Thursday, October 6, 2011

October 6, 2011 (last MTC letter)

Dear Mom and Dad,
So, a few letters ago (maybe it was last letter?) I gave an update on my pen situation, how i had started using Zebra f-301's because they wrote so small. Yesterday I got a package in the mail from my dear aunt Andra. What could it be, but a whole ten pack of black Zebra f-301's! Aunt Andra now holds the title as the one who nursed me through wisdom teeth and the one who supplied my pen-needs for the rest of my mission. That is charity right there.

We had our last game of MTC soccer yesterday. (today is preparation day, so no soccer today; tomorrow is in-field orientation and that takes the whole day; Saturday is the day before we leave', and you can't do gym time that day either). I didn't make any goals, but I still think it was my best game ever. Why? Because I had footwork! I have not played soccer since I was six years old, and over the past few months there have been countless times where I could have done something really cool if I could have kept control of the ball, but I just didn't know how. Today I kind of figured it out! There was one spot in particular that was quite gorgeous. I went after a stray ball, maneuvered it around two players on the other team (one of whom DID play soccer in high school) and kicked it back in for an assist. There were angels singing praises, let me tell you.

So, Cecil O. Samuelson, beloved president of BYU, was released and given the title of emeritus general authority. Gotta say, I did not expect to hear that, especially since I'm pretty sure it means he's not the president of BYU anymore! But hey, I can come to love another president in a few years. He just probably won't have a name as awesome as Cecil.
In other news--The Provo Tabernacle is being rebuilt as another temple?????????!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!!!!!!! That's pretty fantastic! I'm really hoping it will finish construction in about two and a half-four years, right in that time where I'm still a student there and can go to the dedication... But wow, that made me happy.

Aside from these bits of news, General Conference was definitely meant exactly for me. I'm sorry for everyone else who thought it was meant for them, but it was pretty much all for me. Definitely my best conference every, and I think it's because of how prepared I was. Not only am I focusing on spiritual things all day, every day, and looking for those beautiful bits of wisdom that our prophets love to share, but I went into this general conference with a specific and direct list of questions. Through the course of the conference, all four of my questions were answered to my total satisfaction. I think the lesson I have learned from this is to make a big deal out of conference--the week before, get ready for it, and then on that Saturday and Sunday make it important, pay attention, be focused. Watching conference at the MTC is a great experience, probably second only to seeing it in the conference center, but I think every conference I go to from now on will be better after this experience.

The first night that we got here, Wednesday of two months ago, we had an activity with all the other newly-arrived missionaries. We heard a little lesson about what it means to be a missionary, then we were shown a little demonstration as two missionaries came up and talked to a live investigator sitting on a couch. Then, to our utmost shock, the 'moderator' paused the discussion with the missionaries and the investigator, dismissed the missionaries, and invited us to give our input, as if we were one 300-person companionship. I still remember from that day, feeling like I was just starting to see how much God loves his children and how I can be a part of that love. Last night, Elder Lucero and I had the privileged of being the two missionaries to begin teaching those investigators before the moderator dismissed us. It was such a great opportunity, to feel the same outpouring of love and need to go help Heavenly Father's children, two months later, having learned and changed and become what I am now. I hardly said 10 words the whole night, so I'm pretty sure it was a blessing and an opportunity for me more than it was me serving anyone else.

This leads me into what I want to finish with today,  my last preparation day in the MTC. One of my first Sunday's here I watched a talk by Elder Bednar entitled "becoming a missionary." He said that if you just "go on a mission," you are really doing it all wrong. It's not about doing; it's becoming. Over these past two months, I think I have really become a different person. Twenty-two months more down the road I'm sure I'll be so different I won't even recognize myself, but here's a little bit of what is different now.

I speak Spanish. It isn't perfect, and I'm looking forward to being pretty shell shocked the first time I try to make a street contact in Chile. But when I think about how totally lost I was when I heard people speaking Spanish before my mission, and how well I can get along now (Elder Lucero and I basically don't speak English anymore), it's truly a miracle! A miracle, a gift, the gift of tongues, it's great, and I have to be thankful every day for it.

I teach like Preach My Gospel (mas o menos, I still have room for improvement). I'm not really sure what I based my teaching on before I came out here--probably on the teachers I had as a youth--but now I have a definite basis and foundation for the way I teach and everything I do. I think my teaching has improved loads, and I'm still improving every day.

I actually love everybody. Before I came out here, I was like an exceptionally friendly scribe and hypocrite (am I getting my scripture reference right?). I was friendly, so almost everybody liked me; but I only liked the people that liked me. Now, I feel like I love every one of God's children, even the ones that have rather a different attitude towards me--maybe even especially the ones who don't feel the same. And, I feel like I love the people who I already would have loved, more than I did before, like my capacity to love has increased.

This love has changed the way I think about things. Before my mission I had about as many missionary experiences as I can count on one hand. I could have had lots more, but there was always something inhibiting me from sharing my beliefs, like I would be stepping on someones toes if I told them about the Church. Now I realize how ridiculous that attitude was--"excuse me, I don't mean to be a bother, but would it trouble you too much if I shared with you the way to find peace in this life and eternal life in the world to come? What about the way to get through every single trial you have with joy and love? How about the only true source of happiness?" Now, every time I feel God's love for his children in my heart, I want to help them by inviting them to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Christ and his atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end (my purpose as a missionary). It's a wonderful change.

Cada día, yo digo que este trabajo es el mejor trabajo en el mundo. ¡Me encanta este trabajo! Yo se, mas ahora que en cualquier otro tiempo en mi vida, que Jesucristo es mi Salvador. Yo se Dios me ama, y que el Libro de Mormón es verdadero, la barre de hierro por cual podemos regresar para vivir con Dios. Yo se mi llamamiento es de Dios, por medio del profeta viviendo, y se que hay personas en Chile quienese me necesitan.

Go with the grace of God. My next letter will come from Chile.

Elder Jason Ray