First of all I need to say that the other day we got our travel plans for leaving to Phoenix! We leave next Tuesday, the 24th, and 8:33 am. As excited as I am to get out into the field, we haev to be at our travel office by 5 am. I can't wait though! I've been taking lots of pictures. I'm going to print some out and put in my little photo album and I'll send my memory card home just before I leave the MTC.
Things are going great in the MTC. Dad I have been getting all of the DearElder.com letters and they are so so great to read. It's a really helpful program, Elders get the letters the day they are typed. The other day Elder Buttars got 10 DearElders. Crazy.
We've been studying a lot, go figure, and I'm learning so much. Last week Elder Buttars and I did what are called Teaching Appointments, or TA's. We prepare a 45 minute lesson and teach a volunteer pretending to be an investigator. Our first TA with an elderly woman named June went so well. We knew she was already a member, but she played the part of an investigator pretty good. Our second one on Friday was with a man named James. It went ok, not as good as we were hoping. The only thing we struggled with was just putting everything into words, we were a little tongue-tied. On Saturday when we went into our evening class with Brother Thacker, anotherteacher ran into our room saying that they needed another district ASAP for TAs because they had too many volunteers. On the spot, Elder Buttars and I taught the Restoration. It was as close to a real-life teaching appointment as it gets. It was as if we were out in the field and had knocked on this man's door. I'm pretty proud of Elder Buttars, he was so nervous but we pulled it off.
Every Sunday afternoon the missionaries are allowed to walk on the temple grounds, take pictures and see other missionaries. That's when I see so many friends of mine. Yesterday I saw Travis Tingey, a friend who went to Kamiakin. Last week I got a picture with Elder Brown, the Sintay's nephew. We met at BYU and were actually on the same flight home for Christmas break last December. Monday morning for PDay we actually go inside to the temple. I really enjoy that. Sitting with the other missionaries brings in a peace that I can't quite describe.
Last Wednesday we got new Elders! We weren't the youngins anymore! And this Wednesday we get even more. It seems like yesterday that we were the ones wandering around the campus without a clue as to where we had to go. All of the older Elders in our zone are leaving. I've become really good friends with Elder Cathcart, who's actually from Arizona! He says he lives just few minutes from the mission home in Glendale. He says President Beck is an incredible man. I can't wait to meet him. He says that Sister Beck will be your mom away from home, that when she tells you to do something, YOU DO IT. Sounds like a mom to me! I can't wait to meet them. My branch president, President Myers, says that I will come to love the realtionship that I develop with my mission president.
This week I've been doing the best I could to make sure that everyone was doing ok. My biggest concern was mail. Not everyone was getting mail, and it was pretty obvious how these particular missionaries felt. One of them was a sister in my district. Her companion gets tons of mail, but she hadn't had one in the week and a half we'd been here. I took my companion and went to the bookstore. We bought eight candy bars, two for each of the sisters, and put them on the sisters' desks when they were out of the room, saying that they were form all of the elders and that we really loved and appreciated the work they were doing. All of these sisters took this very well. the next day as I was handing out mail, this particular sister once again did not have anything for her. As I handed the last letter to her companion, she kind of hung her head and reached into her backpack. She pulled out one of the candy bars, broke off a piece and ate it. It both broke and warmed my heart at the same time. I kept praying for opportunities to serve her and make her feel loved. The next day, she got a letter. And another the next. She was so happy, and I was happy to see her happy. I told this story to one of the members of my branch presidency, and he said that he appreciated me and how hard I was trying to follow the example of the Savior.
I love this place. I find myself singing more frequently. I may have said that before, but it's true. The Spirit is much stronger when we sing. Every night before bed, the Elders in my district get together in one of our rooms, sing, and kneel in prayer together. In our District Meeting yesterday I taught a lesson about charity and Christlike love. We finished the lesson by singing all 7 verses of "A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief." Needless to say, the Spirit of the lesson remained in our minds and hearts for the rest of the day.
I love you all and thank you for your love, prayers and support. Please continue to send letters, I love hearing about how all of you are doing. Mom, I miss your cooking. I'm expecting a small book of your recipes :)