Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Letter written December 3rd, 2013 (Italics added)

Hi Family,

Thanks for all the letters this week. It was really great. I had a much better week this week than last week, so it must be telepathic hugs and prayers or something.

Here is stuff that happened this week:

They have the good honey and real jam (not jelly) at main campus and so I was eating it (since they don't have the good honey here anymore) and it was great. But now they have the good honey here and the bad honey, so i can use my agency to choose the good stuff. All the food is really bad here, an employee here said he thinks it is intentional to account for the weight we will lose from parasites. I think I have gained 3 pounds, maybe, but it is hard to tell how much to subtract for shoes and clothes. 

I like the main campus MTC because of all the people going and coming from different countries. And I look at all the nametags and it is just really striking.

I saw a girl with a dress made out of the same pink and black fabric mom used for those theater dresses, so I will just imagine what they turned out like based on that.

According to Elder Teh of the Seventy, Ammon started his mission in prison (bound and brought before King) and we start ours in the MTC. You can connect the dots.

I can call you from the airport when I fly out, I am not sure on all the logistics, but it costs $5 and I fly out probably the 16th on Monday, so hopefully someone will be home or somewhere. 

I got flight plans to fly out to Mexico on Monday, the 9th, and we thought they might be real because of my initial week delay, but we had to wait for after the holiday weekend to find out. Turns out it was an error, which is good because I don't have my visa yet and I had a conflicting really really tentative flight to the Las Vegas Mexican Consulate for that same day to get my visa, but I have no idea when I am actually going. Hopefully I will get invited there soon.

I was looking at the birthday cards earlier this week and the one that I think was in one birthday package sent from Josh but maybe partly paid for with a credit card (since it says from the family) says that birthdays are great when full of good things. Especially if they have high sugar content. Everything here has high white flour and sugar and fat content, except the lettuce. I ate a yogurt and honey nut cheerios and milk for  breakfast and not  counting the apple, it was 60g of sugar. And, I tried to pick the healthiest and lowest sugar content cereal anyways. Also, I was looking at the other card and, Ben, you're my favorite son, too. I really appreciated that.

Anyone can stay in my room anytime, except hobos or smokers. Or people with bed bugs, because I 'm going to try really hard to not bring those home.

The raisin cookies were really good; the pumpkin cookies (since they were from a mix) were very salty, I might throw them away if my bags are overweight.

If I'm lucky, I get to play the piano for 15 minutes a week if I can get someone to the multi-purpose building with me. I frequently play a song in Priesthood. But it's not enough. I don't know how well I will be able to play when I get back, but I have after I die to work on it.

I'm usually happy, so I guess the MTC is alright. Life is life is life and then you die.

Funny that Mackenzie laughs in her sleep. Also, Mom and Dad always spell her name differently from each other, but they're both consistent. You can figure out how to do it before she can read and come to a consensus.

I saw a sister Crapo at main campus. (Dave's mother's maiden name in case you are wondering)

I have from a reliable source (the conductor announced it at a devotional) that 'Come Thou Fount' will be in the next hymnbook and that it used to not be popular until it was rearranged.

Something our teacher told us was to focus every single message on Christ. Like Christ called Joseph Smith as a prophet and translated the Book of Mormon through him instead of Joseph smith was a prophet who translated the Book of Mormon. I think that is right and I wish everyone would do that.

There are more sisters in our zone than elders right now, but until a week before we came, there were none. They have a controlling vote.

At Thanksgiving, we heard Russell M. Nelson live: Enduring to the end includes the ENDowment. Also: Having character is more important than being one.
We also assembled a bunch of soup meals. Like 350,208 for kids here in Utah that can't afford enough meals for the week.

Hermana Smith is way better at the piano than me, and I was feeling really bad because she can play every song I can, plus tons of ones I have never played. But it turns out that she has that thing where she can hear what note it is that someone plays. And the pitch of every sound. I think it is genetic, because her niece and sister can do it too and when she was little she thought everyone could do it. So she can play lots of songs after just hearing it once. Because it is genetic, I think it's important for my children that my wife has that ability, but I don't have any desire to marry anyone right now, or anyone I know right now. So hopefully someone else I meet after my mission has that. She was really patient with us though, playing every song we could sing or think of on the piano.

Elder Hesterman says that Zelda dungeon has a bunch of easy and good zelda sheet music for piano. He is pretty good, even though he quit in 6th grade, because he just played for fun all the time.

At the thanksgiving day program, someone played a harry potter song on the piano.

I think that it is easier to understand Christ's suffering if we just think of our own or the pioneers or something and then magnify it, because it gives us a better reference point. I don't really know what the Atonement or Crucifixion were like. So that is better I think.

They said you would be happy to hear some Spanish, so I will type some random stuff for you. No estoy completamente seguro de lo que les gustaría oír. Es probable que Josh o Ben puedan traducer esto por ustedes, pero en realidad no digo nada importante nunca. (I'm not entirely sure what they would like to hear. Expected to be Josh or Ben translating this for you, but not really say anything important ever). Anyways, Elder Hesterman found a verb in the dictionary that is enchilar, or to add chili to. There are a lot of useful verbs like that.

Thanks for the Riesens, I got them Tuesday. Also thanks for the packages, love and also life.

Why would mom be getting heat for writing me a letter?

I tried to get my companion to do exactly what you described, mom, and tell him (the pretendagator) we are here to help and would love to serve him or discuss gospel principals with him and just to let us know when he is ready and stop trying so hard to teach him, but things are going better with him (the pretendagator) and he (companion) acted really serious like we would never do that, but if you have a lot of investigators and some are not progressing, that happens in real life I think. He is based on a real investigator that our teacher had on his mission, and so I guess maybe if people are friendly in some places, you just keep teaching them. Which is good, patience is a Christ-like attribute.

Our teacher also said that life is like Pokemon in that we should look for the opportunity to grow from challenges, like the gym leaders, and that we would never improve if we just fought Caterpies. 

Apparently in Argentina they think they speak a language different from Spanish, like Castellano is actually a different language. We had a substitute teacher who was from Argentina and she kept saying that we needed to get out our Libro de Mormon in Castellano and we were like "Oh, is this a different book from the Spanish one" it's not. But I guess all the other countries think it is pretty. Whatever though, I think it is just interesting.

A sister in our district's mom sent us all in our district lava-lavas, or those cloth polynesian skirt things. I am going to send her a thank you letter, because they're cool, even though we can only wear them at home. They used to live in American Samoa and there is some story about their village that they fed some old woman and child (because their town really didn't and that was super rude) first during a famine and they turned into a shark and turtle and protect the island to say thank you. And if someone with Virtroli blood sings on the cliffs then the turtle and shark appear and she says she has seen her mom do it a bunch.

Here's something from a talk: God so loved the world that He sent his sons and daughters (to be missionaries or to help each other or anyone else in a bunch of capacities, just not in the same way as the Savior). 

We watched a video of Elder Bednar and he gave a really good talk about feeling the spirit. I will try and return and give more details about it if I have time...... Alright, back to here. The first story was about when he (Elder Bednar?) was a missionary and Elder Packer came to their mission and he (Elder Bednar?) put him (Elder Packer?) on a train to East Germany. Anyway he (Elder Bednar?) didn't remember or know why, but he gave him 20 marcs for food and they had to end up using it to pay off a guard because East Germany wouldn't accept his wife's passport. Elder Bednar didn't even remember or know it was the spirit. 

Also, when he was stake president, Elder Bednar wanted to leave the stake priesthood leadership meeting early with an elder's quorum president to see their sons' basket ball game two hours away. He didn't know if he was rationalizing, and his wife thought he was, but he did it. And then 6 months later the other kid died and his dad told him how important it was that he saw that game to him because it was his last chance to see one with his son playing. Anyway, he said not to worry about whether things are the spirit or not, because generally we just don't know. Just keep your covenants and commandments and have faith and we won't go amiss. I like that a lot. You can see it too if you read that chapter about Abish (which I found out the next day) and Ammon paying attention to her actions or also Laban and Nephi (he suggested). Cool, huh?

He also told us that you wouldn't think Elder Oaks was funny, but it is just because Gen. Conference isn't the appropriate place, when they are telling the will of God. He says he loves to tell the story of a man whose life was saved by a pocket BoM. He got shot and the bullet stopped at Isaiah, but really I like Isaiah, since my book of mormon class. He says Elder Oaks can barely get the story out because he laughs so much anticipating the laughter, he also told us some other funny stories. I used to think he was boring, but Bednar is cool.

Companions are your mandatory best friend and we usually get along decently, but I think we might have a much harder time if there weren't all these other missionaries here,  but we mostly are fine. Fights or anything are really rare. We definitely don't always agree, but we get by. He did me a favor and sent me a picture of us in our lava-lavas so I will try and forward it to you. I love you, and I am doing fine, just keep praying (this part seems like the end, because this is where I stopped typing, so it is in time wise). Love you love you love you. Eternal family, eternal family, eternal family, if you remember.

I'm excited you found my Christmas sock, Where was it?

I don't know about getting to the point where I won't feel bad about breaking the little rules. There are a couple quotes I have heard: Like, Obedience brings blessings; exact obedience brings blessings and that when obedience becomes a quest instead of an irritant, then we are endowed with power from on high. I have been thinking about that, and I think that it means that you try to keep all the little rules (and the big ones as well) and if you aren't able to do all of them absolutely or they would interfere with the work, then you try to live the spirit the best you can. Because I can't see God wanting us to have crippling anxiety or depression over  it. What think ye?

As far as innocent jokes like Josh said, they always talk about us being representatives of Christ, and so I think that jokes are okay for sure (like josh said about the quails coming out of their noses when the Israelites wanted meat) I think potty jokes are mostly okay, as long as they aren't too explicit. But I could see some of those things convincing people that we aren't representing Christ and aren't his messengers. Because sometimes appearance is important, that is why we have such a strict dress code. What think ye?

I always clean a larger share of things in our apartment than the other guys, and last week we got a perfect cleaning inspection (which doesn't happen) except someone left a light on, and the same this week. But I am just trying to look at it as serving others. It is fine though, I just clean two mirrors, two sinks, and the toilet and sometimes superficially the tub. It isn't so bad. Some manual labor to offset the study, like Bro. Stewart and Mom say, i think.

I write in the journal Matt and Lindsay gave me for my birthday everyday. So thanks!

Even at the holidays, I am not that homesick, but I love you and miss you all. Probably it will be worse in the field. I heard some Harry Potter music and it made me think of Christmas and homesickness; it must be because you were watching Harry Potter (telepathy). It helps also when you tell me how tired and short everyone is with each other (which holiday is complete without that).

Also, thanks for assuring me that you aren't watching any new shows or movies I might like, Dad, you know that is important to me.

Glad to hear about the show turning out well and you donating all those costumes!

Good to hear that Josh saved Thanksgiving with his sense of humor ->that is the kind of thing that makes me homesick, because it is actually your personalities, but it is not severe homesickness, so don't worry, Mom.

I like hearing how much everyone is visitng back and forth, because I think that family is really important and that is great!

Thanks for the letter, Grandma! The Spanish is sure improving. I hope the farewell party decorations will still be up when I get home (but really take them down if you want; don't let me inconvenience you).

Love you all. I try to remember you in my prayers, when I don't selfishly forget. It's been a good week, it has actually been really good (it is snowing today also, we'll will get 5 inches or something and then tomorrow, single digits). I will write to you next week and look forward to your letters! Also, I will tell you if I figure out more about the phone card, I will probably ask the week before I leave because I am not even sure how to use it.

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