Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Great First Week!

Hey everyone- how have you been?! Oh my goodness, there is so much to tell you I apologize for it being too long! 

Well, where to begin. The first week has been great! The first day we got there it was a lot of orientation type stuff and getting to know our way around campus. Like I think I mentioned earlier there was over 800 missionaries that came in so everything was pretty chaotic. The first evening we were there we sat through a large meeting called People and Your Purpose. It was a large meeting where they had investigators (members acting like investigators) sit at the front and they allowed us to ask them questions and give them answers based on there questions. It was really cool because it was kind of the like the first experience we all had as new missionaries. After that we had dinner and all the seasoned missionaries here love Wednesdays because of one thing, new missionaries= Utah Creamery Ice Cream. The ice cream is so good and they have so much food here its unbelievable, you never go hungry in the MTC. The first couple days the food has been great and its awesome because its sort of like a buffet because there are so many options. They have even had Chick'fil a and Papa Johns for dinner but after the first week you really start to get tired of the food and in the end you feel fat haha.
With  his companion Elder Peterson from Tuscon AZ

August 3rd Wednesday:

On that first day we had a district meeting where we were introduced to all the District and Zone leaders over our Branch. I am in District 43A. We all introduced ourselves and the leaders introduced themselves gave us another tour and answered any questions. Something pretty cool is in our branch we actually have John Bytheways grandson. He is kind of a bigger kid and a little goofy and but it is still cool. I also talked to a relation of Gordon B Hinkley. The beds haven't been to bad lately the room is fairly warm so I haven't even been sleeping with any blankets. The second day was so tiring. After getting up at three on Wednesday and running on an hour of sleep it was so hard to focus and stay awake. I figured it would take a few days to get into a consistent sleep cycle. Getting ready in the morning has been difficult. With only 6 showers and over 80-100 people on one floor its difficult to get a shower especially in the morning which is when I like to shower. At times you can be waiting up to 15 minutes for a shower to open leaving you with less than 15 to shower, get dressed, and walk all the way across campus for 7 a.m. class. I figured out by just waking up 5 minutes earlier than the scheduled wake up time I can be one of the first people in the shower. On that first day we met our morning teacher of what we call PI and that is when for most of the class we learn how to prepare and we study and practice giving the lessons to investigators. We surprisingly get a lot of time to just study by ourselves and with our companion. 

We also have our teacher be an investigator and we go into separate rooms and we teach him as an actual investigator his name was Zach Johnson . The first lesson with him was pretty rough it was our first time preparing and teaching an investigator a lesson. It was a struggle to find words, fit everything we wanted to say in, and flow together as a companionship. But I overall thought our first lesson went good we taught him about the restoration. Also in that first day they assigned like music directors, district leaders, online counselors and greeters. Elder Peterson or I didn't get a calling but that was alright. I was made Senior Companion so I kind of take the lead on everything regarding me and Elder Peterson. They all invited us to join the choir because they told us something special was happening August 21st and they can't tell us what it is and if you are in the choir you are guaranteed a seat. Well we were pretty excited anyways. Elder Peterson was in show choir and choir for 4 years so he is a really good singer. Elder Peterson is kind of short kid . He is from Tucson Arizona he has a fairly big family and his dad is actually an athletic trainer and has worked with JJ Watt before so that's pretty cool. He has a funny personality like to joke and has a strong testimony. The first couple days with him I was pretty quiet but we have grown close and I honestly couldn't have asked for a better companion. 
Roommates: Elder Bennett, Elder Peterson, Elder Johnson & Elder Welch

My roommates are awesome we have a lot in common and like to talk about anything. The other two roommates are Elder Welch and Elder Johnson. Elder Welch is a pretty tall funny dude. He played volleyball in high school and is really funny. He is the life of the room and he is always joking and does really good impressions. He wants to go to BYU and go into film, he likes to sing a lot and also is obsessed with Subaru cars. Elder Johnson is funny. He is really smart, didn't play sports and has a scholarship to go to Arizona State in computer sciences. We also noticed that you and his mom must have done a lot of the same things. We both had packed the same things and they were both packed the same. And we had a lot of the same things and he said his mom had joined some Facebook pages so I am wandering if you guys are in the same groups.

Temple Grounds

Thursday& Friday August 4,5
Day two and three were fairly easy days. Today was the first day we didn't have to wear a suit coat so we all enjoyed wearing our shortsleeve shirts because it is hot up here. 
That day in class we got taught how to invite people to be baptized and it really surprised me that they encouraged us to invite people to be baptized on the first lesson so that they have a goal to work towards down the road. Today was the first exercise day which was fun. The gym is pretty big but there are so many people its packed. I played basketball the whole time and just shot around. I haven't shot in a while so I was pretty rusty but it was still fun. One thing that kind of stinks is that there are so many people in the gym that you are only allowed to play 3 vs 3 basketball games and you play first one to six by ones. So when a game finishes there will be 15-20 people in a line shooting to get into a game so if you miss a free throw once you most likely won't be playing. Its nice because they have an hour exercise time and then 30 minutes to shower and get redressed. On this day we also learned about the proper way to use our tablets my district is one the only districts that we all have electronics so its pretty cool. ( I accidentally mixed these days up so there are some Thursday and some Fridays things.)

Saturday August 6th:

Today was an awesome day although we had to get up at 6 am to do service. We have an alloted hour service time where you are supposed to be serving the whole hour but since there are so many missinoaries here and our branch has one designated building we can only do so much before it is done. Me, Elder Peterson, Elder Welch, and Elder Johnson were assigned to set up the small chapels for sacrament service so it was really easy. 

 Today was the second lesson we had with Zach it went a lot better this time we had had an easier time talking and teaching him. He said he had tried praying but never felt like ever gets an answer. So we taught him about prayer and challanged him to pray. Later that day we were scheduled to teach him again. This time we went in with the mindset to be more personal and just talk with him because the first lessons we felt like we were doing all the talking. So we talked about his school and his life. He had said he prayed and still hasn't gotten an answer so we shared with him 2 Chronicles 7:14 and Mosiah 3:4 with him and then placed a Book of Mormon. After we did he said that's exactly wanted he needed to hear and then started legit crying, there were tears coming down his face. After we said goodbye we couldn't tell if he was fake crying or actually but I think it would be pretty hard to fake cry on the spot. So that was really cool and the highlight of my day. We also had TRC orientation where were told about how the program worked and then who we got. We got Brooke Black and Jose Meza-Leon.

Sunday August 7th:

Wow this has been one of my favorite days so far. The day started out with us being 15 minutes late to class because of the shower situation. Not two minutes after we got there our zone leaders came and pulled me and Elder Peterson out. The first thought that came to our heads was " oh no we are going to get a lecture about the importance of being on time" but instead they said " congratulations you are now the new zone leaders. First thought was holy cow I wasn't expecting that and then just kinda shocked and nervous We went right into branch council meeting where we learned a lot.

We are the assistant zone leaders for this next week until the senior zone leaders leave then we will be the head zone leaders for our last week. We then had sacrament meeting and it was awesome it was fast Sunday so we had testimony meeting. It was really cool and I could feel the spirit so strong. A lot of the missionaries who shared were the third week people who were leaving that Monday or Wednesday. Elder Welch got really emotional because a person was talking about the strength they gain from getting letters from home and he hasn't received a single thing yet so he was pretty emotional over that. Since so many people in our branch shared testimonies we went 5-7 minutes over and we had mission conference afterwards and they don't waste a minute here so we were part of the 500-1000 people who filled the overfill chapels and didn't get to fit in the gym overall it was good. Then we had priesthood meeting and then another branch council meeting. 
Then finally we got to go on a temple walk and see the temple we all took pictures as a district and as a branch but I don't have the branch picture yet. It was hard to see because it was so bright and it was very hot there. 
On the way to the temple
District 43A
Since we had choir practice that day we ate an early dinner at 3:40 and headed down to stand in line to get into the auditorium to have practice. The line was out the door and it took about 45 minutes to even get into the gym and another hour and 30 minutes just for people to get into the gym. We practiced Praise to the Man and we are singing another song but I can't remember the name of it but the Nashville Tribute Band is going to be there on the 21st to sing it with us which is cool. 
After practice we stayed in the gym for a fireside and it was cool because the person talking was Jeffery R Holland Son Matthew Holland who is the UVU President. He sounds a lot like his dad and he talked about Joseph Smith. He told a lot of things about Joseph Smith and his family hardships that I have never heard of it was awesome and I could really feel the spirit. One elder sang a solo in honor of Joseph Smith and sang Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief which was really good and at the end we sang Praise to the Man. There were over 1500 people in the choir which is the most ever in the MTC history and just singing that song it was so cool and powerful. 
After that we had film showings and one of the ones that everyone recommends is Character of Christ by David A Bednar. So we got in there and everyone was saying how it was the best talk they have ever heard, it was the highlight of there mission, it was amazing. I was really hoping for that but I don't know if I was just super tired or just came in with high expectations but I thought it was pretty good but not jaw dropping like everyone said it was. It talked a lot about being more like Christ. Some of my favorite things from it was that Jesus Christ turned out with love when the natural man would be selfish and is an enemy to God until we put off the natural man. He also said "you are to convert yourself to the lord and not just have a testimony" and my favorite thing was he said " The greatest convert on your mission should be you". And that really hit home with me because I knew I need to change and I need to be converted and that's one of the reasons I came is to see that change in me as well as others.

Monday August 8th:

Today was a pretty normal day Except for the TRC. Our first TRC lesson was with Jose- Meza Leon and we get a little synopsis of them before we go to have somewhat something to prepare for. Well Jose is a boxer, humanitarian (does a lot of charity work), and he believes with all religions. When we first walked in it was pretty nerve racking. He just sat there and stared at us all while eating a red bell pepper like an apple. We tried teaching him about the restoration and how the priesthood was upon the earth and was removed. We also talked about how our priesthood is what makes our church unique. It was hard because he believed due to his Catholic Faith that Peter received the Apostolic priesthood back then and it never left the earth. Then he asked how he would treat other religions. I said that we would love them and respect them and be kind and be willing to learn about what they believe and not ignore them. Apparently that rubbed him the wrong way because went on a 10 minute rant of how God would do more than just respect them and that he would love them. Afterwards I apologize and said " I am sorry, I really liked what you said Jose and I totally agree with you I didn't mean to have respect come across that way". The hardest challenge is going to be convincing him that our church is the only true church because he believes that the Lord would love all the churches and that if they are doing his work no matter what church that the Lord is satisfied. So after that lesson Elder Peterson and I felt really down and gloomy. 
View from our classroom
After dinner we had our other TRC investigator named Brooke Black. She is a young college student attending BYU and she lives with her husband in her Mormon friend's basement and felt it was time to learn about her friend's religion from the missionaries. This one went a lot better. She was really sweet, happy, and willing to listen. She asked us if there was a God and how she has heard that God is always angry and does things to his people if they don't obey. We shared with her that God loves her and that she is a daughter of God. We then went on to talk about the restoration and she listened a lot. We invited her to Baptism, you could tell she was nervous and surprised and we reassured her we would teach her a lot more. We then challenged her to pray and she said that she would would pray on her own and ask if God was there. She said she would say the prayer next time we visited her. Sister Black was definitley a blessing because our spirits were lifted and we felt a lot better.


Well today is our first P-Day we slept in till 7 and got dressed to go to the temple. We were told it was best to go early. So after breakfast we headed up there for a session. Well we were told it would be over and hour wait so we decided to go next week. People from our district went at 5:30 am this morning so we might have to do that next week. We got all our laundry done and it was pretty easy. We just got lunch and have been eating in our rooms and cleaning up. This keyboard is really helpful and I am really glad I got it. So thats pretty much today and we can nap too so I'm happy about that.

Anyways ,I really miss you guys and love you very much! It is crazy how fast time is going and how fun it has actually been I hope everything is going really well back home. Tell Mo I said Hey puppy! 

Elder Bennett

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