Family and friends!!!
I am so sorry but i don't have a lot of time to email so I'm sorry if I don't write you back this week because I have lots to tell all of you! So Saturday night has a lot of study time at the end of the day and you are supposed to study in your class rooms. Well because of that the whole district is there and it can be hard to stay focused sometimes. President Branch asked us to make sure we stayed on task and focused so it was spiritually productive. Elder Barlow and Elder Corpuz both had oil they needed to consecrate so that night when it became hard to focus we had them both consecrate their oil with the whole district present! The spirit immediately came rushing into the room and you could feel it so strong! We told the sisters that if any of them needed a blessing that we would love to be of assistance in that area! Sister Nielsen hadn't been sleeping at all so she asked for one and sister Mechum asked for one as well! I had the opportunity to anoint one of their heads before the blessing so that was sweet! After both blessings we decided to go around the room and to basically share some personal experiences with The Book of Mormon or things that came from getting ready for a mission. There was a lot of crying by the sisters (and elders) and lots of very strong testimonies. One of the STLs, sister Parke, said that she could feel the presence of her grandfather, who she was very close with, as we all bore testimony. People always say that stuff but I never really had felt that myself. I didn't think they were lying but I had just never felt it. Well at the end of the discussion/testimony meeting Elder Larson asked me to say the closing prayer. We all knelt down and the moment I started the spirit hit us so hard! It was directing me to pray using certain phrases and such which I never had had happen before. Everyone was crying. while I was praying I suddenly felt what sister Parke was talking about! You could feel the presence of others in the room. It was so tangible I don't know how to really describe it. I wanted to open my eyes so bad but felt like I shouldn't. I finished the prayer and hugs and handshakes were exchanged all around. Our district has been so close since day one and I love it!
Sunday was yet another great day full of the spirit. Sacrament meeting was fantastic and very nice to take the sacrament. Sunday night there is an opportunity to go watch video devotionals from general authorities. Elder Barlow and I went to "Character of Christ" which has been highly recommended by many other missionaries. All I am going to say is here is your next personal study or FHE activity. Ask yourself what does it mean to have character. Now ask yourself... what was Christ's Character? Define the Character of Christ. You will find your answers in the scriptures all over the place. A good place to start is in the accounts of his suffering in Gethsemane, and when Satan tempts him the three times. Pay attention to JS translations! The bottom line is that The Atonement is impossible without the character of Christ. I expect a full report.
Throughout this whole time we have had investigators that the MTC provides for us and it has been a very good learning experience for our whole district. It takes a lot of effort to focus on what the spirit would have you say.
Here is my next assignment. Go sit and ponder. "What do I believe? What do I know? What am I willing to testify of?" Then go confirm it with God through fervent prayer. That comes from an apostle of the Lord just in case you were wondering! To be specific it is from Neil L. Anderson! He came and spoke to us on the 12th! It was a half birthday celebration gift to me! "I'm so happy". Any ways it was a really good Devotional! A few things I learned.
- Repentance should bring good thoughts to your mind not bad ones. If they are bad feelings then you have some work to do. We cannot testify of the "beauty of repentance" if we have negative feelings towards it.
- Always have Christ on your lips! It is powerful to testify of Christ! Especially by memorizing his own words we have recorded in scripture.
- The Book of Mormon is the best recourse for learning of Christ and his Atonement. Bottom line.
- We have our witness of Jesus Christ and the gospel through His apostles special witness. All we must do is "Look" (1 Nephi: 11-14)
Another thing I have learned while here at the mtc. HYMNS ARE AMAZING!!! I kept having the same songs come in my head and I wanted to get some variety so I went and purchased a small hymn book at the book store. This might really surprise you mom but I was SO EXCITED!!! I felt like I was buying a book of scripture that I had totally been ignoring for 18 years. Now you might find me and Elder Barlow proudly singing hymns at the top of our voices as we walk from building to building. Just some of my favorites...
- Battle Hymn of the Republic
- Choose the Right
- Do what is Right
- Reverently and Meekly Now
- Ye Elders of Israel
- Be Still my Soul
And lots more but that is just off the top of my head.
Wednesday we had a skype lesson with members from our actual missions It was so cool. Elder Barlow and I were not looking forward to it at all. We had nothing to plan for because we didn't know anything about the member. We talked with Sister Beers from Liberty, MO and she was very kind. She is in her 30's probably and has two or three kids. We just started talking and me and Elder Barlow did our best to follow the spirit. We talked about making church attendance a bigger deal by making the sacrament more special. She talked about how its hard some times to stay focused because she has young kids. We shared Alma 6: 6 and talked about how she was going to church for others, her kids, just as it said in the verse. We got her to commit to maybe say a prayer with her kids while the sacrament is being passed so that they can be focused on what's most important and for her to read the lessons before attending church. Towards the end we bore testimony of church attendance and told brief experiences we both have from making the sacrament more important. I felt like the whole time our thoughts were extremely scattered and I was disappointed. Then right before we hung up she asked us if we had been given a topic of discussion. We told her how we didn't have anything prepared prior to talking to her. She explained that her and her husband had been trying to figure out how to make church a better experience for the past couple weeks. Elder Barlow and I were so happy! Very cool experience! I hope I can meet her in person eventually!
Just real quick because I'm running out of time! But Wednesday the new missionaries also showed up and since Elder Barlow and I are Zone Leaders we did a quick orientation with those new in our zone. It was a lot of fun and I'm so excited for them because I have already learned so much!
Yesterday was infield orientation all day and it was a LONG day! lots of great stuff to learn just long. There is lots of work to do in areas where there has not been a large amount of success. They trained us on that most of the day.
I set a goal that I want to carry with me my whole time I serve. I was reading out of the missionary handbook and it talks about when you are supposed to wake up and go to bed. The words it uses are "Retire to bed by 10:30". So my goal is to want to "retire" to bed. I want to work hard enough every day that I feel like I'm retiring to bed.
Well Y'all I love Heavenly Father and his son Jesus Christ. They are our strength. John 14:6 " I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me."
P.S. pictures won't upload? can't figure it out