Monday, September 30, 2013

Sept 30,2013 MTC week 2 - Life lessons!

Edited excerpts from Elder Hanks' 2nd week at the MTC:  

"Well, Sunday was probably the most stressful day so far. There is this Elder who is in our district who I think is very smart and very intuitive, but thinks way to much with his head rather than feeling with his heart when it comes to spiritual and social things. Don't get me wrong, I love the guy. So on Sunday we had time set apart for a district discussion/lesson. 

I gave the lesson and taught how we, as missionaries, shouldn't just do good but be good.  I asked why a missionary was here on a mission and then I wrote on the board "Because God asked me to come here".  I felt the spirit prompting me to then ask, what could be better about this statement. Everyone was really great in responding.. I then erased the word "come" and wrote in "be" so the sentence then read " Because God asked me to be here". I could see every ones eyes open and I felt the spirit start to enter the room. 

Well this missionary was trying to correct my punctuation errors, such as not having a period at the end of my sentence.. and then began to express  how my lesson was demeaning the word "come" and my suggestion of the word "be" was the better way to go falsified the idea of "coming unto Christ". I immediately felt the spirit leave. I tried hard to recover the Spirit and moved on to other goals that our district needed to talk about.

Some of the other missionaries in my district tried to support and clarify the idea I was trying to get across, but this missionary would not have it. It was suggested that we pray to bring the Spirit back.  One of the sweet Sis. missionaries in the district started to sing "Savior, Redeemer of my Soul" which has been a song associated with many spiritual experiences in my life. I was blessed to begin to feel the spirit again. 

I couldn't get out of my mind the way the Spirit had left our lesson and ruined my Sunday. I couldn't focus, couldn't eat (luckily it was fast Sunday anyway). Later that night I prayed for guidance about what to do with this awkward situation. I stayed up for a good 2 hours stuck in despair. 

Finally Monday morning the answer comes to me. I got the feeling that I need to apologize to my district... did I feel like I did something wrong? No.  Did I feel like I could have been better? Yes.  So later that morning I apologized to my district for not being able to help keep the Spirit in our lesson.  Many members of the district came up to me afterward and expressed thanks for doing what I did. Today is a good day." 

(Many great life lessons Elder Hanks is learning !)
Elder Hanks & Elder Merrill (From Hill Cumorah Work Crew) on their way to a devoational at the Marriott Center

Monday, September 23, 2013

Sept 27, 2013 - 1st Week & District Leader

The first, quick, short, email we got from Elder Hanks was the day after he arrived in the MTC. 
"I'm doing great! The first moment I walked into class my teachers started speaking chinese like none other! Because of my background (taking chinese in high school) I knew a fair amount of what he was telling and asking us to do. My companion is awesome!!!! He is cool and is easy to talk to. 
I have been able to meet up with plenty of people from school so I'm feeling pretty welcomed here. " 

The first true email arrived today (Monday) from Elder Hanks first week in the MTC! Here's a few exerpts from his email:

"So on with the good stuff. It is so hard! Hunter & Max you may want to learn a different language because I've realized how unromantic Mandarin Chinese really is! It just sounds like you  are sleep talking. Yeah, true story. 
My companion is from Syracuse, UT and we have a ton in common and we love what we do. But it is still hard. I've never done anything so hard. The language is hard. I have been having a really hard time learning the language lately. At the beginning I was excelling like crazy and then it just stopped....hopefully it will start to flow over the next few weeks.

We taught our first and second lesson this last week. It was a nightmare! We have to say it all in chinese and we don't know any chinese. So he will just sit there looking at us with those piercing, scary, blue eyes while we fumble through books trying to find the right word, phrase or tone. It's insane. But I could tell from our second lesson that we got better so I have a growing confidence that we will continue to get better. 

So on day two, I got called as District Leader! AHHHHH! I'm so stressed. I'm the leader of the only district who has been here for less than a week. All the other districts in our zone have been here for 6 weeks and they will all leave in 3 weeks and we'll then be the "veterans" for the new missionaries.

Last thing, I went through the Provo temple, I felt the Spirit so strong. It was incredible."

Elder Hanks' District

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Sept 18th, 2013 - MTC drop off !

Elder Hanks & his dad overlooking the MTC before we drive across the street!
Here we go!
Elder Hanks' adventure begins!
Elder Hanks was up at 6:30am this morning! Added a few church songs to his ipod, had a few crepes for breakfast & off we headed to the MTC in Provo. Of course we had to do all the typical things you do before hitting the MTC....lunch somewhere (where you also see 50 other missionaries doing the same thing with their families1) a stop at the Provo temple for pictures & the final tearful hugs before you make that final approach to the MTC.

Sept 18, 2013 - How much does it weigh?

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Sept 12, 2013 - Packing and a haircut...oh my!

Books so far! 12 more pounds of books coming from the MTC!

2 suits, 2 pair shoes, 12 pairs of socks,10 pairs of pants,
 9 white shirts, too many ties to count, 3 piece luggage I ready yet?

Packing up my desk....:(

Oh man.... here it goes, I'm not looking!
I hope my mom knows what she is doing!

Not so bad- for a non-professional

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Sept 5, 2013 - Where in the world am I going?

So you can have an idea where I am going... 
There are a couple of languages spoken in my mission - English, Mandarin Chinese, Malay, Tamil and Iban. Malay and Iban are mainly spoken in Malaysia. English is spoken in most businesses and is taught in school. Some chinese youth are fluent in 3 languages: Mandarin, English and Malay. There are alot of missionaries going right now that are speaking english. Some have even gotten phone calls from the Mission Pres. asking them to come early. I have not heard about very many Mandarin missionaries, have to admit, I'm kinda nervous and wondering about that. It will be interesting and fun to see how many Mandarin missionaries there are! I will get to experience year round warm,80 degree, tropical weather because Singapore is so close to the equator. But it also rains alot and I have been told that during the monsoon season, when I transfer areas, I should put my clothes and stuff in plastic baggies and garbage bags before putting them in my suitcase as a way to keep them from getting soaked as we transfer.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Sept 1, 2013 - The countdown has begun!

So Sept has arrived, which begins the countdown- the real countdown to leaving for the MTC! There will be another countdown to leave for Singapore. Two immunizations left- influenza & a polio booster. I also recieved my first letter from my mission President, Pres. Mains, from Pennsylvania. He has been there close to a year, so I should have him as a President my whole mission. So we are having 2 open houses- Saturday Sept 14th is for friends & neighbors from 6-8 and an open house on Sunday for just my family. 18 days!