Hola familia y amigos! Como les va :)
This week was insane. I don't even know where to begin. There's been so many changes as Monday approaches and as we prepare to leave! We had our last lessons with Hermano Garcia and Hermana White. They're both amazing and I've learned so much from them. I've seriously loved the MTC, but I can't WAIT to get to Argentina. I feel like this week has been a pivotal moment in my mission. I've really tried to improve and have felt a lot of growth in myself as a person and as a missionary.
We had our last lessons with our teachers this week. I scored with some awesome teachers, they're the best. Hermano Garcia and Hermana White.
After emailing you guys last week, we had a 4th of July devotional, where we heard from President Judd (I think he's a branch president. not sure). He talked about how this nation was organized and set apart specifically to bring forth the restoration of the gospel. I loved that and completely agree. I remember visiting Washington D.C. and feeling such a strong spirit as we visited the different monuments. Especially the Lincoln Memorial. Wow. I can't quote it exactly, but I love the story of Wilford Woodruff when he was visited in the temple by our forefathers and the men that helped to bring forth this nation, asking him to do their temple work for them. So cool.
After the devotional, we watched fireworks outside in the parking lot of the MTC. Wasn't the best view, but we were able to see the grand finale pretty well, which was cool. Pretty much every missionary was out in the parking lot, it was packed! As we were watching fireworks I started singing the star spangled banner, and one by one everybody joined in! It was so loud and super powerful. I felt so cool haha! Later we joined up with a big group of the samoan missionaries. They all do this shout that sounds like "JAHHH-WHO!!" Eventually everyone else was doing it and during the finale everyone was just screaming "Jaah-whoo!" like crazy. Haha it was so fun. Elder Arnold couldn't really figure out the scream so he just screamed as high as he could for like 5 mins straight. Everyone went quiet and looked around to see what the noise was, and Elder Arnold just kept going HAHA! Oh man I was laughing so hard. He's a character. Then the fireworks ended and we walked back to our dorms with this giant crowd of missionaries singing this SICK song that the samoans taught us. We were all clapping together and singing, and for a split second I forgot I was a white boy ;) haha it was awesome.
Elder Arnold and I with some guys in the new district on the 4th of July
Picture with our amigas Sister (Lebron) James on the left, and her companion Sister (Tom) Brady. We literally refer to them as Lebron James and Tom Brady :)
Sunday was great as always. We had fast and testimony meeting. It was fun to see all the new district bare their testimonies. Their Spanish was a little rusty haha, but they'll be fine :) I'd be interested to hear my testimony from the first Sunday to see if my Spanish was that bad haha. We had our temple walk, then later that night we had a devotional from Sister Jenny Oaks Baker (daughter of Elder Oaks). She is a nationally recognized violinist. She gave a really cool talk and performed about 5 different songs for us, accompanied by her 4 children (who are also musical prodigies). It was AMAZING. She played the violin beautifully, it was so impressive. They performed Amazing Graze, I Know That My Redeemer Lives, some Irish song that starts with "Believe Me", but I can't remember the rest, Prayer of the Children, and Love is Spoken Here. It was awesome. She has 3 girls. One played the violin, one played the piano, and the youngest played the cello. Then she has a little boy who played the "Costco guitar" haha! Kid's a stud. After the devotional we watched Meet the Mormons. I haven't seen it since it came out and I loved it. The story about the Mom who grew up homeless with her baby and ended up with a solid family in the gospel, including her son going on a mission was SO GOOD. It was pluckin my heart strings the whole time haha!
I can't really remember Monday. I know we taught Ivan (Hmo Garcia) and then after Hermano Garcia gave us all a lesson on how to have an effective companionship study. Ha we needed that lesson cause our district seriously never does comp study. I've felt really confused about my studies in general. I can't seem to figure out how to have an effective study, I've tried to get advice from everyone but I just haven't been able to figure it out.
Tuesday morning we had study time until gym. I had had a cool conversation with Ryan and Hermana Ferrell the day before about studies, it really helped and I had an awesome personal study time, followed by a really good companionship study with Elder Arnold. It made my day go SO much better. There is real power in an effective study. We finished up with language study and took off to the field for soccer. Apparently you guys know that already cause Ryan sent some snapchats while he was supervising for us. I loove soccer. I played a lot better this last Tuesday than I have in the past... probably cause my studies went so good haha. It was a blast. After dinner on Tuesday I checked a mail and received an interesting package from my family... let's talk a bit about this package...
So first I was all pumped cause packages are awesome. I recognized mom's handwriting so I knew it was from home. Then I open it up and see a CELL PHONE. I had no idea what was going on so I click a button and the screen lights up with a message saying "do you have the phone." AHH. I literally felt the color leave my face and I was probably hyperventilating a bit. What the heck guys? So I'm sitting there thinking either I'm in on some mission impossible gig. I throw the phone back in and shut the box so no one could see (even though I'm pretty sure Elder Arnold caught a glance cause he wouldn't stop staring at the box on the way back to class). Later I went through the box and saw your note saying it was a "go phone" (which didn't make me feel any more comfortable than I was... but whatever). So right now it's locked in my drawer and it ain't comin out until I leave on Monday haha. Thanks for the unnecessary temptations you guys ;) geez.
Tuesday night we had our last choir practice. We sang "Faith of our Fathers." I wasn't to familiar with that song but I love it now. I'm sad to inform that I had another 'squeak' tragedy during practice. MAN it was bad, haha! I don't know what it is... I guess the Spirit just sends my vocal cords for a loop. Whoops!
Picture with our chorister Brother Eggett. I guess we aren't aloud to take pictures in
the gym (too late) so we had to take the picture in an ugly broom closet.
After practice and our performance (which went well.. my voice cooperated, thankfully!), we had a sweet devotional from Elder Spencer J. Condie of the Seventy. He gave an awesome talk on the first vision. Then after we had a district review back at class, where I passed out ever-famous scotch-a-roos. It's interesting to see how many best friends you can make within thirty second of pulling out a bag of those haha. Sister Swenson was especially fond of them. She asked the ingredients and after I explained she said "Oh my heavens. Tell your mother she saved my life tonight." haha! what?
Wednesday I got to host again. Hosting is the BEST! The first kid I helped was the oldest in his family with two younger siblings. Their family was so cute and they were all bawling. When we took off he was all teary eyed, but after about 3 minutes of chatting with him and trying to talk him out of shock, he had a huge grin on his face and was all happy the rest of the time. It reminded me of myself. I was so excited for him. After that I helped out probably 6 more missionaries. It was a blast. Then after hosting I went to the gym to say goodbye to Ryan before he left to Oregon. That was weird and kinda hard, just cause I hate goodbyes, but it was fine. It's been cool to have him here with me at the MTC, but it will be nice to have complete separation from everything.
After dinner on Wednesday I received another package, I couldn't tell who it was from... at first a little worried I would open it to find a gun or something, you never know these days ;) So anyways I open it and find a betos burrito on top. Right away I was like "..Brayden.." haha! Also included was a random collection of photos, some cute notes from the happy couple, and other random things that are of no use to me haha ;) It was super fun to hear from them though. I ended up eating the burrito that night, because I couldn't eat it in class. Plus I was full from dinner. Yes... it was cold and a wee bit moist, but still delicious. I only ate like half because everybody and their dog wanted a bite. Thanks Brayd and Megan!
Got a package from Brayden and Megan with a Betos burrito (not included in picture...it was devoured before I could get a picture of it...whoops) and a bunch of other random stuff :)
Thursday we had service in the morning. Then study time. Then after lunch we had TRC Skype again. Before we went over, Elder Arnold and I tried to plan a lesson and ended up getting in a bit of an argument. So we went over for skype totally unprepared. I was bugged, trying to be patient, and super worried about our lesson because I knew we didn't have the spirit. We had a lesson with a member from California named Jose. He's a college student, about 25 years old. We decided real fast before the lesson to talk with him about charity. I had super low expectations for the lesson. As we talked it went pretty well, he shared some cool experiences on charity from his mission. I then shared Mosiah 2:16-17 with him and bore my testimony on the importance of charity. Jose went kind of quiet and it seemed like he wasn't paying attention (which I wasn't surprised about). Then after Elder Arnold bore his testimony, Jose didn't really say anything. So I just started to close up the lesson saying "thanks for your time" and stuff. Then Jose looked up and I could see that he was crying pretty hard. It took me off guard... I had no idea why he would be crying. I asked him if he was ok, and he explained that as I shared that scripture with him and bore my testimony, he could feel God's love for him, and knew that God was proud of him even though he's not perfect and doesn't always do the right thing. What?? While I was bearing my testimony I had felt the Spirit, but I just assumed that it was "testimony jitters." It really hit me that it's not me or my lessons that changes people, it's the Spirit. I was so grateful that God had inspired us to share that message/scripture that caused Jose to feel something that I couldn't have given him on my own. I know that this is the Lord's mission, not mine, and that as long as I am obedient and striving to do my best to serve Him, that I can help other people to change their lives and come unto Christ. That they can come to experience the absolute joy and peace that the gospel of Christ brings to my life. I love this work!
I'll call you guys on Monday from that sinful device in my drawer.
Love you all!
"I'm leavin on a jet plane. Don't know if I'll be back again..." (I'll prolly be back...but ya never know).
President and Sister Swenson. They're the coolest couple, I seriously try to soak up
everything they say. I'm super grateful to have been in their branch.
This is my buddy Elder Watts. He's the kid that looks like Jackson.
Picture with our poly buddies
One last district with teachers picture
If we're tardy to class, we shut the door and make the tardy companionship "contact" on the door. So they have to knock and our teacher acts like a random person and they have to try to get in. Haha!
It's so funny. It's only happened to me once.
Did a tie exchange last night before we all leave :)
My buddy, Elder Vea. He's from Tonga, going Spanish speaking in Texas I think. He doesn't know English though..so he's learning English...to learn spanish. It's nuts!
Elder Arnold and I with Sister Tiff Whipple and her companion
Elder Mikesell and Elder Jolley... love this kid to death, he's awesome.
Bunch of people in our zone