¡Finalmente, tieno la abilidad a escribir en Español! Esto es muy divertido. Me encanta mi tiempo aqui in el CCM, y mi compañeros son excellente siempre. Soy muy agradecidos para sus mensajes y para su amor. No se cuando estía sin ustedes. ¡Ví Elders Oaks, Bednar, and Anderson esta semana! Fue muy divertido. La comida aqui es ahora mejor que ultimo semana, pienso porque los Apóstoles son aqui. Es no importante, pero me gusta comida, entonces es mas mejor en general.
[Finally, I have the ability to write in Spanish! This is very fun. I love my time here in the MTC, and my companions are always excellent. I am very grateful for your messages and for your love. I don't know where I would be without all of you. I saw Elders Oaks, Bednar, and Anderson this week! It was very fun. The food here now is better than last week, I think because the apostles are here. It's not important, but I like food, so it's better in general.]
Alright, I suppose that's enough Español for now. It's nice to get a computer which has a Spanish keyboard downloaded on it. It's very convenient. I finally got my flight plans! I can hardly believe my time here is fast approaching its end. It's pretty crazy, really. I was assigned to be the "flight leader", which means I am in charge of getting the group to Yakima safely and without incident. Yeah, it's gonna be interesting. I'm pretty sure I was assigned because of my last name having so many letters close to the beginning of the alphabet. I'm quite sure it has nothing to do with my natural talent at organization. Just watch; I'll look down the hall to admire a mural, and 3 missionaries will accidentally (somehow) get on a flight to Uruguay or something. I know that's pretty much impossible, but anything could happen with me in charge of organization. Well, I'll do my best to keep any serious disasters from striking. I do get to assign companionships for the flight, though, so hopefully I'll get that part right!
Last week, the temple trip actually had a few funny moments. We were teaching some people during the week, and on our way to attend the temple, we ran into one of them. We just went up and said hello, and he (his name's Marco) just looked at us, grinned, and said "shh, don't tell anyone." Later, we saw the other person we had been teaching working in the temple. It was kind of funny, but at the same time, it was kind of cool. See, Marco told us that even though he was already a member now, we were actually teaching a past version of him. In his words, "that is me; that is my story." It was pretty cool.
Yesterday we taught Marco for the last time here at el CCM. Marco had polio as a child, and now needs crutches to get around. He's super strong. We talked about repentance, and we shared some scriptures that applied to him. I could feel the spirit getting stronger and stronger, like a well about to burst. At the end, Elder Woodfield (one of my companions, who is also going to Yakima) paused for just a moment. After a short period of silence, he asked Marco to bear his testimony of Christ.
It seemed like an eternity before Marco spoke, and during this time I felt the quiet and powerful influence of the spirit growing like a tidal wave about to eclipse the sun. Then, in a moment, Marco began to bear a very simple and very powerful testimony. As he spoke, the spirit began flooding the room. At the end, Marco simply testified that Christ our Savior lives. In that moment, the only way I can describe what happened is "BAM!" The spirit hit the room like a giant sledgehammer. The tidal wave broke, and the spirit was practically tangible. I felt totally swept up. I must say, that was a pretty incredible experience. I felt like fire ran from the top of my head through every vein and artery into my feet. There is nothing, truly, that can compare to a spirit that strong. When that wave breaks, the entire geography is changed in its wake.
So yeah, it's been a pretty cool week. In the choir, I stand directly in front of Elder Holland. I haven't seen him yet, but he probably has a pretty nice up-close view of my back. Sadly, we are now done with the choir. Yesterday, we were warming up just before Elder Anderson's practice, so he was there and said hello to all of us and shook our hands afterwards. This morning, Elder Bednar came in to our practice and told us thank you for singing. We didn't shake his hand or anything, but as soon as he walked out of the room, one of the people on the other side of the choir made a funny sort of squeaking sound. I think, whoever it was, they spoke for all of us. As I was walking down the street yesterday with my companions, I thought I saw someone familiar walking right behind us. My companions registered who it was long before I did, but by the time I realized it was Elder Oaks, he was already nearly gone.
So, I've seen a lot of well-known faces here. In addition to casually seeing apostles, I ran into Elder Carter Hill the other day. He came in pretty recently to learn Japanese. It was kind of funny to just be walking down the street and think "hey, wait, that Elder looks oddly familiar!" We were able to talk a tiny bit, but we had to quickly part ways. I ran into him later at lunch, too.
Oh yeah, I also wrote a hymn this week. My companions and I collaborated on the lyrics a bit, and I set them all to music. It was a pretty standard chorale-type arrangement, but I think I got some interesting chords in there. We'll see! I hope to submit it soon. Also, as soon as I remember to put the charged camera battery in my camera, I'll be able to take a ton of pictures. I'm taking a bunch of pictures here if it kills me. I'll take a picture of the hymn as well; maybe you could make it nice using Finale! That would be pretty sweet. I wrote most of the lyrics, but not quite all. I also collaborated with my companions on all of them, so the lyrics are not entirely mine. The music is, though. I'll put the lyrics right underneath here:
A Forgotten Road
There lies a forgotten road;
It led me where I am.
The path was paved with blood and tears,
The way forged by the Lamb.
I wandered day and night,
Not knowing where to go.
My brother showed me where to turn
And know the path I know.
I found my brother gone astray.
I helped him up, showed him the way.
When next I looked upon his face,
The Lord stood in his place.
The path is hard, the way is steep,
The future 'round the bend
Is never clear; yet still I trust
My Savior, Lord, and friend.
So there is the poem which I set to music. It was super divertido a [fun to] compose. I love studying Spanish here, it's really great.
I've taken up a bunch of time already, but I wanted to let you all know that my two companions, Elder Day and Elder Woodfield, are great. Elder Day's dad served in the Frankfurt Germany mission, and actually knows the Ringgers. Perhaps they would know an Elder Day? It's worth a shot.
Finally, I just wanted to end with my own witness of these things. Earlier in my life, it was not always easy for me to really know the truth of the Gospel. I believed, it's true, but I wasn't necessarily convinced. I have a naturally somewhat skeptical mind, and I don't exactly like believing something simply because someone told me that they believed it. I believed, but I didn't know. Many, many years ago, I finally decided to find out for myself. I had been asked to read the Book of Mormon through, and I knew it would be the perfect opportunity. I read, and I read, and I read. I read with a true desire to know the truth. After I read, I said a deep prayer to my Father in Heaven asking for a confirmation of what I had previously believed. In that moment, I no longer believed. I knew.
Ever since, there has been the occasional event that shook me. I have had times when I felt less sure of what I had felt to be the truth. However, since that first witness in my very heart of the truth of my beliefs, I couldn't deny what I had felt. Over the years, I have received witness after witness that Christ restored His church on the Earth, and I still cannot deny it. There are times I struggle, but those experiences continue to strengthen me as I study in the scriptures and continue to pray about their truth. The last lesson with Marco was yet another of those witnesses.
I bear my testimony that Jesus Christ is the redeemer of the world. I testify that through the Holy Spirit, we can receive answers to the deepest questions of our souls. I also testify that Joseph Smith was called of God to be a prophet on this Earth, and that the authority of God has continued after him in an unbroken line to our current prophet, Thomas S. Monson. I didn't know these things before, but I have received witnesses in my heart and mind that they are true. Even still, I cannot deny it. I close my testimony in the name of our Savior, Lord, and friend, even Jesus Christ, amen.
I wish you all the best in your lives, and love you all more than I think you can know. I think of you every day as I continue to learn more and more. I send you all my love,
|Washington Yakima Mission Office Elders anticipate the arrival of 12 new missionaries. (Ben is top left on the paper.)|
|Choir singing for New Mission Presidents Seminar. (Ben is in the top row, 5th from the right.)|