Hello family and friends!
Well, this week has been HUGE so I hope that I have enough time to express everything that I want to express. To start off with the big news, I will be leaving the MTC on Monday, September 3rd to fly down to Mexico! It's so crazy to think that a week from right now I will be with my trainer, teaching in Mexico...in Spanish 24/7 but I am so excited! All the other elders in my district have received their visas and are leaving on the same day as well! We are all starting to get a little antsy but we are all dedicated to finishing our time here in the MTC strong. We fly direct from Salt Lake City to Mexico City. I guess the mission president will meet us at the airport and drive us down to the mission home in Cuernavaca!
Which brings me to the next item of business...our Las Vegas trip to sign our visas. It was so weird to leave the MTC. After having been here for so long, you get used to feeling that super strong spirit and seeing thousands of missionaries every single day. So it was interesting to walk into a public airport, with a suit on, and with my badge with the name of Jesus Christ and have that be an odd thing for other people. People were staring at me funny and when I'd notice that they were staring and I'd look at them they'd quickly turn away their faces and start talking to someone. It was really funny! I had a few good experiences though. While we were waiting to leave from the Salt Lake Airport, this Tongan lady named Sister Blake came up and started talking to me. She said her and her husband both work in the Salt Lake Temple on Temple Square and they both really want to serve a mission together. She then started telling me that she had two sons that were returned missionaries and that one of them has fallen away from the church and refuses to talk to her. She started crying and said she just wanted to call him and tell him that she loved him but he will never answer her. I felt impressed to just sit and listen to her and I felt so much love and compassion for her situation. At the end I felt impressed to say two things: That I thought her son would come around eventually and how wonderful it is that we have a Savior that can heal these situations for us and make us whole no matter how deep the wounds are in our lives. As she was leaving she grabbed my hand and shook it and looked me in the eye for a few seconds and said "Thank You". She also said this motivated her to start doing more missionary work. I was so grateful for that experience. It taught me the importance of caring for the members just as much as my investigators. Everyone needs help. Everyone needs to be healed. To build God's kingdom we need to both add to our ranks but also strengthen and uplift those that are already in the fold.
So...we make it to Vegas and are picked up by a Senior missionary named Elder Greer who took us to the institute building at UNLV where we met his wife and had some very nicely cooked baby-back ribs (YEEEES FINALLY SOME REAL FOOD). So, Elder Greer is one of those people that could probably talk for 10 hours straight without anyone else saying anything and feel completely comfortable with that. Good thing most of the stuff he was saying was interesting. He and his wife had served a senior couple mission in Mexico City and he had served his own mission in Peru. So he talked about Mexico, Mexican Culture, his mission, his life...and lots and lots of things. I got in a few words here and there. That day he took us over to the consulate where we met with a worker and we got all our paperwork done to sign for our visas! We have them! I'm so happy because I thought for sure that we would be delayed. After the consulate he took us to the Las Vegas Temple where we did a session and then out to dinner to eat some good authentic Mexican food. We stayed at his house that night and he dropped us off at the airport the next day. It was nice to get away from the MTC for a day and a half and the phrase that just kept passing through my head over and over again as I was passing people was "the field is white already to harvest". I'm so excited to go to Mexico!
Now for the MTC stuff this week. On Tuesday we finally had our first apostle speak to us! Neil L. Anderson spoke to us about missionary work. The moment he walked in the room I felt the spirit testify to me so strongly that he is an apostle and a special witness of Jesus Christ. What impressed me most about his talk was the testimony that he gave at the end about Jesus Christ. It was so strong, so direct, and I know that he has been in the presence of our Savior and Knows that Christ lives. On Wednesday, since we are the antiguos of the MTC, we got to host the new missionaries which was so much fun! It was weird to think that I had been one of them only 7 1/2 weeks before. I feel like I've been in the MTC for so long. I got to see Aunt Ali and Uncle Arlin and Max (Elder Neser), drive by as I was hosting another missionary which was cool! Since then I've seen Elder Neser a handful of times and he is doing great! He seems to really be enjoying the MTC and liking the language and his companion! His class is a floor above me and he lives on a different floor in the same building!
There were two lessons that we taught this week that have really stood out to me as being pretty spiritual experiences. The first was with our investigator Maria. We were teaching her about the Book of Mormon and decided to read 3 Nephi 17 with her to increase her desire to read the Book of Mormon. As we were reading it together and reading about how the Savior was healing the Nephites, I felt impressed to ask her a question I had asked her before. "Do you believe that Christ has the power to heal you?" Before, she had said I don't know. This time she paused for I swear what seemed to be a minute and then she looked up and said, "Yes". The Spirit literally just flooded over me and I started tearing up. It was another one of those experiences when I felt that the love I would feel for my real investigators when they would come to the knowledge that Jesus Christ is their Savior and that he has the power to heal their lives. I remember when I started to understand this and come to this knowledge that my life became so much happier and I had so much more peace. I'm so excited to share that with others. Another came in TRC when we taught a member named Hermana Ardono (she served a mission in the LA Temple visitors center which I thought was pretty cool!). Elder Davis and I each shared a scripture that we felt impressed to share D&C 121:7-8 and his was in Helaman). She started crying and said that those were the exact two scriptures that she needed to hear. We had her bear her testimony to us and she said that even though she feels lonely and that this life has been so hard for her, that she can always turn towards the scriptures and the Savior and find peace that she is a daughter of God.
Well I guess that's all I have for now. I want all of you to know that I love you and that I pray for you. Don't be afraid or mad when bad things happen. I've realized that during my life, the sweetest and most tender experiences I've had with my Savior have been when things around me have been the darkest. Light is more brilliant and shines brighter when it's dark. That light is our Savior Jesus Christ. It's the scriptures. I love the scriptures. Please read them. But don't just read them. Search them. This gospel is so true. I'm very grateful to have the opportunity to begin my missionary service in Mexico with my brothers, sisters, and friends down there. But most of all, I love my Savior Jesus Christ, my Heavenly Father, and the Holy Ghost, my constant companion and friend. Have an amazing week. This time, next week, I'll be somewhere in Mexico with my trainer!