Friday, December 13, 2013
December 13, 2013 - Second Letter: In which we teach Štěpan and an Apostle visits
This week has been exciting! Pretty hard, but also exciting.
Since I've written, we met with our first investigator, Štěpan four times. Teaching him in Czech was very hard. Mostly we have to rely on phrases from the Czech phrasebook, and then try to bear testimony of simple things. It's very easy to get discouraged about not knowing enough Czech or not being able to communicate well enough, but I've already seen the Spirit bless me so much in understanding Czech that I couldn't possibly have known otherwise. It was also hard to try and discern whether or not Štěpan had been feeling the Spirit, because he'd answer almost every question we asked with "Dobř," which means "okay," but more on that later.
Mom asked how visiting investigators in the MTC works. Our investigator "lives" in a closet down the hall from our classroom! There's just enough room for four chairs, and so we just have to pretend that it's a living room! As for who Štěpan actually was, we walked in to class yesterday and saw that he was our third teacher (whom we hadn't seen yet), Brother Machado. Brother Machado told us yesterday during class that Štěpan was actually the Czechified version of his father (who was baptized when Brother Machado was younger), so he just reacted the way that he thought his father would when we taught. It was great to be able to ask him questions about our teaching yesterday, and something that was really comforting was that he said that he could feel the Spirit during our lessons despite how simplified and bad our Czech was.
We probably won't see Štěpan again, but our next investigator will be Ivan, who we met on the street (in the hallway) yesterday. Ivan is one of Brother Machado's old investigators that he'll also be able to imitate pretty well.
On Sunday I had my first meeting as district leader! I won't go in to that, but basically as district leader I'm the eyes and ears of the branch presidency (in the mission field I'd be the eyes and ears of the mission president). I don't mean that to sound like Big Brother, but if one of my district members is having a hard time, it's my job to know about it so we can help him.
Sunday evening we were able to see the Christmas devotional. It was pretty good. It was fun to hear the Mormon Tabernacle Choir sing the song that our ward had been practicing, but the whole MTC's favorite moment was probably when the little boy during Elder Nelson's segment winked at the little girl next to him!
After that broadcast we saw a recording of Elder Bednar's talk entitled "Character of Christ." He gave it during the 2011 MTC Christmas Sacrament Meeting. That was awesome. He talked about the (surprise, surprise) character of Christ and how whenever one of us probably would have turned inward in selfishness, Christ turned outward in service. He also said that becoming converted is replacing our character with the character of Christ. If you can find that talk (that's a big if because I'm pretty sure it's only available to missionaries), it's my new favorite talk ever. It's life-changing.
Tuesday night Elder Cook and his wife came and spoke to us! It was also broadcasted live to all the MTCs in North and South America and the Phillipines. Sister Cook talked to us about how as misisonaries we are like the Christmas star that leads the world to the Savior. Elder Cook talked to us about our mission calls and how personal they are. He gave us some fun statistics, too! He said that it took 175 years for the church to send out one million missionaries, but they expect to reach the two millionth missionary within the next 25 years. Also since the changing of the mission ages the church assigns about two to three times as many missionaries each week as from before. Instead of about 500 missionaries assigned per week, it's now anywhere from 900 to 1500 missionaries assigned per week!
I'm having such a great time at the MTC! I'm learning so much Czech and about being a missionary and a better disciple of Christ. I'm still getting along very well with my companions.
On a not-linearly-related-note: the MTC is a cesspool of disease, and the health staff takes it very seriously. When somebody tests positive for influenza (they test you by sticking a Q-tip up to your brain and then seeing what grows), they put a mask on them and march them back to their residence hall, where he or she collects a few scant belongings to take to QUARANTINE. The patient watches the escorting health worker spray down his or her whole room with a Ghostbusters-esque disinfectant spray, and then is marched back to the underbully of the administration buildings to QUARANTINEEEE.
Good thing I got the flu shot!
PS Please keep writing on DearElder!
Posted by Nancy Boyce at 5:26 PM