Wednesday, June 25, 2008
As you know, I have been temporarily assigned to serve in the Utah Salt Lake South mission while I await my visa. I am currently serving in the town of Midvale (I think that's the name.) I have two companions again, Elder Zobell and Elder Echevarria. Elder Zobell is from Montanna and Elder Echevarria is from Oklahoma, but was born in Monterrey, which is exciting. Elders Zobell and Echevarria are the zone leaders, and they are great missionaries. In just one day I have already learned a lot. They have a lot of meetings (in fact, tomorrow they are going down to the MTC to help with the training of new mission presidents) so I will be going on lots of exchanges. I like that, it means I will get to experience many different approaches. By
the time I get my Visa, I will probably be the best trained missionary in history.
Yesterday Elder Puente, Elder Strobel, and I got on the bus at 6:00 am. We drove up to the airport and watched all the other missionaries get off, then we drove to our mission office, where we met our new companions. (We haven't yet met the president.) After that, I went to a zone meeting for the morning. After lunch, my companions had some meetings to go to, so I went on a transfer with Elder Zammaron and Elder Aparicio (who is from Spain.) The first lesson I taught was to a man who was sitting on his car drinking a beer. Honestly, I don't think he was very sober, but he agreed to let us come back, and to stop drinking, so we'll see what happens. After that, we walked about two miles to teach a man named Fidel. He hadn't read from the
Book of Mormon yet, so we read 3 Nephi 11 together with him. It was a great lesson. On our way back, it started raining pretty hard. So we walked 2 miles in the rain. It was great! The perfect first day!
In the afternoon, my companions returned from their meeting and picked me up. We then went to our apartment (which is tiny) and unpacked and ate dinner. Then we went out to teach. We taught four lessons, all within the same apartment complex that we live in. One of the men we
taught is getting baptized this weekend. I loved it. Teaching the gospel is great! And my companions are so good at it. I just wish I could better understand Spanish, but that will come.
I can't believe that I'm already out. My time in the MTC went by so quickly, and I'm sure my time here will too. I'm glad I didn't waste any time in the MTC. A lot of Elders didn't like it, but I loved it. I learned so much, I had great teachers and leaders, and there are lots of great resources there. The food there is good too, as long as you are careful . . . . I wouldn't have minded staying an extra few weeks at the MTC, I'm sure it would have helped me, but I'm excited to be out. President Boone, the MTC president, told us that if 1 day is a thousand years to God, than our mission is 2.88 minutes of God's time. I plan to sprint the whole way.
On Sunday, the entire First Presidency, 10 of the Quorum of the 12, all 7 presdients of the Seventy, and the Presiding Bishopbric were at the MTC. Unfortuantely, I didn't see any of them, but it was still amazing to know that they were all there and so close. I was hoping that one would speak at the fireside, but it turned out to be Brother Allen from the missionary department instead. It was a wonderful fireside though, and I can't complain (I have had many chances to hear great leaders speak at BYU.) Firesides and Devotionals at the MTC are incredible. They are always great speakers, and are very spiritual experiences. Before each one, all the missionaries sing 3 or 4 hymns as prelude, which is always a powerful spiritual experience. After each devotional, each district has a devotional review were we discuss
the things we learned. I love the reviews, they help me remember and apply [those things as I] feel the Spirit.
I was asked to give the prayer at the Fireside Sunday night. I was excited to do it, but also nervous. Imagine: you pray in front of 2,000 missionaries, plus about 50 mission presidents and their wives. You are on TV, and your prayer is being broadcasted to several other MTCs throughout the world. There are people listining very closely to your words becasue they are translating them in to one of several different languages. I know that a prayer is a prayer no matter when and where, but it was still scary.
Here are the rules for email as I understand them: I get one hour of internet use per week, on my preparation day (Tuesday). I am allowed to recieve emails from anyone, but I can only email grandparents, parents, and siblings myself. You can also contact me through dear
elder, or at
Elder Dallin Immanuel Rowley
Utah Salt Lake City South Mission
8060 S 615 E
Sandy, UT 84070
[I would like to] thank [everyone] for all the letters. I am trying to at least write a little note back to everyone who writes to me, but I don't know if I'll have time now that I'm in the field.
Monday, June 23, 2008
We are allowed ½ an hour of email time on preparation days, but there are only 6 computers for about 30 missionaries, and I didn’t have time this week or last to use a computer.
Tomorrow [Wednesday, June 18] is the big day—the day when all the mission presidents come in, so our expected “special speakers” should be coming soon. Last week, ironically, it was Elder [Mervyn B.] Arnold [of the Seventy], who was in our ward [in Redlands] last Sunday. They asked me to pray at the fireside this Sunday, so I’ll be sitting on the stand with whoever the speaker is. The firesides and devotionals here are incredible. 15 minutes before each one, the missionaries all sing the prelude hymns (and 2,000 missionaries singing the hymns of Zion is not something I can describe in words.) After the devotionals, we have a district devotional review, where we review our notes and impressions from the devotional, and helps me to better appreciate and understand the lessons taught.
Today when we went to the temple, my companions wanted to do sealings. I had wanted to save that experience until I was being sealed to my wife, but I’m glad I went today. I was able to be a witness and a son at different times. It was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen.
My companionship study could use some help. We’re not really sure how to do it and we usually just practice teaching our lessons which is good. But we could do better. This week we are going to a workshop on it though.
Even though I’m currently staying at the MTC indefinitely, I’m not disappointed. The longer I tarry, the more perfected I will be in my ministry (D&C 88:84.) There is a lot to be learned and a lot of good experiences to be had here.
Friday, June 20, 2008
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
Saturday, June 14, 2008
Like I said, I love it here. I saw Elder [Isaac] Arnott the other day and he said it was like “EFY[*] on steroids.” I guess that is kind of true. The MTC is similar to EFY, but it is also different. Here we are constantly busy, 16 hours a day, and I love every minute of it. I am learning and growing constantly. One of the most important lessons I have learned is the importance of obedience. It is heavily stressed here, and I see why. As Elder [Jeffrey R.] Holland [of the Quorum of the Twelve] said, the rules are not the result of “a bunch of old men on pickle juice,” but “170 years of missionary work.” Having the constant companionship of the Spirit is extremely important to what I do, and obedience is necessary for having the Spirit.
Because of all the advice I’ve been given and my own experience this far, I have developed a motto for my mission—“100%—Every day.” 100% obedience and 100% effort means 100% of the promised blessings.
The hardest thing for me, by far, is the language. I’m glad I’m in the advanced class—the challenge of it is helping me learn more than I would otherwise, but it is still hard. I am talking in Spanish as much as I can, and I am already much better. I can understand almost perfectly, but I have trouble talking. That’s why I’m studying both the language and the gospel as much as possible—because I have a tied tongue that I need to be loosed (D&C 11:21).
I am part of what is probably the most unique companionship in the MTC. At night there are 3 of us, and during the day there are 4. The fourth is a “solo sister,” something unique to the MTC. Her name is Hermana Burr, and she is the only sister in Advanced Spanish who came in the same day as us, so she is a solo sister, and has 3 elders for companions. She is a great missionary and adds a lot to my district.
One of my companions is Elder Puente. He is from LA and joined the church a few years ago. He has a great attitude and a strong testimony. I love him. I also love my other companion, Elder Strobel. He is from Connecticut, and his grandfather is a famous biologist, Gary Strobel. Elder Strobel and I have different perspectives on some things, but we get along great and he is a great missionary and district leader.
My teachers here are incredible. In fact, at the fireside last Sunday I realized that I have one of the best teachers in history, in fact He has taught all the great men and women in history, including the prophets, and He works closely with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. I am being taught by the Holy Ghost! The teachers whom the Spirit works through are also wonderful. Their names are Brother Johnston and Brother Espinoza.
I’ve heard that because of visa problems, I’ll probably be here 5 weeks or more. But I look at that as more of a blessing than anything else. The MTC really is a great opportunity.
The last week of June is when they train mission presidents, and they have 4 or 5 Apostles come every day. I heard that they often eat in the cafeteria with the missionaries, which would be incredible. President Boone, the MTC president, told us that this would be a great season for speakers, so I am excited. We have a devotional tonight and there has been some speculation that it will be an Apostle. My companions and I are in the choir, so I might be singing for an Apostle tonight!
Yesterday I had my first experience with real missionary work as a full time missionary. My district went to the R.C. (referral center) where we take calls from pass along cards and church commercials, as well as make follow up calls. I decided to do I in English my first time, but I was still very nervous. After my first call, I lost all nervousness. It was amazing, calling people to offer them a Book of Mormon or a Lamb of God video or something like that, and sharing my testimony with them. Two of the people I called said they wanted to talk to the missionaries! It was wonderful.
P.S. My branch president is [Paul] Wiederhold, who knows [us] from Y-mount [days].