Hello from the MTC, one last time, friends and family!
It has quite the ride, but sadly my MTC stay is coming to a close. In t-minus 6 days from now, I will be saying goodbye to all of the good friends I have made here and hello to France (with about 24 hours of travelling somewhere in between). So, immediate family, apparently I am allowed to call you all from the airport and talk to you for a minute or two! In order to do this though, I'm going to need to know how to get ahold of you, so if you could get that to me as soon as possible, that would be awesome!
This past week has been a most excellent one here at the MTC. Elder Wilson and I had many new experiences together. I would like to share a few of them with you. So, I believe that I've mentioned that I the missionary companionships get the opportunity to teach other companionships the lessons in French, as well as play the part of an investigator. This is one of my favorite things about the MTC...1. because I love acting and getting inside the head of someone completely different and 2. because I get to receive so much revelation on things that I can do to be a better teacher! Our teaching skills have really improved as we've listened to and obeyed the things we learn by the Spirit in each lesson.
I don't know if I've told you all about the kinds of things that I do on a regular/weekly basis here at the MTC... So here's kind of a run down. I wake at 6:30, get ready, and go to breakfast. After breakfast we have morning class at 8:00 in which we have these lessons companionship-companionship as well as companionship-instructor. We also spend class time learning French, mostly grammar principles and such, as well as missionary fundamentals. All of my classes are all in French, so I'm pretty immersed in the language (not nearly as much as I will be next week, however). After class, I have personal study time and then lunch. After lunch is personal language study time, during which I usually get on a computer and work on a program called TALL. TALL is a little bit geeky. You sit there and watch robots teach gospel lessons in French. But it's super helpful and I've learned to really appreciate it, because it teaches me new vocab as well as how to pronounce the words. We also have a designated TALL time sometime later on in the day. I also have gym hour, during which I usually work out with Elder Wynn, a UofU/olympic swimmer. I don't mean to boast but I can keep up with this guy. Rofl. I won the diaper derby. The rest of the day consists of dinner and then another classroom block, which is basically a repetition of the morning, only with a different teacher (and we're doing different stuff).
In the first six weeks, a lot of time was spent preparing and delivering lessons/learning how to teach/getting comfortable with the language. Of late, they've been stacking on other stuff to get us prepared for the field. One of my favorite things we do now is practice contacting, door-to-door as well as street. It is way fun, because you have to think (or rather receive revelation and then act) QUICKLY. It super fun though. I have a feeling that it's probably going to be one of my favorite things out in the field. Apparently they do a lot of metro contacting out in France. YES.
Another radical thing we got to be a part of this week, being MTC veterans and all, was hosting new missionaries. This means that we get to wear a cool sticker that says "HOST" and we pick the missionaries up off the curb, awkwardly stand with their luggage as their family says goodbye, and then take them through the MTC, give 'em a lil tour and take 'em to their classroom. It involves a lot of consoling! A lot of them are pretty nervous/shaken up and we try our best to calm their nerves. We were in the EXACT same boat as them 8 weeks ago. It's kind of funny how that works.
Well, I'm out of time, but I will write you all in France, I promise! I'm more than excited to be there and for the experiences that await. I look forward to sharing the thing I love the most: the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ with those men in berets. I know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, the Savior and Redeemer of all mankind and that He lives! What joy that sentence truly gives!
PS Shout out to Jacob and Hannah Mortensen! May your life together be full of wonder, joy, happiness, bliss and all that you hope and desire! I love you two and I was at your beautiful wedding, in spirit and thought.
Tuesday, July 17, 2012
Hello once again, family and friends.
I am still alive and well. I am progressing in my knowledge and comprehension of the French tongue. My testimony of the Restored Gospel is being strengthened daily. Everday I am reassured that the things that I am doing are infinitely important and I am so grateful that I have been prepared by all of you for this work. I thank you, one and all for your examples to me. I am so happy that I have the knowledge that I do and that I have this opportunity to share this knowledge with others. It is not easy work, even in preparing for the field, but as Nephi said, "I know in whom I trust." He is my strength. I have received so much from him and continue to receive much. I would like to humbly share with you all a few of the things which I have received.
I am a human being with the capacity to choose between the good and the bad. Because of this ability, I am able to progress and to learn in this life. I know that because there have been times in my life when I have chosen the bad, I have estranged myself from God. I have gone against the knowledge which I have received and thus turned myself away from him. In his infinite wisdom, God made a way for me to be able to turn myself back to him. He sent his Son, his first born, the Only Begotten of Him, to be the perfect sacrifice, the white lamb without blemish. I know that this son was Jesus Christ. I only know this because I have applied the blood that he spilled and it has freed me. As the blind man, whom he healed said, "All I know is that I was blind and now I can see." I was guilty, is was bound down, but now I am freed and have the peace of a free man, through the grace of the Prince of Peace. I do know how it works, all I know is that God loves us so much that it does. His arm is always stretched out, but it is all up to us to reach out and grab. Like Peter, who was struggled and he turned his eyes from his master, we too can be rescued if we reach out and grab the hand which is out in front of us. Like Nephi, who had difficulty rejoicing and finding peace in himself, if we will trust in Him and cry unto him that he will walk with us in our "low valleys" and "plain roads". Like the people of Alma, our burdens can be made light and we can be delivered from all if we will but have faith and belief on the name of Jesus Christ. I would not know these things if I hadn't put them to the test for myself. And I would not say things which I did not know. I know, without the shadow of a doubt, that Jesus Christ is my Redeemer and my Savior. The Redeemer and the Savior of the whole world, whether he will have us to be or not. He paid the price for all of humanity to return to the God, to find peace in this life and infinite happiness in the world to come. I bear my testimony to you that the soul is immortal. Everything around us cries this! Look around the world, observe the patterns in nature, in the universe, in human behavior. Everything cries for something greater, something we are all progressing towards! God is in the heavens and we are his children. We will receive immortal bodies and be able to stand in his presence, thanks to the Atonement which our Savior made for us. How glorious a day that will be! I know that the gospel which Jesus Christ brought to the earth was restored to the earth through a prophet that God called, Joseph Smith. I know that he restored the fulness of the gospel, the true and everlasting church of Christ and the priesthood necessary to administer in it. I am so happy to be a part of his kingdom on the earth and to be able to fortify as well as expand his stakes. I love this work with all my heart and would not rather be in any other place than where I am now.
I know that God loves us. I know this because I feel a portion of this love towards you, my friends and family.
Wednesday, July 11, 2012
Happy Independence Day and Happy July, one and all~~~! My fourth was wonderful. The highlight was eating a magnum bar and being able to stand in front of a big wire fence and watch the awesome fireworks show from a good, safe distance. It's strange that this is my last 4th of July before the holiday of Independence becomes the 14th of July, Bastille Day!
So some great stuff happened this week. I got my first MTC haircut. I've that there is more wisdom to the Samson and Delilah story than meets the eye. I have always had a fear of letting any but dad or maybe Grammy Kunzler cut my hair. I learned that that is a very good instinct of mine. Haha, I exaggerate, Delilah didn't take TOO much off... just enough to destory my strength and dissolve my self-confidence. Also, everyone in the district has been gettting sick in the last couple of weeks, but I (thanks to Aunt Karen's secret goldenseal potion) have been immune! They should sell that stuff on an infomerical.
I haven't told you much about the MTC culture, other than the fact that it is like Disneyland. I used the Disneyland analogy, which I think fits well, but I didn't go into much detail. Disneyland is full of so much joy, togetherness, unity, excitement and wonder... people come from all corners of the earth to enjoy in it's wonderful atmosphere. And that's the way the MTC is... but there's also that part of Disneyland that is just weird, if you think about it. The MTC also has that! Hm, let me think of an example. So, there are people who come from far and wide, they come to serve the Lord and to work hard. There are plenty of foreigners in my residence hall, people from Oriental countries, New Zealand, Britain, Pacific Islands, etc. All are dedicated workers with good hearts and cool perspectives. There is one Elder from Japan who I always see on my P-Day clad in a plain white T-Shirt that says "Go To Lucky". I honestly can't tell you what the meaning of this is, but it must mean something to him. Maybe it is a motivational T-Shirt, and his nickname (or real name) is Lucky, as in "Go To, Lucky!" Or maybe he comes from a place called Lucky and he is advertising his native land. Who knows.
The MTC is such a great place! I'm truly enjoying my stay here. I'm learning a lot. French is coming, slowly, but surely. The Spirit is here and it is an excellent environment to study and learn. One of my favorite things about the MTC is TRC. It is something we all do once a week, where we go and teach a prepared lesson to a member who is fluent in French. It was pretty scary the first few times doing it, but now I look forward to it. The people are always really kind and they love hearing what the missionaries have to say. There is one man who Elder Wilson and I have taught a couple of times who stops us mid-sentence every time we mispronounce a word or don't conjugate it correctly. I'm grateful that he is concerned. Better now than in France. There is a lady from somewhere in Europe who wears little mittens and she always has this glow about her. She spends the first 10 minutes (of our 20 minute time period) finding out about families and past. I love to converse! She told us to be diligent in making our beds and then we shared a message with her about church attendance. I have found that my French comprehension has grown in the last couple weeks. I can basically understand the main jist of EVERYthing when one is speaking in French. That's probably just because everyone is talking really slow. I shouldn't let it get to my head, because I know that once I get to France it will be a different story, but I think there is some improvement!
Quickly, I want to tell you about another cool thing that I've been doing. Each companionship gets to take the role of an investigator and be taught by another companionship. I LOVE THIS. I love being an investigator because you get a perspective that you don't have when you're the one teaching the lessons. I've learned a lot from this and made some adjustments to my teaching based on the things that I've learned. Like I said earlier, the MTC is such a killer place to learn and to prepare for real missionary work. I'm really grateful for the time that I've here and that I have a couple more weeks to learn as much as I can before SOUTHERN FRANCE.
I know that our Heavenly Father answers prayers. I know that if we humbly get on our knees and communicate with our Father, God and Creator, he will hear us. He will answer our questions. He will give us his perfect love. He will be there. I know this because I have done so and I have felt so and there is no denying the things that I have received from his gracious hand. I know that Jesus Christ is my Savior and Redeemer and the Savior and Redeemer of the whole world. I love you all, family and friends! Have an excellent, summery week!
Wednesday, July 4, 2012
Another week has passed by at the MTC! I'm really liking my experience I'm having and the people who I get to spend my days with. I love all of you and thanks so much for the little things you do for me that mean so much. You know who I am referring to. I know that you don't do these things for any kind of recognition, but just know that they are truly appreciated! And also, I have pants! I feel so stylin with my new pantalones.... i'll fit right in in France.
Friends and family I have SO MUCH that I wish to tell you about in this email and so little time. I just want to start off by telling you about an experience that I had last week. As you know, I got to fly out to San Francisco on Thursday to make a personal appearance at the French Consulate and do fingerprints. This was a really nice break from the MTC schedule and it was a ton of fun spending the day with fellow Lyoners in Babylon. Haha. It was different. We got a lot of great looks and great smiles. But what I wish to tell you about is an experience I had on the flight out to California. All of the other Elders in the group were assigned a temporary companion for the flight, but since there was an odd number of missionaries, it just happened that I would be the one who would sit with a stranger. I ended up sitting next to a man named Tom. He sat there on his iPhone, and once the lady on the microphone asked for all electronic devices to be turned off, he started doing Sudoku. I felt so creepy watching his every move as I pretended to read the words of Paul. I knew that I was supposed to talk to him, but I didn't know how. At one point, I asked him how he was doing. I don't think he heard me and he continued what he was doing. Then I asked him super loud, enough for half the flight to hear, if he was going home or away. He turned to me and said neither. We started to have a conversation, he told me about how he was from Cincinnati and he had just finished some business in Salt Lake and was off to meet his family for a 10 day vacation in Southern California. This budded into a way cool conversation about his life, his family, etc. Eventually he asked me what I was doing, so I told him. I told him that I was spending two years to be a missionary for my church. I asked him what he knew about my church, and about the Mormons. He said he didn't really know a whole lot, but he seemed interested in what I was doing, and in what I believed. Our conversation naturally involved into a discussion about religion. He told me his conversations story (he's a practicing Protestant Christian) after he had his first son. It was incredible, he just seemed like the most humble, down to earth, disciple of Christ. I don't know how it happened. friends and family (just kidding, it was all by the Spirit) but I was able to teach this man SO MUCH about my religion. We talked for at least an hour and a half. I explained the basic teachings and foundations of our religion (the Resoration) and introduced the Book of Mormon to him. We read the introduction. He was way interested. He was so interested that he went on and read the testimonies of the witnesses (he was a patent lawyer, MIT and Harvard Law grad, so he was pretty interested in the witnesses and the logic behind it all, etc.) He had a really good understanding of the Bible and wanted to know more. I taught him about "other sheep I have which are not of this fold" and we read most of 3 Nephi 15 together. I'm going to have time to tell about everything we talked about, but I got to fit in all the material from the first 3 preach my gospel lessons and more. And it was all in the context of a natural and interesting conversation. He had lots of questions and with the help of the scriptures and the Spirit, I was able to answer them all to the best of my ability. He took lots of notes, and at the end (knowing that he would want to know more) gave him a passalong card and wrote down how he could get his own copy of the Book of Mormon. I was able to bear my testimony many times throughout the conversation. All in all, it was my first missionary experience as a true representive of Jesus Christ and all the keys and powers which that entails. And I felt it. I felt the power of my calling and I know that it was real. I know that I wouldn't have been able to answer the questions and communicate what was needed to be said to this man who had a much deeper thoughts than I do. I don't know if this man will continue to be a truth seeker, but I have hopes. I am just so grateful for the opportunity that I was able to have.
Well, I used up all the time telling that story... Sorrz. I just want to say that I love you all so much. The Lord has great things in mind for each of his children. If we will allow our wills to be swallowed up in his will, this life will have so much more meaning. Look forward with an eye of hope! View this mortality raised to immortality! Christ invites us to a higher plane of thought and he is willing to help us along our journey! Allow love to swallow up the trivial things of everyday life. I love you, and wish the best for you all.
PS. Happy 4th of July! I get to watch fireworks from the Stadium of Fire tomorrow night. Should be kewl. Eat an extra hot dog and otter pop for me, wouldya?