Hey Brothers and Sisters,
How's it going?! Well, here I am in the MTC! Crazy times - the Spirit is constantly here! There are currently 2500+ missionaries right now so, even with my black tag, I don't look any different!
I'll just give you a quick update of the past week or so...
After I said goodbye at the airport and had passed security, I sat down at my gate and waited for my plane to arrive. I took some time to look over some letters that people had sent me (ps. thank you for the tie Jordan! I'm wearing it right now!) and to consider that I wouldn't see my family or friends for the next two years from that moment! It got emotional, let's just leave it at that! But, as I looked around at people, I noticed the guy next to me was writing in a journal with the slogan 'Called To Serve' on the front... this is how I met Elder Adams from the Huddersfield Stake! He's been called to serve in the Spain Malaga Mission! We got talking and ended up travelling to Utah together! The fact that the only two English missionaries in that airport at the time happened to sit next to eachother really strengthened my tetsimony that God send people into our path when we need them!
When we arrived in Salt Lake, I had a group waiting for me; I got to see Rachel (<3), Skylar and Sam King and meet Jarith and Bronwyn! We grabbed something to eat and managed to spend some time together which was great! The next day was the day I reported to the MTC so, after a classic IHop breakfast and a few emotional goodbyes, I checked in with the other international students! Within moments, I felt at home... even though I knew no-one at all, I felt comfortable and a confirmation that this IS the right placed for me!
I also met my AMAZING companion Elder Stapley - the guy is 110% lad! We're able to have such a laugh whilst keeping the Spirit with us, something that I haven't always been great at (especially after half ten Ben ha!) We've shared some spiritual experiences already and we've only been here a week - I'm excited to see what happens over the next two! My district is also fantastic... this includes Elder Stapley and I, Elder Hilton, Elder Pauga (a 6"6' Samoan - he's massive! but such a gentle giant!), Elder Fish, Elder Andersen, Sister Tanner (who we've learnt loves to punch babies!), Sister Kuta, Sister Banner and Sister Pond... every single one of us brings a different aspect to this work and we each love eachother as family! I have been called as their district leader (basically, I have to keep an eye on them ect.) and it's very humbling - for the first time in my life, I don't feel like I'm the most qualified for the responsibility! But I know that Heavenly Father calls who He needs and so I will try to be the leader they need! Not that it's a tough job... they're all exceptional and have great faith already!
I'm beginning to understand what Moroni taught in Chapter 7, Verse 48 about how 'love can help us become the sons of God'! Love is really the key to missionary work - before this week, I felt confident in my ability to teach people about the Gospel! I've always found it easy to teach the doctrine and bear testimony! Yet, whilst these attributes are important to success, they are worth nothing if we cannot love the people. As part of the MTC, we do a lot of role play teaches - one of these was with an investigator called John! Now, John reminds me of my own dad - his entire family go to church and he is very supportive! However, he feels as if he doesn't need Jesus Christ in His life! And so, Elder Stapley and I prepare to teach John! As we're praying one afternoon, I suddenly start to think about John and his situation and pray for the guidance as to what he needs. And I got my answer... When it came to teaching him, I felt a genuine love for John... I felt that I knew him but, most importantly, that the Saviour knows him! And that was, by far, our best teach so far!
I want you all to know that I'm safe and that I feel happy! I've wanted to be a missionary my whole life and, now it's here, it's hard work ha! But I love it! I'm starting to change - I feel like Jesus Himself is refining me little by little so that, when it comes to seeing you all again, I will be the missionary - indeed, the person - that He knows I can be! So, that is my first week of missionary service... and I'm loving it!
Lots of love (seriously, check Moroni 7:48 ha),
ps. If any of you want to write to me, use the service 'DearElder.com' - I'll get the letters that day in a printed form! Let me know you love me ha!