Thursday, November 27, 2014

10 things I'm grateful for, He'll give me back a bigger heart

killin' it in our traffic jackets

24 November 2014

Hello! Another week down. It's the 24th today and if all goes according to plan, we're leaving on the 18th of December which sounds so soon! Time is still going by fast and this week will be a fun one because it's Thanksgiving! One of my favorite times of the year! 

10 Things I'm Grateful For

1. My family: I know it was no accident that I ended up with my specific family members. They have been such a blessing to me and I could not design a more perfect situation if I tried.

2. My wonderful friends: I'm so lucky to be receiving so much support from home and I appreciate everyone's prayers!

3. The Scriptures: My love has grown for the scriptures so much since I've been here. I'm always amazed at how each time I take the time to read and study I'll find questions to the answers in my mind. 

4. Music: Music is so powerful! Especially lately I've loved singing the simple Primary [children's] songs that I have not sung for years and pondering what once seemed like simple messages I'm now realizing are actually quite profound.

5. Differences: As hard as it can be to agree with people sometimes or to understand their point of view, differences truly are a blessing. They help me become a kinder and more patient person, and I'm always amazed at how much I can learn from people when I'm willing to be humble enough to work with them and really become a team.

6. Food! Since being away from home, I miss our cooking so much! Being able to have fresh ingredients and come up with recipes is such a fun part of life and one that draws people together :)

7. Nature: Utah is gorgeous! And each Sunday when we get to go on our walk, I love being able to look at the snow-covered mountains and the fall-colored leaves.

8. Personal Revelation: I'm so grateful that I have a God who loves me and knows me personally, even better than I know myself. I'm grateful that He cares enough about my needs and my worries and my questions to help me in just the way that I need it and in a way that I will understand

9. Art: I miss being able to do my crafts and draw and create things on the computer :(  Art is such a beautiful way to express ourselves and I'm glad that other people are so talented and that I can appreciate their creations.

10. Water: I love the beach and swimming pools and I have already had a few dreams since I've been here of swimming down amazing waterfall rapids and I've enjoyed the rain and snow in Utah. Perhaps I've been thinking about it since California is in such a bad drought? 

He'll Give Me Back a Bigger Heart

This week I've been thinking about hearts -- how different each of our hearts is, how I want mine to be, what the Lord wants my heart to be... 

To make sure the point got across, several times throughout this week the song "Come Thou Fount" has been played either at devotionals, in movie clips, etc. If I was supposed to receive a certain message, I think I got it!
I love the words: 
"Here's my heart, oh, take and seal it, seal it for thy courts above."
As a missionary, that's really what each of us has done. We've given our lives and our hearts to the Lord--being willing to be completely vulnerable and go into a new situation that is unfamiliar and maybe a little bit uncomfortable at first. Because we love Him, we're willing to put our entire lives on pause and to try our best to do what He wants us to in order to serve. 

I desire to be an instrument in His hands. I know in order to do that I truly need to give Him my heart so He can shape it in the way necessary to help the people I'll meet in Taiwan. 

I know in order to make it through these 18 months I'll need a more patient, loving, humbler and softer heart.
I'm willing to give Him my heart and I know that at the end of my time serving He'll give me back a bigger heart. 

....I hope it's a wonderful Thanksgiving at home:)  Praying for you everyday!  

Love you!!!

Sister Sinclaire Hancock

                                  looking like sisters with
                                 Sister Anita Leiva
don't leave me
(before Sister Leiva left the MTC
to go to the Texas Houston Mission)

family portrait?

Thursday, November 20, 2014

losing my English, newbies, habanero jelly, first snow, our army coming over the hill, cool analogies, be ready always

First snow!

November 17, 2014

On Wednesday I begin my 6th week! All the new missionaries come in and think we're sooo experienced but we still feel new and like we don't know a ton of Chinese. But I'm already losing my English. I anticipated that this would happen months from now in the field when I'm fluent in Chinese, but it's happening already! Right now I don't even have a language--I'm not fluent in English or Chinese!

But we are becoming pros at the MTC -- we basically have this place down to a science. This week we got called into the travel office and we knew it would be something about our visas. All the districts ahead of us called to Taiwan have been re-assigned to the states because apparently Taiwan changed the number of missionaries they're accepting.  So basically we have to wait until missionaries go home for new ones to go over. 

But, we heard that things are going better and that they're optimistic things will be figured out by the time it's time for us to leave the MTC. So we had all of this in mind when we walked over to the travel office, wondering if we would open up letters saying the state we were re-assigned to... or wondering if they would tell us everything was fine with our visas to go to Taiwan. But it turns out they just needed us to sign a couple of papers and that there was no news :(  Talk about anti-climactic.

But it was a fun week-- time went by the fastest ever so far here.


On Wednesday we had the opportunity to host new missionaries. This was exciting for us to welcome and meet all the newbies.  It brought me back to the day I got dropped off by Dad and Mama and had a smiling sister come welcome me and help me bring my luggage to my residence. It was sad to see all the missionaries have to say goodbye to their families, but it was good to be able to empathize with how overwhelmed they were and tell them everything would be okay here. 

Habanero jelly!
Deep thinker + Habanero Jelly
Elder Millet (the one who looks sort of Russian with his crazy hat on in all the photos) is awesome! He is such a cool person. He's an extremely deep thinker and each time we have district testimony meeting or sharing time or anything, he always has some sort of speech prepared with all sorts of crazy symbolism. In the past he has related Beatles songs to the Gospel, explained to us the entire first half of Les Miserables then explained how the merciful obtain mercy, etc. This week his family sent us some of their habanero jelly. I had never heard of it. It's spicy and a little bit sweet and you eat it over wheat thins. Seriously amazing! I single-handedly ate half of the jar!

First Snow!
It's freezing here now! Because we're all going to Taiwan, we don't have super warm clothes so we've been bundled up all week. It snowed for the first time and it was gorgeous! Everyone went crazy.

Can all Mormons sing?
I'm getting excited for Thanksgiving :)  Apparently it's awesome here. There's a Thanksgiving program and I heard there might even be show tunes! Many times throughout my life I've been asked "Can all Mormons sing?" But it's sort of true. For some reason, most Mormons are decently musical! And in the MTC people are so talented. I've heard some of the best voices in my entire life here. Way better than many celebrity voices, so it's always exciting to hear the special musical performances.

Our Army Coming Over the Hill
Last night at our devotional, Sister Nally (the MTC President's wife) led us in a cool musical number. We all sang "Called to Serve" but she told us to picture ourselves as part of an army, hiding behind a hill. 

Called to serve
So we sang the first verse as quietly as we could: "Called to serve Him, heav'nly King of glory, Chosen e'er to witness for his name, Far and wide we tell the Father's story, Far and wide his love proclaim".  

Then we got a little louder on the chorus and sang the second verse medium volume:

"Called to know the richness of his blessing--Sons and daughters, children of a King--Glad of heart, his holy name confessing, Praises unto him we bring."

Then the last chorus forte: "Onward, every onward, as we glory in his name; Forward, pressing forward, as a triumph song we sing..."

For the last 2 lines, we stood up and sang as loud as we could, picturing our army coming over the hill: "God our strength will be; press forward ever, called to serve our King."

It was so cool! Just picture 2000 missionaries in one room singing those words as loudly as we can.

Cool Analogies
One of Elder Millet's cool analogies this week was about a car. He's into cars and he told us about how after the car is created and completely assembled, it's a beautiful masterpiece. But what they do with it then is run it into a wall. Many people wonder why they would do that to such a fine invention, but that's a necessary process in order to improve the car. After running it into the wall, they see the car's weak spots and then they know what to change in order to make it better. 

He said this is like the Atonement in our lives. Many people wonder why God would give or allow His children trials and hard times if we are His greatest creations and He loves us. But we are given trials so we can improve as people and learn what we can change to become better. Even though it's painful to go through this process, we always come out stronger afterwards and we have Christ to help us.

Be Ready Always to Give an Answer
My scripture for this week is 1 Peter 3:15:15
" Sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you...."
I like this because I've had so much time here to think about what I really believe. I have so many hours each day to further study my beliefs and ask many big questions in pondering as I think about these beliefs. I know that I need reasons for my beliefs and that I need to be ready to share them with others when they ask. 

I hope everyone has a great week! Love and miss you all!

Sister Sinclaire Hancock

Sometimes we're just exhausted
With my BYU roommate, Sister Megan Brown called to serve in Brazil!

Monday, November 10, 2014

45 minute lesson, gypsy princess, Lord is laboring with us, what I've learned, Sun Laoshi

"We've all been working hard here, studying and trying our best
to learn the language, and we're all exhausted. 
But I know that... the Lord is also laboring with us. 
This is His work and I know He is doing it His own way."

10 November 2014



Excited to be able to write today. 

It was a good week! Time went by the fastest it has so far here. 

On Wednesday we'll be starting our 5th week which is crazy to think about. We can mostly understand our teachers during class now which is nice because there's a lot less of charades going on. However, when we teach our investigators it's difficult to know what they're saying much of the time. But in general, we can hold conversations now and teach a 45 minute lesson no problem! 


This week we got 2 new teachers which was hard for us because we loved our last ones, but these new ones are great too! For whatever reason, they've switched our teachers a ton already. Sometimes in 1 day we'll have 5 different teachers which is sort of odd but it's fun getting to know them all! We joke around with them a ton so they probably get sick of us and go beg another teacher to come in :P No, I think they actually like us a lot. And surprisingly they've all said we're pretty behaved! Our teacher actually started crying when she told us she was being moved to a different district :( 

But now we have Ke Laoshi and she's awesome. We call her the gypsy princess because she's probably the most hipster person I've ever seen. Everyday she wears leggings with patterned high socks over them, some sort of paisley poncho thing and then another patterned scarf on top of that. She's really sweet and she's a great teacher! 

Our other new teacher is Ge Laoshi and he's hilarious. He's extremely animated when he talks which is actually helpful even though we laugh every time he says something to us. He's famous for "Women meiyou henduo de shijian" (We don't have a lot of time) but with each word he acts out a different motion. First he points to all of us, then he waves his hands in front of him for "don't have" then he puts stretches his arms all the way out to his side for "a lot" and then points to his wrist for "time". But it works! None of us ever forget how to say that now. 

Scripture that has made a difference 

Jacob 5:72 "And it came to pass that the servants did go and labor with their mights; and the Lord of the vineyard labored also with them; and they did obey the commandments of the Lord of the vineyard in all things." 

We've all been working hard here studying and trying our best to learn the language and we're all exhausted. But I know that as this scripture says, the Lord is also laboring with us. This is His work and I know He is doing it His own way. We just need to be willing to keep up with the pace. 

How I am growing

Most of all I think I've been humbled since I've gotten to the MTC. I've learned that things I might have thought before were earned I'm now learning are given. 

Last night after devotional my companion and I went to watch one of Elder Bednar's previous devotionals given at the MTC. And who doesn't love Elder Bednar?! He has a way of teaching clearly and simply and candidly. Exactly how Dad is too and perhaps that's why Elder Bednar is one of my favorites (I know we're not to have favorites but they even look alike!) 

Basically in his talk he talked of many things and told of a few stories that frankly, were harsh at first. It seemed like he was being a little hard on us but at the same time I knew all of his words were true. 

He said, "Every mission is good for the missionary, but not every missionary is good for the mission." I know he's right: the mission will be a tremendous learning experience for everyone, but not everyone becomes the type of missionary that we really need to become. 

But after that he talked about how any success that we will have on our missions is a gift from God and it will be in His timetable, and if we are finding success on our missions we must give all the credit to Heaven, and not get arrogant. 

I love the scripture Alma 26:22 "Yea, he that repenteth and exerciseth faith, and bringeth forth good works,and prayeth continually without ceasing--unto such it is GIVEN to know the mysteries of God; yea, unto such it shall be GIVEN to reveal things which never have been revealed; yea, and it shall be GIVEN unto such to bring thousands of souls to repentance, even as it has been GIVEN unto us to bring these our brethren to repentance." 

So to sum up in one word what I've learned at the MTC so far: humility.

People here who are influencing me 

Sun Laoshi. This was one of our teachers and the one who we became close with and cried when she had to leave our district. She really is amazing! When she was a teenager she went to live in Japan with a host family. That host family was Mormon and she became interested in their church and started taking the discussions. It took a year and a half, but eventually she was baptized. 

She's from Shanghai so the idea of God and of prayer, etc. was all very foreign to her. She said it's just not something they're taught about in school and she didn't really know much about religion. But it's incredible to see how much she's changed her life! 

She went on a mission to Australia, now she goes to BYU and teaches in the MTC! She's incredibly enthusiastic and she's hilarious. She has a super high pitched voice and is full of shrieking laughter and squeals. We miss her as a teacher but we still run into her every once in a while :) 


Tuesday, November 4, 2014

the little things, His help, a beautiful dream, getting better each time we teach, a great example, clashtastic

Monday,  November 3, 2014

It's the little things
our schedule
Life is starting to get a bit routine here. For the most part, we have the same schedule every day (see picture). So anytime there is a slight change in the schedule I get very excited! 

The days are enjoyable still, but I look forward to them even more when there's something coming up like a devotional, or when we teach new investigators, or finding out that my roommate is getting here in 2 days!! 

But the little things brighten my day and are a nice break from the hard study all the time. Here are a few examples of these kinds of moments that make me happy:

-While teaching a lesson and trying to teach our investigator that we know God loves her, my companion accidentally messing up the Chinese said "We all know God loves me." The investigator kind of stared at us for a second but then kept nodding her head. Eventually my companion realized what she had said and then the investigator just laughed at us. 

"little things brighten my day"
-Volleyball every morning! This week's injury -- as I was getting out of the shower, I noticed my wrist had a ton of purple dots all over it. Turns out I bruised from playing volleyball one of the days because this one elder on the other team had super hard serves and all of them were to me :(
volleyball or vaccination?

But I found that pretty funny because a few people in my district needed some immunizations before they get to Taiwan and one of them asked how my shot went. Even though I didn't get any shots, I thought I'd go along with it.

I pointed to my creepy looking purple wrist and said "I think something went wrong... do you think I should go talk to them?" They were super scared for a while but then I told them I was kidding and it was from volleyball :)

-Mormon messages! It's nice being able to watch a short uplifting video every once in a while for a study break. So we usually watch one together as a district and we even came up with a saying to justify it: "A Mormon message a day keeps the devil away."

-We came up with another funny saying describing our experience after every meal in the cafeteria. "My mouth says hen hao but my stomach says bu hao" (in Chinese meaning my mouth says "very good", but stomach says "not good")

-While the elders were giving a lesson, one of them on accident said "God loves all Americans" (Shen ai meiguoren) which was also pretty awkward until they corrected it to "God loves everyone" (Shen ai meigeren). 

Now to answer your questions:

I've felt His help
1) Something that touched my heart this week:

 I came across D&C 11:21 and it was exactly what I needed to hear: "Seek not to declare my word, but first seek to obtain my word, and then shall your tongue be loosed; then, if you desire, you shall have my Spirit and my word, yea, the power of God unto the convincing of men". 

Chinese is hard! By the end of the day, in our last class we all start to lose focus. It's hard to not want to give up and just beg the teacher to say it in English after 20 minutes of him playing charades in Chinese.
But this scripture is comforting to me because I do not need to be worried. 

Right now I can focus on studying the Gospel first, and then Heavenly Father will help me with the language and I know this is true. I've felt His help already as I've been here. 

"they were watching up above"
A beautiful dream
2) How I felt God's love this week:

Something I've been working on is trying to stay patient. It's easy to get frustrated at times here because everything we do is with a companion. Oftentimes we have different ideas for how we want to teach our lessons or spend our time and it can be difficult to agree.

But when I pray for help to be patient and kind and to have charity, I receive that extra help every time I ask for it. It's as if my attitude transforms completely. I'm able to see my companion differently and love her even more than I did before. 

One night in particular as I was going to bed I was feeling a little bit sad. I prayed for an increased desire to serve my mission so that it would be easier for me to make it through the hard parts.

That night I had a beautiful dream that is difficult to describe what I saw, but I'll try. The dream was like one of those shots that you see in science documentaries or something. A completely zoomed out picture of the Earth, from up above thousands of feet. I was seeing from that angle tiny little dots below. It turns out that I was one of those tiny dots on Earth, and that this was the view my ancestors could see.

They were watching up above and cheering me on and rooting for me and encouraging me to move forward because they knew how important my work was. 

We're getting better each time we teach
tons of flashcards
3) What we're learning in Chinese class right now:

Most recently we've been working on how to teach the Plan of Salvation. Those who know what this is know it's hard enough in English to teach this religious doctrine to someone who has never heard of it! Chinese has been interesting learning to say very specific words such as mortal, eternity, star, lowest, highest, moon, sun, sin, resurrection, forgiveness, mortal, to separate, agency, temptation, evil, perfect...

But we've already practiced one lesson and we'll teach another tomorrow so we're getting better each time we teach! I have tons of flashcards I go through everyday to help me memorize all these words.

A great example
This week was sad for us because one of the elders in our district went home. We were all super bummed about that and miss him a ton but hope that he's doing okay and will be able to come back later when he's ready. No more movie voice at the end of each day :(

But on the bright side, I am continually inspired by the people in my district! Elder Marcelo is from the Philippines, and this was his first time to another country. He flew about 30 hours to get here and is learning Chinese and English basically at the same time! He says he translates between 3 languages every time we learn something new in class. It must be so hard because our teacher always writes up the translation in English but a lot of times he doesn't even know that word so it's exhausting for him translating from tagalog to English, then to Chinese. And all he eats in the cafeteria is rice and chicken, the poor guy.

But he's so cheerful all the time and I love it! He's a great example to me. 

Halloween was a fun day this week!

We always laugh because some of the sisters here wear the funniest things. I think because everyone was only to able to pack a few outfits, people try to mix and match things that frankly, should not be mixed and matched.

We've seen all sorts of combinations like floral & polka dots, stripes on stripes, plaid with stripes... so for Halloween we thought we'd join in so here are our clashtastic outfits for their first debut!

Happy birthday Mom
Happy Birthday

I'm not sure you were able to get my letter in time but here's a photo of me thinking of you on your day. love you so much!!!!!

Love you!!! praying for you everyday!!!

Sister Hancock

p.s. Also you can use Dear Elder and maybe tell my friends because it's free while I'm in the MTC and it prints off letters and delivers them to me the same day, so it would be quicker than mail :)

Saturday, November 1, 2014

In a land where llamas are abundant

love my district so much!

October 27, 2014

Hello my loves!!!

I'm always SO excited for p-day because I get to hear from all of you! But then it also makes me sad that I can't be with all of you and I only get to hear from you once a week :( but it makes it even more exciting. 

our classroom
Highlights from this week:

Still goin' strong

We have gym time every morning and I've started playing volleyball.  Most of you know this isn't really my thing, but I figure since I'm at the MTC no one can judge me and we don't keep score anyway so they can't get too mad when I miss it.  So far I've gotten one bloody nose and gotten hit in the head but I'm still goin strong! 

It's great to play after I run on the track--  it all clears my mind and gets me energized for the day. (Which is very necessary! My 10:30 am alarm is no longer. 6:30 am feels like the middle of the night for me!)

Autumn Pumpkin Soup
name tags for the 9 missionaries in my district

I had this the other day for lunch and it was probably the yummiest thing I've had so far here! It felt so fall. 

The leaves and all the colors against the mountains are absolutely gorgeous! More photos to come soon. The food is rough but this really made my day! Also we eat dinner at 4:30 pm which is crazy so we usually get really hungry right before bed.

District 25 will rule the world

My district is hilarious!  They're really starting to feel like my family.  Around 8:15 pm everyday we start to lose it. We're all exhausted and our brains can't really think in chinese anymore.  

at the temple with the beautiful mountains
So we'll usually watch one of Elder Holland's conference talks to re-motivate us, sing hymns in chinese, or ... my personal favorite...  We write a funny sentence on the chalk board and then Elder Hendricks reads it in his "movie voice".  I'll have to send you a video!  It's seriously hilarious.  He sounds just like a narrator from a documentary or something. He gets super low and serious.  

Last night's sentence was something like "in a land where llamas are abundant but baptisms are rare, district 25 will rule the world.  Meet the Mormons 2 coming soon to theaters near you."

Miss and praying for you all! 

Love, love, love,

Sister Hancock