Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Training wheels are coming off!

"When everything says you can't, believe in the part of you that says you can."
Sunday was an extremely spiritual day for me. Yes, it was the Sabbath, which is always spiritual, but there was a wonderful dose of Firesides, talks from Apostles, and scripture study that added to it immensely. The quote above came from the Fireside. It's always important to remember that whenever you doubt your abilities that you can achieve much more than you ever thought if you have faith.
We listened to a talk by Elder Holland. He shared that the main reason we don't see miracles in our lives is because we're not willing to take the extra steps necessary to go off the edge. "You won't ever fly if you don't jump off the edge. Water doesn't boil at 210 degrees. Even though 210 is very hot, it takes those two extra degrees to make magic happen." The same is true with our lives. If we want to see miracles or blessings, we must be willing to put in that extra ounce of work even though we don't think we can do anymore. That's the principle of faith. Stepping out one step farther than what is normally expected. I hope I'm able to do that as I travel to the mission field.
Mission field? Hmm, I guess I should mention that. Today is my last day at the MTC. Tomorrow morning at 6:00am I will be on a bus with the 12 other missionaries who are heading to the Utah Salt Lake City South Mission. We will meet with the Mission President, meet our new companions, and then be out into the work. I am so excited to get going! Even though I've grown immensely over the past three weeks, I'm ready to share that growth with others. That's the whole reason I came out here. It's going to be scary at first - talking to strangers, sharing my knowledge of truth, and working harder than I ever had before. Nonetheless, I'm much more excited for this than I was to get into the MTC.
"Shall we not go on in so great a cause? Go forward and not backward. Courage, brethren; and on to the victory!" D&C 128: 22
I'm ready to press onward. I'm ready to get to work. I'm sure once I get out there I will have trials and struggles, but as the verse above says, shall we not go on in so great a cause?
PS: I wanted to take a second to thank everyone who has sent me letters, Dear Elders, packages, or notes. They're a very welcome addition to my mission. It's nice to see little thoughts from home. Starting today, please use my mission home address.
Elder Kevin M. Bolling
Utah Salt Lake City South Mission
8060 S. 615 E.
Sandy, Utah
As soon as I get the address for my residence in my first transfer, I will also post in on here. Thanks for the well wishes!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Fresh Courage Take

"Why should we think to earn a great reward if we now shun the fight?"

That is a line from the famous hymn "Come, Come, Ye Saints" that was written during the travails of the persecuted Saints traveling West. Every time I sing or hear this hymn, it moves me. This line in particular. It's a true Gospel principle. At times in life and in the field, I wonder why things have to be so hard. Well, for one, nothing I'm doing even compares to the struggles that the Saints went through, let alone the struggles Jesus Christ went through for us. Yet the principle remains the same. We are called to all be disciples of Jesus Christ - and how can we think to earn our reward after this life if we're not willing to do the work? The humility of this hymn always hits me and makes me rededicate myself to the work I'm doing.

Well, we're officially the "old guys" at the MTC! That seems strange to say since we've only been out here for two weeks, but we will no longer be at the MTC when I write my next blog update. The MTC experience has just flown by faster than I ever imagined. I've learned so much, grown spiritually, and made extremely close friends. I absolutely love my district. I know for a fact that a few of the Elders and Sisters I've gotten to know so well will be lifelong friends that I'll never lose touch with.

Teaching has been a rewarding yet frustrating experience. One of our mock investigators has taken three lessons to simple understand the concept of prayer. It's really humbling when you realize that there are many out there in the world who have never had the benefit of praying. On the other hand, other times my companion and I have seen how much we have grown in unity through teaching. Our most recent lessons work well, communicate good points, and share the Spirit with the investigators. I'm sure once I get out into the field with an Elder who has been doing this for months that I will be humbled even more.

If there's one personal thought I could share this week, it would be to live life to the fullest. On the mission that means to focus on the work "with an eye single to the glory of God." Obviously, that's easier said than done. I want to write home, I want to hear from my girlfriend, and I'm developing deep connections that I want to continue after I leave the MTC. However, as much as I value those things...the mission rules make it easier to do that. I'm beginning to realize the value of not e-mailing all of my friends, the value of only writing home once a week, and the value of not being able to keep up with the ouside world as much. While I miss all of those experiences and fondly look forward to their return, my mission experience is being boosted every day as I focus more on the work.

That applies to life at home - live life to the fullest. The priorities are different, but don't become dragged down in "the thick of thin things". Figure out what is most important in your life, focus on those things, give them the time they need and deserve, and be sure to have no regrets afterwards. All we do should be focused on those important things in our lives, because whatever they may be for each of us, those are the things that will bring us the most happiness and success. And of course, keep your eye single to the glory of God in all that you do, whether it's missionary work, a career, or in family.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Let the Game Begin

6 days down at the Missionary Training Center! I've had an absolutele blast in my first week as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It's amazing the outpouring of spiritual blessings that can accompany you as you make the time and put in the effort to serve the Lord. I've been blessed in so many ways. I'll try to talk about most of them in the short time I have to write this update.

Coming to the MTC, I had the opportunity to meet up with two of the Elders who taught me in Richmond. They met me at the airport and drove me to Provo. It was refreshing to meet back up with them and hear their insights about what to expect as I entered the MTC. They are both wonderful examples and I'm glad to have been able to catch up with them. Ironically enough, one of my teachers in the MTC is a Ward member with one of those missionaries. What a small world!

Well, how about life in the MTC? It's busy. Really busy. We wake up at 6:30, get ready, eat breakfast, study, and get into class by 8:20. At a minimum, we have 6 hours of class, 2 hours of study, and 2 more hours of teaching time. Many days we add in devotionals, Church movies, and other seminars or Firesides. You'd think I'd be tired, but I have more energy than I've ever had in my life. That is surely a blessing for being willing to serve as a missionary. I know as I continue to strive to do my best I will be given that extra energy to do what I need to do.

I love the group of Elders and Sisters that I have been able to spend time with as a missionary. There are a number of unique personalities in the group, but they all fit in order to make a well-oiled training machine. I have learned so much about the Gospel from the others in the room and I know I've been put with them for a reason. It will be hard to leave them in two short weeks, but I know being in the missionary field will be much more exciting. I'll certainly try to keep up with many of them through letters during their missions.

It's unique being a convert to the Church as a missionary. During our entrance orientation, the Mission President has converts from the last 2 years stand up. There had to have been only 10 of them out of a room of 500 missionaries. Many of the missionaries have grown up in the Church and do not know what life without the Church is like. I've been happy to share my experiences and communicate the difference membership in the Church has made in my life. I hope that I've been able to be a positive influence in some way, shape, or form, to make them better missionaries. I know I'll be a better missionary as a result of my time here.

It's also nice to hear from home. Sara was very thoughtful and had many members of our FHE group in the Langley ward write notes to me that she sent out on my first day as a missionary. That was touching and I put all of those on my board in my room so that I can be reminded that I have support. Thanks to all of you who did that and also thanks to those who are thinking or praying for me. I can certainly feel the added strength I've been given through your support. Sara has been great as well, as I love hearing her insights of what it's like to be a missionary. She's certainly prepared me well for all I'm experiences. I'm thankful for her. I also love getting letters from others. One of my missionaries from Richmond wrote me asking how it was and to inform me where to get the good food at the MTC that wouldn't make me fat. (I'm proud to report that I have not gained a pound in my first 6 days...though it was hard doing so! The food is great!) I also like hearing updates from my family when I get to use the computer. I'm thankful for all the support.

I look forward to keeping everyone updated on my progress - and I hope that you will keep in touch so that I can hear how things are going back home! I love the mission field but I miss being back home in Virginia!

Elder Bolling

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

I'm leaving on my mission...tomorrow!

Hey everyone!

This will be my last post before I leave tomorrow morning at 7:00AM for the Missionary Training Center in Provo, UT! Even though I've tried my best, I'm sure there are people that I forgot to say bye to before I stepped on the plane. If I forgot, first off, I'm sorry. Second, please keep in touch!

My address at the MTC:
Elder Kevin Michael Bolling
MTC Mailbox # 383
UT-SLCS 0727
2005 N 900 E
Provo, UT 84604-1793

Please contact me! It will be nice to hear from folks back home and I look forward to hearing about how things are doing back East.

I will be also be posting weekly updates when possible about my travels and the happenings while I'm out in Utah. I hope they will be entertaining and enjoyable for anybody who reads them. Once I leave the MTC and move into the mission field, I will post my new address.

Take care, everyone! On to Utah!