Monday, May 6, 2013

I'm still alive! Week #1


Well, I'm still alive! I might be tired and somewhat unconscious, but I'm still alive! Haha so I'm going to start off by saying that the MTC isn't at all what I expected. Once I got there, I got my name badges, room key, books, dropped my stuff off right at the room, and got right to work on gospel study/language study. This place is amazing! The work is hard and constant, and the first two days were probably the longest days of my life.  But the work is also fun! When President Carmack said that I was so lucky to have this opportunity to dedicate my life to one thing and one thing only. And when that one thing is the gospel, life is just great. One joke I heard that rather than being a concentration camp, it was more like a "Consecration Camp." Haha. Seriously, whatever doubts I had before have been erased by the strong spirit that is in this place. Every hour until bedtime is work work work, whether it's reading the scriptures or learning the language or practicing teaching, it's all work but it's great! The fact that I'm in here for 10 more weeks is still a little daunting, but I'm still stoked!

Alrighty, so my district is definitely a blast. My companion is Elder Lovelock, from Melbourne, Australia. He's a rad elder, really laid back, sick accent. He's kind of a no-nonsense guy too, but that's whats so funny about him. The other elders are Elder Hansen and Elder White, both from Utah. They're both super funny guys, and they're bound to be the new zone leaders once the other zone leaders leave for France. Speaking of which, Elder Erickson and Elder Dover are my zone leaders, and they leave for Lyon, France in about a week. They're the best zone leaders and examples a guy could ask for. They're quite a dynamic duo and you can tell the real bond in their companionship. All the French speaking missions are in the same zone and branch, and all the French missionaries are fun to hang out with as well. Since they leave in a week, a new batch of French missionaries are gonna come in and live in the same hall as us. I'm absolutely stoked on that as well. (I'm talkin to you, Elder Herring!)

Learning (or relearning) French is waaay fun! So far I've been reviewing pretty much all the things that I learned in high school. It's a little bit of a head start compared to some of the other missionaries who have never spoken a lick of French (Elder Lovelock, for instance!), but they'll definitely catch up to me eventually. We've mostly been learning how to say prayers and bear our testimony and such. Elder White, and one of the Sister Missionaries in our district Soeur Bradshaw, are extremely good! They've taken like 5-6 weeks of French and are definitely the go-to's when it comes to help. Frere Coulson is our teacher, and he's such a cool, relaxed guy. I can almost tell that before his mission that he must have been a total goofball, but after serving in Tahiti he's really mellowed out. It's fun to learn about our mission from him.

On Friday and Saturday we taught our first "investigator" named Manuarii Noho. The reason I say "investigator" is because we're pretty sure he's a member. His prayers are too good! He's from Tahiti and is half-Tahitian, he's a really cool guy as well. I swear, if all Tahitians are as nice and chill as he his I will be so grateful. It's easier to teach when the investigator is nice! The biggest catch of these lessons was that we had to teach the entire lesson in French! It was extremely difficult, and on my lesson plan I wrote down a few lines that I tried so hard not to look at during the lesson, but it was just too hard not to. The best part was, Elder Lovelock and I both bore our testimonies in French at the end, and I felt the spirit so strongly because it was amazing how I was able to communicate such heartfelt things in a completely different language. He received it so well, and we asked him to pray at the end. His prayer (at least from what I could understand) was so nice, and I definitely felt the comforting power of the Holy Ghost when he prayed for us. It was the best.

Also, I got the chance to hear the football player Chad Lewis speak at a devotional! It was probably one of the greatest, most motivational devotionals I've ever heard. He's a funny and inspiring guy. And he can jump pretty high.

So yesterday was fast Sunday, and we fasted for 26 hours... I would have only done it for 24, but because of our schedule we had dinner on Sunday at 6 instead of our regular time at 4 so it was a long, tiring day. I bore my testimony in French during sacrament meeting, and that was a great experience. This morning we went to the temple to perform ordinances, so all day yesterday and today so far I've been feeling greatly spiritually edified. Every day is getting better and better, and apparently Sunday was the day that if we made it till then, we'd be just fine. So I'm happy to say that I made it!

Last night we watched a recording of Elder Bednar's devotional talk "Character of Christ". That was definitely a new side of Elder Bednar I've never seen before! He's funny, but he goes right for the throat when he wants to get a point across. Basically he said that this mission is not about us one bit. It's all about others, the people we will teach! He said that the best missionaries and the best members are the ones who reach out to others, even in times of their own hardship and trial. It really opened up my eyes that to be the best missionary and to get the most out of it is to be as selfless as I can be and focus on solely the welfare of others. I'm not here on a mission to learn a sick language and get a tan, and I'm definitely not here to get catered to and served whenever I feel tired. When I focus on trying to love others, including the people in Tahiti who I haven't even met yet, it definitely helps the work move right along.

I've been missing home a little bit, and the life I had before I came here. I've been longing for my guitars, especially! But I read in 1 Corinthians 13:11 "When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I was a man, I put away all childish things." Now that I'm out here, and need to put away those things for a while and focus on what really matters and become a man! It's definitely a kick in the pants to stop longing for life back home, because that's not gonna matter for the next 2 years!

Well, that's about all I have time to say! I miss you and love you all, especially you Mom, Dad, Thomas and Jenni. Thanks for the letters Mom and Jenni! And to Thomas I appreciate the little email you sent me haha. I'll get back to you soon enough. Keep posted, I'll write another email next week!

Oromatua Popo
Elder Ball

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