There are trials like you wouldn’t believe here at the MTC but there are also great miracles and blessings. This week I want to share a few..
It’s coming to the end of week three here at the MTC and hallelujah! Everyone says, “make it to Sunday” during your first week and they’re right. It definitely gets so much easier after that.. but harder as well. So what they should really tell you is to take it one day at a time. Elder Von G. Keetch came the other week and said something quite comforting: “Just because the MTC is hallowed grounds doesn’t make it an easy place to be.” He’s right. There’s a great feeling here at the MTC. The grounds have been dedicated and hallowed which means that there is no place for evil but what about the evil within us? What about the natural man? What about the thoughts and feelings of doubt, discouragement, depression or fear that Satan may have planted before we entered these sacred grounds? Just because the grounds are hallowed doesn’t at all mean that it will always be a happy place for the individual. Struggles here are inevitable no matter how “strong” someone may seem to be. The great thing is that because everyone struggles or has a mini-breakdown we all get it and it’s okay.
At the beginning of week 3 Elder Tuikolovatu, Elder Jim and I all had a powerful spiritual experience. We had TRC (TRC is when we teach people who are already members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints) scheduled for 11am however Brother Packer (one of our teachers) forgot to organise someone for us to teach in Kiribati. So instead he instructed us to go and find someone with a gold tag/badge we could teach around the MTC grounds. There are people who work at the MTC or volunteer here and who have agreed to allow missionaries to teach them at anytime throughout the day. The gold tag/badge indicates this. We walked out of our classroom building and saw a man sit down on the chair a few metres away. We approached him and started talking with him in English. I don’t really remember what we spoke about during our 45min conversation but I do remember the feelings that I felt. As our new friend Jose (he’s from Guatemala) would speak and share his concerns, scriptures and words would come to mind. We were able to testify to Jose about the Book of Mormon and about having faith and relying on Jesus Christ to carry our burdens. Although we weren’t able to fully resolve some concerns he had, we left feeling the reassurance from the Holy Ghost that what we had taught Jose was our best and our best was acceptable to the Lord. Before we left we gave him our details to visit us if he wanted us to teach him again. We don’t have a phone and can’t communicate via email so we gave him what we could which was our building and classroom number. I wasn’t sure if he would visit but I hoped.
On Monday past, I had the worst morning. I didn’t sleep very well at all because the missionaries next door to us were up until early hours in the morning. They were heading out to the field the next day and had been quite rowdy all week. Physically I was exhausted. Mentally and emotionally I was at breaking point. But there I was, sitting in my classroom staring off into space, about to burst into tears out of frustration. In my peripheral vision I saw someone approach our classroom door, which was open. I turned to see that it was Jose! I leaped, literally leaped out of my chair and almost screamed his name. It was the funniest thing as I reflect. I ran up to him and was talking so fast, asking over and over again what he was doing here. He asked me how my weekend was and I almost burst out in tears right then and there. So many things were going through my mind. I could feel Brother Seguine and Brother Packer looking at us, wondering who he was. I didn’t care to explain who he was or why he might have come to our classroom. I was so focused on him and what was happening in that moment. He said that the missionaries who were teaching him in Spanish had left already. He remembered that he had our details so he decided to come and visit us and wondered if we might teach him again and perhaps answer more questions he had. I was immediately filled with an overwhelming feeling of love. Love from my Father in Heaven and love for Jose. Elder Tui and Elder Jim arrived a few minutes later and we all went into a room, along with Brother Seguine and taught Jose. Throughout our time with Jose I kept shedding tears. Seeing Jose really made my day. The darkness of my morning was swallowed up in the love that God showed me through Jose’s visit. I was so grateful that Heavenly Father would bless me with this great miracle! It was a testament to me that He hears our prayers, especially the silent ones of our hearts and He does answer them in ways we don’t ever expect but are always in the ways that we need.
Fruits of Service
The next miracle I want to share has been years in the making. About 3-4 years ago, I attended a National YSA Conference in Auckland. It was great! One of the speakers who came was Professor Victor Ludlow. He was an amazing speaker, well at least I thought so. He would address us for morning devotionals but because of the late nights and early mornings a lot of the YSA wouldn’t be as engaged as they could be during his talks. When Professor Ludlow would finish speaking the YSA, not all but some, would rudely say “Amen”. I was so embarrassed and shuddered to think what impression Professor Ludlow would think of us as a collective YSA and as a country. For years I’ve always wanted to tell him that I appreciated his addresses and still remembered what he taught us. Last Friday we (my zone and I) attended the Provo Temple, as we do each week. As we were walking from one room to another I saw two men standing at the entrance to the door. I looked at their badges and saw the name “Ludlow”. My eyes looked up at this man’s face and recognised that it was Professor Ludlow! I left the group and fast walked/ran up to him. I couldn’t believe it! I told him that he had come to New Zealand and I had been present at the YSA Conference he had attended. I quickly proceeded to tell him all that I had remembered from his devotionals and then started semi-crying from the emotions. I’m super emotional these days haha. He asked me if I was going on a mission and I tried to get out, through my tears and mumbled words that I was. I then left as the group was waiting for me so we could start the session. This all happened in the space of about 30 seconds. What a miracle! Of all people to see and of all places to see them and of all times to see them! It was indeed a miracle. In recent devotionals there have been experiences shared about missionaries serving and meeting people, reassuring them (the people) in some way that their own missionary service was not wasted. That although they could not immediately see any fruit of their service, there was nevertheless fruit. We all hope that in any service we render for the Lord and His people, whether great or small, yields fruit but sometimes we can go for years believing that our service was not fruitful. However the Lord promises us that if we are obedient and if we do our best, all things work together for good. I know that this miracle with Professor Ludlow was for me and for him too. Perhaps he needed that reassurance from God that the service he rendered as a speaker at a YSA Conference in New Zealand 3-4 years ago was fruitful.
The Silver Linings
Let me tell you about my teaching companion Elder Jim (Kosrae, Micronesia)! He is the most hilarious person I have ever met and is constantly making me laugh out loud.. most times during class where I have to hold it in. He’s just so crack up! For example, we all had a meeting with our Branch Presidency and their wives and Sister Clarke had placed her very feminine, furry coat on the chair. Elder Jim walks into the room and while she’s talking with someone else Elder Jim walks to the chair where her jacket is and puts it on and wears it! I tried to make eye contact with him and tell him to take it off haha but Sister Clarke just started laughing. It was so funny. He also likes wearing all the jewellery from the sister missionaries in our zone. He has one of my rings in his possession as I type this.
Before I left on my mission some wonderful friends told me to record each day how I have seen the hand of the Lord in my life. As I have done that, I have been able to recognise miracles and blessings, great and small. I have strengthened my relationship with God and am filled with gratitude for all that He has done and continues to do for me. May we all go forward seeking to recognise the hand of the Lord in our seemingly uneventful lives. Miracles are there if we are only ready to believe and to see with spiritual eyes.
“The zone on the Sunday before the oldies left.. except Sewell and Wolfgramm. They were supposed to leave but they both injuries haha. They’re the ones with their eyes closed.”
“Island girls in a white world aka America. P.s. stole those flowers from the temple bushes as you can see. Don’t judge.”
“What’s that in there?? Yes, for all you Ronald McDonald fans, right thurr is some double cheeseburgers from Mc’ky Dee’s! Elder Wolfgramm, who is from the “strugolo” in LA, his words not mine, has the hook ups hard and gave us some haha. Seriously don’t know how he manages this but he’s a miracle worker.”
“This is Elder Kalenov! Amazing story! The missionary who taught his parents, he was only about 2 at the time, is the son of Stephen Allan who serves in the Missionary Department. Brother Allan spoke to us that night and his son, Jeff, came and shared the story of teaching Elder Kalenov’s family. Elder Kalenov came up to the podium and it was the sweetest reunion to watch.”
“This is what dieting looks like in the MTC”
“Temple Square Trip – Elder Jim”
“The 13th Disciple”