Thursday, June 25, 2009

This Week

Things are getting pretty mundane here at the MTC. Pretty much every week is the same, but there were a few things here to keep it exciting, excluding scriptures and speaking Italian.

Last Sunday our Branch President was released and a new one was called. The new one is a great guy. I already know that I have a lot to learn from him. Also, this week marks our 6th week so we are now the oldest group of Italians in the MTC. It is weird but good. If any of the younger missionaries need help they come to us and we have all the answers. It is neat. Also, it being the 6th week, I was released as district leader and a new one was called. I can't say I am sad, although it was a good experience to have to be a leader. It will be great to be able to have a ton more study time on Sundays and not be in meetings.

In sad news, the temple is closed for the next two weeks or so, but I will be able to get back there the week before we ship out. So last week wasn't the last time I will go to the temple for two years.

We taught the first lesson again in Italian yesterday. It went really well. We need to work on our conjegations (I have no idea how to spell that) for a group of people, cause yesterday was our first time teaching a group of people in Italian. But it went well. The spirit was there and that helped a TON. All in all the language is coming really well. We have been speaking about 75% Italian the past few days. It has been good to speak the language. It really helps a lot.

How are Logan and Andrew doing? I don't get to hear from them at all so updates from them would be much appreciated. Um I have seen Brian a ton down here. It is really great to talk to him when we see each other in passing. Chase Wilde comes in this week and our district was selected to help with the new great system. I am hoping that I get to usher him into the MTC. That would pretty much be great.

So I have been monitoring my weight and I haven't gained or lost a pound but I noticed in the shower last week that I am getting a little cicio(chee-cho) which means chubby. And I said to myself, "UNACCEPTABLE!" So I have been working out really hard and only playing volleyball twice a week. That has helped. I have already noticed a difference in the way I feel and look so that is good. I don't want to go to Italy with any amount of fatness.

This week is Mission President Seminar week so all the new mission presidents are going to be here starting tomorrow. Which means, according to our Branch President, that most of the Quorum of the Twleve are going to be here along with the First Presidency. Which means someone from the presidency is speaking at our devotional this week which has been changed to Friday for this week. Excited you ask? Yes I am. Just the thought that there are going to be apostles walking around is pretty durn neat. This Sunday we have combined preisthood and sacrament meetings all being presided over by an Apostle or member of the Presidency. So that is going to be really exciting.

As for a spiritual thought or something, my favorite hymn right now is "Lead, Kindly Light." I can't rememember all the words right now but it talks about how the night is dark and we are far from home, and how we need to be guided. In times past we liked to guide ourselves and not be told what to do, but lead me on now. It is a great song, I think, about humilty and becoming a tool in the Lord's hands. I just like it alot. My favorite scripture of this past week is found in Nehemiah 6:3. Nehemiah is rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem and the nobles of Babylon are trying to get him to come down so they can kill him and stop the work. Nehemiah's response is "I am doing a great work and I cannot come down." That applies so much to missionary work. There are distractions that will try to pull you away from the work, to try to stop the work. But if you won't let them, the great work will continue and "cover the whole earth" like it says in Daniel.

Well that is all I have except for a few requests. More fruit snacks of course, but if mom could get me another pair of compression shorts, black LG under armor ones, that would be great. I learned really fast this week that an hour long hard workout for a couple of days really makes compression shorts smell sour. So that would be quite beneficial for the next few weeks and especially in Rome where it is a lot warmer. Speaking of Rome, I have decided that my first area would be in Napoli. So it will be interesting to seek where it actually is.

I love all of you and greatly appreciate your letters. I think it is funny from Justin saying I am blessed this month cause I have received a letter from him every week. So much for his once every other week, right? No, but I appreicate it tons. Arrivederci! Ci vediamo! Ciao!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Week That Was

Wow! This past week has been a good one. Let me start of by saying, of course it is ok that you drive the truck papa. I mean it is yours. Second, Julie, my password was oneeyed1 or oneeyed54 or oneeyed2. It was something with oneeyed and then a number. Anyway, obviously I can't remember.

To answer Justin's question about the new dropoff procedure, it was going to be like that anyway. For those that don't know what I'm talking about - families now drop their missionaries off at the curb. They get about 2-4 minutes to say goodbye and then the missionaries are ushered away by volunteer missionaries that are already here, and they take them to their new room and then drop them off at the health place. I guess the MTC was going to switch to this pattern in September but because of the swine flue they moved it up. They are happy that they were able to move it up cause the people here really didn't like the old way.

Next, the most exciting news of the week. I have a progressing investigator on chats from She lives in Logan and WAS an athiest. She was really scared about praying, but I bore testimony to her that if she prayed she would receive an answer. After I said that, the chat was silent for about a minute and a half and then the reply, "Ok I am going to pray tonight." !!! How awesome is that. What a great testimony to me that the church is true - that this is what God has planned for us and that our heavenly father loves us. She said that she had received an answer! Another testimony that our heavenly father loves us and wants us to know him. She wasn't able to talk the rest of last week (this happened Wednesday and Thursday nghts) but we are going to be able to talk this week. It is really exciting.

The second most exciting thing about this week is that we taught the first lesson in Italian yesterday. I was so spaventato (scared) that it was going to be an epic failure. But we did really well. I think it is because we went in there and taught with enthusiasm. We were able to convey our message through our testimonies and our love for the gospel. We definitely didn't say everything right - probably very few things 100% right, but the "investigators" understood what we were saying and it is really good. This week we are only talking in Italian all the day long. Yesterday went pretty good with that. It is amazing to me that I know almsot everything I need to know to work and tell stories here at the MTC. It is crazy what an amazing gift - the gift of tongues.

Oh yea, and some more exciting news. Last Tuesday at the Tuesday night devotional, Elder Bednar spoke! His talk was amazing! His main message was on "How do we know if we are feeling the spirit or if it is just us." His answer was "don't worry about it, be a good boy, be a good girl, remember and honor your covenants, keep the commandments as you press forward with faith in Jesus Christ, and your steps will be guided, your utterances given to you, and you cannot go amiss. Now get going." He also said that for this to work we have to be working. We have to be in positions to open our mouths and talk to each other. We have to be out working and walking the streets for this promise to take hold. It was just a fantastsic talk.

That marks what will be a great couple of devotional weeks because mission president week is coming up. During that week, all of the Twelve are here and the Presidency. So I am sure that we are going to have some amazingly awesome speakers coming up soon.

As far as a swine flu update, the missionaries in my district that were in quarantine last week are out and healthy. We are all healthy except one elder who has a sinus infection. But he is getting better. Last week was sad. We had only four elders in class one day out of the normal eight. Class seemed to move really slow. But that was alright. It was a good learning experience.

I want to tell dad that it is official. After keeping track of my sleeping patterns for the last year or so, I inherited his sleep gene. Everyday that I have been at the MTC, I wake up between 3:45 and 4:30am every morning. And then I have a hard time getting back to sleep after that. I don't mind it. I work off of 5-6 hours of sleep the best I think. That was how it was in college. Depending on when I went to bed I woke up 5-6 hours later. The only bad thing is you are not supposed to be up and about while your companion is still sleeping. But I just try to go back to sleep. I told my branch president this in an interview I had with him last Sunday, and said that it was normal for me and he told me that if I have a flashlight or something I can just read the scriptures in bed if I want to. That that would be alright. Which I have done now a couple of times. But I don't mind dad. I think it is cool that I can work effectively off of only that much sleep.

Which brings me to my last and final point. I never get tired of reading the LdM(BoM). In fact, I feel like I don't have enough time in the day to read it. I love reading the scriptures and the stories and experiences that you can pull from them. Right now my favorite actually comes from the Old Testament in Nehemiah 6:3 "I am doing a great work, and I cannot come down." It is so true in this work in which I am engaged. I love it when you study in the morning and something you studied that morning comes in handy later that day.

Well it has been another great week. I love gtting the letters that I have received from you all. It is great to hear that you are all doing so well. I love you and pray for you and I can feel your prayers. Oh and by the way, I sent some pictures in the mail. I think only two, but I can't send pictures from the MTC computers because of the way they have them set up. But I should be able to when I am in the field. You should get those pictures today. I love you all and keep doing the great things that you are doing!

Here are a couple pictures of my district. The two Elders on the outside right and left are my companions. I don't know why we weren't sitting together, but oh well.

Still as wacky as ever!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

It Is All Good

Dear Family,

Things are good here. There is still flu going around, but they just pop the people in quarantine and in 5 days they return to the "real world" all healthy and ready to catch something else. There was an Anzioano in my district that got the flu and as a result, they [took] the rest of the district into a meeting where they gave us all Tamiflu. So we are on a preventative dosage of Tamiflu - one a day for ten days.

I am doing pretty good. I got a little cold over the weekend and it hit hardest yesterday, but don't worry. I got it checked out and no flu here. I am just going to rest today and get myself healthy. Cause this week we are beginning to teach the lessons in Italian so I need to get myself better. But I am feeling a lot better today than I was yesterday so that is good.

In othe news, our oldest group of missionaries got their flight plans for next Tuesday so they will finally get out of here. That is a really good thing, because things are getting pretty crowded here in trainingville. Lines for meals and such are ridiculously long. It is crazy, but the word is that people will be shipping out starting this week. I saw Todd yesterday and was talking to him. He was supposed to leave last week but got delayed like everyone else. He doesn't leave till next week though, and the MTC doesn't have enough staff for them so all of the English speakers that are delayed don't have teachers. They just study all day long. That is a hard life I would imagine.

In reply to Mom's question, yes, I sent that deferrment letter in the day after I received it. So whatever needs to happen next with that can happen.

We got new missionaries this last week. One of them is Japanese and only speaks Japanese. So this younger group of missionaries' class is all in Italian. No English. They are learning the language so fast, it is incredible. All classes have switched to that though, so all classes are now taught solo in Italiano. Myself, I can speak Italian for most of the things I say throughout the day. It is just getting myself to remember to speak Italian which is the hard part. But that will come.

My companions and I have the opportuity to take chats from people that are on and we talk to them about the gospel. Last Saturday, we were talking to someone and we taught them the first lesson and they are going to read the Book of Mormon. He had to go unexpectedly fast so we couldn't set up a return appointment but that is ok. It felt like a sincere commitment on his part and all the missionaries here that he would talk to are able to answer questions and keep him progressing.

There is so much to write about but not enough time to explain everything so that my stories make sense. It is kinda frustrating. Yesterday was kind of a rainy day in the morning and the grounds crew mowed the lawn anyway, so the scent of freshly cut grass was strong in the air. It was nice. It will be nice to get out of this place and be able to see real things. I have no idea what is going on in the outside world. Although I did hear that Elder Nelson was mugged or something like that. That is pretty crazy!

One of my companions that is only 18 (his parents are the mission presidents) has really been slacking off lately. I have been praying that as my other companion and I stay focused that he will follow our examples. We were going to talk to him yesterday night during companionship inventory, but Saturday night after we returned to the residence he asked if he could talk to us and we said yes. He said that he was sorry for slacking off this last month or so, and he said that he does not want to waste another month of his mission. Like he said, he felt like he wasted this last month. Now it wasn't a total waste. He knows the language probably better than anyone in our district, but when we are in study time he gets really distracted. But he is one hundred percent changed by the spirit, man. It is impressive. What an amazing testimony of the power of prayer.

Well anyway that is about all I have for this week. I love you all, and keep your letters coming. It is always fun to receive mail. I can feel the help from your prayers. Thank you so much! Love you all!

P.S. I was going to see if I could send pictures over email with the computers here. I am not sure if I can, but I forgot my camera today so we will see next week.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Swine Flu!

Things are getting pretty weird down here. Swine flu is the biggest news. The latest udpate is that 5 people have been quarantined because they have swine flu. No one can leave the MTC. So no missionaries are leaving the MTC this week and we have 400 new missionaries coming in. So things are going to be crowded for a couple of weeks. All departures have been grounded tor two weeks. But don't be scared. The atmosphere here is still really positive and I am perfectly healthy which I am grateful for. But we would appreciate your prayers as this flu season unwinds.

In other news, I am doing great! My companions and I taught a rockin' lesson yesterday at the Teaching Resource Center. That is where people that speak Italian come in and they are volunteer investigators. So we have a 15 minute language scenario. Then we teach in English. We did a really goo job. The spirit was strong, the message was clear, and the investigators were involved. We have one more lesson in English and then we will teach only in Italian.

A cool thing from this week, Elder Nancollas ( my companion whose parents are mission presidsents) can speak English, of course, and also he is mostly fluent in Spanish. I say mostly becuase he is forgetting some words. But we were working at the referral center making outbound calls. I got a person that spoke Spanish and so I said, "Un momento por favor" and I was like, Nancollas take this! And he was scared, but he took it and was able to talk to someone over the phone in Spanish which blew my mind. He is really good with learning Italian, so we will look to him to help us learn.

Oh, we also taught each other the Joseph Smith story solo in Italiano. It was so cool! It is weird to think that I know so much Italian already, but I didn't know that I could speak it until last night! The gift of tongues is definitely at work here at the MTC.

Like I was saying last week, the Italians are king of the palla vollo court (volleyball). There have been a few different times that the Spaniards have tried to play us but we just destroy them. There really is not a match for us in our gym group of missionaries that can beat us. So we just play a lot by ourselves and just get a ton better than all of the rest of the people. I think what makes us better is we are willing to get dirty in the sand - to dive and fall all over the place to get the ball.

Oh yea that reminds me, because the swine flu but mostly the regular flu has been a problem, all contact sports that are allowed at the MTC - soccer, basketball, softball (cause of the gloves) things like that - have been banned until this flu thing is gone. So there are a lot more challengers to our volleyball court, but we dominate so it is all good.

The devotionals here are so wonderful. We have a general authority every Tuesday and someone from the Mission Department usually on Sundays. The talks are so good and messages so aligned with the spirit. Last Sunday, the President of the Missionary Department talked and his talk was great! Then we watched the movie, "Joseph Smith: Prophet of the Restoration." The spirit was a powerful thing here at the MTC that night.

Well family, that is about all I have to say. Things are really busy and these are mostly just the highlights. A half hour goes by really fast. That is all the time we have to use computers for email. I must apologize to Chris cause my letters probably reek with mispelled words and poorly constructed sentences but it is all good cause I think that has to do with getting things mixed up with Italian grammer and grammer rules. But anywho, live with it Chris.

I just want to close by saying that I love all of you and I appreciate your letters. Mail time at the MTC is really a bright time. One, cause it is out of the classroom, and two, it is our only link with the outside world. Which reminds me that we weren't going to be able to go to the temple today, but the Italians and one zone of Spanish speakers got cleared to go today which is a great blessing cause the Provo temple is going to close for cleaning in the middle of June, so after that it is bye bye temple for two years. :( But that comes with the territory, so I guess that just means more study time for us. Yay!

Well this time is really goodbye now, I will talk to you next week. I can't wait to get letters from you all. You all sound like you are doing so well. Keep up the good work!! Love you all!