What a crazy week. I've said it before, I'll say it again, time flies.
Last letter from the MTC!
We had a great devotional on Sunday. I can't remember who spoke but it was all about obedience and how we can be better if we do everything spot on. He told some crazy stories about lawsuits associated with missionaries separated from their companions just for a few minutes. He spoke with power. Right before he spoke he asked us all to say a silent prayer so that he could be directed via the spirit on what he should speak about. Obviously someone needed to hear about obedience.
He made some funny comments about food on his mission. He said he was a picky eater and that he struggled for his whole mission. Similar to what Cassie said (thanks for that forward, mom), he swallowed his food haha. That came up the next day in class and Hermano Angel touched on some tactics he used (Ecuador). Some were jokes. They were: drop the food into the backpack, swallow, spread, "fake spill," feed the dog, put under plate (a joke, I think, and drink lots of water. He told some hilarious stories about some of those. He said that during his mission he went from praying like, "please bless them to make good food," to, "please prepare my stomach and taste buds..." He told some crazy stories about getting really sick, like losing 25 pounds over the weekend sick.
Surprisingly, this week has had some thefts from adjacent rooms of ours. The MTC is a place full of pretty honest people. Two elders from the new district had a stamp book and SD cards stolen from their room as well as their clothes dumped on the ground. They told Elder Myler and me about it and we filed the police report. I haven't heard any news on it yet. Our room hasn't been touched, partly because we have a nerf basketball hoop on the door which makes it really hard to open. That may also explain why we haven't had a cleaning check for two weeks. No complaints from me!
Interesting experience this week. EVERYONE in our zone is getting sick. I mean everyone. There is an entire district of 10 elders sick right now not to mention ~8 others in the zone and 3 in my district. Somehow I haven't gotten sick. With my history of a super strong immune system, it comes as now surprise (sarcasm.) We had a leadership meeting last Tuesday and my stomach was pretty painful all night. I was not in the mood to be sick. I said a quiet prayer to get better or feel better. When we sat down for the meeting, as soon as we started the opening prayer I felt 100% better. That stayed that way throughout the entire meeting. As soon as we said the closing prayer, I felt just as bad as before. I was strong long enough to get what I had to get done and then felt poor again right before bedtime. Pretty cool experience for sure.
You hear so often about the grace of God is the only reason we're saved, that through grace we can be saved. Yes, that's partly true. Hermano Angel made an interesting point this week. He said, "Grace is a sustaining process that helps us through it all." That really puts things in perspective, I think. Grace isn't the ability to completely overcome, it is the blessing of being helped. There's that quote by someone I don't know that, "God takes us to our outermost extremities then carries us the rest of the way." I think those two quotes complement each other very well.
Elder Myler and I watched Elder Bednar's first talk as an apostle this week. He looked terrified and repeated over and over how weak he was for the job ahead. It's cool to see how much he has grown as a result of his calling. We can be the same way. We're never really adequate for the job but through faith, we can accomplish anything.
There are these videos we watch in the MTC called, "The District." A camera crew followed these missionaries in California around and recorded all their lessons. Some were obviously better than others. Anyway, we've seen enough of these videos that we always laugh at the people in them. Apparently they're all still working at the MTC (They served their missions 2 years ago.) One such, Elder Christensen, we saw the other day. When we saw him, we all went to shake his hand because he's a "super star" at the MTC. Not really but it's the only thing we can really get excited about other than leaving. When I went to shake his hand, I had to walk after him. He wasn't very excited. I don't think he likes being a "celebrity." Regardless, we got a good laugh out of it.
Another good quote that I'll leave up to you to analyze. "Repentance isn't something you do, it is something you become."
Elder Thorsen still has not received his visa for Lima, Peru. He was supposed to leave for the Lima MTC 6 weeks ago. He has been a great example of faith through trials. Today he got his temporary reassignment: Chicago, IL. It is an awesome reassignment. Hopefully he gets his visa soon since he has no winter clothes. I told him to get out to Wilmette, IL asap. Too bad Grandpa and Grandma Johnson don't live there anymore. Chicago is an awesome place, though.
I got a letter from my Mission President today. He sent all of us Tempe missionaries a letter with the first day itinerary. He seems very organized. No one else going to other missions got something like that. It essentially said how excited he was to meet us and what we should prepare. The first day is crazy. I hope they throw nap time in there somewhere!
We got to host again yesterday. Our district hosted a lot of the international missionaries. It was cool to hear where some of them were from. One Sister was from Italy. I asked her if she followed Formula 1. She said yes very enthusiastically. Always funny to run into people who do follow it. People here have never heard of it but as soon as you get out of the USA, many people know it. I met some Tongans. Apparently it's not "tawnGa," but "tawnga," with a very quiet and unpronounced G. Who knew. Again, lots of tears as families said goodbye. It's crazy how rushed that first day is. I still don't remember a thing about it.
We had four elders in our zone try out to sing in the big devotional, the one that all 3100+ people watch. They qualified but it was all full on Sunday. Unfortunately, Sunday is our last day. Too bad. Last devotional I took my camera just to see how far I could zoom in. From the very back row of a "gym" that holds 4 full sized basketball courts, I could zoom in past everyone in the bleachers and get close enough to read the sheet music (blurrily) of the pianist. It helped keep me awake since it wasn't the most interesting of devotionals (Tuesday). When it is very hot int he room, they sometimes tell the Elders to take off their jackets. I got a picture before that of all the people in black jackets and right after with everyone in white shirts. It added a TON of light to the room. We were singing in the choir so I had a pretty good view. For some reason we sit in the back left. Mom, we've sung every week we've been here. It's really cool and is, "the only choir to not have enough women."
Question time: How did Michael and his hosts of Angels win the war in heaven? Spirits can't die... what defined "victory?" Also, what happens to your conscience when you're sleeping?
As I was reading Alma 7:23 this week, a word stuck out to me (Mom, quote it in here). The word "submissive." When I think of that word, I think of someone who caves in and who isn't firm in whatever it is they are doing. In the New Testament, Christ often says be as children. Children are submissive, they are humble enough to get in trouble and learn from it. I think that's a lesson for all of us to humble ourselves and be able to take critique.
Our district has been talking about how lucky we are to have the two teachers we have. Hermano Angel and Hermana Olsen teach superbly and have funny stories. Funnily enough, neither graduated High School but both got into BYU, Hermana Olsen at 16 years old. I think we're the only missionaries to have two teachers who didn't graduate HS who go to BYU. Hermano Angel came to the temple with us this morning as a sort of farewell. It was a great experience.
Thank you Eric, Will, Mom, Sister Hines, Susie, Uncle Ivan and Aunt Rebecca, Natalia, Grandpa and Grandma Johnson, and Grandpa Wolthuis for the great letters and package this week! I felt so loved. Replies are en route but they will be shorter than usual due to the hectic nature of these last few days at the MTC.
The next letters I write will be from Tempe!
Love you all,