Less than a week left here in the MTC. That. Is. Crazy!!!! I can't believe how fast time has flown by. I only have 6 days left. I am so incredibly excited, I'm literally going crazy from excitement. But I know that I need to stay focused, so I am trying my best to do so. This is the last time I will be writing you from good old 'Merica, so I don't know when I will be able to email you next. Probably not for another week and a half. But when I do, I will be in my first area in the beautiful country of Italia!! Non vedo l'ora!!! (I can't wait).
Dad, I loved your advice to me about looking at my father's blessing, I have already done so a little bit, and everytime I read it, I see the blessings that have come to past and those blessings that are pertinant to what I am doing currently. I will continue to read it frequently so that I can do the best I can to recieve all of the blessings contained inside it.
Since everyone has been wondering about how we study here at the MTC, and how we all pick up the language so fast, here is a quick run-down of our language based efforts each day:
We have two 3 hour block classes where the teachers speak in Italian and we speak back to them as best as we can. This is where we teach our progressing investigators, and learn how to teach the gospel more effectively. All in Italian of course! Then we have what is called Technology Assisted Language Learning or TALL time, which is where we get on a program on the computer and we can choose words, phrases, or symbols that we want to learn. We have that for an hour roughly 4 days a week. Then we have time for our personal/companion/district language study which is up to us how we want to spend it. I ususally spend it practicing conjugating verbs in different tenses, studying our language books or helping other memebers of my district. I've already gone through two of our language books and am almost done with the next two. But the most important part of learning a language here at the MTC is SYL SYL SYL SYL SYL (Speak Your Language). I've found that the more I try and speak Italian, the better I get at it. I actually love speaking in Italian, it makes me feel so happy and I love it because I can still be myself while speaking in a new language! As for my language study plan for when I'm in Italy, I'm planning on continuing my language study plan I have here which involves studying grammer, conjugations, and reading the Italian scriptures. Yes, I have 501 Italian verbs. Yes, I have a dictionary. I'm not entirely sure if i have an "advanced" grammer textbook. We do have an italian text book that I haven't used yet and I think it should work, but I don't think its "advanced". I do not have a Gospel Principles book in Italian, and I don't think I have access to getting one. So what might be good is for you to order it and get it shipped here and hopefully it gets here in time. I don't know. Just a thought.
Sports. Thank you for keeping me updated Dad! I can't believe the Dodgers are .500!! That's crazy! I'm sad the NL lost the All-Star game, but oh well. We've been getting worse the past few years. As for the USMNT, YES!!!!!!!!!!!!! I'm so happy to hear that they are kicking so much butt right now! I really hope they carrry on this fire they have into the World Cup. We actually might go far this year! Like I said last email, someone please send me transfer news! I want to know who's going where in Europe. And while I'm still talking about soccer, I was playing soccer the other morning and i scored a hat-trick! It was awesome! I was on fire that game. I was playing with Elder Ringwood, so that was really fun! I'm going to miss him when I leave, but he'll be a great missionary in Colombia.
One thing I really learned from you was the importance of service in reaching out . We need to show others the love that we have for them and the love that their Heavenly Father has for them. So we serve, serve, serve! I also think its really important to look at others the way that Heavenly Father sees them, in all of their glory as sons and daughters of God.
One of the things I've learned here at the MTC is the power of the Book of Mormon. Like my mission prep teacher said, "you can't read that book without feeling the spirit". I have such a strong testimony of the Book of Mormon and the power it has when you read from it. It truly is an inspired book.
OK, more on the airport. So we now have confirmed plans for our trip. It is what I said in the last email. I am going to buy a pre-paid phone card here at the MTC because it is cheaper. I don't know how long it has on it, but it probably wont be more than 20 minutes, so we have two options for calling. I can call you after I get to SLC which will probably be around 9:30-11am Utah time. Or I can call you from Chicago which would be between 3:30-5pm Utah time. Please email me back before 6:40pm Utah time tonight so I know what we are doing and what number I should call.
If you can possibly work out a way for me to get a Gospel Principle sents to me before I leave that would be awesome, but if not, I can buy an English copy here and try to find an Italian one there. Also, if Dad really wants to get my a advanced grammer text, then you can send that too. Just a heads up, I will be sending back some books, so when you get those, please do not throw those away. I want them.
Other random news. Sean, there is an Elder here in my Zone that loves Led, so we talk about it all the time! When he found out that I loved Led, he said that I gained so much respect in his book. Elder Wirkus left today for his re-assignment in Lansing, Michigan. It was sad to say bye to him, but I know he'll do an amazing job. I hope he gets his visa soon so he can go down to Brazil. During our devotional last night, we heard a talk from President Hinckley's son, who gave a great talk about how to be the best missionary you can be. I will share some quotes in a second, but after the devotional we actually took a MTC-wide picture in the Marriott center. It was the 3rd time that the entire MTC has taken a picture together, so that was super special to be a part of. There are more than 3500 missionaries here, and more than 70,000 around the world right now. How crazy is that!!! I'm so happy to be a part of it. I know this is where I need to be.
Today we cleaned the temple. It was amazing. We got the clean the chapel and one of the sealing rooms. It was really easy cleaning, but it was such much fun because I knew that I was actually cleaning directly for the lord's house. It was weird being in the temple with all of the construction, but I could still feel the spirit so strongly. The temple worker who was with us gave us a tour after we were done and she showed us the bride's room. That is an incredible room. Wow. The chandeliers in there were incredible!!! Then we got to actually sign the back of a tile that is going into one of the bathrooms. Unfortunately that tile is going into one of the women's bathrooms, but oh well! Now a part of me will always been in the Provo Temple.
The other thing I wanted to share was an experience I had this past week. I was talking to one of the Elders in our zone when another elder stumbled out of his room looking very uneasy. He just walked around for a bit, but then he walked up to us and while bawling, he asked us to give him a blessing. I couldn't figure out exactly what happened, but from what I could gather, he was visited by an evil spirit and he was really shook up by it. The other elder I was with administered the blessing, and it was one of the most beautiful blessings I have every heard. I could feel the Lord working directly through us to bless one of his faithful sons. I was so honored and glad that I lived worthy of my Priesthood so that I could be called on to exercise it when needed. I know that the adversary's power is real and he is trying all that he can to stop us from speading the gospel, but I know that Heavenly Father watches over and protects all of us. It was a really spiritually strengthening experience and i know I won't ever forget it.
Here are some quotes that I really liked from the devo's this week:
"you're not finding anyone, God already found them"
"no tool or resource can replace you. You are the real tool in the Lord's hand"
"Christ loved the people enough to die for them"
Thank you so much to everyone for writing me! I love hearing from you all, and next time I do, I'll be where the Lord needs me in Italy! I'm so excited to be here and to tell you all about my experiences.
Vi voglio bene!!!!!! (I love you all!)