June 19, 2014
Family and friends (Dear Mom),
First off, I hope that you guys received the letter I sent last week saying that my P-day was today. the Korean missionaries have Thursday preparation day so I had to go eight day before doing laundry...and letting you know that I'm still alive!...What to say? The MTC is amazing. I remember lying on my bottom bunk Saturday night thinking that this is the best summer camp ever! I have been so busy; it's crazy! We probably spend an average of 9-10 hours a day in our classroom doing various studies, the hardest of which is hon gu mar. (the closest Korean spelling of Korean) I'm going to tell you straight up: learning Korean is the single hardest thing I’ve ever done. I'm told that it (along with Finnish) is the most challenging language for English speakers. I think my biggest regret at this point is not studying up on the alphabet before getting here because reading Korean is so challenging. The other elders in the district agree that Friday last week was the worst day of their lives. We spent about 10 hours just learning Korean and it just wasn't coming. It was a dark day. (It was also overcast so we had the whole oppressive atmosphere as well) I felt so discouraged and disheartened, pretty much I felt like I could never learn Korean and that I was completely for the work. It was a dark place to be. But then I remembered that Satan is a LOSER and that the Lord qualifies who he calls. Korean will be the hardest thing I ever do (for the next two years) but with the Lord I can do all things. I mean exclamation point...with the Lord I can do ALL things! It is comforting to know that.
I spoke of the elders in my branch. Let me describe them. My companion is Elder Christiansen from Lehi, Utah. He is a terrific guy and we generally get along like two old school mates. He is 6'5 and rail thin and actually reminds me of Ichabod Crane in more ways than one. (translate as you will) I feel so blessed because like me he just wants to work hard and become the very best missionary he can. He's wanted to go to choir practice with me and is always supportive and congenial. He is first rate. The other two elders in the room are also great. We have elder Murdoch from Alpine, UT and Elder Woods from Austin, TX. We're all going to Daejeon and we all get along so great. Funny enough, I'm actually the shortest elder in the room and like 7th in the district. There are some giants here; I've never felt so short. We (all of us in the room) are also all recent graduates. I think there are 6 in the district of 12 missionaries. Now to the district: There are 12 missionaries (2 sisters) and they are my second family. I love all of them and would go into greater detail on all of them if it weren't for time constraints. The Korean branch here at the MTC is one of the biggest. I think by July we will be the biggest with nearly 80 missionaries and I just love our presidency. President Yost is a little man who is seriously the happiest, jolliest man I have ever met. Think Santa with no beard. His three counselors are also all first rate and they are actually all former Korean mission presidents. I am seriously so blessed. There is a tradition here at the MTC: the Korean branch is known here as the "celestial branch" and we strive to live up to that. We try to live with what they call "quiet dignity". We have to always have our suit coats buttoned when standing, we never have out hand in our pockets, and pretty much always operate with a heightened level of professionalism. I love that...though I don't know what to do with my hands.
This week should be exciting because all of the new mission presidents come in. Come Saturday, the main building, the one where we hold sacrament meeting and get to the cafeteria through, will be on lock down because pretty much the entire quorum of the 12 will be here and perhaps the First Presidency too to address and teach the new presidents. Awesome! I hope to see some of those great brethren. Or at least more than I've already seen. Tuesday's keynote speaker was Elder Ballard and he was fantastic. Mom, you would have loved to have been here on Sunday because our speaker was Sister Sherri Dew (not sure if there is one "r" or dos). She is amazing. I had forgotten how accomplished she was as an individual (here I was thinking I was busy as a missionary. She's a CEO and general authority and so much more...) though it made sense that she was able to do so much after listening to her. She is so polished and eloquent and her reliance on the Lord was inspiring. She is first-rate. Plus, she has that really awesome "Provo Utah hair" you know, where the volume is crazy high and you think her hair is full of secrets...also first-rate. I want to share with you some of the things I've learned this week. There is so much the Spirit and the Lord have taught me and I can't share everything but here are some of the points. I feel like this part of the letter is actually the best part so I feel like it can adequately be labeled the 2.0 section.
I learned from the District presidency that I should always be in a tri-panionship. The scripture goes something like "out of the mouth of two or three witnesses shall the truth be established." I've got to have the spirit with me and my companion so that we can establish truth. There isn't really an alternative.
Brother Lee (the native Korean member if the branch presidency) said in his sacrament meeting address that "Ammon, Aaron, Omner, and Himni are my best friends!" I believe that and am excited to have such great company in the missionary world. He also said that "Ammon did not choose to be comfortable; he chose to be a missionary." This work is hard. But if it were easy, then it wouldn't be hard. And it was never easy for Him.
Sherri Dew addressed us on Father's Day and she said that it should apply to all men, not just the papas. She wished us a "Happy Divine Nature of Men Day." her address was focused on grace and grace in our lives. She said that Jesus already triumphed over sin, death, hell, trial, and everything else. We have the power of the Atonement and can overcome everything and anything by it. "The key to unlocking the power of covenant sons and daughters of God is all of us learning how to unlock the power of Jesus Christ." "We have to determine if we'll serve alone or if we want to unlock the power of Jesus' grace." In order to learn Korean or to do anything else that I need I need is "greater access to the Savior's grace. He has the power to do all things. Like Paul, I can do all things through Christ who strengtheneth me." That includes Korean or swim team, or my desk job, or being a mom, or whatever thing is going on in your life. He will strengthen you and make you equal to the task. I learned that learning to hear and use the voice of the Spirit is not unlike learning Korean. There are grammar, syntax, and vocab rules and the quicker you learn the rules, or once you learn them, you can communicate with heaven and can learn so much more. Do you ever ask God what it feels like for you when the spirit is talking to you? Ask him how you receive personal revelation. There are language rules. Ask for the gift of languages. For every weakness you think you have there is a gift of the spirit that counteracts it. ---For every single weakness. If there is a difficulty in your life figure out what gift you need and pray to know how to receive it.
I learned that obedience brings forth blessings and that exact obedience brings forth miracles. I will be exactly obedient.
Well, my time is up and I have to check the dryer....I love all of you and I feel your prayers. Keep praying for me. I need all of the help I can get. This is His sacred work. I love it. The gospel is true. Keep the faith and keep on coming unto Christ. Press onward. Onward and upward! On to the victory!