So it’s officially been 14 days into my mission. They have gone by super fast but super slow at the same time. The bummer is that it is pretty repetitive, so the days seem to melt together. Just so you have a taste for our general schedule, we wake up at 6:30 (sometimes 6) and typically either go to the gym, or have personal study, and get ready for the day. At 8:30 is breakfast, then we have class from 9-12. 12-1:40 is language study, then we have lunch at 1:40. After that, we have class from 2:25 to 5:25, at which point we go to the computer lab to use TALL (Technology-aided language learning) until 6:30. Dinner is at 6:40, then we have gym or personal study at 7:10-8:15, depending on whether or not we had it in the morning. After whatever we do, we have planning at 9, then get ready for bed at 9:30. That’s when I typically do most of my writing I can do. Quiet time 10:15, lights out 10:30. I’ve got so much to talk about and so little time to type it!
I’ve had a few neat experiences this week. The broadcast was obviously pretty cool. I tried to join the choir, but they already had way too many. They were “only” allowed to take 1,300 missionaries or so. But it was cool to be in the Marriott center with all of those missionaries, and see all of the regular church members there too. I saw a couple people there I knew from Timpview. I think the announcement of them implementing technology to aid missionaries is a fantastic idea. I’m not sure how soon it’ll have an effect on missionaries in Italy, and if we get any equipment to use or not (e.g. cell phones, iPads, etc.). I’m sure we’ll probably have access to computers and internet often though. I’m not sure how they are planning to keep the church buildings open. That sounds like a big commitment. I guess we’ll see.
A really cool personal experience my companion and I had this week was one afternoon in class when our teachers surprised us that we’d be teaching a lesson to them. So we went with Fratello Weller out to a bench, where we started to talk to him as if it were a street contact, or something we had the opportunity to sit down with him for 10 minutes or so. I was super excited to do this, because I’d been studying the language so hard and thought I was going to blow him away. My companion and I started to ask him a few questions, and introduce ourselves, and it was going smoothly until we started trying to teach him. We weren’t really on the same page, and the language wasn’t coming. He was asking some hard questions as well. At one point, my companion was trying to express something, and we just sat there in silence because he couldn’t think of the word. I couldn’t jump in to help him because I had no idea where he was going with his thought. It was a rough experience. At this point, Fratello Weller said, “Faccio una pausa,” (Let’s take a “pause”/break). Then he proceeded to ask us what was wrong and what was missing. At that point, it struck me what was going wrong. I realized we didn’t even start with a prayer. The Spirit was missing. At that point, he told us he was going to give us a minute or two to collect ourselves, and fix the problem, and walked a little ways off. My companion and I immediately went straight to prayer, asking for the companionship of the Spirit, and we were completely humbled. After that, he returned, and we resumed the lesson. I picked back up, and unlike before, I was able to speak the words and express an answer to his question. The Spirit made a huge difference, and we could feel the impact of its power during our lesson. I was able to finish testifying and share a scripture with him, and my companion was able to do the same.
From that experience, I learned how serious it is to make sure you teach with the Spirit. There’s no way I’d be able to speak Italian like I can without it. It was a very humbling experience. We’ve been in plenty of lessons where teachers have told us how important it is to teach by the Spirit, but I’d never really understood it as well as I do now. I’m glad I was able to learn that lesson and take it to heart in the MTC, rather than out in the field. I’m never going to forget to begin with a prayer again.
Last night we had a devotional from Janice Kapp Perry and her husband (I must admit her name was a bit distracting to me). [The reason Craig was distracted by her name is because his girlfriend's last name is Kapp, but I don't think he realizes that Sister Perry is actually a distant relative of his girlfriend.] At first I was disappointed that it wasn’t an apostle that was speaking to us, but it turned out to be a fantastic devotional. Sister Perry has written all of my favorite primary songs and the old EFY Medley. I love them all, and we got to sing them as missionaries. It was incredibly powerful. As she was introducing herself, she shared with us the first line her husband said to her when they first met at some sort of concert in an orchestra/band. It was, “Those lips look like they were made for more than playing the clarinet, babe.” (I’m not sure if the babe was included or not). But in any case, I guess it worked. It was fun just to have a devotional where we could all join in song with each other. The Spirit is always so strong after the missionaries of the MTC sing.
I’m sorry if I don’t address all of your questions because I’m trying to answer them from memory, I can’t look at them as I type, and time is ticking. Yes, I have mailed my memory card. Once you get it, make sure Joey sees them! I hope it didn’t require extra postage. I didn’t pad it, because I figured it would be okay. When you included the pictures in the e-mail, I was able to see them. Thanks for those! They were awesome. I’m trying my best to write letters as much as possible. The banana bread was a hit with the roommates. Pre-slicing it was a genius idea. The salty snacks were pretty yummy, too! I’m so sorry to hear about Jazmyn! I can only imagine how hard that is. I’ll be sure to include her in my prayers. I hope she gets to return once she heals! I have not had the chance to see Brad Bascom yet. I’m keeping my eye out! There’s only a couple other thousand missionaries here. ;) I’ve had a couple of chances to play the piano in Sacrament Meeting and other Priesthood meetings, but not many. I’m still looking to play. I’m going to SLC in about 2 hours from now (11:30) for my Visa. I hope I answered all of the questions you have!
One last thing, I got to meet my mission presidents, the Waddoups, this week because they’re here for the mission president seminar. They are really awesome and just as excited to serve as we are. They call us and the temple “The Miracle of Italy.” Apparently when the church was scoping for a plot of land large enough to accommodate the compound, there had to be no ruins because it is illegal to destroy ruins. Apparently the plot they chose had ruins less than 200 feet away from the boundaries, and it’s unheard of for a plot that big to not have ruins. That’s a miracle in itself. There’s no other piece of land that big with no ruins. It sounds like he really wants us all to get to help out at the temple, and he’ll do everything he can to get us there, but at the end of the day, it’s not his call. But one way or another he wants us all to have the opportunity to go through it once.
My time is about done. I hope you get and enjoy the pictures I’ve sent! I’ll be sure to write soon!
The ten members of Craig’s district (minus the one who is taking the picture). Six of the elders are going to the Italy Rome mission and four of them are going to the Italy Milan mission. The six Rome missionaries share one bedroom, and the four Milan missionaries are in another bedroom, but they all study together during the day. Click on the picture for a larger view.