Another week passes by in Provo. I've learned a lot about myself this week, and my knowledge and perspective of Christlike attributes has deepened. I wish I had some great stories to tell, but things are very routine, and not a whole lot happens here. The new Danish missionaries are great! We have 2 from the UK and I can't get enough of the British accent. I've asked them a lot about the politics and social views out of curiosity. It's great getting a new perspective on life and I feel like my sense of the world is more fully broadened. I won't go too much into detail but he waited in the ER for 4 hours with a broken nose before he received service! With the free health care a lot of people take advantage of it apparently. But enough on EU politics, how has my week gone? It's been a spiritual roller coaster to be quite frank. The teaching and learning of Dutch has been going great. I thought memorizing the missionary purpose was going to be difficult, but I memorized the first vision in 2 days! I found a great way that I can easily memorize in which I'm basically reading the page off in my head. It's amazing when I think about how much the Spirit has blessed me. During the school year I have a breakdown maybe once every 2 weeks because of stress. But I haven't felt overly stressed here at all. I'm relatively calm and my mind is always very focused and active throughout the day.
I think I mentioned this but every Sunday they announce who's giving the 5 minute talk during Sacrament meeting. I didn't get picked but I was sort of amazed with the talk I wrote. I'll share my closing analogy. The topic was on the Atonement. "I don't really have an experience that I can really relate it to, I think the Atonement is incredibly personal. But I can relate it to video games. I'm sure we've all had an experience with a video game, whether it's Pac-Man or a first person shooter. What makes video games so great is re-playability. To be able to play it over and over again until you're the best. Some may say video games are unrealistic in the fact that you get an unlimited amount of lives but I would like to change that to an unlimited amount of retries. You can reach that "game over" screen again and again, you can screw up an infinite amount of times. So long as you are willing to put in the effort to try harder next time. Having a determination and faith that you can make it to that next level. And that's powerful. Our life isn't a game of unlimited lives and re-spawns, but it is a battle to conquer weakness, and with the Atonement, we have the opportunity to hit that retry button as many times as we need, so long as we have the faith and hope to persevere into our next trial. This is my belief, and I know the power of the Atonement."
Monday we had a great lesson on the role of the Holy Ghost. As I was studying about the Spirit's role in teaching, I was reminded of a scripture a general authority related. The scripture said that without the Spirit your voice shall "be like the tinkling of brass". For those who know how symbols sound when they are clashed together, it's very annoying. And that is truth of those without the Spirit, you're words will just be annoying. It's a very frank statement, but we as missionaries can't make it very far by ourselves. We role played with our teachers after the class discussion. My companions and I listened to a few instructions from Brother Norton, and we began a mini discussion. Was I overwhelmed with the Spirit? No. I just did what I knew best. I expressed my love and testified what I knew. And that was good enough. Looking back, I realize how good my grammar was, and the words I needed to express myself came to me. We ended up making our teacher tear up by the end. It was amazing how united we were as a trio. We've learned that 1 person can say the doctrine, 1 person gives the application, and the last gives a testimony/experience. At the end of the evening, I simple phrase came into my mind. "Deciding to serve a mission isn't a guarantee of anything." There isn't an origin for this statement (except my mind), but it's really true. You make this experience what you want of it.
I saw Elder Joncas yesterday! I was finishing up blessing my dinner when I opened my eyes and heard the exclamation "Elder Andrew!" I stood up and gave him a big hug. We talked for a while, in fact long enough that I didn't get to eat much of my dinner, but the trade off was well worth it. With every stateside missionary I see, it feels like they leave within a blink of an eye. This is how a normal conversation might go: "When did you get here?" "2 days ago." "When are you leaving?" "On Monday." It's such a weird thing to think about in my head. But I'm glad I have the opportunity to stay 6 weeks. Not only to learn the language but there's a lot of valuable lessons you can learn with a longer stay in the MTC. I'll definitely have a picture with Joseph, I mean Elder Joncas before I leave.
Had a great devotional last night. Elder Ellis of the Seventy and all 8 of his children bore their testimonies and shared unique messages. All 8 served missions and they are all super strong in the gospel. It's the family I want for sure. Not that big, but definitely strong in the gospel. My favorite lines included, obedience is the passport to power, we can't bring joy to others if we don't have hope ourselves, and hope helps conquer discouragement. I'll miss hearing weekly from General Authorities most when I leave for the field.
Sounds like you guys had a great trip. I would have really loved to see Colin. Thanks Justus family for the package! That got here very quickly and I love wearing "Wisconsin" all over the MTC. Also thanks to Steenblik's mom. The lapel pins are awesome and I feel very loved from that note you gave me. I appreciated the DearElders Dad, but I got a few sheets of song lyrics which confused me a little. The mail is arriving in the correct MTC campus now, and keep me posted on all the Wisconsin news and anything else that's interesting
Love ya guys hope you have a great week!
Eli keeping up on his backflipping skills. (The Angel Moroni [on temple spire] couldn't bear to look and faces east.)
Eli crossing paths at MTC with Joseph Joncas (heading to California Long Beach Mission), who moved from Baraboo to Pennsylvania years ago. A welcome reunion. (At least we're TOLD it's Joseph, and not his identical twin Nathan. Ultimate twin prank, swapping mission calls? Beware heavenly lightning.)