Friday, September 6, 2013

I'm in the MTC!!!

Dear loved ones,

I am in the Provo Missionary Training Center! It has been a wonderful 10 days so far, with some challenges, but mostly many joyful experiences. Grandma and Grandpa Eliason dropped me off at the MTC on August 28 at about 12:15 pm. There were a lot of emotions, but I was mostly just anxious and excited (plus a little amazed that I am a missionary). I'm still very amazed that I am a missionary! When I was dropped off, there was a missionary there to help me get all of my things in order. They processed me through several "registry" desks, let me drop my stuff off at my bedroom (shared with five other missionaries), and then brought me to my classroom. That's where I got to meet all of my district and my teacher! There are eight sister missionaries and six elder missionaries (including me) in my district, and we're all assigned to the Brazil Juiz de Fora Mission! I also met up with my missionary companion, Elder Findley. It was kind of a weird experience meeting up with the person that I will be spending almost every moment of my life with for the next six weeks. It was a little strange being forced to get to know someone, but it's definitely turned out well. Elder Josh Findley is from Texas (luckily he doesn't think that his state is better than everyone else's state :D ). He is very hard working. A lot of the time I go crazy with all of the studying and focusing that we do, but he keeps my head screwed on straight. Well, the first day was a little overwhelming. Our teacher, Brother Gessell, who served in Brazil as well, talked only in Portuguese to us. It was really surprising because some of the people in our district have no background with foreign language. I'm definitely feeling the blessings of studying Spanish for so many years and trying to study Portuguese before coming here! And even with my background, I have to work hard to learn Portuguese. It amazes me to see the success and progress of the other missionaries at learning Portuguese, but I know that it is because Heavenly Father is blessing them (and me) to learn quicker. Despite the excitement and intensity of Wednesday, Thursday was even more intimidating and emotional. The slogan for new missionaries here is "Make it to Sunday". That was kind of our district's mantra. It is hard to be pressed to learn and grow in the short amount of time that we have here. Thursday we continued in our Portuguese and spiritual study. All of a sudden during class, I felt this overwhelming sense of stress. It was emotional knowing that we had to teach the gospel, and on top of that, teach it in Portuguese. Our teacher also let us know that we would be teaching a lesson completely in Portuguese on Friday. Isn't that crazy? We had been there less than two days, and we would all be teaching a complete 20 minute lesson in a language that we did not know before. At that moment I became really overwhelmed, and I was pretty sure that I was going to break down crying. Luckily, our teacher was able to sense our stress and our needs. He kind of gave us a pep talk. It is pretty easy to give a pep talk to missionaries because Heavenly Father has promised so many blessings to His servants. He has called us to do this great and noble work, and He wants to bless us. He wants us to be guided in our lessons; He wants us to be able to speak Portuguese; He wants us to feel His Spirit because we are completely dedicating our lives to His service. One thing that I have realized while in the MTC is that it is so important to completely devote myself to this work. Outside worldly influences just get in the way. When my mind is completely focused on His work and His word, I feel the Spirit so strongly and I am more able to be an effective missionary. It has been hard removing all worldly media influences, but I have seen the blessings of completely giving my life over to Heavenly Father. Remember, he who seeks his own life will lose his life, but he who loses his life for Christ's sake shall find it. Thursday night was a confirmation and deliverance from all of the emotions that I had been feeling during the day. The two new districts in our zone met with the Branch Presidency (the men that watch after the zone, similar to a mission presidency). Each missionary stood up, introduced themselves, said why they were serving a mission, and then bore their testimony. I could feel the Spirit so strongly. In the scriptures it says that the Spirit will burn in our bosoms, and my bosom was BURNING! It was a sensation that I have never quite felt before. What I know is that this gospel, this message that I am preaching, is the true and everlasting gospel restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith. No one can tell me otherwise. Or if they do, I will never believe them. The Spirit has testified powerfully in my heart in the most personal, intimate, and powerful way. How can I deny the witness that comes directly from God? After the meeting, the Branch Presidency met with all of us to interview us and come to know us a little bit better. Then, the Branch Presidency extended leadership assignments. I have been assigned to serve as District Leader for my district. It has been a great joy to serve in this capacity. I really do love all of the Elders and Sisters in my district. They love me (or hate me :D ) because I have to collect and distribute their mail to them. So, on to Friday. Friday we taught a lesson in Portuguese for the first time. We were allowed to write some notes and use them during the lesson. The man we taught is named Nerivaldo. He is really just a returned missionary acting as a non-member so that we can practice our lesson and language skills. The lesson went pretty well. Elder Findley has a little bit of a problem pronouncing and speaking Portuguese, so he read off of his notes. I really wanted to stretch myself a little. I tried to improvise in speaking Portuguese. I was amazed by how much I could speak. Nerivaldo commented on my speaking abilities at the end of the lesson. What I know is that they are not my abilities. I know that I was not able to speak that much Portuguese before I went into that room, and I know that God gave me support. He knows that the lesson was not a "legitimate" lesson, but He wanted to let me know that He knows me and cares for me. God is wanting to confirm to our minds and hearts the love that He has for us, and He does. What is most important that we look around us in order to see those witnesses of love. He will support us in every righteous action. Saturday wasn't much different from Friday except for the fact that we got GYM TIME! This was such a blessing. We had had to sit in a classroom for hours on end, and we were finally able to go and stretch our legs. Elder Findley's knee got kind of messed up before coming here, so he's been trying to rehabilitate it on the bike. I really just felt like running. I have been running every day that we have gym time (5 times a week). I also use some of the machines that they have in the gym. On top of that, I also have been playing FOURSQUARE! Yes, that sixth grade playground game that doesn't seem very intense but IS very intense. It has been good to be a little competitive while having a lot of fun and getting to know some other Elders and Sisters. Gym time is especially important because the food here is heavy, and there is a lot of it. I've been trying to eat the healthy stuff because people keep telling me about gaining a lot of weight while being at the MTC. One of my favorite things to eat is a wrap. They make them right in front of you with whatever you want. I usually get a lot of guacamole and the mango habanero sauce. So good! Well, we were pushing for it, and Sunday finally came. It was definitely worth the stress. Sunday was the best day so far. It was especially good because it was a Fast Sunday. We had a mission conference with the rest of the MTC. It was so awesome to hear 6,000 other missionaries singing the hymns of Zion. It was also so awesome to hear the messages of the MTC leaders. They are so inspired and so sweet. After that meeting, I know with a surety that this missionary cause is so inspired and directed by God. I feel it in everything that we do here. That day we also had a testimony meeting with our Zone. I bore my testimony and I just felt so GOOD! These feelings can come from nowhere other than that heavenly being who is full of love and peace. That night we also had a devotional that was very good. After that, we watched a video recording of an MTC devotional by Elder David A Bednar. It is entitled "The Character of Christ" and it is so wonderful. Basically Elder Bednar said that the natural man is like Cookie Monster ("Me want cookie NOW!" {yes, he said it in cookie monster voice}). In contrast, the character of Christ is to turn out in love. When things get hard for us, we need to follow the example of Christ and turn outwards instead of in. If we do, then we will be truly converted and have the blessings of heaven. After Sunday, things have been pretty much the same every day. We go to class, learn, study, and then teach. We finished teaching Nerivaldo, found out that Brother Gessell would no longer be our teacher because of his school schedule, and found out that Nerivaldo (now Brother Vanwagoner) would be our new teacher. So funny and so awesome. We have also taught a woman named Amanda who has also transformed into our teacher named Sister Connell. I love them both so much. I love the Lord most of all. I am so grateful to be here in the MTC. Eu sou grato por o Espirito Santo. Eu sei que o Espirito Santo vail testificar em nossos coracaos e em nossas cabecas do verdade. Eu testifico que Jesus Cristo é o filho de Deus. Jesus Cristo suffreu por nossos pecados. Em o expiação de Jesus Cristo, podemos ter paz e felicadade. Em nome de Jesus Cristo. Ámem. (I think this is what Parker said in Portuguese: I'm thankful for the Holy Spirit. I know that the Holy Spirit testifies in our hearts and in our minds about the truth. I testify that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. Jesus Christ suffered for our sins. Through the atonement of Jesus Christ, we can have peace and happiness. In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.)

Love, Elder Ayer

P.S. Happy Birthday Will!!!!!

P.P.S. Do you remember Elder Eddington from when we first moved to Gilford? His youngest sister is in my district. I wrote him a letter that she is going to send him. SO COOL!!!

P.P.P.S. Thank you so much for sending the Dear Elder letter. Please keep them coming! I love you and need your support. :D

P.P.P.P.S. Did you get my letter?

P.P.P.P.P.S. I'll send pics next week when I have time. Sorry!

P.P.P.P.P.P.S. 2 Nephi 25:24-25 and 2 Nephi 33:10-11 Believe in Christ and read his words. They are true and will give you power unto deliverance and great joy.

No comments:

Post a Comment