Well we're down to 3 weeks left in the MTC (probably about 18 days to be exact)! One of my district's teachers got promoted and so this week we got a new teacher:) He just returned from his mission from Seattle, WA about the same time we got into the MTC. He is really cool. So that means this week we also started teaching a new "investigator". It was exciting to see how much we've grown since the last time we taught a first lesson! Spanish is still coming along. I know that I am no where near where I need to be in order to speak so that natives won't laugh at me, but I am satisfied with my progress. I know that if I do my part (study study study and try to speak) that the Lord will help me. He already has. I mean geez I've been here 6 weeks and I can speak Spanish already!!! Wow. This week my district had an "English fast" (where we didn't speak English at all) for one day. We didn't quite do 100% Spanish, but we managed about 80%. It wasdifferent, and a little rough, but that's how it's going to be in 3 weeks so we better buck-up!! We are planning on trying those "English fasts" more often to help us out!
This week also my favorite district of elders (besides my own) left for El Salvador. Seeing them leave the MTC put into perspective the fact that that will be me in a very short time. It STILL hasn't quite clicked that after this MTC experience I go to another country...to live for 16 months...and teach about Jesus Christ 24/7!! I keep thinking this is like EFY or Girls Camp and I'll go home after this. Weird:) I'm excited to go to Chile though, I just don't quite believe it yet!
So not only did we get a new teacher, we also got a new branch presidency member!! He has been a mission president in Mexico and is SO amazing!! In Sacramento Meeting 2 Sundays ago he bore his testimony in Spanish. First of all, I understood every word (which means he was speaking slowly, clearly, and simply) - but the most amazing part was it was one of the most powerful testimonies I have ever heard. And he was speaking SO simply! I realized that the strength of our testimony's are not in their complexity or eloquence, rather their strength comes from their depth and sincerity. This new branch presidency member is one of my new role models! This last Sunday he took each of the companionships in my district aside one at a time and asked us to teach him about the First Vision. First he took some time to get to know us and then we taught him. The Spirit was there from the moment we shook his hand and he looked into our eyes. Our lesson went beautifully, and I know it is because the Spirit was there, because he brought it with him. Then he proceeded to tell us how wonderfully we had done and how glad he was that we were serving and how blessed we would be because of it. After we taught him i thought about why that experience had been so uplifting and I realized it was because of the spirit this man had with him and the love he exuded! His love for the Savior and subsequently for everyone of us shone in his eyes. And when he spoke, he spoke with sincerity. I want to be like him! When I talk to people I want them to feel that I love them and that the Savior loves them, and I want to bring the Spirit with me wherever I go!
So every Tuesday night here in the MTC we have a big devotional where all 2500 missionaries meet to hear a speaker. For the past 6 weeks we have heard from members of the Quorums of the Seventy and from administrators from the MTC mostly. Rumor has it that a General Authority (one of the Twelve or First Presidency Members) comes once a month, but we were starting to doubt since it had been 6 weeks since we had seen one. This Tuesday we waited in line for 2 hours to make sure we would get a seat in the auditorium (we do this every time because it is better to sit in the auditorium instead of in the overflow in another building). And it is a good thing we did because following our MTC President into the auditorium was...Elder Jeffrey R. Holland!! A powerhouse of a speaker. Wow. We were all amazed. As one of the elders in my district said, "I thought I was gonna pass out!" Elder Holland loves the missionaries and missionary work and he spoke to uspowerfully and lovingly about the work that we were doing. He reminded us that all the prophets and missionaries in the Old and New Testaments, in the Book of Mormon, and in the early Church looked forward to this day, to us and the work we would do for the kingdom! He answered some questions that missionaries had previously submitted to the MTC president to have Elder Holland answer. Some of them (and Elder Holland's answers were):
Q: What is the most important thing Jesus Christ would want us to know right now?
A: That He told the truth. Everything He said was true. Especially what He said about how we all need to repent and that He suffered so that we wouldn't have to.
Q: Why does God love us?
A: Because we are literally His sons and daughters. As a parent (and an imperfect one at that) he (Elder Holland) would do anything and give anything for his children. If he (Elder Holland) feels that way about his children. How much more does Heavenly Father (who is perfect) love us and would do anything for us?
Q: How can we best invite the Spirit into our lives?
A: 1. Immerse yourself in the word of God (the scriptures). 2. Pray honestly and sincerely. 3. Don't lose it (the Spirit)! (by doing, saying, or thinking things that the Spirit cannot be a part of)
Q: What can we give to the Savior of the World, Jesus Christ?
A: We can give Him our hearts.
After Elder Holland spoke, instead of the congregation singing a closing hymn there was a musical number. Two sisters and an elder. The elder played an accompaniment on the piano while one sister sang and both signed (ASL). They performed "Savior, Redeemer of My Soul" (hymn 112 in our hymnbook). The accompaniment was not the tune in the hymnbook though. The music, plus the angelic and powerful voice of the sister singing, plus the beautiful mesmerizing signing of the lyrics came together perfectly to touch my heart powerfully. I dare say that that may have been the most beautiful thing I have ever witnesses! The song has been playing over and over and over in my mind since Tuesday night. The song reminds me of why we are here on this earth. At one point the lyrics say "Chasten my soul till I shall be in perfect harmony with Thee. Make me more worthy of thy love, and fit me for the life above". We are here to learn to align our lives with the will and commandments of our Heavenly Father!
Well my time is up! Thank you thank you thank you for your love letters prayers and packages. Keep smiling! I love you!