Tuesday, June 28, 2011

MTC: Week #7

It's Gymmer Time!
Ni hao family and friends,
 Wow the weeks just keep flying by.  Only 4 weeks left and I'm headed for Taiwan.  Thank you mother for that package you sent.  The ankle brace has and will continue to keep my ankle in place.  My ankle is feeling tons better now that I have it.  Hope yours continues to heal well mother.  Wow!!! CONGRATULATIONS Katie Sandersen on the engagement.  (Mom, if Katie doesn't get this at least tell her congrats for me.  Also I would like to see this man and see if I'm okay with him ha ha!) That is way exciting! Dad, I hope the therapy continues to help out your hip.  You better get it as strong as you can so we can go wakeboarding when I get home. Anthony, it sounds like you have been super super busy.  Maybe one day you'll be able to fit into a suit that small. Haha jk.  But I better see that six pack when I get home.  Spencer, continue to work hard at subway and at the exercise place.  Have tons of fun at Lake Powell.  Take lots of pictures and send them to me :)  Julia, when you go with your friends to Pineview, try to learn to wakeboard.  It is so much fun.  Landon, I want to hear from you, and from the rest of you as well, but I want to hear all your funny little sayings and about your scouting.  All of you that are going boating this summer, have lots of fun and take pictures so I can kind of imagine myself there.
 So this week, not much has really happened.  Last Tuesday, I finally got a new haircut and it looks a little bit better.  They still don't know how to cut it!  At the devotional that night, my district got to be ushers for it.  I don't know why, but lately we have been called to do a lot of stuff by the MTC: hosting, ushering, and now that the temple is closing this next week my district has the opportunity to clean it! I'm so excited for it.  Last Wednesday was an awesome day because I finally saw some more friends.  David Lowe and Levi Williams both came into the MTC.  There were a few more people that came in, but you probably don't know them.  So starting about Wednesday, they closed off most of the cafeteria and all of the main building because all 120 new Mission President's, and their wives, and The Quorum of the Twelve and First Presidency would be there for the rest of the week.  They were training all the new Mission Presidents and so they made everything all nice and lovely for them. 
 On Friday, we had a devotional where Elder David A. Bednar talked to us. He talked to us about being Preach My Gospel Missionaries.  Seated behind him was Elder Holland, Elder Oaks, Elder Nelson, Elder Anderson, and Elder Scott.  It was so amazing and the Spirit they brought with them was so amazing.  Sunday, after breakfast, I walked out of the cafeteria and I saw Elder Cook walk down the hall and into the bathroom.  Haha kinda weird but at least I saw an apostle besides from the devotional.  Later that evening, Stephen B. Allen came and talked to us again.  I keep forgetting to bring my notes with me when I write these emails, but his talk was so so good!  Thank you all for the letters you have sent me, and keep sending more.  It is so wonderful to hear from each of you.
 Love, Elder Nick Smith

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

MTC: Week #6

Love going to the Provo Temple

Hey Everybody,
Finally passed half way at the MTC.  Each day passes faster and faster!  It was so sad to hear about Cal Poulsen's passing.  Like Julia said in her email to me, I'm gonna miss seeing him in his window, and all the wonderful times taking the sacrament to him.  I forgot to tell you this a few weeks ago, but I finished "Jesus the Christ".  One of the best books I've ever read so far.  My testimony in Christ was strengthened and still continues to grow stronger. Also, thank you Nana and Papa K for the wonderful goodies you sent me.  We had a killer SIX WEEKS AT THE MTC party!
Anyway, Landon, write me buddy.  I wanna hear some more of your humor.  Julia, I'm glad you had fun in Costa Rica!  Sounds like you and your friends had a blast, even though you didn't get to see Anthony.  Spencer, have fun working at Subway.  Even though you can't get discounts or free subs for me, at least you'll be able to make it exactly how I like it.  Mom, I'm sorry to hear about your ankle.  I know exactly how that feels.  I've been rolling my broken ankle a ton here and finally did it bad enough where it is extremely painful to walk on.  As soon as we both heal up, we'll be in the mode to work hard!  Dad, it is always good to hear from you.  Hope your therapy goes well and that you get your hip strong again. 
So a few things before I tell you about my week.  Dad, you told me to join the choir.  Well, I went to one of the practices, but found out that I will have to usher for the devotional and so I don't know if I'll be able to sing.  But in the coming weeks I will.  Can you also send me Grandpa Smith's address? I will be writing him this week.  Something big might be happening here at the MTC in a few weeks.  If all goes as planned, I will let you know about it :) If not, I'll tell ya anyway haha.
Last Tuesday, Sister Wixom, the General Primary President, came and spoke to us.  It was fun to hear from her, but the thing I loved most was singing the primary songs with all the missionaries.  I miss all the primary songs! They are da best!  Wednesday was my first time hosting the new missionaries.  When you're not hosting, it seems like the funniest thing to do, but when you're actually doing it, it’s not so much. . . sitting out in the heat was the worst!  After I did that, Elder Moore and I ran into a Sister from Mainland China.  We stopped and talked with her for a while...in CHINESE! It's so crazy how in just a few weeks we literally are able to speak with half the world's population.  She helped us a little on how to say things, but overall we did fairly well.  I was feeling all good about my Chinese, and then it hit me that I wasn't really all that . . . We taught a lesson to our teacher (one of our fake investigators) and I honestly knew maybe five words MAX.  I recommitted myself to work my hardest on the language and everything else about missionary work. 
Friday was probably the best day here at the MTC so far.  We had the usual classes and study sessions, but the best part was after all that. Gym was crazy fun!  Had some pretty sick shots at soccer tonight.  Afterwards, we had our Six weeks party.  We had so much candy, and so much soda. Everyone in our zone gathered in our room and we went around and made toasts.  Too bad I didn't film any of it.  It was super hilarious! 
Saturday morning, I started getting shin splints, which was a pain.  I've never had them in my life and they are the worst.  I decided to play soccer with them anyways, which was a bad idea.  The one time I figured I could dribble the ball down, was the last time I would that day.  I pulled a move on this kid and he just rocked my right/broken leg.  He kicked it right on my plate so hard.  I was in so much pain holy cow!  I walked it off and played the rest of the time as goalie.  After gym, we had another lesson with our TRC kid.  I finally found out his name today haha, Zhon.  He is actually from Taiwan and I'm going to miss him because he is going to Cali on vacation, and then we don't teach for a couple weeks.  I got a picture with him so I'll get that home somehow. 
Sunday was so awesome.  Last Sunday I was told that I would be playing the hymns in sacrament meeting.  I figured since I was the organist back home that it would be a piece of cake.  Well, they decided to pick some songs I've never played before.  I practiced all week, but just couldn't seem to get it all down.  I was struggling and messing up every time.  Before the opening song, I said a prayer in my heart for help while I played these songs.  I played the opening song with maybe two errors max.  Sacrament song, I did the same.  Started with a prayer, and to my surprise, I don't even think I messed up.  I said a prayer of thanks after each one, because I knew that I had been helped for each one.  After the sacrament was given, one of the new counselor's wife spoke for a bit.  In her testimony she said, "Angels walk the halls here at the MTC."  That just struck me so hard.  It made me realize that that is true.  Angels are here helping us understand the gospel and learn the languages so that we can help the Lord's children come unto Him.  It even made me think that maybe angels had helped my play the piano today!  After she finished, my Branch President, President Baker, gave a talk.  He started off talking about Father's Day and how much he misses his dad.  He said, "Appreciate the things you have.  You can't appreciate certain things if you don't have them anymore."  That hit me so hard as well.  Dad, I just want you to know that I am grateful for all that you do for me, as well as for the rest of the family.  I appreciate your example to me throughout my life, and for all the hard work you've shown me.  I'm sorry I didn't write you a Father's Day letter, but just know that I love you with all my heart.  I hope you had a wonderful Father's Day!
Well, I miss you all and hope you are all doing well.
Love, Elder Smith


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

MTC: Week #5 (Halfway through)

Is my hair short enough?
Hey everyone,
 Hope all is well with you where ever you are!  Dad it was great to hear from you.  Thanks for all the wonderful material you sent.  I'm sure it will come in handy in the future.  Mom, it sounds like you are enjoying the early mornings with Spencer. Anthony, I'm glad you are doing well and enjoying your first week as branch president.  I think the Lord knew you would get trunky so this is why he called you to this position HA HA!.  Good luck with it! Spencer, in two years you better still be working at Subway.  I was thinking the other day about my subway melt sandwich.  If you quit, at least send me one. :) Julia, be sure to tell me all about Costa Rica.  You beat me out of the USA, nice job! Maybe mom and dad can set us up for a cruise down that way sometime.  Hey Landon, how was Pirates?  If you have a chance, write and tell me all about it and also about all the things you have done recently. It was also good to hear from all my friends, ward members, etc.. this week.  Thank you so much!
My time here at the MTC is almost done.  Tomorrow will be approxiamately my half way mark.  Crazy! It's gone by so fast.  Last Tuesday at the devotional, Elder Kikuchi,  talked to us mainly about "teaching".  One of the things he told us is that we ALL can have our own Sacred Grove experience.  Even though we won't see Heavenly Father or Christ from this experience, we can have something very similar.  He told us to find a spot each day where it is quiet and peaceful, offer our prayer, and then sit, ponder, and wait for inspiriation.  I really liked that a lot.  
Wednesday was so exciting.  A bunch of my friends entered the MTC.  Elder Dubbs, Elder Pitt, Elder Garen Anderson, and a few more from college.  It has been nice to see them around.  Saturday, we taught our TRC people.  I don't know if I've explained this to you, but it is where we teach people from the outside world.  It is pretty much like teaching in the mission field, kinda.  Anyway, me and my companion prepared to teach our investigator about baptism and the importance of repentence.  Like two mintues before we were supposed to teach we were told our investigator couldn't make it and that we would be teaching a new person.  I was relieved/freaking out because I was prepared to teach that lesson and so I thought we wouldn't have to teach, but then we were given a new person and so we didn't know what to teach.  We began teaching this lady and we began with an opening prayer.  I don't remember the words that my companion spoke in the prayer, but almost immediately after the prayer the nerves and everything went away.  We taught a killer lesson, commited her to pray about the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith.  When we were finished we walked into the main waiting room and our original investigator was there.  We gave him a lesson, not on baptism and repentence, but on the commandments.  We just felt like we needed to teach him certain commandments and we commited him to follow and keep these commandments.  We rocked that lesson as well!  
On Sunday, I was released as District Leader.  It will be nice to have some extra study time now that I don't have to go to as many meetings anymore.  The closing song in sacrament meeting was done by the missionaries who left this week.  I don't know what it is called but it is an EFY song.  The girls sing something like "We are daughters of our Heavenly Father who loves us and we love him, yes we love him."  The guys then sang the Army of Helaman.  Look this song up because it is awesome.  They brought the spirit into the room and I will miss each one of them.  Yesterday, Monday, I received a letter from my boy Elder Green.  It was so good to hear from him and his experience at the MTC and in the mission.  He gave me some tips on what to do in my studies and this has already boosted my interest in learning as much as I can here. 
Here are a few things for you family (mom) that you can either keep in the letter or not.  This Friday is our "6 week party."  We will be having a party so if you could send some party treats that would be nice.  Some of the Elders liked the picture scripture markers, and some would like some.  So if you could send me like two for each book of scriptures, that would be awesome.  Also, I will be sending a package home for two special people. Who will it be??? Jk its just birthday gifts.  Also, if you don't mind slipping in a few packs of gum when you send your next package. Send some SICK ties from home.  Especially ones that will match with my grey pants because I accidently traded my only tie that matched my gray pants.  Don't send me a lot but send me the best looking ones you can.  Sometime before I leave the MTC, some of the perfect push-ups would be nice.  I have the normal pushup bars but those are for panzy's.  I will need some for Taiwan.  Oh one more thing.  I forgot to put a return address on the package I sent to missionary mall with the bags, so If you wouldn't mind calling or something and letting them know.  I put your phone number on if they had questions. Well I'm all out of time.  I love you all and miss you all! Love Elder Smith

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

MTC: Week #4 (Whew 1 Month Down)

Treats from Home -- Love it!!!
Hey everyone,
How is everything going?  Hope all is well!  Thank you all so much for the letters.  I love hearing from you and how it is out in paradise.  Thank you Brother Weed and Aunt Caroline, loved the letters from you.  I also got my first letter from a girl outside of the family--that was really really nice, Thank You! So tomorrow I will have one month down in the mission field.  It has gone by super fast.  So this week we have done the usual: studying, teaching, learning, etc...  However, I did have a few spiritual experiences this week.  In my prayers I have been asking God for a few things.  And some of them have been answered so far.  Friday, we were watching a documentary on Thomas S. Monsen.  The most random thought popped into my head and said, "He is a prophet of God for our day."  The spirit that was with that was amazing!  Saturday I was reading Jesus the Christ and about his suffering and crucifixion.  There were some powerful words that I read about which, along with the spirit, manifested that He did suffer for each one of our sins and that it is only through Him that we can return to our Father in Heaven.  I was pondering the Atonement and had an amazing question.  It was, "How many drops of blood did he shed for me?"  These words make me never want to sin again.  They are so powerful.  This past Sunday was my first Fast Sunday in the mission field.  Can I just say it was awesome!  It was my first real opportunity to bear my testimony in the Chinese language.  Surprisingly it is not as hard as it seems.  All the testimonies were wonderful!  During mission conference we sang this SICK version of "Called to Serve".  If we do it again I'll be sure to film/record it for all to see and hear.  Monday was  kind of a downer.  My teacher, Brother Prier, has been wanting us to SYL (Speak Your Language) as much as we can.  He asked us how well we did from 1-5 in gym, during meal times, and at our dorm.  Average for me was about a 1.5.  I felt like I let him down.  I set some goals and am working to improve that.  Mom you had some questions for me. Music--yesterday was my first opportunity to play the piano.  It has been a while and so I couldn't remember some of the songs.  It would be nice to have some sheet music :) Favorite meal here--for breakfast I usually have 2 bagels with strawberry cream cheese and 3 chocolate milks OR a bowl of ceral and a bagel.  It is so delicious!  For lunch/dinner my favorite meal has been chicken cordon bleu. YUM
Thank you again everyone for all the letters.  It was so good to hear from you all.  DAD--Expect a birthday package in about a week.  I know it is a little late but something is taking forever to get ordered.  Landon- I absolutely loved your letter! I could not stop laughing about it.  Hope you are having a super duper fun time playing your video games.  Spencer-send me a pic of you and those prom chicks :)  Julia-hope you have fun in Costa Rica! If you see Anthony be sure to get a picture and send it to me.  Mom-thank you for the package with the socks and shirt and food.  Oh, and I remembered the password to the voicemail on Julia's phone. . .Mom you also wanted to know my teacher's names.  My teachers are Brother Prier and Brother Barton.  They are super chill, especially Brother Barton.  I don't know if I told you this, but my branch presidency here was the exact same presidency for my friend Tyson Green.  They have told me he was a wonderful a missionary.  I have also seen and talked with one of his teachers, Brother Taylor, who is super cool as well.  So Sister Mueller asked me to say hi to the Evans twins.  I went up to one of them and asked if he knew the Muellers.  I'm thinking he thought I said a different name like Miller or something and so he wasn't sure.  He said his brother would know and that he would ask him.  I told them "The Mueller's say hi", so hopefully they figured it out. 
Wo zhidao Yesu Jidu shi zhenshi de.  Wo zhidao wei women de zui Ta shuzhi.  Wo zhidao, jiezhe Yesu Jidu de shu zui, women keyi jieshou kuanshu.  Ruguo women huigai, women gen women de jiating huode yongheng.  Feng Yesu Jidu de ming, Amen.
--Elder Smith