July 31, 2013

Road to the MTC

Getting ready to enter the MTC - Provo campus

packed & ready to go - I really can fit my whole life into 2 suitcases & 2 carry-ons

at the airport

Sister Alysha Carroll

our sweet sister missionary

see ya later...

mango & guava are popular juices in Brazil

Brazilian soda

Our wonderful Brazilian dinner, made by 2 previous elders who served in Brazil - meat & beans over rice, salad, mango, & cheese bread (pao de queijo) - it was so yummy!

Brazilian dinner with the Mathis & Brienholt families

Brazilian dessert - Goiabada

with Kristen Watson

July 28, 2013

She is officially a missionary...

mission shopping...

At the Dallas Temple

A perfect breakfast...

with Brent & Jenny Molen

with Lindsey Grant

Alysha's setting apart

Sister Alysha Susan LaRee Carroll

missionary time before bed...
Book of Mormon in Portuguese

her official missionary picture

July 26, 2013

Write to Me!!!

Hi friends!

So I know the big question that you've all been considering....how can I talk to Alysha while she's gone for 18 months?!?!? Actually its more me asking, How can I make sure my friends don't forget about me while I'm gone?!?! This post will tell you all the ins and outs of contacting a missionary.

First off: I will have no phone. I will have no facebook. And I will not even have access to this blog. So, all the normal routes are out of the question. Never fear! There are still two options: emails and letters :)

From July 31st until September 10th, I will be living at the Missionary Training Center (MTC) in Provo, UT. Basically its a six-week crash course in Portuguese, with lots of prayer thrown in and a dash of homesickness. So I would REALLY love you all if you could especially send me a bit of mail during those 6 weeks.

The best way is through DearElder - its a free system that someone very clever set up. I'll walk you through it
(1) Create an account. Don't worry, they won't spam you. And its free.
(2) There's a drop down menu labeled "Select Mission." Click on the Provo MTC (not the Provo West, or whatever else they have. Just Provo MTC)
(3)It will ask you to put in some information
           Unit Number: 285; Mission Code: BRA-NAT and Estimated Departure Date: SEP10
(3a) You remember to put your return address. Because I need to be able to write you back!
(4) You write me a letter, the computer sends it to the MTC, the secretaries print out letters EVERY DAY and deliver it to my dorm room.
(5) I get a big happy smile on my face that will stick around the rest of the day. Like this :D

If you want to send me a package while I'm in the MTC, post on my fb wall. My mom will notice and send you my address in a private facebook message.

AFTER September 10th, all bets are off for getting ahold of me. DearElder will no longer be a viable option. In theory, I will be headed straight to Brazil, address to be determined. However, because of visa complications, I may be reassigned to live somewhere in the United States for a couple months. Who knows? Such is the life of a missionary :) Very exciting to not know where I'll be living a couple months from now. But I'll keep you all posted on my travel plans and contact information :D

Another way to contact me is by email: alysha.carroll@myldsmail.net
*PLEASE NOTE* I have a very limited amount of time on my email account each week. While I am in the MTC, I would like to ask you guys to NOT send emails and just send DearElders. Its basically the same thing on your end. But for me, it means that I can take what little time I have to send a long email to my family (which will in turn be placed on this blog), instead of reading and responding to emails from friends. Not that you aren't important too :)
AFTER September 10th - send all the emails you want! I'll probably still respond to you in a hand-written letter, but I appreciate all the emails you want to send!

As you can tell, this entire post has been a shameless plea for letters and emails and news from the outside world :) So please indulge me just a little bit, and WRITE!


My Mission Call Video!

Throwback post!

This is a video of me from Thursday, March 14th = the day I got my mission call. For those of you unfamiliar with the "mission call" process, let me explain :)

Step 1: Fill out alllllll the paperwork. Kind of like a job application, but more extensive. You have to go to doctor's appointments and dentist's appointments, etc. One could theoretically finish this in one or two weeks, but from the time I started until the time I finished was about 3 months.

Step 2: Interviews with your ecclesiastical leaders. I had one meeting with my Bishop (the head of our congregation) and one meeting with the Stake President (who is the leader of a large group of congregations). [For more information on the leadership and organization of the Church, see here.] These interviews are fairly low key, its simply a little talk where my leaders gave me more information about what exactly I was getting myself into by choosing to go on a mission, and evaluate my ability to live the commandments and be a righteous example while I am on my mission.

Step 4: Send all the paperwork to the Church leadership in Salt Lake City.

Step 3: WAIT. This is the absolute hardest part! We have to wait, anywhere from 2-3 weeks, to find out where we are going to go. That's right, I didn't CHOOSE Brazil. When I turned in all my paperwork, I had absolutely no idea where I would be going, and I didn't even know when I would be leaving. The Church has missions all over the world, so I could have gone anywhere, speaking any language! The Divine Call of a Missionary, a talk by Elder Rasband, gives more insightful details about how my mission call was chosen by the leaders in Salt Lake.

So finally, on March 14th, I got my mission call :) Needless to say, it was one of the happiest days of my life. I had started all my paperwork the week of Thanksgiving - so it was nice to finally have the big white envelope in my hand!

July 25, 2013

What Is A Missionary?

Hello friendly readers! Welcome to my mission blog! Here is where you can get all the updates on my life over the course of the next few months while I am serving as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in NATAL BRAZIL. How cool is that?

Once a week for the next year and a half, I will be sending my parents an email recounting my adventures serving and teaching the people of Brazil. They, in turn, will be posting these emails to my blog so you all can hear my crazy ramblings. If you look on the sidebar, there's this clever thing where you can "subscribe" to my blog, and you'll get an email every time it updates. Its really good for all you lazy people/college students (practically synonymous) so you don't even have to click on this page to see my blog posts. They'll come straight to you! My communication is going to be pretty limited while I'm on my mission, so this blog here is the best place for you to get updates on my crazy awesome life :)

Okay, now that my shameless plug for this blog is over, let's get down to the nitty gritty of this post. What exactly is a missionary?

Well, according to our handy-dandy dictionary.com, a missionary is:
a. a person sent by a church into an area to carry on evangelism or other activities, as educational or hospital work
b. a person strongly in favor of a program, set of principles, etc, who attempts to persuade or convert others
c. a person who is sent on a mission

Well, all of these are true-ish. Especially letter (c), that one is pretty difficult to debate. But I have a different definition for you to consider:

"You are called to represent Jesus Christ in helping people become clean from their sins." Preach My Gospel, chapter 1.

There you have it folks. I am called to be a representative of Jesus Christ in helping people feel free and clean again. To me, this means that I try to do what Christ would do in any given situation. To listen as He would have listened, to give advice and counsel as He would, to give meaningful service as He did in Jerusalem, and - most importantly - to love as He loves. I don't want to sound presumptuous here, because I will fall far short of this standard time and time again. Christ lived a perfect life...and me? I'm just doing the best with what I understand. But the point is, this, this right here is my ultimate goal. To act the way Christ would act.

Tonight a went to a "Mission Preparation" class. [Its a small group that gets together once a week, with a volunteer teacher who helps us learn how to be missionaries.] Now, there are many people who have this crazy picture of what missionaries are supposed to be: boys in suits chasing down people on the streets, trying to force scripture down their throat. With that image in mind, you might imagine that this Mission Prep class would teach us such useful skills as how to skillfully debate, rote memorization techniques, and running exercises. WRONG. Our class was all about Christlike Attributes. The focus: How can I make myself a better person? We had time for self-reflection, and learned about the characteristics of being charitable, being diligent, being humble, being patient. All of these sound like very good things to me! A missionary who shouts at a person to get baptized is not a good missionary. EVEN IF that technique seems to actually be working. No, a good missionary is someone who is trying his hardest to become more like Christ. To become more loving and more patient. Missionary work is less about what you can make other people do, and so much more about how I can change myself to become a better, more compassionate human being who is willing and ready to help all of God's children.

"Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven." [Matt 5:16]
My hope is that as I try to live the way Christ lives, people will want to draw closer to God because of the good they see in me. That is my purpose as a missionary. That is what I will focus on, shutting out all concerns about education or finances. That is my reason for leaving friends and family and school for a year and a half. And you know what? I think its a pretty worthwhile reason.

Until next time!