Elder True DeMille

Elder True DeMille

Friday, December 27, 2013

MERRY CHRISTMAS, YO! And uh... what's up 3 week prodigal son??‏

Merry Christmas to all of you!! Thank you, thank you, THANK you for all of the spectacular Christmas wishes, and for the incredible packages! A very sweet thank you goes out to the Williams, Vince and Wanja, the Woods, the Hulmes, Christopher Furner, Grandma Fred, the Leppards, my Cali fam, the Sessions, and my own family for the wonderful gifts!! Thank you all for thinking so much about me! I love you and miss you all so much!

Okay, this may or may not be the most lengthy letter yet, but hopefully you won't doze off during the most epic recap of MTC history that you will ever read. Are you ready for this?? Let's start with Sunday. UN. Real. So, first, let me explain to you, if I haven't already, how our Sundays work. Our schedule is kind of like... wake up, eat breakfast, study, study, write a talk, study, go to Priesthood, study, go to lunch, study, study, go to Sacrament meeting, go on a Temple Walk, study, go to a devotional, go study your devotional notes, then sleep. Pretty rad. However, there's a twist! Each Sunday an Elder and Sister are called at random from our zone to give talks in Sacrament meeting literally 5 minutes before they need to come up and speak. We are given a topic each week, and this is why we take some time each Sunday to write a talk just in case we're called up. There are a bunch of kids who are never called, and some that are called on their first week. ..Well, guess who gave the talk this week?  ...You guessed it! This guy!

We have to speak almost entirely in Korean, and boy is it nerve-wracking! But hey, I do have to say, that I was incredibly stoked that I spoke this week. A few days before, some Sisters came to me and asked if any of the Elders could sing in our District or Zone for a musical number in Sacrament meeting. I organized a group of Elders and we sang "Joseph Smith's First Prayer" to the tune of "Come Thou Fount" and it REALLY brought the Spirit. We used to sing it in Seminary, and I actually have to thank Bethany Ramsey for showing it to me. Seriously, the most spiritually uplifting song ever! You get progressively louder each verse, starting off at almost a whisper, and it gives you chills the whole time. We made quite a few people cry, but it also really helped me to have the Spirit with me when I spoke. It turns out I did so well that a few of the Korean Elders told me I sounded native! How awesome is that?? I was so blessed to be so in tune with the Holy Ghost at that time, I know I couldn't have done it myself and I'm so glad I was prepared to speak as well.
Alright, so later on Sunday, just after Sacrament meeting, we went on our temple walk, and it was awesome! We had a bunch of snow, and ended up building a snow man and just having the greatest time! I also slipped for the first time that morning on some ice, and Peterson came running after me laughing his head off to pick me up and almost died in the process. Hahaha! Too good. (I'm fine though mom, don't worry :) I've started to use those shoe-thingies you sent me.) Let's see.. for the Sunday night devotional we went and saw an old talk of Elder Holland's given at the MTC titled "A Missionary Forever", and man, it was so awesome!! (the link is only to a portion of this talk) He talked about missionary work, and how we need to forget ourselves and our trials, and serve the Lord with everything we have. Something I love that he said regarding the difficulty of missions was, "It can't be easy. Salvation was never easy." He continued to explain with such power and emotion that the tears and blood our Savior shed were never easy. The Garden of Gethsemane wasn't easy. .. And the sweat, tears, and toil that we have are just a portion of what Christ went through. He said, "How can we bring this message if we don't bring that portion of Christ's trials?" Everything that happens in the conversion process must happen to us before it can happen to our investigator. There were never any easy missions. He then related to those who pay to have their sins removed, and to be clean, and said, "It'll cost more than that, and it'll cost more for you, because it cost most for Him." ..Absolutely jaw-dropping. I was blown away, and so empowered!! I absolutely loved that night, and that devotional. I also had the opportunity to give a blessing to a sister in our District who really needed to get better. She asked me if I would, and so I had Elder Shaver anoint, and I was able to give a blessing to the sick and the afflicted. So cool. What a neat opportunity to exercise the Priesthood!

So let's see here.. I have also gotten to see Taylor Thomas, Spencer Tanner, Ian Khang (Rasmussen family, I'm sure you know who that is, he's in my zone now), Ryker Hill (Rasmussen family, we're super tight and are getting a picture to send soon!) Elder Morgan (supposedly knows Megan Bell and Katie Warren from Olympus.. .. He likes to yell "Olympus sucks" to me across the courtyard when we get mail), and my brother Keegan Hicks! We also have a new teacher, Sister Allen (Teri Allen) and she is really close with the Haller's at Oly? So.. she knows C Munz really well, and his older brother I suppose. She says ‘hey’ to them if someone wants to pass that along!

On Tuesday, Christmas Eve, we were blessed to have another devotional that was really cool (by some fellow no one can really seem to remember..) and we watched Krueger's Christmas as well. Christmas Eve, after the devotionals, was maybe the greatest night of my life. Okay, maybe not my life, but my MTC career for sure! (Yes, it tops the ultimate bunk bed that we made.) You see, right after the devotional, we all headed outside and started taking pictures in the beautifully decorated courtyard, and all started singing really silly Christmas songs! People were dancing and having such a good time, and then a bunch of Polynesians (And my buddies Elder Esiah and Elder Tira) started to do the Haka! It. Was. So. Tight. Tira is maybe the scariest Haka dancer I have ever seen, and he stared straight at me the whole time! It was awesome!! I tried to get a video of it, but it's pretty dark and hard to see. About half way through a Brother came and broke it up because he said it was "driving away the spirit" but he apparently didn't understand what it is culturally for.

Anywho, we were still totally upbeat, and went and partied back at our residence! It was sooo fun. We broke out the ipods and speakers for this special night, and sang Disney songs all night long! Hahaha! It was too funny. Elder Watts knows almost every line of every Lion King song, and Elder Empey knows all of the others! We listened to John Mayer and a bunch of other cool instrumental songs. I can't even begin to explain to you how nice it was to listen to REAL music!!! We sat there for hours.. literally... We all talked and danced and chilled until about 1:30am, when quite a few of us got to sleep, and some other Elders stayed up until 3 or 4am. Too fun. We got up early that next morning at around 5:50, took the speakers into the shower and woke up to some John Mayer while getting ready to open our presents bright and early at 6:15am! We used an extra room, tore through all our presents, took pictures, got dressed, and HAULED down to the computer lab in 18M (just a building name) so that we could email our families for the given 20 minutes. After that, we headed to the talent show that was beyond hilarious. Elder Shaver (my companion) performed "Drifting" on his guitar by "Andy McKee" and absolutely killed it. A sister played hip-hop violin, making sweet beats and playing at the same time. We also got to watch incredible magic skills, ukulele skills, piano masterpieces, and even a Yiddish Bottle Dance. Hahaha! Absolutely hilarious and enjoyable things! After the wonderful talent show, we had lunch, and then got to go back to the assembly hall for another devotional! This time, it was ELDER BEDNAR! And boy, was it absolutely incredible!!!

Elder Bednar came in, and explained that today we were going to make history. This would be the first time anything like this would be done with so big a crowd through the church, and that he wanted this to be special for us. He said he wanted to turn this devotional into a Q&A session. ..He then explained that he had a magic iPad, with a phone number he would give us. We all looked at each other with puzzled faces because we thought, "Well, we don't have phones so... what good does that do us?" ..But then, he continued to explain that when he gave the word, 200 cell phones would be passed out throughout the crowd so that we could text him a question anonymously, and he would personally answer that question for us in front of everyone. HOW CRAZY!! The phones were passed out, and I was surprised at how many people didn't have a question for him. The first question he got was, "Why do I feel so inadequate?" He responded with words that I absolutely needed to hear. ..I didn't bring my notes with me, but he said something along the lines of, "How could you not?" You've been given the task of bringing salvation unto the souls of hundreds of people, while serving the most important being in the universe. Quite the task. He encouraged us through interesting words, saying that no matter where we are, and no matter what we are doing, we will always feel inadequate. He testified that he himself is inadequate to be an Apostle by himself. However, through the Lord, anything is possible. He continued to answer special question after question that touched so many people's hearts. He answered another similar to "Why do I still feel the negative effects of sin after I have repented?" ..He encouraged us to remember that the scriptures say the Lord forgives, and forgets, but it doesn't say anything about us forgetting. We remember those things as a safeguard, to prevent us from doing them again. Without that, we would be caught in a never-ending cycle of sin. He had such incredible words, and it was the coolest experience! I have never been so blown away in my life.
Christmas night we had another devotional with a performance by Ray Smith who played us some smooth jazz. That night, we had a super awesome time as well. We broke out the "Ward Fish" cards my mom gave me (Go Fish, ward-style.. "Have any Elder's Quorum Presidents?") and played Ward Fish and spoons! We're going to play War, Scum, and all sorts of other things soon, so thank you mom! We also played "One-armed Charades" and it was HILARIOUS. What you do, is get a group of people playing, and bring one person in who thinks it's just a one-armed game of charades. However, you give that one person a really simple charade (Superman, drumming, piano, etc) and the rest of the people guess everything BUT that word. Elder Tira introduced it to us, and it was beyond hilarious. I took a couple videos of people getting frustrated with our group and dying of laughter. For example.. they'd put their one arm in the air like Superman and we'd guess things like, "Spiderman! Iron man! Statue of Liberty!" Then, they'd draw an S on their chest and we'd say things like "Syndrome!" Hahahaha! Sooo good.
Other than that, I've had a really good time this past week! In MTC time, this is counted as our 4th week, even though we've only been here for 3, so time is really flying. I'm so excited to get out to Korea, but more excited to learn the language. Thank you all again so much for everything you've done for me! I can't wait to hear from you all soon!!!!

Elder True DeMille

Friday, December 20, 2013

2 Weeks Down ... 102 To Go?

So... Hopefully that math is right... I've never been very good at math... but... nonetheless..


I love love love P-day! Mostly because I get to sit around all day and not study for hours on end, but also because I love to talk to all of you! So, this week was pretty intense, but let me first start out by saying that last night was maybe the most epic night of my entire MTC experience. (I know, saying that after two weeks is quite the feat) However! Last night, in honor of P-day being the following morning, we decided to... bend some rules ;P. We put all three of our bed bunks together last night in our room, laid mattresses on the floor, covered the whole thing in sheets, and created the Ultimate K-Town Kastle! Hahaha. We fit 10 fellas (er.. Elders I mean..) in 6 beds, and had the raddest time! We told endless stories, shared paranormal experiences, and passed around my glowing-red headlamp while we spoke. It was pretty much your typical 12-year old sleepover/campout. Haha but it was so fun. It was so nice to have a chance to kick back and just have a good time. We had a bunch of snacks, and put Christmas lights and glow sticks all over inside! Needless to say, we felt like MTC kings.
Switching gears a little bit, let me tell you about my week! So, first off.. to all those entering or residing in the MTC for a long period of time.. watch what you eat. (Elder Grossgebauer is the coolest guy i know and he kicks my butt in basketball) My companion and I were sick for about four days this week and struggled really hard to focus and stay alive. I think we've really just been eating poorly these past few weeks (because I mean come on.. without your mom around, why would you eat anything green or healthy? ..And endless fries? Like.. count me in..) and it's really just gotten to us I think. Elder Shaver had to go to the Medical Clinic, and I completed a 150 piece puzzle while he was being evaluated (I know.. I'm a super genius). He was prescribed some meds, and we're both feeling a lot better now, but we've also made a resolve to eat a lot healthier. And might I say, some of the salads here are delicious!! So.. I guess you win some, you lose some! 

Also, Friday of last week was maybe the coolest experience ever. The older Elders from our area were leaving for Korea on Sunday, so, in honor of them (and as part of tradition) we held a "Pass-Down Ceremony" on Friday night. You see, in the Korean branch, many noteworthy and revered items are held on to for years, and passed down to worthy Elders in the Korean branch. So, let me give you some examples: There is a Korean bean-plant (relative to the tree of life, and cousin to the Burning Bush, given to the most responsible Elder in the younger group of Elders), A pair of hefty overalls (given to an Elder that can fit in them), An undecipherable Korean love song (given to an Elder at random, whom is then kissed on the cheek in the ceremony), A Safari Blanket (So hideous, and so funky smelling it's weird.. given to an Elder at absolute random), A pair of K-town basketball shoes (given to an Elder that deserves the gift of Athleticism), An Idaho Stuffed Cow (given to an Elder from Idaho), A statue of the Salt Lake City Temple made entirely out of Cactus Cooler Soda cans (given to an Elder who is diligent enough to finish it, and hide it somewhere in the ceiling of our residence hall -- Although not as cool as the Cactus Cooler Taj Mahal that the Mandarins possess), An elephant fan (given to an Elder that has injured the Elder possessing that pass down), and other silly things like that. It was seriously the funniest, coolest thing I've ever been a part of. After you are given a pass down, you must accept the pass down, and then be given the power to hold that pass down by the power and authority of the Elder who possesses the pass-down of the "Nerf Swords of Dubbing". Hahaha we truly are just all little kids still.

However, there is one last pass down I'd like to tell you about, and it is acclaimed to be the "Pass-down of all pass-downs"! They call it ... (drumroll please..) .. The K-TOWN CARDY. Stolen from an innocent unsuspecting girl who had left it on her chair in the cafeteria, this teal/blue/green/seafoam/girl colored cardigan is the ultimate pass down, and is given to the coolest, most respected younger Elder. ...And I received it! When asked, "Does it fit?" The answer is always most certainly, "No.". When asked, will it look good on you? The answer is always most certainly "It won't." Hahaha. I felt super honored to receive it, and was so stoked about it (even though it's total chick apparel). I'm the 6th Elder to receive it, I believe.
Alright, aside from that, Sunday was really stellar. The BYU Men's chorus came and sang to us, and they did a phenomenal job. That was pretty much everything on Sunday, it wasn't very eventful. However, this upcoming Sunday I will be performing with several Elders singing "Joseph Smith's First Prayer" to the tune of "Come thou Fount". It should be really really cool! I've also been asked to conduct the music for Priesthood meeting, which should be a treat. Singing Hymns in Korean is a little harder than you'd think! Monday was just another day, and that's probably when all the illness started. 

Monday through... Wednesday we were really sick, but made some really incredible progress with our investigators. We are teaching Brother Kim (Old Brother Choi, who is now our teacher) and a student from our class. Yesterday was so incredible with our investigator. We went in, (second lesson, by the way) introduced ourselves again, talked all about his family, his job, his life, school, and then asked him what he knew about God. He didn't know much, so we explained God, Jesus Christ, the Holy Ghost, and went from pamphlet to scripture to testimony and everything! We had him read, we taught him how to pray, we testified to him, and even asked him to be baptized! ..Shocker, right?? The best part is that he told us he didn't know much about baptism, but from what we had told him, he knew that if we taught him about it, and if he prayed to know it was true and felt good about it, he would! How incredible!!!! Yesterday was truly a blessing. That, plus the fort? PLUS a five-page letter from the sweetest girl in the world, great drawings from my little brother, a letter from my sister, an incredible fort and no more illness, yesterday was the bomb! It is like we've died and gone to paradise, in a way!

We get to learn from the Spirit so clearly here. Being a missionary- learning directly by the spirit- gives us so much more advantage over our non-mission selves. It's truly incredible. In the words of Elder Watts' wise mother, "That is why it is hard. We are doing Super-human work because we are ‘set apart’ from the world for a time, to learn, grow, and progress. The tough part is simply our bodies & minds reminding us that we can't do this alone. We were not meant to do it alone. We become more humble, more submissive. We say, ‘What would you have me learn?’ Then we fly. ..Spiritually, we soar." This gospel is effecting my life in more ways I thought possible, and I am so grateful for the incredible amounts of love you have all shown me. My dear friend Thomas S. Monson once said, "Our Heavenly Father, who gives us so much to delight in, also knows that we learn and grow and become stronger as we face and survive the trials through which we must pass. We know that there are times when we will experience heart-breaking sorrow, when we will grieve, and when we may be tested to our limits. However, such difficulties allow us to change for the better, to rebuild our lives in the way our Heavenly Father teaches us, and to become something different from what we were, more understanding than we were, with stronger testimonies than we had before."
I love you all so much, and know with all my heart this church is true. This gospel is true. This work is true. And I can say all of that and more in Korean now, telling me that I know the gift of tongues and our dear friend the Holy Ghost are true. I love you all so much, and want you to keep pressing forward!! Stay true!

Elder True DeMille!

Friday, December 13, 2013

ONE WEEK!!! ...and then some!

Hello, Hello, Hello!! ..another day, another destiny!! ..Am I right? Haha

So, I think it's going to be incredibly difficult to sum up everything that has happened over the course of a week rather than just a few days, but I will do my best! ..First off, this place is incredible. If I haven't said that enough, write it down somewhere so you remember. If you have anyone coming to the MTC or currently in the MTC, please know that they are well taken care of, and always in good hands. Secondly, never has my testimony been so strong! Feeling the spirit at home is one thing.. feeling it here is something else entirely. It's insane. I can hardly keep my emotions contained, and my buddy Elder Munk and I are always the ones crying in class and at devotionals. He is a spiritual giant, and lives with Elders Ethington, Grossgebauer, and Watts. Love him. Love them all! 

So, this past week, I've run into Elder Hansen, Sister Hockemier, Sister Davis, Elder Barrios, Sister Adamson, and Elder Wood. SO happy to see so many familiar faces, and have so many friends here in the MTC. Even without them, I think I'd be alright though. My district is so close now, and we are all such incredible friends. 
Let's see.. To sum up this week.. I'd have to say it was hard. Our days are chalk-full of learning from 7am-9:30 pm. We pray in full Korean now, teach investigators in Korean, and are making such insane progress.. but it can be so physically and emotionally draining. However, there are so many blessings as well! I believe I left off last Friday by telling you all that we were preparing to teach our first Korean investigator, so let me tell you how all of that has been! 

His name is Brother Choi, although you say it like "Brother Chey". Here, return missionaries often play the role of an investigator for us. This was the case for Elder Choi, although we didn't know that until later on. It starts out how any lesson would.. with a prayer before you knock on his door, and a hope for the Spirit in your heart while you teach him. In our first lesson, we simply talked to him, and tried to learn all that we could about him. He is a 22-year old young man, striving to be happy in life, believe in something, and become a good man. He has a family that is far away, and that wants him to believe in something, and a little sister that really looks up to him. We taught him every single day from Friday to Wednesday, excluding Sunday. We taught him how to pray, taught him the difference between the Bible and Book of Mormon, explained to him what kind of man God is, and had him reading the Book of Mormon daily! 

The progress was great. We became so much more comfortable in the environment, and were really able to relax, and talk to him and teach HIM, rather than the lesson. We learned to focus on his needs, rather than what we were really yearning to teach him. It was an awesome experience, and I learned so much every time. On Wednesday, we were told that Brother Choi Kung Duk would no longer be our investigator, but our teacher! His name is now Brother Campbell, and our current teacher, Macarthur heungjaenim will be our new investigator. Soo intimidating! However, I believe we are up for the task. My companion and I are cruising through the Korean. He reads so much better than I do, but I can speak really well, which makes us a really good team when we are teaching. (Haha I feel like I'm jumping from topic to topic because there's so much to talk about.. I apologize if this is hard to understand.)
Sunday, was probably the day of all days. Everyone in the MTC says, "Make it til' Sunday!" and shoot, we did it! Sunday was the greatest day ever, aside from last night. One Elder and Sister from our zone are asked to speak each week on a given topic, but they are chosen at random, in the meetinghouse during sacrament meeting. Scary! So, throughout the week, we are all given a topic to prepare our talk on, and on Sunday, during class, my great friend Elder Smith (who is leaving this Sunday for Korea) came in and told me (with more seriousness than I ever thought possible) that he was the chosen Elder who assigns that Elder and Sister to speak in Sacrament Meeting. Naturally, he asked if I would be willing to speak, and naturally, I fully believed him! I had a killer talk prepared, and my whole district felt so relieved that they finally knew who was talking! Little did we know.. that Elder Smith didn't actually have that authority! 

We got to the meetinghouse, and a bunch of the Older Elders were wishing me luck on my talk, when the Older Zone Leader (we have two) told me in secret that it wasn't actually going to be me (most likely). Elder Smith had no authority, and I was officially punked! Haha! I thought it was so funny, and was pretty much relieved that it was still up to chance. Haha and here I was.. prepared! Score! The presiding member of our Zone got up to announce the schedule for the meeting, and in turn, who was speaking and said.."From Districts B and E.." (We are district B!) .. "There will be no speakers." ...Hahaha safe! The meeting was great, the Korean talks were outstanding, and later that night we had the opportunity to watch "The Character of Christ" by Elder Bednar. If you haven't seen it, I STRONGLY recommend it. It's maybe the greatest talk I've ever heard. ..Although, it may only be accessible to missionaries. 

Monday was just like any other day, filled to the brim with learning, fatigue, gym, and learning. Seriously, I've never studied so much in my LIFE. Hours on hours of studying! ..But! It goes by really quickly, especially if you plan every minute of your day. You are given so much time to study whatever you want, and to be able to have that chance to grow closer to Heavenly Father is incredible. 

Tuesday was another wonderful day. We have devotionals on Tuesday, and this Tuesday Elder Quentin L. Cook came to talk to us as a whole. He spoke directly about missionary work, and it was so rad to hear about. He had great insights and wonderful advice. It was more of a factual, motivational talk than an inspired one, I felt, but I loved it nonetheless. After the devotional, we made our way back to our residency, prayed, wrote, and slept. We are pretty much toast by the end of every day.
Wednesday was a day to remember. We had taught Elder Choi up until this day (like I said) and we left off in a really good spot. We challenged him to continue to read the Book of Mormon, and that we would be here with him every step of the way. .. Although we didn't know it would be our last lesson until later that night, it was really special and sincere. ..That night, after class got out, Elders Peterson and Ross came up to me and told me to have my room full of Elders ready for bed by 10:15 because they were going to come in for a devotional. I thought they were kidding and were going to prank us, but I couldn't have been more wrong. Ross, Peterson, and Payne came in around 10:15 and shared a devotional with us. Peterson led the discussion, and told us all why he was here. Why he was serving a mission, and why he was devoting so much time and energy to the Lord. He passed the same question on to the rest of us, and as we poured out our souls in turn that night, we grew so much closer together as a zone. So many of us are here simply because we are grateful for what we have been given, and want to be the best person we can be. ..I spoke third (out of seven) and was in tears almost the entire time. My composure was great, there was just a lot of water on my face, haha. After we had all finished and were getting ready to go to bed, Payne pulled me aside for a minute, thanked me for my testimony, and told me a story that I will never forget. He relates to me really well, and why I am here, and told me that he will always be there for me if I ever need anyone to talk to. It was more than comforting. I loved Wednesday night.

Thursday, yesterday, was crazy. I got four packages! (Thanks to my mom, and the Leppards) and couldn't have been more stoked! However.. yesterday was hard. I felt the adversary pushing on me pretty hard, and felt very alone and inadequate. It's not something I'll really explain in full, but I just felt like the Spirit was everywhere except inside of me. ..It took me all day to get over this feeling, and that didn't really happen until my teacher seemed to feel an uneasiness in our class, and decided to start speaking in English. He sidetracked from our Korean lesson (in which I was getting just about every answer wrong) and started talking and teaching us about the simple doctrines of Christ. Faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, Repentance, Baptism, The Holy Ghost, and Enduring to the End. I still couldn't focus very well on this lesson, and decided to write in my notebook instead. A poem that I memorized many years ago came into my head titled, "Invictus". I wrote it down.. It reads,

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole-to-pole
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance,
I have not winced, nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance,
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears,
Looms but the horror of the shade
And yet the menace of the years
Finds- and shall find- me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate.
I am the captain of my soul.

As he continued to teach, and I continued to be lost and feeling inadequate, I decided to write down Elder Orson F. Whitney's reply to that poem entitled, "The Soul's Captain". It reads,

Art thou in truth? Then what of Him? 
Who bought thee with his blood?
Who plunged into devouring seas,
And snatched thee from the flood?

Who bore for all our fallen race,
What none but him could bare
The God who died that man might live,
And endless glory share.

Men are as bubbles on the wave,
As leaves upon a tree.
Thou "Captain of thy Soul" forsooth!
Who gave that place to thee?

Free will is thine, free agency;
To wield for right or wrong.
But thou must answer unto Him
To whom all souls belong.

Bend to the dust, that head "unbowed"
Small part of life's great whole,
And see in Him, and Him alone, 
The Captain of thy Soul.

As I finished the last line, I looked into my teachers eyes as he bore powerful testimony of the Atonement. I looked across the room at my brother, Elder Munk, with tears rolling down my face. He was crying too of course, and bore his testimony next. I followed him, and was prompted to share these poems with the class. ..I know that without the Atonement we would be nothing. Jesus Christ made everything possible for us, and I cannot be thankful enough. My teacher, Brother MacArthur knew what we all needed that night, and that some of us were struggling with thoughts of inadequacy and doubt. ..But we are all here for a reason. We are an instrument in the Lord's hands so that he can touch the lives of those in Korea through us. The mission is for us, but not about us. We are simply here to mold ourselves into perfect vessels for the Lord to touch those designated hearts through. 

I couldn't be more happy. I hope all is well, and thank you all so much for all of the love and gifts, letters and thoughts you have sent this way. My whole room thanks you for your love! Stay strong in the ways of the Lord, for He is whom we have trusted in all the while. 

I am so thankful for all of you, and am truly thankful from the bottom of my heart.

Elder DeMille

Friday, December 6, 2013

The First Few Days

Yo! My fellow friends and family!!!

Man, the MTC is incredible!!!! Seriously one of the greatest places on earth, I'm sure! I have had such an amazing time these past ... what.. three days? Haha man.. it seems like I've been here for weeks! Each day is so packed with learning and activities. I'm sure my mind is going to take an oriental turn sometime very soon. ..

Okay, I'm sure you're all wondering what even really happened to me, and what I've been up to, so let me tell you how it's been! ..On Wednesday, when I was dropped off, my "Host" (a temporary companion) Elder Horn took me to get my books, drop off my luggage, and find my room and companion. It was pretty much like journeying through small little dungeons where your old sensei would drop you off in the beginning and say, "I shall see you at the end, young one." haha. He'd send me through building after building to get my nametag, my books, my magnetic nametag, grab my luggage again, and all sorts of things, while in the meantime he would somehow be waiting for me as I came out of each building. Right after I got my books, I came out looking for Elder Horn and ran into Kristen Erickson!! ..Er... Sister Erickson.. hahaha. (I hope her last name is spelled right.. I should know by now.. haha) Anyway, it was so nuts! I was in total shock and pretty much couldn't get any words out of my mouth while she jumped up and down frantically trying not to hug me! It was so good to see a friendly face so early in my day! We parted ways, I met with my host, and he took me to my room in the highest room in the tallest tower.

Haha! Seriously though, my room is on the fourth floor in 14M. (the M, I assume stands for Manor because we are all royalty, obvi) We call our home the "Residence Hall" which is where we sleep and do companion study. After that, I was taken to my class (which would become my homeroom), and all heck broke loose. Haha, it was so crazy! FULL Korean from there on out. Too crazy. I had to watch a couple orientations on the computer which told us all the rules for the gym and cafeteria and such, and then it was off to class! I sat right next to my brand new companion, Elder Shaver, or, Shaver jeongnoh-nim! I would use more Korean but... it's hard to romanize. Anyway, he's totally Canadian, from the Vancouver area, and does not have a really sweet accent (sadly). But! He is 6'3" and is super rad. He sings, and plays guitar like a madman. ..Or so he says :P Haha. I believe him. We're typing together right now in the laundry room, running our first load! ..I feel so old and responsible.. hahaha.

Back to the story, I went to class, and it was straight up Korean. I had never heard so much Korean in my life, and everyone had learned the alphabet in under an hour. ..It took me like a week! However, I progressed really well, and am still ahead of the game in my district. I have Dale Choi to thank for that! After class, we went to a meeting or two, which were pretty uneventful (except for the fact that we learned we had 721 missionaries come into the MTC that day) and then went to dinner. At dinner I ran into none other than the one and only Elder Mickey Rudolph! It was SO good to see a brother of mine. I still haven't run into my buddy Ryley Hansen, but maybe I'll get to catch him before he leaves in a week or two. After dinner (some delicious breaded chicken thing), we had personal time and got to pretty much just relax, unpack, study, and go to bed.

Our room consists of myself, Elder Shaver, Elder Fowler, and Elder Meeks. Elder Fowler is from Rexburg Idaho, and Elder Meeks is from American Fork, so we're all pretty familiar with the cold and the area. However, there are a bunch of New Zealand (saying that with an accent) Elders who are serving in the Seoul and Taejon mission, and they are hilarious. They think our shoes are so weird as they only wore socks and sandals, and they get so upset with artificial ingredients (of all things) because everything in New Zealand is natural. Hahaha. We live in a room made for six with three bunkbeds, but only have four elders, so it's pretty roomy. I have a bunkbed to myself (I'm sure I talk too much in my sleep anyway) and I love it. ...Although... I keep sitting up into the bar under the bed above me. Haha it kills. The showers are lovely, warm, and never rushed, and the Elders on the floor with us are already like family. They are way funny, and a lot of them really like me and are thoroughly impressed with my Korean. I've taught them a few words, and they've taught me silly things like "Repent!" and "You wanna die?" hahah We have a really good time.

On Thursday I was able to play basketball for our Gym time (allowed 1 hour every other day) and it was maybe the greatest thing in the world. I hardly lost any of my skill, and it felt so great to be able to run around and DO things! I played with an "Elder Eager" which is Tessa Giolas' boyfriend (someone tell Paige Anthony I found him and he's cool), and we rallied kids. It was awesome. You're only allowed to play 1 on 1, 2 on 2, or 3 on 3, and play to seven, then have to call out "Game!" and shoot for teams. The first 2-6 to make the shots will play, and the remaining Elders have to find a new court to 'ball so hard' on. After Gym, we had language class. After language class, study time, planning time, and interviews with our District Presidents.

My good friend (whom I just met here and who is from Lone Peak and plays Ultimate disc) Elder Watts, is our new District leader, in charge of 11 of us. We have 3 sisters (a tri-companionship) and 8 elders. Myself and Elder Shaver, Elder Fowler and Meeks, Elder G (Grossgebauer) and Elder Watts, Elder Munk and Ethington, and Sisters Hoffman, Bagley, and Glauser. Sister Glauser is really, really nice, and is Heidi Glauser's cousin! We hit it off right away, Sister Hoffman knows just about as much Korean as I do so we're cool, and Sister Bagley taught me how to ask people not to fart in the room and say "kiss me", which we learned from an older New Zealander (Elder Tira) is not okay to say here, haha.

Life is good, really good. It feels so nice to have people to have fun with here, and my boy Elder D Ross takes really good care of me. He's an older Elder who is 3 weeks more experienced, and brings me treats and stuff all the time. He gives me good tips, and hangs out in our room all the time. He played basketball for Murray High School. ..Anyway.. I am doing so great. It's hard to sleep at night, and Elder Watts and I both still have the urge to snapchat our friends when we see cool things, but other than that, life is good!

I wasn't sure I would email this first week, but I am absolutely loving it. We have all day today (P-day) to study because we have the opportunity to teach a Korean-speaking investigator tonight. ..Which means we have to speak Korean. ..Scary! Elder Shaver and I have really been practicing and studying hard though, so I think we can truly do it and do it well! I'm excited. I just need more practice, haha. I love you all so much, and hope that everything is well! Seriously, write me or something! I've written a few letters that will be sent out today (hopefully) so I hope you write me back and we can have a real good time talkin' about nonsense to keep me from losing my mind. All this studying and stuff makes me so tired, but I miss hearing from you guys. Let me know what's going on! I can't wait to hear from you, and I love you all so much. ..I've learned that going on a mission is for us, but not about us. I can't wait to touch so many lives in Korea. Take it easy! Keep the faith, and be true to yourself!

Pictures will be on their way! (Yamagata jeongno-nim has my card-reader at the moment..)
Saranghaeyo! (I love you)

Elder DeMille

P.s- (I crack up every time in class when someone says something like, "that's so true!" ... but no one here knows my first name. ......It's always pretty awkward.