Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Halfway at the MTC

I've been here now longer than I have yet to go here!  Then Mongolia!  Speaking of which, we have started our week-long EIL (English as an International Language) bonanza, with training from eight to noon every day. Then we will practice our teaching techniques on missionaries here from other countries to learn English.  

I'm learning to write a little in the Mongolian script, but people don't use that for everyday language.  It looks cool but isn't very practical for modern usage.  So, Mongolia still uses the Russian alphabet.  We always get stopped at the MTC and asked if we are going to Russia (or Greece) when other missionaries read our nametags.  Nobody ever guesses Mongolia!  It is fun.  Also, for some strange reason, Mongolia is in an MTC zone with Madagascar, Marshall Islands, Fiji, Samoa and Tonga.  I don't know how we got in the tropical island category, but it is fun.  I have learned how to greet people in Samoan!

I have been gaining a reputation as a language guy.  I can usually guess anyone's nametag, and missionaries are often surprised when I can speak to them in their language.  

Our class is fun, and we have great teachers.  They appreciate the help I am able to give the others when they are not teaching.  We are also learning a few things in Mongolian Sign Language because there are a lot of deaf people in Mongolia.  Now, there are plenty of native missionaries assigned to teach in sign language, but since there are so many people who are deaf, it is good for us to know a little.  We like to use it to spell things to each other in class, but I'm sure I'll use it more in Mongolia.

Well, I've learned all sorts of things here, like how to sleep in a room with three other guys, how to tolerate public bathrooms, and how to do good ROTC style calisthenics.  One of our district members was in ROTC, so he is helping me maintain my fitness; it is really helpful.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Too Busy to Write

We have very little time to write email in the MTC, but things are going well here.  I've been here a month already!

We go to the temple every P-day; it is a great experience.  Our district is doing well, and we are getting a lot of new Elders in our zone.  We are in a zone with all the Pacific languages, which is a strange pairing for Mongolian, but it's fun. 

It is pretty cold in Provo, but we are doing well, and I have nice warm clothes.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013


Greg is famous.  He has been to Europe and China and PerĂº.  And now he's going to Mongolia.  On his last day in PerĂº with my brother, Kristian, he looked like this:

Now he is learning about life in Mongolia...

And preparing for the climate...

He has been welcomed by my district! I have a great district! Can you spot Greg?

Thursday, January 10, 2013

How Firm A Foundation

The branch chorister is in our district, so I volunteered to play the piano in Church last Sunday (6th).  I sat down last Wednesday to pick some hymns and, thinking that I would be doing it for several weeks and should save the easy songs for later, I decided that my first song would be How Firm a Foundation, #85.  I couldn't really play perfectly at first (two lines gave me trouble), but I kept practicing every day.  Even when I thought I should give up on it and play one of the songs I can play with no problem, I kept at it.  Come Sunday, it was the best of the three songs I played.

Then, during Fast and Testimony meeting, one Senior Elder who is going to Spain bore his testimony.  He bore it of what he liked to call the "Tender Ironies" of the Lord, such as the fact that on his first Sunday in the MTC, the first hymn that was sung was his favorite hymn, #85, How Firm a Foundation.  I was shocked as I realized that I had been silently led by the Holy Spirit that week to learn a song I didn't know so I could give a small bit of comfort to a man who was going out to serve a mission.  I know it was no great thing, but for me it was more of a proof of concept, that we really can be led by the Spirit in the things we do without even knowing it.

Then later on Sunday, we watched a recorded talk.  In it, Elder Bednar essentially taught that we shouldn't worry about whether we are being led by the Spirit in any given moment (that is, we shouldn't have this debate about "is it the Spirit or is it me?"), but rather trust that when we are righteous and 'being a good boy' the Spirit will guide us without us necessarily knowing it.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year

We have had a good week here at the MTC.  My district is working hard to learn Mongolian.  It is hard for them, but I am glad I can help them learn.  We also have great teachers.  I have been called as District Leader.  I'm getting in a little exercise, though not as much as I might like.  My companion is nice and enjoys the scriptures; we get along well.