November 2, 2011

Last Week - Again

I never expected to get to call home so much.  I got to call when I was delayed, as well as when I got my travel plans and thus un-delayed.  I'm very grateful for President Smith.  He pushed the Missionary Department to send us, they were hesitant.  He's an awesome mission president.  I'm also grateful for the District Presidency here at the MTC.  They really are fantasic men.  When President Bertasso brought us in to tell us we were leaving, he also spent some time to teach us from the scriptures.  It was fantasitc.  He has some wonderful paintings in his office, which Elder Staten asked about.  I asked him about how he marked his scriptures.  We used his set, and there was definately a system of markings.  He promised to tell us when we came back to phone call (they didn't have our tickets yet, we got our plans a few hours later).  He was in a meeting, but at the end of dinner he called us down to his office.  We ended up talking for an hour.  It was fantastic, we learned a lot about many subjects.  I need to figure out how to get something weird to happen so I have an excuse to visit him again.
While here I've picked up a few hardback copies of The Book of Mormon to mark in different ways.  It really is helpful to have two copies out while marking.  One older copy, with markings, and a new clean copy to be read and marked.  As my older copy is by no means used up, I also mark it.  One set of sciptures is my personal study set, while another is strictly for investigators and teaching.  It blew my mind to read 1-2 Nephi looking for how it applies to investigators, how it can help someone coming to the truth.  The Book of Mormon truely is the tool God has given us for missionary work, for gathering Israel.  (Not that I've stopped reading the Old and New testament)  Another great activity is marking references to Christ, or his attributes.  (see PMG p114)  Just read it every day, it is a treasure.
As posted in the middle of the week, I will be leaving on the Seventh.  Again, we will stop in Hong Kong. 
This last week we've been doing our own special classes.  Our teachers, Sister Wongwiraphab and Brother McConkie really are fantastic.  Class was the the regular MTC stuff, but so much better.  Yesterday was our last class with them.  Both gave special lessons that really highlighted their strong points.  We've truely been blessed to have them.  We really have come a long ways these last few months.  Starting tomorrow, Brother Chu (A Thai-speaking teacher who helps out all over the Asian Languages) and Brother Bird (A Paasaa Lao, Laotion (sp) teacher) will be our teachers, as our Thai-teachers will be teaching the new district of Thai missionaries.  Laotion is related to Thai.  He'l probably have studed up, but I know already that he'll still use a lot of different words, and all his tones will be wrong.  Laotion is very similar to the eastern dialect of Thai, so it really is quite the blessing, even if it is really confusing.  I'm really excited to meet our new missionaries.  It's never happened that three Thai classes have been here at the same time.
The missionaries at the MTC are really interesting.  I have been surprised at some of them.  I know multiple missionaries who smoked, multiple who were involved in drugs, people who drank.  There are a good number of people who reformed, repented, set things in order and now are here.  There are also are recent converts.  It's really neat to see some of these missionaries.  It's more surprising how many missionaries that always went to seminary, always went to church, who come from strong families, etc. and end up struggling.  So many missionaries don't have a clue who they are.  It's rare to have a clue.  It surprised my branch president, he commented that very few missionaries come like that.  RM friends of mine noted that most people find out who they are on their mission.  My exit interview was fun.  I feel like President Roach was a bit taken back by my answers to his questions.   I guess handshakes and branch counsel aren't enough to get to know a person.  :-P  Another thing is a lot of missionaries don't feel like they have enough of a testimony, they doubt and waver.  The MTC isn't the time people should be finding out if things are true, but it's a lot better than being out in the missionfield and not knowing.
One thing that I am especially grateful for is to already know for myself that God lives and loves us.  But "it is impossible that man should find out all his ways. And no man knoweth of his ways save it be revealed unto him;" (Jacob 4.8)  this knowledge is a very different sort of knowledge that what learn in school.  It is so much better, becuase it comes from God himself.  It can fill our hearts, influence everything we do and are.  Christ lives, and is the only way to have peace in this life and eternal salvation in the life to come.  We just need to have faith, and act on it, continually improving ourselves, pressing on to perfection.
Elder Robert Buss

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