Dearest family and friends:
First, I want to acknowledge my mother. No offense to anyone else but she is the most amazing woman in the world. She basically can do anything you can do...better. I don't know anyone else that has ran 100 miles, let alone breaking a course record the first time!! Mom, you are amazing and I bragg to everyone here at the MTC about it. Anyone that is saying that's pride, it's not. Elder Bednar says that's just righteous entheusiasm so don't judge!! So congratulations mom and thanks everyone for supporting here, especially C.G., Tinille, and Dad. I know she is extremely grateful for you.
My e-mail today will be based on this song:
"Have I done any good?"
Have I done any good in the world today?
Have I helped anyone in need?
Have I cheered up the sad and made someone feel glad?
If not I have failed indeed.
Has anyone's burden been been lighter today
Because I was willing to share?
Have the sick and the weary been helped on their way?
When they needed my help was I there?
There are chances for work all around just now,
Opportunities right in our way.
Do not let them pass by, saying, "Sometime I'll Try,"
But go and do something today.
'Tis noble of man to work and to give;
Love's labor has merit alone.
Only he who does something helps others to live.
To God each good work will be known.
Then wake up and do something more
Than dream of your mansion above.
Doing good is a pleasure,
a joy beyond measure,
A blessing of duty and love.
I love the words of this song. In our fireside on Sunday, Elder Stephen B. Allen spoke to us and it was a little unconventional but spiritual nonetheless. He talked about the importance of bearing our trials in the mission field, "..cause you WILL have them..." and throughout the rest of our lives. He said that the best way to bear through our burdens is to serve others. How can we serve others?? It's actually really easy! C.G., if you see a "not-so-cute" boy, say hello to bring up his spirits a little bit. ;) We can do very little things all the time such as smiling and telling a cleaver joke that makes someone laugh. I know one thing that dad was always really good at and taught me was a lessong through shoveling the snow. Almost always, without fail, when it would snow and we went out to do our driveway and saw one of the neighbor's wasn't shoveled, dad would encourage us to help him out with shoveling their walkway. I love you dad and really appreciated that life-lesson.
By serving others, we are able to humble ourselves. The spirit cannot reside in a prideful, non-humble heart so we need to become like a little child, submissive and meek. As you see other people's difficulties, you realize the many blessings that you have in your life and what you have going for you. Instead on focusing on our own trials, we are focusing on others and seeing the blessings that we have. I have always been lucky to have an amazing family, both immediate and extended. As I have gotten to know some people, I realize that more and more every day. Not everyone has the opportunity that I do to love their siblings and parents and I do love my siblings and parents. Elder Allen said to us that we will notice and recognize God's hand in our life more and more as we "feed his Sheep" and serve his children. I know also that as you all serve your neighbors, family members, and acquaintances, that you will become close with God and he will pour out the blessings of heaven upon you.
In news from the MTC, we lost a teacher this week. He found another job and can't work as many hours so he's a language resource teacher for the zone and we have a new district teacher: his name is Brother Adams. Let me share a little concerning brother Adams this week. We have been focusing a lot on trying to love our teachers so we could learn more in our lessons and when we heard that our teacher was changing, we were really disheartened but I know that I felt charity towards Brother Adams the very first time he taught us. He told us his conversion story (he was born outside the covenant into an atheist family). He was a philosophy major in California about three and a half years ago and belived in a theory that nobody can know any principle with 100% surety. It was just a princeple that it is impossible to know anything with 100% surety. He said the missionaries came and he was open to hear what they had to say and he rejected them hard. He tore them apart and said some really rude things and all they could do was say that they know what they were teaching was true so he asked how and they said because they prayed and they prayed because they read the BoM and it was just a cycle of that. So then the missionaries did what every missionary should do in that case...they dropped him. He then met a girl who happened to be LDS and went to a singles ward activity to the Sacramento Temple to each a picnic or something and he said the moment he saw the temple, even without an understanding of what happens in there, that he wanted to "...go into that building." He started meeting with a new set of missionaries and took all their challenges but never got anything. He said one day, during a lesson, the missionary said to him that he couldn't be doing it right. He shared Moroni 10:4-5. He didn't have faith in God so he couldn't do it so the missionary gave him Ether 12:6. One day, he was playing videogames and he got a feeling that he needed to go pray. He described his experience: "I went up to my room, got on my knees and prayed...I said 'God, this is the most humiliating moment of my life. I don't believe in you but I want to know if you are there and if you are real and if you love me like these missionaries say. I don't even belive in you and I'm talking to a person that doesn't exist.' I laid down on my bed and began to cry. I heard a voice in my mind saying, 'I'm here. I love you and Jesus, my son, is your redemer and brother.' and then I felt arms around me and I have a little vision of me going through my whole life with Jesus next to me and me spitting and punching him and I heard another voice saying, 'I forgive you and will always love you.'" He went on to serve a mission a year after his baptism.
Everyone, I love you so much and testify that Jesus and God love us all and will forgive us our sins. I love you
Dearest family and friends: NOVEMBER 4, 2011
This week went by so very fast. It's amazing how fast time is flying now. I felt like this week was over before I even had a chance to catch up to it. Elder Olsen and I are doing great as a companionship and are really striving to prepare each other better for the field. I can't believe I'll be leaving in ten days too. I will hopefully be getting my travel plans today or tomorrow so by next time I write you all, I'll know when I should be leaving. In the travel plans, it will be my schedual for leaving to Mexico City but I still don't have my VISA so if that doesn't come by the day I'm supposed to leave (November 14) then it'll go to the first presidency and they'll receive revelation on whether or not I will be sent to another mission in the states or be delayed here at the MTC until my VISA comes...either way, I'm happy with it because I'm sure they won't make a wrong decision.
As Elder Olsen and I were doing weekly planning last week we decided to really focus on finding charity. We really want to learn how to love one another. Our new teacher doesn't always have the best words and he doesn't always know exactly how to express himself but I really know that he loves me and wants to help me become the best servant of the Lord that I can be and that is the best way to feel the Holy Ghost (the TRUE teacher). To find charity, we have been reminding each other to pray for it and to do one thing of service for the other every day. Again, service is the quickest way into someone's heart.
Stories from the week:
1- Last friday while talking to my teacher, I found out he served in the Houston, TX South mission and remembered knowing someone that left and was serving there (a dear friend). BRANDON TAUKEIAHO...I asked my teacher about him and he definitely knew him. He got to know him his last transfer on his mission, Elder Taukeiaho's first transfer. I asked him for his mission home address and will be writing him today.
2- Sunday afternoon at lunch we sat together as a district to eat and talk about our enjoyments in the class and we had a visitor: the MTC President, President Brown, sat with us. We had a wonderful meal together and definitely enjoyed our time together. President Brown reminds me a lot of a man we knew as President Gordon B. Hinkley. They both really have a love for life and are just giddy to tell a joke. There is a great spirit about him and he had such a love for the BoM.
3- Our district had the opportunity to host the new elders and sisters that arrived on Wednesday. This was a really good time. I got to host two sisters and one special elder: Elder Spencer Pickup...I'm not sure if you people at home remember him but he played football with me for a couple years, Dad. He's a really great man and we had a lot of good times together in high school. Family, you will be excited to hear this. He is going to serve in a mission that is very special to our family: Lisbon, Portugal!! Brandi, you are in very good company, as am I. Anyways, that was a really good time for me and I'm glad that he was able to see a friendly face to begin his next journey of life.
Spiritual thought: Once a week we have a class called a "workshop" where we participate in a 'lesson' that is chosen specifically to invite the spirit and to help us learn deeper doctrine. This week's workshop was different though. We had a guided lesson but a silent lesson. The teach gave us a couple scriptures on the board and told us to start with them and follow the direction of the spirit to study what we needed to, so naturally, I used footnotes. One footnote lead to another which lead to another and I ended up in the book of 2Nephi. I read the words that Lehi spoke to all his children from his death bed. I love the way that Lehi describes death and tells his sons to get their act together!! If you could all study from 2Nephi 1 that would be great, especiall versus 13-16 and look into how Lehi describes death to his boys and their children. Focus on the words "encirculed in the arms of God's love" (i don't have my scriptures so that's a little paraphrased) but that scripture really meant a lot to me. Whenever we are having hardships in our lives and we want to give up, please please please PLEASE go to the Lord, our Heavenly Father, who loves us so much. He will hold you in His loving, Godly, arms. I know that whenver I doubt myself here and am having a rough time with anything that God is aware of me and whatsoever thing that He commands me He will provide a way for me to accomplish it as Nephi so boldly said in Nephi 3:7.
I really love you all so very much family and friends. I truely do pray for you every night at my bedside and in my daily prayers. I know that God lives and that He loves us, each and every one of us. The Book of Mormon is the Word of God and was translated by Joseph Smith through the power of God. Jesus is our Savior and Redemer and He suffered for all of our afflictions, pains, sorrows, sicknesses, burdens, and sins. He knows us and wants us to be happy. We have a living prophet, Thomas S. Monson and he is guided by the Lord and leads our church today. God is our Father in Heaven and His priesthood is on the earth today.