Today is my one and only P-day in the MTC, so the next I'll be able to check e-mail will be my firstin the field, 9/23. We leave for Arcadia on the morning of the 17th. It feels an eternity away, but it also feels way too soon. My host said to me when I got here, "The days are weeks and the weeks are days." And wow was he right. The days are so long, and we do so much studying and learning. It sometimes feels like the days have all been one long thing. But at the same time, I can't believe I've already been here for a full week and in five days, I'm going to Arcadia, CA. Anyways, It's been truly amazing. If I were to come home even now, my life would be completely different.
My companion's name is Elder Llewelyn (Loo-el-in). He just graduated from high school, but is really a spiritual giant. He loves so fast and so easily. It's something that I'm trying to pick up from him while we are still companions.
I think the hardest thing for me has honestly been the behavior of the other missionaries. I'm 2 years older than all the Elders, and I've got about a year on most of the sisters too. Pretty much none of them have gone to any college yet, so this is their first experience away from home and it shows. While the mission rules are strict, they are generally self-enforced, so there's a lot of stuff going on that really shouldn't. So that bugs me a lot since I'm really here to work and learn. I told my companion that when I signed my acceptance letter to the Quorum of the 12 that I was signing away my right to "find fun" for myself. There's totally a time and a place for laughter and relaxing, but when it starts to edge out study time, it begins to irk me.
The best part of being here is kind of two-fold.
1) I have become so much more dependent on prayer and on the Spirit. With our practice investigators I've been working really hard to listen to the Spirit and to let it be the teacher. It's been really amazing to learn how the Spirit can literally take control of our mouths and say what the investigator needs to hear, when we let it.
2) Through that dependence on the Spirit, I've been able to really learn how to love investigators. Like, I know they aren't really investigators, but I really do love them. I want nothing else than to see them become happy through our savior, Jesus Christ.
We got to go to the temple this morning, and I was a little sad since I won't get to again for several months. However, when I was leaving the celestial room, I couldn't help but feel that I had family around me, trying their best to let me know that I can do this. I could tell that Grandma Whitney and Grandpa Erekson were there, but what you said about Uncle Brett made me realize that he was probably there, too. That's another thing I've learned here, God really trusts me to do this work, He wants to see me succeed, and he's going to give me what I need to help everyone I come in contact with for the next two years. I really can do it.
I'll be writing a letter to Katie and telling her this, but I want to tell you about it, too. We were reading the Book of Mormon as a district and talking about how we need to become like little children to enter the kingdom. There was the standard stuff on being a little child, but not childish, so I was kind of zoning into my own mind. I started thinking about the little child in my life, Katie. I was thinking about the baptism, and how great it was that she took that step in following the Lord. Then I saw again, for a moment, the look on her face as she entered the font. She was looking at me with this look that just said, "Brett, I'm scared to death right now, but I trust you and want to do this." Then I remembered how I had to put her under three times before we finally got it right and how much faith my little sister was teaching all of us right then. We all know that Katie has a hard time putting her head under water, and for her to do it on purpose, three times, really taught me the level of faith and trust in the Lord that I need to strive for. I'm truly grateful to her for showing me that, even if it took me a month to learn the lesson. She's a pretty awesome kid.
Looking forward to hearing from you guys soon,
Elder Brett M. Whitney