Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Letter #3 -week 3 in the MTC - June 16, 2009
These pics were taken at Nathen's farewell a few days before many of the boys left on their missions!
The most common question I have received from everyone that has written me. That question is "What is the hardest thing in the MTC?" Although many of you might think the answer to this question is: waking up early, bad food, no dates, studying all day, etc.. It is not. The hardest thing in the MTC is avoiding the Swine Flu! My district is dropping like flies, it seems like every morning another Elder or two is down for the count. My entire zone is now on TamiFlu, so it is unlikely that I will get it now. The church found some secret supply of vaccines so now they are handing them out like candy. Unfortunately, I read the side effects of the drug. 70% of the control group experienced violent diarrhea. That is kind of a bummer. The doctor who gave us the pills (I'm quite convinced he wasn't even a real doctor) told us not to read the instructions because it would make us scared! Quite funny, oh well. I'll take that over being quarantined for a week. I can't afford being out of the classroom for that long, I will fall behind way too fast.
In Thai I can now pray, bear testimony, ask questions, get to know someone, and tell people about my family. We started the alphabet this week. I already learned most of it before I came, so I am ahead. Right now my goal is to learn 200 words a week. It is hard, but I think I can do it with the help of the Lord. It really is amazing how the Holy Ghost helps the learning process. Yesterday in evening class, we started the class with learning some teaching skills and after an hour we went into learning language. Before we started he told us to have 50 seconds to say a personal prayer to ask the Holy Ghost to help us learn the words. It really is surprising how strong the spirit is, not only during gospel discussions, but during language training. I know it is because I desire to teach the Thai people about Christ. Only through selfless service does the Spirit help.
Last Tuesday was my first General Authority Fireside. We have one every Tuesday at around 6:30. We do not know who the speaker is until he walks in.(most of the time) So, on Tuesday Elder Holt and I arrived about an hour early to the devotional. The missionaries start prelude music 30 minutes before the devotional starts. 5 minutes before the meeting was supposed to start, the MTC president stood up and told us "It is not policy to normally stand while singing, UNLESS someone from the quorum of the twelve were to walk in", shortly there after Elder Bednar walked in with his wife. Elder Bednar is one of my top three favorite apostles. His insight is so deep and he expects a lot out of his audience. He started his talk by asking us the question "How do you know when you are guided by the Spirit?". This is a question that a lot of missionaries ask themselves, they don't know if what they are doing is inspired or ever know if they have ever felt the Spirit. What he told us came as somewhat of a shock. His answer was "Don't worry about it." He promised us that if we are good boys(and girls), keep our covenants, and keep the commandments that ALL of our actions would be guided, whether we even knew it or not. It remind me of the story of Nephi and Laban in 1 Nephi 4. Nephi even says "I was led by the Spirit, not knowing before hand the thing which I should do". He was doing what he was told, but he had no idea that he would be doing what he was doing.(I don't want to spoil the ending for those who haven't read it :) go read it! it is a great story!)
Speaking of the stories of Nephi. There is a reason why they are at the beginning of the BoM! It is because Mormon knew that we would read the first part more than anything else. We all know how it goes, we pick up the BoM wanting to read the whole thing. Then we get the dreaded Isaiah chapters and stop! Months later... we pick it up again... only to get to the Isaiah chapters... and stop!
Funny story: there was a man walking down the street. He turned the corner and a guy shot him. He stopped, without being harmed. Reached into his coat pocket and picked out his Book of Mormon. He opened it up only to find that the bullet had stopped at the Isaiah chapters!! Nothing/no one can get through it! (that was a fake story, by the way.)
Anyways, back to my main point. Personal revelation is real, even if we don't know that the spirit is controlling our thoughts and actions. Anything that is good, comes from Christ. If you are interested in learning more about Elder Bednars experiences with being guided by the Spirit without knowing it. Look up a talk called "The 20 Mark Note" by President Packard. I think he gave it at BYU Idaho. I challenge you to try it out with any choices you make in your life. God loves you and He has promised that He will guide you in any and all choices you make. Whether or not you know it at the time! Sometime down the road, you will see that a seemingly small decision made a huge impact. Like Nephi, he didn't know what he was doing. But if he didn't make the decision to be led by the Spirit, we would not have that record.
I see all the Asian missions quite frequently. I see Nate at least five times a day. I see Ryan at least once a day, we study on the same floor. We all have all our meals and gym period together. Not to mention we live in the same building.
Things that you should send sometime, but are not urgent: ear plugs, ankle braces(the ones I use for volleyball), bleach pen.
I get to read mail every day in the evening. But like I said, I can only send out mail on Tuesdays. That might change when I get into the field. I can't wait to get into the field! It is so fun seeing missionaries leave. They look so scared, haha.
The RC was much more successful this week. I committed several people to prayer and to read the Book of Mormon. I have two people that I am calling back to night to followup on. I am trying to get some baptisms while in the MTC, that would be fun. With 12 weeks, it is QUITE possible. I wish my Spanish was better, a good majority of the people that I call can only speak Spanish. So I try to puddle through a conversation with them, but my church words are severely lacking in Spanish. Maybe I can improve! It is hard to keep my languages straight. Especially when reading in romanized Thai, it is hard to remember it is not Spanish or English.
I've been reading 2 Peter 1 the last few days. You should read that chapter. He talks about Christ-like attributes(the same that are listed in the D&C, except for one) and he then lists specific promised blessings to those who obtain those attributes in their fullness. Make sure to consult the JST towards the bottom, you might be able to make sense of it.
This week Elder Holt and I are giving a lesson on Jospeh Smith at District Conference, so if you have any cool stories and insight about Joseph Smith. Let me know!
Keep writing me lots! It really is great to hear from you guys. I'll send out some more letters today too.
One other scripture that I have really enjoyed is 1 Ne 1:1. "And I Nephi being born of goodly parents". I love how he gives credit to his parents at the very beginning of his record. Check the cross-references on that verse. Likewise, I give credit to you, my parents for serving this mission. The name is Elder Brown, I represent the whole family name. Not myself. I represent us in the name of Jesus Christ, or in Thai, nay phranaam khccng PhraYeesuKhrid.