Oh my goodness I don’t even know where to begin. My companion Sister Walker always makes fun of my because it takes me about 45 minutes to write in my journal every night – and I’m not even talking about everything that is going on! But first of all, I want to say THANK YOU for the letters!! I can’t even tell you how fun it is to get mail here – don’t stop J Oh, also, if you ever feel like writing me during the week you can use DearElder.com and they print the letters everyday and deliver it to us – our district leader checks the mail TWICE a day, so anytime you feel like writing me one of those that would be awesome J The MTC is incredible. It hasn’t even been a week, but I feel like I have known everyone here for years. My district has ten people, Sister Walker and I, and then 8 elders, who are all really fun. We’ve had a good time. We started out the first day and had class for the first couple of days entirely in Japanese, and I was able to understand everything so that was encouraging. We taught our first lesson in Japanese on Friday! And we’ve had two more since then. They really just make you jump into everything here – it is really kind of neat. It’s been a really fun way to learn Japanese for me, because everything I study for a lesson is actually useful and it really stretches my Japanese which is nice. I’ve been trying to memorize some scriptures in Japanese this week – I got the First Vision down! Not the whole thing, but just the part they quote in Preach My Gospel, from I saw a pillar of light to Hear Him. It took me pretty much an entire day to do it, but I did it! I am working on Moroni 10:4-5 now. I’m sorry this letter is so jumbled, there is so much to say! Sunday was AMAZING. Sacrament meeting was awesome, we had Brother Wadsworth and Sister Wadsworth speak because they both got released on Sunday, which was really sad – but I ‘m glad I got to be with them for at least a few days! I even got to have an interview with Brother Wadsworth which was fun. But oh my goodness, Brother Wadsworth’s talk and testimony in sacrament meeting was so incredible. He bore his testimony about the atonement and shared with us some very personal stories, and I really don’t think there was a dry eye in the entire branch. It reconfirmed to me again, one how amazing the Wadsworths are J, and two how incredibly important and personal , and life changing the atonement is. It was incredible, and I blame him for setting off my tears, because I think I cried in every other meeting for the rest of the day – the spirit is so strong here!! We had a fireside with Brother Swenson which was incredible, and probably the coolest part of the whole thing was sitting on the front row in that huge auditorium and singing verses 4-7 of How Firm A Foundation with 2500 missionaries singing it as fervently as they could behind me – that song has never meant more to me than it did that night. It’s a good thing I’ve been keeping a journal, because I have had so many insights and experiences in the last week that even now I can’t remember them all to tell you about them – so I’m glad I have a journal that has it all recorded… so you just get the big things that happened that my not so good memory will allow me to tell you J
Well just a few things about the MTC experience I guess, the food is decent – although the food at the temple is MUCH better – we got to go for the first time this morning which was really really nice. The dorms are nice, I’ve never had to wait for a shower, the MTC field and the gyms they have for working out are also really nice. They even have outdoor sand volleyball courts which is a lot of fun to do with the whole Japanese branch during our gym time. Every day we study Japanese, have personal study time, two 3 hour class blocks, companionship time, and more study time and more study time, and I never realized how much one person can study in one day, and still only scrape the surface. One of the things people say about a mission is that you get to focus on just one thing – and I guess that’s mostly true if that one thing is ‘the gospel’. But I don’t know if people always realize – I don’t think I realized how incredibly multi-faceted and complicated and deep and Incredible that one simple word is, and learning how to be a good missionary on top of that, and then learning how to do everything in Japanese on top of that also.
Speaking of Japanese – I got some very interesting news this morning . They tested me on Friday, just pulled me aside to evaluate my Japanese, and had me attempt to tell the Joseph Smith story in Japanese, which was something I had never attempted before… and I’ve just been waiting to hear since Friday. And maybe in the real world Friday to Tuesday doesn’t sound that long – but in the MTC one day feels really more like 3 days, so its been practically two weeks since that happened really J Anyway, so this morning they told me that this Thursday they are going to move me into a new group of missionaries coming in on Wednesday called the “Advanced Language Group” or something like that, and it is a group of international missionaries from all over the world going all over the place that are native or ‘advanced’ in their mission language. There is one other Elder in my transfer moving as well, elder Fukino (I think he has a brother also in the MTC that is going to Tokyo). I don’t know what their definition of advanced is though, because I do not feel like I belong in that group, at least not with the description they gave me this morning! I am really intimidated. I’m not even sure if I will get to study Japanese that much, because the branch is not Japanese, its just “international”. And I need Japanese study. I also really need gospel study, but I NEED JAPANESE too!! So they said I would be with that group for three weeks, and then do one more week with the Japanese branch, and then leave with the senpai group for japan on August 28 instead of October 8, like I was originally going to. Ether 12:27 has come to mean a lot to me in the last day or two. I am coming closer to Christ, and I am realizing my weaknesses – and oh my goodness do I have a lot of them – and I am definitely being humbled. BUT he gives me weakness so that if I continute in humility and faith my weaknesses can become strengths – so here it goes! I am going to need a lot of humility and a lot of faith in these next fews weeks, because I am going to need that strength.
If there is one thing I know for sure though after being here at the MTC – it is that this gospel is absolutely true. It is. Every bit of it. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is true and it has the power to change lives – it is changing mine. Joseph Smith was a true prophet, and he did see Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, and they spoke to him and through him restored their church. The Book of Mormon is true. We have prophet today, and he does receive revelation for us today. I know the gospel is true, and I know that I love it. I am so happy to be here on a mission, and I know it is going to be the hardest thing I have ever done in my life, but I also know that it will be the best thing I have ever done.
I love you all so much! Until next Tuesday!!