Friday, August 27, 2010

Thursday, August 26, 2010 -- This Is not Burger King!!!

Thank you so much for your letters! I received so many birthday cards and wishes this last week. Mom, you must have been pulling some major strings! :) I think I celebrated my birthday with more people than I have ever before! I love my mission!

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This week we had an amazing devtional. It was given by one of my favorite speakers. Who also happens to be one of my favorite members of the Quorum of the Twelve . . . ELDER HOLLAND!!! For all the devotionals and firesides thus far, we have had to watch on TV's in overflow rooms because the gym bleachers have been under construction. However, on Tuesday we were able to sit in the gym. Elder Matesen and I had some of the best seats in the house. Elder Holland said many things that affected me. One slightly humorous comment he made was "You are not free to do it your way--this is not Burger King!!! We do not hold the pickles!!" We are to do what the Lord has commanded us. This is his gospel and it is my responsibility to preach it how he has told us missionaries to do so. I want to preach how the Lord would have me preach because I love Him and I love my mission!

Elder Holland told us that this is war. We are fighting in a battle between good and evil that began in the dawn of time. We will continue in this battle until the Captain comes again! In this war, we missionaries are the Red Cross. I really liked that analogy. We are not trying to take away life, but rather, we are here to save life. We are here to heal the hurt and the broken. We are here to offer them the lifesaving and lifegiving medicine of the Atonement. I love my mission!

One of my favorite subjects to teach is the Atonement. About a week ago I stained all my white shirts. Each of them had orange streaked. However, the dry cleaners were able to cleanse them of their stains and make them pure again. We must be willing to offer oursleves to the "Cleaner." Through Christ, even if our sins be as scarlet, we can become white as snow! I love Jesus Christ and His Atonement! I love all of you! You are in my prayers!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Thursday, August 19, 2010 -- Goodbyes.

¡Hola! ¿Como estan? [Hello! How are all of you?]

I cannot beleive that I have been here three weeks already! One third of my time in the MTC is already gone. I feel like the next two years will pass away and I'll look back and say, like Jacob, that my mission "passed away like as it were unto . . . a dream" (Jacob 7:26). I am trying to seize every moment while I can, because I love my mission!

The last few days have been very interesting and have given my a taste of what it will be like to say goodbye to my friends and investigators in Chile. Two of the Elders in my district--Elders Griffey and Sederholm-- went to the Guatemala MTC on Tuesday. Saying goodbye to them was extremely difficult. The gospel of Jesus Christ is a gospel of love! And as we Elders have learned about this gospel and taught each other, we have come to love each other deeply and have developed everlasting friendships.

A couple of weeks ago, when we were going to the temple, two of the Elders from my district didn't make it in time for the session. Throughout the session I was thinking of them and how much I wished they were there with me. I couldn't help but wonder where they were. I am usually the first of my district in the celestial room and I like to hug each of my Elders as they come in. It's so amazing to feel the love and happiness emanating there.

However, I was not able to share that joy with the two Elders that didn't make it. Before Elders Griffey and Sederholm left, we had a little testimony meeting and I related that experience. I told them that in next life, I don't want to have to wonder where any of them are. I told them that I had better be able to hug each one of them as they enter the celestial kingdom. Amidst tears we all promised that no matter what, we would see each other there. I love my mission!

I had another experience of saying goodbye this week. As I have said previously, Brother Catt (one of my teachers), is a convert. He celebrated his fifth year of being a member on this last Saturday. On Saturday, we were privileged to hear his conversion story. By hearing his testimony, mine was strengthened so much. At the end of his testimony, the Sisters and I (as usual) were in tears. Sister Deas said "Hermano [Brother] Catt, thank you so much for being our teacher. You always know just what to say." When she said that Hermano [Brother] Catt smiled and looked down and then said that he needed to talk to us about something.

He sat down in a chair and hunched over as if he had a heavy weight on his back. I felt inside as if my father was gathering the children around to tell us that a loved-one had passed away. Hermano [Brother] Catt began to cry and proceeded to tell us that his position as our teacher was half job and half calling and that in a few weeks he will be transferred to a new class (usually teachers stay the whole time with their district). He told us that on our mission we would have similar situations. I love Hermano [Brother] Catt and will miss him. I love my mission!

Thank you all so much for your birthday wishes and cards! I have received so many unexpected cards and letters. ¡Yo tengo mucho gozo en mi alma! [I have much joy in my soul!] I am so happy and I am working hard to deserve all the wonderful friends and family who support me and who have helped me in my life!

I have a favor to ask of anyone reading this. There is an Elder in my zone who I have come to love--Elder Michael Scott. He joined the Church about three years ago. He is an incredible person and has an incredible testimony. However, both his parents are dead and his two sisters are not members. They have not responded to any of his letters or emails. If you could send him a "deareleder," that would be amazing! Here is his info:

Elder Michael Scott
Mission: MEX-TIJ 0830
MTC Box# 270

Thank you so much!

I know that God is watching over my life and is blessing me and my family because of this small sacrifice. You are all in my prayers! I love my mission!

P.S. As of last night, I do not speak English EVER :) ¡ustedes amo mucho!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! [I love you all much!]

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Thursday, August 12, 2010 -- Weeks Like Days and Days Like Weeks

Querida familia y amigos,

¡Yo tengo mucho gozo in mi corazon! [I have much joy in my heart !] My mission is so wonderful. As I said before, time behaves very strangely here. The weeks feel like days. I am now two weeks old; I have 1/54 of my mission gone already; I feel like I just got here. The days can sometimes feel like weeks. When I look back on the day at nighttime, it's hard to believe that just that morning I was in class with my district. I love my mission!

Class this week was really good. At the end of last week, we began teaching progressing investigators. Our teachers both portray investigators from their missions or lives and we teach them from the very beginning. Brother Gentry is portraying a man named Thomas from L.A. As we teach him, I feel love for Thomas and have a great desire for him to come to know Christ as his friend, brother, and Savior. Thomas is very excited to learn and is progressing quickly. Another investigator we have is Kord Catt. He is portrayed by Brother Catt—Kord’s older brother. Brother Catt joined the Church about five years ago and his mother and one of his brothers, soon followed. However, Kord did not join the Church. Kord is a senior in high school and has had the lessons a few times. As we teach Kord (Hermano Catt) I think of the actual Kord in Arizona who is also being taught. Hermano Catt said that Kord is like an iceberg—he only shows a little bit of who he really is and we have to find out what is really under the surface. Hermano Catt told us that some things we have taught in class, he has relayed to Kord and talked to him about them. I hope Kord will come to Christ and be baptized! I love my mission!

On Saturday in class, Hermano Catt took us for a walk around campus. We sometimes do this to practice conversational Spanish and so that he can teach us Spanish words outside. However, on Saturday he took us to a statue. This statue is of Samuel Smith walking with a Book of Mormon in hand and a sack over his shoulder. He relayed the following story to us: Samuel Smith was the first missionary of this dispensation. Samuel left his home and family to go spread the gospel and bring people to Christ. All he took with him were the clothes on his back, the sack on his shoulder, and the book in his hand. Samuel traveled across New York and left that copy of the Book of Mormon in a tavern. This copy ended up being the means of conversion of the [Kimball] and Young families. Samuel left everything he knew to go spread the truth. In the church we usually only think of Hyrum and Joseph being the Smith-brother martyrs. However, after they were murdered, Samuel hid their bodies so that they would not be mutilated or mocked by the mob. He then rode through the night with a mob in tail. He rode his horse yelling that the Prophet had been murdered, the whole time the mob was in pursuit and shooting at him. By the time he had reached safety, he had received multiple bullet wounds which would kill him. I know that these men did not die in vain. The Lord is watching over his people. Samuel, Joseph, Hyrum and hundreds of others gave their lives for this gospel because it is true! I love my mission!

Last night our district went to the TRC (teaching resource center) for the second time. We knocked doors and spoke in Spanish for the first 15 minutes. Then we taught the first lesson in English for 35 minutes. I love the TRC. It is such a valuable resource. Elder Matesen and I have definitely improved our teaching skills from last week and I know that we will continue to do so. I love my mission!

Also, yesterday, we got a new district in the zone. Many of the Elders are going to Dallin’s mission, Monterrey Mexico East. I am very excited for them. I even know one of the Elders from BYU—Chris Reed! I love my mission!

I am so glad that you have had a fun summer together as a family. Good luck with school! If you rely on the Lord, He will always bless you! I love my mission!

¡Yo se que la iglesia es verdadera y el libro de mormon es verdadero! [I know the Church is true and the Book of Mormon is true!] I love my mission!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Thursday, August 5, 2010--EFY on Steriods (Well, except for the no dancing, no music, and no hugging girls)

Guess what? I am over one week old now! Time is very strange here at the MTC. At times it moves very quickly; other times it moves very slow. Looking back though, it always seems as if it passed as "if it were a dream." I love my mission! I love my mission!

As I said in the subject line and as [Redlands friend] Isaac Arnott said when he got back [from his mission], the MTC is "like EFY on steriods." It is so spiritual all the time. It seems like any desire to other things have left me for the desire to learn and grow that I might be able to reach my full potential. I like to compare EFY to a spiritual drinking fountain. When you drink, you try to drink all you can, but some still goes down the drain. Well, if EFY is a drinking fountain, then the MTC is a fire hose. Constantly, you are being pounded (in a good way) with the Spirit. No matter how much you try to take it all in, a lot of it just shoots right past you. I love my mission!

Here at the MTC, everywhere I go, the Elders and Sisters are practicing their languages. There are so many different conversations in so many languages. On my first full day here at the MTC, our teachers (Hermanos Catt and Gentry) taught us how to pray in Spanish and made us promise to never pray in English again while on our mission (except in certain circumstances).

The next day we were taught how to bear our testimony in Spanish. We have already learned five tenses in Spanish! It is incredible how much you can accomplish when the Lord is on your side and when His Spirit is there guiding you. On Sunday, I bore my testimony in Spanish! My district is already constantly talking to each other in Spanish.

On the first day here, I told the teachers that I wanted them to push us, and they definitely have--both in language and spiritual studies. While all the other foreign language districts haven't had to teach the first lesson in the foreign language until about week four, we were teaching the first lesson in Spanish on Monday-- day five I believe. I love my mission!

On Sunday, I was called to be the district leader. I am working hard to be a good leader and a good servant of my fellow Elders and the two Hermanas in my district. I have already learned so much from them and I still have much to learn.

Mis maestros
are incredible men. They both served their missions in Southern California. One of them (Brother Catt) joined the Church one year before he served his mission. His testimony is so strong and he has taught me so much! I love my mission!

Our district was able to have a spiritual treat that hardly any others do. The American Sign Language district came and taught us the first lesson. Although I could not understand anything, for nothing was spoken, the Spirit was so strong that I was in tears. The gospel is true in every language, even Sign Language. God loves all of us! I love my mission!

. . . I am working hard. I know that this is where I need to be and that people will be blessed because of my sacrifice. I love my mission! . . .

P.S. . . . I love my mission!

Thursday, July 29, 2010--First Epistle

Wow! I love it here so much! It is such an incredible experience to be constantly surrounded by thousands of missionaries. Yesterday, after being ceremonially dumped at the curb, Elder Tanner showed me around. He first took me to the Snow Building where I received important information, cards, and keys, and where a proxy mother first put my name tag on my jacket. After that, we went to my room and dropped off my luggage. We then proceeded to the bookstore where I was given a bag with all my necessary books and language study aids. The volunteer who handed the bag to me is actually a friend of mine from BYU.

After receiving my bag, we went to my classroom. Here I was introduced to my companion, district, and teachers. My companion is Elder Matesen from Salt Lake. He and I get along well and I am looking forward to working with and serving him. Just like me, he just finished his first year of college, but he went to BYUI. Our teachers are incredible! I already feel their love and dedication. Hermanos Catt and Gentry are our teachers. Yesterday they gave us their expectations and strongly stressed the importance of internalizing my purpose, so that it is not just something I have memorized, but is a part of me and is something I know.

Later last night we had some teaching experiences that we were told to watch and participate in. We had three different "appointments" with three totally different types of people. These experiences were very eye-opening. No matter how hard we tried or how much we wanted them to believe us, they just wouldn't. It is my job as a missionary to understand people and be able to learn about them so that I can find what they are looking for and give them the answers they need.

Like [Redlands friend] Isaac [Arnott] said, being here is “like EFY on steroids." . . . I have seen so many people I know already. Yesterday I saw Sister [Andrea] McClaine and Sister Emma Wilson, along with about eight Elders from by BYU ward.

I know that I am doing the right thing. I know that this gospel is true and can bring true joy. I will do all that I can so that I will be ready to find those people waiting in Chile.