Well hello my dear family and friends! This email might be a bit short, the server at the MTC broke down so we lost a large chunk of our email time. Crazy day! Anyway, on to the week.
First of all, thanks to all who sent letters this week, Mom, Dad, Mikela, Kate, and Anna! I love reading all of your thoughts and happenings. And thank you to all who sent pictures, they are such treasures! Sounds like the fam is moving a mile a minute as usual. Mom and Dad, thanks for the celebration package! It was super fun, I shared it with the three districts in our zone who are in our residence hall. Everyone loved it, including me!
Dad, i keep forgetting to let you know but the typhoid thing was fine, they just clarified that I had the two pills and the shot and said I was good to go. Thank you so much for all the help with the crazy visa paperwork, I know it’s such a pain working with the FBI office, and I’m so glad everythings in and headed to the travel office.
As for this week, it’s been a wonderful one! It all started on Saturday, we had a subsitute teacher for our afternoon class, Hermano Christofferson (the nephew of D. Todd himself). I didn’t know this, but D. Todd Christofferson served his mission in Argentina, and Richard G. Scott served his mission in Uruguay and later served as a mission president in Argentina. Point is, Hermano Christofferson ALSO served in Argentina, (I believe it was Resistencia mission) and he spoke a wicked good Castillano accent, it was really hard to understand him at first. He was going to teach us a concept we already kind of knew with Spanish, but we started asking him questions about Argentina, and that’s what we ended up doing for the whole three hour class! It got me so excited to get out in the field and serve, he told us amazing stories about his mission and all the things he did to be a consecrated missionary. He gave us some really really good advice, and inspired us all to work harder this last week in the MTC and to be ready to go out and be representatives of Jesus Christ. Another thing he showed us that was extremely helpful for me personally was the way he organized his scriptures. It’s hard to explain, so maybe I’ll send a picture next prep day when I’m all done with it. Saturday night I sat down and made some goals for my mission to help me continue to grow and become better throughout the whole two years.
Sunday was fantastic as usual. We said goodbye to the district in our zone that’s a week “older” than us, they were great guys and it was sad to see them go but got us all excited to get out to the field. During our weekly “temple walk”, there were a couple people standing outside the temple yelling at the constant stream of missionaries trying to preach to us, which was rather humorous. Also during the temple walk, it was extremely hot (I thought I heard 103 degrees?) and I got a wicked headache, seeing as I was in a suit and all. I thought I was dying for a second, but thankfully I lived after drinking lots of water, taking a dayquil, and cooling off in the classroom. I didn’t go to choir practice because of the headache, which was a blessing in and of itself actually, seeing as I got some really good study time and learned some things I had been seeking to find through Elder Christofferson’s general conference talk about living a consecrated life. That night we also saw another talk by Elder Bednar, (he did it again!) about how to recognize the promptings of the Spirit. It was an amazing talk, he shared three experiences he’s had where he didn’t recognize an action as a prompting from the Spirit but later looking back realized that he was inspired. The point of his talk was to quit worrying about whether or not something comes from God. He promised us as an apostle that if we keep our covenants and commandments, are “a good boy or a good girl”, do the things we know we are supposed to be doing, and press forward with faith, that God would direct our paths. He spoke of when he was a 20 year old missionary serving as an assistant to the mission president, and Boyd K. Packer came to his mission to check on the missionaries. The mission president was away, so Elder Bednar took care of him and his wife, and before they left gave them a 20 mark note (a decent amount of money in germany at the time) to help them cover food expenses. They proceeded to travel through East Germany, which at the time was dangerous. As “the cruelest looking man with the darkest countenance he had ever seen” came through the train checking passports, he checked Elder and Sister Packer’s passports. Elder Packer’s passport was fine, but Sister Packer had an extended one which East Germany was not recognizing at the time. The man began to give them trouble, when Elder Packer put the 20 mark note in his wifes passport, gave both to the man, and they made it through without problems. Later he found out just how dangerous of a situation he had been in, and recognized that Elder Bednars 20 mark note had been prompted by the Holy Spirit. When Elder Bednar was a Stake President at a training with Elder Packer, he began to ask him if he remembered that moment and then Elder Packer took over and asked if he remembered being prompted by the Spirit to give him the bill. He hardly even remembered that moment, did not recognize at the time that it was a prompting at the time, but looking back realized that God had been guiding his steps. Also, as a Stake President he presided over a very large area, so they had all the meetings on one Saturday every month at the Stake Center. As he was sitting on the stand a few minutes before the meeting began, he saw a man in the audience who’s son was playing Elder Bednar’s son in a basketball tournament that night, two hours away, which they were both missing for this meeting. He asked his counselor to take over, asked someone else to get this brother and bring him to the Stake Presidents office, and to get someone to drive his car home for him. Elder Bednar proceeded to drive with this brother back to the tournament, where they both enjoyed watching their sons play. He was terribly conflicted over that decision in the months to come, but when the brother’s son suddenly died of a freak accident, and this brother thanked him in tears for giving him one of the only opportunities he would ever have to watch his son play, he realized that his decision had been prompted by the Spirit. It’s not all about lightning bolts and incredibly spiritual experiences, it’s about the small tender mercies when we are doing the right things at the right times, staying true to our covenants and the commandments, and pressing forward with faith. Granted, there are times when the Spirit guides in a “loud voice” so to speak, but most of the time it simply guides our paths, if we follow the righteous impressions we have and are doing the right things. His talk was definitely a tender mercy for me in a lot of ways and an answer to my prayer the night before. God DOES answer our prayers, He knows us and loves us personally and individually. I’ve seen that so many times throughout my life, and especially here on my mission.
Gotta go switch my laundry, I’ll finish up in a few minutes with part two. Love you all!
On Monday, Elder Bradford and I had a hard time with teaching one of our “investigators” named Ana. We felt like the lesson went pretty well, but apparently it didn’t because she didn’t seem interested at all. Our teacher told us that when she was teaching the REAL Ana they had to work hard to make sure the things they were teaching were relevant to Ana and that they were involving her and helping her with the doctrine she needed most. That’s something Elder Bradford and I have been working hard on, especially this last week. Teaching the gospel as Christ taught is a lot different than the way you’d teach anything else, and it’s quite an adjustment to get used to that style of teaching. Our lessons have been getting better and better every day though, which is the important part. We got to go to the TRC again on Monday, which was super cool! Elder Bradford and I have been fortunate enough to be able to teach Sister Applegate four times in a row! We feel like she’s our MTC grandma, it’s wonderful. It’s so amazing to see the incredible faith of so many people here.
Tuesday was a fairly straightforward day, but the devotional that night was super cool. Hermana Tokailagi and Elder Watts were asked to give the opening and closing prayers, respectively, which was so cool! The Hermanas totally tricked us Elders so bad… So, we knew the song on Tuesday night was going to be Praise to the Man because of choir practice on Sunday, and it was the Mack Wilberg arrangement and they were giving the choir an extra hour to practice, so we were all wondering why it was going to be that song. Plus, we figured Pioneer day was an important holiday… anyway, we were all just kind of wondering who the speaker would be, when Hermana Tokailagi got called to go to the front desk with the other Hermanas. They came back about forty five minutes later looking absolutely shell shocked, saying they met someone really important and weren’t allowed to say who it was, and smiling like lunatics. We were going crazy thinking the Prophet was going to be there!!! They pulled it off so well… We got there and of course it was an emeritus general authority, Elder Carmack. He had a pretty good talk with some cool tips, though, including the difference between contending and contention. Contention is of the devil and drives away the Spirit, but we are asked to contend for the right in a scripture in D&C (forgot which). He talked about how contending is being bold but not overbearing, standing for the right, using love to call people to repentance, and like President Uchtdorf’s amazing conference talk said, to say “We are doing a great work and cannot come down” (See Nehmiah). Cool to think about! The most amazing thing was singing Praise to the Man with the MTC choir. The arrangement was beautiful, it was SO amazing to sing with them all.
Wednesday we got to host new missionaries!!! Ohhh goodness that was so cool. It was so incredibly powerful to be able to watch these young men and young women say goodbye to their families and turn around with fire and determination in their eyes ready to go serve the Lord. I was able to host two Elders (That just means helping them go through, get their keys and books, find their room, and taking them to their classroom). It was so wonderful to see the whole experience from the other side, as a “veteran” missionary, haha! Amazing to be a part of this work, though.
Thursday we had our in-field orientation all day, which was long but extremely cool. They taught us a lot of the nitty gritty details and things we need to know to be effective in the field, but they also taught a lot of important ways to be effective missionaries that were principles of doctrine. My favorite one was the one on faith in Jesus Christ. The sister teaching was a twin, she shared some cool experiences from her mission and time in the MTC with her twin (shout out to Anna and Emily: she said that she was most worried about being apart from her twin on her mission because of how close they were, but she worked hard and dedicated herself to the work and was blessed with the miracle of not having a problem being a part from her the whole time at all). The most important thing she talked about was faith, though. They showed us the video of the three 18 year old young men who saved the saints as they were crossing the sweetwater river, and talked about the immense faith they had to sacrifice themselves like that. She talked about the ability and authority we have to be a “walking miracle”, to be so faithful and righteous and dedicated that the environment around us changes to the point where Satan’s influence cannot penetrate the ground that we stand on. (Another answer to my prayers, I was praying to know how to become that kind of person/missionary and she gave a lot of direction). The whole day just got me so excited to get out there and TEACH!
And of course, today getting our reassignments. You should have seen our district! I’ve never seen more anxious excited people in my entire life as when Elder Pritchett ran into the classroom during our study time screaming that we got the reassignments! I’m so grateful to have gotten to know the Elders and Sisters in my district, they are all truly miraculous people.
I love you all so much! I’ll let you know what my address in Salt Lake will be as soon as I can. Thank you all so much for your support, I’ve felt it so much, especially this last week as I’ve prepared to enter the field.