Thursday, September 8, 2011

September 8, 2011

Dear Mom and Dad,

To start off my letter today, I want to relate another little MTC tradition known as the tower challenge. To be honest I have no idea how far or wide this tradition stretches--to our zone, at the very least, possibly more. Anyway, The week before a district leaves for the field, they choose a meal in which they eat an entire tower of cereal (just to put this in perspective, estimes for one tower are around 45 bowls). Before Elders B, M, and De left for Guatamala, we decided to do a tower challenge with Lucky Charms. It was all well and good until someone said we should go for two towers--by this point everyone had eaten somewhere between 5 and 10 bowls of cereal. We only made it halfway through the second tower (Frosted Flakes) before everyone felt too sick to go any farther. That night we met one of our new teachers, Hermana M. The whole class period we were slow and sluggish, and I'm sure we all looked like we were about to throw up! Ah, the MTC.
So, I had a realization related to food the other day. I probably should have had it right after the tower challenge, but somehow I missed that.... how I feel here is incredibly related to how I eat, because we spend 10+ hours each day sitting down in class--not enough moving around to justify eating junk all day. Thus, if I eat something healthy and energizing for breakfast, all morning I feel fantastic. And if I eat junk for lunch, then during the afternoon I feel like junk. Good realization for life, but especially for here at the MTC where I am so sedentary.
Every Friday, as District Leader, I am supposed to interview all of the senior companions of each companionship to see how they are doing, what their goals, are, what they need help with, etc. Last week I decided to interview everyone in the district, just to start off right. I am incredibly glad I did. I don't usually see any of the other missionaries teach, or hear what is going on inside their heads, so it is easy for me to only focus on the times when they are breaking rules or being lazy. Through these interviews, I got to see how dedicated, motivated, and spiritual each of these Elders are, and to see the huge strides they have made in the last four weeks. This will be good for me to remember all throughout my mission, and probably all through life. Isn't God such a great teacher?
I decided a few days ago that, because I believe everything happens for a reason and especially callings in the church, there is some reason I am the district leader here. I know a couple of ways it will help me--I am learning patience, love, and hopefully a bit of discernment. But what about my district? I decided that one thing I do have and have in abundance is an appreciation for music. So I am trying to share this appreciation by putting each Elder in my district in charge of choosing and conducting hymns (4-10 hymns a day, usually) one day a week. Right after I decided this, the devotional speaker (Elder Jay E. Jensen, quorum of the 70) said that hymns are an underused missionary resource for bringing the spirit. So I hope it was the right choice. And I hope it actually works--a couple Elders are really frustrated with the amount of singing we do, or with the hymns in general.
Shifting the focus away from my district, I absolutly love studying here. Learning the language is such an incredible experience--Yo puedo tener conversaciónes en solomente español por un hora, o dos horas, no problemo! Ayer, mi compañero y mi planeamos nuestras lecciónes con uno de nuestros investigadores, Santiago, en solomente espanol. Yo pude sentir el Espíritu Santo ayudandonos para hablar y para entender. Fue marravillosa. (while I'm thinking about language, note of apology--last week, in every letter I wrote, I spelled the word "muy" by the French spelling, "moi." ¿Que cosa?)
Along with learning the language, the periods of personal study are some of my favorite times here. I feel like I am better able to understand and apply the gospel doctrines and the scriptures here than at any time before in my life. I can already tell that I am going to have some amazing experiences with personal revelation--and revelation for my investigators--through the scriptures on my mission.
Last point, this week I'm going to see if I can finish writing before the clock hits 0 (30 minutes a day, should be plenty, I just talk too much :P)
In this last week, I have heard a lot of emphasis on giving the Lord your heart. Elder Holland spoke on this for a good 10 minutes, and without hearing any of his talk, Hermana M, one of our teachers, spoke about this as well. I have decided that, in order to give the Lord my heart, I need to have an every-day strengthening of my desire to serve Him, to give Him my all; I need to be willing to give him every single bit of me, from my thoughts just before I go to bed to the way that I play soccer, all of it. And as I give the Lord my heart, I will find myself more whole and more happy than I have ever thought possible. So that's a goal for my mission, and I believe it might be developing into a mission statement--to give the Lord my heart.
Well, I made my goal--clicking exit with 10 seconds to spare! Estoy muy felicidad. El Evangelio es verdadero.
Vos amo,
Elder Jason Ray

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