It's been another awesome week. BYU Vocal Point came to the MTC!! So many cool things have happened since last week that I want to tell you about, along with some insights I found studying scriptures and listening to General Conference.
First of all though, congrats Blake in debate! & that poem is awesome. You never cease to amaze. & good job, Ben, against Bentonville. Even with the swollen ankle! Did you get it taped? I know how much that hurts. It's kind of funny though that your rival is named after you.
Thanks also for the pictures! & for the many prayers. I can feel the power of those prayers every day.
One thing that has been on my mind this week is a verse in 1 Nephi, the first chapter of The Book of Mormon, verse 20. It says:
But behold, I, Nephi, will show unto you that the tender cmercies of the Lord are over all those whom he hath chosen, because of their faith, to make them mighty even unto the power of ddeliverance.
I have been amazed at all the little things that happen every day that help me know God's hand is in my life. Just this morning, getting to go to the temple with hundreds of other missionaries was a miracle in itself. For the first time I was able to witness a temple marriage; it was awesome. I know with no doubt that families can be together forever & that relationships in this life are not "till death do ye part." Our friendships & family relationships can last forever.
The only way I can describe the way it feels to be in the temple is to take the happiest moment you have ever had (Ben, think of the relief you feel after a hard fought football game) and multiply that feeling by a number between like 10 and infinity. :) I love the temple.
Another neat "tender mercy" has been meeting so many cool people here in the MTC. Missionaries come from all around the world to prepare to serve others all around the world. It's been fun to have Elder Fawcett here to teach me some Samoan. It's been my goal to lear "hello, goodbye (God be with you), and thank you" in every language before I leave the MTC. I can't thing of another place in the world with so many 18-26 year olds (a time in many peoples' lives when they lose sight of who they are) who are focused on bringing others to Christ & speaking such a diversity of languages to do so.
(going to take a laundry break & come back to finish this email)
Sunday at breakfast I met the Sister in the Mormon Message "The Song of the Heart" https://www.lds.org/youth/video/the-song-of-the-heart?lang=eng from Hawaii. It was really cool to hear her story - she's serving in Taiwan! At the end of the devotional Sunday (after GC), Vocal Point sang "Nearer, My God to Thee" so it was neat for her because that was the song she sang in the Mormon Message. Another missionary here played international level tennis, has gone skydiving 300 times, and is in the Mormon Message by Richard G. Scott called "A Secure Anchor" https://www.lds.org/youth/video/a-secure-anchor?lang=eng about Helaman 5:12 and rock climbing. The stories of people here are incredible. I'm usually more excited to go to mealtimes to meet new people & hear why they chose to serve a mission than to go to mealtime to eat. (Although the food here is so good - I've gained five-ish pounds:)
I'm starting to understand how God places people in our lives to help us develop certain character traits to become more like Christ. Each of my teachers, for example, is very different, but gives me a new perspective on how to be a better missionary because of his personality & example.
Yet another tender mercy (that I mentioned in an earlier email) is that ever since I've been here, I can hear perfectly and have absolutely no problems with my ear. It would be a lot harder to learn a language without a working ear, and I know that Heavenly Father is helping me though that specific blessing to fulfil my purpose on a mission. (missionary purpose: "To Invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance,baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end.")
Thank you Dad for the blessing you gave me the Sunday before leaving for Provo.
Overall, I am just super grateful for "how merciful the Lord [has] been" in my life. (a Neal A. Maxwell talk Ben and I listened to when we used to listed to GC talks before going to bed https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2004/04/remember-how-merciful-the-lord-hath-been?lang=eng) Without the Bible, The Book of Mormon, prayer, family, friends, and a living prophet on the earth today, as we had in Biblical times, I don't know where I'd be. Because I've been blessed with each of these, I have a testimony, know where I am, and what I'm doing. I know my purpose^. I know as well that each of the messages in General Conference https://www.lds.org/general-conference/sessions/2013/10?lang=eng were inspired. Especially Elder Holland's talk. I know it was meant for a lot of friends going through trials - the Atonement is for everyone. I am so grateful for that blessing in my life.
I am grateful, most of all, for Jesus Christ. I know that He lives! He is everything to me. I'm serving my mission for Him.
I love you all so much. I'll let you know as soon as I can where I'll be reassigned. So excited! The call from the 1st Presidency will most likely come this Thursday or Friday. & I will fly out this weekend or early next week. Thanks so much for the letters and packages (mom, I got your packages! muito obrigado) I'm hoping that I'll get a chance to respond to the letters this P-day. I feel so loved here at the MTC.
Good luck this week. We just found out yesterday that a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles will be speaking tonight at our devotional. Eu estou muito animado! MTC is actually heaven. I'll share some of what he says in my letter to you next week.