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.
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.
Elder True DeMille