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Monday, June 29, 2015

I Like to Think the Natural Man as Cookie Monster

I love the MTC. Call me crazy, but this place has everything I ever wanted. We wake up and have thirty minutes to be at our classroom to do an hour of personal study; and from that point we do nothing but study the scriptures and discover our purpose as a missionary. And when we aren't praying, reading the scriptures, and teaching missionary discussions, we're eating food or exercising. What else do I want! I don't think I've ever been consistently happier in my life. Every person I meet is supporting me in my cause and giving me the opportunity to work to the point of exhaustion in attempt to help others come closer to Christ. Seriously, this is awesome. Now, I know that this lifestyle won't be sustainable once I leave this suspended state of surreality, so I'm trying to get the most out of these quick fourteen days as I can.


- In my district, or the regular group of missionaries that I go to class, discuss, and essentially live with, there is another Elder Hall.
  - He is the same height as me
  - He is from Idaho
  - We have the same hairstyle
  - We've used the twin joke multiple times
- My mission companion and I have the exact same music taste. 
   - Based on the fact that outside of my brother Scott I've never met a person who liked the same bands, this is a miracle.
- I've met not one, not two, but three missionaries that were in my English 251 class, but we only knew each others' first name, so we weren't really sure if we were the same people
- A sister in my district is best of friends with E B, who Is my sister-in-law's-sister and whom I grocery shopped with every week in college
  - she knows my brother T
  - She too also believes that my nephew P is the cutest child on earth. 
- I've been looking all over for one of my closest friends, (Sister) A V, since I got here
  - I finally found her during a Sunday devotional
  - She was on a 60ft screen
  - Singing a special musical number in front of 2000 missionaries
  - her and a small choir have been singing to the 12 apostles and the presidency of the church all week
  - according to her, I would have been in that choir
  - we sang a barbershop song in the middle of the MTC to make up for it
- Who is in the first companionship I see when I enter the MTC?
  - Sister J and her companion
  - I was in two plays with Sister J at BYU
  - I kissed her in one of them
  - Good to see her, but mildly awkward as a missionary
- I have seen the only other missionary from Jerome, ID at the MTC
  - every day I've been here
  - usually twice a day
  - we're not even on the same schedule

Alright, just had to get that out of the way.

In the MTC, I was placed into a district with four Elder companionships and two Sister companionships. And let it be known that we are probably the funnest district in Provo. I don't know if I have ever met a group of people that got along so easily and accepted each other so quickly. We have our meals together, pray together, joke together, and above all we feel the spirit together. I can honestly say that I have a pure love towards all of them as well as a brotherly love. This group of missionaries have fully grasped onto the resonant hymn We Are All Enlisted: "We are all enlisted 'til the conflict is o'er. Happy are we! Happy are we!" That hymn beautifully describes the camaraderie between the twelve of us.   

On Sunday, we were able to see a devotional talk given by David A. Bednar to the MTC a few years ago. In it, he talks about the character of Christ, and the absolute importance of it in our conversion to Christ. It was quite honestly the best I've ever felt about being serving other people. It really honed in on my purpose- not just as a missionary, but as a Christian. The simple phrase he used to describe the character of Jesus Christ was "He would turn out when we would turn in". At first it was a simple clause, but it progressed into a profound statement on the power of having the Character of Christ. It made me so happy that he was being so bluntly honest, and his words were so sincere I could feel them striking into my heart. In those quick 75 minutes, I felt a love of God and others that could only be described as charity. And that's what I'm here for. I'm here to help other people come unto Christ. This mission is not for me. As much as I was told to enjoy it, the only way I could ever fully enjoy being a messenger of Christ is if I was helping other people enjoy their lives. I must lose myself to find real joy. 

It's funny how much power these words have to me right now, but how much I disregarded these plain and precious truths when living a normal life. Looking back at how I was before the mission, I feel like I was rolling around in mud and dirt and twigs and tar and gravel and really just focusing on myself. I was giving a lot of attention to the natural man within me; the side that was me-first, I-want-it-now, the-world-revolves-around-me. And it wasn't as pretty as I remember. Elder Bednar likened the natural man to the cookie monster. "I WANT COOKIE NOW! GIVE IT TO ME NOW! ME ME ME!" He also said this while doing a thoroughly committed cookie monster impression. Not only was this one of the funniest things I've ever seen, but it was also true. I didn't care a whole lot about other people's salvation, I didn't think to share messages about how God truly loves each and every one of us, and in absence of thinking of others, I thought of myself. And it wasn't pretty. Just thinking about all of the chances that I didn't even think about using. If I could go back, with the knowledge I have, I would give it my all to help other people. Just help them. And then I'd come back to the MTC, and realize that I could have done better. That's not a discouraging thought, that's an encouraging thought. The more you look to help other people the more opportunities you see, and the more attempts you'll have, and like Elder Bednar said, "turning out instead of in is the best path to eternal joy and happiness"

I am a missionary of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I will boldly invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and his atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the holy ghost, and enduring to the end. I know that this church is true. I love being a missionary and I'll take every chance I can find to be one. 

Elder Richard Hall

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