Monday April 11, 2016
Becky and her kids picked us up at 8:30am and dropped us off at the MTC. We had orientation, got our room, eat lunch and dinner, and meet wonderful people. There were over 80 senior missionaries who entered the MTC today, going all over the world and doing a variety of assignments. We are the only ones going to Central America.
One of the highlights was listening to a talk given by Elder Bednar at the MTC acouple of years ago. It was a powerful talk about testimony, conversion and the character of Christ. Here are a few highlights:
· He quoted Elder Neil Maxwell, “There would be no atonement without the Character of Christ”.
· He taught us that the character of Christ is turning outward when we would normally turn inward, being selfless. He used Matt 4:2-12 as an example of this. At the beginning of His ministry, the Savior fasted for 40 days and then was tempted by Satin. After have gone through this experience, verse 12 states that angels administered to Him. However, the JST states that Angels were sent by the Lord to John the Baptist because he was in prison. After suffering, tempted and weak, we would normally want to be ministered to, but instead the Savior was thinking of others.
· He taught that there is a difference between having a testimony and being converted. He taught that conversion is consistently being true to what we know. As we do so, testimony will deepen into conversion. See Alma 23:5-6. Alma taught that the Lamanites that had testimonies “and were converted unto the Lord, never did fall away”
· He illustrated the “natural man” as the cookie monster, who only is thinking about himself and getting cookies. He taught from Mosiah 3:19 that we need to put off the natural man through the atonement of Christ and as we do we become more like the Savior.
· He illustrated another principle outlined in Ether 3:4. This is the story of the brother of Jared who needed light for the barges they had built to travel across the great waters. The Lord asked him what he would have him do. The Brother of Jared make 16 small stones and asked the Lord to touch them and they would produce light. Verse 6 states that the Lord “touched the stone one by one with his finger.” The next sentence talks about the Brother of Jared seeing the finger of the Lord. Elder Bednar taught that the Brother of Jared did not see the finger with the first stone, but sometime as the 16 stones were touched the Brother of Jared’s faith had grown sufficiently faith that he then saw the finger of the Lord.
· The take home message is that the Character of the Lord is unselfishness, thinking of others when the natural man would think of himself. As we lose ourselves in service to others we will find ourselves. Michelle and I both have committed to be more selfless in all we do.
There were several tender mercies today, but Michelle will describe those in her journal.
April 15, 2016
Our Preach my Gospel training is over. It has been a wonderful and growing experience. We made wonderful friends, have learned to rely on the Spirit and have developed confidence in each other. I have also realized that maybe I do have the gift of tongues. Let me explain.
We have been role playing several times this week. Michelle and I have taught well together and we have been blessed with teaching with the spirit. But today, just before we were leaving our study room to have another teaching experience, we were told that would be teaching in Spanish. We were assigned our friend, Sister Byington, who speaks very little English and her companion, Sister Stuart, an American who is going to Peru. Sister Stuart was a missionary in Argentina about the same time I was in Uruguay. Her Spanish, however, is better than mine. They were to act as inactive members and we are supposed to find our why so we could teach them a lesson. This was to be all done in Spanish. When we heard that, we were frantic. Struggling through asking questions in Spanish we found out their story: Sister Stuart had been inactive for a long time and didn’t care about coming back to Church. She was only there to support her friend, Sister Byington. Sister Byington had been a member for only 3 years but was inactive because her husband and daughter did not like her going to Church. She wanted to go to church and realized that she was losing the wonderful feeling she had when she was baptized.
We had 25 minutes to prepare a lesson specifically for them. We came up with a lesson plan in English, but were really concerned about trying to teach it in Spanish. After our preparation time, we went back to our room with faith that our Heavenly Father would help us. I welcomed them and Michelle gave the opening prayer. Once Michelle gave the prayer, this spirit settled in. We discussed Mosiah 2: 41, Almas plea for his sons and the change that came to them and then we discussed ways that they could feel the spirit without offending Sister Byington’s husband such as praying and reading the scriptures. We then promised her that if she would read and pray, love and serve her husband and family that the spirit would soften her family’s hearts. The spirit was strong and some of us were in tears. The words came to my mind freely and I was able to get across what I was trying to say. We both spoke beyond our capabilities. And even though our Spanish was lacking, they understood all we said.