Friday, August 8, 2014

Week 9: Ground Control to Major Tom....three days and counting 'till entry

Friends and family, so...tis the last p-day in the America before I embark into the wide, unknown world (i.e. Korea). It is definitely an odd feeling: I have been here the entire summer. Wow, school is already in session. Where has the time gone? I'm not sure, but I feel like it's been well spent. I'm definitely in this dream like state where anything that happened pre-mish feels like some sort of other life, more like I'm remembering the details from some long-ago Psych episode or something. The MTC really is an amazing place. My favorite is to be in choir or lunch and overhear some English speaking elders talking about how "done" and ready to get out of here they are. I follow up with "yeah, how long have you been here elder?" and they invariably come back with "12 days!" I then shock their system with my "Hmmm, I've been here for eight weeks. Yeah, I got Here June 11th." Their jaw drops then they question how I can even live here that long...and you know, being here is easy; it has been great. The MTC is the best learning environment I have ever been in. Sure there are challenges and sometimes having the same routine or being in class for 11 hours a day gets kind of old, but I have come so far. I really feel like I am a better, more well rounded, happier, and more confident in the Lord. My capacity to do has increased and through my interactions with my companion and with my district I have been molded and strengthened...progress is so good. Plus, my residence is on the 4th (top) floor of 14M and my classroom is on the 5th (top) floor of 18M and we take the stairs everywhere, probably six to nine times a day, so nine weeks later I have some toned glutes (just so you know..). The blessings of the MTC are innumerable!

Missions are amazing. I'm not even very far into mine and I can already see some of the effects and impacts. I am reminded of some of Bruce C. Hafen's remarks from our Tuesday devotional. He grew up in St. George. As a youth he grew up with Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, they were in the same quorums, went to school together. They were friends. He said of Elder Holland that when the mission age was lowered from 20 to 19 that they were both confronted with the decision of leaving or not. Believe it or not, Elder Holland doubted whether he wanted to leave or not. (See there was this girl he had dated all through high school and he was afraid that if he left she might not be there when he got home. She wouldn't promise him she'd wait either but did encourage him to serve) He gave it to God, he decided to go because it was the right thing to do and was called to England. His mission was incredibly hard, but it changed him forever. (now say it like on the Sandlot  Forever!) Says Elder Holland, his mission changed him more than any mission has anyone since they've been sending missionaries. Everything he is as a leader, devout disciple, exemplary example, he chalks up to the influence his mission played on his life. His love for the Book of Mormon and his unshakable appreciation for the prophet Joesph and our Savior Jesus Christ first found sure footing on his mission. Says he "My mission means everything to me!" It's things like this that make me so excited and pumped, yet nervous and ready to throw myself into it and jump in over my head - all at the same time. To all of you whom I love who are out there and are still unsure: Serve a mission! it will change you. forever.

One idea from Mission Conference this past Sunday was the purpose of baptism. Why are we baptized? To become part of His church. Yes. 'Cause it's a good thing to do. Yes. But big reason: to gain a remission of our sins. In baptism, like in every other aspect of our religion, Christ and his atonement are central. The purpose of this life is to come here, learn, grow (to experience this mortal experience), and live right so we can make it back to God to live with him forever, forever happy. The bad news is that we are far from perfect. We all sin and because of those mistakes and trip-up moments we are separated from God; we can't be with him as we are. The good news is that Christ came. He atoned. He conquered both sin and death and through our coming to him, repenting and changing, we can be freed from sin, free from guilt, free to become like God. We are baptized and we have to keep repenting and renewing our covenant because that is how we get cleansed of that sin and guilt and just-not-niceness. Baptism is that application of Christ's atonement. And that is why everyone needs it. It's the Atonement, that's why it is essential to return to God.

Sunday's speaker was the new president of BYU, President Kevin J. Worthen. He and his wife are both incredibly impressive persons. They seem so personable and personally  knowable and so it's always a little eye-opening and jaw dropping when the conducting member of the MTC presidency reads off their resume and life accomplishments and it's longer than this email, practically. I wanted to share just one thought form his message. I loved the point he related from page 11 of PMG (maybe?) that the power and authority of missionaries is real. The authority I have comes from my calling. I have been called by God and endowed with authority and power. The power I have is dependent on my keeping my commandments. Obedience brings power. Keeping commandments and covenants is what strengthens us and protects us and is what gives me the ability to operate with God's power. so neat!


So Sunday ,post devotional there are always several options of films or old talks. This past Sabbath I watched a past devotional by Elder Holland (because I love him #favorite and because I haven't been able to see him here at the MTC. #tear) Just a few good points because my time runs short.

So I hear it lots and he mentioned it how we are a "chosen" generation. I love Elder Randall Ridd's interpretation from the last conference a lot but Elder Holland hit it home well to. Said he, "I have no idea why we were chosen for this day" whether we were more valiant or obedient or whatever I don't know for sure (that whole not remembering thing can be a booger at times), but really, it doesn't matter. The fact of the matter is that we were chosen, all of us, to come here now at this time. I'm (you're) part of that chosen generation who God has chosen to bring about the latter-day glory. Why? I don't know. But I do know that I have greater opportunities in one day than many of not most of my ancestors had in their entire lifetimes. What am I doing with that opportunity?

This work is true! I love it and I am so happy to be living it every day. Missions are the coolest because right now I am living my life the closest to God as I may ever get. From the moment I wake up to the time my head hits the pillow I am called to think and strive to do all that I can to build up and advance His kingdom. That is so cool. That is missionary work.

I love you all, thank you for the prayers and keep sending them my way. This week things are going to get real in a whole new kind of way.

Keep the faith! Onward and Upward!

Elder Tucker

Excellent weather this week

with Elder Pace

Look who I found at the temple.... me and my friend Cole Farnsworth

with Elder Whipple

selfie with some of the younger Korean missionaries

Elder Quackenbush

Elder Vernard

me walking from the temple all serious

Elder Hoyne....

ate too much sour pateh kid dust...

So funny!

I look like I'm leaning against the ceiling of the res.  If you turn your head sideways it kind of looks like I'm twerking....whoops!  #mishnono's