Good morning! I am going to Romania this Monday!! WHAT!!!??? I honestly cannot believe it! I feel like I have only been in the MTC for a week. Time flies when you are having fun and being fed by the spirit. These past 6 weeks have been some of the most amazing weeks of my life. Not only were they super fun, but more importantly for the things I have learned at felt as I have come closer to the Savior, as I help others come closer to Him through helping them receive the restored gospel. The spirit at the MTC is so unique. I have taken it for granted from time to time. It is the greatest feeling to always have the spirit constantly with me as I go about my day, dedicating it to the Lord. I will continue to carry this spirit that I have felt here into Romania, where I will help some of his most precious children learn about the joy that comes from living the gospel of Jesus Christ. I feel like I have prepared to the best of my ability while here that the MTC. Four more days to finish putting on that coat of primer!
This week in particular has been very spiritually uplifting. General Conference was SOOOO good! It was amazing watching it at the MTC with 2000 other missionaries, and not having to do yard work while listening- I just focused on the messages and what the Holy Ghost was saying to me! I came with two questions, and both were answered in unique ways. Elder Holland described how to be a better priesthood holder. He simply said that I need to love, be a friend, and listen! So simple, but yet so vital, as we observed through his story that he shared. Indeed the priesthood is about lifting up our brothers and sisters. I am so excited to be able to do this everyday as I serve the Romanians. I would write a whole email about conference, but I have little time and so many wonderful experiences to share!
I have noticed that each week of being here I have learned a little bit more about how to be like Christ. This week the Lord taught be about the importance of personal revelation, and how to be guided by the spirit. This is something that I have mentioned that I have struggled at while being here at the MTC, but this week was different. I have come to a greater knowledge of the love that Heavenly Father has for each one of his children. One way he does this is through giving us personal revelation and direction through the spirit!
Doctrine and Covenants 130:21 "
Aren't commandments wonderful? And teaching them to investigators is even cooler because we get to promise specific blessings, according to the scriptures, and the direction of the spirit, and see those blessings come into their lives!
As I serve the Lord in Romania, I am also learning how to follow the commandments with more exactness, and receive those blessings which are predicated to those laws.
The next two miracles are more personal, but way to wonderful to not share with you all.
I will just quote what I said in my journal: "Before Elder Rasband's talk, I prayed to Heavenly Father to give me some sort of witness today that He is watching over me and cares about me (I had just felt a little alone the previous couple days). Well, my prayer was answered almost immediately after I concluded my prayer, through the words that Elder Rasband said. Never had the doctrine of "God speaks to me through the mouth of his prophet's" become so real until that talk. One thing in particular hit me very strong, "Christ-like service results in feeling God's love for me!" I had been feeling God's love for me all along! All of those times were I felt a great love for my investigators, when I've felt joy that they were keeping the commitments that we invited them to do- is the same kind of love that God has for me! (on an even greater scale). When I heard that quote, I immediately felt peace and comfort, that I have a loving Heavenly Father who is always stretching out his arms and blessing me beyond belief. Heavenly Father and his son, Jesus Christ, are REAL. They love US! I am so grateful that God blessed me with this personal confirmation."
Finally, (and there were actually more, but I don't have the time to share them) was about my divine call as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Our teacher, Sora Long, challenged us to seek for a personal witness that my call to serve in Romanian was from God. Even though I felt like I knew that my call is from God, I decided to pray about it anyways, trusting that if I knock, God will answer. So, the next day I was doing my personal study, and was in Mosiah 26. In this chapter, Alma is seeking for an answer from God, similar to me. As I read verst 15 and 20, I realized that this scripture was God talking to ME!!!!! How cool is that!? The scriptures teach that one way to receive an answer from God is through studying the scriptures.
Blessed art thou, [Alex], and blessed are they who were baptized in the waters of Mormon. Thou art blessed because of thy exceeding faith in the words alone of my servant [President Monson].
Thou art my servant; and I covenant with thee that thou shalt have eternal life; and thou shalt serve me and go forth in my name, and shalt gather together my sheep.(Note: brackets indicate the personal implication of these scriptures to my life)
After reading these verses, I knew for certain that my call is in fact from God, and that as I serve him, going forth in his name, he will bless me! He is proud of my decision to dedicate two years to Him.
The gospel is REAL! Repentance is REAL and brings JOY! The Book of Mormon is TRUE! God loves YOU! That RHYMES! I have never been so happy in my life until now, for great is my joy in serving the Almighty God. It is amazing to see him pour out His blessings.
So those are (some of) the miracles from my week. God is watching over me! I encourage everyone to look for the miracles in your life- it starts with service!
Limba Romana update: I. LOVE. ROMANIAN. Yes it is super hard and my mind is blown after every grammar lesson, but God is blessing me with the capacity to understand and slowly apply the things I have learned. The gift of tongues is truly real. I see evidence of it everyday. I no longer stress a ton about having the right words to say, or feeling like I haven't prepared enough for the lessons. I diligently follow and use effectively the the plan of Personal Study, Companionship Study, and then Language Study (all 1 hour each), then go in to lessons with a prayer in my heart and really listen to what the spirit would have me say. This is all the Lord asks of me, and he promises to help me with the rest. I am able to convey my thoughts in Romanian so much better than a couple of weeks ago!
Funny language mistake: When I invited Daniel to baptism, I asked him if he could be baptized with someone with TEETH (dantura) rather than WHO HOLDS (denține) ! hahaha It was pretty funny. I even paused when I said it, knowing that it sounded funny, but I moved on haha.
Funny experience of the week: Since all of the Italians left on either or , we had the whole residence to ourselves. We were showering after exercise , and I was the first one out. I walked to our room and realized that the door was closed... and we had no key... and we were in our towels... haha. Sooooo we decided it was appropriate to use the emergency red phone in the hallway and called the front desk. Varstnic Bakers conversation went something like this...
Varstnic Baker: Hi... So we got locked out of our room.Varstnic Baker: *Pauses*... and we just got out of the shower... so we don't have any clothes.
At that point we were dying of laughter. To make things more embarrassing, the new Italians were coming that day and sure enough one of them arrived while we were in our towels. Super awkward/funny first meeting haha! Thankfully they had a worker let us in and went about our day joyfully after that.
I am the other Zone leader until we leave, and so we had the opportunity to put on the welcome orientation for the 45 new Italians. It was a really great experience and I was able to bear my testimony of the importance of the MTC and the importance of obedience. I love being able to lead and help others! Especially new missionaries.
I wish I had more time, but I just want to conclude with one last thing.
Music is a very big part at the MTC. There are always special musical numbers in deviotionals, we sing hymns before we begin class, etc. I have gained a grained appreciation for music! I really want to become a better singer while I am on my mission. My one regret: I can't play the piano well! Tyler, Alysee, Nate, Coop, Chloe: LEARN TO PLAY THE PIANO!! It will bless you guys so much. We are going to sing Joseph Smith's first Prayer in Romanian to all the new Italians. I have loved learning how to sing the tenor part and it will sound amazing in a capella. Stay tuned for a recording!
Well, next email will be in Romania! I can't believe it. We leave the MTC at , and fly out of Salt Lake to Minneapolis, where we will fly to AMSTERDAM!! From Amsterdam we will fly to Bucharest (about 23 hours of total time in the air) and I'll be picked up by President and Sister Ivory. I can't wait!!!
I love you all, and pray for you everyday. Thank you so much for the letters you have sent me! I am so sorry if I don't reply to them all, time is limited here :( I gotta say though Coop- your email was HILARIOUS! I really wish I got to see the kid poop and cry when he got juked by you ;)
I love being a missionary!!