First, I hope these emails help you understand what's going on during my mission. There are many things which I will try to explain, but please forgive me if I don't describe everything to a perfect understanding. I am writing this email from a computer in a laundry room as I wait to see if I remembered anything at all from doing laundry in college.
Second, I am so blessed to have 94 (and counting) people and families who are willing to hear back from me on a regular basis. I hope and pray the things I share with you will help you recognize blessings in your own life.
I left for the beginning of my mission on Sun. Mar. 16. After attending my home ward (a local congregation in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) in Rochester, I was set apart to be a missionary for the Church and a representative of Jesus Christ. This just means I was ordained to a position of responsibility that will spiritually and even physically enable me to help others in my mission. This was a blessing to me and I definitely felt even more strength and called to serve than before.
My parents and I visited my brother and sister in the Twin Cities on Sun. night before they took me to the airport the following day. I flew into Salt Lake City in the morning of Mar. 17 and was picked up by the dad of a missionary who had served in Minnesota on his mission. I spent the next couple days acclimating to the environment and preparing to enter the Missionary Training Center where I'm at currently. I love the mountains! They majestic. It is very dry here.
I started at the MTC on Wed. afternoon. As we drove into it, there were many Elders (male missionaries) waving and smiling at us. I had no idea who they were, but I couldn't help but wave and smile back at them. A very nice Elder from Brazil who will be serving his mission in Japan (he knows three languages!) helped me take my luggage to my room and get orientated. I received my nametag!
I will be staying here at the MTC for roughly 12 days. I am rooming with three other Elders, one of whom is my companion. This just means we will be staying together throughout the duration of our time here. We go everywhere together. Good thing he is a great person! He is from Missouri and is a convert to the Church for 1.5 years. We have similar stories, so we were able to connect right away. He is very funny, so for those of you worried that I would be too serious here in my mission, I am loosening up just fine.
The MTC is a campus with dormitories and classrooms. My companion and I are part of a district, which is a basically a group of Elders and Sisters that attend the same classes and have the same schedule. Two other Elders are from Texas and Iowa (Iowa!) and we have three Sisters in our district as well. They are from Utah, Idaho, and Arizona. All three are going to the Jacksonville, FL mission while all the Elders are going to Idaho Nampa Mission. Everyone is awesome and has had incredible life-changing experiences that have helped them get to this point in their lives. They have very strong testimonies of Jesus Christ and His Atonement for us. I am blessed to be in the district that I am in.
Classes consist of learning about the Doctrine of Christ, which is faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost and enduring to the end. We also learn how to help people recognize their relationship with their Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, through the feelings and experiences the Holy Ghost works in their lives. We learn about real people and their real-life experiences and learn how we can best help them accept Christ and have greater faith in him. We have various activities and exercises that we use to learn how to get to know other people spiritually. It's a lot and can be overwhelming at times, but at the core it's quite simple. It's all about love and trying to do what Christ would do.
Today is preparation day, which is why I am able to email you. I will also be going to the Provo, UT temple today, which is nearby. I believe the temple is the House of God and is holy to Him. Otherwise, I have many other things I need to do in preparation for Sunday and the next week.
I want to share that I know the Holy Ghost is real. The influence of the Holy Ghost has helped me remember things, know what to say, and know what to study while I've been here. Most importantly, I have felt a closer connection to my Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. I know I am a child of God. It's been difficult to be patient with so many things going on, but I have felt peace and comfort as I try simply to do what I can to love and serve others.
I wish to challenge each of you to step outside your comfort zone this week to serve someone you can see is in need. Afterward, think about how you felt. Strive to move forward with those positive feelings. I will be trying to do the same. I may be wearing a nametag as a full-time missionary, but I'm not at all different from any of you.
A scripture from the Book of Mormon that I love which talks about Christ's power to lift us: "And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them." - Ether 12:27
I hope and pray you are all doing well.
*If you would like to send me emails that if fine, but I only get to check them once a week. A welcome option from which I can receive letters is through dearelder.com. You can basically write an email, but I receive it as a letter. I can receive letters every day! Please let me know how you are doing!*