Hello family and friends,
I made it to another Thursday! I am so grateful to be here at the MTC; it has been another terrific week. First off, Mom, thank you for all of the DearElder letters (and thanks to Ashley, Abby, Dad, and Tara too) I really appreciate them. Mail just makes my day. Ash, thanks for the scripture reference (Deut 4:29-31) I totally loved it and shared it with about nine people. I love it. I love how it talks directly and specifically to us in the "latter-days" and how every time if we seek out the Lord we will find him. I think the most oft repeated commandment in the scriptures is "seek and you shall find" (okay, I guess it may be a promise more than a commandment) and I love how no matter what the Lord will not forsake us, will not forsake me. Though, we do have to recognize that the promise in Deuteronomy is predicated upon our turning to Him for aid when we are in tribulation and being obedient to his voice (and we can tack on the voice of His servants too because my main man Amos says that they're the same thing in chapter 3). I keep learning here that obedience is the most critical thing. The Lord loves everyone but if we "do always those things which please him" then we shall always have him to be with us. Obedience. So good.
This week the MTC felt pretty crowded. For pretty much the entire week we had the New Mission President's Seminar going on so 1M (the main building and Caf) had security to the nines. It was pretty much on lock down because over the course of the week the entire First Presidency and Quorum of the 12 were in the house. As far as my tally of General Authorities goes I did alright. I didn't see any of the 12 or first presidency up close but Elder Christiansen and I did run into the entire presidency of the 70 on our way back from the copy center. I was just like "oh, hello Elder Rasband, Elder Holstrom, how are you?.." It was neat, though I was kicking myself right afterwards for not shaking any of their hands. There were a couple of close misses on the Apostle watch, though. I just barely missed seeing Uchtdorf, Bednar, and Packer. Maybe next time...
On to the Sunday night devotional. We were all hoping that because all of the big dogs were at the MTC that we would hear from one of them for our devo, but it was not to be so. We showed up and found out that the keynote speaker was Janice Kapp Perry (composer of songs like "a child's prayer", "I love to see the temple", and "we'll bring the world his truth", and "sister's in zion". So it was a little sad that we couldn't hear from President Monson, but I think Sister Perry was a good alternative. Actually, her talk may go down as a first in MTC history, Here's why: so we had a great time singing some of her medleys and she shared with us some experiences from her mission and from her song writing, but the best part was her account of how she and her husband met. They were both music majors studying at BYU and had about four classes together. They went pretty much the entire semester and never said a word to each other. She said that she was waiting to go in to the professor and take her test on the clarinet (they had to learn all of the instruments. wow.) She was wetting her reed in preparation when Brother Perry turns to her, pauses for a second, then says (as his very first words) "it seem to me that those lips of yours were made for something better than playing clarinet.." Sister Perry says this and the whole auditorium breaks out laughing. There was some cheering and some general guffawing. So great. We start to calm down and Brother Perry stands up and starts walking towards Sister Perry, presumably to confirm the story or something, He gets right up to Sister Perry and then he kisses her! We're talking 10-15 seconds and if I thought were cheering before then I was mistaken because we nearly took the roof off. Everyone was clapping and cheering, cat calls and applause ringing through 19M. So great. I feel confident in assuming that was the first in-devotional kiss in the MTC history. It was hilarious.
On a note related to the devotional, I don't know if it has been published or not but Sister Perry played for us a new version of As Sister'sin Zion with new lyrics that reflect the swell of sister missionaries since the missionary age has been lowered. Actually, here at the MTC the numbers are nearly equal with Sisters making up 43% of the population. This work is so inspired and I can feel Elder Ballard's words: this truly is "the greatest time in the history of the world to do missionary work!"
Our Tuesday night devotional was keynoted (is that really word? spell check didn't pick it up..hmmm) by my good 'ol pal D. Todd Christofferson. His talk was centered on the worth of soul and how great it is. One of my favorite quotations was that "the worth of a soul is as great as its potential to become as God." It is humbling and comforting to realize and contemplate my real identity and my potential. and your potential. And I think the remainder of my email will be devoted to 2.0 to share some of the more spiritual matters.
Because our souls are so precious and so linked to the glory of God, he sent His son to suffer so terribly for us. That is so great to think about. Whenever or if ever you feel angered at someone or just can't seem to get along, perhaps imagine them as God sees them. See them as they were born to be, glorious and like Him. It changes our perspective.
There is no greater work that that which I am doing (missionary work). It is the same task He has appointed to Himself -to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man. Missionaries must act in love. They must have charity, the pure love of Christ.
One last thought I learned from Brother Lee of the Branch Presidency. Two of the most dangerous thoughts you can ever have are:
1. I know it all. I understand everything about this and don't need to learn anything else.
2. I don't need help anymore.
2. I don't need help anymore.
This contradicts both 1 Corinthians 8:2 and 2 Nephi 28:30. Always continue to ask God for help. Help to pay the mortgage, help to raise the children, help to pass your class, and especially for help to be more like our Savior. We sing and must keep singing "more holiness give me."
And lastly, I love how the lord takes Nephi and the Brother of Jared and others to the promised land. He moves them and takes them to the very best possible place for them to be. And He does it capital "h" HIS way. We aren't in charge and His way is always better. You betcha it will be difficult, the high road always is (and I'm convinced that the straight and narrow way that leads to the Tree of Life is an uphill climb) Take His way. What is your promised land and where are you going? Is He leading the way?
The church is true. I know it. Keep moving forward. Onward and upward! On to the victory!