Wow, what a week. I have a ton to write about--we'll see if I can get to it all in 25 minutes. I'll try to explain in chronological order, but I've never been very good at ordering things, so... we'll see.
So, before I came into the MTC, somebody gave me an odd piece of advice. "Don't laugh during prayers." "Well, of course I won't laugh during prayers--that's ridiculous!" I thought. Now that I am here, however, I see that it was an apt and needed warning. For some reason, at the MTC, laughing in prayers just happens! Almost every single night when we have companionship prayer (with four elders, everyone in our room), at least two people are choking down laughter by the end. And none of us can ever explain why. Nobody has to say anything funny--all that we really need is for someone to be praying!
A few weeks ago, we started using our gym time to go play soccer. Getting ready for Chile, right? Well, I'm pretty awful, having not played since age 6, but it's still a blast, and we play every chance we get. And miracle of miracles, I'm improving! I've scored 2 points in the last 4 games (most games our team scores 2-3 points), and sometimes when I kick the ball down the field, it actually goes where I want it to! Of course, by the end of nine weeks I'll be playing like a pro, then I'll get down to Chile and get pwnd by a couple of 8 year olds. But then I'll teach them the gospel and baptize their entire family, so it will all work out in the end!
Two days ago, three of the Elders in our district left us, heading to the Guatamala City MTC. They are all going to San Salvador, and need to learn some variations in Spanish that will be spoken there. Now the remaining 7 Elders in our district are all going to the same mission, which is kind of cool, but we'll miss the three who left--Elder Brose, Elder Mehr, and Elder Defiguerido.
Added to that, Fall Semester started at BYU. The result--we lost both our teachers! Hermano West and Hermano Rogers might be the greatest teachers in the entire MTC, but Hermano West quit so that he could focus on his studies, and Hermano Rogers was reassigned because of his school schedule. *tear*. Our new teachers are Hermano Pace, who went to Spain and speaks with a definite accent (Jo mi Jyamo, Ethpania), and Hermana Mount, who for some reason everyone can understand really well. Having an Hermana teach our class is interesting, and I think I like it. Less flatulence, more focus and respect.
Elder Brose, who left for Guatamala on Tuesday, was our district leader. Any guesses who the new district leader is? Yup... it's me. I kind of ruined the surprise by buttoning up my coat so that I could stand up when I was called in Sacrament Meeting, and immediately after I was called I fell asleep, so I think the start of my assignment was pretty auspicious (sp?). For reals though, I am very excited and more than a little nervous to have this calling. I really don't know any more than any of the Elders in my district--we all got here at the same time. But I now have the responsibility to lead the district, ensure that everyone is following the rules, and conduct meetings. First thing, I decided that I would never think of myself as "leading the Elders." I would "love and serve the Elders"; if I thought about leading, my already-huge-ego would explode and I would lose the companionship of the spirit, a companionship without with I would be totally sunk. Loving and serving, however, is definitely a challenge! What do I do when someone knowingly breaks a rule, then is completely disrespectful when if I mention it to them? I'm still trying to figure that out. I think my purpose as a district leader (or district lover and server) is the same as my purpose as a missionary--to invite others to Christ. That means that I don't--and I can't--make anyone follow the rules. I can only invite, and hope they understand the power and blessings that come from obedience.
En otra notícias, espanol es moi bueno! Me encanta la idioma celestial (yo recibí ese frase para mi antiguo maestro, Hno. Rogers), y estoy moi animado porque de la cantidad de cosas estoy aprendiendo con el ayuda del Espíritu. Si, yo hago errores, y si, espanol es difícil, pero yo puedo tengo todos conversaciónes, todos lecciónes, solo en espanol. ¿Es fantastico, no? Y pienso. En seis mas semanas, cuanto mas yo aprenderé!
So, now for the highlight of the letter. Every tuesday, the entire MTC has a devotional. This Tuesday, we had the privelege of hearing from Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the 12 Apostles. What an experience! I could feel the power of his testimony and his teachings, and the truth of what he said. He talked about our calling, how prophets throughout time kept on going because they saw our day, the great work that we would accomplish--and that would not end in apostasy--and took heart. He said that we do not have the right to soil the wonderful image the world has of missionaries, now or after we get home. He said that Christ would want us to know that He told the truth; that Christ wants us to give Him our hearts; that the difference between us and him is that we are apostles with a little 'a', and witnesses with a little 'w'. It was such an incredible devotional!
Now I am out of time. Until next week!
Elder Jason Ray