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!"