Elder Bird's Missionary Blog

How The MTC Changed Me


Hi everyone!! I know this post is a little bit early, but I have some pretty big news!

To make a long story short, I was just diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. I have come home from my mission for a little while to learn how to deal with this new thing in my life. I was released from the hospital yesterday and am currently back home in California. I will be released as a missionary with a medical release this afternoon. I know it is a big shock! I'll be the first one to say that I never in my life thought I could have diabetes. But I do now. I know that God let this obstacle happen to me for a reason, and I hope I can have enough perspective to know, truly, that He knows best on this one.

So I'm guessing some people want to hear the long story. So here goes! Remember on Tuesday when I said I was feeling really thirsty? Well I was also feeling a bit weak, and I was having to use the bathroom way more often than I should have needed to. So after emailing on Tuesday, I went to get my haircut and had a small thought afterward, that maybe I should get checked out by the doctor. I decided to follow that prompting and headed to the doctor at the MTC. So I went in at 11am.

One of the first signs that something weird was happening, was when the nurse checked my weight. When she weighed me, I weighed 10 pounds less than I did when I entered the MTC. Now I don't know if you have seen me, but most people say I don't really have ten pounds to lose. So that was surprising to me. The nurse took some blood work and told me to come back for another appointment at 1pm. I thought that was kind of a bummer, because my zone usually goes to the temple around 1pm on P-days, but I said okay.

When I returned at 1pm, the nurse looked very concerned. She sat me down in the room and I waited for the doctor to come in. I started reading an Ensign that was there in the room, and flipped open to a talk about trials in this life. I didn't really realize how applicable that talk would be in about 5 minutes. When the doctor came in, he sat me down and told me that my blood sugar was above average (by a fair amount). At first, I thought maybe I was just eating too much sweets or something. But then he explained that with the symptoms I was showing, that there was a very high possibility that I was diabetic.

“...What?” I thought as I sat there. What does that even mean? How in the world could I get diabetes? It didn't even make sense to me. I asked the doctor three times if I had done this to myself by eating too much or by having too many sweets. He told me no, that I was predisposed to this and I had no hand in causing this to myself. I still felt unsure. After he told me the news, he explained to me that because my blood sugar level was so high (around 560 to be exact) that I needed to go to the ER immediately to get it down. That was also a bit of a shocker! Then he left to call a shuttle for me. I looked at my Ensign article with a new understanding of why I had been reading that talk. All I could think was, “There has to be a reason, Ryan. Just put your trust in God.”

So I took the shuttle to the ER. They got me into a bed and hooked me up to some machines. Apparently when I arrived at the ER, my blood sugar had risen even more to about 850 (which, apparently, is very dangerous for you). After an hour in the ER, my mom called [she had been told by my home Bishop that I had been admitted to the hospital] and I told her what was happening. About 20 minutes after that call, I realized I had nothing to do as I waited for them to get my blood sugar down, so I asked for a Book of Mormon and started reading.

I will never forget the verse in the Book of Mormon that set the tone for this whole ordeal in my mind. I had just restarted the Book of Mormon the other day and was reading in 1 Nephi chapter 2. Laman and Lemuel were complaining as always, but the verse that stuck out to me was verse 12. It reads:

12 And thus Laman and Lemuel, being the eldest, did murmur against their father. And they did murmur because they knew not the dealings of that God who had created them.

I love that verse. It seems simple, but it was so powerful to me as I sat alone in the ER. Was I going to murmur against my Heavenly Father, who had created me, because I didn't know why I got diabetes on my mission, right before I went out? Was I going to complain that it was hard, or wonder why it had to be me who got diabetes? The resounding answer in my mind was NO. God had let this happen to me for a reason. He knows what He is doing. He knows me better than anyone else. And He would be with me as I figured all this out. I am grateful for His hand in helping me find that verse and to understand that I would be okay.

After about 3 hours in the ER, I was moved up to the second floor to a unit that was a step down from the ICU, and that was where I would spend my first night in the hospital. When I got up there, I continued to wait and read the Book of Mormon. My mom called again and told me that she had decided to fly out that night to be with me and make sure that I was going to be okay. Every so often, I would check the clock and figure out what my district was doing. I wondered how the Devotional was going and who was saying the opening prayer for Elder Bednar now that I wasn't there. I was disappointed that I couldn't do it. At around 9:15, my Branch President and his wife showed up at my room. They were both very sweet to me, asking if I needed anything and telling me that I was in my zone's prayers. I was appreciative of that, and let them know that I was fine. I really did feel fine, and I told them to tell everyone not to worry. They left and then I tried to get some sleep, which was hard because the nurses kept coming in to check my blood sugar and vitals every 2 hours.

The next day finally came. My blood sugar was down to normal now, so they let me take a shower and told me that later I would be moving to another room. This was a good sign they said, it meant that I was graduating out of that unit to a normal floor. After my shower, my mom and sister, Melanie, arrived. It was such a blessing to see them again. We talked about what was happening and everything and they helped me to feel less lonely. My teacher from the MTC also came by and brought me some letters from everyone in my district. It meant a lot to me as I read each one.

The rest of my time in the hospital was spent with them (showing off with my new Indonesian skills) and trying to get educated on how to deal with diabetes. The hospital diabetes specialists trained me in taking my blood sugar, giving myself insulin, and in calculating how much insulin I would need for meals. The educators were very kind, and I knew I was in good hands. That night my mom stayed with me at the hospital.

Thursday morning was busy with more education from the specialists and also the dietitian. Finally at around 2:30pm, I was released from the hospital and was on my own now in figuring out the diabetic thing. I have to say, it was a little intimidating.

I went back to the MTC to pack up all my stuff. While there, I was able to reconnected with my companion and saw most of the guys in my district. It was hard knowing that I was not going to be heading to Indonesia with them. I was so looking forward to it. After I got packed, I was able to officially say goodbye to my district and my zone. I am not kidding when I say they are the best district and zone in the MTC. They are all amazing missionaries. I know their prayers and thoughts were helping me in the hospital. Before I left, I made sure to get everyone's emails and told them to write. Then we said goodbye for a while.

My mom and I caught a flight home late last night. I went to see my doctor today and also an endocrinologist (diabetic specialist). I am figuring things out, trying to learn and count how many carbohydrates I am eating and then giving myself the right amount of insulin each time. I am glad to be back home with family. I'm not sure how long it will take, but am hoping for a short time with this learning process. And then I will be ready to get back out there, probably in the states somewhere. Whatever the Lord wants is where I'll go. Anyway, it has been quite an adventure.

So that is what happened!! I know its a lot (I know, I lived it). But again, I know that this is happening to me for a reason. Because I know that, I am okay. I can do this. Through God, I can do anything. Someone in my district reminded me that God said, “I never said it would be easy, I only said that it would be worth it” or something to that effect. I like that. I know that it will be worth it as I continually try to come unto the Lord and serve Him in whatever way that I can.

The title of this post was a little bit of a joke. The MTC actually did change my life (I got diabetes there, and my life will forever be different). But there is so much more than that joke. My one month mission in the MTC changed me as a person: how I view and teach the Gospel, my relationship with God and Jesus Christ, my entire person. It gave me new perspectives that will stay with me. I can add my testimony to thousands of other missionaries (even though I only served a month so far) that a mission does change your life. I absolutely loved it, and look forward to getting back out there soon, wherever that may be. I love this church with all my heart, and I know with every fiber of my being that it is true and that God and Jesus Christ are there and that they are watching and listening to your every move, just waiting to bless you. I am so grateful for that knowledge, and I love my God with all my heart.

I guess the next post will be in a few months. Until then, “God be with you till we meet again.”

I love you all.

Elder Bird

Picture 1: Me in the hospital

Picture 2: I felt like a robot with all the wires on me

Picture 3: Wearing my missionary tag on my hospital gown

5th week, One more to go!


Selamat Pagi Semua Orang!!!

Wow, it is already the fifth week here in the MTC!! How crazy is that? We get our flight plans this Friday to leave 10 days later! I can't even begin to express how excited I am!! I really just want to go now. Even though I know I'd be confused and have a hard time with the language, I just want to be there!!

This week was great! We now hold every conversation in class completely in Indonesian. It's still so crazy to think that we can do that now. We have learned and memorized the First Vision (Penglihatan Pertama) in Indonesian. Its super pretty and awesome in Indonesian. With that, we also have our Missionary Purpose memorized, which is found in Moroni 10:5 of the Book of Mormon.

For our "investigators" we now are starting to teach about the commandments that should be followed before being baptized, like Tithing and The Word of Wisdom. I hope that we can explain everything so that it is coherent and makes sense in Indonesian. I know the Lord will bless us when we try. Our other investigator is our Muslim investigator. We asked him if he wanted to be baptized, and he said he would think about it and ask his wife. I hope he will sincerely ponder what we ask, because baptism will make such a difference in his and his family's lives.

I had my very first fast Sunday in the field last Sunday. [Fast Sunday is the usually the first Sunday of the month where church members go without food or water for a period of usually 24 hours.] And I will admit, it was difficult. They didn't feed us until 5:30pm. Unfortunately, I didn't make it without water until then. I had to give in and have a drink an hour before at 4:30pm, because I was actually feeling exhausted and really dehydrated. My companion had to tell me to get a drink. Utah is a desert!! It is so dry and hot here, and I think that is why I had a hard time.

But other than that, Sunday was amazing! We had testimony meeting, and it was amazing to bear my testimony and to hear everyone else's. We have such a special zone. I liked hearing the other missionaries bear testimony of the gospel and in our Savior. Southeast Asia is lucky to have such amazing missionaries coming to them. My zone consists of missionaries that will be going to Thailand, Indonesia, Cambodia, Mongolia, and the very first Vietnamese missionaries. After the meeting, there was a special musical number by Elder Grundvig (a really good friend now). He sung, "Savior, Redeemer of My Soul." By the end, everyone was balling. It was so beautiful. Not only the music, but the lyrics touched my heart. I love to know that our Savior can change frowning foes to smiling friends, and that through Him we can do ALL things. I pray every day to ask God to make me more worthy of His and Christ's love.

The rest of the week went well also! I really like volleyball now. [Missionaries exercise for 30 minutes every day and Ryan has been playing volleyball] I'm still not very good, but it is so fun to be able to use my height in a sport effectively!! I love spiking the ball, but I don't know how happy that makes the other team. I think I will continue with volleyball while I can, and then in the field maybe start running. My goal for the end of my mission is to be able to run at least two miles every day (hopefully three).

Funny story time! Every week, funny things happen all the time in the MTC. I can never remember them for the weekly email, but this time I have them written in my journal. Our teacher told us that when she was in the MTC, everyone would always ask them to speak some Indonesian. They would, but one Elder got tired of it. So, when he was asked to speak some Indonesian, he would say "Oompa Loompa!!" really excitedly, like he was saying hello. We thought that was hilarious, and we decided to try it. So we started saying it and now we have three classrooms on our floor saying "Oompa Loompa!!" to us as we walk by. I feel kind of bad, but,WOW, is it funny.

So guess who is coming to speak for devotional tonight??? Elder David A. Bednar! How exciting is that?? But even more exciting, guess who is giving the opening prayer in front of him and all the missionaries here?? None other than yours truly! How crazy is that?? I am so nervous! Hopefully I can give a good prayer that will invite the Spirit for such a huge Spiritual giant (not too great of a prayer because, you know, I don't want to overshadow an apostle). Haha, just kidding. I'm really excited!!

Anyway, things are going super well, and I look forward to going to Indonesia. I am so excited to help real people feel the change in their life that the Atonement will make. I love this church and I love this gospel.

As I've been out here, I have felt a real desire to share what I am learning with anyone who will hear it. If you are reading these posts that my parents put up and are at all interested in learning about the gospel, please please do. I want every single person I know, and even those I don't know, to feel as happy as I am. I know that through this gospel and through Jesus Christ, you can.

Have a great week!! Sampai Nanti! Oompa Loompa!!

Elder Bird

Halfway there and Living on Prayer (and the Spirit)


Hello Everyone!!

First off, thank you all so much for the birthday wishes last week! Even though I only saw them this morning, I really appreciated them! I had a wonderful birthday here at the MTC. It was a tad different, but it was awesome. And my parents were super sweet and sent a package full of cute little presents and also some delicious cupcakes, which I shared with my zone. We learned how to sing a birthday song in Indonesian, which was fun! And I got sung to in English three times (one of which was in the cafeteria and we got in trouble because we were "disturbing others". Oopsies :) I also learned that in Indonesia, you buy all of your friends food on your birthday, so I shared all my food with all of my friends. I look forward to my next birthday in the field in Indonesia!!!

Anyway, the rest of the week went swimmingly. It's crazy to think that we are already halfway done with being at the MTC! We already know so much, and we keep on growing and learning everyday. We are teaching two "investigators" right now, (who are secretly just our instructors, role playing as people they taught on their missions.) Even though I know it is my instructors when I am "teaching" them, it feels so real and we always try super hard to bring them closer to the Spirit and bring them closer unto Christ. Hopefully they can recognize the happiness that it will bring into their lives!

As for real people, we started a program on Saturday called TRC, where we teach actual people, we don't know. It's still role playing, as they are usually members of some sort (this time they were all Returned Missionaries from BYU). We taught them about having faith and strengthening that faith by sharing their testimony, Because we should always leave a commitment, we asked these members to share their testimony with someone in their life that week. I know that if they do so, their testimony will grow and they will find new strength in the Gospel and in the Lord. I know this because my testimony has grown so strong here as I bear it all the time!!! I love that, and I am so grateful to be able to share my testimony and have it continually grow.

Cool awesome spiritual story time!! Recently, I started reading the Bible again. We went to the temple last Tuesday (I get the chance to go through every Tuesday on my P-day) with my district and zone, and it was amazing! I went in with no thoughts or questions to ask this time, but to go through and enjoy. After the session, in the Celestial Room, I was sitting next to my companion and waiting. I decided to go and pick up some of the scriptures they have in there. It just so happened that I picked up the Bible. I did one of those "flip to a random page in the scriptures" things and just started reading. My heart soared as I realized that I was reading the account of Christ's Atonement in Matthew. I realized how truly important the Bible is and how thankful I am that we have it. As I finished up, I gained such a stronger testimony of the Bible as a whole. I know that even though I wasn't looking that day in the temple for an answer, the Lord had known what I needed and had given me a spiritual blessing. I am so grateful for that beautiful experience.

Another exciting thing! After the temple, Elder Renlund, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, came and spoke at our devotional!! It was my first time hearing an apostle at the MTC! It was so awesome to get to hear from him and to know he and all the rest of the Twelve are supporting us as we strive to do the Lord's work.

The people in our district and zone are growing so close. We joke around and have fun all the time, but we also keep the Spirit and are able to share our testimonies and our knowledge with each other often. We love to sing hymns in Indonesian, which always invite the Spirit (well, if people aren't laughing when they sing the word Pimpin, which means Lead in Indonesian). I know that the work we are doing here is of God. I know that we are weak and are nothing, but that through Him, we can do anything. Even when we are down, are struggling, are losing focus, or are just exhausted, the Lord will be on our right and on our left, bearing us up as we strive to do our best.

I love all of you! :)

Have a great week everyone! Sampai Nanti!

Elder Bird

Picture 1: Ryan's birthday box

Picture 2: Ryan's bithday treats

Week 2!!!


Selamat Pagi Semua Orang!!! Hello from the MTC!

It is kinda weird to think that I have already been here for two weeks. It feels like I just left yesterday, but at the same time it feels like I've been here for an eternity. I can't wait to learn all of what they'll teach me here and be off to Indonesia!

So what happened this week? Well, a lot. We are already teaching our second "investigator." I think I mentioned it, but we started teaching our first "investigator" in Indonesian on the third day I was here. We asked her to be baptized, and once she said yes, we were moved on to our next "investigator."

Our second investigator's name is Pak Joko (Mr. Joko). He is a Muslim man looking to find happiness for his family. We have taught him twice already, mainly about Jesus and the Atonement because he already has background with God. Our first lesson with him was shaky, but he really opened up to us on our second visit yesterday. Hopefully we can continue to help him receive light and happiness. But before we do so, we're getting our third investigator tomorrow! So we'll be teaching two investigators at the same time! In Indonesian! How cool is that?? It is so cool to think that we can actually get coherent, understandable messages across. I know that God has helped me to learn the language (what I know so far) this quickly and the Holy Ghost has helped our investigators feel the Spirit and that they can come to know the truth through it. I love my companion, Elder Johnson, but the greatest companions are Allah dan Roh Kudus.

Speaking of God and the Holy Ghost being the true teacher, I think I have finally figured out my mission scripture. Alma 26 is just an amazing missionary chapter, but as I was reading, I picked out two verses that I will apply to the rest of my mission. Verses 11 and 12 say:

    11 But Ammon said unto him: I do not boast in my own strength, nor in my own wisdom; but behold, my joy is full, yea, my heart is brim with joy, and I will rejoice in my God.

    12 Yea, I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things; yea,behold, many mighty miracles we have wrought in this land, for which we will praise his name forever.

I love the truth and humility in these verses. Ammon understands that he is truly nothing when it comes to the Lord, BUT that with the Lord's help, he accomplished miracles and brought literally thousands to the truth. I will keep this scripture close to my heart, as I journey along trying to help others for the next couple of years.

Anyway, everything else is going well! The food in the MTC is alright, not great. I'm excited to try Indonesian food, which is supposed to be super delicious, but super duper spicy. Here I come!

Our district has become very close. The language is coming along, and we're glad we are together to learn it. We have just started grammar (Prefixes Me- and Ber- make all root words verbs. How cool is that??) and have gotten a list of core words that we are supposed to have memorized in ten days. Well, I just couldn't wait that long, so my goal was to do it in three days. God helped me accomplish that goal, and now I'm moving on to harder words! I know God will bless me if I continue to work hard.

Thanks so much to my family for the very sweet 1 week package :) All of the Elder's were very jealous and told me how "cute" it was. I loved it!!

Also, happy birthday to my little bro Nathan!!! I sent a letter a few days ago, but I don't know how long it will take to get there. But, you are such an awesome brother!! I am so proud of you and everything you've done, and look forward to hearing from you on your mission someday :)

The rest of today I will be doing laundry and going to the temple and then singing at the devotional. My favorite part of P-day is definitely going to the temple. I can't really describe it, but we come out so happy and loving as we've have spent that time in the temple with our district and friends. Last time when we came out, I swear I saw the prettiest view of Provo and Utah I had ever seen, with the sun shining in just the right place. I know it was God smiling down at us as we did something that made him so happy. I'm very excited to go through every single week here.

Just a tip for everyone who wants to email me! I am printing off my emails on P-day (Tuesdays at 6am Utah time) the hour before my hour when I can email, so that I can spend my one hour of computer time actually writing instead of reading and then writing. So send emails before Tuesdays at 6am, so I can print it and read it before I email back, and also so that I can hold on to it and read it throughout the week! Thanks!!!

I am absolutely loving it here. I miss everyone, but I know what I am doing is the Lords work. My testimony grows every day, and I seriously cannot wait for the time when I can personally see the change that will come into people's lives as they receive Christ and his Gospel.

So much love,

Elder Bird

Picture 1: Ryan and his roommate from BYU who is going to Boston, Mandrin speaking, I think.

First P-day!


Hi Parentals!!!

How is everything going back at home?? Today is my very first p-day (I am so excited, if you couldn't tell). We have been working really hard, and it feel like I have already been in here for a month. The language is coming along. Saya tahu bahwa Allah berkati dan membantu saya dengan Karunia Lidah dan bahasa Roh. (I know that God is blessing and helping me with the Gift of tongues and the language of the Spirit).

Every day, we have class for hours and then 3 more hours to study and prepare lessons for our investigator. Oh! We have our first "investigator" already and have already taught her in Indonesian three times! How wierd is that??? Even though it is nerve wracking and stressful and susah (difficult), I can always feel the Spirit and know that God is blessing my companion and I. Our simpatisan is growing and learning, but her husband doesn't want her to continue to take lessons from us. So, our next lesson is going to be about keluarga dan doa (family and prayer). I know she will feel the Spirit, and I know God will bless us for trying to help her in a language that is very new to us.

I have a huge district. There are ten elders and 1 sister. We have all gotten to know each other very well, even though we have only been here for 6 days. We love having fun together, but we are also grateful to be learning together because we can all help and support one another in the language. Our favorite thing to do is to sing hymns in Indonesian to invite the Spirit. My companion and I are also loving being together. Elder Johnson is from my Provo ward, like I said. We are kinda different people, but we have learned to be patient with one another and are grateful to be able to teach and learn well together even though we are so different.

So uhm hey. I guess I am only here for 6 weeks! Surprise! I leave June 22 for Indonesia, and I am more than excited. I learned we are mostly on Java, a little bit on Sumatra, not on Bali, and a little bit on some random island. I hear it is absolutely beautiful and the people are some of the kindest in the world. Our district will replace about 1/7 of the missionaries in country, so I look forward to already knowing many of the missionaries I will be serving with for the next two years.

I have had a lot of opportunities to think about my purpose here on my mission, or tujuan saya. I've listened to many thoughts and talks and even memorized the missionary purpose in English and Indonesian. Mengundang orang lain untuk datang kepada Kristus dengan membantu mereka menerima Injil yang dipulihkan melalui Iman kepada Yesus Kristus dan Pandamaian-Nya, pertobatan, pembaptisan, menerima karunia Roh Kudus, dan bertahan sampai akhir. I realize that even though this is my mission, it is really not about me. I have been thinking about the true character of Christ, and how He always turns outward instead of inward and thinking about Himself. I have been trying to do so, like Him. I know and testify that if I do and continually "humble myself, even in the depths of humility, and come to love (truly love and care about) the people of Indonesia, then will I truly find myself. I am so grateful for that knowledge and the opportunity to serve.

Anyway, I love it here and am growing and learning so much. The Spirit is with me more than I ever thought possible. Even though most of my prayers and testimonies are now in a different language, every time I say either I know that God is listening and smiling down at me and is happy that I am ready to serve his beautiful children. I just want to leave with a hymn we are singing in the MTC choir that really touched my heart this week.

Lead, kindly Light, amid th'encircling gloom;
Lead thou me on!
The night is dark, and I am far from home;
Lead thou me on!
Keep thou my feet; I do not ask to see
The distant scene--one step enough for me.

I love knowing that even though all of this is hard and difficult and I know that I am just not enough, God will lead me and make me whatever He needs me to be. I love this church so much, and I love God with all my heart.

Oh and I love all of you too ;) Keep being awesome!

Much love,

Elder Bird

Picture 1: Ryan and some of the other Elders from his district.

Picture 2: Ryan and his companion, Elder Johnson

Picture 3: Ryan's district.

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Elder Ryan Bird
Colorado Denver North Mission

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Elder Ryan Bird
1250 Main Street
Broomfield, CO 80020