Week 5 – More MTC Fun!

Živijo everybody!

This has been another good week at the MTC, though I can’t say there’s anything new happening… We pretty much do the same thing here each day! We have breakfast at 7:15, class from 7:45-11:35, then lunch, then class from 12:20-4:40, then dinner, then personal study from 6-7, companionship study from 7-8, and language study from 8-9. So all in all, I have good (but monotonous) days. On Tuesday mornings we have a service assignment, and Elder Wise and I have the best service assignment in the MTC. While most people clean bathrooms or residence halls during service, we put up the world flags around the MTC. Each Tuesday we get to choose 40ish world flags and then raise them on the flagpoles outside. Its actually pretty fun, and we’ve put up Slovenia each week (obviously!). Tuesday nights are also great! We have a general authority devotional, where we hear from a general authority in the Church. Unfortunately we haven’t had an Apostle yet, since they get August off. That will change soon though! On the same note, I’ve been asked to say the prayer at the devotional next week. I’ll have to pray in front of whichever general authority is there, as well as all 2,500 missionaries in the MTC. Can’t say I’ve ever been this nervous about praying before. It’ll be great though.

 

And that’s pretty much how the week goes!

 

Not too long ago, we hit our half-way point, and so had a little “party” with the other Adriatic North Missionaries. Of course, by “party”, I mean eating junk food, singing hymns, and watching Bible videos/Mormon Messages. It was still really fun though, and I enjoyed spending time with the other Adriatic North missionaries (not sure if I’ve mentioned it, but there are 13 of us – 5 Slovenes and 8 Croatians).

 

The Slovene is coming along, but I panicked a bit yesterday when I realized that I’ll be speaking to real Slovenes in just a bit over 3 weeks. I definitely don’t feel ready for that. Speaking of language, my favorite (and most embarrassing) language story of the week happened yesterday in class. We were learning about something called the ‘Imperative Case’, and I realized that it was a super helpful tool! So, I attempted to say the following sentence to my teacher (in a somewhat exasperated voice) : “I needed this today!”. Instead of saying that, I accidentally said “I gave birth to this today!” Needless to say my teachers were dying of laughter. But all in all the language is going well. I know it’ll be fine, and that if I work my hardest, the Lord will make up the difference.

 

I’ve kind of realized this week that in spite of all I don’t love about the MTC (the food sometimes, the monotony, the isolation), I am SO happy here. There’s something so amazing about dedicating 100% of my time to Heavenly Father. It’s a chance I know I will never get again in my life, and so Im trying to make the most of it. There’s also something so amazing about spending my time around 2,500 other young men and women who believe in the same things that I do, and who are making the same sacrifices I am. Because Im living in an environment where there’s virtually no swearing, no lying, no cheating, no anger, and no contention, I feel the Spirit ALL of the time, instead of just sometimes, like we do in the “real world”. It’s just a great feeling to know that I am so close to Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. If nothing else, these few weeks have only proven to me that God is real and that this is, without a doubt, His church on the Earth. There is no place I would rather be right now.

 

I love and miss you all!!!

 

– Starešina Davis

Week 4 – We’re Halfway There!

Well it’s official – I’m halfway through my stay at the MTC. It crazy to think about that. I’ve been here 5 weeks now, but it feels so strange. Half of me feels like I just got here – but another half of me feels like I’ve been here forever… It’s so strange to think about that fact that this isn’t really my mission, and tht this is just the preparation to get me there. Right now the thought of leaving this place seems impossible, but I know it’ll be here before I know it.

This week has been great (though not very different from any other week here). We are continuing to teach Aleš and Boštjan, and we continuing to learn Slovene. In class, we’ve started getting into the more grammatical details of Slovene. For the past few days we’ve been talking about sentence structure. It’s confusing, because in Slovene you can organize words in so many different ways to make the same sentence, whereas English has a fairly rigid sentence structure. All in all though, the Slovene is getting better each day, and I’m feeling more confident.

 

Our missionaries lessons are also getting much better. In fact, the lesson we had with Boštjan yesterday was the best lesson Elder Wise and I have taught so far at the MTC. It was the first lesson where I actually felt guided by the Spirit, instead of just feeling like I was grasping for phrases and words to use. It was also one of our first lessons where we taught a lesson based on what he said, rather than what our “lesson plan” was. We had gone in intending to talk about Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon, but ended up spending the entire lesson talking about agency, sin, repentance, and the atonement. I felt the Spirit so strong while we were teaching.

 

One of our teachers spent a bit of time talking about his mission with us, since he only got back from Slovenia a few months ago. (Funny side story, we found out that he’s actually marrying a girl from his mission! We had fun with that for a while…) But anyway. He said that when he got to Slovenia is was really tough. He was first sent to Maribor, the second largest city in Slovenia. The branch there had only 5 active members and the members were struggling. From what he said, it was very, very, hard, and he and his companion were essentially running the Church in Maribor. By the time they left though, they had grown the branch to 20 people, and all of the issues there had been resolved. I wish all of you could have heard the whole story with all of its details. It was just a very inspiring story for us. With hard work and the Spirit, anything can be resolved. With the help of the Lord, anything can happen.

 

I love you all and hope all is well for you!

 

– Starešina Davis

Week 3

Živjo Friends and Family!

 

Yesterday marks 3 weeks at the MTC, which means I’m a third of the way through my stay here! It’s crazy to think about that, since I feel like I just got here. In the MTC, the days feel like weeks, and the weeks feel like days.

 

The week has been great (as if it’s possible to have a bad week at the MTC). The language is coming along – no embarrassing mistakes – and our lessons are getting better. We currently have 2 investigators, Aleš and Boštjan. Even though they are just our teachers acting like investigators, it’s so real during the lessons. Aleš is an amazing investigator. He is so curious, and seems hungry for truth. Yesterday we set a baptismal date with him! Even though he’s not an actual investigator, I was so so happy when he agreed to be baptized.

 

Our other investigator, Boštjan, is a different story. He doesn’t believe in God, and seems like the kind of person who likes to talk about religion from a philosophical standpoint, but doesn’t actually care about practical and personal applications. It’s a bit strange – he loves to read the Book of Mormon and talk about it with us, but he wont do simple things like pray. He says he doesn’t want to pray to someone that doesn’t exist, and told us that God is like Santa Claus – a comforting and exciting figure for children, but nothing more. The language barrier also makes it difficult. If we were doing this in English, there are so many thing I could say to him to help him understand God and why having a God and Savior is so important. But, we’re so limited by the language. I suppose this is why we have the Holy Ghost though.When we cannot say the right words (or any words for that matter), we can always count on the Spirit to help make up the difference. If nothing else, I’ve learned in these lessons that missionaries are not there to convince or reason with people. We can barely speak! But we are there to help others feel the Spirit, and then let them find out the truth for themselves. We are simply a conduit for the Holy Ghost – he’s the real converter.

 

All in all this has been a great week though. On Wednesday we got to “host” new missionaries. We essentially introduced them to the MTC and got them situated on their first day. It was really really fun, but also a bit strange. In three weeks I’ve gone from the nervous new missionary to the (kind of) experienced host. It was a weird feeling to have those missionaries – many of whom are older than me – look to me for help and guidance. In any case, it made me appreciate how far I’ve come.

 

I love the MTC, and love this Church. Since I’ve been here I’ve only grown to love it more. I hope all is going well back in the “real world”, and I hope you all know I love you and miss you!

 

– Starešina Davis

 

Week 2

Živijo!

Well, it’s been another great week at the MTC! This Wednesday puts me past the 2 week mark, with 7 to go. It’s a lot of weeks to be in one place like this, but it helps that the MTC is so great.

 

I guess I’ll tell you a little bit about the MTC. The easiest way to describe it is “Missionary Bootcamp”. Instead of spending all day and night training for combat though, we spend all day and night learning the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and how to be a good missionary. Oh, and Slovene. We’re learning that too. The Slovene is coming great, but I’ve had some… fun… language experiences this week.

 

We were teaching a lesson to our “investigator” (really just our teacher) and I was telling him that because God loves us, he sent His Son to Earth to die for us. The word for “Earth” is Zemlja, but I said “Because God loves us, he sent his Son to Žemlja, to die for our sins”. That little accent above the Z changed the word to “dinner roll”…. I told our investigator that God sent His son to a dinner roll to die for our sins. Needless to say, he was very confused.

 

This one is… worse. We were just finishing up a GREAT lesson with our other investigator, and he was very enthusiastic about what we were teaching. I decided to extended the invitation to be baptized. My (intended) sentence was “Will you follow the example of Jesus Christ and be baptized?”. “To be baptized” is “krščel” in Slovene, but instead of saying that, I said “križal”. And as it would happen, that means “to be crucified”…. I managed to ask our investigator if he would follow the example of Jesus Christ and be crucified. He couldn’t handle it, and busted out laughing.

 

All in all though this has been a wonderful week. I’ve finally gotten used to the MTC schedule, and I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else right now. I’ve attached some pictures of myself and the other Slovene missionaries. I miss and love you all!

 

Starešina Davis

Week 1

Živjo!

Well, this marks one week since I started my mission! I don’t have a ton of time to write, and so much has happened. I’ll do my best though.

 

Fist off, let me share something I came across during my scripture study this week. In D&C 31:3, it says “Lift up your hearts and rejoice, for the day of your mission has come; and your tongue shall be loosed, and you shall declare glad tidings of great joy to this generation”. That is exactly how I feel right now. The day of my mission has come, and I cannot wait to declare glad tidings of great joy to everyone I meet.

 

The Missionary Training Center has been amazing. My companion here is Elder Wise, and we are the only two Elders currently learning Slovene. There are three other sisters learning Slovene with us, Sestra Erdmann, Sestra Dutton, and Sestra Robertson. The five of us have become very close. I love the excitement and spirit that all of the missionaries have here. It’s so encouraging to me.

 

Slovene is… hard. Our teacher will not speak English to us, which makes it all the more difficult. It is a huge help though – immersion is the best way to learn. In addition to our Slovene class, we have begun teaching the gospel to “Marko”. In reality, he’s just one of our teacher’s acting like an investigator, but it’s still very intimidating. When we teach, we are only allowed to use Slovene, so the lessons have been very simple and short. They’ve been great though, and I’ve been able to feel the Spirit while I teach. 

 

Our zone (the 35ish missionaries I’m grouped with) are all of the missionaries learning Slovene, Croatian, Bulgarian, Turkish, Czech, and Polish. It’s an amazing group, and I’ve grown to love all of them.

 

I love being a missionary, and am loving the MTC. I miss you all, and can’t wait to share my experiences with you. Feel free to write me emails or letters, and I’ll try my best to respond!

 

Na Svidenje! 

 

– Starešina Davis