So, here I am, one week from being dropped off, 3 billion "Welcome to the MTC"'s later, a couple lessons taught and less sleep on any given day in the past week than I have in the last 18 years of my existence, (And I STILL haven't had a nap, which is strange cause I've had about 8 hours total today where I could've, and I don't fall asleep till 11 and wake up at 6 because the rest of my dorm doesn't want to wait in line for a shower, and we all shower in like 5 minutes or less so it's pointless) and I'm STILL ALIVE. (Disclaimer: This email will contain multiple movie/youtube video quotes/references, and if you don't understand, seek immediate help from the nearest movie theater or even GOOGLE it and get your life back in order ;)
A lot has happened in the last week and it feels like I've been gone for at least 6 months, but you know... it's only been a week. On the first three days here I spent at least 8 hours a day in the same classroom, and about half that time was spent without a teacher, implying for personal or companion study, but they didn't explain that very well until, you know, we spent so long wishing we were all back in bed (like most newbies in the MTC).
Some of you are probably wondering who I mean when I say "we". That would be my district- the unknown district from the Hunger Games that are going to drop the SPIRITUAL bombs on everyone and win the war for the home team. There are 12 of us in there, and almost everyone's name has some kind of awesomeness to it (Hint: refer back to the above stated disclaimer) and, as it's the first email, I'll explain most of them. I'll send a picture sometime, as I do have some of us, but it might come a little later (today, hopefully). But in El Squad, there's me and my comp, Elder Gibbs (not Leroy Jethro, from NCIS, but Jack Marcus from Grace, Idaho), Elder Picture (the Picture's family Picture, [yes, exactly the pronunciation and everything]), and his companion, Elder Jackman (Not Hugh, but A-Aron [who can do a freakishly creepy Gollum, like, crawling around and everything]), Elder Ohlsen (Olson, the District Leader), and his comp, Elder Adams (from the Adams Family) Elder Westenskow (Pronunciation: West-en-SKO, not skow) the kid who can sing "Let it Go" in Goofy's voice, and his comp, Elder Broadhead, the special soul whose blondness, bluntness, and forgetfulness makes it hilarious! Then there's the Sisters of the Squad: Sister Lawrence, who claims the title of District Mom, as she turns 22 or 23 soon [I don't remember which one]) and her companion, Sister Hay (like "Hey, hey, hey, it's Fat Albert", except she's a runner, so she's not overweight in any way, Sister Walker (like Skywalker, but she's short, so she's just a Walker) and her companion, Sister Cahoon (pronounced like Calhoun, just without the "L"). Elder Gibbs and I are the only Idahoans, Sisters Lawrence, Hay and Walker are from Washington, New York, and Colorado, respectively, while everyone else is from Utah (surprise, surprise). Once again, I'm the youngest in the district. My District is cooler than all the others, because none of us are the "we used to play football in high school/jock" type, and we do stuff as a district, most of the time. We have decided to have a weekly testimony meeting, and our last one is going to be the night before we leave, where most of us want to get a priesthood blessing from us Elders, (Sisters Lawrence and Hay were practically crying when they told us that they did, to which most of us readily agreed we'd do).
Elder Gibbs is the one who has the hard cowboy accent. One of our teachers had him roleplay as an investigator, and when he said that he was Colton, his slang covered the "t" a little bit, so the teacher actually started calling him Colon, which changes the whole meaning of it all EPICLY, so we were all busting up for like 5 minutes. XD
So, now that I've been here a week, I can say this all I want. :) The first three days, I understood why people call it Spirit Prison or heck on earth. But AT FIRST LIGHT ON THE FIFTH DAY, I LOOKED TO THE EAST (no, jk, another movie quote, but it was actually on the night of the fourth day) I understood why people loved this place. It's not because of the food, or the stinking high school drama that some missionaries just CAN'T LIVE WITHOUT, or even the missionaries who need to spend as much time as possible with someone from home, because they're a little homesick or they came out for the wrong reason or whatever it is, those aren't the reasons. It's cause of charity. I know that was what I felt because I usually don't like people (or at least, most of them) and we had our first district testimony meeting on Saturday, the 20th, and I felt at home. I knew that night that it was going to be harder to say goodbye to those absolute strangers than it was to some of you people at home. I can literally tell you their names (and by names, I mean last names), maybe the town where they're from, and maybe a hobby or something, and I love them more than some of the people with which I graduated, and some of you who are getting this email. (yeah, that was savage, but it's true-that's what charity is and does)
I know this gospel is true. It changes lives more times, in more ways, and in smaller ways than any of us can comprehend. Some of you might think that I'm worried about you guys at home, but I'm really not. If you think I'm wrong, go read the first verse of D&C 100. As I said that I'm tired, this is where my mission scripture comes in- D&C 64:25, 33-34. "If ye believe me, ye will labor while it is called today... Wherefore, be not weary in well doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great work. And by small and simple things are great things brought to pass. And the Lord requireth the heart and a willing mind, and the willing and obedient shall partake of the good of the land of Zion in these last days." (I'm not sure if I quoted that right, that was all from memory, and I don't have it memorized) So, to all you who are struggling, who can't (or doesn't want to) leave something behind, get up. Get over it. Go to work. To quote a hilarious but deep poem, (that talks about you and Christ walking along the beach, and the farther you go, the scenes of your life flash across the sky, and Christ is saying that He carried all this time, but when He asked you to walk on your own two feet and follow, you wouldn't do it, so He dropped you in the sand, on your butt) called "Butt Prints in the Sand",
"Because in life, there comes a time
When one must fight, and one must climb
When one must rise and take a stand
Or leave their butt prints, in the sand."
In the Isaiah chapters of 2 Nephi, he tells Jerusalem to "Arise" and to "shake off the dust". Jerusalem is the holy city. We, as members of the church, are His holy people. The world (or the natural man, more specifically) is referred to as dust- so we, need to stand above the world, above laziness and all those things that are recorded in the scriptures of the people's iniquities-- there's a list like that in Alma 1:30 or so-- be above it!! Who cares what people think of you?? I've taught more lessons and talked to more people in the last week that I'm more nervous to act as an investigator and come up with lies on the spot than I am to tell someone that they're doing something wrong!
Buck up, get over it, move on.
In other words, PRESS FORWARD (2 Nephi 31:20).
Te whanaunga mo ake tonu.
(Great is my love for you all).
Elder Eli James Dial
PS--Don't expect a massive letter like this next week or in the future, my time is going to be more limited. And tell me which missionaries to look out for, while I'm here in the MTC- I've already seen Elder Jaynes, but I didn't have my battery dead camera on me (sorry) and when Elder Orme leaves. I have like 20 greenie missionaries on my floor in the dorm going to serve in Ghana but I haven't seen him yet, so let me know if I should look harder for him!
PPS-- that testimony at the end, wasn't learned from the MTC. I learned that before I became a missionary. :)