Friday, August 26, 2016

Week One in the MTC

This week was full of ups and downs; I started off really strong and things were going pretty well. Being assigned the position of district leader gives me certain opportunities- I attended my first branch meeting on Sunday, which is a meeting where every district leader from the entire zone gets together with the branch president to discuss the worries and needs of each district. It was interesting to see and reminded me of the movie The Hunger Games, being called districts and everything, but overall it was really cool to see the inside scoop of things. Everything after that was great too; making it to Sunday really was worth it. The devotionals were so spiritual, and I got involved in choir and the way we all sound when we sing is like nothing I've ever felt before; it was one of my favorite days. But as all good things must come to an end this week went and turned into the hardest week I've had and it probably won't be the last. I've been feeling homesick and I've been breaking down a lot lately... It's hard; the mission is so hard. I'm awake from dusk until dawn and I haven't even had a full night's rest yet, so each day has just been making me feel more and more exhausted. Maybe it's because it's such a big change for me... I don't know, but I've been really struggling with just being here. The language and teaching while speaking French is alright but I'm just so tired at the end of each day. But I have faith that with time things will get better and with the support of so many people I know can come out of this... It's a new week and I attended the temple today; I feel pretty good so I hope I can keep that up throughout the days and nights and weeks. I know the change is what's making things so hard, except for the food, that's a whole different story. It destroys my digestive system and let's just say the results are awful... I'll get through it though. The MTC really is one of a kind. I'll just have to come to learn to love it. That being said, I hope this week goes better and I hope that next week I'll have more to write about; I've been so caught up with teaching and learning French as best I can, and my mind has just been wandering elsewhere, but I have a good feeling about this week so stay tuned! Au revoir.

Elder Todd

P.S. Here are some pictures of the friends I've made while I've been here!

Friday, August 19, 2016

Finally in the MTC

So when I arrived to the MTC I first met my companion; his name is Elder Jenkins, he's from Utah and plays the guitar too, he loves music and is writing a girl as well and that's pretty much all I know about him so far. After meeting him, we were taken to class where we met our teacher and two other Elders who are also going to Tahiti. Their names are Elder Campbell and Elder Jorgensen, they too are from Utah. I'm the only one away from home, but that's okay! We started class that day and began learning French. It was so overwhelming, but I've been picking it up... Right after class we went to dinner, and because we were new missionaries we all had an orange sticker on our name tags and literally everyone there welcomed us with, "Welcome to the MTC Elders!" It got annoying very fast and I took it off, shhhhh... The dinner was alright, not the best, but it's unlimited food and there's chocolate milk!!! I also had some of the orange juice here because I've been hearing that we shouldn't so of course I had to try it, and it was the worst decision ever. The orange juice tasted awful and I had a ton of trips to the bathroom... Never doing that again! After dinner there were some programs that were taking place in the next building which we attended; it was called "People and Our Purpose". It was very spiritual, and we were sitting in on actual investigators who are being taught from actual missionaries. We were invited to jump in and get involved in the teaching if we wanted to. I didn't but it was nice overall. After that we were sent to our residence buildings and our whole zone likes to sing a song from the hymn book in French every night, and man that was the best singing I have ever done in French my entire life- I love it! But lights were out at 10:15 and bedtime was 10:30... It's tough to adjust to. The next day was basically the same except longer because I was there for the whole day and I had to jump straight into French. I got to meet my zone leaders and they are very nice people; they informed us that our stay here at the MTC is about 9 weeks long but the cool part is that we are actually learning Tahitian the last few weeks, when I thought we weren't learning any at all! So it was nice to hear that and I'm very excited to learn. During class we were instructed on how teaching an investigator should be done and after that we learned a few French phrases and I guess today we have to teach an investigator already... and in French! There has been so much work already but I guess you have to start somewhere. I spent the rest of the day trying to pick up the language and prepare for this lesson and I actually think I can do this!! During dinner I met and made some new friends, one is from Tahiti and is familiar with my family's name; he's so funny and we talked for so long. He's in my zone as well, and is in the same residence building as I am and it's been a great time getting to know him. All the rest of the people in my zone seem to like me too, partly because I'm part Tahitian and that I'm serving in Tahiti; they think it's so amazing. I was also assigned to be the new district leader, which means I'm in charge of my district that will be serving in Tahiti- so basically I'm in charge of the three other Elders that are with me down there. It's only been two days and already I have done so much... Today is my P-Day and I was able to go to the temple and do a session. I was so tired because it was at 7:20 a.m. and I fell asleep a few times, but that's okay it happens to everyone on their first few days here. After the session we had breakfast in the temple and I don't know what it is, but the food there is so amazing that I had to get seconds!!! I will be playing soccer later and I'm stoked for that. I also have to prepare my lesson for later tonight: I must perfect my Fran├žais and speak fluently. Till next week! Au revoir.

Elder Todd

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Entering the MTC

Today is the day... I finally start my journey. It has been hard to say goodbye to my family and the people I love - lots of tears have been shed- but it's time I wipe my face and get ready to walk through the doors of the MTC and officially start my mission. I would not be here without all the support I've had through the last few years, people who have helped me get through my tough times of confusion and depression. You guys have gotten me to where I am today, to the mission. I love and will miss you all; the memories we've made will last a lifetime and I can't wait to make more memories and be able to share them and the experiences I will have with you. It only gets better from here... I will not let my fear ruin living in the moment, I will be strong and enjoy every minute of everyday. Soon enough I'll be back home on the little Islands of Tahiti and each new day will bring new experiences. I'm excited for this, even with the unknown, I feel ready. My desire to serve is what has driven me and what will continue to drive me until the end. Today is my final goodbye; thank you for everything family and friends I love you all! I can't wait to hear from you guys and start writing back. I'll talk to you soon, on P-Day:) (Friday).

Elder Todd

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Farewell Talk

Good morning brothers and sisters; today I was asked to speak about forgiveness and my preparation for a mission. As you may or may not know, I was called to serve in Tahiti. This is a wonderful opportunity and I'm humbled to have the blessing of serving for two years, but, as far as preparation goes, it didn't start the day I received my call. No, it started long before that… Growing up in the church, going on a mission was encouraged at a young age. I can remember singing in primary, “I hope they call me on a mission, when I have grown a foot or two…” It was always something that I should've sought to do and eventually it put me in the mindset that serving a mission was what I should be doing, without me truly stopping and thinking if this was something I wanted to do. It wasn't until it came close for me to have to decide what I wanted to do after high school that I started to question my worthiness, or if I even wanted to serve. I started to ask if this was something I truly wanted and I decided it wasn't for me. It didn't feel right... Why should I give up what I have now…The concept of serving didn't feel like it fit what I wanted…I thought I should follow what everyone else was doing and go to college and for a while, I was happy with this decision. I thought everything was finally making sense. I told my parents and they agreed, but quickly things started to fall apart. My happiness turned to sadness and then to depression… I was confused, I had my whole future planned out? In all of this, I had the urge to pray one day, and as I kneeled down, alone in my room, I asked God, “What is it that I should be doing?” “How come I am so unhappy…?” During this prayer, I had the prompting of a mission. But even still I doubted, thinking of how unworthy I was and how bad I was, etc. But there was a reason I prayed that day and I was not left alone to drown in my doubt. I was comforted and I realized I had to forgive myself… the part of me that fought against a mission, the self-doubt and flaws that I let hold me back. I had to realize that my own negative thoughts and the thoughts that others have placed upon me do not define my self-worth and do not make me an unworthy person. I’d like to read a scripture from (Isa. 1:18), “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” This made me think of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, how He suffered for the sins of the world, for every single person, for me- so we may not suffer for our own sins. The sacrifice He made was His forgiveness to us. Every week we partake of the sacrament, to repent and to receive forgiveness for the sins we have done. He wouldn't want me to hate and punish myself for what I've done; he has already done the suffering for me so that I can forgive myself, renew myself, repent, and tell myself that I am worthy enough to serve a mission. Now that I am here, two days before my departure and being asked if I am prepared to serve a mission... No, I don’t think I am fully ready to serve a mission. But I have the desire to serve and that's the first step. Not wanting to go but going anyways ruins the opportunity for yourself and the people you could be helping; preparation comes from self-desire, not by being book smart and learning the language or being a great speaker or teacher. It starts with a desire, without that why even serve? Brothers and Sisters, I bear my testimony that if you can find that desire to serve the Lord with all your heart, might, mind, and strength then everything else will fall into place, and if you find that you are in the same place that I was and you are struggling with forgiveness, just remember why we take the sacrament. Remember Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, and through repentance, He will forgive you and your sins will be remembered no more. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.