I really appreciate all of the letters, love, and support. I now expect to get this many letters every week. :) Thursdays are my P-Day here at the MTC, so you can expect a letter from me on Thursday each week. The schedule was really rough for the first few days, but they are right when they say "just make it to Sunday." We are in class most of the day except for meals, bed and gym time. I really get sick of being in the same classroom all day, it is almost like prison, but maybe a more spiritual prison. Mostly we don't have a teacher there, it's mostly independent study, which is hard for me because I don't know how to teach myself the language. Our Lithuanian teachers are Brother Erikson and Sister Fish, and our other teacher that is kind of filling time for Sister Fish is Brother Carver, since Sister Fish is still in training, but I am pretty sure she is our "investigator." I have four sisters in my class who are also my roommates, their names are Sister Madison and Sister Bestenlenger, who are companions, and then, there is me with my two companions, Sister Hubert and Sister Lee. Sister Lee is from Fresno, California learning Malay and going to Singapore/Malaysia. Sister Madison and Sister Hubert are from Idaho and Sister Bestenlengher is from Vernal. Sister Lee is a solo sister, she is the only one in her class.
Gym time is something you begin to look forward to when you have to sit in the classroom all day. Gym time is about 45 minutes, I don't every really know what to do during gym time. I usually run a little and then use the elliptical, then do an ab workout, one time I played basketball. Most of the time I don't really know what to do with the time.
The food here really isn't that great, I don't know what all the hype was about. I thought that maybe I wouldn't gain any weight, maybe even lose weight, but the food is super unhealthy and they do not have a lot of vegetable and fruit options, so I may have gained a little. Sunday was my favorite day so far, we got to break away from our regular routines a little bit and have devotionals. First, we had Relief Society, but before Relief Society began we got to watch "Music and the Spoken Word." Bonnie L. Oscarson came and spoke. I thought that was pretty neat. She talked about all the different missions members of her family have been on, which was a lot of missions, and what they learned from their experiences while on their missions.
- Importance of giving your mission your full and complete effort.
- Put the world behind you.
- You are not alone in this work
- Love the people in your mission
- Power of fasting
Next, we had Sacrament meeting where everyone in the Branch, which is quite small, has to prepare a talk for each week's topic, then they pick two people to give them. This week the topic was baptism. They told us it will be good to have these talks prepared in case you have to speak unexpectedly. All the talk has to include is a scripture, a personal experience, and your testimony. We then went on a temple walk where we could bring our cameras and take pictures. I really enjoyed that. I never thought the Provo Temple was beautiful, but now that I have seen it close up and went inside today, I have a different opinion. We then had a Sunday Devotional where Spencer J. Condie and his wife spoke to us. He was really funny, he did great impressions of the other apostles and prophets.
"The Holy Ghost is the testifier of truth, it can teach men what other men cannot."
-Gordon B. Hinkley
After the devotional we got to choose a movie to watch out of the options they gave us, we chose to go to the "Character of Christ," by David A. Bednar, which was given at the MTC for a Christmas devotional a few years back. It was probably the best talk I have ever heard. He talked about how the character of Christ included how he would, even in the hardest of times, turn outward rather than inward like we would all tend to do. We would feel bad for ourselves and want others pity, but Christ turned outward and would not think of himself, and only served others. He compared the natural man to Cookie Monster, and he just wants cookies right now and then stuff it in his face, and then wants more.
"Lose yourself in others and you will find yourself, if you are looking to find yourself you never will."
-David A. Bednar
He told a story about a woman who was in his ward who called him up one evening and asked him for a favor. She said there was an accident involving three young women in the ward, one was dead and the other two in critical condition. She wanted him to go to the hospital and identify the girl who had died. He could then hear they she had another phone up to her other ear, and he could hear the nurse tell this single mother that the girl who had died had been positively identified as her only child. The woman then automatically told Elder Bednar that they needed to find out who the other girls were so they could let their mothers know. She selflessly was concerned about the other mothers in this hardest time in her life. She later, before the funeral, called up Elder Bednar and told him that the funeral home had done a beautiful job, but they were going to have a closed casket, so if he wanted to come to the funeral home and see her before the funeral so that he could have a better memory of her, he could. Then, the morning of the funeral, this sister, who was the Relief Society president at the time, received a call from a sister in the ward who chewed her out because she had had a cold for two days and no one had brought her a meal. So, this sister, before her daughter's funeral, made this sick sister a meal and dropped it off before the funeral, without mention of what she was going through. This talk made me want to be a better, more Christlike person, and turn outward, especially when it's hard.
On Tuesday, I was able to sing at the devotional in the Choir, we sang "Praise to the Man." It was amazing being in such a large choir. The language is tough, but it is coming along slowly and surely. I have trouble with remembering words that we have already learned. I have been trying to do flashcards. Advice for future missionaries: Don't arrive as late as I did. When I got there everyone was already in their first class. They gave me my badge and started to take me to class late, but we didn't get far when the girl happened to double check what language I was speaking. Apparently, there was some miscommunication along the way about my mission language changing, so then they had to figure that out. I had the wrong language on my badge and everything. So, they finally figured it out and took me to class way late, where the teacher was only speaking Lithuanian, and he was asking me about why my badge was wrong and pulling a desk and chair out for me to sit. It was embarrassing.
We had to teach our first "investigator" in Lithuanian on Saturday, and we have already taught her two more lessons since. We basically just read the lessons that we write in Lithuanian. Mom, will you send me the addresses for the thank you notes so I can write and send them next P-Day? Or, you could just write and send them for me. ;) I got to go do a session at the Provo temple today, it was beautiful. Our scheduled time was 7:00 in the morning, I almost fell asleep. Afterwards, we ate at the temple cafeteria, which was delicious.
I heard about Cailin stepping on a rusty nail, did she have to end up getting a tetanus shot? Is Ethen feeling better yet? Did he finish his foosball table? I will need pictures. That's cute that Cailin already cares what boys think, you better watch out Jen and Cade. :) I can't believe Ethen is already touring his first college, that's Crazy!! I hope he had fun. I loved all the notes and pictures, keep them coming. :) Jen, you will get the store under control, it just takes time to figure out what system works best for you. I knew Jen was going to get that calling! I liked getting mail throughout the week to read. I really appreciated your text message Jarom, it was probably better that I read it now then before I left. Kaylee, the beds are not comfy at all, I have hardly been sleeping, but don't worry about me, I have been using my oils. Kaylee, Ethen says you are posting weird things on my Facebook, stop it! Cailin, I hope I do come home speaking Lithuanian! :) Don't expect all of my letter to be this long. :) I love you all and hope you all stay safe.
P.S. No pictures this time, I cannot figure out how to get them on here from my SD card.
Later, in another email...
I asked an Elder and he helped me, so here they are!