Friday, December 27, 2013

December 27, 2013 - In which the MTC celebrates Christmas

Dear family,

I hope that Christmas was fun for everyone! I hope you found a chance to think about the Atonement and the proper meaning of Christmas! :)

I mentioned that on Sunday Brother Randall and his wife (and Sister Payne) came and spoke to us. That was a pretty fun experience and very informative. He talked about listening to the Spirit as we teach, and we watched a clip from one of Sister Payne's teaching appointments from The District 1 that was a great example. (If you want to see what it was, it was when Sister Payne and Sister Meyers invited Laura to be baptized in The District 1, Episode 3) After we watched that, Brother Randall announced that Sister Payne was here and was going to talk to us. We were all pretty surprised because she wasn't sitting on the stand, and it hadn't been announced previously that she was there. She gave us some great advice, and a little behind-the-scenes information on teaching Laura. After the meeting my companions and I hurried up to the front and we got to shake Sister Payne's hand.

Christmas Eve was a normal day until the devotional, where Elder Evans spoke to us. He and his wife spoke to us about uplifting communication, and how we can improve that. A funny thing was that during his talk, Elder Evans kept on saying "tomorrow when you hear from Elder-- oops I can't talk about that!" and then would continue on with his talk. It was pretty brutal of him, but it was still a nice evening.

After the Devotional the MTC played The Nativity and also Mr. Kreuger's Christmas. It was a lot of fun to watch Mr. Kreuger, since that's probably one of my favorite Christmas traditions.

Wednesday was Christmas! It was a lot of fun. In the morning after I wrote we had a talent show. There were some awesome acts, including probably the best magic act I've ever seen. It wasn't even the most amazing thing that the elder could do, but my favorite bit was that he would handkerchiefs into umbrellas. Along the vein of Elder Evans's teasing, we sang the 12 Days of Missionary Christmas, and the twelfth day was about the twelve apostles. The prop the MTC used to signify that was a picture of Elder Bednar. When they first brought out the picture you could hear half of the MTC whispering "Foreshadowing oooohhh...."

And it was accurate. For our Christmas Devotional, Elder Bednar came and did a question-answer-session. They passed out 200 phones in the congregation (and at all the other international MTCs they passed out iPads or something) and we were able to text in our questions. We ended up talking about a huge amount of different things, but all were excellent. It was amazing also because Elder Bednar didn't have to pause to consider any of the questions. He took a moment to pick one, but then he could speak without breaking or any notes. We noticed this quality of his during the Character of Christ recording, also, because he spoke for more than hour without stopping about a pretty specific subject without ever looking at notes and there are no teleprompters at the MTC.

Something else that was special about the devotional with Elder Bednar was the song that the choir sang. I haven't mentioned this before, I think, but each week the choir does a number at one or both of the devotionals, and almost my whole zone is in it. (I'm really glad I didn't have to coerce to get to choir!) For Elder Bednar we sang "Where Shepherds Lately Knelt." I had never heard it before but it's one of my new favorite Christmas hymns. The lyrics are probably the best I've heard, and I can't even talk about the music.

The devotional with Elder Bednar was definitely the highlight of the day. We had a couple of other programs, including a concert by Ray Smith and the recording of the Home for the Holidays Mormon Tabernacle Choir concert with Alfie Boe from last year.

It was a really uplifting day. Though it was hard to not really be doing anything (and that's the worst thing as a missionary), we tried to sit as a zone as much as possible and it was nice to be together.

Thursday was a normal day again. Classes, the normal things. The only way you could really tell that the rest of the world still thinks it's Christmastime is that the lights were still on the trees in the quad and we didn't get any volunteers at TRC.

Thank you so much for the letters and emails. If you haven't written me yet, I'd love to hear from you! I tried to send out a few Christmas cards, but I only had so many addresses. If you wanted one and haven't received one, send me your address or email!

I love all of you! I'm having a great time here in the MTC. It's been a great growing experience to learn a lot about the Gospel and teaching, but also about myself, the Atonement, and serving others.
I know that the Church is the only true one on the Earth! I know that Christ came to Earth for me and everyone else. A question that Elder Bednar asked us was if Christ ministered to the individual (for example it says in 3 Nephi that every person in Bountiful had their own time with the Savior) how did He suffer for us in Gethsemane? Did He take every pain on Himself at once, or did He maybe, for a moment, suffer for just me, and just every other individual in creation? Elder Bednar didn't answer, because he said there wasn't a doctrinal answer for him to give, but he gave us that to consider. It's an awesome thing to pray about and study. :)
I'm out of time now, and I didn't even get to talking about my investigators or how Czech is coming, but I love you!

Merry Christmas,
Starší Boyce
Package from home! It came on Christmas Eve night so it wasn't delivered until Christmas morning.

Daniel loved his Dr. Who Christmas stocking from Mom and Dad!

It helps to sing in the choir - this is what Daniel's view of Elder Bednar was during the devotional.

Self portrait - hanging with the bass section waiting for the Christmas devotional to start.

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