Monday, October 26, 2015

First Week! - Green Hills, Tennessee

Hello everyone!

So here I am in Tennessee now :) The ground is green the trees are red the skies are grey. It was so awesome to meet my mission president finally. Although I only actually spent like 20 minutes with him and then I was send to bed and then on my way to a new area.

My trainer is Elder Tolman. He is from a farm town in Idaho. When I first met him he ran at me, picked me up and then spun me around. All I could think was "Nick is on the other side of the country yet I still managed to have him as a companion." It actually made me happy.

Our area, Green Hills, is interesting. It's actually right in Nashville. Which is nice because I was wondering if I'd go two years without actually going to the city of Nashville once. Our ward boundaries go from the center of downtown by the Cumberland river down to Brentwood in the south. Brentwood is full of really really nice billionaire houses. Like ridiculous Victorian mansions with columns and 20 rooms. And then downtown is full of homeless shelters and housing projects. We live in the middle, in a part of town called Green Hills. It's pretty nice and safe and whatnot, but as far as the inside of the apartment ... I've heard it only gets better in other areas. Actually it's not that bad since I started cleaning and organizing it. I have my own desk with a big leather rolley chair! There is also this great picture of the last supper above my desk.

Most of our investigators live up by downtown so we have to bus over there. Buses are actually kinda fun. I'm learning the schedule and routes rather quickly. We get lots of interesting contacts on buses. There was a scientist from Brazil studying tuberculosis at Vanderbilt hospital and then a crazy old man talking about how the bible verses are full of math that describes music theory physics and everybody in between. The other day we missed a bus so we decided to walk 12 miles up past the train tracks to an appointment and then another 12 back. It was quite fun actually. I got to see so many different kinds of places and buildings.

So I've been in Nashville 6 days and I have already heard 7 special musical numbers featuring guitars and country singing. There was one at every church meeting, including the baptism. The only exception was sacrament meeting (thank goodness). It'll take me a while to get used to "Come Come Ye Saints" as a country jam but oh well.

Oh and I've already seen the Nashville Tribute Band in concert. Yup. One week and it's already happened. They are in our stake and did a fireside for our ward. They performed their Redeemer album for us. I had already had to hear it about 26 times thanks to Elder Tolman, so I was getting used to it. And seeing it live was actually really cool. Now that I understand what they were trying to do with their songs it is a lot better and I actually kinda like it. For those who don't know, they tell the story of Jesus from the New Testament but from everyone else's perspective. It's a very different style of music than the hymns I'm used to but I can appreciate that they are praising the Savior in the way they love to. The really weird part is that they performed in the chapel. We were sitting in pews watching a band. It felt so sketchy.

Side note: I'm in Alex Boye's ward. But I haven't seen him because, in the words of Tim Gates,"he's gone off all America's Got Talent crazy and 'I'm famous' nonsense." Other side note: Tim Gates (leader of Nashville Tribute Band) reminds me of Taylor Anderson. Just in his happy talking and mannerisms. Link to I'm a Mormon Video about Tim Gates here.

So that is all of that stuff. Now on to other stuff. We had the most amazing sacrament meeting yesterday. There weren't even enough people to fill the pews but everyone in the ward felt so close and kind. We did an impromptu choir. Which is where anyone from the congregation just goes up and sight reads the piece as the director just goes for it. We actually sounded really awesome. We sang "Oh My Father" which is one of my favorite hymns ever. It was super great. Then the talks were just phenomenal. My favorite was on John 14:15 "If ye love me, keep my commandments." She talked about how this is not another commandment, but rather an explanation of how to live the gospel. If we truly love the Savior, keeping His commandments will be entirely natural. It won't be a list of things we must struggle to keep; it will just be who we are. Then she quoted Interstellar, "Love is the only force we can perceive that transcends space and time. I'm drawn across the universe to a man [I've never seen because He died for my sins]."

I know I did a terrible job of capturing all the awesomeness that was in her statements but I hope it can touch one of you somehow.

Anyway that is all for this week. Ttfn! ta ta for now!

Elder Basham

Friday, October 16, 2015

Almost Done With The MTC

Dear Humans,

I can't believe its almost time to leave for Tennessee. These have been the longest 10 days ever, yet the week flies by so fast. Working constantly for 15 hours is crazy, but it is so rewarding and worth it. You can get so much done in that much time.

My companion and I have gotten to teach our first investigator. He is such an interesting person and I just love talking to him. He teaches Chinese for a living and plants bonsai trees as a hobby. He is genuinely interested and loves asking questions and keeps all of his reading assignments. Its rather sad that we only get to see him once more. I hope the next missionaries will love him as much as we do.

On Sunday we watched this amazing talk given by Elder Bednar called The Character of Christ. It is so amazing - like literally life-changing. Unfortunately the only place on earth you can see it is here at the MTC, so basically everyone should go on a mission if only just to hear this talk. (Also, the rest of the 24/18 months are really an amazing life-building experience.) (Editor's note: Link to talk found HERE) Basically, the message is that Christ never once was concerned for Himself in anyway; all that He did was for the benefit of others in all ways. There are so many amazing examples of this throughout the New Testament and Book of Mormon. However, the greatest part is that, while the natural man will always turn inward selfishly, we can be changed through the Atonement of Christ to turn outward just as He did. In losing yourself to truly care about others, therein you find your greatest happiness. I loved this message so much and I can testify of its truth. I have already begun to see that change in my life.

All the new missionaries came in. They are super exited. This is a really good group who all actually care about the work. It's funny how I think of them as "freshmen" in my mind but in reality they are only 7 days behind us. It is crazy how much you learn and grow every day here. Everyone is like a whole new person by the end of every day.

Next email you get will be from Tennessee! This is exciting. Have an amazing week :)


Elder Basham

Elder Basham and his MTC Companion, Elder Melville, at the Provo Temple
(Photo courtesy of Sophia Sorenson)

Friday, October 9, 2015

A Long-Expected Journey (First Letter from the MTC)

Hello Everyone,

After 84 days of waiting the time is finally here, in the Missionary Training Center. This place is quite amazing. So much has happened in such a short period of time. I've been here less than 48 hours and it already feels like it has been weeks. Its kinda cool how natural everything feels. I feel like I have always been on a mission doing this. All of the thoughts of sleeping in and hanging around are gone. I am just so excited and ready to keep working.

I feel like it is a rule here that you must complain about the food. Its just what everyone does, so here I go. The food sucks. It makes everyone sick - especially the orange juice. Everything tastes so disgusting and I never feel well. (Actually everything is perfectly delicious and there are no problems with it. I like the food, so I don't see why there is so much complaining. I feel like its just a very long-running joke that the orange juice has laxatives.)

My companion is Elder Melville. He is super awesome. We are absolutely nothing alike from back home, but out here we get along so well. He does a wonderful job of reminding me to keep it simple and to be humble and caring. We're both learning a lot from each other.

So it turns out that mission prep class and having actually read the scriptures already taught me all of the textbook curriculum of the MTC. All of the classes seem simple and repetitive. With some of the things we talk about, I cannot believe there were actually people who didn't know them. But my branch president told me something profound that totally changed my whole outlook on the program. Here at the MTC we are not really learning the Gospel or how to teach. Studying those things is only the background for what we are really doing. We are here to learn how to care about and help others. If I spend all of my efforts trying to help my companion be the best missionary ever, I will learn everything I need to know. It is not a process of learning information, but a process of changing hearts and minds. This message really touched me, and I really hope to be able to embody these teachings.

Also, I have been made a zone leader of four districts. This means I get to welcome new missionaries to our zone next week and conduct sacrament meeting and priesthood meeting on Sunday. Fun things.

My favorite experience here so far is singing "We'll Bring the World His Truth." I have always loved this hymn and it has taken on especially powerful meaning for me as I was preparing to serve a fill-time mission. Singing here, where the spirit is so strong, with 500 new missionaries was just amazing. But the coolest part was that they changed the words "We will be the Lord's missionaries" to "We are now!" It was truly a powerful and amazing feeling.

Anyway, I imagine you were waiting to hear from me on Monday. That will be true in the mission field, but here at the MTC everyone has a different preparation day. For me that is Friday, so I'll talk to you all next week at this time.

If anyone wants my two cents of advice, here it is. Follow the counsel of Kevin W. Pearson and study the word of God "every day. Every day. Every day!"

Elder Basham

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

On His Way!

From Mom: "Liam is on his way to the MTC. So excited for him! Happy Mission! I love this boy!"