Thursday, September 29, 2011

Semana 5

September 28, 2011

Hola Familia,

Hope you're enjoying the pictures. Notice the light saber pictures. Pretty cool that the MTC would provide such things, huh? The tall, tall guy is Elder Duda - definitely the best friend I've got here. He's legit. The other good friend is Elder Bartlett.

Exciting news this week! The Lord has definitely been dishing out blessings to me. Friday, I got my VISA! There was a note in the mail saying to visit the travel offices ASAP. It was an overwhelming feeling thinking that it finally came. I've heard of people having less than 12 hour notice too, so I was mentally preparing myself to leave the next morning. Luckily, I found out that I don't leave until October 5th so I’ve got some time to mentally prepare and spend more time with the district.

Friday night Elder Duda was talking to someone in line in the cafeteria. They were talking about how 40 Visa's have made progress but only ONE guy has gotten word. That lucky guy is Me. Only downside is I'm traveling solo. I have to be at the travel offices of the MTC by 5:00 Wednesday morning. I fly out of SLC at 8:30 and land in Atlanta Georgia at 2:20. I then fly out of there at 4:40 and land in Lima, Peru at 10:30 p.m. So I think I'll actually be landing at 12:30 a.m. Peru time. It was definitely an answer to my prayers. Then, on Sunday, I was assigned to District Leader. I hadn't had the chance to tell any of the branch presidency about my flight plans so I told them that I only had 10 days left at that point. The 2nd counselor (who is AWESOME by the way – a former mission president in Chile) was a little hesitant at first but that assured me that a call is a call and the Lord had a purpose no matter the time restraint. So I quickly dove in to leading the district.

Man, the spirit here is nuts. One is music. It's amazing how you're away from music for a while and are so desperate for the spirit that once you get to hear an awesome hymn or anything you just get all giddy. At devotional and stuff it's funny when they announce what song we'll be singing for preludes and there's a big buzz of excitement over a hymn! But it's good. And, there is a Sister in the district that just pounds those ivories. We'll go find a piano after meals sometimes and one day she played Clair de Lune, which is what I listened to pretty much every night at BYU-I, and it was awesome. Two is just the study time. I started marking up my scriptures quite a bit more. I’m always finding myself going crazy over an awesome scripture (Alma 8:7 - I think). Just in general, the spirit has been powerful this past week.

Conference this weekend should be a great way to spend my last few days with the district. Look for a new General Authority speaking on the Saturday morning session. He's from Mexico and just so happened to sit next to us at a meal one night. Another gentlemen that was with him told us the news and so we turned to the new GA and congratulated him and greeted him. We're all stoked for it because, of course, as missionaries we're always anxious for more spiritual things to feast on.

We did a temple session today and when we got out, families of new incoming missionaries were everywhere taking pictures. It's weird thinking that 5 weeks ago I was doing the same thing with Brandon, Jaclyn, Mare, and Scott. Every time I see these anxious families dropping off their kids it takes me way back to when I was just a new missionary. Oh wait... I'm only 5 weeks in. I know I’m still a noob, but it is amazing to see how much better I am at Spanish and how far I’ve already come. And now in just 7 days I'll be off to the Peru MTC and then 19 days after that leaving to the field. The next time I write a big letter with probably be from Peru! Exciting.

Hope all is well for everybody!

Love, Elder Farmer

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Semana 4

Family: It will be one month on Saturday. Crazy. Today was another great week and it flew by.

Last Thursday the dearelders were back up again and I got 11 letters. ELEVEN. It feels so good hearing from people. I've got a lot of writing to do today though.

The barbershop rocks here. NOT. I went to get my haircut on Monday and told the lady, "I usually do a 7 on top, 5 on the sides or 6 on top and 4 on the sides. They usually do it with scissors but whatever is easier for you." Without any clarification the lady just started going like the Tasmanian devil. She started blasting off the sides and I thought it looked super short but I just didn't say anything. 4 minutes and 33 seconds later (not the actual time) I was left with a buzz cut - practically. My hair has not been this short since 6th grade. It's probably about 3/4's a centimeter in length and then even shorter on the sides. Everyone in the district had quite a laugh at it. But seriously, how do you mess up so bad?! I even said at the end jokingly, "So what if I were to say I want it longer?" "Well then that's your fault." Pff! But it turns out my head actually has a nice shape and it's not that bad, I guess. On the bright side, I won't need a haircut for 4 months.

Last night we heard from Elder Russel M. Nelson. It was a unique devotional that was more of a MTC wide discussion and learning experience rather than a magnificent edifying feeling that happened after Holland.

Still no word on the Visas. Apparently Peru got a new government in July so it will be heavily affecting missionaries in August and September. I’m thinking I’m going to just finish my training here but I want so badly to experience the Peru MTC. Either was that’s God’s plan. Me and my great friend Elder Duda tell everyone everyday that we love the MTC. My teachers are bomb and a great example.

It’s hard to tell you everything but hopefully you all get a taste for what I’m doing and feeling. I love this work and I know that the gospel of Jesus Christ is for everyone. I look forward to getting started in Peru and helping establish hope through faith in the Savior. This last week I took a lot of time to ponder and study prayer. It’s real and available to everyone. If we could just get the world to pray, a lot of pain would go away. Personal revelation and a real relationship with God is available through prayer.

Love you all, Thanks for the love and support that keeps me going.

Elder Farmer

(I also forgot to mention that on Saturday we went outside for gym and could clearly hear the stadium cheering for the Utah vs BYU game. But in the end I don't think we missed much.)

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Week 3 - September 14, 2011

Hola Familia,

Another solid week. Here are the highlights:

. . . Sunday night’s fireside was quite special. President Brown did a surprise commemoration for 9/11 and we watched a short clip of the events that took place that day, and then watched the Mormon Tabernacle Choir performance that Tom Brokaw narrated. I was excited because I saw that that event was happening from an ad on the home page and was upset I'd have to miss it. But I didn't have to. It was a little weird watching the clips though after watching "Loose Change". It still was a terrible tragedy though and something only this country could recover from so quickly. I can only imagine the amount of TV and news that was devoted to 9/11. Ten years! Crazy. And I'll be gone for 1/5 that amount.

There is still no word on my visa. One sister in my district got hers and left this morning. She got to call her family because she found out 4 days ago. There are a LOT of Peru missionaries here and some have been here for 6 weeks with no visa yet, some are leaving as scheduled. It just seems to be the luck of the draw. But I know that Heavenly Father is keeping me around for a reason. Class is going really well. Our district gets along great with the teachers and they are both amazing. One is Brother Zimmermen who is like 24, and the other is Sister McEwen, who has been back for 7 weeks and served in New York. They're both very passionate about the language and the mission (just like every missionary i suppose) and do a great job teaching. . .

Last night we were spoiled with another apostle. M. Russell Ballard talked at devotional about a lot of awesome stuff. One awesome thing he said was a quote by Joseph Smith, "Round up your shoulders and bear it, always sustain and defend the church, and the Kingdom of God." He also talked about always focusing on the atonement and striving to be more like Christ. I'm always left with a comforting feeling after hearing an apostle because the emphasize how important us missionaries are to the church. I have so many people that have my back - Heavenly Father, the apostles and First Presidency, family and friends. I think about the bungee jumping analogy a lot.

But, the days are really flying by. Apparently we were one of the first Spanish groups to test out some new program. They've redone it a little where now we are given three red books with a new style of teaching Spanish, and in the future they hope to send out Spanish missionaries in 5 weeks! As much as I know, I wouldn't be completely against just going out now, but it's nice knowing I've still got a whopping 6 weeks left to enjoy the mtc and practice more and more. . .

Love you all. I'm loving life, and all the people I'm serving with.
Elder Farmer

Thursday, September 8, 2011

September 7, 2011

Hey family!

First, some news. I got an update in the mail yesterday that said, "We have not received your visa clearance and you will be unable to travel to Peru on your scheduled departure date," which was supposed to be Sept. 14th. "You will remain at the MTC and continue your training until your visa comes. We will let you know when you will travel." Apparently there are some elders here that have been here for 6 weeks waiting for there visas. So you never know what could happen. I am not heartbroken though, because I love everyone in my district. If we learned as much as we laughed I'm sure we'd be fluent by now. So if staying here for a little longer is what God wants that so be it. I would appreciate the prayers though that my visa will make it soon. Although it would be tough to say goodbye, I know the Peru mtc would be an awesome experience and give me an advantage with the language.

We got two more investigators this week (our teachers playing the part of an actual investigator that they had on there missions). The big focus in missionary work today is teaching people, not lessons; which is why they introduced Preach My Gospel - to give the missionary more options and flexibility. That aspect might just be harder than the language, or just as hard. We taught one investigator for 40 minutes, trying to explain the atonement and help him understand that Christ is the way and that he did everything for us. But we did nothing to get to know him as a person. So that's what I'll be working on the most this next week. Developing skills within spanish that let the person know I care for them and want to get to know them - not just shove a 40 minute lesson down there throat and leave. Everyone has a need for the gospel; it's just about finding the best way to show them Gods love and plan for them.

We've now covered imperfect, preterit, and I forget what the third one is called, but the 'ing' form of spanish (brandon and justin will know what i'm talking about). We've learning subjunctive next which is what Justin told me to pay particular attention to and to not become one of the missionaries that never uses it. It's very interesting how spanish lessons are structured. Rather than spend a lot of time explaining simple spanish concepts, they just jump right in to teaching you how to pray, testify, and explain the gospel. Then from that, you learn some of the patterns and concepts and begin to branch out. It's nothing like high school where they spend two weeks teaching you how to describe the weather, and so on.... So learning the language through the gospel is definitely the best way to learn.

We get to go to the temple every P-day, and then go on temple walks every Sunday in between meetings.

One other quick highlight from the week - for some reason the Orange juice here has gotten a repuation for being a laxative. I got it the first day to get over my cold and the other elders advised me to stop unless i wanted to spend my day on the john. So, I decided to start of little competition and test the theory and 5 of us drank two full glasses of the potent OJ. You should have seen peoples faces as we walked by them with OJ on our trays. haha. First to "go" would lose. Turns out, we busted that myth and the OJ is safe to drink. Haha. It's just weird, fun little things like that that keep the day interesting and going.

Thanks for all the letters. There was no mail on Monday because of the holiday, so I was really hoping for some mail to read and it happened. One elder has gotten like 25 letters since being here - more than half being from his girlfriend - so it's nice getting some every once in a while. I even heard from Shivani and David, which was really awesome. Dont hesitate to just send sports updates, politics, other news, short messages, etc... It's weird to think i've been in the same square 1/4 mile for two weeks, but at the same time i don't really have a longing to be back in the real world. it's weird. I'm where i am supposed to me and want to be. There was a talk last night at devo by Elder Jenson of the seventy about the process of missionary work and the revelation and inspiration that has gone into it. it's comforting to know that I'm part of a truly extraordinary and grand work. Life is good.

Love you all,

Elder Farmer