I've gotten pretty acclimated to the MTC and I really do love it here. I'm definitely gonna miss it, but I am pretty excited to get to Australia. It's funny because sometimes it feels like we're just at a huge youth conference, but then I'll look in the mirror, see my tag, and go "hey look, I'm a missionary!" Still getting used to seeing that tag. And referring to everyone as elder. Haha that's really different.
I still haven't met anybody from Hawai'i, but the cafeteria food has definitely helped with that. On Saturday, we had fried noodles and egg rolls for dinner. Then Monday was teri burgers. Just like home! Elder Tanner's family loves nori, so he gave me a package and oh my gosh it was greeeat! I just sat there eating my nori while everybody gave me funny looks at what I was putting into my mouth. A few of the elders on our floor tried it and hated it. Hilarious.
So my District and I have been exchanging culture lingo. I've taught them howzit, shootz brah, cherry, and some other pidgin words/phrases. I've adopted mainland language like sick, tight and dope. Haha people speak a little weird up here. They pronounce Uruguay, "you're-a-guay." A couple of people have looked at me absolutely lost when I told them I'm from Hawai'i. Like they've never heard of it before. So then I tell them "uhhh the middle of the Pacific Ocean"? They typically will respond something like this: "ohhh Huh-why!" People really need to learn how to say Hawai'i correctly here!
Sunday was definitely an interesting Sabbath experience. Everybody in the branch has to prepare a talk and then the branch presidency randomly selects a sister and an elder to speak during sacrament meeting. There was so much suspense in that moment, but it really prepared you for when you're out in the field and the bishopric calls on you to speak. I was asked to prepare a discussion for Priesthood later that afternoon and the topic was Recognizing and Understanding the Spirit, Chapter 4 in Preach My Gospel. I feel like it was meant to be, because we had been learning about that topic for a few days and I had really been working on trying to learn and teach better by the Spirit. Our Branch President, President Laney is like an insane scriptorian, so he really helped me out by listing a ton of scriptures on the board to go over. He is so cool, he'll literally just recite off scriptures for us to read. Sometimes, he'll even tell us what side of the page they're gonna be on.
Our Sunday Devotional was given by Brother Heaton, the MTC Director. He really related his talk to how we can improve as missionaries. He said two things that I really loved. "Turn your umbrella upside down, because it is pouring rain" and "the secret isn't what you say, it's how you follow the Spirit." Note that he spoke about personal revelation and the Spirit. It's almost as if he was speaking directly to me.
After our Sunday Devotional, all the missionaries chose a short film to watch. One small note, all the films that they show cannot be seen anywhere else, they are MTC-exclusive. Everyone recommended "Characters of Christ" by Elder Bednar. Holy smokes it was insane. He basically makes you question where you are on the conversion pathway. Are you truly converted yourself? He teaches that in order to get rid of the natural man that we have in us, we need to turn outwards and always put others first. It really made me question where I was spiritually and how I could improve.
One thing I've learned in the MTC is that the Atonement is absolutely the center of everything. It's the center of the Gospel, and the message that we are called to teach with others. Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ love us so very much and that is why everything else about the gospel happened. Our District Leader, Elder Nixon, shared something his mom told him before he left: "you can feel the love of my hugs through the Atonement". Isn't that just so great?
A few nights ago, we were challenged with the task of defining the Atonement. My group came up with an analogy about a train. Heavenly Father loves us so much that He had his Son, Jesus Christ, pay for all of our train tickets. All we have to do is hop on that train and endure to the end. If we get off the train to early, we simply get right back on the train again, because Christ has paid for all of our tickets, no matter how many times we need to get back on the train. And that's the beauty of the Atonement and the repentance.
Our Tuesday night devotional was pretty good, but what I enjoyed the most was singing "Called to Serve" with every single missionary. Gosh dang that was so powerful. Our closing hymn was "We'll Bring The World His Truth" and that was pretty cool too. In the MTC, they change a few of the lyrics so that they fit our purpose. One of them was: "we are now the Lord's missionaries." Siiick!
On Wednesday, our District was just chilling at lunch, eating our Navajo tacos (which were absolutely amazing and I ate two plates) when a member of the Seventy low key walks up and asks if he could eat with us. So we're all like shootz, go right ahead! At that point, we didn't know he was a Seventy yet. Then he introduces himself as Elder Edward Dube from Zimbabwe, and says that he's a Seventy. Sooo yeah like we ate lunch with a member of the Seventy. He talked to us the whole time, sharing his thoughts about missionary work and a few scriptures as well. Amazing.
One last thought before I head out. Gym time is so great for the soul. I got to play basketball a few times here and it felt sooo good to be gettin' buckets.
Word/Phrase/Thought/Quote of the Week: My hymn book was bookmarked to hymn number 98, "I Need Thee Every Hour" which just goes to show that the church is true (our District says that line at random times to summarize what we just learned). The title itself is inspiring. We need to look unto Christ every single hour of our days for Him to guide us and to feel His Love.
I should be in Australia the next time you hear from me. Until next time, shootz!
The mandatory MTC map picture: Aussie, Aussie, Aussie!
The District with our so "boiz" morning teacher Brother Parry
The District at the Provo Temple
New companions Elder Larson and Elder Tanner