"We're through with week 4 of the MTC and the reality that there is only two weeks remaining is setting in. The district has become more like a family and it will be weird to split ways and realize, as Elder Turner has pointed out: "We'll only be 1/17th of the way there" or something like that.
It's been an eventful week. Following Elder Christoffersonwe were met by Elder M. Russell Ballard , and heard from Elder Quentin L. Cook . That scores 3 Apostles in a row, which all the teachers say is unheard of. Many lessons about improving teaching have been learned, pounds have been lost and gained, and Spanish skills increased.
Spanish first I guess. Because of my experience in going through AP 5 at the high school, all the Spanish lessons have been really easy thus far. We're starting subjunctivethough, so hey, maybe I'll get a boost. I'm very confident in present, past, conditional, command, imperfect past, perfect present, gerunds, and past participles. But the subjunctive is always tricky. Fortunately, I've been able to use the learning resources to study it a bit. I can recognize it, but can't really use it speaking yet.
In the TRC (teaching resource center) we teach investigators, but some of them may be members acting as investigators to give missionaries practice. My companion and I were teaching our TRC investigator for the second time, on Joseph Smith and the Restoration. She said she had been taught it many times by previous missionaries and proceeded to teach US the Restoration and First Vision. "Vi una columna de luz, más brillante que el sol, directamente arriba de mi cabeza...." Anyways we were very surprised and with nothing really to commit her to, had her pray on the validity of the subject once again.
Upon our return, she had prayed and said she knew once again it was true. Astonished by her previous knowledge, we asked what things she didn't understand that we could help with. She mentioned enduring to the end. We brought up the Plan of Salvation, which she said she was mostly unfamiliar with. After a lesson on God's plan for us to be happy, we asked her if she would be baptized and she said "Sí, yo sé que esto es que es necesarrio para mi a hacer en mi vida." And with that, my companion and I got what I believe is our first converted investigator; if it was a member that was role-playing, I don't think they would accept the invitation on the third lesson.
Before I try to cover two Apostle talks, my district always attends the choir. Brother Egat had us singing "Nearer My God, To Thee," and in his spiritual teachings he gives while we are learning the song, he explained that the song is about Jacob leaving his home and family after Esau plans to kill him to retake the birthright. Jacob rests his head on a rock near the side of the road he is traveling, and wakes up to be visited by angels, who I believe Brother Egat said gave him a Temple Endowment. Nonetheless the ordinance accompanied by a vision coordinates with "yet in my dreams I'd be." Jacob decides to build a Temple to the Lord there, which then would be called Bethel. I believe the song mentions a Bethel raising? At least the choir piece did. Other lines like "my rest a stone" also confirm this connection. Interesting!
Brother Egat also shared a story about a commercial he saw. A scientist takes a glob of normal peanut butter, and applies it to this strange machine. The machine closes in on the peanut butter and heats up. The scientist explains that the machine will continue to apply pressure and heat to the peanut butter for 3 days. After the 3 days, the machine is opened and a black capsule falls out. The scientist takes it, bludgeons it with a hammer, and the ugly black shell breaks away to reveal a diamond. The scientist explains that the diamonds made this way re indistinguishable from regular diamonds. It is a parable for us. We are like the peanut butter, rather ordinary individuals on Earth. The machine is God providing us opportunities to grow through by letting us have our agency, as well as to conquer burdens and trials placed on us in our lives. (Heat and pressure!) As described by Brother Egat: "If peanut butter could talk, no glob of it would go into that machine saying 'oh boy I'm so excited,' but rather "why me? I'm just an innocent, ordinary peanut butter (person) like everyone else! Don't make my life harder!" Nobody wants extra trials. But when that peanut butter comes out as a diamond, a perfected state of being (like God!) do we think it complains about the process? Or does it plead for other peanut butter friends to face the heat and pressure as well?
While a bit silly with the personification of peanut butter, I found that really interesting. God isn't just trying to protect us He's trying to perfect us.
Alright. 2 Devotionals from Apostles... I wrote about 5 pages of notes (in a mini notebook) for each talk, so I'll give my best points.
M Russell Ballard:
"It's always what people feel in the beginning stages of conversion, far more than what they know. They connect with what they feel emanating from you, (us missionaries) the Holy Ghost.
"If you can forget yourself, and replace that for the Love of God and Jesus Christ, you will be powerful beyond belief."
"Be thankful for every day you have as a representative of Jesus Christ. Jump out of bed with enthusiasm, you've only got so long."
And one silly one: "If I were a young missionary right now I'd be dynamite." -M. Russell Ballard.
Quentin L. Cook:
"Act like someone who possesses the full truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ. People will notice that and believe it."
The 4 Loves: "Love your companion. Love the people. Love your mission President. Love the Lord." We have things to offer to everyone of these groups/people, and have just as much or more to learn and gain from them.
"Preach My Gospel was designed so that it could no longer be memorized. We should only memorize the feeling of the Holy Ghost so we can teach other people heart to heart, like the individuals they are, according to their needs."
"There is nothing more important you could be doing right now."
Finally, Quentin L. Cook invoked a blessing on us, that "we will be blessed in every way possible by the Lord; we will know this work is true, and will convey it with power to those we teach. We will be blessed to overcome challenges that inhibit us."
That makes 3 blessings from 3 Apostles. There will be hurdles. There will be disappointments. There will be persecutions. But after all these things, how can I not go on in this just cause??? I'm excited to share the message with all who will hear it!"