Samuel did not take time to update his blog last Friday. But, we did receive an email early this morning that he arrived in Italy.
Here are two photos:
Samuel at the construction site of the Rome temple
Samuel with Mission President and Sister Pickerd, at the mission offices
Scusi per la lunga attesa,
Well, this is my first time missing a weekly update. Hopefully I never end up missing one again because the events really add up. I'll try to do my best to summarize last week as well as this past one.
Week 4/15 - 4/21
SABBATO - Well we tried SYL (Speak Your Language) on Saturday again, but it kinda flopped without enough motivation and hype in the days leading up to it. Anziano Bardsley and I did a mock lesson with Sorella Berrey and Sorella Evans for class, where we took turns being an investigator and practiced teaching a lesson. For our evening lesson, we talked about how to introduce people to the Book of Mormon.
DOMENICA - Pasqua! We had leadership meetings in the morning like normal and then had an Easter devotional! It was with Dallin H. Oaks and his wife. The main focus of the talks were on what the resurrection is about and how it applies to each of us. Afterwards we walked by the temple, then had classes and sacrament meeting. We had an amazing evening devotional as well, with Sheri Dew as the speaker. She talked about how to receive help from God and the importance of asking questions to strengthen your testimony. She is one of the best speakers I have ever heard! Afterwards we got to listen to an old talk from 2009 that Elder Bednar gave at the MTC about recognizing the Spirit. It mostly comes down to being good, keeping covenants, and always acting on whatever good thought enters your head.
LUNEDI - My companion got to go on a trip to see Temple Square in Salt Lake City. All the missionaries from outside the US get a chance to visit Temple Square while in the MTC because it might be the only chance they have to see the Salt Lake City Temple. We had some really awesome lessons that were more personalized since we were missing 3 people out of the normal 9. Anziano Melchin, Hakanson and I did a TRC Skype call lesson with a man in Minnesota that served in Milan on his mission. It wasn't the clearest sound quality, but we had a good discussion. With our teachers we went over some of the more difficult language concepts for review and then talked about how to make sure we have the spirit in lesson. Then we got to teach some lessons outside, in addition to seeing our teacher do a demo-teach.
MARTEDI - Today I finally started my Book of Mormon tab system! I'll add some pictures of it when it is somewhat finished. Then during our study time I taught about an hour long lesson to some people in our district about how reflexive verbs work, which was really fun! I love teaching the language. This week we started playing the investigators ourselves and now we teach 2 lessons a day, and get taught twice as well. For the devotional we heard from John A. Uceda from the Seventy about how we can learn more from the scriptures by digging deep. He spoke for 1 hour and 20 minutes about Matthew 28:19-20, and the majority of that was on a couple words that actually mean disciple when not using the English king James translation.
MERCOLEDI - I learned a completely new tense finally! We've caught up to my four years of high school Italian in about 5 weeks. (Albeit my overall vocabulary is still much larger than most peoples). Basically just normal lessons today and some amazing volleyball. With the new French Elders we got last week, who played volleyball in high school and college, so it's a lot more fun and competitive.
GIOVEDI - On Thursdays we have an awkward schedule. We spend all morning with free time and then we have meals and classes from 12:45-9:00pm. It makes for a super long day. We spiced up the morning free time with an audition of "Nearer My God to Thee" for a special musical number. We've been practicing for the past week as a quartet to sing it in Sacrament meeting. After the audition, we were asked to sing for the new missionary training meeting next Wednesday. Classes today were mostly taken up with investigator teaching. It's crazy how much we do in a day in terms of material learned, that we cover in both the language and the gospel.
Week of 4/8 - 4/14
SABBATO - We implemented a "Speak Your Language" Saturday for our zone where we decided to only speak Italian for the whole day! We had a couple hours of study time until lunch and we did amazing, literally every time someone spoke English they would catch themselves and go back into Italian. It was an awesome day even though most people had broken into English by dinner. It really showed how exhausting speaking a language your learning can be, if that's your only option. For class, we had a lesson where we looked at the paintings of Jesus Christ they have in the main administration building. We just walked around viewing pictures and thought about the different ways they depict Him. At the end of the day as we were walking back to the residence it started snowing! It was a super light dusting, but pretty cool to have snow in April.
DOMENICA - Snow on the ground in the morning! It stayed on the ground for a decent amount of time until about 3:00pm. It was Fast Sunday, which means we don't eat or drink anything for the day and instead focus on a specific thing we are fasting for. It could be something we want to learn, need help with, or we can even fast for friends and family who may need help. The walk up to the temple was super fun since the snow was still on the ground. I went to several leadership meetings for our branch (church unit) and then we had a fast and testimony meeting with some awesome testimonies about the Savior. For the evening devotional President and Sister Martino of the MTC talked about their conversion story, how they met and the impact that missionary work has had on their lives. It was really cool.
LUNEDI - (I need to to shorten these summaries, molto veloce now) Lessons in the morning like normal and I decided to make a really cool tagging system for my Book of Mormon, that is based around the Preach My Gospel (the missionary lesson handbook).
MARTEDI - Study in the morning and then we did TRC (Teaching Resource Center) where we talked to 2 Italian-speaking members for about 20 minutes each and gave a short lesson. We had a devotional with Valeri V. Cordon of the Seventy, who gave the same talk during the past General Conference! He focused on the idea that we have the opportunity to live a "mini-life" while we are on our missions and how we should make sure to carry that into our lives after our mission as well.
MERCOLEDI - Super fun day! We started with class doing investigator lessons in Italian and then we got to host the new missionaries coming into the MTC! We were able to meet them at the front curb, where they get dropped off, and then take them to their residence, drop their bags off and then they go right into classes on the first day. I got to help an Elder going to serve in Turkey and one going to France! After one more 3 hour class, we had an Italian Zone Volleyball tournament where everyone got wrecked by District B. (who have 4 really good athletes, and one Sister who played volleyball in college). To wrap up the day we had a Tie Exchange, which was super fun and everyone really enjoyed!
GIOVEDI - Service, volleyball(gym), and study in the morning and then a sack lunch with my companion, so we could plan for our upcoming lesson with our "investigator." I was really nervous because we haven't been having much success getting her to open up. We ended up not giving it and instead got to watch Sorella Griffin and Sorella Reber (the resource teacher) do a demo lesson. It was really amazing to watch them bear their testimonies in Italian and I had such an awesome confirmation that I know I'm doing the right thing being out here on a mission, no matter how tough it gets.
Venerdi - Normal Preparation day with a temple trip in the morning, laundry, and then a lesson in the evening. We learned a lot about how every lesson we give should have a strong focus that the investigator can't miss.
1 & 2 are from our temple walk on Sunday. It snowed on Saturday, so it made for some really awesome photos.
3 - My roommate Anziano Sanchez dressed up in some random St Patrick's day and Easter things that got sent to some guys in our zone. He was walking around the residence pretending to be a missionary.
4 - Anziano Baker and I flipped all the chairs over in our floor's lounge and listened to a great talk by Brad Wilcox.
(Give me five everyone!)
That's probably my most used phrase from this week, we learned it on Monday. But before we get there, I have conference to talk about! If you didn't watch it I recommend you go to lds.org and watch some talks, it was bomb! (Elder Holland gave one you can't miss)
SABATO - Wish conferenza generale could be all day every day, but we only get 4 days of it a year, guess I'll have to settle with that. The big focus of most of the talks was on how we can come closer to Christ and improve ourselves by staying close to Him. The best part of the day was reviewing it as a district after all the day's meetings were done. It was a straight hour of testimony about how glad we are to be serving missions for Heavenly Father and showing our faith to the world. I'm so glad to be in the MTC with the people in my district because they all have such great testimonies.
Quote of the day:
"On those days when we feel a little out of tune, a little less than what we think we see or hear in others, I would ask us, especially the youth of the Church, to remember it is by divine design that not all the voices in God’s choir are the same. It takes variety—sopranos and altos, baritones and basses—to make rich music." - Elder Holland
DOMENICA - Before conference at both sessions while we were waiting we decided to sing as a quartet and it was awesome! It feels so good to be able to just sing hymns in a crowd and bring a spirit of peace for like a straight 40 minuti. My favorite talk from conference was from D. Todd Christofferson about how we should not hide the gospel in our hearts simply because of the views that the world has. After conference we had a devotional, and guess who it was?!? Vocal Point! Nobody was expecting it and they put on a pretty good show talking about the importance of missions in their lives and expressing their testimonies through song. (Vocal Point is a 9 man BYU acapella singing group that has some amazing music) For the quote of the day:
"God knows you perfectly, He loves you perfectly.... and He wants YOU to abide in His perfect love" - President Dieter F. Uchtdorf
LUNEDI - Class with Fratello Sloan and Sorella Griffin. The main thought was about how important the Restoration is in starting a foundation for a testimony of the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith, and the restored gospel. We had a meeting scheduled for 8:00am, but the teacher never showed up for some reason! We ended up singing some great hymns and having an amazing testimony meeting where we focused on the beauty of eternal families. The Romanian Elders and Sisters in our zone were there too and bore some beautiful testimonies about why they have chosen to take two years of their lives to serve the Lord.
MARTEDI - We escaped the MTC! Just kidding, but we got to go to Salt Lake City with a small group of people from our zone and get our visas for Italy! We took the train from Provo to Salt Lake, got on Trax to get to downtown and had no idea how to find the consulate. Miraculously, the lady helping us get the visas was on the rail car right behind us at our final stop! We got to go to the church office building, filled out all the paperwork at the consulate, and then had some free time until our train left at 2:00pm. We walked around temple square and had an amazing lunch at the Cheesecake factory! (A much needed change from MTC food). That evening we had a devotional from the MTC president's brother, Elder Martino, about how important members are when it comes to missionary work. Interesting note, the "Prodigal Son" can also be called the story of the "Running Father" and likened to how Heavenly Father is reaching out to us as we humble ourselves and repent.
MERCOLEDI - Long day of lessons learning Italian and also discussing the importance of the Holy Ghost in each lesson. Volleyball was amazing today, the Portuguese Elders are all super competitive so it was nice to actually get consistent volleys in. Our "meeting" from Monday got rescheduled and we learned more about how the Spirit can help us learn the language. Most importantly, the Lord can only magnify what abilities we already have. Also, the best motivation for learning a language is loving the people.
GIOVEDI - I felt terrible half the day! For some reason I woke up with a queasy stomach, so I spent the first couple hours of the day ineffectively trying to hold food down. After a nausea pill at the doctors and some Gatorade, the rest of the day went by great. Our lessons were amazing today, and we discussed the importance of making sure the things that help us become better on our mission continue into our lives after a mission.
Today we had a good trip to the temple and then did laundry and studying. Tomorrow is SYL Saturday where we have decided to only speak Italiano to the people in our zone. Hopefully it goes well! Only 3 more weeks to go, or something like that.
1 My companion and I taking a funny photo at the temple
2 Picture of the group that went to SLC on Tuesday for visas
3 Me at the Salt Lake temple for the last time in two years!
I can't believe another full week has gone by, it seems like we'll be out of here in no time. We got some amazing lessons and talks over the past several days from our leaders and teachers.
SABBATO - We had a training meeting as a zone (all 3 Italian classes) on learning the language more effectively and how to receive help if we're struggling. One of the things we did there was memorize the scripture Moroni 10:5 from the Book of Mormon.
"E mediante il potere dello Spirito Santo voi potete conoscere la verità di ogni cosa" -> English -> "And through the power of the Holy Ghost you may know the truth of every thing"
We had a lesson with our investigator Polin, who we talked to about the Book of Mormon and how to know if it's true. It went really well. But, the majority of the day was spent on personal study or language study as a class.
DOMENICA - This was easily the best day of the week, although all the days were pretty amazing! Sunday is a bit different at the MTC because we are already devoting our lives to Christ, so it basically involves just a more structured day with less personal and companion study. We started by getting dressed and then going to our normal classrooms to have some study time before going to breakfast. It's always crowded in the cafeteria because the leaders of the Wards and their wives are all there as well (there are a TON of wards for all us missionaries because they like to only have 1-2 language groups put together in a church unit). Then we went on a walk on the grounds of the Provo temple and took pictures as districts and as a Zone. Afterwards we had meetings for Priesthood and Relief Society. Brother Webb one of the ward leaders (and my personal favorite) had some amazing insight on receiving guidance from the Holy Ghost. We got to sing in choir practice prepping for Tuesday's devotional and there were over 500 people! For the Sunday devotional we listened to the BYU Men's Chorus, it's been so long since I listened to a great choir. We ended the day with a bang listening to Elder Bednar's talk called "Character of Christ." Pretty inspirational and moving talk about what makes the character of Christ and how we become more like him. To summarize: no matter what Christ did in his life he turned towards others and never turned inwards. Contrary, the natural man always wants to turn inward and focus on self. Something to think about when we are trying to improve ourselves.
LUNEDI - This was a rough day of language learning. I'm still trying to adapt to the schedule and I think that is why it wasn't as great. We had an okay lesson teaching Polin, but I felt a little flustered since Anziano Bardsley was still relying on me to do most of the Italian speaking. Volleyball can change my mood any day though, so it was a good note to end on.
MARTEDI - Complete switch from yesterday! I was happy like all day long. I opened up a little to Anziano Bardsley about what I thought we could do to improve on as a companionship. I also got a paperback copy of the Book of Mormon that I plan to read and mark up while I'm here at the MTC. For the Tuesday devotional we listened to Elder Palmer, of the Quuorm of the Seventy, who is from New Zealand. Anziano Miller, an elder in our district, is from there as well, so he was pretty excited. He spoke to us about the importance of the Holy Ghost and that He will be using us as the Lord's hands to do His work. He also made sure to emphasize staying happy and dedicated to missionary work while on our mission, no matter what our success may seem to be at a specific time. We also got to sing "Count the Lilies" with the MTC choir for the devotional!
MERCOLEDI - Lots of studying on our own and as a class after having a lesson with Fratello Sloan in the morning. I was able to memorize the first vision in Italian during our study time. We also got some new elders in the zone! 4 Elders and 2 Sisters headed to the Romania/Moldova mission where my friend Lucy Gleason is serving.
GIOVEDI - Tons of stuff happened on this day!! We did service as a district in the morning by cleaning the bathrooms of one of the other residence buildings, 8 group bathrooms spread over 4 floors. We spent the rest of the morning doing study and then got to play Volleyball. Probably one of the most competitive groups I have played with while here at the MTC. Anziano Bardsley had to get shots, with a couple other elders in the zone, so some of us did a puzzle while we waited in the lobby. We had an amazing lesson just discussing the scriptures together with Fratello Sloan and our class. For our second class we met our Investigator! Polin is actually Sorella Griffin and our second teacher here at the MTC. She is super nice and it's great to have a different style of teaching now. It turns out she is a returned missionary that served in the Milan Mission about a year ago. The sad news of the day was that Anziano Abplanalp found out he needs exploratory surgery on his ankle because of a problem he's been having with it, so he left the MTC on Friday. Since he was the zone leader, I ended up being called to replace him.
VENERDI - We had a great time saying goodbye to Anziano Abplanalp by going to a temple session this morning. We got special permission to go extra early because of his departure time. We got there at like 6:15am and it turns out the temple doesn't start sessions until 7:00am! While we were waiting outside I got a bloody nose that didn't want to stop. I ended up getting it under control, but not before using like 20 million tissues over the course of 15 minutes! The temple session was amazing, and then we had breakfast in the cafeteria as a zone. The rest of the day we did study, laundry, and some exercise playing volleyball (best sport in the world).
I love the MTC even when stuff gets a bit hectic, and I'm looking forward to the next several weeks I have here.
PS. I need to start making this shorter, so expect a much more concise letter next week.
The picture at the temple is our whole zone.
The last is our district (class) - from left to right: Sorella Mayes, Sorella Hensen, Sorella Evans, Sorella Berrey, Anziano Bardsley (my companion), Anziano Miller, Anziano Abplanalp, me, Anziano Hakanson, and Anziano Melchin.
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