This has most definitely been a VERY interesting, and very awesome week to say the least. I finished up my last week at the MTC and got shipped out to the Provo mission last tuesday morning. There were about 10 of us all going to the Provo mission from the MTC, and so they came and picked us all up in a big white van, with a dinky little trailer behind it. It was snowing alot (It had snowed about 6-8 inches just that night) and so the van ended up getting stuck, and we had to be pulled up a couple hills by some trucks. Anyways, we got to the mission home, met the mission president, ate food, talked for a little while, had an orientation with the mission president and his wife, then got back on the van and went about 5 miles away to a stake center. There we met some of the zone leaders, had another orientation, and had our interviews with the mission president. Shortly after that we all got paired up with our new companions and departed for our respective areas. All of this happened before about 11 o clock in the morning. My new companion (Elder Vivanco), I, and about 6 other elders then went out to lunch and talked a bit about the mission. Just when we were about to pay and leave the waiter came over and told us that someone had paid for our meals for us and that we could just leave whenever we were done. That pretty much blew my mind for awhile. Anyways, then we split up, and I got to go unpack for a little while. Shortly thereafter my comp and I went out and started teaching! My mind was thoroughly blown. Not 12 hours before, I had been in the MTC wondering about what would happen in the actual mission, and there I was sitting in a REAL investigators house who was asking REAL questions in REAL spanish. I'm not sure how otherwise to express the degree to which my mind was being blown. The first thing I noticed was that I only understood about a quarter of the spanish that was being said, whereas I was approaching 90-100% in the MTC. That was a bit of a shock to me. The other thing that I shortly realized was that every single spanish person speaks differently. My companion is from Chile and likes to leave out words here and there when he talks. Others are from Argentina, Mexico, Columbia...etc, and all of them talk differently!! It's definitely a bit frustrating. Apparently Puerto Ricans (sp?) and Spaniards are really hard to understand and I'm somewhat scared to meet any, but eventually I'll get this down. Even in just the last 6 days, my spanish comprehension has gotten a LOT better. I am excited for the day that I'll be able to completely understand what is going on. Learning another language is definitely more of a challenge that I first thought it would be, but I'll get it down with God's help.
Now, about the people here. I feel like I've entered a whole new world! The spanish world is such an incredible place. It's crazy to see the things that go on that I never even knew about before. The Spanish community is so close knit. Everyone knows everybody else, and they all either love each other, or want nothing to do with each other. At least that's the impression I have from my first week here. Another thing that surprised me was how many random words the spanish people don't know in english. It throws me off when they're going on and on and on in spanish, and then they randomly throw in some word in english. Anyways, the people here are really accepting, and I'm excited to be a part of the work here.
Christmas was pretty good. I got a bit homesick on Christmas Eve, but I got over it and moved on pretty quickly. We got a TON of candy from members for christmas which made me laugh. I pretty much am sick of candy in all types and forms now, because I've had sooo much of it in the last 2 months! I never thought it would be possible, but I'm beginning to grow out of my sweet tooth!
Alright, time for one of MANY cool experiences:
My companion and I were at the gas station filling up the car with gas (yes we have a car! BOO-YAH) And My comp told me that I had to go contact somebody while he filled up the car. I was about to go over to this one guy, but then I got distracted with something for some reason and when I looked up he was gone. Just about then this guy walks out of the door to the store with a box of Coronas and starts walking over towards his car. He glanced over to us and waved then looked back down and continued towards his car. He seemed preoccupied with something, and almost ran in to the side of his car! He looked stunned for a second, then he looked back over to us. He opened his trunk, put the beer down, shut it, and started walking over to us (I was walking towards him at this point too) We started talking for a little and I found out the he's not a member of the church, but that he's interested. He then looked at my name tag and asked me why it was in spanish. Then my companion walked up and started talking to him in spanish. We found out that he believes in God, and Jesus Christ, (He's Catholic) But that he feels there's more out there than what he's been taught. He said that he doesn't know why, but that he felt that he needed to come talk to us. We shared a bit with him, bore our testimonies (all in spanish of course), gave him a book of mormon, and set up a return appointment. He seemed really excited to learn, and we are realllllly excited to get back over to his house to teach him (and hopefully his family). Our appointment is for tonight, and I hope all goes well.
I love this gospel SOOOOOOO much. I have only been out here teaching for a week, and I have already seen miracles happen. The Church is true, that's all I need to say
Marry Christmas, Happy New Year, and hasta luego!
Thursday, December 23, 2010
Elder Williams has been transferred out of the MTC (Missionary Training Center) and is now happily settled in a basement apartment of a home somewhere in the Provo area. We are looking forward to his phone call on Christmas morning (one of two phone calls home per year). His landlady called today and reported that "Elder Williams looks great and is a wonderful young man."
Friday, December 17, 2010
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Hola! Estoy animoso por esta proxmia semana, por que you podre salir entre el campo misonal. YAY. The last 2 weeks has FLOWN by. Holy cow, It's hard to believe how much I've learned since I came here only two short (MUCHAMENTE PEQUINO)-->(I'm trying to start making Tommy-isms [thanks Sister Woller for that term] in Spanish as well. We'll see how this goes.
This week my focus was on the gospel and the scriptures. The Spanish (as I've mentioned before) has come really quickly for me, and I doubt I'll really have all that much of a problem learning Spanish out in the mission field, but I realized that I really don't know the scriptures that well at all. That is something that came as quite a shock to me because I've been raised in the gospel, and been taught from the scriptures my entire life! There really are some freaking incredible scriptures in the Book of Mormon, and in the bible as well. A couple of the really good scriptures that I used this week were Matthew 5:48 (Be ye therefore perfect.....) and Ether 12:27 (go read it; it's got an awesome chunk about humility) Entonces, mientras de que yo he estudiado las esctrituras, mi conocimiento en cerca de todas aspectas de mi vida han crecido. QUE BUENO! I plan to continue to learn the scriptures and apply them daily in to my life, as well in to the lives of those I get the opportunity to teach.
BTW, I haven't gotten the chance to work in the referral center here because I'm a Spanish missionary. Only English missionaries get to do that.
Anyways, this is my last full week here at the Missionary Training Center, and therefore it's what we call my teaching week. Basically what this mean is that we spend all of our time teaching. We still have devotionals and firesides, and meetings, and mealtimes, and as a zone leader I have to spend a lot of time with the new districts teaching them how life goes at the MTC, but besides that ALL of my time is spent teaching. It looks like by the end of the week we will have taught about 40 half an hour lessons this week in TOTAL SPANISH! That equates to 20 hours of teaching this week, which in my opinion is somewhat alot, but my spanish is improving quite rapidly, and I'm loving the work. I'm soo excited to get out in to the field and teach people for reals instead of just practicing.
To sum this all up, I'm having an INCREDIBLE time; I'm learning SOOOO much; I'm becoming a better version of myself; I'm learning how to deal with really annoying people without always using sarcasm; and much much more. I wish that everyone reading this could have this incredible opportunity. It's tough work NO DOUBT. But the biggest rewards in life always come after we work the hardest, and the best part about it is that it's totally worth it! YAY!
Merry Christmas to all if I don't get to send an email out before Christmas. LOVE TO ALL!
NOTE FROM MOM: If you don't know Spanish, Google Translate has a pretty good site where you can get an idea of what is being said. Also, Tommy says that packages and letters can still be mailed to the MTC address and they will forward them on to him. After December 22nd, you can send letters and packages to the mission home listed on the home page of this blog. Any time you wish to send a note and just don't have the time to get it mailed, e-mail it to me firstname.lastname@example.org and I will print it out and mail it off for you.
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
MADRE! This week I have been thinking A LOT about family, and I want you to know that I love you and I'm praying for you. I really appreciate everything that you do for me and this week I have really really really received a confirmation that our family is eternal, and that we will have all eternity to party together arriba en los cielos! I'm really really excited for that. I'm beginning to see everyone as part of our family, and I'm excited MUCHO to go back to live with our Heavenly Father. Simply this knowledge has changed my life. The message is simple. God is our father, and he wants us to return to live with Him. He can, will, and DOES answer our prayers EVERY TIME! Even sometimes if we don't follow through with our part of our promises. We learn all of this through the simple statement in Moses 1:39: "This is my work and my glory to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man." What is eternal life? Life with our Heavenly Father, GOD, in the celestial kingdom, but not only that, it's life with EACH OTHER as well. God want's nothing more than that. Just like on my mission, my goal is to be His instrument. I am not out here to improve myself, I am here to be His instrument. That is my only goal. And because of that I will learn and grow a lot, but that is not my purpose. Always remember your purpose in life. If you don't know what your purpose is, then figure it out, ask God what it should be, and live for that purpose. I love you a lot, and I can't wait to talk to you on CHRISTMAS!
For the general masses!:
HOLA! This week has been pretty crazy. I really received a great testimony of music, AGAIN, in my life. I was kinda stressed out this week for various reasons, and then my friend from my district and I got invited to go sing for this super awesome devotional thing. Somehow, out of 2,300 missionaries here, him and I were picked to be a part of this 16 person group that will perform in two weeks. We had a rehearsal, and My friend and I had a BLAST in the back just cracking jokes, singing awesomely, and basically just enjoying ourselves. (Of course I was completely respectful to the person trying to teach us the song, but I had a blast) anyways, at the end of the practice, I got all the basses together, had everyone put their fists in the middle, and I said, "Alright, Fish on three! One, Two, Three!" And they all said "FISH" and then they all realized what I'd made them say, and were really confused until I explained, "We're Bass" (Bass = a kind of fish) Anyways, I thought it was hilarious, and it basically made my day!
Besides that I wanted to address something that I heard someone posted on my facebook wall. The question was in response to one of my previous blog posts, and apparently it was something like this: "What do you mean that we can be influenced by satan." First of all, I'm sorry for not explaining my thoughts better. I don't really have much time today but I'd like to at least express a few thoughts about the matter. In the Bible, in the book of John, we read about Judas-Iscariot (Por favor perdon a mi with the spelling of his name. I don't have time to go look it up exactly) In John 13:2 we read:"And supper being ended, the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray him (him = Jesus in this case). In this scenario, not only did the devil himself put an idea in to Judas' head, but the thought was so strong that in was ingrained in his heart. I know there are probably other interpretations of this scripture, but this is how I perceive it. ALSO, in Matt 4 versus 1-4 we read about How Jesus himself was tempted by the Devil. I don't have time to write it all out, but I want you to think about this. I imagine that these were just thoughts in the head of Jesus, since he had been fasting for 40 days, you can imagine he would be hungry. But he realized that the thoughts in his head were not his own, he realized that they came from the source of all evil, being the devil. I've found in my own life that I like to let my thoughts simply wander around about various things. This is when we need to be most careful. If we always focus on listening to the Holy Ghost ( The third member of the Godhead, and God's messenger) and thus keeping our thoughts clean, then when we let our minds wander, they will continue to listen to the promptings therein, BUT if we allow ourselves to focus on the promptings of the Devil, then when our thoughts wander, they will go back to the promptings of the devil. I have seen some pretty incredible things happen in my life from simply keeping my thought clean. When I focus on these clean and pure things, it brings me closer to God, and closer to the person that I want to be.
I have about 30 seconds left, but know that I love you all, and just because I'm not there doesn't mean that I don't care about you. I care about you all. You've all made me into who I am today. Thanks for that, and I'll talk to you all again next week.
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
I am somewhat incredulous that it is already December. I've been here for SEIS SEMANAS! Este es muy increible. Entonces, Esta semana fue muy interesante. I had some really really good moments, as well as some really stressful moments. But first let me start off by answering a question that apparently a lot of people have been asking. I've been getting, and sending out about 5-6 letters a week, three of which are generally to family, and usually one to somebody else out on a mission. Alright, now for my week!
The week began on Thursday (I consider Thursday the first day of the week because I got in to the MTC on a Wednesday afternoon, and Wednesday is my P-day) anyways, last Thursday was thanksgiving, and we has a special devotional. My whole district waiting in line for like 3 hours so that we could have seats up in the front (it's hard to get a good seat when you're competing with 2,300 other excited missionaries. Anyways, we got really good seats, and then we found out that the speaker for the devotional would be none other than JEFFERY R. HOLLAND! MUY MUY MUY MUY MUY INCREIBLE!!! I've heard 4 apostles in the short 6 weeks that I've been here. Anyways, that was really awesome. I'm going to skip ahead just a little bit and say that yesterday we also got the opportunity to hear from the general relief society president. AWESOME!
Anyways, now about the stressful parts:
I get annoyed when people act stupid, and even more annoyed when they don't realize that they're acting stupid, and then EVEN MORE annoyed when I'm their zone leader and I'm responsible for all of the stupid things that they do. I'm not going to name any names because no matter what they've done I still respect them and their choice to come and serve their missions, but it's been stressful trying to solve problems without hurting feelings, or making people feel bad, however, I feel I have been successful! I am grateful for the opportunity to struggle and grow, and I'm sure that this wont be the end of the hard times on my mission. It's somewhat strange though, I've been tired and stressed because of these problems, and hence have had a harder time focusing on my own studies, but as I focused on others, I realized that my ability with Spanish, and my knowledge of the gospel have increased greatly. I am beginning to discover that love really is the secret to life. Without love, we feel worthless, and if we don't give love to others, then what worth do we really have ourselves.
Anyways, I definitely miss everybody, and all the great times I've had, but I know that this is where I'm supposed to be in my life right now. I love this gospel with all my heart, and I am excited to share it with the people of Provo.
3 WEEKS LEFT!
Thank you to all of you who are praying for me. I really appreciate it. I have a testimony that through prayer we truly can communicate with God, (our Heavenly Father) and that he truly has, does, and will answer our prayers, and I have felt the power of those of you who have been praying for me, and I am praying for each of you as well. Especially those of you whom I have been informed are going through tough times right now. I hope you all can feel my love and support, and realize that I can only give a TINY fraction of the love that God can give to us. Seek his love, and make sure you have a good relationship with him. IT'S OH SO TOTALLY WORTH IT! and after all, he is our Padre celestial! :D
Con mucho amor SIEMPRE!