#1 - Got my flight plans on Friday. I'll include this is my big email for sure, but we report to the travel office at 6 am, flight out of Salt Lake at 11 am, one layover in Detroit for an hour and a half, and then it's straight to Amsterdam! It'll be 8:05 am (Amsterdam time) when we arrive so that makes for a total of about 13ish hours of travel time. Not bad. I think somewhere in that window of time before my flight leaves I can call home.
#3 - Hello everyone! The weirdest realization just dawned on me today. I only have 4 more days left in the MTC. That's right, 4 more days! To say it went by slowly would be a lie. But to say that time passed quickly would also be a lie. So I'll just leave it at that, the MTC confuses me. A lot of great things have happened this week. I'll start out with the news everyone wants to hear, flight plans. I've watched many others receive their flight plans and I've been eagerly awaiting mine. We report to the travel office at 6 a.m. on Monday, where we will then proceed to the airport for our departing flight at 11 a.m. By the miracle of alphabetical order, I have been assigned travel leader. As the missionary in my district with the least amount of flight experience, I'm in charge of everyone's passports and luggage pick up. Anyway, we only have one layover in Detroit (an hour and a half, not bad at all) and then we will fly directly out to Amsterdam where our mission president will await our arrival. The time will be 8 a.m. in Amsterdam so we will have an entire day of missionary work ahead of us. Every time I look at the flight plans, my stomach churns with a mixture of excitement and nervousness. I'm praying that I'll be able to adjust to the field nicely, because I know this will be one of the biggest life changes I've ever had to make.
I have no interest in lecturing others, but we had a fantastic discussion early this week that'd I'd like to share. Brother Klippel began by having us spew out everything that we had heard about European missions. Just let it all out, don't hold anything back. It was sad to hear, how little faith others have in the Lord's work. Saying things about how ineffective it is to teach or how hard it is just should not be said, no matter how true it is. Look at the missionary's expectations now. I know I fight that urge, the urge to say Europe is "hard" and the feeling that I shouldn't expect much. I am by no means calling anyone out, and I didn't experience much of that myself, but it's an honest point I wanted to make.
The thing I'll probably miss most about the MTC will be devotionals. Getting a bi-weekly spiritual boost is really fantastic. Learning from missionary experiences and ways I can be more effective in converting myself is great. During the first week one of our teachers asked us, "which day was the best day of your life?" As my mind started scanning through all of my childhood experiences and fun memories he said, "today is the best day of your life. And the next day will be your best too." At first I shrugged this ludicrous idea away and thought nothing of it. But as the days have continue on, I am really starting to believe that. Most of my days really are great, I'm always learning and gaining new experiences, and most importantly, increasing my faith. I also finished the Book of Mormon a few days ago. My fastest read yet. And being on a mission makes scripture reading much more engaging and applicable. This time through I noticed all the times the Nephites fasted and prayed. It surprised me a little, and it bore witness of just how important and powerful fasting is. I also kept track of a lot of what the Lord promises us. It's amazing how much we are promised when we simply hope and expect to receive answers, have faith in the Lord, and try our best to be charitable and love others. Before and after every time I read, the thought pops in to say a prayer. It's definitely a prompting from the Spirit, and it makes studying the scriptures really great. I'm excited to read the New Testament and Doctrine & Covenants, there are so many great stories and amazing promises.
My teaching skills are getting better and better. I've learned that I just need to stop worrying about it. I just need to do what I know best. I express my love and concern, and testify of what I know. And as I've pushed away doubt and fear, thoughts have came into my mind as I listen to the investigator. The process of inviting someone with no faith or beliefs to a knowledge of Christ is a beautiful process. Seeing a desire to be baptized is really special too. I never realized how important and meaningful baptism really is. It saddens me that I don't remember much from my baptism, but I suppose that's just how most 8 year old's are. And just from the joy it brings me just to see a fake investigator progress, I can't wait to bring an actual soul back into the fold. We role played street contacting too. Man did I feel stupid, real quick. Coming up with a conversation on the spot and trying to get a person to talk about religion is completely new. But I've learned that as long as I send out the right body language and am happy, people will be much more willing and interested in what I have to say. And I pray that I can have that enthusiasm when sharing my message with them.
Last night's devotional was mostly centered on testimony. The speaker was John Groeberg, and apparently there's a movie based off of his mission called 'The Other Side of Heaven'. I really like what he said about testimony. "A testimony isn't exclusive of what you know to be true, but expounds upon all aspects of the individual's life." What we say, what we do, and all sorts of things witness to others of what we believe. Somewhere in the talk I heard the line "that is all I want, to serve God's children with all my heart." I want that too, and I hope I can "lose myself in the work" as Gordon B. Hinkley's father said.
Outside of the classroom and daily routine, I've been enjoying a good mixture of basketball and soccer. Our whole zone will play a soccer game together and it's a great time. A few of the new Danish Elders are British and can leisurely fake me out but that's no problem. Oh and one of the Brits, Elder Amos, is apparently really good at sowing. He started a teddy bear business when he was a kid and I wish I had some material so he could make one for me, but no worries. Thanks Grandpa and Grandma Andrew for the package, I appreciate the homemade items. Mom, just got the converter today and I've thanks for more clothes, super nice! I appreciate all the prayers and letters, keep 'em coming! Next time I write I will be in the Netherlands, so weird!
Love you guys have a great week!