We got our travel plans yesterday!!!! We leave the MTC at 7:30am July 15th to the SLC airport. We need to switch planes at Dallas, TX and in Santiago, Chile and we'll all arrive at 2:55pm July 16th. That will be a lot of time on an airplane O.o
There are 14 people total who are going to the Chile Osorno Mission next week (8 from our district and 6 from some other part of the MTC). Super stoked! We're finally getting to the field! One more week (plus a day or two).
What else is there to say.... Oh! Dad asked about Independence Day. We had a special 4th of July program where we sang hymns, heard a short talk, and watched 17 Miracles (a movie about Mormon pioneers). I had already seen it before, but I feel like I got a lot more out of it this time. The people in the Willie/Martin Handcart Companies were not perfect. They made mistakes and had different strengths and weaknesses, but God delivers. God will always give us the things we need when we are faithful, obedient, do our absolute best, and we ask prayerfully. Many of the pioneers died, and there were times of doubt, but the Lord was watching them at every moment.
Every Sunday night at the MTC, they show Mormon movies and talks from general authorities in various locations on campus. I think 17 Miracles is my favorite of them. It's a bit more shocking in the way they portray things, but it feels the most true to life and shows how God delivers even though He may push us to our limits. It's also just a better made movie. I also like "Joseph Smith: Prophet of the Restoration." It does a wonderful job of weaving in principles and doctrines of the gospel while also being well made and entertaining.
After we watched 17 Miracles, we got to stay up and watch the fireworks. :D The MTC provided ice cream for everyone and the stadium at BYU provided the fireworks. :D Lots of fun!
Hmmm... what else... I feel like there's so much I could say, but the little experiences would probably seem insignificant. It's difficult to do justice in explaining all my experiences, so I just end up talking about what I can.
I mentioned before the picture of the Army of Helaman. The MTC has lots of original art like that. I really like the pictures here. Many of them are photos taken from missions. There's one with an elder holding an umbrella that was completely destroyed (presumably by wind). That will probably happen in Chile :)
There's also a picture of a baptism being done in a hole they had to cut in ice outside. The ice looked very thick and very cold, but that sure is a cool way to be baptized.
One of the most interesting pictures is of a baptism in Africa. They're in a muddy looking river and there's a big crowd on the bank of the river. There are several people in white to be baptized and more than one were being baptized at the same time. Lined up on very edge of the river are five men with spears, machetes, and axes. They are spaced out and watching the river. I wish I had someone to ask about the picture, but I think they were being prepared for crocidiles (I think I spelled that wrong....)! It's amazing how much courage these people have to be baptized in these circumstances. It shows how much faith they have and how much they understand the importance of baptism.
That reminds me of something. One of the best things we learn how to do here at the MTC is to really listen to people and ask inspired questions. Missionary work is not effective unless you understand people. That includes your companion, the local leaders, the people being taught, members of the ward, everyone! A person is like an iceberg, where you can really only see the tip. You need to be willing to swim down to where THEY are and find THEIR needs to really help people. You can't just preach doctrine or it seems irrelevant and impersonal. You can't assume what is going to be under the iceberg, but you need to find what's there continually.
For example, I heard an experience where the missionaries invited someone in South America to be baptized. When the she declined, the missionaries could have easily jumped the gun and started talking about the importance of baptism and assume she needed more faith or understanding. However, the Missionaries asked questions instead. Inspired questions are often very simple, and in this case, it was just "What do you think is keeping you from wanting to be baptized." It turns out, she couldn't swim and was just afraid about going underwater. If the missionaries had jumped the gun and started preaching doctrine, they would have missed the mark. The purpose of a missionary is to "invite others to come unto Christ", not just to preach and teach the gospel. It's all about individuals and what THEY need.
I hope that came across clearly and I hope I'm giving you a better idea on what I do here at the MTC. There's still a week left and I intend to make it the best week yet!
I love you all! I love getting letters and I love hearing about your lives :)
Elder Connor Christopherson