Okay, so here are a few clarifications on my travel plans: They were changed like a thousand times this week. And by that, I mean twice. I was supposed to leave at 9:30, then they changed to 11:30, and now it's 8:30. I don't expect another change, but I wouldn't be surprised. I'm just glad that it gives me time for Cafe Rio one more time before I leave! :) My flight leaves at 2:05pm on Monday for Dallas, and I land at 5:40. Then we fly out of Dallas at 7:50pm, and land in Buenos Aires at 7:55am de la mañana el martes. I'm not sure if that includes time zones, or what not, but I'm crazy excited! I don't know how much time I'll have to do this, but the MTC encourages us to buy a calling card so that we can call home for a few minutes and tell them that we landed safely. I'll most likely be able to call in Salt Lake, because an Hermana in my district has a map of all the pay phones in the airport so that we can find one before all the other departing missionaries. Who else even uses pay phones anymore!?
It's really hard for me to focus on anything other than my departure. After all only have like 49 hours left in good old 'Merica for nearly two years. But I'll try to talk about something else for a while. Yesterday, we had In-field Orientation, which every missionary that is leaving within the next week goes through. Even though it was all day long, it was great! I grew a greater respect for planing and setting goals, and oddly I'm really excited for my first few planning sessions with my trainer in the field. I'm also excited for my first contact, first investigator, first rejection, first insult, etc. I just want to be a real missionary so badly. The thing I learned most in the orientation is how to effectively work with members. I know I didn't realize it while I was at home, but I sure realized the incredible role that members play in a missionary's work. I can't wait to build a relationship with the members that I serve, so that together, we can share this invaluable Gospel to the people they dearly care about.
On Wednesday, my district was able to host the new younger missionaries. Remember the chaotic craziness when you dropped me off? I was trying to help contain that. I got to help with the early arrivals, which was great. I saw another host who was a kid I went to EFY with! (Elder Tyler Seawell) I hadn't talked to him in a while, but had seen him only a few times before at the MTC. It was good to see him several times again before I head to Argentina and he to Brazil. The rest of the time I was in charge of helping the other hosts with lots of luggage. It was pretty fun talking to them about where they are heading, but I kinda wish I could host a missionary through the whole process. But, lift where you stand.
Also, I feel like an official MTC Elder when I say this: I participated in a Tie Trade. There were probably 20 Elders all trading their ties, and I traded a few times. Of course I kept the sentimental ones (for example if someone gave one to me). Not much more to say about that, other than the Hermanas are fascinated with our micro-economy of neck apparel.
Praying in Spanish has become so much fun. Since I've really had to think about the things I'm saying, my prayers have become more personal. I know I'm not saying things correctly, but I also know that Heavenly Father knows exactly what I'm saying. My favorite part of the day is my nightly prayers when I can talk to my Heavenly Father about the things that happened, the things I'm worried about, and acknowledge and thank Him for all the blessings He gave me. Several times I've felt the Spirit throughout my whole body while I express to Him the love I have for all of His children. About 50% of the words I have to do with "Padre, te amo muchísimo." And while I feel His love when I say that, I feel it the strongest when I express my love about His other children. It fascinates me that Heavenly Father understands the love we have for Him best when we love and serve other people. If we truly want to live our entire lives in the service of God, He would rather have us outside serving people, or in the temple serving our ancestors, than stuffed in our room reading scriptures 24/7, or singing songs of praise every minute of the day.
We had our last lessons with two of our teachers on Thursday, Hermano Salisbury and Hermano Ball. I look up to these two people so much. Hermano Salisbury is one of the most knowledgeable people I've ever met, and he is so excited to share the things that he feels Heavenly Father wants us to know. He decided to give us a lesson on training Elder Holland gave to certain people on the things that have to change for the Church to be effective during the Millennium. He said that he is very particular about the setting and kind of people he tells it to, but he told us that he thought our district was mature enough in the Gospel to understand it. It was incredible. Because I don't think email is good setting for it, I won't go to much into it. All I can say is magnify your calling, and focus nearly all Gospel learning in the family. He told us some awesome missionary stories as well, which is what Hermano Ball did as well. Hermano Ball is the happiest and most sincere teacher I've had, and he got us so excited to get out and serve. Even though there wasn't a whole lot left to learn, I'm so glad I had these lessons. They really helped me grow in excitement, and focus on the things I'm supposed to.
The last thing I want to talk about is the last choir number on Tuesday. We sang a beautiful version of Joseph Smith's first prayer. The lyrics about Joseph seeing the living God are amazing. They're repeated probably four times. Once at a normal volume, another really loud and long, then cut off, then the others low and reflective. It was incredible to realize all the characteristics of God. Brother Eggett coached us on how we should sing the words "Joseph, this is my Beloved, Hear Him!" He pointed out that the all powerful and all knowing Father in Heaven didn't cry "MOR-TAL!!" or try to impress with His power. We laughed hysterically, but I realized that deity is almost always portrayed this way. I wonder how many people actually think of God as a Heavenly Father, who while all-powerful indeed, is also perfectly in control, gentle, and loving. The Spirit testified of this fact so powerfully during the performance. I'm so glad to have had the opportunity to understand this important truth. My love for my Father in Heaven has multiplied several times. I just want to do what He wants me to do. Está digo con sinceridad, en el nombre de me Salvador Santo, Jesucristo, Amén.
¡Hasta Argentina! ¡Les amo todo de ustedes!