Week Five

HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :)  :)   Sorry I wasn’t able to send anything but when I told the Hermanas in my district it was your birthday, they had the idea to write a happy birthday note on the board and take a picture! It sounds like you had quite a party!

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I have been doing pretty well here. Our branch presidency had a training meeting on Sunday during elders quorum, so they put me and the other zone leader, Elder Larsen in charge of it. We taught a lesson about recognizing the Spirit and it was really good! That was my first time teaching any kind of lesson at church, so i was a little nervous at first, but after we had gotten the lesson prepared I wasn’t nervous anymore and I was just excited to share what I had learned with the elders in my zone. One story we used was the 20 Mark Note, and it is really good. You should search that on LDS.org and read it! Basically we talked about that we don’t always have to know that something is a prompting from the spirit or not before we act on it. If we are just doing our best to be good missionaries, we will be guided without always even knowing it. All the elders participated a lot and made some really good comments! Our devotional tonight is going to be by John Groberg, from the other side of heaven. It should be pretty good, so I’ll let you know how it went next week! I’m getting a little nervous because I might have to stay in the MTC for an extra 2 weeks because they messed up my travel schedule really bad. For some reason they thought I was only going to be here for 2 weeks even though I’m in an intermediate district, so they planned that into my transfer schedule. Anyway, now I’m 2 weeks out of sync with the transfer schedule in my mission and I am now just waiting to see if I get travel plans or not. I really want to start teaching real people though instead of actors, so I really hope I don’t have to stay here any longer. Thanks for the package! I think I have pretty much everything I need. That’s ok about the priesthood line of authority. We had a lesson yesterday about how usually explaining that just causes arguments anyway. When people ask why they need to be baptized again, we should just ask them why they were baptized and what they remember about it. I might get to write some more later, but I have to take a break to go do laundry.

Also don’t worry about the medical charge. I haven’t been sick, although the cafeteria food is a lot harder on my system than Mom’s food is, so sometimes I don’t feel too awesome. That’s just life though I guess. The wart came back so I went to the doctor and got it frozen off and it is almost gone now! Also they picked the stitches out of my pocket right after you dropped me off, so that’s taken care of, and I can get my suit dry cleaned here, they have a tinteror√≠a (drycleaners) on west campus. I’ll probably be able to get permission to email you real quick when I find out what is going on with my schedule, so I might email you again later this week. The MTC actually gave us some water bottles that filter the water as you drink out of them, so that was cool! Thanks for the DearElders, it is good to here about everybody and what is going on. Could you put the date on the top next time? because sometimes I am confused at what day it was sent on. It doesn’t actually say on the paper. The light sabers were made using colored led from the book store and holding it in front of the flash on the camera! It was pretty fun! Have fun at high adventure Nathan, that sounds like a cool trip, even if it won’t be hard haha! Just have fun with it! That’s pretty cool Tanya, I’m glad you’re feeling better! Sounds like you’ve been having some good fun! Email me some pictures once in a while from stuff you are doing! Thanks for the book of pictures you sent! That was my favorite thing from the package and we all like to show each other pictures! Love you!

Elder Black

Week Four

Thanks for the package! I actually didn’t get it until yesterday though. It came on Saturday, but the post office closes at 2 in the afternoon so by the time I got the notice that it was there, it was already closed. The cookies are still really good though, they’re not even hard! Thanks! I’ve had a pretty busy week, but it kind of blurs together with the one before it. We got a district of 12 new elders on Wednesday, and we’re getting another one with 10 elders tomorrow! Our zone is getting huge! It’s kind of funny because we only have 5 Hermanas in the whole zone and they’re all in my district. We’ll have 37 missionaries after tomorrow!

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To answer your question Mom, we have 3 big bubbles with concrete gyms in them and also there is a big field where we can play soccer or kickball and stuff. The bubbles are these big pressurized structures and there are 2 with basketball courts and one with volleyball courts in it. I don’t need anything else. The air has actually been pretty good here (from the fires in the Northwest). We went to the Marriott center for the devotional again on Sunday, and it was the director of a bunch of movies like 17 miracles and Ephraim’s rescue. He gave a good talk about pioneers and miracles. I can’t really think of too much more that happened this week because we mostly just do practically the exact same thing every single day haha! It’s not too bad though, I like it here! It has been really fun to get to know the elders in my zone. One of them is from a little pacific island called Kudapest. He is learning both English and Spanish and so I have been trying to get to know him a bit and he has done some pretty cool stuff. He says that he goes diving a lot for fun, so he can hold his breath for a really long time. He has grown up fishing and was telling us about the shark he caught! One story he told was while he was diving, he just shot his harpoon gun at a fish, then he looked to the side and there was a 10 foot shark right next to him! He swam up to the surface and his uncle brought the boat over so he could get in. I kind of want to go visit him after my mission! My comps are from the Dallas and Issaquah. Spanish is getting a lot better for me, and I have been learning a lot about recognizing the Spirit. Well that’s pretty much all that happened this week! I’m getting really excited to head to Mexico!¬† Love you!

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Playing with the camera flash and colored pencil leads (lasers) at the MTC

Halfway at the MTC

Things are still pretty good here at the MTC. We went to the temple this morning with our zone and that was a pretty good experience.

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We ate on main campus for the first time, and they have an awesome cafeteria there! There were 4 different options for main dishes and a ton of fruit and ice cream and stuff! Our cafeteria on west camp isn’t too bad though. It’s just a lot smaller so we don’t have as many choices. It is kind of fun though because we always eat with our zone and so we get to know them pretty well. I also saw Ashlyn during lunch today, so that was fun! We are teaching a lot more now, and I feel like I can speak Spanish well enough to teach the lessons at least. It is sometimes hard to see improvement day to day, but when I look back I can tell that I’ve gotten a lot better at Spanish and at teaching. I get along really well with my district and am really good friends with all of them. I have been pretty healthy, but there has been some sickness going around the MTC, so we’ll see what happens. Our teacher has been sick for the past 4 days or so and a couple of my district members have also been a bit sick, but we gave them a blessing and they are fine now. I mailed you a letter last week, but I don’t know how long it takes for mail to get there. It seems like you should have gotten it by now though. I have gotten to greet the new missionaries in my zone once, but we are getting a new district of 12 elders coming in tomorrow, so I will get to meet them tomorrow night and go through a welcome meeting with them. Their district is going to  be really big! We got to hear from Neal L. Anderson last Tuesday, and we’ll probably get to hear from another apostle tonight. They usually speak to us on Tuesday nights. It is really busy here and so it is nice to take some time away from campus to go to devotionals and things like that. We were in the Marriott center on Sunday night and will be again tonight instead of on main campus. The pictures of the elders last week were in my zone. They left last week, but we got to be really close with their district while they were here.

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I am pretty used to things here now, and it’s not too bad. I’ll be really excited to go to the mission field though! Nathan, the zone leader “thingy” is going good. I have learned a lot about leading people. We have lots of leadership meetings on Sunday where we learn all about that D&C 131 I think it is, has some really good scriptures about leading people in a way that they will want to follow you. I thought one of our district leaders had a really funny idea. Some of the elders in his apartment were having a hard time getting up in the morning, so he filled up a glass of water, set it on the kitchen table and told them, “When the alarm goes off at 6:30, the first one to get to that glass of water gets to dump it on the other elders!” They agreed and they didn’t have any more problems getting up after that ha-ha! One of the members of our branch presidency used to be the mission president of some of my friends from college, and he gives the best leadership lessons! i have learned a ton from him! Things are going pretty well here. We have started teaching each other in our district instead of just our teachers, so I get to sometimes play the role of the investigator in our role play lessons. That is kind of fun! Also, we taught our first real people this week in the TRC. They were member volunteers who came in and we were supposed to share a message with them. We had just found out about though and we hadn’t had any time to prepare, so it was pretty bad! We’ll do better this week though. I love you, have a good week!

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Second week

Things are good here at the MTC. I forgot that you asked about it last time, but I did get a bottom bunk. We do have bunk beds in the dorms. Since we have three though, one of my companions has his mattress on the floor so we are all in the same room. I am having a pretty good time and I am actually starting to like talking to people and teaching the “investigators”/teachers the gospel. I feel like I am learning how to teach a lot better. I have learned quite a bit more Spanish but I can’t wait to get to the field and be around fluent Spanish speakers all the time. the other district in my zone that got here at the same time as us just left yesterday. I have gotten to be really good friends with all of them, so it was a little sad to say goodbye to them, but they will be really great missionaries. Elder Peterson, the one who is really good at the piano, gave me a cd of his original recordings before he left, so that was really nice of him. I can’t wait to listen to it, but we’re not allowed to listen to music here and I don’t have a cd player anyway, so i guess I’ll just have to wait a while. That is cool that you started building the dog houses, good luck on that project! It sounds like you had a pretty fun 4th of July! I did too, we had a devotional thing where we listened to some amazing piano, guitar, and fiddle performances (Elder Peterson played the piano during it), then someone gave a talk on Heroes, then they showed us the movie 17 Miracles. That was really fun, I’ve never seen that movie before. Then, we got to go outside and watch the firework show from the stadium of fire. That was pretty cool! They also gave us all ice cream bars. I got my root beer float! I just cut the chocolate off of an ice cream bar in the cafeteria and put in in my glass of root beer ha-ha! It was pretty good actually! I have had a pretty good week, but the days are all kind of running together so sometimes I forget how long I’ve been here ha-ha! Earlier today, I couldn’t quite remember if I had been here for 2 or 3 weeks! I am learning quite a bit here, but sometimes it gets a bit slow. I don’t really like being in a trio companionship because it makes teaching really hard. It seems like every time I try to say something during a lesson, one of my companions just jumps in and starts talking very slowly. A lot of times it seems like it takes them a full minute just to get through one sentence, so it is really difficult for me to follow their train of thought. I know we’re all learning and I’m trying to be patient but it is kind of hard sometimes because it is really hindering our teaching. I went to the clinic last week and I had to get 2 shots. The Hep A was one and I think I also had to get typhoid because it was going to expire on July 7th. It wasn’t bad though, the nurses here give so many shots that they are really good at it so it doesn’t hurt that bad. I don’t have too much time to email so I’ll send a letter too later today or tomorrow. I’m only allowed to write letters on P-days though, so I can’t just do it at any time during the week.

First week in the MTC

I am having such a great time here! My companions are awesome and the elders and sisters in my zone are too! It has been super fun to get to know all of them. Thursday night, I got called to be the zone leader, which is a big responsibility and it’s a little overwhelming for me, but I know God makes us equal to the tasks He calls us to. I have already grown so much from that responsibility. It has made me so much more aware of and concerned for the well-being of the other missionaries in my zone.  I had 4 extra meetings on Sunday besides my regular church meetings, so I was very busy all day long. The other district in my zone is fluent Spanish speakers and they are are really fun to be with. We usually eat meals together with all our zone so I have gotten to be really good friends with all of them! I am in charge of a meeting tomorrow night to welcome 2 new districts into my zone and give them an orientation type thing, so I am pretty excited to meet them! Even though I haven’t been here that long, it sure feels like I have done a whole lot of things. It feels like time goes by so slowly while it is happening, but looking back it seems like time has flown by since I got here! I feel like I am a completely different person already!  I also got to talk to Ashlyn when I went to main campus on Sunday night, and I saw Whitney from a distance, but I didn’t get a chance to talk to her.That’s good Sister Coulsen got a hold of you, it was pretty fun to talk to somebody from my hometown! What are the chances?! Yeah, they sent me down to Las Vegas with 10 other missionaries to visit the Mexican consulate and get our visas. We went down and back yesterday, so we had to get up at 3:30 to catch our flight. It was really fun to go through the airports and talk to people. We met all kinds of really fun interesting people. I actually met some Blacks from American fork that owned an architecture firm and were on there way to do some air duct modifications on the Las Vegas temple. I think we’re related from a couple generations back. When we got to las Vegas, we met with an older (60′s or so) elder who was a service missionary and we went to an Institute buildign where he had us sit down around a table then proceeded to tell us the history of his last name for 3 and a half hours straight! Wow he sure could talk! For the last hour or so though he did give us some good advice and some information about our missions areas in Mexico. That will be kind of helpful because he told us what kind of food was the good brands (apparently they have pretty good milk!), where to get certain things, and other things like that. I think it was 112 degrees in Las Vegas yesterday and we had to wear our suits all day, so we were all pretty much dying!  I met 2 other elders and 2 sisters who are also going to Mexico City North. One of the sisters met our new mission president the week before I got here and she told me that him and his wife are awesome people! Hopefully I can meet them, but they will only be here for 2 more days, so I guess we’ll see. They are being trained on main campus so I won’t see them just walking around, but maybe after the devotional tonight. A general authority almost always does the Tuesday ones, so I’m pretty excited for tonight! Spanish class is a little boring but I am teaching myself a lot of new words and brushing up on my grammar. I am really glad I brought my college textbook because it has been really helpful. Even though I am in intermediate Spanish, mostly our class just talks about basic beginning Spanish like present tense, so I’m bored to tears most of the time, but I like talking to people in Spanish when we do our class activities (we usually “learn” a new word and then practice using it in a mock missionary lesson with whoever is sitting next to us). Despite class being more boring than watching paint dry, I am really having a good time! We our teaching an “investigator” (a teacher who is acting like one) named Noe (pronounced no-a) and we are definitely improving our teaching a lot each time. Our first lesson was on Friday and we had a good conversation but the lesson itself went horribly! I think it does for everyone though ha-ha! The next one was way better though. We were much better prepared and taught him a whole lesson. Thanks for all the letters and for the package! Don’t worry about me! I am super happy almost all the time and I can’t stop smiling!