Is it crazy to think that it has been one week since you guys dropped me off at the MTC? The first 3 days seemed to take forever and this would be a long stay. However after Sunday things have gone by in a flash. I don't know where to start filling you in with details but I will try my best to fill you in with every little juicy detail.
So with our district we have 9 elders with me and 5 others going to Long Beach, my companion is going to the Raleigh North Carolina mission and two other elders are going to Peru. It has been a blast getting to know them, and learn with them both the language and the gospel. A lot of our schedule is studying, classroom instruction, and teaching our "Investigator". Like I said in my letter we have been teaching "Carlos" and I won't lie it has been the hardest thing I think I have ever done. First off I always struggled understanding what he said, even though I did have my good days and could understand maybe 15% of what he said. Because we struggled understanding him we just pressed forward teaching him, and didn't really ask what his needs were or why he was interested in taking lessons from the investigator. I think because of that it was hard for the spirit to come into our lessons and help teach Carlos. I have learned a very valuable lesson through all of this. I have come to know our purpose as a missionary: It isn't necessarily to teach the gospel, but more to know the investigator, their needs and questions about the Mormon church, and how they can become closer to Christ. We are to "Invite others" and "help them receive the restored gospel" and that might not necessarily mean teaching, but more helping them feel the Spirit so it can teach and convert them. I also think this is why I have been struggling with my Spanish. Before I would use lines from our book to teach him, using vocabulary and grammar rules that I have never used or learned, and a majority of the time I would just read the lines from my notebook. This, I felt, didn't bring the spirit into our lesson. So I have made it a goal with our next investigator to get to know them, and their questions, and to just use the Spanish I know. And more importantly testify of the truths of this gospel, and not teach.
So other than teaching our investigator things have been great. The teacher for our class is amazing, and teaches us so well I learn something new every day. For example they encourage us to use the language plan in Preach My Gospel, and I would struggle how to use it and more importantly to follow it. However, I expressed this struggle with my teacher and he taught me that I am trying to learn too much at once, and that I need to step back and take things in smaller steps. He also said that they don't expect us to be perfect in Spanish these first few weeks, and it is OK to use the Spanish we know. It is kinda like my math situation for school this year, I didn't take Calculus my first semester because I needed to get the basics down in 1050/1060. The same thing here, he encouraged me to go back and make sure I understand the basics, conjugating in the present tense, and basic vocabulary. It actually brought a lot of peace to my mind when he said this stuff, and testified to me that I can do this. But we only learn things line upon line, precept along precept. So I hope that the Lord will continue to help me prepare and learn the things I need to be a useful servant in His Hands.
The Devotionals are amazing here. The devotional at the Marriot center was great, our district was part of the choir which was amazing. There are over 1500 members in the choir, and we will be the ones singing at the Devotional on June 23 for the new mission presidencies. However they have to cut the numbers down to about 1200 and granted there are missionaries in the choir who will be leaving before then, I hope that I will be part of the choir at that time. The speaker for the Tuesday devotional was Mervyn B. Arnold of the 70 which was a great talk. However I my favorite talk so far was a rerun of Elder Bednar's talk on "The Character of Christ" which he have gave on Christmas day in the MTC. I don't know if you guys can look up talks in the MTC but if you can I would highly recommend reading it. It has changed my outlook as a missionary so much.
Well I think that about wraps thing up. I am going to get in the routine of sending emails on Thursday and then send a letter on Mondays so you guys don't have to wait a week for updates. The Gospel is true, I know it with all my heart that it is. I know we have a loving Heavenly Father who watches out for us and blesses us. I know he answers prayers, ever since I enter the MTC I have always been struggling to know how to start of with an investigator, and how I can effectively study the language. I feel like He has answered those prayers with the devotionals we have attended so far, and from our teacher. I know that He will bless us when we obey His commandments to exactness, and when we do mess up we can be forgiven of our sins through the atonement of Christ. I pray that the Lord will continue to help me prepare, and also bless you guys.
En el nombre de Jesucristo, Amen