2017! What??

It’s officially 2017! How did that even happen? To celebrate, our mission president and his wife set up a special surprise for all of us missionaries here in New Mexico. They instructed us to stay in our apartments after 6:00pm on December 31st and to not make any plans whatsoever for January 2nd (since I guess that was the "official observed New Years Day"). They gave us a series of sealed envelopes to open starting at 6:00 pm on the 31st. We spent the evening following the given instructions by cleaning the apartment, reading some powerful general conference talks and journaling. It was a nice way to spend the night.

At 6:30 AM on the "official observed New Years Day," we opened an envelope that told us we would be spending the entire day reading the Book of Mormon, with the goal being that we would get through the whole thing in that one day. 6:30 AM to 10:30 PM. 16 hours. We were to use a new, unused copy of the book, and then take two different colored pencils to mark every time Christ was mentioned and then also every time the Atonement was mentioned.

I gave it an honest effort and read pretty much non-stop the whole time (there were 2 bathroom breaks and a couple of times I paused for a snack), but despite everything I unfortunately only made it to the book of Mormon (like the book inside the Book of Mormon that’s called the book of Mormon because its an account from the prophet named Mormon… The Mormon who the whole book is named after… a little confusing, but yeah) I was so close!! Despite not quite finishing, I still was able to learn a ton from this experience.

The Book of Mormon is often referred to as another testament of Jesus Christ, that’s something I’ve always known, but yesterday I learned just how true that really is. I marked every single time he’s mentioned and wow, that book is ALL about Jesus. It was such a great experience to devote a whole day to nothing but that. I love the Book of Mormon. I love it for being the incredible piece of literature it is and I love it because I know it is more than just a compilation of stories. It is holy scripture written by the hands of God’s prophets. Through this book, we can find purpose and direction and answers. There is a power that comes from reading it.

There is an invitation and a promise to those who read the Book of Mormon. It’s found in the introduction: "We invite all men everywhere to read the Book of Mormon, to ponder in their hearts the message it contains, and then to ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ if the book is true. Those who pursue this course and ask in faith will gain a testimony of its truth and divinity by the power of the Holy Ghost."

That’s my favorite part about the Book of Mormon! Anyone can read it for themselves, pray to know whether or not it’s a real book of scripture, and God will give them an answer. We don’t have to take anyone else’s word for it, we can know for ourselves.

With this new year, I’d like to invite each of you to read the Book of Mormon. Tis the season of New Years Resolutions, right? Why not make this one of yours? If you’ve read it before, do it again! Spend a little time every day doing something for your spiritual health, read the book. If you’ve never read it before, give it a try. You’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain, of that I promise you.

I know the Book of Mormon is true. I know that Joseph Smith was who he said he was, a prophet of God. There is a God. He’s aware of us and He love us. When you pray, He listens.

Happy New Year!

Feliz Navidad

​​​​Merry Christmas!! Feliz Navidad!! Today is my official 2 month mark and Christmas is just around the corner! There is so much to celebrate and be thankful for this year. New Mexico has treated me so well so far and I’m looking forward to spending the holidays here with all of my new found friends. Seriously the people here, investigators and members alike, have been so welcoming and all around wonderful.

Also, I wanted to extend a thank you to each one of you that have reached out to me this holiday season and sent your love my way. I have the best support and when I have the occasional tough day out here, it’s your loving words that help get me through it.

Recently I came across a talk given by President Howard W. Hunter, titled "The Gifts of Christmas." It’s super great and I recommend taking the time to read it in its entirety. In it, he gave this advice: "This Christmas, mend a quarrel. Seek out a forgotten friend. Dismiss suspicion and replace it with trust. Write a letter. Give a soft answer. Encourage youth. Manifest your loyalty in word and deed. Keep a promise. Forgo a grudge. Forgive an enemy. Apologize. Try to understand. Examine your demands on others. Think first of someone else. Be kind. Be gentle. Laugh a little more. Express your gratitude. Welcome a stranger. Gladden the heart of a child. Take pleasure in the beauty and wonder of the earth. Speak your love and then speak it again." It can’t really be said any better than that. Merry Christmas! Love you all!

Hola from Nuevo Mexico!

Hola familia y amigos!

Things have been going great! I spend a lot of time in little trailer parks out here in Albuquerque and I am loving it. I’ve encountered dogs of every size and people of every type. It’s great. Luckily, since we’re sisters, we have a car and a pretty decent apartment and the AP’s are in the same apartment complex if ever we needed the priesthood 🙂

I’m getting better at eating Mexican food! I still don’t like it all that much, but I’m so thankful to be fed by the members here. Most of them don’t have very much and it means a lot that they’re willing to share what they do have. They have all been so welcoming and so patient with my Spanish. I couldn’t have asked for a better area. Plus, this past week a member taught me how to make tamales, so now I have that useful skill in my back pocket!

Our Spanish branch is pretty few in members and spread out over a big area. Most of the congregation is made up of recent converts. On Sunday when we began to sing the opening hymn, there were only about 30 people present and probably about 25 of them were tone deaf. That didn’t stop them from singing out with all their hearts though! I wasn’t prepared and I choked on laughter when the first hymn started. It reminded me of the tradition my family has of singing “Happy Birthday” as awful as we all possibly can. I got a nudge and a scolding look from my companion, but eventually she couldn’t help it either and had to stifle her own laughter too.

My companion, Hermana Cifuentes, is awesome. She works SO hard and can be exhausting to keep up with, but I love how much she pushes me to be better. She’s really patient. I’m helping her to learn English (she’s a native Spanish speaker from Gautemala) and she’s helping me (so, SO much) with my Spanish. I have been blessed with the best. We laugh and have a lot of fun together, but we also get down to business and grind it out every day. There hasn’t been a night yet where I haven’t been asleep the second I hit the pillow.

It’s only been a week and yet I already have felt like I’ve changed and grown so much. I’ve learned a lot about myself and about this incredible Gospel I’ve been called to preach. Prayer has become so much more meaningful to me. I know there truly is a God and that He is the father of our spirits. As our parent, He loves us very much. When we pray, He listens. Of that much I’m sure. When we are in need of comfort or guidance from Him, we need only to ask.

I love being a missionary. I love this crazy language and I love the people here. I miss you all and hope things are going well. You’re in my prayers! Have a great week!

Love,

Hermana Metcalf

Este discípulo quiere dormir…

This past Thanksgiving I’ve had so much to be grateful for. I’ve been blessed with some of the very greatest friends and family on this planet! All of the letters and packages and emails you’ve all sent my way have made me feel so loved and so looked after. Thank you for thinking of me and for keeping me in your prayers. It’s humbling to know that I’ve got an army of such genuine good people in my corner.

I love being a missionary. The MTC has been great. I’ve had countless wonderful experiences and I’ve met a lot of incredible people here. However, I’ve also never felt so exhausted in my whole entire life. “Yo quiero dormir,” which means “I want to sleep” in Spanish, has become somewhat of a mantra among the Spanish missionaries here. It’s pretty commonplace to see one of us doze off during class or choir practice or even at dinner (I guess a mushy pile of peas can make for a good pillow). Sometimes in the corners of the gym you can find missionaries fast asleep on workout mats during our exercise time.

A little while back, I was having a rough go of it and feeling like I was just no longer capable of keeping my eyes opened and my head focused. It’s hard to study nothing but Spanish and the scriptures for so many hours a day. At that point all I really wanted in life was a nap. Later that day when workout time rolled around, the exercise mats looked real tempting. It was a tough decision, but instead of napping I opted to stretch and then do a few laps around the track.

While I was running I just started to practice bearing my testimony to myself in Spanish (I guess a mission starts to do things like that to your head after a while). I thought about our Heavenly Father and Christ and the Atonement. Over the course of the last few weeks, I’ve been learning a lot about the Atonement, the great suffering that Jesus Christ endured on our behalf. As I ran lap after lap on the track that afternoon, I thought about the prayer that our Savior offered in the Garden of Gethsemane. He took on every pain and sin of the world in that prayer. The pressure of every sorrow, every guilt, every illness, and every heartache that has ever been felt by anyone who has ever lived- that extreme pressure caused Him to bleed from every pore of His body. During this prayer He suffered all alone. The disciples, His friends, had come along and waited outside the garden, but they fell asleep while all of this occurred. When the Savior of the world, their redeemer and their friend, very most needed them to be there for Him, they slept.

In account of this in Matthew 26:38-45 it says,

“38) Then saith he unto them, my soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me.

39) And he went a little further and fell on his face and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will but as thou wilt.

40) And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, what, could ye not watch with me one hour?

41) Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.

42) He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done.

43) And he came and found them asleep again: for their eyes were heavy.”

I can definitely relate to those sleepy disciples that went with Christ to Gethsemane. Being here in the MTC learning how to be a better missionary and trying to get better at communicating in Spanish, I feel like my “spirit is willing” but my “flesh is weak” (like it says in those verses in Matthew). I want to give it my all and do my best, but sometimes my eyes just get so heavy. I know we aren’t perfect people and I know sleep is great and that it’s necessary to function healthily (I love a good nap just as much as the next guy), but really there are just somethings that are more important than sleep.

A disciple is defined as “a follower of Christ.” That describes a whole lot of you guys reading this right now. You’re good people, with willing spirits, out there trying to do what Christ would have you do, out there trying to share His Gospel and practice His teachings. I commend you for all of your efforts and I thank you each of you for being such great examples to me. Seriously, you guys are awesome.

I think it’s safe to say that in our attempts to be better disciples of Christ, we all get a little tired from time to time. Sometimes we get stuck in a sleepy rut. When I reached what felt like my exhaustion breaking point, I turned to the Book of Mormon. I was reading in one of my favorite chapters, second Nephi chapter 4, and even though I’ve read them many times before, verses 28 and 30 stood out to me: “Awake, my soul! No longer droop in sin… Rejoice, O my heart, and cry unto the Lord, and say: O Lord, I will praise thee forever; yea, my soul will rejoice in thee, my God, and the rock of my salvation.” I felt a resurgence of dedication to discipleship after reading this. I don’t want to be remembered as a disciple that fell asleep on Christ. I want to be someone that He can trust. I know that with Him all things are possible and that He will give us help if only we ask for it. He lives. He is our Savior and Redeemer and because of Him we can be forgiven of our shortcomings and strengthened in our times of need.

This coming Christmas season the LDS Church is launching the #LightTheWorld campaign, and I think it is fantastic. It’s all about becoming better disciples of Christ by doing as He would and serving others in 25 ways over 25 days. Below is a link to the page where you can watch some awesome videos and learn more about it! You can also access the link by clicking on the “Light the World” tab located on my site’s main menu. I highly recommend checking it out. Remember what it’s really all about and take the opportunity this holiday season to do some Christ-like service. Write me and send pictures of how you #LightTheWorld this Christmas!

https://www.mormon.org/?cid=HP_FR_25-11-2016_dMIS_fmorg_xLIDyL1-A_

dscf0159

Email: sydney.metcalf@myldsmail.net

(Only a matter of hours left here in the MTC! Come Monday morning, I’ll be in New Mexico!) New Mexico Mailing Address:

Sister Sydney Mariah Metcalf
New Mexico Albuquerque Mission
4400 Presidential Dr NE Ste E
Albuquerque, NE 87109

Missionary Training Center

What’s the difference between the Missionary Training Center (MTC) and prison? Prison allows phone calls and visitors!

Really though, the MTC has actually been pretty great so far! No complaints!

Normally this site will just be used to share random thoughts or stories from my mission. I won’t be posting "weekly updates" here (that’s what my journal is for), but my mom mentioned in an email that many of you had been asking how I was doing. I’m alive and well! Thanks for asking! Thank you so much for all of your support and prayers.

I’m already learning and growing a ton. Spanish classes are going great, I love my companions (I’m in a trio with two wonderful hermanas), I love my district, I love my teachers and the food here is not all that bad.

If you want to shoot an email my way or send any letters/packages, all of my address info can be accessed on the contact page of my blog or you can get in touch with my mama.

I miss and love you all! Keeping you in my thoughts and prayers.

​​Love,

Hermana Metcalf

Farewell Talk

I spoke in church yesterday, and I wanted to make sure that I said thank you to everyone who came out to hear my talk and to everyone that has shown their support and sent their love my way in the last few weeks! I am so blessed to be surrounded by so many wonderful people in my life.

After church a few friends and family members came up to me and asked if they could have a copy of my talk. I thought the easiest way to share it might be just to post it here, so here you guys go! Thanks!

Hello, my name is Sydney Metcalf. I’ve only been a part of this ward for a short time now. My family moved here a couple months ago and I came home from school to live with them for the summer break. This past year was my freshman year at USU. (go aggies) I am an international studies major, I’m also pursuing minors in Spanish and Linguistics, and I have been called to serve in the Albuquerque, New Mexico Mission. For the next 18 months I will be sharing the gospel in the Spanish language. A couple other random facts about me: I have a metal spine, I’m currently wearing waterproof mascara (let’s hope it works), I love Abraham Lincoln, because well you can’t spell babe with out abe, and come this November I will have lived in 4 different states in the past 4 years. Oh and I love my mum.

I feel a little inadequate standing here before you all today. Even though I’ve only been in this ward for a little while, I’ve always felt the spirit so strong in this ward. I’ve had the opportunity to sit in on some really great and really powerful lessons here and I’ve just learned so much from you all in this short amount of time, so I thank you for that. There are also a lot of my friends and family members here today, and I can’t even begin to tell you how thankful I am for each one of you. You’ve all shaped me into the person that I am today. I’m really going to miss you guys. You’re a great bunch of teachers, and so I’m really not sure if there’s much that I can offer to you all today. I just hope the spirit will be here and that it’ll be him that serves as the real teacher in this meeting.

So with that,

Today I have been assigned to speak on the topic of “standing in holy places.”

So as I mentioned before, I’m minoring in linguistics and I like words a lot, so I do geeky things like look up etymologies for fun. The first thing I did when I started to put this talk together was look up the etymology of the word “holy.” It comes from old English and so it’s of a germanic origin and other associated words listed with it were “consecrated, sacred, godly” and none of this came as too much of a surprise, but what really caught my attention was the word that holy is originally derived from, and that is halig. And halig has the meaning attached to it of being whole and healthy.

That really got me thinking, so we’ll come back to halig, but for now all aboard this train of thought of mine for just a moment here. I’m really going to try to dissect what standing in holy places means.

Okay so, first off it all begins with the word stand. Its not sit, or lounge about, it’s stand in holy places and I feel like that is significant. In D&C 87:8 it says, “ Wherefore, stand ye in holy places, and be not moved, until the day of the Lord come,” Basically, the scriptures counsel that we need to set our roots in holy places. Standing relays a meaning of being sure, being confident in what we are doing and where we are at.

Okay so next is the word in. I like that it says to stand in holy places rather than to stand on holy places. The words in and on. They only differ by one letter, but that one letter difference does cast subtly distinct meanings to each word. “On” has a very direct, concrete feeling to it. Like, we’re on Earth, the couple sits on the bench, the monkey is jumping on the bed. It kind of serves to suggest that the subject is physically here. Whereas the word “In” is more abstract. It suggest that the subject is more surrounded by a place, or a thing or a feeling. The monkey is in trouble, the couple is in love, the angels are in heaven. So on, in – there’s a difference.

Alright so then, examples of holy places that I thought of were temples and churches and when it comes to these holy places, all of us can literally go and stand on them. What I mean is that, we can stand on temple grounds, we can come to church and even stand right here where I am, on the church pulpit. But we can stand on holy places and still totally miss the mark of it all. So I really like that the charge isn’t to “stand on holy places,” but rather to “stand in holy places.” because to me, that suggests that it’s a lot more about where our heads and our hearts are at. It makes me feel a lot more like a holy place is something that I can choose to be in all the time, like it’s more of a state of being, than a physical location.

I think our minds can be holy places. But that really depends upon the thoughts we choose to harbor there. You see, to me, temples and churches are places of peace and refuge, of reverence, worship and enlightenment. Fear, contention, filth, confusion, those things aren’t welcome in holy places. The spirit dwells in holy places, and as we live the gospel, say our prayers, read our scriptures, do our best to be more like Christ, that is when we begin to construct our minds into being holy places.

To a lot of you that probably sounds pretty great, but maybe some of you aren’t completely sold on this idea. Maybe it makes you a little uncomfortable even. Why would you want to reshape your mind into something more holy, why would you want to shift your life into a more religious direction? Maybe what you’re doing right now works and maybe you figure, if it’s not broke, don’t fix it. Maybe holiness just isn’t for you, right?

I know I’ve been in places in my life where even I’ve felt that way. That I think is why the origin word that holy comes from really caught my attention. If you recall, halig means to be whole, to be healthy. And I really like that. Maybe the word holy, is kind of an intimidating adjective or lofty goal to be set, but I don’t know of anyone who doesn’t want to be healthy, or feel whole inside.

The gospel is good for the welfare of our souls, abiding by its precepts will bring us spiritual health and peace. Here we can find direction and purpose. Here, the love of our savior can fill all voids. His invitation is to all. Come unto Him as you are. Come unto Him and allow him to heal your heart aches, soothe your sorrows, allow Him to help you to feel whole.

I’ve talked about a couple of abstract ideas today, but let me clarify now that Jesus Christ is not one of them. His life was not merely a bible story and He is not just some fictional character. He is a real and living being. He came to this Earth, He lived as a perfect example and He died as a sacrifice for us all. Because of Him death is not the end and we have reason to hope, to be glad. He is there, He hears every prayer, and knows everything there is to know about you. He has personally and deeply felt every pain, every regret, every sadness. He is ready and willing to lift us and be a part of our lives, but only if we are willing to let Him in.

Jess Mcdoniels, he’s my dad’s best friend and was my bishop for most of my life, he’s here today. He’s a convert to this church and one of my heroes. He said something about Jesus Christ that had a really profound impact on me. He says this better, but I’ve always remembered him telling the youth in our old ward once that when he was investigating the church, what it came down to for him was that if Christ truly was who He said He was, and that if He had truly done what was taught that He had done, if He had come to this Earth and died as a sacrifice for you and for me, then that would be something worth investing time into to determine if it was true. I know the Savior did perform miracles, I know that He is the son of God and I know that He atoned for us all. Take your concerns to Him, pray. He’s there and listening.

Ultimately He is the way. By strengthening the relationship you have with the Savior, by coming to better understand who he is and the role He plays in the plan, that is when everything else about the gospel will begin to fall into place and make sense. That is when you will begin to find yourself in a holy place. If you can’t yet stand on your own, lean on Him.

Yo se que el Señor vive. En el nombre de Jesucristo, amen.