I'm now on my fourth week in the MTC, about 2.5 more to go. I'm getting kind of anxious to get out into the mission field. But I am enjoying the MTC :) Next Friday we get our flight plans to the Philippines and I'm SO excited about that! I think we're flying from Seattle to Japan and then stopping in Manila for a few days before ending up in Cebu City. We leave the MTC June 25th.
This week for our devotionals, Janice Kapp Perry and Elder D. Todd Christofferson came to speak to us! Sister Perry is a gifted musician and songwriter: she wrote most of my favorite hymns and primary songs growing up, like A Child's Prayer, Love is Spoken Here, I Love to See the Temple, the EFY Medley, and the list goes on! It was so cool to meet her! And she had us all sing a chorus of all her songs and I was just thinking "Wow, my mom would love this!"
So Elder Christofferson coming this week make two apostles in two weeks! What a great time to be at the MTC! He was much softer than Elder Holland, but his message was equally motivational. He started off by talking about Elder L. Tom Perry who just passed away. For his talk he addressed commonly asked questions among missionaries and gave us his answers using the scriptures. It was simple, but powerful and really helpful. One of the questions was about how it says in the scriptures to "speak nothing but repentance unto this generation" (Mosiah 18:20, D&C 11:9, 14:8, 19:21). And so he broke down for us what that means. If we are teaching people that they can repent from mistakes, then we are teaching them that they can be forgiven. To be forgiven, there must be someone who is able to forgive, a Savior and Redeemer. So preaching repentance to people means sharing your testimony of Christ with them. It means teaching them that Christ loves them and that He died for them. And then it means teaching them the way to come unto Him by following His gospel: faith, repentance, baptism, the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end. And there you have the Missionary Purpose! (Ang Inyong Katuyoan!)
The Gospel is so simple. I love Alma 5, where it teaches us that the purpose of this life is to prepare to meet God. But I especially love verse 26. I have felt, and continue to feel, the redeeming love of the Savior in my life. And I want to share that with the people in the Philippines.
I've been using my personal study time to study missionaries from the Book of Mormon. Of course a classic favorite is Ammon in Alma chapter 17. He loves the Lamanites so much that even as they have him bound with cords he tells them that he just wants to live among them, perhaps his whole life, and serve them. You don't say something like that without meaning it! This astonishes the people so much that they allow him to serve them. Then as he serves them, they are astonished by his courage, his faithfulness, his diligence, his expertness, his great power, and that he is a friend to them (Alma 18). After all this, they finally just ask him who he is and he humbly tells them that he is just a man, sent by God to teach them and serve them. To be a missionary with that kind of power, we need to be missionaries with that kind of love for the people. Elder Christofferson told us: that the Lord knows we love Him and want to serve Him. But the way we do that is by serving others. We need to love His people.
I was also reading in Matthew 9 in the Bible. Christ is moved with compassion for the spiritual welfare of the people. He says that the harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. You wouldn't know that the laborers are few looking at the MTC right now....since school just got out it is now PACKED with new missionaries! But looking from the perspective of the whole world, this is so true. The world if FULL of people ready to hear the gospel and learn of Christ (the harvest), but the laborers are few. To me that is motivation to be the most diligent and obedient and hard working and Spirit-led missionary that I can be, so that the Lord can work through me to my maximum potential.
The language is still difficult and progressing a little slower. It is an oral language, which means that there is only so much we can learn in the classroom. This is partly why I'm getting anxious to leave the MTC. Then again, the MTC has hot showers and a gym and American food, so I can just enjoy that haha. Plus I NEED to soak up as much of the language and learning and practice teaching as possible!
During our hour of gym time, I usually run for about 30 minutes and then do some other things, but one day after I ran I did a circuit where I would run one lap around the track and then do 5 pull-ups and I did that about 4 times. Afterwards, some elders came up to me and asked, "What were you before your mission?" and I just said "I was a swimmer". Afterwards I felt kind of sad briefly because I realized I've never said that before...I WAS a swimmer. Sometimes I don't feel like myself without spending any time in a swimsuit or in the water training! But at the same time, I feel more like myself than ever. I love training to be a missionary and getting to spend so much time studying the language and the scriptures and preparing lessons. I honestly feel so happy to be right where I am!
Some good things this week: I can now recite the whole First Vision in Cebuano and a few other scriptures too! Right now, my Cebuano mostly relies on memorization or translating things in my head before I speak. Soon I won't have to translate or memorize because I'll be more comfortable with the language, but that day hasn't come yet! It's amazing though, how things that I mess up in class I can usually recall much smoother during a lesson (D&C 100:5-6), Anyway, there are 2 elders here that speak Cebuano and are from the Philippines, so I always stop to talk to them when I see them! The good news is that they can understand me when I talk! The bad news is that I can't understand them as well....they talk so fast! I have to accept that I'll be kind of lost at first in the Philippines when I first get there!
Okay, well, I hope everyone has a good week! Enjoy life outside the MTC for me! Go swimming for me! And do one more thing for me: Read D&C 88:63 and consider how you can draw closer to Christ in your life. He will be as much a part of you life as you will let Him! Also read 2 Nephi 22 because it is a beautiful and short chapter and it echoes how I feel right now!
Sorry, still no pictures! But I'm sure you really only want to see them once I'm in the Philippines, drenched in rain and proselyting under palm trees!
Uban sa gugma,