Just a few updates from the week before I start into the mission story.
I practiced coding my first video all by myself. It was pretty thrilling. It took me FOREVER cause I was trying to do the very best I could. The next day I consensused it with my "coding mentor" and it turns out that I did pretty darn well! See, for most tasks there's one person who is the main coder, then another person codes it as well to make sure there is "inter-rater reliability" (if you don't know what that is...look it up, I don't want to explain it). Then they compare the two and for each one that is different, you talk about it till you decide on the same number. They have a way of making a percentage of how similar they were. They shoot for anywhere 85% and above for the actual, paid, trained coders. Well, my first try - I got an 87%! I was pretty excited. Granted, that was one time. I coded again Thursday but don't have my consensus until tomorrow, so I could just be jinxing myself by getting excited, but oh well. It's really important for me to do good on everything so that I can actually get hired since that is still up in the air. But, I love coding - I'm learning so much and its such useful information for life.
I FINALLY got to see my good friends Rachel and Ned Wednesday. We added in there Kristen and it was amazing! We have a tradition of going out to eat when we get together...usually somewhere we can get some form of curry. I was with them the first time I ever had curry and now I just love the stuff! Rachel and Kristen are my oldest friends- some of my earliest memories have them in them, so I'm glad I'm still able to be such good friends with them both. Rachel married Ned, and now the three of us get together as much as possible (they couldn't wait for me to get home so we could spend time together again - even Ned would ask when I was getting home cause he wanted to hang out...I have such good friends!). Well, while I was gone, they had a baby - one of the cutest little boys EVER and I finally got to meet him. It was a great night and I can't wait to spend more time with them.
The Provo Temple has been closed since I got here, so I finally just went to the Mt Timpanogas Temple cause I couldn't wait anymore! I'd never been to that one so it was exciting. I love going to different Temples. My favorite part in this one is the Chapel where you wait to do a session. Before I even got there, I could see the light streaming out the doors. There's a HUGE window at the front of the chapel, facing west. I went at about 5, so the sun was shining directly in. It was breathtaking! I don't think I've ever been in a room that was lit up so much and so beautifully from natural light. Normally, I'm not really a sun-kind of person - I love clouds. But I was so glad it was sunny that day! I couldn't help but feel my Father in Heaven and my Savior's love for me as I sat there. I've been going through a hard time and went to the Temple for comfort and guidance, and I definitely got both. But I didn't expect the comfort and love to come through that room. Obviously, the Temple is a sacred place and each room inside is sacred, but that Chapel is now especially sacred to me and I hope I never forget that sight and feeling.
On a more worldly note, I saw Inception yesterday. All I can say is, WHAT THE JUNK?! (phrase courtesy of a friend, Elder Wily) If you haven't seen this movie, I HIGHLY suggest that you do. It's mindboggling. I can't wait to see it again. I went with my brother (aww...he took me on a date - it was so cute!) and he is planning on seeing it again Tuesday in an IMAX theater. That's how good it is. I don't even know how anyone could possibly come up with that! Plus, there's some good-looking guys in it - Leo and that kid from 3rd rock from the sun - he grew up quite nicely... and for guys, or at least some guys (my brother included), there's Ellen Page. It's just great. I really just don't have words for it...I'm still trying to process it.
Ok...now for the mission.
I just wanted to put this up to show me at the famous map...pointing to Jacksonville! My home away from home. If ever I had doubts before or at the beginning of my mission of whether or not my call was inspired, those doubts are GONE. The Lord, and no person, sent me to Jacksonville, sent me to each area, each companion, President Newman, and a handful of people I needed to find. I can't even imagine my life if I had gone somewhere else. Never doubt a mission call. It is true inspiration each and every time. Here's me and my AMAZING MTC companion, Sister Heeder. Oh man...if we had ever had the chance to serve together in the field, we would have, in the words of the FJM, DOMINATED. We worked so well together, we were super focused, we got along fantastically. Like I said - inspired. I couldn't have handled having anyone else as my first companion, and the Lord knew that. I needed her. I like to think she needed me as well, but I'm not sure about that one, cause she's such an amazing missionary. We were both pretty convinced that we were the best companionship to ever grace the halls and rooms of the MTC. I had such a great MTC experience. Our district was fantastic. Our teachers knew so much and had the Spirit so strongly with them (and one even served in Angleton - a ward that shares my home chapel!). There is nothing like the MTC. It was so hard to leave. Luckily, I had something even better waiting for me!
My trainer was Sister Nielsen. (she was in a wedding dress in last weeks post...) Again, inspired. I could not have been trained any better or by anyone else. She was great. We almost had a baptism my second day in the field. A man named Israel had been taught for a while and was ready to be baptized, but just didn't want to give up his Catholic roots. We had the Assistants come teach him in Spanish since that's his first language and I have never felt the Spirit so strong while only understanding about 15 words (Jose Smith, El Libro de Mormon, bautismo, verdad, etc...). Well, afterward they told us that he basically said, "I know it's all true, I know God knows I know it's true, but I'm staying Catholic." Not the smartest thing to do in my opinion. Sis Nielsen had been working with him for a while, so it was a big heartbreak for her. But the Lord made it up to her. We had no one coming to Church that Sunday and we were both quite bummed about that. But, then we got there and someone said that Sis Kenny had her goddaughter there and she wasn't a member. So, we went and introduced ourselves to her. Her name is Nicole Greene. She absolutely loved church that day and agreed that we could come teach her more about the Gospel. We had the first lesson with her, it went really well, and set up another time. Our second lesson was Thursday. We had connected a lot already up to this point and she had shared some very personal stuff with us. She trusted us and we knew she was sincere in her desire to come closer to Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. So, as we taught the Plan of Salvation, we both felt she needed to be baptized, and Sis Nielsen invited her. She agreed!! She even had this amazing dream a few days before her baptism that more than confirmed the truth of the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ to her. So, 13 days after we met her, Nicole Greene was baptized. It was amazing. We got to see her change, see the Atonement take effect in her life right before our eyes and I'll never forget it. I love her so much. Unfortunately, she had to work lots on Sundays, then moved without really telling anyone, so I have lost contact with her. But, I know her testimony is there and even if she isn't coming to church now, she will. She'll get there. And I will see her again someday, even if it's not in this life.
On a side note... Sis Nielsen will KILL me if she reads this... but its so great, I can't not share. Nicole accidentally forgot to bring an extra bra to change into after the baptism. Crisis! We weren't sure what to do at all...she lived 30 minutes from the chapel. So, Sis Nielsen, being the amazing senior companion and missionary that she was, let Nicole borrow her bra for the baptism! That is true charity right there. I don't know any other situation anyone would do that in. But when someone's getting baptized, you do anything and everything you have to to make it a great experience for them, even if it means you have to go bra-less for the night...