Salutations Friends and Family,
Happy Pioneer Day! If it's possible, life at the MTC is just getting better and better. It's crazy that I've passed the 3 weeks till take-off mark. I think I'm sitting somewhere around eighteen days: expected departure on the 11th. Wowza. I'm so excited for 한국! Korea Here I come! The language is progressing; it is slow and drudges on at times but I can see improvement and that is good. It's neat that probably the best way that we learn the language here is in prepping for and teaching our progressing investigators. We teach two investigators twice a week: Brother 황 and Brother 김. (Brother Huang and Brother Kim) We teach them and two TRC lessons, and Elder Christiansen and I also teach the sister missionaries in the district once a week, and they teach us as we play "investigators." So there is a lot of teaching, but it is using the language, in trying to invite others to come unto Christ that I think my language abilities really improve. Yep. Good stuff, and I think that truth will be apparent for all of my time laboring in the vineyard of the Lord.
Yet again choir has been one of my favorite parts of the week. We are normally conducted by Brother Eggett (the spelling is iffy on that one but it's how it sounds). He is spectacular! I don't know how he does it but somehow he gets nearly a thousand or more young men and women to sing with one voice. He had a way of commanding our attention and getting us to perform amazingly well with very little rehearsal time. Rehearsals are always memorable because he actually usually takes half of the time to tell us stories (about either the author of the song or related stories from church history or otherwise--I love stories!) Brother Eggett teaches seminary and institute too. I bet he'd be a spectacular instructor...I think the stories are amazingly effective because once we, the choir, understand the meaning or real intention that helped make a work of music it is so much easier to feel the music and then to convey that feeling through singing. This last week we sang LeadKindly Light. Learning the story of John Newman, of his travels across Europe as a very young minister, of his continual searching for truth and for the eventual turning point in his life where he was brought very low traveling on an a boat trying to make it back to England so he can learn more and serve the Lord; encompassed about by mists and torrents and suffering nigh on the point of death with an debilitating illness. In this moment he reflects, pulls out paper and quill and pens the words to the that hymn. He petitions the lord to lead him on! In his life he loved to choose his own path. He loved the garish day and wanted to guide his own path and then comes to. He sees and recognizes (as we all must) that it is in following Him that we get where we want to go. In all things acknowledge him and he shall lead us on. That particular hymn is one of my very favorites. It speaks to my soul and now knowing John Newman's story I feel as though I relate personally to the hymn's tale in a new way. Stories. So good.
On Sunday out devotional speaker was Brother T.C. Christensen (the Director of 17 Miracles, Joseph Smith: Prophet of theRestoration, Emma Smith: My Story, and Ephraim's Rescue). He was very enthusiastic and had several things to share with us. As part of his presentation he shared with us four video clips, two from 17 Miracles and two from Ephraim's Rescue. I loved it and now I wish I had seen Ephraim's Rescue. Ephraim Hanks (I think his last name... :/ ) is an amazing example to me. Wow. His story of faith, of answering the Lord's call, of being where he was needed when he was needed is spectacular. We watched a clip where Ephraim is sleeping and while he sleeps he is told that "the handcart saints are in trouble and he is needed. Will he answer the call?" He wakes up, packs his bag, saddles his horse, and sets off to see Brigham Young so he can find out where he is needed. It was so neat because while on the trail to Salt Lake he passes a messenger who had been sent to fetch him; the Prophet was looking for him. He sat in a meeting where several men were briefed about the immediate need of the handcart saints. Brigham asked who was ready to go and several men said they'd be ready in a day or two after they'd gotten their affairs in order. Ephraim stood up and told Brigham "I am ready now." I (all of us) need to live our lives so that we can answer the Lord's call right when he calls. So neat.
Brother Ephraim Hanks was also amazing because he was blessed with the gift of healing. He amazingly healed hundreds and hundreds of people though the his faith in the Lord's power. At one point he is asked to pray and heal a brother's feet which are thoroughly blackened from walking hundreds of miles through the ice and snow. He prepares himself for the blessing by washing his hands and the face and hands of the suffering saint (symbolic maybe. Methinks yes) and just prior to the blessing he is asked "Brother Ephraim, how is it you do so much good?" His reply: "I try." simple. sweet. and yet, it is profound how true it is. I'm not certain if it was my main man Gordon B. or my good friend Thomas who said it but is goes something like: "What we need to do in order to achieve triumph is often to put a little more 'umph' in our 'try'." Do good. And in all things try. By try I mean strive and give all you've got. This will bring on the blessings of heaven.
Our Tuesday devotional was presided over by Elder Stanley Ellis of the 70. It was neat, he was here in Utah having a family reunion and so he brought most of his family with him. He and his wife have eight children and all eight of them have served missions. (or are serving...the youngest child, Emily, is currently in serving in Korea. aka the best place evah!) Rather than Elder Ellis speaking to us the entire time he had each of his children come up and give us a word or two of wisdom or council. It was amazing to see these simple examples of faith. They were the everyday latter day saint who really live their religion and are so happy because of it. It was inspiring to see and such a testimony to me of the results of righteous living.
For my 2.0 today I have a couple of thoughts. They're scattered but I like them.
A thought from the oldest Ellis child, Joy. She served in France many moons ago and she talked about the gospel in comparison to a train. The train is constantly moving. People get on. Some get off, but it continually pressed onward and can't be stopped. If you want to make it happily to our ultimate destination then you've got to stay on the train because it is how we will travel through life's terrains. (ter-trains...ok, not funny.) The mission is kind of like a bullet train. Way faster and while I'm here on it I have the potential to get really far very quickly. In many ways my mission is that bullet train and I have to stay on it because if I were to step off for any time (through not working hard or not giving my whole heart to Him) then the train keeps moving. It's a bullet train and it's going fast. True, because of the atonement any and everyone can get back on the train and make it to the destination but you and I can't make up the miles that we could have crossed. We might miss views that were only visible then. Stay on board and keep moving onward and upward. Be that little engine that keeps chugging along and makes it over every hill lying before it. I think I can. Through Him, I know I can. Trains....who knew?
This work is true. I know it and everyone can know it too. Ask and you will receive. He does every time. Sometimes His time frames are different than the ones we'd choose for ourselves, but His are always best.
Happy Pioneer Day! Keep the faith. Read Elder Uchtdorf's Pioneer Day talk "All is Well." Press onward and upward!
|On splits at the temple|
|Elder Anyanwu, from Sweden called to serve in Japan He's one of my friends. So great.|
|Elder Downing and Elder Green|
|Also a great friend, Sister Johnson|
|Me and the natives|
|My boys in their tripationship: Elders Keil, Yetter and Ashby|
|Devotional at the Marriott Center|
|District Leader Elder Hoynes photobomb!|
|with Elder Tanner - photobom courtesy Elders Wright and Woods|