Hey everybody!!!My parents have been super busy recently processing apples into apple sauce and apple Cider. I knew about that from their letters, but then got some samples in the mail! I was so psyched. I got a package, and it was food, and it was exactly the things that I was missing. So, maybe it's bad, but I kinda wanted to hoard it. 'This is a taste of my home! you can't have any!' There were three bottles of fresh homemade apple cider. One of the Elders in my district (and the guy in the next bed over) asked what they were and, not wanting to share, I told him the first non-true thing that came into my head. "It's coyote urine" I said. I then proceeded to tell him that we would use coyote urine around our garden in NY to keep the rodents away (which is true, I think), and that my parents sent me some so that I wouldn't have a problem with the rats (which definitely isn't true).
He believed me and life went on. The next day my companion asked me what was in the bottles, and jokingly told him the same story. He sorta believed me and started asking more questions to understand. I answered his questions and just kept the illusion going because I thought it was funny. But I also hadn't had a chance to actually taste this gift from home, life is so busy, that as soon as I got it that first night, I had to go straight to class. So when my companion left the room to use the bathroom I had my first taste. We (my other companion and my zone leader) then thought that it would be funny if he saw me drinking this 'coyote urine.' So when he walked in I took a good sip of my cider and told him that the acids in it cleanse the palate and that it has a lot of vitamin b.
Pretty soon the entire zone (everybody in our hallway) had heard about the coyote urine in my closet and that I drank it. Everyone started pouring into our room to see it. It was pretty crazy, but I was starting to feel bad about deceiving the entire zone, so after a couple guys tried it to test their manliness the secret came out. (Wait this isn't bad, hmmm, it kinda tastes like cider... that's weird). But you know for a good half hour everyone thought that I had 'coyote urine' in my room. Gross. Plus my companion wouldn't speak to me for about a half hour afterwards. Then when the shock of it wore off people told me how impressed they were that I was able to thoroughly convince everyone that I have and drink 'coyote urine'.
The interesting thing though is that here as a missionary and especially at the MTC I am acutely aware of the spirit. I need it to be able to have energy and a positive attitude throughout the day. So even though it was just a little joke and it was over in 30 min and everyone thought it was funny, I lost some of the spirit. The following couple of hours was super hard, I didn't have energy or the desire to really do anything. So I couldn't get anything done, whether I was trying to play frisbee or memorize a word in kiribati. So I can testify even more strongly now that I need the spirit with me always. I know that without the help of the Holy Ghost I can't do anything.
On the same day that I got a package from my parents, I also got a happy little letter from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. It said, 'Congratulations Elder,' and proceeded to tell me that I had been selected to sing in the MTC Choir in the Priesthood Session of General Conference!!!!!!!!!! One of my other companions had filled out the form to sing as well. We were screaming and handshaking that quickly turned into hugging and just loving life. For both of us this has been a dream. So it is so cool to actually be blessed with the opportunity to sing for the Lord and in front of the Prophet in the Conference Center. Oh my, there aren't even words. Today was the first practice. We have a practice every morning for a week, then we will perform for the world next Saturday. We are learning 4 new songs (and one will be history making), but I'm not going to tell you what they are. (neener neener neener) So I guess that you'll just have to watch and see the awesomeness. It is so cool singing with about 300ish other missionaries. Plus he (our director) told us that we should sing well because we are representing the other 90000 missionaries (that makes it about 300 missionaries that each of us are representing) yeah no pressure. I am so excited.
Today we got our Travel Plans!!!! We are going to Kiribati for Real now. Before it was just a probably. Like yeah you're supposed to leave on October 7, but your visa probably wont go through, or something will get delayed, or something. But NOW it is for Reals! I am flying out the evening of October 7th (yep, right on time) and will fly to LAX then to Fiji arriving there on the 9th. Due to the strange effects of the International Date line, I will never have the joy of experiencing October 8th. *sniffle sniffle* Hopefully it was going to be a lame day anyways. Then on to Kiribati! This is how my life looks at the moment. This week we will have infield orientation (basically a set of classes for people that are leaving) then this next weekend will be General Conference, then I leave the following Tuesday. AAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH
HHHHHHH!!!!!!!!! yeah I don't know if
that was a happy/excited scream, or a nervous/I'm-going-to-die scream.
Mostly a bit of both. I decided today (before I got my travel plans)
that I want to go to Kiribati because I can now express myself (however
slowly) can understand people when they talk super slow and know the
basic sentence structure and grammar rules. Now all I want to figure out
is the culture and how words are actually pronounced by the natives.
Well, I got my wish. I can't wait. The 8 of us will leave in 11 days!
Before I left on my mission I purchased a Kiribati Book of Mormon and started to memorize Moroni's promise (I really recommend it, no matter how many times you've read it read it again and apply it to your life. It's Moroni 10:3-5). I would translate a word with my borrowed dictionary and write it down, then try to memorize the line. This process took like five evers, so I ended up giving up before I finished. But the day before yesterday we decided to read Moronai Mwakoro 10 for our daily Ana Boki Moomon reading. It was the coolest thing. I read it, and could understand most of the words. And even knew what was going on in the verses that I don't have memorized in english. It is soooo cool to be able to read a book of scripture in a completely different language and understand what is being said. Your prayers for me to have the Gift of Tongues and the Interpretation of Tongues are working. Thank you so much!
Learning a new language is funny. Since we are trying to use it as much as we can all day long, our english is starting to go. It is harder to remember what some words are in english and the common phrases are even harder. The other day I told someone that our teacher was going to crash the whip and teach us a lot that day. They just laughed at me and said, 'Crash it into what?' Then i thought for about 3 minutes and remembered that the correct word was Crack (I think?...). Some Kiribati words you can tell came from the english. For example the word for my favorite thing (or at least one of them), Ice Cream, is aitikuriim. Pronounced Ice Cream. (the ti makes an s sound). It is one of my favorite things.
This sunday we were privileged to go to both the Ogden Temple Rededication and to a Devotional given by Elder M Russell Ballard. They were both so incredible but I don't have much time left. I loved listening to President Monson's Talk during the dedication. It was just so full of joy. I felt excited just watching/listening to him. I want to be able to carry myself in such a way so that others can be uplifted by me just by me being around them. Also I loved singing 'The Spirit of God' at the end. It is one of my most favorite hymns so being able to sing it with 2200 other missionaries especially since the room that we were in was made an extension of the temple. I love the temple and the feeling/spirit that is there.
I just want to remind you all that I know that this Church is True. All of us have hard times, the MTC definitely isn't easy (It ranks among the hardest continual things I have ever done) but these hard things make us stronger. Make us better. I love the gospel and the light that it brings into my life. And I am excited to share it's message with the people of Kiribati for the next two years. I love you all so much.
Love (it's not redundant I promise)