August 12, 2011

My First Week In The MTC

Well hey there family!
I guess you will get an email before a letter, though I have, in fact, written a letter. Heck, I've written two letters, but have yet to send either of them. Sorry. Anyway, I clearly got here safely. Preston took good care of me. He showed me around his work, told me about the girl he likes, and successfully prevented me from listening to real music while I was under call. Go Preston.

After I was quickly whisked away at the cavernous gates of the MTC, I was given my key, room assignment, instructions, MTC card, and number that would replace my name....oh, wait a minute, sorry, that last one was from my time I spent in prison. Getting back on track, I was given my nametag, which is like the most important thing you get here aside from a basic understanding of a language and a stronger testimony of the gospel.

Eventually, after being mugged by one of my former May 2100 brothers (Elder Carlson, who happens to be in my zone as well), I met my companion, elder Wheeler. Elder Wheeler (who has red hair) is tall, from a small town in Kansas, and much, much better at finding his way around the MTC than I am. Seriously, they could not have made it any harder to orient yourself here. The buildings and trees, I'm pretty sure, were designed to prevent missionaries from longingly gazing out at the world. All you can see is the curve of one mountain and man, every time I see it I think of camping and hiking and all those things that remind me of freedom. You're probably getting the idea that I'm homesick or something, but honestly, it's great here. I've learned so much and I feel much more confident with Spanish already. Elder Wheeler (who gives me gummi vitamins everyday), as it turns out, is both brilliant and spiritual, a common combination out here. My other two roommates are equally as awesome. Elder Edwards, to put it lightly, is a boss. Hardcore. He's progressed so much at Spanish and, at the same time, helped out his companion, Elder Herpel (like Purple but with an h), who know absolutely no Spanish. Also, Elder Edwards manages to be hilarious while also uplifting others spiritually. He told this one joke (and you may want to hold on to something, it's so good): What's an owl's favorite subject? OWLgebra! HA! Get it?! Killer, I know. I don't know how people come up with these things.

Seriously. Other great things about the MTC: I get to spend honest time in the scriptures. I read my scriptures before, but now, in order to take up time, I have to actually study the scriptures, which is very healthy for me. Did you know Romans chapter six is perhaps the most amazing thing I've ever read? Aubrey was very right when she commended the rhetoric of Paul. Also, I'm studying specifically the subject of baptism and man, am I learning things I never even thought of before. You should go through your topical guide and look at all the scriptures involving baptism. Now how often do baptism and repentence go hand in hand? Baptism isn't for a remission of sins; Baptism is to demonstrate and seal your repentence, which of course grants you a remission of sins. The two are one and the same. That's why investigators need to do so much to get baptized and eight year olds don't: eight year olds don't need to repent yet, so the baptism can take place immediately. Investigators have to repent and show their willingness to continually repent before they get baptized. It's a cool ordinance.

Another lesson: during some extra time that I had to ponder, I realized the Lord has a pattern in place here on earth and it's everywhere, simple, and obvious, but incredibly powerful. Go look out at the horizon. How much sky do you see? And how much earth? Only the bottom of your view is earth and the rest is heaven, free and pure. That's His pattern: a little adversity, a little sadness, and lots of joy, lots of righteousness. How much time do we spend in mortality and then how much do we spend in immortality? Same thing. I've got more: how many rules do we have compared to our freedom? More freedom than rules, I'd say. How much life do we get to live and how much of our life do we spend dying? Only the end. As it turns out, this life isn't that hard or that miserable as people make it out to be. For the most part (and that "most" is very vast indeed), the Lord has given us happiness. Appreciate it and count your blessings. I've had to already.

Oh, I should probably mention that Elder Wheeler (who loves basketball as much as I do) and I taught our first mock investigator yesterday. I only had to say four words in English during the whole of my two-thirds of our twenty-five minute lesson, though my grammar was not exactly what you would call correct. Still, it means I'm getting somewhere. I definitely couldn't do that four days ago. Well, my time is running out. I love you and miss you and I expect to hear from y'all soon. Talk to you later!

Elder R. Johnson

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