Elder Holland Tonight!!

June 26, 2009

It started as a rumor, but it was confirmed by a missionary that talked to a Church person, who accidently told him that Elder Holland was actually speaking tonight. I’m sooooo excited! My district is going and waitng outside the doors 2 hours early. We’re skipping dinner so we can get seats close to Elder Holland! AH! So excited.

This week was great! They let us play fútbol again, which is way awesome! I played goalie for about half of the game yesterday, and I had an awesome save where I dove and punched the ball away, and it gave me a pretty good scrape across my arm, which I’m hoping turns into a sweet scar! I’ve started watching what I eat now. I gained at least 8 pounds since coming here, and I want to get rid of it. I only eat salads now, but they usually have meat and stuff on them so I’m not starving myself, but I’ve decided to cut out root beer and soda completely, which helps a ton! I also am faithfully doing tons of push-ups and sit ups each day, so hopefully I can continue that trend and come home a capo (stud)!

We have a native from Mexico staying on our floor. He’s going to France and speaks perfect Spanish and English, so I’ve learned a lot by talking to him as much as I can. I’ve been so blessed with el don de lenguas (gift of tounges) here at the MTC. I’ve learned so much, and there is NO WAY I would have been able to learn this much in so little time. I’m very gratefuly that I’ve been blessed with this gift. The Elders in my district sometimes call me the “walking dictionary”. Now I just have to keep myself humble and realize it’s all from the Lord.

We have learned almost all the Spanish tenses now! Some of them are crazy and explode our heads. But it’s been good. We all decided that we want to speak soley in Spanish for the rest of the MTC time. We’re going to make little signs to hang below our name badges that say “Lo siento, no hablo inglés!” or “I’m sorry, I don’t speak English!”. I’ve been trying to do that already, but saying everything in Spanish and then translate what I tried to say into English if nobody understood me haha.

We had our first TRC (Teaching Resource Center) appointment that was completely in Spanish. It was scary and it seemed like all the Spanish I learned fell out of my head! I can speak great Spanish until it comes to the TRC teaching scenarios! But it’s ok. I will continually get better and it’ll be fine!

This week is the new mission president training seminar. We are going to get a new mission president next July, because President Johns will have finished his 3 years. I’m way excited to meet him. I’ve heard he’s incredible!

Next week, my district is going to be the oldest in our zone. It’s weird. One of us will be Zone Leader. I can’t believe how fast this time has gone! In less than four weeks I will be in Ecuador!!

Elder Petersen does not have to go home for surgery, but he will have to get it on his ankle once he gets back from his mission. Él es loco! He runs and jumps rope on it every day. He has the highest pain tolerance I’ve ever seen in anyone! I’ve learned a lot from him and will miss him once we all go to Ecuador! Hopefully I’ll see him around or that he’ll be in my zone or something.

Elder Allen has also been an awesome companion. He just got called to be the new district leader and he’s been doing an awesome job. I’m going to miss him a ton since he’s the only one in our district not going to Ecuador. I told him that he should call his mission president in Chigaco and transfer to Ecuador haha.

Three more weeks. I’m so excited! I don’t really know what else to say for today. I just can’t wait to hear Elder Holland tonight! I will take awesome notes and maybe I’ll get them copied and send them home to you! It seems like we watch one or two talks done by him every week because he’s so focused on missionary work and has an insane drive and passion for it. He’s way inspiring! I really really hope that the rumor was really confirmed haha otherwise I’ll feel stupid for building all this hype!

Con amor,
Elder Sawyer


One Month!

June 19, 2009

Hola!

Wednesday marked four weeks here in the MTC, and Saturday will be the completion of my first month of my mission! I’m 1/24th of the way finished! It’s going by WAY too fast. I really want to apply for an extension already haha.

This week was very normal. We had a lot of class and learned a lot of Spanish and a lot of stuff about the Gospel. This week, Bishop Edgley of the presiding bishopbric came and spoke to us! It was way awesome! He actually was an answer to our companionship’s prayers.

On Tuesday, we went to the Referrel Center (RC) and were calling people. My companion, Elder Petersen, loves talking to people and he’s really good and getting people to trust and talk to him. He has a list of about four or five people that told him to call back. We just call people who ordered a Book of Mormon, or a Church DVD and see if they recieved it and if they would like the missionaries to bring a Book of Mormon and tell them more. So Elder Petersen has been talking to these people for a little while. One of them is a 61 year old woman who is dying of cancer unfortunatley. He’s been a good friend to her and talked to her for 30 minutes or so when he first called her. So we called back to talk to her again, (all of us are on the line listening but only Elder Petersen is talking to them), and this big black guy answers the phone. He starts interrogating Elder Petersen and asking him who Jesus is. Elder Petersen kept testifying that he is the Son of God and that he died for our sins so taht we can be saved, and just other things about Christ. But this guy, Byron, just kept asking. He was like “Are you Mormon?” and then another time he said was “No, not WE believe, what do YOU believe.” So Elder Petersen did a decent job, but he was scared silly haha it was pretty funny/intense. Bryon has a TON of faith in Christ. He sounds like a great man. He doesn’t belong to a specific faith, he just believes he will be saved because he has faith in Christ. If we get a chance to talk to him again, we’re going to try and show him why belonging to a church, specifically the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which has the complete truth and authority from God, is important. But we finally passed his test, and he said we could speak to this woman. But he said he had to disconnect the phone to take it upstairs for her, since she is sick in bed, and he told us this wasn’t a joke and that we need to call back in one minute. So we hang up and call back about 3 minutes later because Elder Petersen was so shaken up haha. And nobody answered. It just kept ringing. I don’t know if he didn’t reconnect it or if something maybe happened or whatnot, but we weren’t able to get ahold of her. We’re going to try again tomorrow, and we really hope someone answers. This family sounds like they have great faith in Christ, and we want to try to put them on the true path.

We also had a chat in the RC as well. This person was really messed up. It could’ve just been some punk that was messing around, or someone who had a way screwed up life. We didn’t know, but we were trying to help them. They said they’d want to try to come to one of our Church buildings on Sunday, so we were going to get them a link, and Elder Petersen closed a window that apparently is linked to the window with the chat and we lost them because everything closed. It was such a disappointing day. But as we were leaving, I told them that we would have a good night. I felt like the speaker would comfort us. So we go to the devotional and Bishop Edgley spoke about how we may not know what will happen with the seeds that we plant in people’s hearts. He has had many people come and tell him that he baptized them, when he didn’t. But he taught them as a missionary, and they didn’t get baptized at the time, but eventually they joined the Church later and they were forever thankful for him for being their first missionary. And at the very end he told us not to get discouraged. I wish I had my journal with me right now so I could look it up exactly, but that talk just made Elder Petersen, Elder Allen, and me feel so much better. We knew that even though some mistakes had happened that day, we planted the seed of truth in those people’s heart, and that we don’t know what will happen with those seeds. It gave us hope and made us feel much better. It’s important to not get disappointed and to continue to press on. I love the RC. It’s real. Everything else here is all roleplay. It’s realistic roleplay, and you feel the Spirit and stuff, but the RC is the best. I love calling people and asking them if they’ve got their DVDs or Books of Mormon. I’ve even gotten a few people to have the missionaries come to their house with a Book of Mormon! It’s so cool. The first time someone said that they would like to have the missionaries come over, I was like “REALLY?” haha so it was cool. I’m much more confident with talking to people on the phone and testifying to them than I did the first week. I just wish I could get more chats. I feel like I can express myself extremely well over the chats, but I often don’t get the chance because not many people chat, and a lot of the time they are just trying to ask stupid questions.

It was great to go to the temple today and have a day to relax and write letters and stuff. The MTC is awesome. I can’t believe I’ve already been here for a month! One more month and I’m in the field!! Today I got my Ecuador t-shirt. It was only $7.77, which is the perfect price, because 7 represents perfection. So pretty much my t-shirt is awesome. It has a bunch of facts about Ecuador along with the flag, so it’s pretty cool. I’m excited to get to Ecuador and buy a sweet fútbol jersey!

Well, I’m pretty much out of time. This next week is the new mission president seminar week, which means four or five Apostles are going to be here throughout the week!! We’ve even heard rumors that Elder Holland is going to speak to us on Friday, which would be AWESOME. He’s my favorite Apostle when it comes to missionary work. So inspiring. Also, his talk, “None Were With Him” is AMAZING. Watch the video of it on YouTube and read it. It really makes Christ’s Atonement real. I love studying the word of God every day. It’s awesome!

I love you all!

Elder Lane Sawyer


Out of Isolation

June 12, 2009

So my last e-mail ended up being a lie, as I got placed in isolation that night. I spent five days in isolation. I was healthy for every single one of those days! It was extremely frustrating. I was sick with the swine flu for four days previous to my placement in isolation, and I was trying to get tested for flu, but they never tested me until the last night of my sickness! It made me really frustrated with the system they have going on here, but it all turned out well.

I spent my days in isolation reading and writing and studying. Overall, I memorized over 100 Spanish verbs, read 300 pages of Jesus the Christ, and set up my entire study journal for every principle in each of the five lessons. It was an extremely productive time.

But now I’m out, which is so much better! I’m back to studying 12 hours a day in a class with other people, so now I have some sort of social interaction. In isolation, I stayed away from most of the missionaries because they discarded their calling for those five days. Nobody really wanted to study, so I just stayed in my room and studied by myself. One of the days a few Spanish speaking Elders were wanting to teach, so my district leader (who left after I had been there for a day) and I taught the first lesson in Spanish! It was so cool! We’re not starting teaching in Spanish for another two weeks, so it was sweet to get a head start. We got through the whole lesson without having to use English! But it wasn’t the best lesson ever. But it was still Spanish!

So yesterday was my first time in the Teaching Resource Center (TRC), which is where volunteers come and act as investigators for the missionaries to teach. The lady that we taught was from Central America, and her Spanish was SO fast! (We do a 15 minute task in Spanish before we teach. We had to pick up the investigator and “ride the bus” to Church. We needed to ask about commitments and her family and stuff. She was really interested in baptism. She kept saying she had been “sprinkled” when she was a baby, and wanted to know more about baptism by immersion. So that’s mostly what we planned for when we taught her. We were supposed to teach the Plan of Salvation, but we only got about halfway through it. It was the coolest thing ever. We totally went off topic, but we were following the Spirit and we said something that this lady really needed to hear. And then at one point, I committed her to baptism, and she accepted. My companions said I gave the commitment perfectly and at the exact right time. It was cool. So the TRC is awesome. I wish we could go there more than once a week, but it’s okay. The times we get to go are so worth it.

I got to go to the temple today! I didn’t go last week because I was sick. The temple is so cool! I wish we could go more often, but as missionaries of the Lord Jesus Christ, we are commissioned to serve the living, not to do temple work for the dead. But it’s still nice to get to go at least once a week. The old men in there are always really funny!

The Puerto Rico Elders left yesterday, which means I’m in a trio with Elder Petersen and Elder Allen. Elder Allen is going to the Chicago South mission, so he’s kinda the oddball. The rest of my district is going to Ecuador.

Oh! I finally recieved a response from Elder Austin! The letter was dated May 5th, so it took a month for my letter to get there and a month for it to get back. It was awesome to hear from him! I don’t remember if I already talked about the letter haha. I think I did.

I hate getting haircuts. I’m always really upset whenever I have to get it cut. My companion is jabbering away with the ladies cutting our hair, but I just sat there in silence, thinking that my hair is about 4 inches too short. Once I get back from my mission, I’m going back to my long hair! (It hides the fact that my ears stick out haha).

It’s good to continually hear from everyone through Dear Elders and letters! I do get something almost every day, so I don’t feel completely left out. Elder Petersen gets at least 4 or 5 letters/Dear Elders a day. It’s crazy. He writes about 15 letters every P-day.

Everything here is pretty much going great! We’re not allowed to play soccer or basketball or any contact sport because of the flu though! It’s really frustrating, because I need to work on my soccer skills so I can challenge Ecuadorians and win! I’ll tell them if I beat them, they have to listen to the missionary discussions haha. But our district plays volleyball, which is pretty much the best sport ever! (Besides soccer and lacrosse, and maybe basketball.) I love playing at the net! I get a block or two each game, and a few “kills” every day. My kills are pretty weak, I just push it over to a spot where there aren’t any Elders. I’m working on my vertical leap so I can get to the point where I can smash the ball down. Mostly I just need to learn the timing.

Elder Petersen has physical therapy about 3 times a week, so Elder Allen and I switch off going. Only one of us goes with Elder Petersen so the other doesn’t have to miss class, so it’s pretty nice. They still don’t know if Elder Petersen will need surgery or not. I’m hoping his ankle will heal without surgery, because he’d have to go home for a few weeks if he were to need surgery.

Spanish is going pretty well! I can say most of the stuff that I NEED to say, and a lot of the stuff that I want to say. Sometimes we say some pretty funny things! Like in the TRC yesterday, Elder Petersen was talking, and he said I know that we can be clean from our pescados! Pescados is the word for “fish” hahaha it was so funny! The word for sins, which is what he was trying to say, is pecados. Sometimes we use the wrong words to say stuff that would directly translate and make sense in English, like Jesucristo es el Sol de Dios. “Jesus Christ is the ‘Sun’ of God.” haha. Spanish is great fun! You can say the same thing in so many different ways. It’s so much better than English! English makes NO sense compared to Spanish!

Well my 30 minutes are pretty much up. I think I talked about pretty much everything I wanted to talk about! I hope everyone is having a great summer! I’m excited because I’m missing my first summer in Ecuador since I’m in the MTC right now! It’s going to be so hot there! But I’m excited to leave! I’ve been here for over 3 weeks now, which is insane!

I love you all! Thanks for being great examples to me! I’m trying to make everyone proud!

Con mucho amor,
Elder Lane D. Sawyer


MTC OR ZOMBIE DEATH CAMP??

June 6, 2009

DSC02685Hello family! Sounds like things are going great back in Boise! Things here have been LOCO! I don’t know if you’ve heard about any of it on the news, and I’m sure Mom doesn’t want bad news but I think she can handle this. This is the only thing I have to talk about anyways because it’s been pretty much the only thing happneing here!

So last week an Elder brought 30 (THIRTY!!!) of his family members to the “crying room” to say goodbye. They had all recently returned from MEXICO. Enter the swine flu. Last time I heard, there has been 6+ confirmed cases of swine flu here at the MTC. They’ve changed practically every procedure forever now! Starting this past Wednesday, missionaries entering the MTC get dropped off on the curb and then their families have to leave. Harsh. But this shows how important it is to be obediant. I’m not trying to be harsh, but if that Elder would have only brought his immediate family, I’m sure this epidemic wouldn’t have happened. I’m sure you want me to tell you if I’m okay or not huh? Too bad 🙂

The story I wanted to tell last week but didn’t know the conclusion is still without an ending. But I’ll tell it right now anyways. A week after we arrived in the MTC, the gymnasium re-opened after extensive repairs. My companion, Elder Petersen, LIVES for basketball and he’s broken and sprained his ankles before. So we were playing and he drove to the basket into a crowed of missionaries, stepped on a foot, and broke his ankle. We went off the MTC campus (outside of our mission boundaries) to the BYU Health Clinic, where he got xrays and found out it was broken. I also ran into one of my FHE sisters from BYU while I was waiting for him there. It was weird haha. So he has a broken ankle, but Elder Petersen is way tough. He refused to use crutches, so he’s been walking around on a broken ankle for more than a week now. It took us a whole week to get into the orthopedic surgeon, who told him he might need surgury, but that they are going to try physical therapy first. So this morning we went to the first session of physical therapy. Hopefully he doesn’t need surgury, because the new policy (because of the swine flu) is that all missionaries who need surgury have to go home. Literally EVERYTHING has changed here just because of the swine flu. So we still don’t know if he needs surgery, but we’ll find out in the next few weeks, so I’ll keep you updated.

Those who have a temperature of 101 degrees get sent to the dreaded 4M. It’s a building where they quarentine all the Elders and Sisters with the flu. It’s the building of death. My district leader was quarentined a few days ago. Luckly they have a computer and stuff in there so we all can email on p-days. Nobody is allowed to touch anyone else. No hugs, handshakes, or anything! We call the hugs “abrasoes del muerte” (hugs of death). So they have all the Elders in quarentine and those who have members of their district quarentinted taking this $100 dollar flu medicine! It’s so crazy. The device punctures a pouch and turns this pill into a powdwer, which we then inhale. It’s so weird. We all imagine this is what it would be like to snuff drugs or stuff, it’s messed up haha.

I supposed I’ve tortured you enough now. I’ll tell you about my medical history. I started getting sick on Monday. Then it got worse. I missed a lot of class Tuesday through Thursday. Altogether, with Elder Petersen’s ankle, my sickness, and his developing sickness, we’ve missed over 15 hours of class in the past week (which is about a full day of studying). It’s been rough. So I kept visiting the clinic and having my temperature taken. Remember, 101 is quarentine. It started off at 99.3 on Monday, and by the end of the day it was up to 99.9. The next morning it dropped to 99.3, so I felt like I was getting better. But then it went up again to 100.4 that night. They kept telling me to go home and sleep and load up on medicine so I did. Then last night I had a temperature of 100.8! If I would’ve have even walked to the clinic quickly I probably would have been over 101 and been taken to the Zombie Containment Area. And I actually was probably over 101 but the old lady at the front desk who takes temperatures at night doesn’t use the ear temperature taker correctly. She hardly puts it in your ear. She said I was 97.4 the first time she took it, I told her to take it again and it still wasn’t fully in my ear and it still read 100.8… So I’m lucky that they didn’t send me away.

But then a miracle occured the next morning! I woke up, took my temperature with the cheap thermometer in my medicine kit and it said 97.6! I couldn’t believe it, so I got my sick companion out of bed and ran down to the front desk, and they tested me with a real thermometer and it said 98.4! I still have a way sore throat, my voice is pretty much gone, I have a headache, but other than that I feel great and am getting better! Elder Petersen was just tested for the flu today and it came back negative, so I think we’re going to be okay. It’s just been one crazy ride here at the MTC! I’m sorry if this letter upset you Mom, and that I didn’t tell you how I was until the very end, but I just couldn’t resist! We missed so much class this week that I really don’t have much else to talk about. All of us are pretty much just trying to survive this epidemic right now. But the MTC is getting it under control now. About 50 Elders are in quartentine right now. Our district leader will be out on Monday. They keep you in there for about 5 or 6 days.

Don’t worry about me, I’m getting better! I have forgotten what it feels like to be healthy. I really wish I would be more grateful for my health. It’s impossible to learn much when you’re sick.

I hope you all have a wonderful summer! I’m glad to hear that Pop and Cameron have an idea for work. Let me know how it all works out! I look forward to hearing from all of you! My p-days are on Friday, so send your DearElders and mail by Wednesday if you want me to answer you that week! This work is amazing. There’s nothing better than it in the world. This is the work of God, and we as missionaries are truly representatives of the Savior, Jesus Christ.

Con amor,
Elder Lane D. Sawyer