway and I got my favorite meatball sub that my Dad introduced me to (thank you DADDY). For dinner, we went out to eat at a sushi restaurant and the food was amazing (nothing like Say Sushi though)! In between meals, we of course just had regular missionary work and found a new friend to teach who found us from the Church website!
Around 8:30, we got a call from President Heap and received our transfer call! Sister Hafer will be moving to Saginaw to pink wash and train (pink washing is when Sisters take over an Elder area), and I… drum-roll please… will be staying here in Spring Lake to train a brand new missionary! I am SO EXCITED to be a trainer, but also terrified. I want to be able to help this new missionary learn our mission and our friends and help them take what they’ve learned in the MTC and apply it to the rest of their mission. I want to have fun with this missionary and I’ve always wanted to train (though it still terrifies me lol). I don’t know who she is yet, or where she’s from, etc., but I’ll be meeting her this Wednesday in Lansing, and I could not be more excited! And nervous haha. Any return missionaries reading this, if you’ve got tips on how to train, message me on Facebook Messenger haha.
After we got off the phone call with President and screamed with excitement for a few minutes, we started making cookies for Michelle’s baptism the following day! We got there super early to fill the font, and decorate, and set everything up. Michelle came early and she was just so excited! She even bought a white dress to wear after she was baptized because of how excited she was to be clean and to make these important covenants. I have never seen so much understanding and commitment to the gospel in a friend here in Michigan than Michelle. I nearly forgot to write about this, but we had a lesson with Michelle on Monday evening to wrap up the Plan of Salvation. We talked for a while and ended up having a very spirit led lesson. Michelle and I both cried. At the end of our lesson, we were planning on talking about the Word of Wisdom. We were confident that she had no issues with the exception of coffee. We trusted that it wouldn’t be hard, either. Due to a longer lesson than we were expecting, we didn’t have time to review the Word of Wisdom, but I felt impressed to give her the pamphlet that we had on it and commit her to read it. Pamphlets have really been helping her understanding of the gospel. We told her if she had any questions, to let us know.
The following day of course was Super Zone Conference, so we didn’t have much service and didn’t text her. But when we got back to civilization, we got a text from her telling us she was unclean and unworthy, and she was so sorry. We panicked a little and quickly told her she could still be baptized, and we would talk to her about it more in our lesson the following day. She told us she would never drink coffee again.
Fast forward to Wednesday. We came over for her lesson, and she had everything ready as usual, in addition to her journal, which we asked her to start keeping leading up to her baptism and right after. She told us before we started the lesson that she wanted to share her latest entry from the previous night. She decided to get rid of all of her coffee so it wouldn’t even be allowed to tempt her. She told us she was going to take it to her coworkers to give them, when she heard a voice saying, “why would you give to others something you know is not good for them?” She decided to THROW AWAY all of her coffee, and anything related to it. I am so grateful for the example Michelle has been to me of letting the Lord prevail in her life. There’s a conference talk that I listened to the other night by President Russell M. Nelson titled, Let God Prevail (Oct. 2020 GC). I believe Michelle has chosen to let God prevail in her life. She has such a special spirit about her.
During her baptism and the talks that were given (which President Heap and Sister Heap attended), Michelle would not stop smiling. She was so excited and so happy. During the ordinance of baptism, she was put under the water three times due to her hand popping out twice. We believe in full immersion! After she came out the third time, she said “thank you so much” like three times. We met her in the changing room to make sure she had her glasses and everything else she needed and she was back to the room so fast! It was so cool to see her dressed completely in white the entire time. This was important to her, not us. This was her covenant she was making with the Lord. And she treated it as sacred as it is. After a talk on the Holy Ghost was given, she had priesthood holders put their hands on her head to give her the gift of the Holy Ghost. She shook every hand with a big smile on her face. When she sat down, she had tears in her eyes and said, “Thank you so much. I feel like I’m home.”
I feel so blessed to have been with Michelle throughout her journey of finding the Gospel and committing to it, and I feel blessed to be with her as she continues to learn. She’s very special and I have no doubt in my mind that this has been the time for her to receive the gospel.
Throughout Stake Conference on Saturday evening and Sunday morning (where I ran into my dear 2 star chef, Stella Mayo), as well as Zone Conference, devotionals throughout the transfer, and the meeting with the Bennetts, I have been reminded of “I Choose This Day.” It’s a song we sang for the Cultural Celebration of the Gilbert, AZ Temple when I was 12. It is also a scripture in Joshua 24:15, Alma 30:8, and Moses 6:33.
Michelle chose Saturday as she chooses every day. I choose today. It’s a choice we make every day. As I brought up from our mission tour with the Bennetts in my email last week, if we are not actively invited light into our lives, we are allowing darkness to fill the void. I hope some of what I’ve written today makes sense and has invited the Spirit in some way.
I so wanted to give a shout out to my Aunt Valerie who after hearing I wanted a onesie but couldn’t decide on an animal to be, ordered a brown onesie so I could “be lots of different animals”. 😆 Love you Aunt Valerie! You brought me a lot of joy this weekend! I already have plans to make different attachments for my onesie so I can dress accordingly for the winter hahaha. ♡♡♡ 🦌🐻🐴
Love you all and hope that you guys are getting pumped for General Conference in a couple weeks! I know I am! Keep being amazing and you’ll hear from me more next week!
Sister (Katie) Malan