Monday, September 30, 2013

Dear Family,
     Wow!  That you are able to fit the car in the garage is about the most exciting thing I've heard this week!  This week hasn't been boring or long or even stressful, but I'm just excited to hear about the garage and the grapes and the obnoxious apartment tenants.  I am really happy here, and I love learning and doing this work.  However, I'm still excited to hear everything you send me about the family and the Cache Valley happenings, even if I don't have time to write back about all the little things you send.  I still treasure them, so THANK YOU!
This is 5 minutes after Joseph arrived.  I was really happy!
     Oh, hey!  This week I met Joseph Stock, the other trumpet section leader and my awesome friend, duringhis approximately 10 minutes at the Main Campus.  I caught him just before he was bused over to the West Campus.  Wow, I think I can say that was a blessing for both of us.  Because of how short his window of time here was, and because of how much I'd been hoping to see him, I think the Lord was watching out for me.
Here's me....apparently eating my travel plans.  I was sooo excited!

     Holy cow!  I totally forgot (I don't know how!): I got travel plans this week! !  I also got my new name tags which are super cool and way exciting.  I feel just a little more official now.   Wah! (wow! in Chinese) I only have a week left in the MTC!!  Well, I will definitely enjoy it as much or more than I already have, before I go the way of Elder Fronk (who left this morning at 3:30 and is probably flying over the north pole right now.)
Elder Fronk and I on his last night, with hymn books
     Something I've learned this week that I think is great: have daily personal "devotional" with the Lord.  This is something that I have not thought about specifically, although I have been doing well in personal study, prayer and journal time.  In our fast Sunday Mission Conference, it was suggested that each of us needs a little time to really ponder - not reading, not writing, just thinking and inviting personal revelation.  I think it sounds like a great idea, and I want to try it out.  I'm getting better at managing my time, but there is still hardly time enough to fit in all the good things we're told to do each day.  I know it will be better out in the field, but I realize I still need to focus only on what is most basically important, narrowing down all the "good" things I want to do, until I am doing only the "best" things.
     I also loved Elder Bednar's address to the missionaries entitled "Doctrines, Principles, and Applications," given at the MTC in some previous year.  He asked the question, "In your life in the Church, which have you focused on more, Doctrines and Principles, or Applications?"  He spoke of the importance of "True doctrine, understood, chang[ing] behavior and attitudes."  He emphasized that the doctrine answers the "Why?"  the principle answers the "What?" and the application answers the "How?" questions.  He emphasized that no matter how much we focus on the applications, we will be doing no real, lasting good if we don't understand ("which is more than just mental comprehension") and love the doctrine.  Gimmicky applications, like baking a cake on the first day of the month for the home teachers to eat whenever they choose to show up, will not cause change or express love -- "Doctrine is always the answer."  We go home-teaching, not to report to the clerk, not because we've been told to and we're being obedient without understanding, but because we want to "be with, love, and strengthen the members." That is the doctrine; That is always the answer.  I thought about it for a while last night after I watched the address, and I believe that is something our family has done very well.  I am so grateful for parents who have taught me the doctrine behind so many aspects of living the gospel.  Thank you so much for your understanding of it, and your willingness to share it with your children because you love them!  I feel that what you have shared with me, at family scripture study, at family home evening, when I ask you questions, and by bearing your testimony through what you say every day, has blessed me more than I ever realized before.  I love you so much for it, and hope you will continue to strengthen the family by always living your testimonies, sharing them with each other, and focusing on the doctrine of Christ's gospel.
     Wow, I simply cannot express how much this has meant to me for 18 years, and how much I love each one of you in my family, but I hope a small part of it comes through!
     Thank you all for writing me, especially those to whom I don't have time to reply, like the Burton family, and Grandmas and Grandpas Baer and Jones. (It was wonderful to get your letters and package this week!)  I love all of you, I pray for you, and I thank you for your prayers and support!

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