Monday, December 23, 2013

"I finally have pets!"

Greetings from Chino, CA!  It's a balmy 65 degrees here and I am loving it!  It's funny, back home I almost never wore short sleeved white shirts but now it's all I wear!  I swore that I'd never be the kind of guy that wears something in his front shirt pocket but I guess times change.  Now I've got a planner, mechanical pencil, white handbook of missionary rules, and pass-along cards all stuffed in there with a name tag on front.  Aren't I cool?

This week has been a little hectic with the transfer that just happened.  Chino is a LOT different from Apple Valley.  The population is a lot more dense so as a result I'm serving in one of the smallest areas in the mission.  Also, the best part about my new area?  It's all SLIGHTLY downhill.  Just slightly enough so that you don't notice it going up, but slightly enough so you don't have to pedal going down.  It feels like I'm on a Disneyland ride!  It's fitting, because apparently Disneyland is only about twenty minutes away from here.  I keep trying to convince the member we live with to take us, but he won't have it.

That actually brings me to my next point.  It's quite the difference going from living in the world's smallest apartment to living with a member.  His name is Bert, or as he's affectionately called around here, "The Crazy Old Man."  And it's true.  He's a crazy old man.  He's awesome, though.  I think he's my new best friend.  I also live with four pets!  And if you didn't know any better you'd think that they own the house.  There's two chihuahuas, Leo and Pixie, and then two parrots, Fred and Niki.  I hate Fred.  Every morning right before I wake up he screeches his head off.  The rest of the pets and I have a pretty good relationship, but Fred and I are working out our differences.

This week has been a lot of getting acquainted with the ward and with the area.  Lots of visits, lots of biking, lots of exploring, things of that nature.  I've met a lot of good people and will report on them later when I get to know them better.  For right now it's kind of a hectic day and my brain is too scattered to think of anything else to write.  I hope you all have a good week and enjoy Christmas!  What a wonderful time to reflect on the Savior's birth and His impact in our life.  I was telling my last companion in my last area once about my feelings for the Savior.  I said, "Now, this is probably really obvious but I sincerely mean it.  I feel bad for people who don't know about Jesus Christ or don't understand their relationship with him."  And of course that's really obvious, but it's true.  If only more people understood what the Savior did for them, His love for them, and how He can help them.  While I don't understand it fully, I do understand a little better than others in the world.  That's one of the reasons why I'm out here serving a mission, to help others understand that even in their darkest moments they'll always have a friend.  I know that's true and one day the whole world will know it as well.

Merry Christmas!
Elder Carter David Morgan

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Elder Morgan--the Magical Elf

Greetings from Chino, CA!  "What?"  Says the confused reader, "I thought he was in Apple Valley, CA?  How can this be?  Is my whole life a lie?"  Well, confused yet dear reader, you can be reassured that your whole life is definitely NOT a lie!  Well, maybe some of it.  You could've been adopted and your parents never told you.  But luckily all your dealings with me are the whole truth!  I've been transferred!  I've left the Ranchos ward in the Apple Valley Stake and I've gone to the Walnut Park ward in the Chino stake.  This is my first day in the area and I haven't had too much time to get myself acquainted with everything, but I'm looking forward to this incredible opportunity. 
The Rancho Cucamonga mission is divided into two geographical areas:  The valley and the desert.  The valley looks like everything you think Southern California would look like.  Palm trees, grass, houses that are all some various shade of burgundy or brown, you name it.  The desert looks like everything you associate with the word "desert."  Dirt yards, cacti, tumbleweeds, things of that nature.  I've made it out of the desert and I'm now serving in the Valley.  It's funny, I went from one corner of the mission to the other corner.  It's a lot warmer down here.  I think it was 50 degrees in Apple Valley and its 75 degrees here.  I'm in paradise!
In all seriousness though, it was really hard to leave the Ranchos ward.  I love the good people of that ward.  Great things are happening there and they will continue to happen.  It was funny, saying goodbye to the Ranchos ward was almost as hard as saying goodbye to Vancouver!  It's amazing how attached you can get to a people when you serve them with all your heart, might, mind, and strength.
The last thing I got to do with the Ranchos ward was attend their ward Christmas party.  I wore an elf hat with elf ears, served food, and helped hand out Santa's goodie bags while kids were sitting on his lap.  It was a good way to end my stay in Ranchos.  I'll always remember that ward and all that they did for me.

I'd love to write more but I really don't have much to say.  I'm a little overwhelmed at the huge change that has taken place in my life!  I'm excited for this new opportunity.  It's a completely different world in the valley.  I have no idea what these next six weeks hold for me but I know that if I work hard and follow the Spirit that we'll have great success in this area.  I can already feel myself getting consumed in the work!  It'll be a great experience here, I know it.
Your friend,
Elder Carter David Morgan

Friday, December 6, 2013

"Like kissing a cactus"

Seasons greetings from Apple Valley, CA!  The Thanksgiving week was fun and we were able to have a great dinner with some members in our ward and some other missionaries.  I'm grateful for how kind and caring the members of the Ranchos ward are.  They make sure that we're well taken care of as missionaries.

This week I had my first baptism!  While that sounds exciting, it's actually kind of cheating, haha.  There was a boy whose dad, who's a member, wanted him to hear all the discussions before baptism.  Well, they put the baptism off for a while so by the time we finished teaching him he had turned nine, making him a convert baptism and our responsibility, haha.  It was fun, though.  He had little to no knowledge about the gospel before we began teaching him.  By the end he had a good knowledge and understanding of a lot of gospel principles.  However, because he was technically a convert baptism he had to be interviewed by our zone leader, Elder M.  Now, the convert interview isn't designed for 9 year-old children.  Apparently, here are some highlights from his interview, according to Elder M:

Right at the beginning of the interview- 
Nick: "So, Minecraft."  He then talked about Minecraft for about twenty minutes.

Concerning the Spirit-
M: "So, when we talk about church how do you feel?"
Nate: "I feel weird."
M: "... Good weird?"
Nate: "No.  Like, weird weird.  Like kissing a cactus."

Concerning the Law of Chastity
Nick: "I don't think I'll ever get married.  Or if I do it'll be in about 400 or 1000 years.  But by then I'd be like 100 years old!"

That's one for the history books right there.  His baptism was Saturday which was very nice.  It may seem lame to take part in what was essentially a child of record baptism as a missionary, but I felt the Spirit at his baptismal interview.  The gospel isn't reinforced very strongly in the home so it was nice to provide some basic information.  Plus, before our teaching he wouldn't pray out loud and now he offers to say the prayer at every lesson.  Progress!  Also, the day after his baptism he gave his first talk in primary.  It felt good to help someone, even if he was nine, in his spiritual progression.

We had an excellent lesson with one of our investigators, S.  She's working really hard on gaining a testimony of the Book of Mormon and is making some good progress.  The testimony was really strong in our lesson as we read Alma 32.  Alma talks about how you can know if something is true by if the seed is good and if it grows.  

As I think about my mission it seems weird that just about 4 months ago I didn't know any of these people who have become some of my best friends.   I didn't know any of my zone, I didn't know my ward, I didn't know my investigators, and yet now they're my whole life.  What's even weirder to think is that some of the elders in my zone and I studied on the same floor and slept in the same building at the MTC and we didn't know each other till we got to the field.  The mission can be hard at times and sometimes I'm confused about why I'm here in California and not in Brazil, but the people I've met are a huge testament that I'm doing the right thing in the right place.  The church is true, the book is blue, and I know that the work I'm doing is the greatest in the whole world.

Your friend,
Elder Carter David Morgan

Monday, November 25, 2013

Bane jokes and Baptisms

Another wonderful week in Apple Valley, CA!  I think this week the desert got tired of me mocking it so it rained on us three days straight, haha.  I guess summer in Utah and fall in Apple Valley have made me soft.  When it rained for those three days I thought, "What on Earth is happening?"  I do like to make Bane jokes to the missionaries and people serving here, though.  "You think the rain is your friend?  You've merely adapted to the rain.  I was born in the rain, molded by it."  Heh, it never gets old.  Well, it never gets old to me.  I'm sure my companion is sick of it, but I can't help that I'm handsome and hilarious.

We had another great lesson with our investigator Ann.  She's a wondeful woman and is progressing quite nicely.  She's really grown fond of us and has a huge testimony in the fact that us as missionaries are sent of God.  She's had a few moments where, as she puts it, was about to do something stupid but right before she did we knocked on her door.  She says she feels really good when we teach her and she's been reading the Book of Mormon and praying about her message.  She had a baptismal date for December 14th for her husband got sick so she wasn't able to make it church this Sunday and in this mission an investigator has to be to church at least three times before they can be baptized.  So Aneta's date will have to be pushed back but that's okay.  It'll be nice to help her grow her testimony more before baptism.

This Saturday we have a baptism for a young boy in the ward who put his baptism off until he was 9, making him our responsibility.  I felt a little bad that it'd be my first baptism, but as we taught him we realized that he didn't really have any knowledge about the gospel.  Like, at all.  But as we've taught him he's learned a lot and says that he likes to read the scriptures and is trying to pray every night.  He even said his first prayer out loud with us in our last lesson, without any help from anyone.  It's interesting, some of the things we've taught have really stuck with him.  He especially likes the idea that because God is our Father then we're all technically spirit brothers and sisters.  He said during our last lesson, "That means that we're all brothers!  So... YOU'RE my brothers."  Then he paused for a bit, looked up at us, and said, "My brothers are missionaries!" with a big smile on his face.  It was a really touching moment.  We're very excited for the good decision he's made to be baptized. 

The work continues to progress here and we're working hard everyday.  This week will be better than the last and the work will go forward boldly, nobly, and independent.  I'm grateful for all the support from my fellow missionaries, from my ward here, and from my ward back home.  I'll talk to you all next week.

Your friend,
Elder Carter David Morgan

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

"I get to be a superhero!"

Greetings from the lovely paradise of Apple Valley, CA!  We had a week of adventure and intrigue!  Not really, although that is how I described it in Ward Missionary Correlation.  In all seriousness though, things have been really good this week!  We had a lot of great opportunities and our work continues to accelerate.

This week I hit my three month mark!  It seems so strange that I've already been out working and serving the Lord for three straight months.  It's been the most rewarding time of my life and while it has been difficult at times I wouldn't trade it for anything else.

We had a great lesson with one of our investigators this week.  She's working on gaining a testimony of the Book of Mormon and in the past we would read it with her and review the reading she did in her spare time, starting from the 1st chapter of 1st Nephi and just going from chapter to chapter.  We came to the conclusion that in order for her to gain a testimony she needed to read the more spiritual chapters of the Book of Mormon and gain a testimony of what it teaches, rather than the historical events of the Book of Mormon.  We left 2nd Nephi 31, where Nephi plainly sets forth the Doctrine of Christ, with her and planned on reading 3rd Nephi 11, where the resurrected Savior appears to the Nephites in America, when we returned.  She LOVED 2nd Nephi 31 and ended up marking a ton of the chapter.  We read 3rd Nephi 11 with her and she really enjoyed it.  After we had read it she confided in us that she had already read the chapter the previous week!  That was a big step for her because before she's been troubled with reading the Book of Mormon.  As she put it, "I'm starting to gain a relationship with my Book of Mormon."  We are very pleased with the progression she's making.  After the reading we had an impromptu testimony meeting about the trials in our life and how they've strengthened us.  The Spirit was very strong throughout the whole lesson.

Speaking of the Spirit, this week we had a very interesting encounter with some new investigators.  They were interested in learning some more and warned us that they really liked to argue.  We told them that we weren't there to argue but to teach and they agreed to let us come back in a few days.  When we got there we started to teach and they were very argumentative throughout the whole time.  We finally got to the introduction of the Book of Mormon and we offered it to one of them, Jay, and he refused to even touch it.  We kept telling them that they would have to read it and pray in order to find out if our message was true but he wouldn't have it.  It came to the point where I was so fed up with them that I just started bearing straight testimony to them about the truth of the Book of Mormon.  I don't think what I said was particularly profound, but the Spirit was there and backed up and bore testimony of what I spoke.  After the lesson my companion told me it was the most powerful testimony he had ever heard.  When I finished speaking, these three incredibly argumentative men sat in stunned silence, just looking at us.  We said a closing prayer and left off on good terms with them.  In fact, they offered their protective services to us and said to give us a call if we ever get into trouble.  As we left, Jay, who before would not even TOUCH the Book of Mormon, ran after us before we could leave.  He walked up to us and in a hushed voice he said, "I just have one more question.  Do I have to believe in the Book of Mormon to go to heaven?"  This man, who before wouldn't even give the Book of Mormon any consideration, was now concerned how this book related to his eternal salvation.  In that moment the Spirit had testified with absolute certainty to his soul that the Book of Mormon was true and now he wanted to know if he had to act on it to be saved.  We told him that it wasn't about the Book of Mormon or Joseph Smith or anything like that, it was about Jesus Christ.  The way to obtain the highest degree of glory in heaven is to be baptized by someone who holds Jesus Christ's authority and the Book of Mormon is how we can know if that authority resides in this church.  He thanked us for our time and we left on our way.  It was an experience I don't think I'll ever forget.

We had the opportunity to visit a less-active member of the ward in the hospital this week.  She struggles with respiratory issues and was very glad to see us.  She kept telling us that she wasn't ready to die.  She asked me to give her a blessing and the Spirit was very strong throughout.  It was a very humbling experience.  

When confronted with this woman who was worried about dying, it made me think how interesting the mission is.  I feel like I'm more acquainted with the world than a lot of people that I know but I'm also completely protected from it.  I've seen people in crippling poverty, I've seen those still clinging onto life and not ready to die, I've sat down and talked to those struggling with addictions to highly illegal drugs, I've met a man who  changed his entire life because of a heart attack and one scripture verse, I've become friends with one of the most wonderful men in the world who converted to the Gospel when he found an LDS quad in his jail cell and read the whole thing, I've met self-made millionaires, and I've met much more people than I could ever describe in a single email.  What a wonderful opportunity to associate with all kinds of people in the world but to not have to worry about becoming worldly.  It really gives you an insight to how Christ must have felt when ministering to the people of Jerusalem.   

We taught a lesson to one of our newish investigators who already has a baptismal date the other day.  She just told us over and over again that she gets such a good feeling when we go into her house.  She called us her sons and was so grateful for us teaching her.  We're really excited for her baptism and so is she.

In other non-work related notes, this week we've come into the possession of a deep fryer for our apartment.  We've already made fried chicken, french fries, and our own potato chips.  Up next?  Deep fried Oreos tonight.  Oh yeah.  I guess that's what you get when you serve in the States, haha.

Well, that's about it for this week.  I'm excited for the upcoming week.  It's always a great feeling when you have a fresh week lying in front of you, full of potential and opportunities.  I was thinking this week that for two years my job is to LITERALLY save the world.  How cool is that?  Why would I ever want to trade this for anything else?  Not everyone gets the chance to be a superhero, but fortunately I've been blessed with that opportunity.  However, my costume isn't as cool as other superheroes, it's pretty much just a white shirt, tie, and a spiffy name tag.  That won't stop me, however!  It reminds me of the lyrics to a song from a popular music group among the missionaries out here:

"So here I go,
To save the world,
I'll be so strong,
Yet still miss girls."

Ate logo,
Elder Carter David Morgan

Monday, November 11, 2013

"I'm a city boy..."

Greetings from Apple Valley, California!  The locals here keep complaining about the onset of winter, but I don't know what they're talking about.  Any "winter" that is 78 degrees and has clear skies all day is no winter to me, haha.  While I do love to rip on Vancouver while I'm out here, I do miss the beautiful Evergreen state, gray skies and all.

This week we had the opportunity to do service for some of the members in our ward who do our laundry.  Part of the service they wanted us to do was chopping some wood.  With a chainsaw.  Well, my companion is a good ol' Georgia boy so that was no problem for him.  Now, I was not raised in the country.  In fact, I was raised in the suburbs/city right across the river from Portland.  I wasn't as comfortable with the idea of accidentally cutting my appendages off so I elected to use the axe instead.  So one of the youth in the ward came and helped me chop and we divided ourselves into Team City and Team Country.  The youth and I would swing axes towards the wood in a pathetic attempt to chop it, having hardly any experience before.  When the wood would finally get chopped we would raise the axes over our heads and scream.  Then we would usually insult the wood that we just chopped.  While we were chopping the wood I would turn and shout at my companion things that made the city better.  "Art galleries!  Theaters!  Magnetized public railway transportation systems!  Paved roads!"  While we didn't chop as much wood as Team Country, I like to think that we won in spirit.
This week we had a dinner cancel on us so my companion and I decided to go to Red Robin to do a late celebration of our birthdays.  We ate a good meal and had a really good time.  At the end of the meal we asked if we could have our bills separately and the waitress told us that someone had paid for our entire meal.  It was awesome!  We were so grateful for the kind members of the church who sacrificed and paid for our meal.  It really made our day.
We continue to grow closer to our ward and appreciate their kind and loving support of the work that we do.  Our High Priest Group Leader has offered several hours of his time every Tuesday to help us teach and our Bishop took us out to breakfast this morning.  The people here are great and I'm glad that I've had the opportunity to meet them.
The work continues to go strong here in California and I'm proud to be one of the Lord's missionaries.  I know the church is true and I want to help others find out that it's true for themselves.
Your friend,
Elder Carter David Morgan

Monday, November 4, 2013

"Thanks for the Birthday Wishes!"

Greetings one again from Apple Valley, CA!  It feels good to say that, because I just finished my first transfer and was worried that I'd leave the area.  Thankfully, I haven't left and the Work of Salvation continues to move forward in this awesome area.  Our ward has really taken a liking to all of the missionaries serving in it, the sister missionaries, Elder Escamilla, and myself.  Thankfully, none of us were transferred this time.  It was funny to see the sigh of relief that our ward mission leader and ward council let out when we told them the good news.  The ward is very supportive and I feel incredibly blessed to work with these wonderful people.
The work is exploding here in the Ranchos area.  Each week we get more and more appointments and our teaching pool has increased dramatically.  We're finding great success in teaching the less active families of the ward and they love having the missionaries over.  A lot of the less actives really want to go to church, they just can't because of medical or other reasons.  It's really sad to see, actually.  They love having the missionaries over because even though they can't make it to church they do love to feel the Spirit.  That's one of the things that's wonderful about being a missionary, you carry the Spirit with you like no one else is able to.  I feel so blessed to be able to serve as a missionary.
Speaking of the less active families, one of the people that we felt inspired to visit was about 80 years-old, on bed rest, and was really hard of hearing.  We had to shout at her (at the request of her daughter) for her to understand what we were saying.  While we were visiting, she told us that she wanted a priesthood blessing and that she would like me to do it.  Let me tell you, it is VERY hard to shout a priesthood blessing.  It went well, though, and I was able to get through the whole blessing and felt that what I said was inspired by Heavenly Father.  Afterwards, her daughter, who has very bad asthma and has been troubled with sleep and just wanted some, asked for a priesthood blessing.  She asked for me to do it as well.  During the blessing I felt inspired to say that her pains would leave her for a night and that she would sleep perfectly well.  I also felt impressed to say that Heavenly Father had prepared a wise doctor to perform her upcoming surgery and that all would be well.  I haven't had the opportunity to visit her since the blessing, but I have faith that the promises that Heavenly Father spoke to her through me were fulfilled.
Thank you everyone that sent me the lovely birthday wishes!  They meant a lot to me.  I had a nice, but different, birthday.  To tell the truth, I forgot it was my birthday for most of the day, haha.  We were too busy.  But I did get some unexpected birthday surprises.  For starters, we taught a new investigator for the first time and she agreed to be baptized on December 14th.  That was exciting!  She was the third baptismal date I've ever set, the first two were a pair of sisters that we taught earlier this week.  Also, I found out that I wasn't getting transferred, which was welcome news.  It was a really good day, but everyday can be a good day when you're serving the Lord.

(these were taken by an investigator in the ward Carter serves)

Halloween was this week and we had a curfew of 6:00.  Since we had to be in so early, all of us went to the Zone Leaders' place and had a missionary Halloween party.  One of the elder's family sent all of us 6 pizzas and 6 two-liters of soda through a local member of the ward.  It was awesome.  However, while I was talking to the pizza delivery driver when she was giving us the pizza I asked her if they had already included the tip.  She said they hadn't and I've made it a firm rule in my life to always tip a pizza driver, since I was once one myself.  I ended up giving her some of the birthday money I had received earlier the week.
At the zone leaders' place we played a card game called "Magic," which I think is hilarious.  A few of the other missionaries are really into it, but the whole thing is a little silly to me so I like to just play the game without using any logic.  I actually won a few games by doing that, haha.  We also played Yahtzee and two of the missionaries dressed up as Batman and Superman and fought one of our zone leaders while the rest of us cheered them on.  Such is missionary life.
I have to get going, but it's always great to hear from you.  The work is going well here and I can't believe I've already done a transfer!  I'm excited to serve and love my time here. 
Keep it squeaky,
Elder Carter Morgan

Monday, October 28, 2013

I never thought that it'd be this cool

Another letter from Apple Valley, CA, where it's almost November and still 80 degrees!  It's pretty different from Washington, but it does make proselyting a lot easier.  I feel sorry for the poor missionaries in Vancouver who are on bike during this time.

This week was a little overwhelming, but that's good when you're a missionary.  We had so many appointments to teach and things to sort out that we were a little stressed, but I'd rather that than not be working.  We've been blessed with lots of people to teach and to work with.  We're forging great friendships and getting a lot of work accomplished here in the Ranchos ward.

(Carter's apt--apparently they need a maid)
First off, one of the families that we've been working with has a young boy named N.  He's an eight year-old boy but his dad wanted him to hear the missionary discussions before he was baptized.  We talked to him about what it means to be baptized and how we make a two-way promise with Heavenly Father when we do that ordinance.  He really understood and has agreed to be baptized!  We're very excited for him to be taking this step in his life.
While on exchanges and visiting some of our investigators, we ran into an old man who was putting away his trash.  We got started talking and he had a crazy life.  Apparently he was a Christian missionary for quite a few years and has been all over the world.  We asked him if he wanted to hear our lesson and he said "Why not?"  We taught him twice but we found out that he's kind of too old to really take our message to heart.  We told him how much we liked meeting with him and said we would say hi if we were ever in the neighborhood again.
One of the kids that we taught in the Sermon in the Dirt keeps finding us when we're in the neighborhood and keeps BEGGING to hear the missionary lessons.  We keep telling him that we need to actually meet his parents first and he keeps promising us that we will.  Then every time we go over to teach his mom is mysteriously gone.  It's strange how that works, haha.  We keep joking that the church needs to do a campaign called, "Missionaries.  They're normal people."
Speaking of people not thinking we're normal people, it's a funny feeling being a missionary.  We went out to lunch last week after P-Day sports and I forgot to clip my nametag on.  It was a REALLY weird feeling to not have everyone stare at me.  And I've only been out in the field for a month!  I'm sure it will be an even weirder feeling when I go home and have to readjust from mission life.
Speaking of mission life, it's dang awesome.  I never thought that it'd be this cool.  Is it hard?  Yes.  Is everyday absolutely fun?  No.  Is every single day that we work hard the most rewarding feeling in the world?  Absolutely.  I never feel like our efforts are in vain, even if we don't accomplish things on the surface.  For example, just the other day we ran into a dead end in the work.  We didn't really have any idea what to do.  So we decided that we would just get down right in the middle of the sidewalk and say a kneeling prayer and choose a name from our ward list of someone to visit.  We did and there was a definite name that we felt prompted to visit.  We started to bike and felt like we needed to get there really fast.  While we were biking the name "Cassie" popped into my head and I started to think about it a lot.  When we got to the member's house she started to yell at us about how she never wanted to see the missionaries again and she wanted her name removed from the records.  Needless to say, we felt that was odd considering we were prompted to go there.  But we stopped for a second and knew that there was obviously a reason that the Lord sent us here and we felt like we hadn't accomplished our purpose yet.  We were near another family, the Bs, and I asked Elder E. if Sis. B first name was Cassie.  He didn't know, so we pulled out the ward list and tried to look it up, but we were missing the page.  But, lo and behold, while we were looking it up, guess who drove by?  The Bs!  We stopped them and told them that we felt like we needed to talk to them.  We asked them if they had anyone that they thought we needed to visit.  They pointed to a house and said that a less-active member lived there and was home at the moment.  We thanked them and then went up to the house and knocked a few times.  We could hear a hushed argument between the two of them indoors and knew they were home.  We felt impressed to just talk to them through the door and let them know why we were there and that we were always available to help.  After that we left and felt like even though we didn't understand exactly what just happened or why, that we had accomplished what the Lord sent us there to do.  It was a rewarding feeling.
We taught one of our investigators, S again about how the Book of Mormon is structured and who wrote what exactly.  It was a really interesting lesson and my compendium of useless knowledge about the Book of Mormon finally came in handy, haha.  After the lesson we had ice cream and her daughter, E, gave me a toy cell phone to call her on.  She told me that she was an air pilot and that she was going to Treasure Island.  It was an interesting "phone call."

Our ward had their Trunk or Treat party this week.  I'll send pictures soon when I get them of my companion and I's costume.  He went as Clark Kent and wore a Superman shirt under his white shirt and tie and I went as a secret agent.  I got sunglasses, an ear piece, and adjusted my nametag to say "Agent Morgan" and "FBI."  It was pretty sweet.
Well, I hope everything is going well back home.  To the youth of the Mountain View Ward: I got the banner.  Thank you very much for it.  I've included some majestic pictures of me with the banner.  It's very windy here in California.  I'll write again next week, but until then keep it cool.

Your friend,
Elder Carter Morgan

Monday, October 21, 2013

"And the little children shall lead them..."

It's me again, emailing from the... interestingly landscaped Apple Valley, CA!  It's been quite a week and the missionary adventures continue to roll forward.  This week we had the opportunity to hear from Elder Lynn G. Robins, a member of the first Quorum of the 70.  He was a fantastic speaker and he gave the missionaries tons of advice.  He spoke once at a zone conference for all the missionaries in Apple Valley and Victorville and then he did a special fireside that was only for missionaries, recent converts, and investigators.  It was a fantastic fireside.  One of my favorite quotes from his talk was "You don't have to eat the whole pizza to know it tastes good."  He was talking about the Book of Mormon and how sometimes there's a prevailing attitude of "I like the Book of Mormon, I believe it's true, and I feel the spirit when I read it, but I want to read the whole thing two or three times before I'm baptized."  We read in the Gospel of Matthew in the New Testament to "Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.  Ye shall know them by their fruits."  The message of the Restoration of the Gospel, the truth that God has once again called a prophet and still speaks to his children, can be difficult to believe, especially if the concept is of a foreign nature.  That's why in these Latter-Days the Lord has brought forth the Book of Mormon to prove that  "God does binspire men and call them to his choly work in thisage and generation, as well as in generations of old;"
What a wonderful fruit the Lord has given us to bring us to a knowledge of the truth.  I know the power of the Book of Mormon and the essential role it plays in conversion.
Speaking again of Elder Robins, he told us missionaries some fun facts that he learned from President Packer.  When the Quorum of the 12 Apostles and the First Presidency make a decisions, they all study it out together and then vote.  If the decision is not unanimous, they then study it some more until they can come to a unanimous vote.  President Packer said in his 40 years as an apostle there have only been two decisions that were immediately unanimous and did not require any discussion.  The first was the decision to change the name of "Genealogy" to "Family History."  The second was the decision to add the subtitle to the Book of Mormon "Another Testament of Jesus Christ."  I thought those were pretty interesting.
So, before I relate what else has happened, I thought it would be relevant to include a special promise that was given to me in my setting apart as a missionary.  When the Stake President, President Nashiff, laid his hands on my head and gave me a blessing, he gave me a specific promise that I "would teach children first and their parents would come to a knowledge of the truth through them."  Even though I've only been out in the field for about a month, I'm already starting to see the fulfillment of this prophecy.  Here's how it happened:

One day while biking to a teaching appointment about two weeks ago we ran into a group of about 9 middle schoolers.  We talked to them for a bit and they responded about as naturally as any 14 year-old would when approached by two white guys in suits.  They were not very receptive.  We gave them all cards and asked them if they knew anyone else that would be interested in our message.  One of the boys gave us the name of a 17 year-old girl and her family that live across the street as a joke, because he has a crush on her.  Well, the joke was on him because as missionaries we don't care how, who, or why we get a referral, we will contact that person.
Fast forward to this past Thursday.  We finally had time to go contact this referral that lived at a little block of apartments.  We ride up to the entrance and lo and behold, eight children between the ages of 6 and 12 come running up to us and asking us questions.  They asked about our bikes, who we were, why we're here, why we both have the same first name (Elder), if we were brothers, and what do we do.  Now, I remembered the words of my blessing and recognized this as a great opportunity to share the gospel.  We showed them some of the pass along cards we have with pictures of Christ on them and they went nuts.  They wanted all the free stuff they could get, haha.  They started jumping up and down and practically were begging us to teach them "church lessons."  So we set up a return appointment the next day to teach them outside their apartments in their little dirt yard.  That's when we began to prepare to teach the "Sermon in the Dirt."
We came back the next day and found all the children eagerly waiting outside to hear from the missionaries.  We gathered them around in a circle and taught them the about the Restoration.  One of the kid's older sister, Nicole, a 17 year-old, wanted to hear the lesson as well.  They were initially talkative and jabbery while we were teaching until we related to them the story of the First Vision and the Book of Mormon.  They were amazed by this story and so was Nicole.  She was craning her neck to look at the picture of the First Vision and she was listening intently.  We pulled out a copy of the Book of Mormon and they all asked if they could borrow it.  I said, "I'll do you one better.  You can KEEP this book.  It's yours forever."  We gave them each a copy of the Book of Mormon and they all promised to read.  They wanted us to come back and teach them the next day!  So we did.
After we left, though, we decided that we couldn't keep teaching the kids as just kids.  They need their parents.  They can't act without them at this age.  So we drafted up a letter to give to the parents letting them know that we'd love to keep teaching them but that we need to split up the group and teach them in their families.  The kids were pretty disappointed about that, but we did manage to get a return appointment with Nicole's Family.
One of the boys in the group, Johnny, told us when we got back that he had read all the way to 1st Nephi Chapter 7.  We figured he was just trying to impress us and probably hadn't read that far, but then he said that it mentioned Abraham, which is the name of one of his friends, and Isaac, which is the name of his brother.  We were amazed because that's a reference from 1st Nephi 6:4, proving that he actually read all of it.  We were very excited for him.
So that was my adventure in teaching the children this week.  But the small children hilarity doesn't end there!  The Ranchos ward had their primary program this week, which is always hilarious.  Our investigator's daughter, Ella, who is four, was very excited to say her part.  She's been practicing her part for weeks.  Her part is: "Heavenly Father wants me to be married in the temple someday.  I want to be with my family forever.  I love my family."  She got up to the microphone and practically screamed into it her part.  She said it perfectly!  "Heavenly Father wants me to be married in the temple someday.  I want to be with my family forever.  I love my family."  ... Then at the end she added, "And I love purple pansies."  The problem was, do to her practically eating the microphone, the impromptu line came across as, "And I love purple PANTIES."  Oh man, the whole ward lost it.  The primary program came to a screeching halt for about two minutes because everyone in the ward was busting up.  It was a truly fantastic moment.
I have to sign off for now, but let me just say that the work here is real.  I know the gospel is true, and I too love purple pansies.
I will again leave you with a lyric from Sons of Provo.  This song is about a newly engaged couple and their young love:

"You make me feel so handsome
Like a shining dark stallion
I love the way you wear
Your Young Women's Medallion
I love you girl
But I hope you comprehend
This body is a temple
Buy you don't got no recommend."
Your friend,
Elder Carter David Morgan

Monday, October 14, 2013

Another week in paradise?

Another letter from the tropical paradise of Apple Valley, CA!  A few days ago it rained all day.  It must've been about 50 degrees!  I remember thinking how cold it was, haha.  Summer in Utah and Fall in California has made me soft.  That and the fact that I pretty much only have short sleeve white shirts, haha.  It's good, though.  Biking in the cold rain in a white shirt and tie makes me feel like a real missionary out here.  The only downside is that when the weather gets colder there are less people on the street so it's harder to contact people.
Today has been a really good week as far as the Work of Salvation goes.  We have added four new investigators to our teaching pool!  Carlos, a young father working at a grocery store to support his four children, and Brandy, Eric, and their daughter who is over the age of 8.  They've been taking the discussions in Nebraska for a while and they just moved here and got in contact with us.  Our teaching pool is growing and every day we get more and more appointments.  It's fantastic!

Since Halloween is coming up we taught one of our investigators how to hold a family home evening.  Elder Escamilla and I went over to her house and we carved pumpkins with her family.  I'll make sure to send pictures of my awesome CTR pumpkin.  It's pretty much the best.

We had the opportunity to attend a Bishop Youth Discussion with all the Young Men and Young Women in our ward last night.  It was great because there was a ton of food and Elder Escamilla and I had been fasting all day, haha.

One of the people that we've been teaching is a boy named Nykolus who is 8 years old.  His dad wants him to hear all the missionary discussions before he makes the decision to be baptized.  We've found that as we teach him he makes a lot of comparisons to school and how church feels like schoool.  We're trying to make the gospel more applicable in his life.  We started to tell him some Book of Mormon stories and when we asked him if those sound like stories he'd like to read he seemed really interested.  We asked him to read the story of Ammon when he defends the king's sheep (which is about 7 pages of dense, scriptural reading) and when we saw him at church three days later he told us that he had read the whole thing!  I am cautiously optimistic that one day when he's an apostle he will tell the story of the kind missionaries that taught him how to love the Book of Mormon, haha.

Well, even though it's P-Day there's still a lot of work to do here in California.  It's great hearing from you whenever you get the chance and every missionary loves to get mail.

 I'll leave you all with a lyric from the song "Mormon Daddy" by the group Sons of Provo:
"I'm a dilly whack mack Mormon Daddy,
Yo, my peeps all be conformin' cause it's cool to be a Mormon
I'm a blackjack saint, I'm a mack daddy oh."
Your dilly whack mack Mormon Daddy,
Elder Carter David Mormon

PS:  Carter mentioned that he would love to get some "real" letters if anyone has the time:-)  His address is:

Elder Carter Morgan
6541 Woodruff Place, 
Rancho Cucamonga, CA, 91710.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Greetings from Apple Valley!

Greetings all, from Apple Valley, CA!  Today there was a rare sight here in the desert.  We saw a cloud!  I couldn't believe my eyes!  I felt like I was back home in Washington.  Except instead of grass there's a lot of dirt and instead of rain there's more dirt.

This week has been great!  We had the opportunity to go hiking up in the mountains today.  It was quite the hike!  It was a hard climb but it was totally worth it once we got up there.  Because we were up in the mountains there was actual greenery and water and such!  It was fantastic!  When we got to the highest point of the hike we all sat down and did our personal study.  What an amazing experience!  I read about the missionary work of Aaron and how he taught King Lamoni's father in the Book of Mormon.  Now that I'm actually out here on my mission, the stories of Alma the Younger and the Sons of Mosiah mean so much more to me.  Fun fact: What Aaron teaches King Lamoni's father is essentially the second discussion in Preach My Gospel.  It's cool to see that even though thousands of years have passed we still teach the basic doctrine of the Lord.
I had the opportunity to watch General Conference with one of my investigators the other day.  It was a great experience for everyone involved.  I found that I learned so much more this General Conference than I have in years past.  I particularly enjoyed President Uchtdorf's, Elder Holland's, and Elder Oakes' talks.  What a blessing it is to have living prophets and apostles on the Earth today.  When we're out teaching we find so many good people who remain confused by some of the common and contemporary questions that life poses today.  General Conference is a true witness that God loves His children just as much as he did in times of old and has provided us with all the same blessings that they had, namely prophets and apostles.

The investigator that we watched General Conference with, Sara, has a four year-old daughter named Ella.  Ella always wants to say the prayer when we come over.  However, I don't think that Ella quite understands the concept of prayer yet.  Whenever Ella prays, she just recites her part for the upcoming Primary Program, haha.  She says, "Heavenly Father, I love my family and they love me.  Heavenly Father wants me to be married in the temple someday and I want to be too."  It's both cute and hilarious.  Elder Escamilla has been taking care of some paperwork with Sara, so it's fallen to my responsibility to entertain Ella while they work on that.  It's a job I'm more than happy to do, haha.  I have a racquetball that her and I throw back and forth and when she gets bored of that I take the BYU keychain off my key ring and make her guess which hand it's in.  It's not too hard to make her think that I'm magic, mostly because I've figured out that she always guesses the opposite hand that she guessed before, haha.  She also is happy because she says that we have almost the same name because she's ELla and I'm ELder.  Also, apparently I'm the only missionary whose last name she's ever remembered so I feel pretty cool right now.
The work is going strong here in Apple Valley.  When people ask what our job is we say, "Teach people and when we're not doing that we find more people to teach."  That's exactly what we do, day in and day out.  I'm so glad to be out here serving a mission.  It's the best decision that I've ever made in my life.  I found myself thinking today, "I don't know if I ever want to come home."  Are some days hard?  Yeah, definitely, but no day is ever not worth it.  I love this church.  I know that it's the Lord's church and I know that He governs it today.
Elder Carter David Morgan

PS--From Carter's Mom:  Carter's birthday is coming up on November 2nd and I'm sure he'd love some birthday mail:-)  It takes a few weeks for him to get mail because it goes through the mission office.  Here's his address if you are interested:

Elder Carter Morgan
6541 Woodruff Place, 
Rancho Cucamonga, CA, 91710.

When I asked what he wanted/needed for his birthday he mentioned the following (not that he expects to get anything--but some have asked):

-BOOKS!  I get so bored at night.  I loved the Joseph Smith book you sent me written by Truman G. Madsen.  All the church books you can send, especially about Joseph Smith, the Restoration, or the Book of Mormon.
-CDs, especially more contemporary Mormon music

Monday, September 30, 2013

Greetings from California!

Greetings from Rancho Cucamonga, California!  Actually, greetings from Apple Valley, California, since that's the area I've been assigned to.  Surprisingly, Apple Valley as a distinct shortage of apples and valleys.  Who would've guessed?

I left the MTC early Tuesday morning and arrived safely in the mission field.  A lot of the new arrivals in this transfer are visa waiters, so I'm definitely not alone.  We have no idea how long we'll be here.  I've heard missionaries who are here for a month and there's a missionary here right now that's been waiting for four and a half months.  There's also a greenie that got his visa two days after getting into the field but he has to wait for the whole transfer to leave.  So, I really have no idea how long I'll be serving here.  I figure if the Lord wanted me to have my visa then I'd have my visa, so I know that I'm supposed to be serving in Rancho Cucamonga right now.

I try not to tell the members here that I'm a visa waiter.  A lot of them don't know that it takes a long time to get a visa so they assume when I tell them that I'm a visa waiter that I'll be gone within the next week or so.  I'm going to be here for a while and I want to get to know the members better and gain their trust and that's a lot harder to do if they think I'm going to be gone in a few days.  The only time it comes up that I'm waiting on a visa is when they read my nametag, ask about my time at the MTC, or my companion brings it up.

Speaking of my companion, his name is Elder Escamilla and he's been out here for almost a year.  He's a great trainer and I'm learning a lot from him.  He's from Georgia and has a little bit of an accent.

So, the Rancho Cucamonga mission is divided into two geographical regions with about half of the missionaries serving in each.  There's the valley and the desert.  The valley looks like how you'd expect typical California to look like.  There's palm trees and grass and lots and lots of fast food chains.  The dessert looks like, you guessed it, a desert.  Guess which one I've been assigned to?  That's right!  The desert!  While I'm growing to love my area, as someone who comes from the Evergreen state this might be the ugliest place I've ever seen, haha.  When my companion first told me we were in the desert I thought, "Oh, what a cute nickname for the area."  Nope.  It's not a nickname.  It's just the truth. It's so dry out here that people don't even have grass for yards, they just have dirt.  There's cacti and tumbleweeds and I haven't seen a single cloud in my whole week here.  It's truly amazing that people are able to live here, because there's no reason that this place should be inhabitable.

My apartment is a tiny little living area behind a member's house which we affectionately the Apple Valley Manor.  It's about the size of my family room back home and that includes living area, kitchen, and bathroom.  We don't spend too much time in the apartment though so it's really not a problem.  Besides, there are people all over the world that have a lot less.

For the few months that I'm here I'm on bike.  A lot of the elders drive cars down here but some of us are on bike.  I actually don't mind being on bike.  Since our ward now has two sets of missionaries the area's been split in half, making our area pretty small.  It's only about three miles by three miles, so it's easy to get wherever we need to go.  Besides, I don't even know how you proselyte effectively in a car.  Tracting as a method of finding is highly discouraged nowadays, so how Elder Escamilla and I spend our time is we compile a list of ward members that we want to visit that day, whether they be active or less active, and ride around to their houses.  While out riding we just stop and talk to anyone that we pass on the street.  It's so much more effective than knocking doors.  We've already found a whole family of people who want to be taught just by doing that.

Since my address is subject to change while I'm out here, the best place to send mail is the mission office.  Once it arrives there it will be forwarded to wherever I'm currently staying.  The mission office address is 6541 Woodruff Place, Rancho Cucamonga, CA, 91710.

My P-Day is Monday, so you can expect a weekly letter from now on.  I'm excited to be out in the field and I'm having a lot of fun!

Your friend,
Elder Carter Morgan

Thursday, September 19, 2013

California here he comes!

We just received word that Carter is being temporarily assigned to the California, Rancho Cucamonga Mission!  He's pretty excited and probably fitting as it's not too far from Disneyland!  He flies out Tuesday morning and we will let you know his address as soon as we get the details.

(This pic is the one that his district titled "The Face of America's youth."   I swiped it from a blog of another missionary--Sis. Culpepper.  She's hilarious by the way.)

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Final Week

Hello from the MTC!  It's my last week here and I'm really excited to go out into the world and to preach the gospel!  Unfortunately for all Brazil-bound missionaries, Visas are incredibly hard to get so I'll be reassigned to the states for a while.  Our district will receive our reassignments this Thursday and we're all really excited to see who goes where.  We've all put our guesses on a piece of paper and tacked it to the bulletin board in class and we're going to have a little party when we open them.  It's gonna be great!

Tomorrow we have the opportunity to host incoming missionaries.  That means that we get to show the new arrivals around tomorrow and help them get their books and things like that.  I'm really excited to do it, especially because I know how hard it is to leave everything behind to come serve the Lord.  I'm excited to help other missionaries ease into the transition and to help them feel comfortable here at the MTC.

Portuguese is still coming well, but I'll admit that it's harder to focus on learning it when you know that you probably won't be speaking it for the next couple months.  I still study everyday though.  In fact, yesterday the elders in our district only spoke Portuguese for the entire day.  It was difficult, but I was able to learn a lot of new words and to communicate fairly well with other Portuguese speakers.  It made me excited to proselyte in Portuguese in Brazil.

Well, due to the way email time worked out this week I don't have too much time to write.  This letter is pretty short, but I'm doing well here in Provo and I'm excited to serve in the mission field wherever that may be.

Your friend,
Elder Carter Morgan

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

It's been a month already!

Sept. 10, 213

Greetings once again from Provo, Utah!  I realized that this Saturday will mark a whole month of me being a missionary!  That's crazy!  The days are long here, but the weeks are short.  Sometimes it seems like the whole MTC has gone by faster than one hour of class, haha.

Things are going well here with my district.  We've made a lot of process and each day I can see little miracles from the Lord helping us to keep going.  We've become more organized and spiritually uplifting.  It's been a great opportunity to serve with them as district leader and I'll be sad once I leave them.  Although, I'm sure that sadness will be balanced out by the thrill of actually going out into the field.  The MTC is great, but we're all just aching to share the Gospel with real people.  Our district will most likely not be going to Brazil at first, though.  None of our visas have come yet and we're not really holding our breath.  We'll be reassigned to a domestic mission until we receive our visas.  We're all really excited, though!  What a blessing to be able to preach the restored Gospel in both your native and your new tongue!  It'll be a great opportunity, no matter where we end up.

I had the good pleasure of seeing Elder Soper, Elder Erickson, and Sister Arnett this week.  It was nice to be able to talk with all of them and to see a little piece of Vancouver here in Provo.  They're all doing great and seemed really happy.  It was cool to be able to welcome Elder Soper and Sister Arnett to the MTC.

We had the opportunity to teach another district that's a week ahead of us the first discussion.  For those of you who don't know, the first discussion is about the Restoration of the Gospel and is my favorite discussion to teach.  We taught individually, not in companionships, and it was so cool to teach.  After I finished the lesson I realized that throughout the 15 minute period that I hadn't thought in English for one bit.  I was able to teach the whole lesson by thinking in Portuguese, not by translating from English to Portuguese in my head.  I've only been here learning Portuguese for three and a half weeks!  It was a testament that the Gift of Tongues is real and that the Lord truly has his hand in this work.

On a side note, the sisters in my district took a picture of me at the temple and have decided that I'm "the face of America's youth," whatever that means.  It's a title I will bear with honor.

Email time is limited here and I have to move my laundry anyway, but I just want to say that the work is great.  I feel bad for any young man that has the opportunity to serve a mission and willingly gives it up.  It's such an amazing opportunity and I can already feel the blessings in my life.

-Elder Carter Morgan

PS--he loves getting mail!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The Adventure Continues...

Oi!  It's P-Day once again so I have the opportunity to email back home.  P-Day's are a little weird, because it's refreshing to get some time to ourselves, but I don't feel as accomplished at the end of the day because we have a lot less study time.  But hey, you gotta do laundry and get your haircut sometime, haha.

Even though I learn less on P-Day, it's one of the best days of the week because I have the opportunity to attend the temple.  Our district gets to go first thing in the morning and it's an absolutely fantastic way to start the day.  In a work that is so consistently focused on others and always being with someone it's nice to have a time set aside in the week to exclusively focus on my relationship with our Heavenly Father and our savior, Jesus Christ.  The peace that I feel in the Celestial Room is absolutely fantastic.  It's not like other days in the mission where I feel rushed or sometimes stressed, it's just a quiet peaceful time to commune with my Heavenly Father and reflect on the events in my life.  I can't even describe the blessings that come from regular temple attendance and I wish I had attended the temple more often when I was back home (especially because the Portland Temple is beautiful and us Northwesterners make sure to remind the rest of our district of that fact.)

It's been an exciting week here at the MTC!  Since we are officially halfway done with our MTC time our old district leader was released.  He did a great job and it was a fantastic learning experience to have him lead our district.  And guess what?  I was called to be the new district leader!  It's been a lot different from other leadership roles that I've held in the past.  For starters, I'm one of the first 18 year-old missionaries to ever serve that hasn't been away from home.  There are a lot of 18 year-olds here, but most of them have done at least a semester of college first.  There's only one other elder in my district that just graduated high school, so it's been interesting to lead a group of missionaries with ages ranging from 18 to 22.  It's been a humbling experience to be called of the Lord to lead my district and I pray every night for the Spirit and the gift of discernment.  I testify that our Heavenly Father will bless us if we pray to Him in faith, humble ourselves, and plead for righteous purposes.  I've seen His help daily here in the MTC and I know that He's looking out for each and every one of us.

Last Tuesday we got to hear from Neil L. Anderson, a member of the Quorum of the 12 Apostles!  It was exciting to be addressed by a man who holds all the same authority that the Savior's apostles of old, like James and John, had.  After he spoke he came into the crowd and shook hands with a lot of the missionaries.  I was sitting too far inward in the bleachers to get the opportunity, but it was still great to see an apostle of the Lord in person.

Portuguese is still coming really well.  I find it easier everyday to put together more complex thoughts and to communicate with the Spirit to our mock investigators.  The grammar of the language comes really easily to me so I'm mostly just working on expanding my vocabulary, especially with verbs.  Reading The Book of Mormon, or O Livro De Mormon, in Portuguese also helps a ton.  It's an excellent study help and I would encourage all missionaries that are learning a new language to start by reading The Book of Mormon.  It's a powerful tool both in conversion and study, and I bear witness of its divinity.

Speaking of The Book of Mormon, I can't say enough how much it has blessed in my life.  I'm so glad that I took the time before my mission to not only study it as scripture, but also as a historical text.  It's such a fascinating book and it gains a whole new level of complexity when you view it not only as scripture but also as a record of people who really lived who had thoughts, emotions, and motivations.  To anyone preparing the serve a mission, I can't stress enough how important it is to missionary work.  It's the most correct book of any on Earth and it is compelling and powerful evidence of the restoration of the Gospel.  Through it we can gain a testimony that our Heavenly Father loves us, Jesus is the Christ, and that Joseph Smith was God's chosen prophet to open up the last dispensation.  I know with all my hear that The Book of Mormon is the word of God and that we can get nearer to Him by abiding by its precepts than by any other book.  I know this to be true and I would stake not only my life but my eternal salvation on it.  We shared a scripture with one of our mock investigators from The Book of Mormon.  She has a really strong testimony in Christ, but can't seem to gain a testimony of The Book of Mormon.  These verses had a powerful effect on her:

10 And now, my beloved brethren, and also aJew, and all ye ends of the earth, hearken unto these words and bbelieve in Christ; and if ye believe not in these words believe in Christ. And if ye shallcbelieve in Christ ye will believe in these dwords, for they are theewords of Christ, and he hath given them unto me; and they fteachall men that they should do good.
 11 And if they are not the words of Christ, judge ye—for Christ will show unto you, with apower and great bglory, that they are his words, at the last day; and you and I shall stand face to face before his bar; and ye shall know that I have been commanded of him to write these things, notwithstanding my weakness.
The work here is great, and I stand as a witness that the work here is true.  I feel incredibly blessed to be serving as an authorized representative of Jesus Christ.  I know that He stands at the head of this church and I know that this is truly His church.
-Elder Carter Morgan

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Week 2!

Greetings all!  I'm doing great here at the MTC!  I'm growing more than I ever have in my life and, even though I'm FAR from perfect, each day I can feel myself become a little more like the Savior.  What a wonderful opportunity it is to be able to serve Him everyday with all my might, mind, and strength.

This past week my companion had to go home due to some personal issues.  It was sad, but before he left our district gave him so presents and let him know that we really appreciate the contribution he was to our district.  Since my companion left I've moved into a tripanionship and have had to relocate to the room with the rest of my district.  At first I was a little frustrated that I would lose my quiet room and closet space, but it's been a huge blessing to be with the rest of my district!  They're some of the best elders you could ever meet and I have so much fun sharing a room with them.  Also, we all help each other get up on time, because it's not easy getting up at 6:00 every morning.

My district has taken up playing beach volleyball on the sand courts.  It's a lot of fun and our district is really good and has some great players.  The only problem is that I absolutely stink at it, haha.  Oh well, I guess volleyball isn't one of my gifts, and I'm okay with that, haha.

I enjoy learning the language and it's been coming fairly easily to me.  It's such a cool experience to read the scriptures in a foreign tongue.  It's like reading them for the first time all over again and I gain new insights every day from reading in Portuguese.  The gift of tongues is a real thing, especially when you're out on a mission, and I can feel the Lord blessing me with it everyday.

We have the privilege of walking around the Provo Temple grounds every Sunday and of attending a Temple session every Tuesday morning.  Both days there has been an anti-Mormon protester with a big cross who's been shouting various things at us as we walk by.  It's a really interesting experience to see someone so vehemently opposed to the Church.  It was actually pretty funny because he kept shouting at us things like, "Jesus is the only way to salvation!" and we all wanted to shout back, "Yes, we agree with you!  Why are you yelling at us?"  Haha.  He's mostly harmless though, and if anything it adds a little adventure to the day.  The other day he brought a friend along with him who was really nice and didn't seem that into it.  We joked that he was probably the junior companion, haha.  There's just something funny about seeing a guy do the least effective proselyting to one of the most effective proselyting groups in the world, haha.

Everyone here is a little antsy about the devotional tonight because the choir was told that it would be broadcast to every MTC in the world, making us pretty sure that a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles will be addressing us tonight.  Everyone's excited and silently hoping that it's Elder Holland, haha.

Well, email time is limited on P-Day and I've got a lot of chores to do so I can't write too much.  Before I sign off I just want to say that the Gospel is absolutely true.  I can feel it more than I've ever felt it before.  I know for a surety that Jesus Christ is our Savior and Redeemer and that He suffered for our sins so that we could return to live with our Heavenly Father.  I know that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is His true church and that He stands at the head of it today.  I know that he restored His gospel through a latter-day prophet, Joseph Smith, and that He continues to call prophets and that Thomas S. Monson is the prophet today.  I know that The Book of Mormon is true and that we can learn more from it than from any other book on Earth.  I miss you all, but this work is far too important to even think about going home now.

Your friend,
Elder Carter Morgan

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

First Letter Home!!

Greetings from the MTC!
I'm doing great here!  The Spirit is incredibly strong and everyday I can feel my testimony grow and my relationship with our Heavenly Father and Christ deepen.  It's like living in a temple, except you get to laugh way too loud with your district.  It's such an amazing experience here and I'm so glad that I chose to serve a mission.  While it's been hard (some days harder than others), it's been the most amazing experience of my life and I'm excited to share the Gospel with the people of Brazil and probably Pocatello, Idaho because we're almost certain we won't get our visas in time.

I mentioned my district earlier and let me say that they're fantastic!  My district consists of Elders Steiner, Carter (I know, right?), and Thomas who are all from the South, and myself, Elder Grondel (our district leader), and Elder McCrea, who are all from the Northwest.  Elder Thomas is my companion and he's a big football player from Tennessee.  Needless to say we aren't exactly the same.  He's got a strong testimony though and he's great to plan a lesson with.  Our district also has four sisters!  They're Sisters Culp, Wood, Skidmore, and Araujo.  I've included pictures of them all in this letter.  I'm so glad that more women have decided to serve missions because the sisters in our district are such a blessing and they inspire us to be our best.  Everyone in our district has an incredibly strong testimony and it's an amazing opportunity to help each other strengthen and grow everyday.

We've been learning Portuguese from day 1 and I'm picking it up really quickly.  My district calls me the "all star" and I've been helping the rest of the missionaries learn it.  I'm learning so much quicker than I did Spanish in school.  We've only been learning for six days and we've already taught three 30 minute lessons in ONLY PORTUGUESE to an actor/investigator.  It's been really difficult because my companion still struggles a bit with the language and none of us can understand what the investigator is saying back to us, but we've had a lot of great moments where we've felt the direction of the Spirit.  I can already pray fluently in Portuguese and it's been a real spiritual strengthener to speak to Heavenly Father in the language of my mission.
We went on a walk around the temple grounds the other day and on route there was a protester with a big cross who was shouting about how he was going "to teach us the power of the cross."  It was my first experience with a real Anti-Mormon protester so it was pretty interesting.
We're on some weird old person schedule here at the MTC.  Since my whole branch is full of visa waiters we have to get up at 6:00 AM, eat breakfast at 6:30 AM, eat Lunch at 11:00 AM, and eat dinner at 4:00 PM.  Bedtime is at 10:30 PM.  Needless to say we get pretty hungry by then and our district has taken all the food from departing missionaries that we can get. 
If any of you are wondering, I've gotten "Elder Lautner" way too many times.  Also, everyone here thinks they're the first person to tell me that I look like Taylor Lautner.  Oh well.  I guess there are a lot worse people to look like in life.  Maybe I can convert some people in my mission due to my vague resemblance.

I know it's only my first week here, but I love the MTC and I don't want to be one of those missionaries who always talks about "just getting out into the field."  This is the only time in my whole mission that I have to focus on my training and my training alone.  I'm excited to be a missionary and a personal representative of Jesus Christ and I'm doing all that I can to give these two years to Him.  I have a testimony of this Gospel and I know that I'm doing the right thing.  I miss you all, but I don't miss you enough to want to go home because what I'm doing here is important.  Eu tenho um testemunho de Jesus Cristo e Seu evanglho.  Eu sei que o igreja e verdadeiro.

Elder Carter Morgan