Inside Out

This is my last time emailing from the MTC! I leave on Tuesday. We’ll see if I can survive out there. The great thing about  being confused and unsure of what is going to happen next at all times is that you have to live by the grace of God because you have nothing else. I am just stumbling around all the time trying to do the right-ish thing and hoping it works out. Aren’t we all, though? Anyway, it’s great. Or “fabalus” as my companion would say. I have enjoyed my MTC experience quite a bit more than I expected to but I definitely expect to prefer life outside of the empty sea. We’ll see, though? #pray4sisterasplund
This week I’ve been trying to focus on turning inside out. I think that’s what the mission is for. I have spent the last few years as kind of a vacuum cleaner, slurping up all the blessings and knowledge and happiness college had to offer me. It was amazing. I am so full of those things. Now I want to use the resources that have been showered upon me my whole life to be like a fountain, and to put everything precious and tender that usually lives in my interior on the outside. I’m trying to stop working on finding what I need and start working on finding what other people need. I have a theory that this will get everyone what they need in the end, but we’ll see. I have had so much great opportunity for introspection already in my life and I would like to initiate a season of outrospection.
To that end, this week my companion and I skipped our afternoon classes to get her to the doctor. She had been having a lot of pain in her chest and we ended up getting her an x-ray at the BYU Student Health Center. It was actually a great field trip and getting off-campus was very liberating. I saw the news?! It sounds like Rudy Guliani is running for president and being kind of a racist and also the Oscars are tomorrow. It’s kind of comforting to know that ~the world~ is turning just like it was before I left. Most importantly, it was nothing serious and Sister Tripple is feeling much better.
I love you friends and family of mine, and I miss you all.
xoxo
Sister Aspen

Still Small Thunder

Tomorrow will be my one week anniversary of being a missionary! The MTC is a place of paradox, for example I both keep wanting to tell people I just got here and also every day feels like a week at least. I am enjoying most of my time here, even when the hours stretch long. Some other paradoxical realities of the MTC:

– there is a strong diversity but also a very strong feeling of unity. Your first name is either “Elder” or “Sister” and half the people here have the same haircut, but every day I hear more snippets of different languages than anywhere else I’ve ever been. My companion, for example, speaks French, English, Haitian Creole, and another dialect of Haitian Creole. English is her fourth language. Amazing.
– everyone here is a stranger to me, but I spend every hour of my 16-hour days with the same seven people in my “district” (they are all 18 and 19, bless their hearts) and we have become very close. It’s a really strange and unique social experience. I’m pretty isolated from everyone I knew before Wednesdaybut since Wednesday I’ve had as many solid friendship-building hours as I have with many of my friends over a period of months. We had a testimony meeting with just the 8 of us last night where we all went around and talked about something that has been on our minds of a spiritual nature. One Elder described a sense of familiarity that he felt the moment he walked in to the classroom where we were all sitting, as if we had all met before. I get the sense that this feeling is common for missionaries, but it was a really spiritual experience for all of us and even though I don’t or shouldn’t fit in at all with them, I do have a really strong sense of belonging with them. Pretty much off the bat you’re crying/laughing/praying/being vulnerable together for no other reason than because there’s nobody else to do these things with.
– the time is busy and boring all at once. There’s always somewhere to be, which is great, but that place is sometimes the same chair for three hours. This is challenging.
– I’ve never really been around 18/19/20 year-old boys in large numbers before because of Bryn Mawr. From what I know, these 18-20 year-old boys are somewhere between being completely typical and completely atypical. Like, I see an Elder doing something ridiculous at least every 20 minutes (they’re always trying to jump over things?? why??) but I also see an Elder cry at least once a day. They also use that teenage boy voice to say things like “The gospel feels like… the way tacos taste, you know? Like, it’s so rad.”
One of the important aspects of the mission, I think, is that you can’t choose who you’re around at all, but you have a lot of love for the people around you. I think I touched on this earlier but I feel like I’m seeing my ability to love someone be decoupled with having something in common with them, which is actually a pretty amazing experience. I could never really understand the concept of unconditional love before this but I think I’m starting to. I have no choice but to love people just because they’re there.
Speaking of which, I love you all sooo much and I miss you a lot. I hope I hear from you all real soon.
xoxo,
Sister Aslan (as the Elders call me)