Wednesday, July 31, 2013

"It's a Competition" :-)

Regarding my Visa, sorry but it hasn't come; nor has it come for any of the other districts that have recently left. It's a bummer, but I already know I'll be reassigned. Apparently the Church submits Visas based on a missionary's MTC entrance date.  They try to keep things organized that way.  So even though I got my call way back in February -- and Mom submitted my visa paperwork 1 month early -- it just sat there until all the other visas also arrived. So that's kinda' a bummer. Oh well.  The actual document saying my visa isn't here yet should come this Friday; then my reassignment will likely come the following week.  So I won't be able to tell you the new mission until then :)  I'm kinda' hoping New Mexico with Jarom ;)

So as of July 25th, there are 73,522 missionaries world wide!  Dear Goodness!  That's a lot!!  Kinda' cool, huh!

We had a new batch of missionaries come in last week (and new, new ones later today) ...they are all huge -- like really huge! -- like their arms are bigger than my head. So now I suddenly feel small...

Before the other districts left for their missions last week (they went to Spokane Washington, Portland, Detroit, Orlando, and New Hampshire), we decided to do a cereal challenge. At the CCM, they have these huge tubs of cereal that last for weeks. Our goal: to empty one during lunch :) So like 40 of us ate like 3 bowls each -- hahaha!  We got sooooo close!  But the MTC "President of Dinner" came and got all ticked at us. He said, "It's a competition that will incite the other Zones, you can't eat cereal."  It was so dumb. We just wanted some cereal. But in the end, this created a new joke for us: "It's a competition".  For literally everything now, we say, "we can't because it will incite a competition." Wanna' go to dinner together? ..."We can't, it could incite a competition." When a teacher asks a question, no one answers ...while someone politely says, "We can't participate because if we answer, it might incite the other missionaries, and we can't have a competition." bahahaha  Muy comico. It's all in good fun.

Bahahahahah! Ok, this next one's kinda' gross for Grandma, but hilarious for everyone else...I think Leslie and a few others will like it.  So one of our teachers was doing a demonstration on the 2nd lesson. The spirit was so strong, and we were all glued and taking notes. Then randomly, pffffftt! or whatever sound you make when passing gas. Bahahahahaha! It came from this one of the Elders. His face just went white. Everyone held back the laughs. But you could hear everyone had stopped breathing. I was holding it back fairly well (with tears in my eyes) because I figure it's immature to laugh at something like that. But then I look over at the Hermanas, and then they just died in laughter. Like really, crying laughter. Bahahaha  Then everyone else lost it, and then we just laughed for like 10 minutes. Bahahah, I find it ironic that the girls, who are supposed to be older and more mature, are the ones that laughed first. Bahahaha. Good times.

So the protestors are still at the temple on Sundays. There's more of them now than last time. One of them brought a guitar, so that was nice. All their signs are written on the back of old Obama posters; so at least we know they recycle. Hah! :)  They always yell, "If you're having trouble with your companion, pray to Jesus!"  hahaha It's funny. :)  I wonder what they're thinking?  I know the church is true, so it's obviously not going to work.  But they've been doing this for decades at the Provo temple.

So it looks like I'm a professional lock picker...or what ever you call them. All the keys to our residences are fairly similar.  I found that -- with considerable skill and finesse -- I was able to "hit" all the pins to open just about every door.  Bahaha, so I can get in most rooms. Obviously I don't do anything, but it's just fun to know I'm able. 

My Spanish is coming along great.  I've memorized the entire 1st vision, a couple of scriptures, and some key phrases. I essentially know most of the Biblical Spanish that I'll need. I also know all the vocabulary for lessons 1 and 2. And I've taught myself the subjunctive tense (not in the MTC curriculum), so I'm trying to use it constantly now.

Spiritual stuff:
Last Sunday John Lant spoke. He said, "You're not 'going on a mission,' you're 'becoming a missionary.'" Wow, that's exactly right! My service doesn't end after 2 years, nor 5, nor 56. In fact, it never ends. Service to God is an eternal process, and a happy one. To become an excellent missionary, I must be obedient in all things. If I'm only 99% obedient, that may leave a small "chink in my armor" for Satan to attack and wear me down. Obviously, we have commandments for protection. That's why I need to heed them.  As I do, hopefully my armor will be unbreakable.

I've also learned a whole lot about the Spirit and specifically when I feel it. Elder Bednar said that "it is often a part of your thoughts." I really took this to heart and committed to myself to try and act on every thought I had. I also learned that the Spirit manifests itself while I'm moving ...while I'm doing the work. It's an act of faith, I pray, then I go and act and see where that takes me. So with these in mind, I prayed and began studying for those investigators I will encounter on my mission. I really understand the importance of likening lessons to their needs, so I do all of my studying for them. And while I was studying last week, I had the thought to study about families for Manuel (one of our investigators at the MTC).  I studied a lot of scriptures about family and read "The Family: A Proclamation to the World", and even got my hands on a Spanish version! So that next lesson came, and I asked Manuel about his family. "They're good." I asked again and again (in different ways), and found out he has a bad relationship with them; but he really loves them. It's good to be prepared :)  I was able to apply the Plan of Salvation to his needs, and my companion and I testified of families. We read a few scriptures about families and prayed together. Then we went over the Proclamation. Woot! It felt so good!! We committed him to read the BoM, pray, and come to church (he said he'll also bring his family). It's soooo cool! I know that Manuel is just my teacher's "character", but it still brings me so much joy to teach and testify and see people come closer to Christ. I can just feel the happiness! :D It feels so good!

I came across this quote from Winston Churchill:

To every man there comes … that special moment when he is figuratively tapped on the shoulder and offered the chance to do a special thing unique to him and fitted to his talent. What a tragedy if that moment finds him unprepared or unqualified for the work which would be his finest hour.

I am glad I was prepared for this particular moment, and hope I will be prepared for the many more to come.

Ok, so during last Tuesday's devotional, we watched a video of Elder Holland which really touched me. He said, "Missionary work is hard because the price of salvation is not cheap." Christ paid the demands of Justice and atoned for ALL of our sins and felt each of our pains. We (I) are forever indebted to Him; the SMALL efforts we make to be missionaries are relatively nothing compared to His suffering. That's why I love Romans 18:16-17:

The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:
And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.

It not only testifies that we are children of God, but also that we are to become heirs.  If we suffer with Christ, and endure a small degree of what He did, that's what being a disciple (and in my case, missionary) is. "When I'm being yelled at, scorned, rejected, or spit on, I am literally taking the place of the Savior. I am experiencing a SMALL portion of what Christ experienced. Salvation is found in suffering WITH Christ!

If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

To take up your cross means to endure whatever the Lord has in store for you, for Christ's sake. To be willing to suffer as He did. I am willing to take up my cross ...whatever He has in store for me. I will endure every hardship to serve my Lord; it is my duty and privilege. :)  I love His church and gospel; no truer happiness can be found.

With Love !!

Elder Travis Clemons