Hola Familia y Amigos Míos!
There have been many incredible experiences here, and I thought you would like to hear about some of them. I will try to choose the best ones. :)
1) One of the Elders in our district hadn't had any prior Spanish training before coming to the MTC. This Missionary, Elder Matthews, struggled from day one but was always excited to go to the Dominican Republic, his mission field. I'm not gonna lie, we have all struggled a lot, but Elder Matthews had an especially hard time with the MTC life in general and with Spanish. He is a cool guy, and we all constantly tried to help him. After about the first three weeks here, he was about to give up. He had prayed, read the scriptures, and just didn't know what to do. In an effort to help, President Sanchez and a few others gave him a priesthood blessing. Now this is the amazing part: the very next day after the blessing, the travel office paged Elder Matthews, asking him to come to a meeting. One of the Elders assigned to attend the Dominican Republic MTC had broken his hand and needed to stay in America for medical purposes. So basically they told Elder Matthews that he would go to the DR the very next day if he was willing, as soon as they could purchase a plane ticket. So, he has been in the DR MTC for the last three weeks or so. He has written us and said that this opportunity has helped his Spanish so much! Usually answers to prayers and blessings come in more subtle ways, but this blessing couldn't have been better for Elder Matthews, and it really strengthened our testimonies. Amazing, huh?
- K, i'll try to not give as many details on the next one :)
2) This one happend about 3 days ago, when my companion and I were preparing to teach at the TRC (Training Resource Center)! We teach a lesson at the TRC once a week to a volunteer who is a member of the church. We treat it as a lesson that we would teach to an active member, so it's kinda more like a spiritual thought--kinda like home teaching :).
Anyways, for our 30-min lesson, my companion and I needed to choose a topic. There were like six sections in lesson 4 that we really needed to practice teaching. We couldn't decide which one would improve our teaching skills the most, but then we realized we should focus on the person's needs more than our own. We both felt like we should teach about the law of tithing even though we didn't really need to practice that one as much as other. Towards the end of our lesson, after we had discussed, read about, and testified of the Law of Tithing, we had an incredible experience with our investigador. We had taught a man named Geoff, a recent graduate from BYU who had served his mission in Costa Rica. For the last 4 months he has been unemployed, and it had been hard for him to pay his tithing for the first time in his life. He needed the money to buy the basic needs of life. Even though our Spanish was mediocre and Geoff had needed to help us conjugate some of our verbs, our lesson was still very successful. Geoff thanked us and said that he had needed to hear that message, simple as it was, b/c he was going through a kinda tough time. I need to move on, but this is definitely one of my favorite experiences so far on my mission. My companion and I helped someone out with a gospel message. That's exactly what our purpose is as missionaries. It's what we do :)
- alright, I'll try to squeeze one more in!
3) So sometimes when you run into another missionar who is wearing a Spanish nametag, you talk to him/her in Spanish for 2-5 minutes, just to practice. This usually happens in the cafeteria, the hallways, dorms, etc. Usually after a few minutes, you end up speaking English just b/c it's easier. Anyways, this is my story... One of the firesides had just ended in the gym. While I waited for my companion to finish talking to one of his friends, another missionary started talking to me. It was pretty simple (like usual), and we talked for about 3 minutes or so. We discussed the fireside, our missions, the MTC, our spanish programs, and some other random basic stuff. The whole time he sounded really good, and he looked like he didn't always understand me sometimes, but that's kinda normal since we aren't perfect at spanish :). A few minutes later when my companion was ready to go, I started talking to this missionary in English. Guess what? He didn't understand me very well. No wonder he sounded so good and I didn't understand everything he said. He was from Mexico and only knew a little English from school. I then found out that he was only going to be here at the MTC for 3 weeks b/c he already know spanish. I don't remember where he was gonna serve, but it was a spanish mission in America. Then we talked in English for a little bit, and I could understand him most of the time, and I needed to keep my phrases and words simpler than normal. This is probably exactly what he had done to me earlier. I have to go cuz I dont' have any more time, but this experience really strengthened my testimony as well. I was about to communicate with a native speaker without ever realizing it, though Im sure he knew my native language was English before he even began talking to me haha. Also, he and his companion were able to communicate w/me in English, their second language. It was a powerful and fun moment.
Hmmm, to wrap things up, I'd like to end with this thought: The gospel will roll forth and be taught to every nation and people in their native tongue. :)
I know this is true. These spiritual experiences are just a few of the amazing daily events here at the MTC, where we become men and missionaries for the Lord. One again, thanks for all your support and prayers. You guys are the best.
Elder Rory Jones