Thursday, August 29, 2013

MTC Week 3: I'm getting spoiled

Here at the MTC each day blurs together with the others because it's basically the same thing over and over. But I'm really starting to love it here! It's amazing how much you can learn when the spirit is present! I can understand a lot more Spanish than I can speak, but I'm still surprised at how much I can speak when I teach lessons. Really as far as writing about what happens here there isn't much. My schedule usually goes something like this. Breakfast at 7:00, An hour of personal study, an hour of language study, an hour of gym, lunch, 3 hours of class, an hour of additional study, dinner at 4:30, another hour of language study, another 3 hours of class, then I return to my room. As you can see, there's a lot of study time! But I'm sure everything I do now, I will be very grateful for once I get out into the field!

This last Sunday I was in for a surprise. I got called as district leader. It was similar to how they used to do it back with Brigham Young, where he would just call names in the meeting and tell them what their calling was in front of everyone. But basically all that it means is I get to go to some extra meetings on Sunday and pick up the mail every day.

On Tuesday we were privileged to hear another Apostle speak! Neil L. Anderson spoke at the Marriott center! It was really cool to have the chance to be in the same room as an Apostle again! I feel like I'm getting spoiled with already hearing two of the twelve speak. He talked about how important it is to love while doing the Lords work. One of my favorite quotes from his talk was "we sacrifice for the things we love, and we love the things that we sacrifice for." Being on a mission I have learned what I truly love in life. The Gospel comes first on that list, I truly love this work and I can't wait to get to Mexico to share it with the people there! My mission is a manifestation for my love of the Gospel.

My other favorite quote from that night was "blessings come after our trials." My last two weeks ring true to those words. My second week in the MTC may have been one of the hardest weeks of my life. Getting sick, feeling overwhelmed with the language, and feeling completely emotionally drained. I was facing some very difficult trials during that whole week. But I can't deny that because of those experiences the blessings have been pouring out this last week. I'm starting to recognize that in order to receive great blessings, we must endure great trials. It all comes back to the principle of opposition in all things.

Some exciting news! My visa came in! Guess where I have to go get it? Las Vegas. yep. I have to fly all the way down to Las Vegas tomorrow just to sign for my visa. But I'm actually pretty excited! It will be nice to do something different for a day, especially after doing the same thing over and over here. Plus it's going to be my first time flying! I just.. wish it could be some other place rather than Las Vegas... But I'll just count my blessings :)

Thank you for all of your support and love! I can feel your prayers and they are a great strength to me. I love you all and pray for you all back home every day. 

Elder Twede
Trying to figure out the order of the 8 dearelders I got that day

Elder Huefner and I played chess today. I barely won.

The corner desk is mine. I spend so much time sitting there.

My district from left to right. Elders Kurshaw, Rushton, Darcy, Huefner, Me, Bradshaw, Rolph.

You probably recognize this really well! Home sweet home.

MTC Week 2: Rely on Him

Where to start?...

So much can happen in a week on a mission! And I'm only at the MTC, I can only imagine what it will be like when I'm out in the field! I have learned some very valuable lessons this week. Things that I will probably being drawing from for the rest of my life. To start, I've been having a really difficult time with the language. For those that know me well, you would know that I don't like to do things in front of other people until I know that I can do it perfectly... It's the same reason I didn't say any words until I was 5 years old, and then one day I came out speaking complete sentences. Well, I've had to teach lessons in Spanish while here at the MTC and I don't know Spanish. You can imagine how I respond to that kind of situation... Lot's of stress... This leads to me getting really sick. On Monday I was getting so bad that my Spanish teacher sent me back to my room to sleep, I slept for 6 hours and had a pretty high fever. I was really worried that it was going to turn into strep throat again and that just made me stress even more. By Tuesday I was feeling a bit better and went to class, but I was still feeling over burdened with stress and was having a hard time focusing. I went in to teach a lesson to a new investigator and I couldn't think of any of the Spanish that I had prepared for the lesson and I came out feeling completely discouraged... I was feeling very hopeless and felt that I wouldn't ever be able to learn the language. Just when I started to hit bottom, and felt that I couldn't go on, the Lord knew I was ready to be taught the lesson that he had been preparing me for the whole week. My teacher started to pull companionships out to talk and see how we were doing. I talked about my struggles just a bit to make them known, but not admitting that really I didn't know if I was strong enough to move forward. My teacher then pulled out a scripture that I have no doubt was meant for me. Ether 12:27... It talks about how the Lord shows us our weaknesses and and if we humble ourselves he makes those weaknesses strong. I realized that I was still relying on my own strength to do this, and I am in no way strong enough to do this work on my own. The Lord had been humbling me so that I would see the need to rely on him throughout these next two years and for the rest of my life.

But that wasn't the end of it. 
That evening we had our Tuesday devotional and we had to go two hours early for choir. Now this choir director knows how to teach and he always weaves in an amazing spiritual message while we are practicing the song. In his little lesson he talked about we are here to help the Lord. This is his work, not ours. We are completely incapable of converting others on our own, we must constantly rely on the Lord to enable us with his power to do so. He then talked about the process of refining steel and how when the rocks are heated up and the metal is separated from the extra useless rock. It's the same concept for us. When our life gets heated up, we start to release those things that make life hard such as sins and things that hinder our ability to draw close to God. We in a sense, separate the good metal from the useless metal in our own lives. Again I was taught by the spirit in that moment of what I had been experiencing this past week was all for my benefit, and in the long run will make my experience as a missionary much more successful and enjoyable.

As for now, I'm doing much better! I still get stressed a bit.. but it's at a healthier level that drives me to work harder. I still have a bit of a cough, but that's the extent of my illness at this point. I continue to have a constant prayer in my heart for everyone at home. Your letters are a great support and strength to me and I look forward every day do hopefully receiving something in the mail. I love you all so much and can't thank you enough for your love and support while I'm on my mission! I know that this is where I need to be, no matter how hard it gets, I know that I can always rely on the Lord for strength. Sorry that I don't have many fun stories to tell, as far as things go in the MTC it's pretty much the same thing day in and day out. Hopefully once I get out in the field I'll have some fun stories about the adventures I have in Mexico :)

I love you all,
Elder Twede

Thursday, August 22, 2013

MTC Week 2 Q&A

Well, no official email today from Elder Twede but he did send me a message in reply to a letter I sent recently.  He answered a list of questions I sent him so here they are.
I got your DearElder yesterday and you asked a few questions. So I'll just answer them right here :) 

I am in the old residence halls on the MTC campus, which I hear the new west campus has much nicer places... They say that have their own kitchens and a couch! They're like private apartments! But I'm still enjoying my place. 

I haven't found anything hidden in my room... I did look though. The other Elders in my district are making an MTC survival guide that they're going to leave behind in the room though!

Mi Companero es Elder Huefner. I think I wrote about him in one of my letters to the family... but it's hard to remember everything that I write... It could have been in something that I sent to Madi...

 I haven't had any dreams about being out in the field as a missionary yet... but I do dream about being in the MTC all the time.

No one has taught me a lesson randomly yet... I don't know if they really ever do that now? They have us teach the teachers a lot as they act as investigators, and they bring people in for us to teach. But I don't really see many missionaries teaching other missionaries... They probably do though; I'm just always inside...

I actually haven't completed all of the fundamentals in Preach My Gospel yet... for now it's mostly language study. Sometimes we'll practice teaching a lesson in English and it's soooo much easier! The Spanish has actually been kind of a struggle for me... I hope I can pick it up in 6 weeks! English speaking missionaries are only here for 11 days!

I do make my bed every morning.

I guess you could call it janitor duty... If you're referring to service time. 

I've played some 4 square, no soccer, mostly just basketball.

I don't know if I'll ever beat the push-up record...

I only have two tags and I haven't lost either one… Was that a common thing to happen to missionaries?

I'm not really sick of the food... but the food has made me sick... I was even trying to eat healthy! But I do love the wrap bar! I go to that every time that it's open. And that bar that you talked about that had Mexican food on it, My district always sits over by that. It isn't a Mexican bar; it's just leftovers from the last meal. But they do seem to always have rice.

Well that's all of them! I hope I answered the important one ;) Thanks for the letters though! I finally understand why they acted the way they did in the best two years movie when they got mail ;) kidding... well.. kinda.. ;) sometimes I do feel like Elder Van Pelt (or whatever his name is...) I got so much mail the first few days and no one else was getting any! One day I got 8 DearElders! It's crazy too because it just prints them all out together and adds the next one onto the other on the same page and continues on another page... so I have to piece them all together like a puzzle. 
I hope life at home isn't too crazy right now. As for life here, I guess the Spanish is coming along... It's hard to tell. But I do know more in these two weeks than I did during two years in high school for sure!  
I'm looking forward to your next letter!
Elder Twede

Thursday, August 15, 2013

MTC Week 1: It's finally P-Day!!!

It's finally P-day! It feels like I have been here forever! I finally understand what Bryce meant when he said time is really weird while on a mission. When we first got here the missionaries said "welcome to the MTC! Where the days feel like weeks and the weeks feel like days" it couldn't be more true!

Man.. so much has happened I don't know where to start... The first few days were kinda hard adjusting to the missionary lifestyle. But now that I've been here a week I'm starting to love it! My district is awesome! There are 7 of us and we're all going to Mexico, 5 of us are going to Chalco! So I'll probably be seeing a lot of these Elders throughout the next two years! Mi companero is really awesome! He's hard working and we teach really well together. Teaching is a lot of fun, but it can get kinda stressful trying to prepare a lesson in a language that I don't know... But it has been going really well! We've committed him to baptism and we're continuing to teach him every day! (He is a fake investigator.. but it feels pretty real) We started teaching the day after we got here, which I think it kinda made us feel like we should know the language already.. So that made the first few days a little harder. But now that we actually can simply communicate in the language, we don't stress over it as much.

On Tuesday we went to the devotional and guess who spoke?... Elder Richard G. Scott!!! It was incredible! He spoke on prayer and it was pretty much exactly what I needed to hear! My whole district joined the choir, so we went over to the Marriott center two hours before the devotional started. We practiced our song for an hour and then sang hymns for the second hour! The spirit was already so strong by the time Elder Scott walked in. The quote that hit me the hardest during his talk was something like "Give thanks to your Heavenly Father when he withholds answers to your prayers, it's a sign of his trust in you" yep.. that's what I needed to hear! It's also amazing how the spirit can teach you of things that the talk isn't even about! I tried taking notes about my thoughts and his talk, it really made it one of the most powerful talks I have ever heard!

For those of you that haven't ever experienced the MTC, let me tell you a bit about what it's like here. Everyone is telling the truth when they say that you're fed well here! I've eaten so much food it's crazy! I should probably weigh myself to make sure I'm not gaining a bunch of weight... You never have a moment to just sit and relax, every minute of every day is planned out. Mail is the best thing here! We pick it up after every lunch and dinner, those are my favorite times of the day! Oh and by the way, DearElder is awesome! I love getting them, but hand written letters are nice too! But if it's easier to write more using DearElder go for it! Because I get it a lot faster! You have to learn to keep smiling here! It really is fun if you make it fun for yourself. You really don't have to worry about not being able to go to bed at 10:30, because by the time it's 10:30 you're sooo ready for bed! We sit in class a ton, I'm just glad we have a window looking out at Y mountain or else I might go crazy in that little room.. Life at the MTC is super fun! I mean.. I basically hanging out with a bunch of guys my age! Even though we're always working hard, we laugh a lot and there's pretty much never a dull moment.

So.. There's this board in the gym that shows all the records made at the MTC. I'm determined to beat the Push-up record. It's 226... I know it's high.. but by the the end of my MTC stay I want to beat that record! Even if I don't though.. I'll have had a good workout from it ;)

Ok.. now for some spiritual stuff. The biggest lesson that I've learned while here is that in order to be a good missionary you HAVE to forget yourself. It took me a few days in order to do that, but I know that loosing myself in the work will bring me the most joy while out here! Even just teaching my fake investigator has been super rewarding! When he said he would be baptized, I had a smile on my face for the rest of the day! My farewell talk truly sums up what I've learned my first week here. I have no doubt that I was supposed to speak on sacrifice just to help me make it through my first week here! Christ gave the ultimate sacrifice and we are the recipients to the blessings that have been received because of that sacrifice. Through my sacrifices on my mission I can bring blessings to the lives of others! Loosing myself in the work doesn't just mean loving it, but also not thinking about what I'm going to get out of it, but what others can get out of it. I'm already loving being a missionary and I know that it's going keep growing on me!

Thank you everyone for your support and your letters! Getting letters really is the best thing ever! I haven't been homesick while out here, so don't ever worry about making me miss home by writing too much! I love it here, but it's still nice to know what's going on at home :)

I love you all,
Elder Twede