Friday, June 20, 2014

It's Been a Month!

As usual, this will be disjointed but here are all the thoughts that have been on my mind for the past week.

I had another miracle happen this week....wait that needs some background.

Brat Seitz pulled my aside a few days ago to tell me about the . . . Mission. He gave me some great advice but the most important thing he shared was 10 things that are called "The Mission Culture." These are 10 things that every missionary in the . . . Mission should be striving for. 
1. We obey with exactness
2. We baptize worthy investigators
3.We love whom and where we serve
4. We seek the spirit
5. We act in faith
6. We offer a more excellent sacrifice
7. We are master teachers of the doctrine of repentance
8.We are master planners
9.We witness miracles
10.We match the grandeur of the message.

Some explanation of what these mean. First, we obey with exactness. Brat Seitz said that the . . . Mission is one of the most obedient missions in the world. He said that when his friends talk about things that elders did in their missions, he just shakes his head. He told me that the . . . mission is only for those who follow the mission rules with exactness. Second, we don't baptize just anyone. We make sure that anyone we baptize has a strong testimony and a desire to serve Christ to the end. Third, we don't complain about where or with whom we are serving. We love and dedicate our all, no matter where we are. Forth, we need the spirit because it is the true teacher. "If ye have not the spirit, ye shall not teach." Fifth, we put ourselves out there and act in faith. We know that through Christ all things are possible and we act in faith so that He can bless us. Sixth, we give up anything that isn't exactly in line with God's commandments and our calling as a missionary. As we sacrifice those things that may be important to us but are not necessary or distract from our calling, the Lord will bless us. Seventh, we know that repentance is an essential part of God's plan and we are prepared to teach with power and with the spirit. We want those we teach to KNOW how and why to use repentance. Eighth, we are master planners because through effective planning, we can be inspired to teach with power and be directed where the Lord wants us to go. Often the difference between a missionary with power and a missionary that goes through the motions is how well they utilize the tool of planning. Ninth, as we do our part, we expect miracles. We witness miracle because we have done all that is required to bind the Lord and call down the powers of heaven. Tenth, we dress, speak, and act to match the importance of the message that we bear. As we make sure that we act as Jesus Christ would, we will have people notice that we carry a light in our eyes and a spring in step that marks us as representatives of Jesus Christ. 

These things have really stood out to me and reminded me that the . . .  Mission is truly one of the most elect missions on earth. I have been called to serve and I am assigned to labor in the . . .  Mission and I know that as I give 100% of myself to the Lord, he will multiply my efforts beyond my wildest dreams. 

I decided that I was going to obey with exactness, witness miracles, and offer a more excellent sacrifice. I re-committed myself to all of the above on Sunday. I acted on my commitment on Monday and onTuesday I did indeed witness miracles. I was able to understand more Russian than ever before and I was able to say what I wanted to say in return. Now, it is far from perfect but it is like someone flipped a switch and now the language makes sense! I know that obedience bring blessings but exact obedience bring miracles. 

Another thing, God grants us our desires, I KNOW that this is true. God always has blessed me with what I most desire. Whether it is to get in shape, fix a personality flaw, learn a language concept, or make a friend. I testify that truly desiring something is a sure way to call down the Lord's blessings. Now, you have to want it enough to make sacrifices but when we do our part, the Lord truly does offer us miracles.

OK, now on to the coolest part of this week. I wrote about doing music for the 4th of July...well..I've dropped that because I am too busy. Here's why. I have been chosen to sing in a special choir that will be singing for the mission presidents conference this next week. This choir has 36 singers(9 of each part) who were chosen because of their musical training. We get to sing for the entire first presidency and all 12 apostles. Yep, that's right. All 15 of them. And they will be about 10 feet from us! We will sing Sunday through Wednesday and sing before each of the first presidency member's talks. We have to learn and memorize 5 pieces of music this week...that's more than one a day, and we have been told to drop anything else on our schedule that is needed so that we can be prepared. Elder Meredith is also in the choir. It gets better, at least in my mind, because there will be some ridiculous security around this next week and we have each been given a letter that will get us through all of it. What an amazing chance this is. This could be one reason that I entered the MTC in May is because God knew that I needed this chance to share my talents and I wouldn't have had it if I had come in earlier. 

OK, now that all the exciting stuff is shared, let me close with a powerful thought from Elder Ballard who spoke this week. 

"You can always follow the counsel of the apostles and prophet. We will not and cannot lead you astray. Know that we speak for the Lord and 'whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same' ."

I know that I have been called by a prophet of God and that I have a special mission to perform in . . . I know that the Lord has multiplied my abilities and he will continue to do so as I offer a sincere effort, a broken heart, and a contrite spirit. I have a testimony that the atonement of Christ is the enabling power to allow us to improve, repent, and find happiness in this life and eternal life in the world to come. 

Elder Young

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Letter, June 11, 2014

Date:  June 11, 2014

Elder Cook gave the devotional Tuesday and it was great. Things that he said that stood out to me.
"Don't be afraid to teach in your new language. God isn't going to let one of his precious children miss out on blessings because you didn't conjugate a verb correctly. Do your best and he will help you. Who the Lord calls, he also qualifies."

"Bear your testimony. One elder I served with was very shy but when I asked those we baptized when they knew it was true, each share a time when that shy elders simply words of testimony or truth brought the spirit."

I have seen my patriarchal blessing fulfilled while here. Mom and Dad, you will remember the stuff it says about bearing testimony...I have seen those promises fulfilled here many times!

OK, here's something exciting. I spoke with a sister from Idaho who accompanied a vocalist at a fireside and she told me that they need accompanists. I went to put my name on the list and they asked me to play for them. When I finished, they asked me to be in charge of the musical number for the big 4th of July MTC meeting! Ya, I'm supposed to find music, put together a group, and perform for the whole MTC in July. Oh, and since it isn't a devo, I get to pick fun, patriotic, music!

I have done a ton with piano since here. I have played for church every week and accompanied or sang in every sacrament meeting since getting here. Keep up your music because it will be used. Mom, thanks for the hymn arrangement book, it is being WELL used!

We had a bunch of missionaries leave Monday and so there are only about 18 Russian speaking elders here now but we have 24-32 showing up in our zone alone next Wednesday! Yep, the place will be packed! 500 new missionaries came today!

I was reading D&C 109:22-23 when I went to the temple last week and something stood out to me, those verses apply to all church member but especially to missionaries. Leaving the temple endowed with power to teach the world is an amazing promise.

I teach in Russian most days of the week and I am getting better at saying things. Look up a recent article about missionaries learning a new language in 9 weeks. It was written by a non-member for some magazine and they said that they only comparable system is used by the military and it takes 64 weeks. They interviewed an elder and asked how he could learn in 9 weeks what takes everyone else 64. He told them it was because we learn by the spirit. The article closed by saying, "whether you believe this or not, the results speak for themselves." I know that we learn by the spirit and it is OH so powerful!

Quick thing that might make you smile. All of the Russian speakers sit in an alcove on the side with iron pillars separating that alcove from the rest of the dining hall. We call those pillars the "iron curtain" and joke that the Russian speakers sit behind the iron curtain.\

I know that they Lord blesses and helps us as we work our hardest. Russian is so hard but I still have that feeling of peace that I entered the MTC with about going to the Baltics. I could go now and not feel stressed. What a blessing the peace of God is!

All my love,
Elder Young

First Letter

Date:  May 28, 2014

What a week it has been. Wednesday was  just general, get to know your purpose, practice teaching a little in English, and try to get to bed. My first few nights were really rough because I couldn't sleep bed and I got sick for a few days but I have been sleeping well for the last 3 nights and I am now almost completely better. Ah, quick story.

Monday, I told Elder Nally that I had actually slept well and that I was feeling much better. He said...ya we know.....he then said that I had been snoring my head off all night. ;) So, that's what happens when I am really tired and finally fall into a deep sleep. 

Ok, here's what you need to know about my district.

Elder Nally, from San francisco and it shows. he's got classy hair, a real 'people personality' and a love for having fun. He is my opposite in so many ways! however, He is very dedicated to serving an honorable mission and he is very thoughtful so we are getting along famously! 

Elder Meridith is from Rexburg and a lot like me. he is very dedicated to working hard and is really having the gift of tongues come to him and he is learning faster than anyone.

Elder Buck is our district leader and is from Sandy, Utah. He is 20 and has served 2 years in the marine corp. Super strong, really dedicated, super respectful...the ideal soldier. He is a really great guy.

The two sisters in our district

Sister Wilson is from Utah, I don't remember where, and is really smart. She is very reserved and quiet and so sometimes I am not sure how much she likes us elders. She will be a great missionary but certainly has a lot of places to grow in testimony and faith.

Sister Palmer is from....Boston.....yep. She is nice....looks way younger than 19....and will be a fabulous sister. She is also very quiet but really knows a lot about the gospel. 

OK, you will be a receiving a letter from me soon were I testify that the gift of tongues is important, here is the story behind that.

Sister Wilson took Russian in college and is very close to fluent. She is the best Russian speaker in the district. I can tell that she is used to always being able to do things...and do them well...and so she loves to be very prepared. We teach lessons in Russian every day and a couple days ago, she didn't have time to write everything out that she wanted to. She got stressed, lost the spirit, and couldn't teach. in her own words...I couldn't think of anything to say. I had a very different experience that day because I am not very good at Russian...probably the worst in the district and had Elder Nally interpret for me in the lesson. I didn't know much of what was being said but I followed the spirit and would interrupt and ask Elder Nally how to say things one word at a time. I shared my testimony 3 or 4 times during the lesson and felt the spirit so strongly. Our 'investigator' has committed to be baptized. What a difference it was...Sister Wilson could speak the language but lost the spirit...I knew only a few words in Russian and yet felt the spirit and taught with power. The spirit is the MOST important thing!

I know a few words . . .

I know true, tie, shoes, yes, no, good, what such! (used when English would say, "what in the world"), prophet, Joseph Smith, Christ, God is our Loving Heavenly Father...

OK...that's about it. Russian is hard!

My first few days were so hard. I was working so hard that I couldn't think...that 'my brain is fried' feel you get...ya...I had that for 3 days straight. I am doing much better now but like I said in my letter...there were times I was sure they were trying to kill me! :)

We have some fabulous teachers here that really teach by the spirit. Sister Jackson, Sister Riggley, and soon Brother McKay(He has been being our fake investigator). They have all served in Russia or  and really are great. Just a quick side note, I am the only elder here who is going to the . . . and will be speaking Russian. There are several who will be speaking . . .etc..but no Russian. My whole district is going to Samara Russia! 

Oh, another thing that is important.
I am a missionary...I am currently assigned to serve in the . . . We were told that all mission assignments for the next while could change at any time. They are opening a bunch of new mission and we could be re-assigned at any time. So everyone at home with mission calls....remember...that may not be final. There is a lot of good food here and I have gain a couple of pounds for sure..,.ya...couldn't help it. Another thing that I am more grateful for vegetables...compared to them...everything here tastes like sawdust! So, eat your veggies...they are one of a kind :) 

I may end up asking you to send an ipod and speakers my way....I am sure missing music. More than I ever thought I could! I didn't realize how much a part of my life it was. I sat down to play the piano for sacrament meeting and it felt SO good! I am going to miss having a nice piano for 2 years! 

This is just for all my friends. You guys are awesome! Thanks so much for being such great kids to hang out with. So many of the elders here had only a few friends who were kind of ...well...not the best kids. Thanks to all you people who have been great influences!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Setting Apart

DATE: May 20th, 2014
Event: Setting apart as an missionary

These are the priesthood brethren that were there for my setting apart-- great friends and mentors!!!  These men hold the same authority that Christ and his apostles held during New Testament times.  They laid their hands on my head and set me apart as a full-time missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  I was given counsel, as well as great promised blessings.  It is a great strength and comfort to me to know that I am acting as an instrument in the hands of God, formally authorized through the power of the priesthood, and that He will be walking with me as I faithfully serve.

This is me with Tanner and Caleb from my ward.  All three of us have our eagle, our Duty to God medallion, and a mission call.  Like the sons of Helaman or Mosiah in the Book of Mormon, we stand together in our faithful service to our God.  Although we will all be serving in different parts of the world, we look forward to an amazing reunion at the close of our two-year missionary service.

After my setting apart, Brother Hong took some great pictures of the crew that was there.
And a family picture (minus one brother who was in Utah for the week.)