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!