Friday, December 28, 2012

Week 9 - Christmas Day

This will be Katie's last email from the MTC.  She goes to the mission field on Dec 31.  Her new address there will be:

Hermana Katie Klaus
New Mexico, Albuquerque Mission
4400 Presidential Dr NE Ste E
Albuquerque, NM 87109


Feliz Navidad!  I hope everyone had a great Christmas.  I know I did.  We opened gifts from our families in the morning.  It was fun to see what everyone was given.  I loved all of my gifts especially the scrapbook of pictures.  (The Elders couldn't figure out how to get it to close :D )  After that we had breakfast which was eggs and ham, and then we waited around for the devotional start.  There was a mix up in the prayer and I actually ended up saying the prayer for the afternoon fireside, but there is a good story with that in a bit.  We had Elder Russel M. Nelson come and speak to us.  It had a very nice Christmas feeling to the devotional and you could feel the Savior's love for each of us in that room.  The cutest thing was when he was leaving Elder Nelson waved and then from the sea of black suit coats all these hands popped up and waved back.  After that we had our Christmas meal.  It was the same menu as Thanksgiving, so turkey, potatoes and of course the best part stuffing!  Then we made sack dinners and headed back to our classrooms.  Then we took time to study the Christmas story  as a district in Luke and Mathew.  After that we took a walk up to the temple in the snow.  Yes we did have a white Christmas, but the blizzard was saved for yesterday!  We have probably a foot or more of snow on the ground.  I love the snow!  I am going to miss it in New Mexico.  Then we had free time.  Yep you read that right FREE TIME!  In the MTC? I know it's crazy, but we actually had 40 blissful minutes where we didn't have to anything at all.  So the hermanas and I simply basked in moment and enjoyed each others company.

After our free time, we went to the talent show.  The talent show was amazing.  I had a front row seat, so I had the perfect view.  It was mainly singing, and instrumental pieces.  The best two: first an elder who played an incredible piano piece that was lively, upbeat and super fast.  At the very end all his music fell off but he kept going, improvised the end and then sat on the piano.  The other great one was a set of twins who pretend-fought (pushing and shoving) while playing again an incredibly difficult piece of music.  It was so funny because as part of their routine one twin was engrossed with being on film and kept pointing and laughing at himself, and finally the other twin looked up smiled and then sternly told his twin to keep playing.  The other funny thing that happened while the talent show was going on was I looked over at the head security guard, Brother Angus.  He is big man.  I mean he could give "Brother Chatman a run for his money" kind of big.  I look over and his socks were clearly visible and they were a nice Christmas red.  It made me smile.

Ok so the funniest moment of the day.  After we had a short intermission we all came back in and President Hacking announced the rest of the evening.  He concluded by saying we would sing the closing song and then said "the closing prayer will be offered by Sister Katie "Claus" (pause) wait a minute (giggles while he puts on his glasses and reads it again) Yep Sister Claus (more giggling) Well that's just too perfect (laughing) Ok sister "Claus" who is from (pause again)  I really want to say the North Pole (and the audience is all laughing)."  His wife came up to me after and said that the first time he read it he wondered if someone was playing a joke on him.  She said I had a great last name.  It's fun to have the last name Klaus around the holidays.  Greg Olson's talk was really neat.  He shared a bunch of his paintings of the Savior and then told us the inspiration behind the paintings and what he was trying to get across.  His work has some of my favorite pieces of the Savior.  We ended Christmas day by watching It's a Wonderful Life.  It's been a long time since I've seen that movie and I really enjoyed it and it was fun to get lost in the story and enjoy the company of all the MTC missionaries.  That is Christmas at the MTC.  A very memorable day filled with lots of thoughts of Jesus Christ and his gift to each of us.

Ok so I have 4 days left in the MTC!  I can't believe it!  I am not sure where the last 9 weeks have gone.  I am so excited to begin the next phase of my mission.  I think my mission president's wife told me that P-day is on Monday, so I am not sure when I will get the chance to email again.  I love each of you so much.  I am so blessed to have so many wonderful people supporting me.  I hope that everyone has a great New Year and that we can each find ways to invite the Spirit into our lives this coming year.

Con Amor,
Hermana Klaus

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Week 8


I hope everyone is doing well and that everyone is enjoying the Christmas holidays.  I have loved getting the Christmas cards from people!  It is so fun to hear from all of you!  I am doing much better this week, although at the end of last week I was coughing so hard on the way to dinner, I turned to Hermana Pearson when I finished and said we better go back because I think I coughed up half a lung back there and I'd better go find it!

Can you believe I have less than two weeks left?!!!!! Where has all the time gone?!  So I am glad the attack of the killer cold is over and hopefully I will stay unsick.  Ok, so I have some very exciting news!!!!!!  Do you wanna hear?!  So on Sunday our branch had a little red paper in our mail box and we have been chosen to give the prayers for the Christmas devotional.  Guess who is giving the closing prayer!!!! MEEEE!   Yep I get to be sitting on the stand with an apostle on Christmas and hopefully will get the chance to shake his hand!  What better Christmas present could a girl ask for?!  I am so excited and can't wait to find out who it is.  We have been joking that they picked me to say the prayer because they are going to make a comment about my last name over the pulpit.  I will say that comments about my name and Santa Klaus go up exponentially around this time of year.

The other fun news is that Elaine S. Dalton, the General Young Women's president, came and spoke in Relief Society and afterwards we went up and she gave us each a hug.  It was neat to meet her and her husband.  Background: for relief society all the sisters meet together and we barely fill the middle section on the floor in the big auditorium room.  However, Sister Dalton told us that in April there will be 2000 sister missionaries!  That will not only fill up the floor but the entire room!  That is basically the whole MTC right now in sisters!  It's going to get a little crazy around here.  All of the branch presidents and leaders are being told to prepare themselves and in 6 months they won't even recognize the MTC.  I think that about every devotional the general authority speaking tells the sisters that we'd better gear up because we are going to be trainers right away!  Sister Dalton told us what a privilege it is to be serving at this time and that we are going to be setting the tone for this new wave of sister missionary work!  I am so grateful that I can be a missionary!

So other than those exciting pieces of news, life at the MTC is very much the same.  My Spanish keeps progressing, but I am a little worried that when we get into the field we are going to feel the full fire-hose effect of a new language that isn't being spoken nice and slow by the MTC teachers.  However, I know that with the Lord's help I will be able to communicate in Spanish!
I am not sure if they have it online yet or not, but you should try and go online and find the Music and the Spoken word from this week.  It was about the gift of giving small things and the told the story of Hal a WWII pilot and how he changed the world.  It was so sweet that it brought tears to my eyes.
I am slowing checking off my "last things" here at the MTC.  I did my last service this Tuesday because we don't have it on Christmas.  We were assigned trash again, so as we were taking these huge garbage bags to the compressor I suddenly broke into my grinch voice and we started to do the Grinch walk.  "I am the Grinch that stole Christmas"  We then were quoting the garbage scene from that movie while we were throwing the bags in.  "One man's garbage is another man's potpourri!"  It was s good time at 6:50 in the morning in the freezing cold taking out the trash!
We have had some snow this week and we are all keeping our fingers crossed for a white Christmas.  Luckily I haven't biffed it yet because we all know how graceful I am.  I truly believe that the Lord has sent some angels to watch over me when I walk on ice, so that I won't slip and fall and make an utter fool of myself in a skirt.

The only crazy moment I had this week was when I hosting again this week.  We had over 700 new missionaries come in this week and I am meeting several sisters who are 19!  I was standing in line waiting for my new sister to walk through the door and I was having a conversation with some other Spanish speaking hermanas.  We were laughing at the fact that our English sometimes struggles and that we mix and match words and sometimes your tongue doesn't cooperate.  Not even 5 minutes later we were talking about something - I can't even remember what - when I responded that's horrible.  However, I pronounced horrible in English, but followed the Spanish rule for a silent H so it came out how Orrible!  Yep just another day in my life.

We should be getting our travel plans this week, so I will be able to tell you more about that next week.  I think that I am the only sister going to Albuquerque so I will have elders as my companions on the flight.  We have two neighbors in the residence hall that arrived last week and they are both going to Albuquerque Spanish speaking.  One of them knows Ashley...they were in a sewing class together at BYU I think her name was Hermana Wilcox.  I wonder if I will be her companion some time down the road?

Ok well Merry Christmas everyone!  I am sending lots of love your way!  I am so grateful for the Savior Jesus Christ and all that he did for us.  I hope everyone takes the time to remember the true meaning of Christmas. 

Mucho Amor,
Hermana Klaus

Friday, December 14, 2012

Week 7 (or week 6...)

Katie said that she realizes last week said week 5, but she is actually in her 7th week, so she is updating the calendar... :-)

Hola Familia!!!

What a great week!  I have lots of good stuff to share this week!  First off, congrats to my awesome little sister who did amazing at the dog show last weekend!  We have a little super star in the family, Jade you are so precious!  Just kidding Kara... you are the super star!  I am so proud of you.

The joke of the week is in English and is compliments of one of the Elders in my district.  We were talking about agency and making wrong and right choices, when the comment was made that two wrongs don't make a right, to which he responded, but two Wrights make a plane!  It made me laugh. :)

The only sad part of this week is the fact that once again I am sick.  What did I expect?  I live with 3 other girls who started hacking last week, so I didn't stand a chance.  I have been hacking, sneezing and making very undesirable nose sounds all during class.  I feel like a leper because you don't want to get anyone else sick.  The elders were so funny this week.  When we had class on Tuesday the hermanas were all sick and coughing so they all went into the observation classroom behind our classroom and opened the window and turned off the light.  When the teacher walked in he asked where the elders were and they flipped on the light in the other classroom and you could all see them sitting there with their scriptures open with a sign posted on the two way mirror "Las Hermanas estan enfermas!" (The Sisters are sick).  Our teacher appreciated the humor!

Have I ever told you about the running joke in our district about the white missionary handbook?  So even though we are not suppose to flirt in the MTC, there are some sisters and elders that just can't seem to stop themselves.  So whenever our district sees any of these behaviors, we all call out disorderly conduct on the field!  Page 33!  If you happen to look at pg 33 in the missionary handbook, it talks about relations with the opposite sex.  However I think the dear elders in my district are protective of their hermanas because if we even talk to another Elder outside the zone they call a pagina 33 on us.  I was in the middle of a workshop giving a "fake tour" of the church building to an elder and I look over and I see Elder Lawrence pulling his white handbook out and mouthing pagina 33!  I had the hardest time not busting up laughing.  Our crazy Elders!  Another tradition is that when they drop us off at our building, Elder Lawrence says in the most annoying voice "good night Hermanas" to which now all the Hermanas respond "good night Elder Lawrence" in equally ridiculous voices!  I have the best district ever and I am dreading having to say goodbye, but at least I will get to occasionally hear of the crazy antics of Elder Lawrence because he is going to New Mexico as well.

Other fun stuff, I got a package this week and they always give you a slip that tells you to come get it.  On the top of my package was my name and then written above it in Happy letters is SANTA!!!  My district got a kick out of that!  Yesterday we were waiting for class to start after getting back from lunch early and I look over and two of the Elders are playing go fish with the missionary pamphlets.  Do you have the restoration?  Nope go fish!  It was funny because they had the exact same ones, but they kept telling each other to go fish until one of the Elders said I think you are cheating!  Hmmm what else...Oh yesterday all the hermanas were in the classroom and Elder Hokanson was in there with Elder Fox.  Elder Fox walked out in the hallway to check on something and Elder Hokanson looks up looks at the hermanas and then jumps up running out of the classroom saying I can't be here!

IMPORTANT!!!! We were sitting in class this week and we were munching on candy and discussing our favorites when it hit me!  I NEED CADBURY EGGS!!!!  Please someone come to my rescue and send me a bag of this delicious goody. I am going crazy now that I realize that I am living the Christmas season without!  Please take pity on me!!!!  Oh mom I should tell you that the Elders love my hand sanitizer.  The first week I put some on and one elder was like what is that smell...I wasn't going to fess up it was me until he was like that is the best thing I have ever smelled.  Fast forward to yesterday.  I put some on (because I am sick)  and then Elder Fox walks by and is like that smells so good.  He decided he needed to use some and then for the next hour I would randomly catch him smelling his hands!  Two other elders tried it as elder put some on his placa so it would smell nice!

One last funny story...Yesterday is my 7 week anniversary in the MTC and I got to be a host sister.  So I took two new sisters and their bags to their rooms, get their books and then drop them off at their classroom.  So the first sister went great.  Actually she lives in the room right next door to me, so we are now friends.  The second sister however was placed in a different residence hall that has an elevator to help with bags.  We get up to the room with no problem, but then trying to be exactly obedient I decide to take the stairs down because you are only suppose to use the elevator if you are sick or have luggage.  So we go through this door that says stairs and we walk down a flight, but the door to the outside said limited access, so I wasn't sure if we should go out it.  Then the new sister said this next floor is where we came in and me being a genius was like yeah ok.  (Sure, Hermana Klaus - follow the sister who has been in the MTC less minutes than you have weeks).  So we go through this door and we walk into the first floor and it is completely under construction with wires and tools everywhere and signs that say this floor is closed.  I am like we aren't supposed to be here but the door we came through says do not enter this door - alarm will sound!  Now I feel ridiculous and am apologizing and finally I say let's just take the elevator which we did and made it out safely.  Everyday is an adventure at the MTC!!!!

Ok so last on a little bit more of a spiritual note.  We had this great devotional on learning the language.  The best story the speaker gave was about how hard it was to learn japanese.  One day he was feeling very discouraged when all of the sudden this dog broke free from a house and was running happily for the gate, when it's owner came out and shouted at it to come back.  The dog stopped turned around and with it's tail between his legs walked back inside.  The elders companion turned to him and said "See elder, if that dog can learn japanese then you can too!!!"  It made all of us laugh.  I am continuing to learn tons in Spanish, but I am feeling a little nervous about being in the field speaking spanish to natives in less than 3 weeks!  However, I know with the Lord I can do hard things!  Finally one last fun thought is in 2 Nephi 30:3.  This scripture talks about taking the gospel to the lamanites in this day.  Our teacher talked about how Nephi saw our day and that he saw the missionaries who are taking the gospel to these very special people.  What an amazing blessing that I get to be a missionary in direct response to a prophets prayer.  I love this gospel.  I feel the Savior's love everyday.  I know that he is making me into the best missionary that I can be!  I love you all so much.  I pray for all of you daily!  I hope that you all take some time to remember the true meaning of Christmas and remember what the Savior has done for each of us!

Mucho Amor,
Hermana Klaus

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Week 5 Pictures

Week 5


I am writing to you a much older and wiser missionary than I was last week.  I debated whether I should tell this story and highlight the follies of my youth, but in the end I decided I shall let you in on what transpired this week at the MTC.

But before we get to that let's discuss other items of business.  So in answer to your question, yes I did see Elder Buchanan this week.  I had been keeping an eye out for him, but I hadn't seen him.  I did however run into Sister Shaum who entered the same day as Elder Buchanan.  She is in my same residence building but on the first floor whereas I am on the third.  She was in my ward during my sophomore year at carriage cove.  She looks great and is excited to teach the people of North Carolina!  I will still have a week and half in the MTC when she leaves for the field!  I am ready to go!  Plus I need to get out of the MTC, so I am never again tempted to act like the Elders and participate in such foolish activities inspired by boredom and cabin fever.

Getting back to Elder Buchanan, I was keeping an eye out for him with no such luck, when Tuesday morning service rolled around.  Have I told you that every morning for service we are suppose to have a joke.  Thanks to Matthew Vance I had a great joke this week.  What do you call a turkey that crosses the road, rolls in mud, and then crosses back?  I dirty double crosser!  Nice one!  Ok back to the story...Now if there is a time you don't want to run into anyone, it is at 7am while you have been cleaning for 40 minutes, haven't showered and don't even realize that the concept of make-up exists.  You know where this goes...I was happily sweeping the staircases thinking that I could do a pretty good cinderella impression when I hear a familiar voice on the stairs and Elder Buchanan walks down the stairs with the other Elders in his district.  We say hi and all the normal missionary pleasantries and then we went to breakfast and I continued my impersonation of Cinderella.  Now had I not been one of the Lord's missionaries giving service that could have been an embarrassing moment of oh dear my hair looks awful, but as it turns out I am and it wasn't.  Haha in all seriousness it was good to see some familiar faces.

In other news, the new elder I told you about, Elder Murray, got a call from his mission president last friday who told him he needed him in the field the next day. So on saturday morning Elder Murray was on his way to New Jersey.  Our district seems so small now with just 8 and what's weirder we have the same number of elders as sisters!  Now I am sure in January that will become the norm, but as for now it is still a little out of the ordinary.  With all these level-headed sisters you would think we would never do anything crazy, but alas we have spent too much time surrounded by Elders.

Oh another great moment of the week.  I think it was about 2 Sundays ago while we were having our Sunday walk we were taking all sorts of pictures.  We were also randomly taking face shots of ourselves.  So as the story goes, I had hold of a blue camera that I thought was Hermana Thompson's and I took a lovely close up of my face...well as I found out this week that was not her camera, but it was in fact Elder Lawrence's camera (the other missionary going to Albuquerque)  and now he has a lovely picture of my face on his camera!

Ok so shall I stop stalling and tell you my story?  I think the time has come.  Ok so on Monday at dinner we were all sitting around the dinner table having random conversations about everything, when Elder Lawrence looks over at the end of the Cafeteria and says "Hey! We should do the tower challenge as a district!"  What is the tower challenge you might ask?  Well the tower challenge is where your district eats an entire tower of cereal.  To help you get a feel for the size of these towers they take about 4-5 big bags of the malt o maties cereal.  Yeah not boxes but bags!  Ok so to this query the Elders were excited and not to dampen the spirit the Hermanas all jumped on board!  So we discussed the pros and cons of which cereal we should consume.  We couldn't decide on a cereal, but somehow we ended up deciding that frosted flakes would be our challenger.  So we are all pretty pumped at this point.  No one in the zone thinks we can come even close to finishing a whole tower especially with 4 hermanas.  We decided that we would face the challenge at lunch because we didn't want to miss out on biscuits and gravy for breakfast.  Later that night as we were discussing our feat, Elder Lawrence admitted the only reason he suggested it, was because he was sure that the Hermanas would shoot it down.  But now we can't back out because we would lose face in front of the Zone and let's be honest we were still pretty excited at the thought of eating a whole TOWER!  Ok so the day arrives.  The Hermanas waited impatiently for the Elders to show up to lunch and when they finally did, we commenced.  So the first bowl was good, the second bowl was good, the third bowl was starting to taste a little gross, because you can only eat so many frosted flakes.  The other zone members just watched and we continued to eat.  Our elders plowed ahead bravely and we downed bowl after bowl.  Towards the end we had to add a little cranberry juice because at that point we all hated frosted flakes.  We wondered why we hadn't tried tuti frooties because they have more air in the tower.  Even Hermana Farnsworth who is allergic to milk ate bowl after bowl of cereal.  Oh and we didn't do no pansy bowls we had nice big heaping bowls.  So when it was all said and done we were the last people to leave the cafeteria and we had eaten that tower down until there was basically powdery crumbs and you could see the springs.  I would say in total we ate about 7/8 of that tower and for all intents and purposes we were successful.  In total, any guesses on how many bowls of cereal we ate?  55 bowls of cereal!!!!!  CAN YOU BELIEVE IT?!!!  What were we thinking?!  The hermanas averaged 5-6 bowls and 3 of the elders ate 9 bowls each.  I ate about 5 1/2 bowls of frosted flakes.  Sure the challenge was, ehem, "exciting", but what we failed to realize was that with every choice there is a consequence and the majority of the district (especially the elders) spent the rest of the evening in varying degrees of discomfort.  The Hermanas had done our part, but we had not stuffed ourselves to the point of feeling sick. The elders who did cross that line spent the next several hours moaning in pain, but we had the respect of the Zone.  I'm not sure that gaining respect through a silly challenge was a smart thing to do, but again it is the follies of youth.  We have all fully recovered, but the funny thing is up until that point I saw most of the Elders eat a bowl of cereal with every meal, and I have yet to see one of us eat a bowl of cereal.  So lesson of the week:
    A) Don't eat an entire tower of cereal
    B) When you are around 19 Elders 24/7, judgment can lapse
    C) Every choice comes with a consequence 
I promise for the remainder of my time at the MTC I will not do anything so foolish again, and it might be a long while before I can ever eat frosted flakes again! 

In spanish news, this week I gave my first analogy in spanish.  We were teaching about keeping the commandments, so on my last p-day, I created a Kite out of paper, reused string from our book bags, and our sack lunch bags.  We then talked about how we are the kite, the savior is flying the kite and the string is the commandments.  If we break the commands the kite crashes as does a real kite if the string is let go of.  We talked about how through repentance we can fix our string and once again fly high.  So the commandments are not meant to bind us down and take away our freedom, but they in fact give us the freedom to fly and live happy lives.  That's the gist of it.  We decided to take our investigator outside, but when we got down there I realized that my note card with the words to my analogy was gone, so I ended up having to say it all from memory!  I was super nervous at first, but went even better than I hoped because my companion and I taught by the spirit and I remembered all that I needed to be able to say!  The lesson was great and it was a lot of fun teaching!
Ok one last experience from this week.  Saturday was a little bit of a more trying day.  Nothing really in particular it was just hard.  I was feeling a little insecure and was just feeling a little upset.  We were having class with Hermano Clarke and we were talking about teaching people, not lessons.  We were doing a practice with two of the elders and we were being taught as the investigator first.  We were pretending to a widow of 2 months.  The elders handed me a scripture to read in the book of mormon.  I read about one line when the power that comes from reading the book of mormon hit me.  I didn't even know what the words were saying I just felt the power behind them.  Well that started the water works and all those insecurities and doubts I had completely disappeared as I again knew how much heavenly father loved me.  I was feeling good when we switched roles.  My companion started teaching first and then the time was turned over to me.  Right then Hermano Clarke jumped in and said get them involved, so I asked the first question that came to my mind.  As they were answering I was trying to think of another question I could ask when a question formed in my mind.  I asked the Elders "If you're loved one was here right now what would you say to them."  Then it was silent.  We sat for about a minute or two but it felt much longer.  I felt impressed just to keep waiting and when I looked over at one of the Elders he had tears streaming down his face.  Well that set the hermanas off and we both started to cry as we felt the spirit.  The lesson ended, but the spirit did not.  I know that the spirit gave and prompted me to ask that question, not for the pretend character, but for that Elder.  I know that the Lord is aware of us.  I know that I had received inspiration, but I didn't know that until later.  Afterwards we all just sat as the elder ended up leaving the room with his companion because the spirit had touched him.  I can feel that spirit as I am writing about this experience.  There is so much more I wish I could say about this experience, but I don't have any more time.  I love being a missionary.  This is the greatest joy I have ever felt.  I have never felt so close to my father in heaven or to my Savior Jesus Christ.  I love you all and I am thinking and praying about you!  Take care!

Much Amor
Hermana Klaus