Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Mark's first post from the MTC - September 18, 2015

Fridays are P day!

And queue the tears...
Haha sorry I am just assuming.

But let me tell you mom that the MTC is a blessed place where the spirit is stronger than the temple! It is everything I thought it would be and so so so so much more! I can't believe everything that I've learned already and I'm just days into it. I am so excited for the next two years because I get to be focused on the gospel 24/7 and what an amazing blessing is that??? It is kinda weird but I feel like I have changed so much already! I am enjoying what I am learning so much that I'm actively trying to learn rather than school where I would pay just enough attention so that I could do well on the tests. I have my notes out all the time and writing things down and each night I want to go over the notes to review them and solidify them in my mind. I really am learning so much and it is so fun. I remember saying to you that I didn't think I would change that much over the two years because I'm older and a more set in my ways, I just figured that I would just grow spiritually and that's it. Well I can tell that I am going to change and I'm super excited to see that and I hope it is a big change because I know it can only be change for good. 

So how did it go for me... it was like 2 days ago but it seems like so much more! So day 1 was pretty easy where we just did orientation stuff until the evening where we did a little seminar called People and Your purpose, they brought in 3 investigators and they had US teach them. There were like 30 new missionaries in the room and we all had the opportunity to stand and say what we thought the investigator needed to hear, we had a mediator that would pause and give us some direction. We met with one at a time maybe for half an hour then moved to a new room and met with a new investigator. It was cool to see how much better we got from the first investigator to the last. And even cooler was that we saw progress teaching on day 1! This is an inspired place and an inspired program and I see that time and time again. 

So my companion is Elder Swainston and he is seriously the best companion. It really isn't fair that he is my comp now because I only get him for 12 days and then out in the field I'm going to have a super tough Elder for like 3 transfers haha Our district has 6 elders and 4 sisters. Me, Elder Swainston, Bixler, Te'o, Nilssen, and Janson. The Sisters are King, Almond, Michas, and Wilhelmsen. I hope I talk about them a lot because they are an amazing group I am super lucky to be serving with them in this district. Elder Swainston and I decided after day 1 that we have a lot to learn from the sisters as they are far more prepared and spiritual than us! Me and Swainston are headed to Cincy together and the elders are headed to Irvine, CA and the Sisters are headed to Albuquerque, NM. The other district in our zone has 4 sisters that are headed to Cincy though, they are Sisters Pavaone, Clark, Feil, and one other that starts with an s... So we met our branch president last night... his name is President Lords! I thought that was pretty cool! He instructed us and we all recieved our first assignments. It is kinda like a singles ward where everyone has an assignment so that was good. Me and Elder Swainston were given Zone Leaders which is kinda rough because we were already thinking that we had sooo much to do and we didn't have the time to do it and now we have additional responsibilities. But honestly I'm glad for it, we were able to stay really busy and that is a good feeling, that we are anxiously engaged in a good work. I remember thinking before I came to the MTC, in the last week that maybe the investigators aren't going to be the only ones that I can help over these 2 years and that maybe I can also be an influence in the missionaries lives. As I was reading my purpose as a Zone Leader, it was really cool because it said that my purpose is to Invite other missionaries to come unto Christ by helping them recieve the restored gospel through faith in the lord Jesus Christ and in his atonement, repentance, baptism, recieving the gift  of the holy ghost and enduring to the end. Exactly the same as my missionary purpose but focused on my fellow missionaries.

I'm having an amazing time and am so glad that I made the decision to come out and excited to see what work the Lord has in store for me. I'm super grateful for all the love, support and prayers it is helping more than you know. I love you and it is so good to hear from you!

Elder Howland

(Mark has 0 e-mail addresses or physical address...apparently he didn't look in the book at the open house.  Please post your e-mail address to his Facebook page and I'll make sure these get to him.)

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