Monday, November 26, 2012

Week #6 - Thanksgiving at the MTC


So, I don't know everything that has been going on, but I guess Mexico elected a new President, and they've changed their visa policy. I've heard of an Elder who received his visa, but with the change no longer has it. Now, I don't know 100% about what the visa situation is, but I do know that even before this Mom heard about somebody who served months state-side before finally making it to Mexico, so we shall see what happens for me. I could see me staying some extra time here at the MTC. Part of me kind of wants to. I think it would be cool to be here for Christmas. We might even have an Apostle come and speak (Elder Bednar came last Christmas - which was on a Sunday). This year Christmas Day is on a Tuesday, which is a Devotional day anyway, but even if it weren't (it is on Tuesday, right?) they would maybe make an exception and have one of the Twelve (or even the First Presidency) come and speak. They did for Thanksgiving. More on that later. I think I may get to call home before I leave the MTC. If I am here on Christmas, as you know, I won't get to call home that day. However, it would still be cool to be here that day. I'm alright serving state-side for a few months, but I still want to eventually make it to Mexico. We shall see what the Lord has in store. Dad, you had visa problems of your own (and I tell the story), so if I do it's like what happened to you. It would be ironic if I was re-assigned to Spain, but that probably won't happen.

So, the Apostle who came to speak to us was... ELDER HOLLAND:
Elder Holland and his wife, and some of their family came and spoke to us, and shared their time with us for Thanksgiving. Sister Holland spoke of a missionary experience she had once, some of their grandchildren either performed (one granddaughter sang "If The Savior Stood Beside Me" and it had me teary, it was good) or bore testimony, and Elder Holland talked about how blessed we are to live when we do. We get to live in the "Dispensation of the Fullness of Times" - the time that all have looked forward to. He talked of prophets of old, and the Apostles; about how they must have looked forward to our day, knowing that they were playing a losing game in their time - that they would lose, but that finally we would win. WE will not lose, but they did. Every other dispensation fell away into Apostasy, even the one in which the Savior Himself established His Church upon the earth. He talked about not knowing "why," but that we are blessed. He also talked about how the mission: "This IS real life!" or something like that. "This is as close to the Savior as you will ever be..." Something along those lines. We should not just go on a mission, but become missionaries. We should CHANGE, and be different people, better people - better disciples, when we return from our labors.

We had a goofy little program, performed some service, and watched a movie. We got to watch 17 Miracles - and it was good. It was the first time I got to see it. There were many moments where I was either on the brink of tears, or had some tears. One of those moments was spoken of during the most recent General Conference - when a pioneer woman found two old "sea biscuits" and through her faith in the Lord, and a miracle, was able to feed her family. Well, I'm running short on time. It was good though.

Also, today while going to the Temple, Elder Harrop and I ran into two of my friends: Jordan and Bean! We visited with them for a bit, and it was good. Bean actually showed me the picture. They both have the same tie I bought (I've worn it every Wednesday) - and Michael at least is getting one too. It was nice to see them, I was glad to get to visit with them. It was a blessing.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Week #5

Earlier this week we had a lesson that did not go that well... I pretty much dominated the lesson, and did not really apply it well to our "investigator." And yes, they are real people who play investigators, and we teach them. The two we teach are actually our normal teachers. Anyway, for the next lesson we had (that same day) we did better. Elder H actually did most of the talking, sharing a personal experience for a lot of the time. Our subsequent lesson with that investigator went well too. Although, tonight is our first time teaching again to the investigator we did not do so well with, so we shall see how we can sort of repair that lesson with him. Good news is that both of them have baptismal dates to prepare for, but we'll see how they progress. A lot of this week has actually applied to the fact that we need to not just teach the lessons, and not just focus on fixing their needs, but a good balance where we are to apply the lessons to them. It can be written this way, the different approaches: Teach the investigator. Teach the lesson. Teach the investigator the lesson. We need to follow the plan, unless the Spirit directs otherwise, and apply it to the investigators.

Yesterday I was on an extended "split / exchange" with Elder S. We went to choir, then time after that, then dinner, then the fireside, then sort of during the video even after we refound our companions. In fact, during the Devotional we were recruited as last-minute "Ushers." We helped fill in seats before the devotional. Our whole district is going to usher next Sunday, so we got in a bit of experience before that. The video which we watched was The Mountain of the Lord and I thought it was pretty good. One thing I liked from the film was where "Wilford Woodruff" said something along the lines of "If you believe in the Savior, you already believe in proxy work" (he was talking about ordinances for the dead). In case you don't know, which you probably do, the film was about the building and dedication of the Salt Lake Temple.

You remember those Missionaries who met the new Elders and Sisters as they arrived at the MTC? Well, next week I want to be one of them (November 28th). That means I could be the "Host" for Jordan, Joe, or Craig. That would be pretty cool, to be the one to see them, and guide them for a little bit. Or at least to see them as I helped somebody else. So, we'll see how it all goes. I'll let you know in two weeks.

We did not in fact, get an Apostle. However, this Thursday for Thanksgiving we're having "one of the Twelve" I believe. I think if it were Elder Scott, or Elder Nelson, or maybe Elder Anderson, that could be pretty cool. Any of them, but still... I'll let you know next week how it was. We're also going to be doing some kind of service that day. And maybe a fireside too? Fireside and a Devotional perhaps, basically.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Week #4

Hey everyone! Thank you for the letters, and the package! Thank you for your kindness, and for the Christmas gift as well. Hope everything is going well for everyone back at home.

So, first off - I forgot my camera until we already arrived at the laundry place - sorry! No pictures this week... I got a picture yesterday of me in Dad's/my trench-coat and his Mission Tie. Dad, before next week I WILL get that picture in front of the big map, and I will upload it, along with other pictures for all of you. Sorry again, at least the blog has some of my words, right?

Hmm... where to start... This week has been pretty good overall. Although, some of the studying has been lacking. Our planning, and follow-through, and focus on our "investigators" was weak for a while. Our "investigators" are doing alright - we even gave one of them a baptismal date. The problem is, we need to make sure we can teach everything in time, go with his needs, and also make sure he is keeping commitments. It's not a real, real investigator, so... I think it might be alright to write about them? Real ones I believe you're supposed to either not give a lot of details, or names, or whatever.

What else? In case I didn't mention them before, we've heard from the following members of the Seventy: Elder Larry Echo Hawk, Elder Don R. Clark, Elder W. Craig Zwick, and... tomorrow is our fifth Tuesday - it could be an Apostle. I guess they come every six or so weeks (maybe?) and this Tuesday is that mark. The last one was Elder Bednar about two weeks before we got here. Yep. It would be cool to get an Apostle, or member of the First Presidency. So, we shall see, and I shall let you know next week if we got one. If not this week, maybe the next?

Okay. Yesterday Elder H and I stayed after the Devotional to watch the film The Testaments of One Fold and One Shepherd. It was good, I'm glad that we watched it. I got teary-eyed multiple times: during parts when the Savior healed people, when he arrived in the Americas (maybe?), and when he was blessing the children (I felt some), and at the end when "Jacob" is describing Him to his father, and when the Savior addresses the blinded father by name and heals him. Yep. It was good stuff. Also a bit of emotion during a primary song we sang before the devotional.

Today, as on every P-day, we went to the Temple. As we were finishing, one of the workers there stopped to talk with me. I'll share more sometime with the family at least, but as we finished he said something like, "I don't know why I stopped to talk to you...". I wrote about it in my journal, and some of the things he said were things that, if I can remember and hold true to, can help me be a strong missionary.

Alright family, and friends, I'm off very shortly from the email. I apologize once again to people who have not received a letter from me (or in a while). This week I plan on at least writing to Jordan, Grandma Terry and Grandpa Tom, and Grandma Sandy. That means, sorry Savanna, and Bean (no reply yet from Michael for the short reply I sent him).

Everybody have a great week! Stay strong! Pray often! Pray for me too? Enjoy the snow! It's Christmas(y)!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Week #3, letter to Mom

Dear Mom, I hope things are going well back at home! Throughout the week I have also found some things to help me with my testimony. One good one happened today, within the hour in fact. There is a gym here where you can use turn-bikes, walker-things, and lift, and some other stuff. For the past Mondays I've gone to it with my companion. We bought ourselves earbuds to listen there. There are five televisions showing videos and a movie produced by the Church. Today I watched multiple of those videos, and had a good emotional response/experience. One of the videos was of President Hinckley sharing the story of the dollars and the shoes. With that video I got emotional--kind of thought to myself about how it's not just the story but him that helped. I believe I watched another snippet of something, then I switched over to a video about "living apostles" or however, and there were President Packer, President Eyring, President Uchtdorf, and President Monson testifying of the Savior. My emotions... I was holding back tears type of reaction. And President Monson said something along the lines of "...He is at the helm of this work" or something-- and I think I might have felt emotion at him saying that. I offered a prayer of thanks to the Lord for this--maybe after another video--this video describes what the Savior did, and suffered for us, to music, and I was still fighting tears, would look away, think of the previous video, and look back with emotion. At the end, President Monson testified of the Savior's resurrection. I am grateful I saw what I saw of those videos, felt what I felt, and ... One thought which has occurred to me involved "relying on the Lord" and not on man, or the Spirit, not just information. This has been a good experience. I am grateful for that. I need to try to remember and later be able to "...feel so now." That experience was a blessing just in time to share with you and the people back home. I hope you're well--I'll pray for you. Keep praying for me. Be strong in the gospel. Thank you for your prayers, love, and letters, and treats. I bought a "Conference Magazine" today, so no worries on sending me one of those. Love you Mom. Elder Izak Erekson

Monday, November 5, 2012

Week #3

In case I don't write to any of my friends this week, I'm sorry! Have yourselves good weeks!

My companion and I get along well-enough, but we could improve on strengthening our companionship. He and I have some differences. Today I felt like maybe I was causing him some grief. My kind roommates helped us out, but I still caused us to miss breakfast. Here's the story:

I was late getting ready this morning, so I put the black ink or whatever on my shoes, was in the hall ironing my shirt, when it was time to go to breakfast. My companion was fretting or whatever, so my roommates, Elder B and Elder M finished off my shoes for me - kind of them. They left, and we were still too late for breakfast. We could have made it in, but the doors were closed, and it was after closing time. We have cards we swipe, and I don't know / think the machine would have taken them at this point. So, we went to the store. We went to the Temple afterwards, and on our way back others went to lunch, but my companion and I went to our room and did the scheduled "personal study." He complied, but maybe he wasn't totally happy about it. So, yeah...

Speaking of kind Elders. There is this one Elder in our District named Elder S (P.S. - he knows Skyler T, he even roomed with him. Dad / Mom / whoever, tell Skylar we're in the same District?) He receives many packages from his mom / family, and he comes and shares with us. Like, often. Almost, if not every, night when we aren't fasting, he comes. Elder S is a nice guy. When I got treats from home I said something like, "Now I can be charitable like Elder S" or whatever, and Elder B (I believe) later told me that Elder S heard me and had a huge smile when I said that. He and I have gone to choir together, and to perform with the choir on "splits" or "exchange" - our companions haven't gone to it, so...

My time is running short. Sorry I haven't told you a ton about the schedule yet. It varies by day, but: We wake up at 6:30 or so, have like 30 minutes to prepare, have about 2 - 3ish hours of different types of study, 6 (technically) hours of class time (including language, training, study, and teaching "investigators") every day but Sunday, and eating, planning. The last hour of the day (9:30 - 10:30) is "Personal time." Sorry that's brief.

Have a great week everyone! Keep me in your prayers? Thanks!