Hello from the MTC! I only get 30 minutes for email, but since my handy app has gotten me used to 1, I should be fine...
I'm got a lot to tell you, so I'll try to break it down into topics and bullet points to make stuff easier.
So, one of the MANY blessings I've had this last week has been an incredible district (group of missionaries I go to class with) and an incredible branch presidency. I'll give you the run down:
My companion is Elder Lyle Lotalu-Lokeni. He is a Samoan from Lehi (who went to Lehi High) who is a few inches shorter than I am and a few inches wider. It's nice since he's on about the same level as me when it comes to eating and strength, so we have good times at the gym and at meals. (I'm a bit stronger in a lot of areas, though). He is about 23, going to
Charlotte with me, and is
pretty awesome. As I've gotten to know him over the last few days, I've
realized that he has got a ton of great gospel insights. I am extremely glad to
be his companion. One cool thing he told me is that his dad is from Samoa. His grandfather was a chief there (the word
"Lokeni" is a chiefly name) and he named his son Lokeni Lokeni. That
means that Elder Lokeni not only has Christ's name on his nametag, but also his
father's, which gives him some great motivation to do well. We've been having a
lot of fun reading through Preach My Gospel together, since neither of us have
read it. Such a great companion!
The two other elders in my room are Elder Whitaker and Elder Cross. Elder Nick Whitaker was the young Joseph Smith in the Prophet of the Restoration movie, except his hair is dyed red now. He's about 23 too. He and I have about comparable movie quote knowledge and are able to do impressions equally well, which has made us get along very well. It's funny to see people at the MTC realize that they've seen him in a church movie. (Nobody recognizes me from my Elder Bednar video :( But oh well.) He was the main character in a short Mormon movie called "Money or
Mission," which, funny enough, almost
exactly matches his own life journey. Pretty ironic. He's a good kid though,
and very spiritual. His companion is Elder Cross, who looks like a skinny Shia
LeBeouf and has an Ocarina. All of the inner nerd in our room got released when
he brought that out the first night. He can't play it anymore, since a leader
told him to stop.
The fun thing about our room is that we all love to sing (quietly, of course), that we all love movies and have most of the same interests, and we're all pretty spiritual. We've had a great time. As for my district:
There is Elder Roe (the crazy one) and Elder Gray (the quiet one), Elder Gomm (the friendly one) and Elder Poulson (the solid one), Elder Huckstep (the Idahoan) and Elder Rothgery (the follower.) I could not have asked for a better district. We get along extremely well.
Elder Gray is from
which means he is the first person I've ever met who knows what Wall Ball is.
Legit Gig Harbor Washington
Wall Ball. Which means he knows what a Waterfall, a Crack, and an Ace are. I
was so excited when I heard that.
And now for my branch presidency:
President Gubler is fantastic, and frequently dispenses hugs at the start and end of every meeting (he calls it "medicine.") His counselors are Elder Meyers and Elder Pearce.
We've had some pretty crazy days here. We sit in classes for six hours at a time, and do a lot of studying. We get meals three times a day, and they are very good. Elder Letalu and I have made a commitment to be healthy, especially after I told the district the story about the guy who gained 79 pounds in 8 weeks...I'm actually rather proud of how well I've been behaving myself. We get 45 minutes of gym time each day. Even though we wake up early, I don't really mind--it's all that work we do that gets me tired. So good though, I'm feeling the Spirit all the time.
Elder Letalu and I have been made Zone Leaders! Elder Whitaker (Joseph Smith) was made District Leader on Thursday--to the surprise of no one--but on Sunday, Elder Letalu and I were called in by the Branch Presidency and the calling extended to us. As Zone Leaders, we get to welcome the new group each Wednesday, and other good stuff, like making sure people behanve. We even get our own Zone Leader Fan!
On Thursday, Elder Gomm was feeling sick, so our district gathered together to give him a blessing. That was first time I ever really felt like an Elder.
Sunday was just the most miraculous day. We had great talks from our Branch Presidency, we went and saw The Testaments (made me cry, as usual) and it was a great spiritual high all day. But it didn't stop there. When Elder Whitaker called a district meeting in our room, we all gathered together to possibly plan what our district should work on. He said we'd all write down suggestions and, if they wanted to be kept private, to put a star on the paper. Elder Rothgery all of sudden opened up. As the topic this Sunday had been repentance, it had made him think about his grandfather, who was a horrible man. He'd done horrible things to his mother and had even tried to kidnap Elder Rothgery when he was a child (his dog saved him by valiantly biting his uncle and defending him). He said that he is so angry at his grandfather for what he did, he didn't think he could forgive him. Elder Whitaker, Elder Letalu and I gave him some words of comfort, and then we suggested giving him a blessing. Elder Gomm ran and grabbed some special oil from the
for this blessing, and we led
Elder Rothgery's companion, Elder Huckstep, do the honors. The Spirit was like
electricity in the room, I've never felt it so strong. Amazing. Garden of Gethsemane
The MTC has made me more of a roleplayer than any video game ever did. WE do a lot of teaching of people who pretend to be investigators - teachers, other elders, etc. The first two lessons Elder LEtalu and I did were with "Debbie" and "Chantha" - our teachers - and they bombed. We didn't know what to say, we didn't follow the Spirit, they were overly planned. I, in particular, did not trust Elder Letalu, so I spoke almost exclusively for our second lesson. Didn't work. We decided to simply read Preach My Gospel and go by the Spirit.
Monday we taught TRC - people who may or may not be converts. Our man was Jose, a guy from
Guatemala (he said he lived up in
the mountains, Dad) who wanted to know why God allowed bad things to happen. We
focused a lot more on getting to know HIM, and it worked. The Spirit was there.
We did the same thing for Debbie, and it worked!
(running out of time, finish later)
Friends I've Seen:
I have bumped into a ton of people here that I know, including: my roommate Mason Stout, Josh Taylor, Peter Murray, Nick Johnson, Chris Walker, and even Sister Mancuso -- Becky's friend! So much fun.
Uh, Mother, I am in critical need of socks. I've got everything else, but I've only got 1 pair of Missionary socks, and no regular pairs. I've been wearing the same pair for a week now. Yikes!
The fan's been a lifesaver.
Running out of time. Write more later!