I'll be watching for Adrianne this week and I'm going to fight to work curb duty on April 3rd so maybe I can pick up Jazzy, Justin or Melissa. (Kids from our ward) That would be dope.
Everyone is my district is doing really good and adjusting to mission life. Elder Vandevort bore his testimony after the devotional the other night and holy cow - I was smiling, laughing and crying all at the same time. He bore testimony on how he's on a mission for his dad (his whole family was converted just 2 years ago), his little brother, and his Heavenly Father. It got me to thinking about who I'm serving my mission for . . .
Last night I was talking with Elder Neilson about how we see people that have served missions and how they kind of set the bar for us for what we HAVE to do. I told him that I have absolutely no excuses to go home after all my brother Tyler has done. (Tyler tore his ACL while serving his mission in Russia and had to come home early for surgery. He returned to his mission after a 6 month recovery only to have to come home again after 2 long months because of continued knee problems.) Seriously, I tell that story about 3-4 times a day. Most of the responses I get are "You're serious?" or "Dang, that would be so hard." Stuff like that, but you get the point. As much as I miss you guys, I know that I'm here to change, meet people, and plant seeds. But don't worry Mom, I think about giving you a huge hug in 23 months every day. :)
As for this past week . . . Friday was a super long day and I was super frustrated when we went and taught. We have an investigator who's name is Nelly. She's super quiet and has had a really hard life. She told us the base of what has gone on and how she doesn't think that God listens to her prayers. I didn't know what to say so I just sat there and bore my testimony with my whole soul. I started to cry - it was a little embarrasing but I KNOW that the Spirit was with us. Afterwards, Elder Beach gave me a hug and said, "dang, where did that come from?" Then he told me that he didn't understand about half of what I said, but he could just feel my spirit. It was a way cool day and I was totally exhausted after that.
Saturday was normal, we taught a lesson and learned more Spanish. Yay me.
Sunday was probably one of the best days that I've had here at the MTC. We had an amazing priesthood meeting by Bro. Lisonbee on the Holy Ghost and I got to show my zone how to consecrate oil since I hadn't done it yet . . . whoops! But it was awesome and I had to do it in front of everyone.
Then for Sacrament Meeting the Branch President's wife spoke of visualization. She told a story about her grandson that runs track and how he visualizes each step he takes during the race. From the first step until he crosses the finish line and is greeted by a bunch of overly excited grandparents. She related it to our life here and to our missions and how we need to vizualize what it's going to be like when we return to Christ and work toward getting there every day.
Then to the devotional. I sang in the choir! We sang some song that has never been sung before. I also found out that they're doing a big special on the MTC in between conference sessions on Saturday. So look for me I might be in it! :) Anyway, a guy named Robert P. Swenson of the Seventy spoke and oh my gosh, he talked about rocks. Yup. Rocks! How some people's testimonies grow like indigneous rocks where everything seems to just HAPPEN for them. Others, like sandstone - where it takes time - like grain of sand here and grain of sand there and then in time and with some pressure they slowly devolop a strong testimony of the church.
He then told this story about a family that got super rich, super quick and when the recession hit they lost everything. They had to move into a shack with no water and no electricity and just got to work and prayed every day. After 6 years of living this life, they were finally able to move into a home with water and electricity. He compared this story to Lehi's dream where Lehi walks for hours in darkness then finally prays and that's when he's shown the dream. He was really inspiring and closed with "Let us be BO(u)LD-ER". So whever we get a thought that we should just say it because sometimes it's what someone need to hear.
Later that night we watched a talk by Elder Bednar titled the Characteristics of Christ. It was by far the best talk that I've ever heard in my entire life. It honestly changed Elder Beach and my perspective on missionary work. He started his talk by saying, "I need your whole body, heart, and mind for the next little while . . . " I related this to my mission and I need my whole soul engulfed in this work because I know that I'm more effective when I don't think about what you guys are having for dinner and stuff like that.
There were some things that he pointed out that I never noticed before like how in the midst of my affictions that I would turn my focus on myself and want everyone to throw a pity party for me, but Christ turned out. When He was the most down - He served others. He then went on to talk about how simply having a testimony just isn't enough for a missionary, for a member, for anyone. You truly have to be completely CONVERTED to this work. That even if an apostle fell away it wouldn't matter because you know for yourself that this church is true with your whole body, heart and mind. He compared it to Alma 23: 5-6 and the Lamanites (I think) who were converted and NEVER looked back. I don't think that we need to have "Testimony Builders" as much as "Conversion Solidifiers". I know that I have a long way to go, but that's what a mission is for. Everyone here keeps telling me that the greatest convert on my mission should be myself and the only way to do that is to focus on others. Like Peter said, 'When I am weak, I am strong" - referring to having the Lord with him or when Elder Bednar says, "Loose yourself in others, and you'll find yourself."
Monday was a normal day . . .
Tuesday was devotional again - and I sang this day too, so look for me! Elder Scott D. Whiting of the Seventy and his wife spoke. I liked her talk the most because she started off by saying "We have 10 minutes of missionary service in our lives. Don't waste it." Then I got that letter from you the next day where you talked about Tyler and how I just need to love every second of my mission, because Tyler didn't know and none of us ever know if we're going to get to serve for 2 years, 2 months, or 2 weeks. It got me to thinking about how I wished that when I played baseball that I had played every game and every practice like it was my last. But that's in the past and I'm moving on and want to make every lesson amazing until I'm finished doing this work.
During her talk, I had this impression to write myself a "Personal Statement" which I basically wrote myself a contract for my mission that I would forget myself and go to work, obey with exactness and consecrate myself to this work. Then I signed it. Mom, go read 1 Nephi 3:15 - I will come home when I get done what I need to get done. :)
Brother Whiting talked abou how the MTC in an incubator. Where it's so uncomfortable here with the gross food, the new companion you are with all the time and the small classrooms - but it's all for a purpose. To make us rely on The Comforter - to start to realize that when life is awkward or just not as comfortable we have to rely on the Holy Ghost to get us through. The thing at the MTC is that we don't have our normal comforts. Everyone has their outlets - it might be family, friends, music, sports . . . But here, you can't have any of those things but I figure that I signed up for this so I might as well make the best of it. :)
He then asked us if we remembered the first time that we felt the Holy Ghost in our lives. Can you remember? I remember sitting at Tyler's baptism when I was about 6 years old and when he was getting confirmed I felt something different in my chest. Now I can testify that I was feeling the Holy Ghost. I'm so blessed to be a part of this church, and I'm so grateful to have an amazing family and friends. I love you all!!!
Well, the MTC is awesome! I'm doing great and everyone else is doing good too. Please keep me updated on all the mission calls and who I should be looking for and such.
The Russian district moved in right next to us, so I go spit some mad Russian lines at them and the noobies are blown away. Ya. Estoshnaa!!! I love it. I talk to them all the time and I'm all out of the Russian CTR rings - they loved them. They think that Ty is the biggest boss around - there are two missionaries in Novo that you need to ask Ty about - an Elder Rich and a Sister Brown?
I've decided that my mission scripture is going to be 2 Nephi 31:20 - "Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life."
Thank you for sharing that thought with me. I shared that with my district and they loved it so that's my goal - If nothing else, I'm going to leave every companion, every district and every area better than I found it.
Anyway, I love you so much! I hope that everything is going amazing!
My name tag and "Elder Jardine" (always with me)
I'm bored waiting for Elder B- so I'm taking pics of myself!
Elder Freddy Shelton & Elder Harris
Elder Blackner and Elder Harris
Elder Blackner and Elder Harris