I'll just start at the very beginning before getting into the meat of my letter.
Mom: I just got the package last night, and while a bag of bananas are now gone, plus one of the bags of bread and gummy bears (I ate them all myself - No sharing! ;), I still have most of the cookies, M&M's, and other loaf of bread to work through. Well, the MTC is trying to make us well-rounded individuals. I will just do my best to follow their guidance to the letter. Mostly around the middle area, but still to the letter.
Everyone: I will be waking up to leave to the airport before 3am tomorrow. That will be something awful, but what-ev's. I don't understand why I need to be there so early, as my flight doesn't leave until after 7, but in the maintime I will be available to call and talk with all y'all! YAY! Also I will be able to call sometime after I arrive at georgia, because it makes perfect sense for me to fly completely over my mission, just to hop back to it in a connecting flight. There will be about a 3 hour layover there, but as I am not entirely sure when that will be I will just tell you when I call you tomorrow. I don't know how long I will talk as I don't know how many others will want to call home, but we will see. Mom, I will call you on your cell-phone as soon as I arrive at the airport. It'll probably be around 4.45-5.00 ish. Sorry I can't be more specific. I look foward to hearing from you all.
THE MEAT OF THE LETTER!!!!!!
I know this is what you really wanted to hear from me. =D
So I should have brought my journal with me, as it has all sorts of good stuff in it that I can write about, but I will write what I can think of off the top of my head and, permitting I can grab a computer in the Laundry Room, I will write a bit more latter. Cross those fingers for me.
It has been cold and wet. It doesn't really matter what it has been wet with, just know that the sun itself has evolved into a legendary myth these past few days. I think i saw a blue sky once this whole time, and that might have just been a hallucination induced by the hamburger I had ate just a few hours before. I'm not loving a lot of the food here. It really makes me miss the food from home. Granted this is all-you-can-eat, and they have lots of cantaloupe (which makes me insanely happy) plus all the apple juice i can drink, (which I practically lived off of at USU) and so while there are some definite perks, but it's just not the same.
I have been playing volley ball at every chance during gym, and I am loving it. If for no other reason than to be super-competitive with people who are equally competitive I am loving it. I'm not the best, but I really don't care. It's just nice to be able to do something active every once in a while, even if 50 minutes of gym a day doesn't seem like enough to me.
Just today I bought a bunch of journals, because if I keep on writing at the rate I am right now I don't think I will last much longer than a few months. thank heaven for missionary discounts! I'm hoping that this habit of writing every day will stick, because I've been terrible at it in the past.
I had a couple of really cool spiritual experiences this past week as well, one of them on tuesday and one of them just yesterday (Sunday). On Tuesday for one of our classes we went into different rooms as companionship for some role-play. You do that a lot as a missionary I found out. The thing that made this RP so different from the others is that usually you are RPing as a fictional investigator, or as one you are currently teaching, but this one we were playing as ourselves, as if we had grown up outside of the church. That made me think for a bit, but I decided a long time ago that if I couldn't be LDS I would be Buddhist instead. The cool bit was that Elder K was the missionary first and was having a really hard time getting started, so I broke character for a bit and told him that instead of trying to think of what to say he should just go completely off of what the Spirit told him to say. He sat there for a bit and then told me that I needed to give him a blessing. If nothing else that made me sit back for a bit and think, but inside I was screaming "What?!". But I felt like this was something that needed to be done because he really needed it. I grabbed one of my teachers, Brother Lester, and he was just outside the hall waiting for me to go get him. Earlier we had deviated completely off of the lesson for no apparent reason, but the Spirit had told him that there was a reason, and this was it. As we went back into the room and we put our hands on Elder K's head, I got the impression that I needed to give him a blessing about faith, and so I did. Five minutes later I couldn't remember a thing I had said. I remember starting the blessing and closing it, but whatever was in the middle is a complete mystery to me. Whatever it was I was prompted to say though was given to me from the Spirit, because there is no way I could bring the Spirit that strongly into any sort of meeting without help, especially a blessing.
It made me think of what would have happened had Brother Lester not listened to his promoting to change the lesson, had Elder K not asked for a blessing, or had I not been worthy to give one? None of us would have walked away enriched like had happened to us. I have no doubt whatsoever that this particular experience was specifically for my companion, and that i was just lucky enough to be a part of it.
The next awesome even was this Sunday. As per usual for me, i was given a responsibility, this time for the music, but was not told what hymns i would be playing until it was time for the sacrament meeting to start. I was given a list of hymns, the first one I had never even seen before, and was basically told "good luck". I didn't want to make the Spirit leave the meeting before it even got started, so I said a very quick prayer asking to be able to play the song. After i played the first note it was as if I could somehow know exactly where I needed to put my fingers and when to hit the keys. It was the most perfect sight-reading I have ever done. When it was time for the sacrament hymn I had had a little bit of time to look over the hymn and practice, but it wasn't nearly as much as I would like. Again I said a quick prayer, this time somehow knowing that God would help me again. I wasn't disappointed. By the time we were to sing the last hymn, this time one I actually knew, I knew that God had helped me with both songs. The proof was that the last hymn, on that I should have been able o play perfectly because of it's familiarity, was the one I played the most poorly. It was still great, but the songs where I had the spirit's help were infinetly better than the one where it was just me at the keys.
Something kinda cool I found out last week: my residence hall had been dedicated by Elder Holland. This has no real relevance to the rest of the letter, but it was written down in my journal (I ran and grabbed it) so I figured I'd share it anyway.
Also on Sunday I watched an incredible film that the church made in 2000 called "Testament". It was, spoiler alert, a movie about Christ. I know, shocking that we would watch something about Christ in such a non-religious place as the MTC, right? =D Have I told you that I hate crying? Maybe? Well, I do, unless it's for a very good reason, and I don't consider a movie to be a good reason. But I was tearing up, whether it is because of the depiction of the crucifiction, the spirit that was telling me that this all actually happened, or that there were two Sisters behind me from Texas who were bawling their eyes out. Anyway, it's good, and I think you should read it.
There was another Devo that night as well, this time by some area 70 that I had never heard of before, but apparently he's a regular here. He showed us several commercials that were made last century, but were still. There were a bunch of lines from them that I wrote down, and maybe you could use them. Alert- some of these are cheesy.
1. It's not who you aren't; it's who you are, and being yourself is great.
I like this one because it seemed to tell me that the Lord sent me on a mission so I can be myself there, not to be some uptight missionary or whoever I think should have been called there instead. He want's me there for me.
2. When everything says that you can't, believe in the part of you that says you can.
'Nuff said, unless you are trying to fly. That's just silly.
3. The people in your heart can't hear what's in your heart. You need to tell them everyday.
If I haven't told you recently, I love you, whether it's as a friend, family member, as some random guy from school, or something else. I need to work on this one a bit.
4. Your [companion] often views [himself] by the label you put on [him].
Originally the first word was 'children' but I think this can apply to just about anything, whether it's companion, children, wife, boyfriend, or anything else. The only exception to this rule would be Boris, because he's too stupid to know he's stupid. (For non-family personages, Boris is our rather slow-minded poodle).\
Honestly, I can't believe that I will be on board a plane in less than 24 hours flying to Atlanta, Georgia. It is the strangest feeling, but I can't wait to get out of here, but at the same time i really don't want to leave. As the MTC president said, this is the only place on earth besides the temple where almost everyone on it's grounds holds a temple recommend. I know I would go crazy if I stayed here much longer, but still, it's hard.
I hope everything is going great, and I can't wait to hear from you again.
Elder Jayden Barker