Zach entered the MTC on 01/08/2014. He is doing great as expected. He has taken many pictures but forgot the cord to download them from his camera. We will post them when we receive them. Here are the answers to the weekly questions. Better have a tissue ready. :)
1. How was your trip? Did you make it to Missionary Mall?
My trip was amazing. I talked with the other Elder in the Airport and just kept each other company as we waited. We realized that part of the Missionary rules is to have a companion at all times, so the Lord set it up so we would be each other's companions. His name was Elder Bennet, and he is going to Brazil. The plane was amazing. Half the people canceled, so we pretty much sat where ever. I had a window seat and took some awesome pictures that I will try to send. And yes, we got to missionary mall. They didn't have my brand, so they gave me a more expensive one for free, so that was nice.
2. What was your first day like?
My first day, I was greeted by my host missionary who is waiting for a visa to some un-pronounceable city in Brazil. I got all my missionary stuff like nametag, MTC card, and room key and stuff then put my luggage in my room. He took me to my class room where I met my district, and one of my two teachers, Brother Bryner.
3. What is your daily schedule?
Basically, I wake up at 6, shower, brush teeth, that sort of stuff. Then I get into my suit and go to my classroom for about an hour of personal study. Then we all go to breakfast where we get food (BTW, any myths regarding food here and orange juice, all a lie. Its great.) After we eat, we go back to the class for 3 hours and are taught a BUNCH of stuff. Like, the amount of things we are to learn is crazy. We learn knowledge, but also how to be in touch with the spirit. I feel like a Jedi, learning information but also how to use the Spirit. Then we go to lunch, then back to the classroom for another 3 hours but this time is a study block. We plan, do personal study, companion study, and other things. Then dinner, then back to the class for another 3 hours with our other teacher, Brother Makahilahila. He is from Hawaii. Then we go to our residence halls at 9:30 where we plan for the next day, study, write in journals, ect. At 10:15, it is quiet time where we meditate and pray and ponder the Spirit and what we have learned. Then it is lights out at 10:30. That it pretty much my day. And I love it. Really, it's never boring here if you want to be here. Next week, my companion and I are starting to teach our TRC Investigator, which is a real investigator paid by the church that we are kind of practicing on. But they honestly have the chance to be baptized, so its just really awesome.
4. Tell us about your Companion/District?
My companion is Elder Montoya and he is amazing. He is a convert of 2 years and serving a mission. He is really smart, and knows a lot about doctrine. He is from New Mexico and the only one in his family to be in the church, and so his testimony is soooo amazing to hear. Oh, and everyone in my district is going to Bakersfield, which is something REALLY rare. My district is absolutely amazing. We are all really obedient, we get along great, we are open to each other, and getting really close. Not just the elders though. We have 4 Elders, 4 Sisters. Elder Mansfield, Haubner, Montoya, myself, Sister Lazzaratto, Luddington, Rasmussen, and Baroldy. And I'm honestly really blessed to have such a great district. We get told all the time how impressed people are by us, and how they feel the spirit with us. One day in class, we all bore our testimonies, and all of us were bawling. It was fantastic. Oh, and btw, my companion and I are our Zone leaders, so that is really awesome :)
5. What is your address? Can we send you anything at the MTC?
My address is 2009 N 700 E Unit 134 Provo UT 84604. I can receive basically anything.
6. What scripture touched you the most this week?
What touched me the most was a talk we watched yesterday by Elder Bednar called "Characters of Christ". I cannot say everything he did, his talk was 1 1/2 long, but the basic message was that this isn't about us. We don't do this expecting blessings. In fact, you shouldn't do ANYTHING expecting blessings. Because that isn't how Christ did it. He did everything outward, meaning for everyone else. When we do things inwards, that is for the Natural Man. When satan tempted Christ, he challenged Him to prove His godliness, which would have been prideful. It would have been Christ proving his powers for His own benefit. So He warded satan off, but after all of this, His 40 day fast, His encounter with the devil, and being utterly drained spiritually and temporally, He still sent angels to John the Baptist in prison instead of looking on Himself and worrying about His own needs. Elder Bednar told us a story about when he was a stake president, he had a sister call him about an accident involving 3 girls and one had died. During the call, the woman found out that it was her own daughter that had died, and immediately she said to President Bednar "Alright, we have to get in touch with the two other mothers and let them know about what happened." Elder Bednar was so taken back by the charity and Christ like character of this woman. He then realized that this was her only daughter. This was just so touching to me, because SOOOO many things just clicked for me in that very moment. I had been praying so hard for things, and was told to go to my meetings on Sunday with a question, and it was answered and I am so grateful and amazed at the wisdom of our Apostles and Heavenly Father.
7. What has been your biggest challenge and how do you plan to overcome it?
My biggest challenge has been probably staying patient. We have an elder in our zone who is just....beyond annoying. And I've really had to learn patience and Christ-like love. I've prayed for a lot of forgiveness and repentance and I am learning to love him. The biggest smack in the face was when he told me he was a convert and that he almost didn't come out because of his mistakes. I was sooo humbled and couldn't even look him in the eye. I felt so bad, and yet I am so grateful that the Lord is opening my eyes like this.
8. What gospel principle has touched you the most?
The principle that has touched me the most is that we have a loving Heavenly Father, which is the very first thing you teach to investigators. It's touched me because I took it soo much for granted. Don't do that. Seriously, we have NO idea how lucky we are to know this. To actually KNOW this. It comforts people more than anything to know this.