Thank you all SO MUCH for your letters and DearElders! It’s such a strength for me to hear the uplifting words of all of you in the letters I recieve, I’ve been able to share an awesome quote with my district every night thanks to all the uplifting things I’ve been recieving from you all. And thank you for the pictures mom! Clara is adorable!! I can’t wait to see her become the best missionary that’s ever come through the MTC. (; And I’m so jealous that you all got to go to NYC and see Wicked! How awesome is that! Sounds like you’ve all been having a wonderful summer vacation already.
It’s been an INCREDIBLE week here at the MTC. Of course, they’re all incredible, but this one has been especially inspiring. On Sunday night, we watched a devotional that Elder Bednar gave here a couple years ago on Christmas Sunday called “Becoming a Character of Christ” it was so incredible that after leaving I felt like it would be worth it for you all to go on missions if all you got to do on your mission was watch that talk. It changed my life forever. He talked about learning OF Christ rather than learning about him, and overcoming the natural man. I wish you all could see it, but I don’t think it’s online… He said that Neil A. Maxwell said something about the importance of knowing the character of Christ (I forget what), and since then he has been searching for what that is. He found that every time Christ is put in a situation of temptation where the natural man would turn inward and think about himself, the character of Christ turns outward. When Christ was tempted by Satan, “If Thou art the Son of God, then cast yourself down…”. The temptation was not to cast himself down, but to accept the challenge because Satan was basically saying “If you’re REALLY the Son of God, then you would…” The temptation was to avoid denying his very existence and being and purpose by proving himself to Lucifer. But instead of thinking about himself, he turns outward. After being tempted three times after 40 days of fasting, the scriptures say that “Angels came and ministered unto him” but the JST says “And when he had heard John was in prison, he sent angels to go and minister unto him.” EVEN AFTER FASTING FOR 40 DAYS, being tempted by the SON OF PERDITION, Christ sent angels to minister to John, not to himself. THAT is the character of Christ. He told the story of a Relief Society president in his stake when he was stake president who called him to tell him three teenage girls from their stake had been in a serious accident and one was dead. He realized (this was before cell phones) that she had two phones, one on each ear. One phone was connected to him, the other to the nurse at the hospital. She was asking Elder Bednar to go to the hospital to identify the girl, check on the others, and to offer comfort. One of the girls was her own daughter. Elder Bednar realized she was talking to the nurse and overheard the RS president being told that the one who had been killed was her own daughter. Immediately, she began talking to Elder Bednar saying that “Now that we know the situation, we must let the other parents know that their daughters have been hurt, but that they are alive.” That is the character of Christ. This single parent lost her only child, and in the moment of grief turned outward to care for others instead of thinking about herself. Elder Bednar proceeded to the hospital to give his witness as to who the girl was. The day before the funeral, this woman came up to Elder Bednar and asked if he would like to see his daughter now that she had been fixed up by the funeral home for the funeral so that he wouldn’t have to remember her in the awful state that she was in at the hospital. Again, turning outward. Whats more, though, is on the day of her daughters funeral, this woman was called by a sister from the ward who didn’t know the situation and began reprimanding her because this sister had a cough and hadn’t recieved any meals yet. Instead of turning inward, that RS president turned outward, made a meal and brought it to this sister on the way to her own daughters funeral. He returned to Christ in Gethsemane. He pointed out that Christ had suffered for the sins of the world, bled from every pore, been disappointed by his three senior apostles, and betrayed by another of his chosen apostles. And yet, when Peter cut of the ear of a soldier, and minor wound, Christ turned outward and healed this man who had come to take him to be killed. On the cross, he says “Forgive them”, he preaches to those dying next to him, and he admonishes his apostle to care for his mother. Suffering for the sins of the world, and yet, turning outward to care for others. Christ had no natural man, and THAT is the character of Christ. For us to grow from testimony, where one can fall away, to true conversion, where we will NEVER fall away, we must learn of Christ and become His character. I wish you could feel how powerful it was. Hopefully all of you can see it sometimes, or at least read the text. I hope and pray that I can become truly service oriented, become the character of Christ.
Other highlights this week:
-Elder Bradford and I (the awesome elder whose my companion in the picture) finished teaching “Ernesto” (our mock investigator) and began teaching Samuel and Paulina, two new mock investigators. It’s actually our teachers acting as people they really taught and baptized on their missions. It’s an AMAZING experience, they act completely real, they respond to what we teach and how we teach, and they mimick the personalities and characteristics of their investigators. And it’s all in fluent Spanish. E’ Eaton served in Mexico Monterrey and got back in December, he’s at BYU studying animation (SUPER COOL!) and Hna’ Plowman served in Chile Concepcion, Calton’s mission. Anyway, our first lesson with Samuel went really badly. He’s 18 and in a gang, has serious problems, and talks REALLY FAST about everything he thinks of. He’s extremely direct. It was mostly bad because we freaked out when he started talking so fast and the Spirit left right then. We’re preparing hard to teach him again tomorrow. However, we have taugh Paulina twice, and they’ve been the best lessons EVER! The Spirit is so strong when we teach to their needs and not to ours. We commited her to baptism yesterday, and it was an amazing experience. I can’t wait for all you future missionaries to experience the MTC for that reason, it’s so cool. The feeling of helping others come unto Christ is unlike any other, no matter who they are and how you help them.
-We had a devotional on tuesday by the second counselor in the Sunday school presidency. He talked about the “Whate’er thou art act well thy part” stone, and how its a mathematical magic square, with each individual symbol acting it’s part (representing a number) so that any way you line up a row of three, it adds up to 18. He talked about our duty to act our part as missionaries, how we are standing in the Lord’s shoes and must fill them, and how we must be “REAL” missionaries. Super cool. And I got to sing “Faith of our Fathers” with the MTC choir of 900 people, which is directed by the guy dad knew from high school, brother Egget..? His older brother graduated the same year as dad, he’s a year or two younger.
-We had an awesome 4th of July celebration! They let us watch 17 miracles that night, and then we went outside at 10:15 and watched the BYU Stadium of Fire firework show. Super cool to think about the nation being prepared for the restoration of the Gospel, especially watching 17 miracles. Awesome to hear all the missionaries singing the national anthem right before the finale, and as we sang “home of the brave”, fireworks exploded across the sky! Way neat.
-The language is coming incredibly fast. There’s no where else on earth you can learn a language enough to understand fluently everything native speakers say and be able to speak back, albeit rather brokenly. I LOVE SPANISH!
I wish I could write everything, but I only have an hour and it’d take a week just to write everything. I love you all so much! I’m doing very well in every way. The MTC is the best thing that ever happened to me, spiritually, physically, mentally, emotionally, etc. I’ve been eating way healthier (nothing but water, dad!), running faster (we have an hour of gym time four days a week), learning immensely, sleeping well (6:15 is no problem compared to 5:15!) and hundreds of other things that are impossible to explain. Thank you SO MUCH for the package mom! It made Elder Bringhursts birthday, and H’ Fries was touched deeply by the card we had our district write in and gave to her. She said she reads it every morning to remind her of the people who love and support her and of her baptism two years ago. Thanks to Clark and Becky for their package as well, I loved the letters and treats and thank you immensely for setting up the MP3 player for me! We’re not allowed to listen to music here, but I’ve been using the scriptures out loud to help with pronounciation and comprehension especially of the speed of native speakers, and it’s awesome reading the LDM. (:
I love you all so much. Keep writing, it is such a strength to recieve your letters. I’ll be sending more written letters today, so don’t worry if you didn’t get a personal letter, I’ll be replying personally by snail mail. Like I said before, it’s best to reply to this letter by DearElder or traditional mail, just because I can spend email time writing instead of reading and can spend more time replying to your letters if they’re physical rather than electronic. Thanks for the pics! I’ll send another email with more pics of our district and at the temple and things. Hurrah for Isreal!