Hello my family!
Another week gone, but another good week. Just living the dream and counting down the days to get to Russia! Like I said, it's been another great week in the MTC. The anticipation to leave gets higher and higher, but I also grow to love different aspects more and more creating this funny medium of a love and distaste of the MTC. I totally wrote down stuff that I have been wanting to tell about, and of course forgot my notecard, so I will do my best to answer momma's questions and recount the week. I believe I am starting to turn into the goofy missionary. We try to speak as much Russian as possible, basically we started this week of all the time and next week will be 100% Russian. So kiss English good bye pretty much. Don't be impressed thinking I am fluent, it's just that the best way to learn to speak, learn the grammar and apply new words is to speak the language. So I think my limited use of vocabulary is causing me to develop a strange sense of humor because I can only say so much. But hey, it’s a good time. I also get my tongue tied a lot trying to speak. I feel like I'm back in my kitty's dogs days when I needed to go to speech. It's a fun challenge with this language. But I really do love it. It is a wonderful language. Yes I do run into a lot of people I know. Between Virginia and Lone Peak it's pretty fun to see a bunch of friends rollin’ around. I can't wait to find Tanner today as well. It is also fun to see a couple of Sisters that were part of Em's crew. Shelby seems to be hanging in and Sister Squires is always super nice to me. So, good times that way.
We continue to teach and try and build our teaching abilities not only in Russian, but also in just teaching in general. Elder Davis and I have to go today and demonstrate how to begin teaching for the new missionaries. It's fun to relive some fun memories from the last couple of months as I watch new ones come in. We also will be receiving two new districts to our zone today. So that will be fun, just as a side note. I have learned a lot this week, again more about just simple laws and ordinances, as well as those first principles of the gospel. It's interesting to try and put things in a different language. We had quite the train wreck of a lesson on chastity this week. Always a good time. Funny what I learned about that though. I think there is no coincidence that chastity and charity are very similar. When we remember to love others, and most of all the love of our Father in Heaven- our relationship with Him- following these laws and respecting the virtue of others really becomes a lot easier. Again, those simple points and first principles of the gospel really are what we need to succeed.
We also had the blessing of being able to watch Elder Bednar's talk he gave on Christmas. Holy cow, I forgot how impactful that talk has been on my time, and will probably impact my life. If you ever get a chance to find Elder Bednar's talk entitled 'the character of Christ', find it. What lessons we can learn when we follow the Savior's example, and through the scriptures try and develop that character of turning out, when the natural man inside all of us would turn in. It seriously brought back some memories and thoughts that I believe have changed and will continue to change my life as I try to take upon the character of Christ. Something else I have continued to learn about is charity. What a difference it makes in our day to remember the perfect love our Father in Heaven has for us, and as we try to express that to others. I had read the vision of the tree of life yesterday, which shows every successful path. Everything about my purpose, everything about everyone's purpose is to obtain the fruit of the tree of life, or the love of God. The fruit being the Atonement. It truly is pure above all that is pure and delicious above all that is delicious. Everything I try to do as a missionary points to the love of God. Our lives must follow the patterns of faith, repentance, baptism, receiving the Holy Ghost, and enduring. When we do this, we are able to taste this fruit- to use the Atonement in our lives to access the infinte and perfect love which our Father in Heaven has for us. And it truly is "desirable to make one happy." I loved finding in 3 Nephi 11 the statement the Savior makes to not teach more or less of His gospel, this being the first principles which I listed. Too often do we find ourselves looking for more or rationalizing for less than the simple principles of faith, repentance, baptism, etc. The only, as preach my gospel says, the only way to achieve this happiness, or in my eyes anything, is through the gospel of Jesus Christ. I have loved to learn of the profoundness and things we can learn from the simple first principles of the gospel. All of these are completely centered around the Atonement of Jesus Christ, which is the fruits of our Heavenly Father’s love. Who knew that we could learn so much from simply acknowledging and accepting His love.
Well I love hearing from you all. Tanner, you make me proud to hear that all you want is some elite socks. Well done my friend. And just keep ballin’ with your friends, that's where all the fun is. I wish I could be there to watch. Sarah, I gotta say the highlight of mom's letter was to talk about you and your growth. It makes me happy to hear you learning about virtue. I wasn't perfect but can tell you that will bless your life. And just keep my t shirts fresh- makes me proud to hear your wearin’ those around. Just had to toss that in there. I love our family and the fact that we have the gospel. I love that I was raised in it and all the support I feel. I appreciate the valentines from Grandma and the Nielson fam. I could picture the gathering at Gigi's. Good times on the mission. I can't wait to share the things I have learned with a real Russian. 19 more days my friends! Most of all, I just can't wait to love one of them. I have learned of the immense love Christ has for us. Our Heavenly Father, the God of all the universe, loves us and we can talk to Him. I can't wait to represent that to a Russian in Samara. That has the power to change lives and bind families together for eternity. I love you and thanks for all the support!