Hola mi familia and amigos!! Oh this has been such a phenomenal week. I can't even begin to describe in words some of the things that have happened. Some incredibly spiritual things, like out of this world. And a bunch of semi interesting things. I'll start with those! But first off, this week I have felt your prayers more than anyother time. Seriously, I feel so much love for all of you and think about you a lot. Sabrina and Eli, your letters made my WHOLE week!! I'm writing you both back, but I just had to say how much I loved those. You guys are the best little siblings ever! So be looking forward to letters E and bina :)
So.. I SURVIVED! For real, it has been a crazy place here the past week. The entire MTC got hit with this huge strain of the flu. They cancelled devotionals, and set all these weird rules. THere's a no handshake policy still in place and if you are sick you aren't allowed to leave your room for at least 24 hours. If you are throwing up acid or blood, you had to be quarrantined. Get this, HALF of the missionaries got sick. They even broke the companionship rule cause if half of everyone is sick that means there's nobody in class. But be proud of my immune system of steel, I have survived. I should probably knock on some wood really quick...
Speaking of health, haha I have developed quite the repuation here. I would like to announce something: I found the Splenda packets!!!!!!!! Best day ever. At gym yesterday I passed by the scale and thought I might as well evaluate what damage has been done... and to my immense surprise... I've lost about 10 pounds! Crazy right? I've noticed my clothes are a lot more loose, but honestly I don't have time to even think about it. It seems like every mintue here is filled up with the gospel or spanish or some other missionary thing!
I saw Sister Hodges! We had a lovely chat. I found Grandma and Grandpa's mission president picture and took a pic by it! I'll send it home when I can. So here's a fun spanish story. I'm teaching the Plan of Salvation to one of my investigators, and I'm talking about why we need the Atonement. I told them that the only thing keeping us away from God is our sins. I later found out the real word for sins are "pecados" definitely not "pescados". Which means fish. SO yeah that was a fun experience. Also, the other day I opened my mouth in class to say something in class and Arabic came out. That was weird. Like fluent Arabic. No idea where in the bottomless pit of my brain that came from...
So now for the spiritual. We watched a talk Elder Holland gave to the MTC earlier this year about the Book of Mormon. He asked a few random missionaries what they had their investigators read for the first time reading in the BOM. They all said a variety of things. Then he had a few missionaries come up and talk about what was actually in the first chapter of the first book of Nephi. I was so embarrassed for them, most of them had NO clue what was in it. But he went on to say, that if we could get our investigators to read just the first chapter of the BOM that would be the most wonderful thing. What's in this first chapter? A young Nephi desiring to know the mysteries of God, a prophet praying to the Lord for help, receiving a vision, being given a special book, and being commanded to take the message to the world. RING A BELL!? The 1 Ne chap 1 contains the prophetic pattern. It will resonate with investigators who have just been taught the Joseph Smith story. It testifies that it is the way God works. He said that unless we were under speicific direction from the spirit to do otherwise, we should always challenge our investiagors to begin reading the BOM with the very first chapter and help them see that it truly is the propetic way. So interesting right?! Also, he said that perhaps it was the infinite wisdom of God that the 116 pages should be lost. Because what better chapter could you being this book with than one that re-testifies of the experience of the prophet Joseph Smith?
I was studying in Nephi more this past week and was talking to my Teacher about some of things I'd leared. He made a very interesting observation. Nephi, Sam, Laman, and Lemuel were all on the exact same journey. They all had to leave, go back to get the plates, the daughters, trek through the wilderness, build a boat, cross the ocean, and live in the promised land. But oh what a different type of experience they all had. Nephi had some of the most powerful spiritual experiences you could hope for, and grew in the knowledge of the Lord. While L&L only did the bare minimum. They just skimmed by on what they had to. They abandoned the gospel. WHat makes the difference? What you put into the journey and what you allow the Lord to do with your sould. That is so true with missionaries. There are some that go through this experience and come home with nothing changed. THey fall back in old habits and become who they used to be. But there are some who come home with their hearts changed. And that's who I want to be.
On Sunday night they showed the Joseph Smith Story film to all of us in the big devotional room. I cannot tell you what a powerful spiritual experience it was. I have NEVER felt the spirit so overwhelming strong my entire life. When Joseph said, "shall we not go on in so great a cause?" there was not a dry eye in the room. Being in the MTC, surrounded by thousands of missionaries all called to take the gospel to the end of the earth. We are carrying this cause forward. I have never felt such a strong emotion inside of me bearing testimony that this was the truth. Sunday was fast sunday and I was fasting for a variety of things. And Sunday was the most powerful day of my entire life up to this point. Sacrament was wonderful. I bore my testimony in broken Spanish and had to slip into English at the end, but I felt the spirit that whole day so strongly that even though I couldn't speak the language I had to bear my testimony.
After three weeks here and having the Lord teach me so many wonderful things, I want to tell all of you something. No matter what comes in life. Come hell or high water, sickness, heartache, loss, death, it doesn't matter, I will never forsake this church. I will follow my Savior and the prophet until the end of my life. I believe with every ounce of strength I have inside of my that this is the true church of Jesus Christ. I will side with this church until the bitter end. I cannot wait to go to Chile and tell everyone possible about this gospel. I understand what the prophets say when they wish they were angels!! I wish everyone could know. I am going to boldly testify to the people of Chile that this is the way. My mission is NOT a burden or a requirement or anything of the sort. It is my honor and my privilege to be a representative of Jesus Christ and share his gospel. 18 months isn't long enough to do what I need to do.
I love this gospel! I'm writing you a letter!! I'll send it off today because I have more to say. Dad, I got your email and I love you! I'll write you for sure today! Much love always :)