August 18, 2014
Thanks so much for everything Mother! You’re amazing! I got your package as well, it was perfect. So some business first:
I report to the travel office tomorrow morning and head to the airport. I bought a $5 calling card so I can call you tomorrow afternoon most likely, but I don’t know exactly what time…. Also, there is a $51 baggage fee that missionaries are required to pay at the airport, and they will reimburse me when I get to Portugal.
So, I was really hoping we would get to listen to an apostle speak at the Sunday night devotional, but unfortunately we didn’t….. Even so, we actually got to hear from an apostle’s daughter! Her name was Jenny Oaks Baker (Elder Oaks’ daughter) and she is a world-renowned violinist! She has 4 children under 12 that played her backup on the piano, violin, cello, and this cute little 7 year-old on the guitar. She also had a 19 year old friend who played the flute and clarinet. It was quite moving. She shared experiences in her life of how music has strengthened her testimony of the Savior. Between each section of her talk she would play a different song that applied to her experience. Music is the most powerful vehicle for the spirit. One of the ways I can tell that I have the spirit with me is when I have a random hymn uncontrollably stuck in my head.
You know, I might actually miss the MTC. Life is so easy here. I would say it’s probably the next safest place on earth besides the temple. Without any adverse pressures, it is easy to be myself here. Portugal will be different, but I heard a quote that explains this perfectly: “Little growth happens in a comfort zone; little comfort happens in a growth zone.” It is the experiences and trials that push us the most that allow us to grow the most. Elder Christofferson shared a story about a man who bought a farm and went out to his garden to find a currant (fruit) bush that had grown over 6 feet tall and was not bearing any fruit. The man then trimmed the bush to leave only small stubs near the base. Immediately after, he saw little droplets of water appear from each of the little branch stubs that he had pruned. It was as if the bush was crying and saying, “I was growing so big and well before you came and cut me down. I thought you were the gardener here.” The man then responded, “I am the gardener here, and I know what I want you to be.”
Later, the man applied for a job, which was denied him because he was a Mormon. In anger, the man prayed to God and asked him “Why did you do this to me, God? I’ve done everything I can to measure up.” Then he heard a voice, his own voice which said, “I am the gardener here, and I know what I want you to be.” When the man arrived home he found the small currant bush full of fruit, as if it were saying, “Thank you Mr. Gardener for cutting me down, for loving me enough to hurt me.” I know that God allows us to have trials and be hurt because he understands that it will make us stronger.
Eu amo vocés!!! I love you Mom and Dad.
I’m almost all packed up and ready to go. I didn’t know this but we get a carry-on and a personal item as well (my satchel). Oh! And did you hear that Maddi H. (friend from IFHS) just got her mission call to the Portugal Lisbon Mission too!!!!! It’s so exciting! Would you mind adding her to the email list and maybe sending her some of the letters or parts from the past few weeks that seem relevant?
Also, it would be great to have dad send me some of the points in his talk. There is a HUUUUUUGE push in the MTC about using members to do missionary work. Apparently, worldwide, out of all the member referrals, statistically one out of every two of them ends up to be a baptism! Amazing! It’s the power of member missionary work. So, yeah, I’d love to have him write me a little so I could teach the members how to do it.