This week at the MTC was one of the most memorable. Not only because it was my last week in the MTC, but because Elder D. Todd Christofferson, and Chad Lewis came for devotionals! Elder Christofferson is a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and Chad Lewis was a professional NFL football player. Seemingly ironic, they were both polar opposites in their lives, but were the same spiritual power-houses with marvelous testimonies and faith in our Savior Jesus Christ. What a week this has been.
To those of you who don’t know, this week was my last week in the MTC. I’m glad I was able to train here spiritually and linguistically, but I really just want to be in Madagascar right now. I also found out that one of my best friends and teammate, Elder Tyler Nelson, is in Madagascar and is transferring to Tamatave to white wash train one of the new missionaries that will be coming next Wednesday (my entire district, hopefully it’s me!). Anyways, the MTC has been a long, enjoyable, and spiritual place unlike any other place I have experienced. On Monday, I begin my 53 hour long travel to Madagascar. Over the course of two and a half days, I will be going to Texas, London, Johannesburg, and then to Madagascar. I cannot wait to meet my mission president President Foote and his warm welcome. Although I am in no way fully prepared to speak Malagasy, I will try hard and enjoy it.
This past Sunday, we had a wonderful mission conference from the MTC presidency. One talk in particular stood out to me. Sister Burgess, spoke about the faith we need to have throughout our lives. She shared a story about a tree she had in the front of her house. Sister Burgess and her family planted young pine trees in their front yard when they first moved into their house. After 35 years of healthy growing, they became 30 feet tall and large in limbs. A winter windstorm a few years ago blew down one of the seemingly large and strong trees. You would have imagined that the tree wouldn’t have fallen because of the other large trees directly beside it. Upon further inspection, the roots of the pine tree were quite shallow and weren’t spread deep or wide enough to endure the torrentuous storm. Member and converts are similar in circumstance to this pine tree. We need to have roots of faith that run deep into the earth of doctrine. It is essential for us to have these strong roots so that when the intense windstorm of trials and misfortunes comes, our faith will not be shook from us. We need to always be strengthening our faith and testimony roots by participating in everyday scripture study, prayer, serving others, and frequently attending the temple.
Now, on another note, we also had Elder Christofferson come and speak to us while broadcasting it live to MTCs around the world. What a unique experience this was, to hear directly from a servant of the Lord. He spoke about many subjects unique to missionaries and our purpose to invite other to come unto Christ. He spoke specifically about teaching repentance. It is perhaps one of the most important pieces in Heavenly Father’s plan of Happiness. Investigators of the church need to understand why we need to repent of our sins so that we can become clean in the eye of our Creator. It is only through the atonement of Jesus Christ, our Savior, that this is made possible.
Brother Chad Lewis is really a great speaker and incredible member of the church. Here are some of the quotes he shared with us about our importance as missionaries. “Everything good is under attack, and you as missionaries need to be the attackers with the light of Christ.” For instance, Brother Lewis shared a story about how he wanted to jump over someone in a college football game. He thought about doing it all the time and couldn’t stop until he did it. Some time later, in a BYU football game, and as a receiver, Chad Lewis jumped over a player to score a touchdown in the fourth quarter. He said: “It felt normal to do it, I didn’t even think about it.” This is what we need to be doing in our lives, thinking about goals we want to achieve, and being obsessed about fulfilling them. “When we practice something and think about doing it all the time, we will naturally do it. Miracles don’t bring faith, but they will come as a result of faith in the gospel.” Anything is possible.
I love you all and can’t wait to get to Madagascar. I’ll be thinking about all of you during those 53 hours of travel! Love you all! Also, shout out to Elder Shoemaker’s mom for sending us all matching ties to wear for our last temple day!