Wow, sounds like you guys have had a pretty fun week! Lucky little Abbey, she always seems to have friends taking her to cool paces! And I would be super jealous of all that chowder you guys got to eat, but I've already been eating AMAZINGLY here! Every meal here is an unlimited buffet of goodness! I may even be gaining weight! woo woo!
But for real, the MTC is AWESOME!!!! I've tried to think of what I could compare this experience to, and I've deiced that the MTC is what you might get if you fused Camp Helaman, EFY, and BYU. Well, fused all of those things and then inject it with steroids, because this place is crazy!! In a good way, of course.
Every day here feels like 2 days, just because they jam so much into each day. No joke, every night when I'm trying to think of what has been going on in my life, I think "that was really great yesterday morning when we... wait... that was THIS morning!" In high school, I felt like I learned a little bit each day. In college, I felt like I learned a lot each day. At the MTC, I feel like I'm a brand new person at the end of each day!
I've been thinking about what exactly I've learned as I'm here, and I think that I've only gained a slightly better knowledge of Gospel principles, but a much stronger testimony of those principles. But most of all, I think I've learned a TON about how to be a missionary. It's one thing teaching a lesson to a group of Mormons, and quite another thing to teach the Gospel to someone that doesn't know it at all.
Speaking of teaching the Gospel, all throughout our time here at the MTC we do role plays, where someone will act as an investigator, and then we will practice teaching them. Some of the role plays we just do with people in our group, and those usually aren't very hard, but other times we do role plays with people that come into the MTC as volunteers to act as investigators, and those are MUCH more difficult. These volunteers are usually converts to the Church, so they act exactly how they acted before they joined the church, and it's our job to go and teach them. Me and my companion did our first role play with one of these volunteers yesterday, and we got CREAMED! haha it's actually slightly humorous how badly we taught him... he knew way more of the bible then me or my companion know, and he was whipping all sorts of scriptures out on us! I'm glad we had such a tough investigator though, because it made the rest of the day filled with learning experiences. All through the day, me and my companion would hear things in classes where we would be like "THAT'S what we should have done! Wow, that would have worked so much better!" And since learning how to be a better missionary is exactly why we are here, I guess yesterday ended up being a huge success!
As for my companion and my district, they are great!! I love them all so much! Me and my companion get along great, all of the elders in our group are amazing guys, and the sister missionaries in our district are really good to have around too. In our district, we have 5 companionships (10 people total), and there are 3 districts in our zone. All of our zone is English speaking, but each district is going to different places. In my district, we have me, my companion, one other guy, and one sister missionary going to India, and all of the other missionaries in our district are going to Tampa Florida. My companion has Indian (as in from India) ancestry, but he is from America, and then the sister missionary going to India was born in India, then moved to America, and now is going back to India to serve. She is the first American sister missionary from America to go serve in India, so that's pretty cool!
This week me and the other missionaries going to India got to have a very special experience. Our mission president came to visit us in the MTC! Wow!! He hasn't left for India yet since his visa hasn't been approved, so he decided to come visit us while he is just waiting around in Utah for his visa to get approved. It was really cool getting to to talk to him about the India mission, and asking him all of our questions. From what he told us, and from what the sister missionary from India has been telling us, I feel like I've learned quite a bit more about India. Some things good, and some things... well... haha let's just say I'm gonna be having some interesting things happening to me when I get over to India!
It's been a pretty big adjustment getting used to all of the rules that missionaries have. Most rules aren't hard to follow, because they are just normal "be good" kind of rules, but other things I've been like "do we REALLY need to do this...?" Especially the things that are totally acceptable for non-missionaries to do, but now we are held to a higher/different standard. For example, one of the bigs things they emphasize here is not saying "guys" or other terms like that. We are elders and sister missionaries, not guys, girls, buddies, sirs, or anything else. They always tell us though that exact obedieance will bring miracles though, so I'm doing my best to all of the rules (no matter how nit-picky them may seem), because I want to see some miracles!! :)
I've been thinking though, one of the greatest miracles ever is that ANYONE would ever accept the message that we as missionaries are preaching. We are young, inexperienced, and the message we are preaching isn't exactly the easiest thing for people to swallow. Especially when we are asking them to dramatically change their lives! But somehow... people do accept the Gospel. And the more I'm here, the more I realize how much of a miracle that is. If this Gospel wasn't true, and we didn't actually have God helping us... wow, this would never, never, NEVER work!
One last thought from Elder Anderson. This last year at college, I did some thinking about what it really means to be a man. After some thinking, I came to the conclusion that what makes a man a man is the fact that he puts others before himself. Children only care about their needs, but a man (or a woman) works to care for others. Now more recently, I've been thinking of why a missionary leaves home as a boy, and comes back a man. I've realized it's not because he is 2 years older; it's because we are dedicating our lives to others. No longer is each day about "how can I make my own life better", it's about "how can I make the lives of those around me better", particularly by helping them recieve the Gospel, which will bring the most happiness of all into their lives.
Well, it's been a great first few days here at the MTC, and I miss you guys already!
After 19 years of waiting, today is the day I get to be set apart as a full time missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I'm so excited that my life long dream is finally becoming a reality!! I still can't believe this is really happening... but I'm glad it is. I love the gospel of Jesus Christ so much, and I can't wait to share it with the people of India!
For two years, I am going to leave my life in America. But when I come back, I hope to be able to say that I gave everything I had on my mission, and held nothing back from the Lord. I hope that I will bring many people unto Christ, and bring myself closer to Christ as well.
God be with all of you, 'till we meet again! =)
Now they were desirous that salvation should be declared to every creature, for they could not bear that any human soul should perish; yea, even the very thoughts that any soul should endure endless torment did cause them to quake and tremble.