Sunday, September 8, 2013

Third Week (Sent Aug. 31, 2013)


Remember when I said that the MTC gets better and harder all the time? Yep, it's still like that. I can't believe how isolated we are. I'm going just a little bit crazy, but at the same time, I've never felt the Spirit so consistently.

We've started teaching two new "investigators" (they're always based on real investigators that the teacher had). One is David, (Hermano Salisbury) who has had an incredibly hard life; all we know is that he was involved in gangs and moved from Mexico with his dad several years ago. He is extremely quiet, but always very polite. He isn't educated very much, and hasn't had any religious background, so we keep the lessons extremely simple. Needless to say, it gets uncomfortable sometimes when he doesn't say anything in response to our broken Spanish, but I can't describe how good it feels when he nods and gently smiles. The Spirit is so strong in those simple moments. For example, we were teaching him the simplest version of the plan of salvation that we could with only three circles: "Con Dios" (Pre-Earth Life), "La Tierra" (Earth Life), and "Con Dios otra vez" (Celestial Kingdom). He asked us where the last circle was, and we told him "in heaven". He smiled and said "oh, like in the clouds?" We had know idea how to explain it to him, so we just said yes. But something told me that it was the best way that he could learn. Simplicity and humility are the keys to keeping the Spirit in a lesson. By the way, he agreed to come to Church with us on Sunday with his family!

The other investigator is... frustrating. Our teacher in the afternoons is named Hermano Finley. He is seriously the happiest person I've ever met. I don't know how his cheek muscles can stand that much smiling. But he plays the part of Lee, who we've only taught once so far. He's this crazy outgoing Peruvian? (No one in my district really knows. I can't explain it, but just know that he's a confusing person. They say that Latinos don't use sarcasm, but I think someone needs to tell that to Lee.) We were the only ones in the district to actually get in the door (the others just kinda taught the lesson on the doorstep) but I don't think that means we were successful. He started going off about how he was Baptist, and he didn't see what the difference was between all the churches. He said that the most important thing was a person's relationship with God. It took us far too long to figure out what he was saying and what we should really be talking about, but finally Elder Ellis started explaining the Apostasy so we could get into the Restoration and explain the importance of Priesthood Authority. I could see Lee starting to take interest, but then right before we started talking about Joseph Smith, he looked at his watch and said that he had to get to work. I wanted to yell "Are you kidding me, Lee? Work isn't important!!!" Ugh. That was definitely a lesson that I needed to learn. Arguing with an investigator will never get you anywhere. We knew that, but now we know that you have to be flexible with the lessons enough to adapt them on the fly. We teach him again tonight, but from the reactions of other companionships in the District, I'm pretty nervous.

On Tuesday, we went to an international devotional with Elder Neil L. Anderson that was broadcast to the other MTCs around the world. He gave a great talk about having charity for others, and then sacrificing so that we can serve others. The talk was great, but his testimony is where I really felt the Spirit. Hearing the testimony of a literal witness of Jesus Christ is absolutely incredible. He kept speaking as though we were both servants of the Lord, trying to bring the world to the knowledge of the Savior's existence and plan. I've never felt more pumped to represent Him. Singing in the choir before the talk was also an amazing experience. The song that we sang was really difficult, but absolutely beautiful (as was the song last week). The usual choir director is someone I really admire, but a substitute took over for the actual performance. We were pretty disappointed until he told a story about how it was his birthday, and he got the chance to live his dream by singing in a practice with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir with his wife that had Alzheimer's. He started to cry when he explained that she would be in the audience that night, and he thanked us sincerely for being there to sing. I've never felt more selfish for wishing that someone else was there just to wave their arms around in a way that I liked. It was another quite humbling experience.

It's crazy to see friends coming and going so quickly. The Elders I knew before hand that were here when I first arrived are for the most part gone to the Philippines, Argentina, and other places. I'm seeing other friends that are arriving after I've been here for a few weeks, and it's all exciting, but a little sad at the same time. I can't believe that I won't see them for at least two years. I'm trying not to think of the possibility that I won't see them for the rest of my life. This work really bonds you to the other people serving with you. I don't know how I'm supposed to say goodbye to my district in four weeks, but I'm just going to enjoy it.

Sorry that the pictures aren't that interesting this week. I'm running out of cool things to take pictures of, and keep forgetting to take pictures with people I know. I'll try harder this week.

I haven't had any serious homesickness yet, but I'm really starting to miss all of you. Thank you so much for the letters that I've received so far. I really appreciate the packages and kind notes, but let me tell you: nothing is better than a letter. Getting a surprise letter in the mail can really be a boost and make the entire day. Please, if you have the time, write!

Love you all! Hurrah para Israel!

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