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

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