Today is my last P-day here in the MTC! It's also my second P-day ever... Anyway, today we get to go to the temple, which is amazing!! I have had an interesting week. Being in a tripanionship is tough. There are some benefits. Well, one. When we roleplay, we can have a companionship teaching an investigator. That's the only up side I can see. It's tough planning for lessons with investigators, because we don't seem to be able to agree on what to teach, which leads to conflict and frustration, which drives away the Spirit. Without the Spirit, I feel a little down, and I have trouble focusing on my studies, which makes it harder to feel the Spirit. It's a vicious cycle! So I've been struggling a lot with that this week.
However!! Yesterday was a great experience that brought the Spirit back into my life, and I am now at a better place than I ever have been in the mission! We had in-field orientation at the main campus all day, so I got to experience lunch and dinner, as well as a few classes and so on at the "real" MTC. I'm glad I'm at West Campus. I would be so fat if I was at the main campus. In gthe cafeteria at lunch, Elder Rodgers and I were stopped by an Elder Rogers who is going to Japan! What are the odds?!
Your question: "Have you seen anyone else you know?" Yes! I was looking around the main campus all day for someone I know, because there's about 3,800 missionaries there or something, so I figured I was bound to know someone! I saw a sister from my highschool. I think her name is Amanda. I didn't get the chance to talk to her, and I don't think she noticed me, but it was a learning experience for me. She had been in my seminary class one of the years of highschool. I can't remember which... But she rarely showed up, and I assumed she was disinterested with the Gospel. She has now made the decision to dedicate herself to the Lord for 18 months. Who am I to judge another?? Good for her.
Also, just before I left after dinner to go back to the West Campus, I heard "Elder Jake Rogers!" behind me. It was Elder Nick Bingham from our Stake! He's going to Mexico, and he got here on Wednesday. (He's the one President Salmon asked to give a short talk in Stake Conference.) I sat near Elder Hausenfluck during our devotional on Tuesday, so I got to talk to him a bit more. At the broadcast, two Elders shouted to get my attention at the same time! Elder KJ Green, going to Brazil, and Elder Quinn Marble! (sorry these are out of order sequentially, I only have so much time to write, so I am just typing what comes to my mind). Also, Elder McLaws, going to Winnipeg, Canada from our Stake was in my zone until he left Wednesday morning.
I have to tell you about the devotional on Tuesday!! The guest speaker was Janice Kapp Perry. She wrote a slew of the primary songs, including "A Child's Prayer," "I Love to See the Temple," "I Belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints," "I'm trying to be like Jesus," "Army of Heleman," and "Love is Spoken Here." All of the best ones, right? She had us sing a medley of all those songs, and it was great. She also re-wrote the words to "As Sisters in Zion" (I'm not sure if she wrote the orgininal or not. I think she might have). She had us sing the EFY Medley with the new words, which have the sisters also focusing on their call as missionaries! So cool. Instead of singing "We will be the Lord's missionaries," we sang "We are now the Lord's missionaries to bring the world His truth!"
Brother and Sister Perry served a mission in Chile, and Brother Perry served as a young Elder in France. Sister Perry shared the story of how they met. Before I relate this story, you have to understand that they are 78 and 74 years old. Brother Perry has a very old, raspy voice, and shuffles as he walks. My point is, he's old. After his mission, Brother Perry attended BYU and was in some music programs. Sister Perry was also there studying music. They had a few classes together and Sister Perry noticed him, but she didn't think he noticed her. The time came for final exams. Sister Perry was next up to play a piece for her exam, so she was warming up the reed for her clarinet. Brother Perry, who was sitting next to her, nudged her. "What?? I'm up next!" she said, a little irritated.
"I was just thinkning... Those lips were made for something better than playing the clarinet." Needless to say, the whole stadium cracked up at that! Then Brother Perry got up from his seat on the stand and hobbled up to the podium. He put his hands on the sides of Sister Perry's face and planted a big one on her! The audience was laughing so hard! Then Brother Perry turned to us and pumped his fist in victory! All of the Elders clapped, and some gave him a standing ovation! He sat down, then got up and did it again. Quite an interesting devotional... Not typical, for sure. It's my only MTC devotional, so at least it was memorable!
We got to meet President and Sister Murdock! They are SO awesome!! I am so so so excited to serve with them! I would say more, but I'm running out of time!
Now to explain how I came back to feeling the Spirit yesterday. The in-field orientation was not our typical spiritual classroom setting, so our companionship was feeling a little bit of a lack of the Spirit. After we came back to the West Campus, we had an appoinment with our TRC (teacher training resources) investigator, Gabriel. He is from Chile and has a strong Christian background (he's Catholic). In our last lesson, we had shared the message of the Restoration and invited him to read the Book of Mormon. He seemed a little confused when we left, but very interested. Before we went in to teach him yesterday, we sang "I Am a Child of God" to invite the Spirit. We had a wake-up call to the importance of our calling, and we made a true and sincere goal to be exactly obedient. As we felt neccessary, we knelt in personal prayer and asked for forgiveness for certain things (nothing too serious, but just losing focus, not being exactly obedient, etc.).
We began our lesson with Gabriel by singing "I'm Trying to be Like Jesus," which we felt would invite the Spirit. After a prayer, he shared with us all of his thoughts about what we had shared the last time we met. He is so interested in the prophet Joseph Smith and his story. He said he started reading the Book of Mormon from the beginning. The VERY beginning, meaning the testimonies of the Three and Eight Witnesses, and of the prophet Joseph Smith. He said he also looked online for more information about him and found articles and videos (in Spanish) about his life and the first vision. He said (basically), "Why would he have continued to suffer all of that persecution for the first vision if it wasn't true? Why would all eleven of those men put their names on those testimonies for the world to see if they did not actually see what they said they saw, jou know?" (He says 'jou know' [you know] a lot!)
He said he was excited when he read the prophet's testimony, and he felt somehow that he was also a witness to the first vision. He said he thinks he knows it's true (Elder Rogers translation: He believes it's true). Elder Hawkes and I shared with him that we would put our names right next to theirs in that book, and I said that I know he was a prophet, and that he saw what he said he saw. Tell the world, I would live and die for that testimony. He appreciated that. He said he wants to get baptized when he really knows that it is true. He said, "If all of this is true, jou know, my life... My life will never be the same, jou know?" I told him that he was right. His life would never be the same, but it would be better. The Spirit was so strong, and I gave Gabriel the biggest hug after the closing prayer. I love him, and care so much about his eternal salvation.
The Lord blessed us, I feel, for our new resolution to be exactly obedient. he allowed the Spirit to be in that meeting. Our obedience affected Gabriel's salvation. What a great responsibility, and what trust the Lord has placed in His missionaries!
We need help here at home. I'm glad to be serving in the U.S., where I can relate to people and help the Lord bless families right here where we need it most. Also, my district is so awesome!! We decided that they take those who were friends in the pre-existence and then put them in the same MTC district.
I appreciate all of your letters, the zucchini bread (Elder Hawkes and I love it!), and the love you send from home! I'm sorry if I don't respond to all of the letters, but I can only write back on P-day, and there's so much to do! I love you all.
For the mission plaque: 2 Nephi 31: 11-12
If he has the power, make sure Brother Nielson knows that the mission has NO commas in it: Colorado Denver South Mission
The Church..... Latter-Day Saints (with a hyphen)
I hope I didn't forget to answer any of your questions, but I feel like I did. Sorry! Stay true. Read, please read from the Book of Mormon every day!