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.