October 4, 2011

Last letter from the MTC

Sorry, sorry, so very sorry that I did not write yesterday. I just simply didn't have the time and I'll try to tell you what happened, if I have the time. I have a lot of important stuff to say, as well as some cool stuff, so let's get going.

First, how I got my visa and the other terrible things that accompanied this story. So, we've been waiting for our visas for awhile, myself and all four of the other Oaxacan elders. I, however, have been expecting problems with mine, so I haven't been waiting on the edge of my seat. As long as I eventually got to Oaxaca, I would be fine. However, we kept waiting, and waiting, and waiting.....and waiting. The Mexico City Elders in our district got their travel plans in the middle of last week. By the middle of this week, we fully expected to know what was going on. We didn't. Then, Wednesday, in our final class period of the day, we got called down to the travel office. It was then that a small seed of hope was planted in my mind that maybe I would go to Oaxaca on time. So, Thursday rolled around and all five of us followed the instructions we received in the travel office the day before and boarded a bus and went down to the Mexican consulate. It was a Mexican DMV, just as Elder Swensen described it. The chairs were dirty. The place was small. There certainly were no marble columns or a Mexican President. We waited for two hours to get a picture taken, two fingerprints, and three signatures, and then we left. It was rather uneventful. With one major exception: when it was Elder Wheeler's (who does not know how to shut his mouth while breathing) turn to get his picture taken, he sat down in the chair only to be informed that there were some issues with his visa. A collective gasp came from the waiting crowd who knew exactly what the word "issues" meant. He was eventually informed that the MTC had filled out his visa papers wrong and therefore he did not have a visa right now. To make a long story short, now, instead of me being the one who admittedly should stay, my good and faithful companion will not be traveling with the rest of the group. He will most likely be reassigned, like the Peruvian elders who finally learned that they will be going to Alabama on Tuesday.

Elder Wheeler (who has had a harder life than you can imagine) was understandably shook up about this. He was shook up even more after he had to call his parents and tell them what happened. I spent the most of that night just listening to his entire life story, his doubts, fears, and reasons why he is serving a mission. I will tell you honestly and frankly now that Elder Wheeler (who now owns one of my ties) has not been my favorite person. We have very different and dueling egos. But I can assure you without a doubt that Elder Wheeler has the strongest testimony of anyone I have ever personally meant and he is an ensign of faith. People have cool stories. Listen to them; find them out; apply them. It doesn't need to be a stake president, a hero, or a prophet for it to be nuggets of gold. Take notes on the testimonies of the common; follow the example of the slow. I have learned more from a red-headed, typical country boy from Kansas than I ever did from books, maxims, quotes, and legends.

Alright, enough of that. I wanted to add my favorite part of General Conference so far. President Uchtdorf, as I'm sure you heard, centered his talk on the incredibly true doctrine of what he called The Paradox of Man: Man, in comparison with God and the vastness of Creation, is quite literally nothing. Yet to God, Man is everything. This is Our Paradox. How can we be both nothing and everything at the same time? What President Uchtdorf pointed out was that Satan, in his cunning, loves to take Man to the extremes of this paradox. To one, he might tempt, saying that we should rely on our own understanding, that we are the children of a God and that we have the right to rule and reign. It is a clever, cunning lie, burgeoning our Pride in ways it was never meant to grow. Yet for others, the Father of Lies goes the other way, convincing him that he is nothing, a speck less than the sands, The Forgotten Creation of a Busy God. To one is pride, to the other hopelessness and both are the realms of Satan. We must know that God does not work in the extremes: I have truly come to believe here in the MTC that Aristotle was an inspired man when he wrote the Theory of Means. We are nothing, we should be humble, and we should cleave unto God with all our heart, might, mind, and strength. God is our Father and to Him we should look for guidance. However, we must never, ever forget that the most powerful being in the vast eternity of the Universe is the FATHER of Our Spirits and He knows each of us by name. He does not think of us as one of over seven billion, an insignificant creation living for but a brief season on a tiny world in the middle of the eternally large Universe. He thinks of us as His Children and we should not ever forget that.

Thank you and I love you for all you do. I hope you get a little bit from these very hastily written emails. Bye!


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