Thursday, February 28, 2013

Big event- Elder M. Russell Ballard

28 Feb, 2013

Hi Mom and Dad, family and friends!

Sister Hall, my companion, and Me!

Gosh there is so much to say. Life is great here. I love the MTC!

Guess who came to speak to us at our Tuesday devotional? M. Russell Ballard. NO BIG DEAL, just an APOSTLE of the Lord. It was amazing. He promised so many things to us that lined right up with my Patriarchal Blessing. It was honestly incredible. He told us that the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve have a prayer circle every Thursday on the fourth floor of the Salt Lake Temple, and every single time they pray for the Missionaries, and then he told us how much he loves us. Etc. Mom, you could FEEL his love. Then he gave us some sweet counsel on how to be the best missionaries. He said our numbers could swell to 80-90,000 strong (we just reached over 60,000)! WHY? Because 1- The world DESPERATELY needs this message. People need to be happy, and be able to find joy. They need the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. 2- The Lord is preparing this generation to carry this church into the future. Heavenly Father is preparing us. He needs to be able to trust us not just for 2 years, but for our lifetime. That was interesting to me. He said we will be the ones to lead and carry the church in the next 20-30 years and that we need our missions to change is forever. He also said that he would have never thought in a million years he would be an Apostle. But he knows that it was on his mission that the Lord started to trust him, and that is how it needs to be for us too. I sang in the choir when he was here. It was incredible!
Me and Hermana Hall

I have also learned to feel the Spirit when I am happy and laughing, also, when I am singing. AND, it doesn’t even matter what I am singing! I just love it so much. Elder Pahulu asks me all the time, “Hermana, will you sing me ‘I Am a Child of God’?” , or, “Hermana, sing something for me.” Sometimes the Elder’s make requests, so I just sit in my chair and sing while we study, work, or chill (on the very rare occasions that we can chill). Sometimes people sing with me, which is great, I just like to sing. I’ve discovered this weird joyous, happy spiritual feeling it brings, and I’m digging it!

Enjoying some sun after spending time in the Provo Temple.
Elder's from my District.
There is so much to tell you about the people I’ve met here.

Elder Williams is the beautiful black one. He is from Portland, Oregon.

Elder Dohner- is the one in the bottom right front with the same photo-bomb cheese-ball face that I always make. He is the man-form of me. Not kidding. I absolutely ADORE him. He pretends not to like me, and picks on me. Bless him. It’s kind of hilarious.

Elder Barkdull, Elder Pahulu, Hermana Barnes, & Hermana Dodge
21 Feb, 2013
Elder Pahulu is the Hawaiian one. He is my Brotha…not brother…bruthah.

Elder Barkdull- is the one in the black glasses.

Elder King- is the one on the far left.

The only other one is Elder Bennett- and I’m not sure where he is in the photo…I forgot. Oh gosh. Well, I will send a better picture of us next week, with a better caption.

Elder Pahulu & Elder Dohner are my favorites, and Elder Williams (obviously). Don’t’ get me wrong…I love all the Elder’s in my District, but those ones are the bomb-diggity. Elder ‘P’ is Hawaiian, his dad is Catholic, and his mom is inactive. He has lived a HARD life. We get along so well because we are so nice to each other. I know it’s because he doesn’t scare me with his crazy stories. The first or second day we were here he mentioned he had been down some very scary roads and I said to him, “Elder, I don’t care where you’ve been. I care about where you are, and where you are going. You’re here with me in the MTC, and you’re serving a mission for The Lord, so that’s all that matters. You’ve utilized the Atonement and have made covenants in the Temple. You are doing pretty dang good in my book!” So now I can see that he really trusts me. He’s honestly amazing. He has such a great testimony. He is just so happy to be here, and be alive.

Elder Dogner is one of the funniest people I’ve ever met. We both love the same TV shows, and he is smart too! He was the kid in all the advanced classes in High School who goofed off, and all the super nerdy kids hated him because he never did his homework and still got A’s…basically ME! LOL! He played baseball growing up and in High School and loves it. Him and Elder Barkdull throw oranges around sometimes. LOL. He has 2 older brothers who are not active in the church, and a little sister who IS active. His parents are both converts, and he’s from Springville, UT. Don’t worry, I’ve already cracked some Springville jokes, because let’s be real…Mountain View is better. His brothers are really special to him and it REALLLYYY hurts him that they have fallen away. I can see the pain in his eyes when he mentions it. Which is like, twice. I mentioned I have a big sister too that I love very much in a similar situation, and he cried. Blessedly, we have had some stress management classes and have been learning ways to give our concerns, struggles, and fears over to our Savior while we are in His service. These classes are super spiritual, and give us ways to focus and glimpse a tiny particle of how much our Savior must love us, our families, and our investigators. Inviting others to really come unto Christ, and bring them back into His fold is what it’s ALL about. So they can partake of the love, peace, and hope of God’s plan for them.

Oh- I have been meaning to tell you this. The Spirit is so strong here I can even feel it when we are in the gym playing, or working out. Like...amazing. We really can have him as our companion ALL the time. :)

I love this work. My mission is about inviting people to come unto Christ. I cannot be distracted by anything. I am willing and ready to sacrifice anything, and everything I have and am for the Savior. I am consecrating 18 months to the Lord. Done. In 18 months I want to be able to say I gave everything I had to The Lord. Kinda like Dad always saying, “Leave everything on the mat!”

These Hermana's are so great!

The Hermana’s here are fantastic. Hermana Clifton is 22 and she reminds me of Kristi. She is so sweet. Hermana Barnes is awesome. She’s my long lost buddy. She is SO FUN! Erika and I are BFF’s forever though, don’t worry. But H Barnes, and Clifton keep me going. My companion Hermana Hall is awesome too. We definitely are different, but we balance each other out pretty well. She is really nice and she works hard. She was sent to me, I know it. I couldn’t handle anyone else in my District. Not in a bad way but I know myself and if I was companions with anyone else we would talk too much. With Sister Hall I can focus and get things done. She is a blessing.
Me, Hermana Barnes, and Hermana Warren

I am so glad you got the blog going Mom. I am so glad people are actually interested. Hah! OK- I’m almost out of time. I have exactly 2 minutes left. Just enough time to tell y’all…I LOVE YOU! Tell Grandpa & Marilyn I said hi and thank you so much for offering to get me some Toms. They can’t be all sparkly, just a plain gray would be awesome. Size 8 and ½. Thank you! You are so good to me. XO

Hermana Dodge

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Wake up Mom! Hello Mom!


Thursdays are P-day (preparation day) and so in the morning we wake up at 5am to do laundry before everybody else, and write letters. Then we write letters while our laundry is going. Then we go back and hang everything up and stuff. Our zone meets at 8am and then we go EAT BREAKFAST AT THE TEMPLE (I've never done that before, I'm so excited), and then do our session. This way, we will have a good solid 5-6 hours to nap, sleep, snooze, write letters, work out, and veg-out. So if you write back soon, I will write you AGAIN in a few hours after the temple. :) We have lessons to teach tonight though so there will be a lot of preparation happening during those hours of free-time too. :)

This place is AMAZING. Going on a mission is seriously the best decision of my life. I love my district. My spanish teacher is an angel from heaven. GUESS WHAT? I have already taught 4 whole lessons in Spanish! CAN YOU EVEN BELIEVE THAT!?! It is seriously a miracle. I can pray, share my testimony, and teach solid lessons already. The Spirit is so strong here. It's everywhere. :)

Let me answer a few of your questions: :)

So, because of the influx of people, they are transforming buildings into places to sleep. It helps that we are here for a shorter amount of time. I live on the first floor (which is basically the basement because of how they construct buildings here in Utah) which used to be classrooms. They transformed the whole first and second floors of the residence hall into more rooms to fit us, so all of our stuff is nice and new. :) There are a TON of people here, but I don't feel like everything is too crowded. At lunch it gets crowded but I feel like that would be normal and expected, given the circumstances.

My companions name is Hermana Hall and she is from Idaho Falls, ID. She's really nice. We are SUPER DIFFERENT, but we have been getting along super well!

My district is awesome! There are 6 Elders and 6 Sisters, and we are the first district in our Zone to have 50/50 Elders and Sisters. The closest they've gotten before was 60/40.

I'm playing the piano for our Zone leaders musical number this Sunday! Who would've ever thought that I could do that!?! Surprise! Props to consecrating talents! WOOT WOOT!

I've met so many amazing people here. It's amazing how so many people from so many different backgrounds, and walks of life can come together and work towards one central goal: Inviting others to come unto Christ. :)

I have learned that I have been blessed with a flexible spirit. The MTC is so fun. The rules are easy to follow. Especially when you can understand the reasons behind them. Oh- Sister Missionaries can wear TOMS! THIS IS THE HAPPIEST NEWS I'VE EVER HEARD! I have legit blisters from all of my shoes, even the super nice ones from Modern Shoes. However, they are getting better, so don't worry! But I would love some Toms eventually. ;)

I love you more than words. Seriously, you two are awesome. I love this work. I'm a changed woman just from this past week. If I were to come home tomorrow, you would already see a changed girl. Don't worry though, you won't see me for another 18 months! :) Just sayin!

I do make my bed. I don't know what has come over me, but I make my bed and keep my area super clean in the classroom. Just because I want to. INSANITY! Love it.

I have been sleeping better. Those first few nights were just odd adjusting to everything and my mind was constantly racing! But things are starting to get better. I'm sooooo excited to take a nap when I get home after this. I love the quilt and pillow case you made for me, Mom. All of the Hermanas in my district (we live with our district) like it so much. For real. I snuggle up in it every night and think of you :) It's so soft. Oh Bessie! FOCUS HERMANA! Clearly, I'm ready for a nap. :)

I do get everyone's letters every day. I love them. Honest to goodness we FEED OFF OF MAIL! One Elder just got his first letter from his Mom in the mail yesterday and besides her, no-one has written to him. I would fall over and DIE! Yes- I got your care package. LOVE IT! The white shirt from K-mart is ABSOLUTELY PERFECT and I love it, thank you SO MUCH! When I opened it and pulled out that shirt I about had a cow. (Sandi: You wouldn't believe the difficult time we had finding her a plain white button-down blouse to go under cardigans) It fits so well. Who would've thunk...K-Mart?

Spanish is insane. I love it. It makes me frown upon English. I almost wrote Ingles just now. My bad. I'm already forgetting words in English. Our whole district speaks Spanglish to each other LOL! So, here at the MTC when you learn a new language, the teachers, church, EVERYTHING you do is in that language. So you are expected to SYL! -or- Speak Your Language! For us it's HSI, -or- Habla Su Idioma :) The whole thing behind that is to speak everything you know, and then if you don't know a word we just say it in English and look it up later. It works! I'm diggin it! I think of Grandma Dodge, and Grandpa Dodge, like, every day here. :)

The Provo Temple is PRETTY! And the temple food in the morning is GOOD. I had an omlet, hash browns, orange juice, and water. Holy Comida! It was nice to eat hash browns after a week of eating super duper healthy. Except for the day when they had BYU MINT BROWNIES. Oh Bessie...that brownie was good. Totally worth it. is so fantastic here.

Oh oh oh oh! Funny Story:

We were all standing up in our classroom and I opened the door as another Elder was trying to close it behind him (because he didn't know I was leaving the room too) so when Elder Barkdull let go of his end, mine flew back and hit me in the side of the head. HARD. No worries though, I'm okay! It was actually HILARIOUS! I didn't cry, don't worry, we all know I have this super weird way of laughing my butt off when I get hurt like that. When I'm sick...I whine, but when I actually get HURT, I laugh. So it was funny. I held an ice water bottle to my head for a couple of minutes. But for real... after all my medical-ish training/background I am HONESTLY SUPER surprised I don't have a concussion right now. That door should have knocked me OUT. I'm cracking up right now as I am writing this. Oh man. Funny looks are being sent my direction. That's ok. Hah!

Well...I have to go. My time is up for this week. Keep the letters coming. I love you all so much.

Hermana Dodge

Saturday, February 16, 2013

First Letter

Dear Mom and Dad,
Our P-days are on Thursdays but the MTC (Mission Training Center) Presidency wanted us to write our parents within the 1st few days so you would know that we are alive and well. :) I'm alive and well! I hope this gets to you before you leave for St. George! Read this to Dad too!

I love it here! The days seem long and the nights are short. It feels like it takes forever to actually get to sleep at night and then you blink and it's 6:30am already! It is so crazy. This morning I woke up and said, "Ay, Hermana! Esta seis y media? No es possible!" which means- Oh, Hermana! It's 6:30?! That's impossible! (in broken Spanish). LOL

The food here is...sufficient. Ha! I eat a lot of fruit and vegetables. In the morning I eat fruit and a bagel. Tell Jered they have strawberry cream cheese. :) I like the wild berry, personally. For lunch I have 'salad', and for dinner a roll, salad, and fruit. I'm trying to be healthy. There are a ton of Elders, especially from Eastern countries who come into the MTC and gain 40-50 pounds! Crazy, huh?

I just ate lunch and the salad was actually pretty good. And I had a little pasta, and a banana. Esta bien! :)

The MTC is amazing! I've already taught 2 investigators. 1 in Spanish, and 1 on my first night (in English)! It was amazing. I will tell you more about my first day later. There's not enough time right now.

I love Spanish! It is difficult, but it is coming along great! I have surpassed 1.5 years of spanish in High School in just 2 days here. There are people in my class, or district, who are getting it alot better than I am, but there are also a few who are REALLY struggling. Pray for them. They only know how to say "si", y "no". LOL

I love you guys! I have to go now! I have prayed, taught, and shared my testimony in Spanish already! It's a miracle!

Toms are allowed for Sister Missionaries! Yay!

I make my bed every single day! It's not even a rule, and I just do it because I WANT TO! Crazy, huh? It's true!

I love you guys!

Your Faithful Missionary
Hermana Dodge

Wednesday, February 13, 2013's Heeeere!

If there is one thing I would want people to know about this experience to this point is that I have REALLY wanted to serve. Since getting my Patriarchal Blessing it has been clear to me, and I have not wavered, waffled, or stepped left of my goal. I had many experiences when people found out I was going to Idaho to attend Brigham Young University- Idaho....which is sometimes with tongue-in-cheek called BYU-I-DO! Being told I'd be married the first semester just made me mad. Once I got confirmation that I was to serve...I meant business. If you asked the people closest to me, they'd agree- I am committed.

My trac at BYU-I was Winter-Spring, which meant I attend from January through July. Then I would come home and work from August through December and save for school (and Mission). I was planning on putting in my third year at school before I turn 21 in July of 2013. That was the plan. Until miracle, of miracles President Monson made the announcement in our October 2012 General Conference that the age of eligability for young men would be lowered to 18, and for young women it would be 19. I screamed! I kept saying, over and over, "I'm going on a Mission!"..."I'm going on a Mission!"

The wait was over. I could begin working on my papers, and preparing right away. I had a few major things to get done, including oral surgery to have my 3 wisdom teeth removed. Yup, I said 3...I was only born with three. LOL. Yay!

Being involved with the Young Single Adults in our Stake and area was an interesting pill to swallow. It seemed that each function I attended someone new was announcing that so-and-so got their mission call to serve here, or there. The thing that was gut wrenching wasn't where they were called (we are called exactly where we are supposed to serve) was WHEN their report date was. I started hearing about the great influx of missionary applications. It was reported that there was a 400% increase. Would this mean that my report date would be extended later and later? We were hearing of report dates (for entering the MTC) in March, then April, then when my good friend got his call to report in JUNE I about had a cow! I wanted to go NOW! My Mom kept telling me not to worry...that the Lord knew my heart. So when I got my Mission call and it said to report on the 13th of February, 2013....I was so happy, excited, and humbled. I had just over 6 weeks to prepare. LOL! I am so thankful! T.H.A.N.K.F.U.L!

Now, we were on our way to the Mission Training Center in Provo, Utah. I'm going on a MISSION!
On the ride to the MTC with Kenz, Linds, and Me.
Can I just say that I LOVE my cousins?!
We are HERE. There are sercurity gates.

The man at the gate was SO nice. He asked
who was our Missionary and he waved at me.
He told us where to pull to unload. He said we
were awesome to be 15 minutes early.  Yay us!

Pulling in was amazing. There were Missionaries everywhere!
They are expecting 1,000 missionaries today. The most in one day EVER!
Oh gosh...Oh gosh!

"I'm really here. This is REALLY happening!"

Laughing, crying, joy, and enthusiasm...I'm HERE!

This young Missionary told us where to park.

Then my HOST Missionary came to help
us with my luggage. Aunt Shan about had it handled.

He was headed to Belgium on his Mission.
OK...our family is from Belgium. Cool.

He was supposed to ask me several questions.
Do I have ALL my luggage?
Do I have my coat?
Do I have my wallet and ID?
Do I have my immunization records?
Do I have my 5 generation pedigree chart?
Do I have my driving record"

Now for the real hugs goodbye...

Me and Linds...Oh bessie...I love this girl.

No words.

Nothing like a good cry.

Mom and Me. Cheek kisses, and words of love.
Letting go...
Then...I'm off! Bye y'all! See you in 18...MONTHS!

Let's go Elder...put a kick in your step! LOL

And....I'm gone.
Thank you to everyone who helped me get here so quickly. There are so many. I am thankful. I am ready to serve because y'all believed in me, helped me, and love me. Keep your eyes on this blog. Though I cannot write it Mom is doing this for me so I can keep in touch with y'all. There is very little time to write letters as they keep us pretty busy. The work is waiting. I better get to it.

Sister Dodge

This is it...the day I've been waiting for.

I woke up this morning and it 'felt' different. I repacked my suitcases...again. But I knew all I needed was what I had. I just needed to get there. I had asked that we go to my favorite eating establishment for lunch prior to going up to the MTC. Cafe Rio! So we met Grandpa and Marilyn there too. We always have such a great time together. It helped me keep calm, and not worry. Sorta.

Running around before we left the house.
Am I ready? "I was BORN ready!"

Oh. My. GOSH! I almost forgot my Cons!

Kenz, Grandpa, Marilyn, Lindsay & Me.

I am soooo happy! Another hour...

My Aunt Shannon, Mom's little sister.

Time to say goodbye to Grandpa & Marilyn.
My Grandpa is wearing his Ponder Steak House
hat that he got when he came to Texas. :)

Hugs are under-rated. I'm a lucky girl.

McKenzie, Lindsay, Me and Aunt Shan.

Mom and Me.

Lunch time was over in no time at all. It was so good. Has anyone EVER had a bad meal at Cafe Rio? Oh was time to hug Grandpa and Marilyn and say goodbye. You can only take one car to the MTC so I said goodbye to them there. They are the most wonderful and supportive Grandparents. I love them.

Sister Dodge

Monday, February 11, 2013

Shoppin' with the big dawgs.

Actually, shopping is NOT one of my favorite things to do. I don't like the whole getting undressed fifty billions times, static-y hair, and let's face it...who's body is a perfect size? Don't answer that. Here are a few pictures:

At Mikarose...I do love pockets.

We used the word 'hideocre' a LOT!
Said like, hideous and mediocre combined. Hah!
Look what Lindsay came in wearing...
Hahaha! I LOVE this girl!Yes, it's an
actual faux-fir sweater. It looked like a rug.
But she was rockin it. I tell ya.
We wanted to shop in Utah at DownEast, and
Mikarose because let's face it...trying to find modest
dress lengths in Texas is like finding a needle in a haystack.

I did find a couple of pretty dresses but Mom
still had to take out a couple of hems.

Check out the new pin-tuck hem.
Doesn't this fabric just say...California?

This project gave me another inch and a half in length.

We did our homework before leaving Texas. We knew where we'd like to go and do some shopping. Mothers of other Missionaries we know were a plethora of information regarding places to go. Modern Shoes in Provo (on Center Street) was very helpful in outfitting me with a couple of pair of 'sturdy' shoes. And there is the Sister Missionary Mall in Orem. But we found most of the things that worked in random places. I was glad we came a few days early so we could just run around and look. Lindsay & Aunt Shannon...thank you.

Sister Dodge

Sunday, February 10, 2013

The Pre- MTC fun with family.

After arriving in Utah on Friday the 8th, and spending much needed time with friends, and family. We sorta had time to re-group and notice all the things I was missing. So we SHOPPED, which was really fun with my cousin Lindsay, Aunt Shannon, and my Mom. We ate lots of Cafe Rio, Kneaders, and Sushi. Yum! Here are some pics:

Traveling with my fun!

Lots of snuggle time...but never enough.

Saying goodbye to my best friends, Ryan & Erika.
I had gifts to give them for Valentines Day, which included
the very first pictures we had ever taken together.

When my friends left, I got some tender
snuggles with my little cousin Brinley, who is so sweet.

We had a big family dinner on Sunday. It was so fun
to be together and just do what we do and talk.

Grandpa and Sadie. 10th Feb 2013

I love Marilyn and Grandpa Beaujeu!
They're kinda the

Lindsay, Brinley, Lexi, Cassi and McKenzie
I love these girls so much. The best cousins EVER!

Tyler is playing his ipad, then there is Uncle Teazer...
I mean, Uncle Dennis & Aunt Cindy. My Uncle Jeff is on the right.

Spending time with my girls...was awesome.

There is Uncle Jeff and Aunt Julie.
They are so happy and fun.

There is my Aunt Shannon with Rick her boyfriend.
I dubbed him her 'Pre-ance' (said like fiance). Hah!

Marilyn and Miko, Uncle Jeff's dog.
We had three dogs, and two ginnea pigs
in this house. We kinda dig animals. :)

Mom and Kenz.

This brings us to Sunday night Feb 10th. Stay tuned for more to come.

Sister Dodge