Wednesday, July 6, 2011

6 July 2011 Letter (MTC)

It's P-Day again, and time for another email.  Here's an update from this last week:

Wednesday, 29 June 2011
Today was our second P-Day, which was much less stressful than our first.  Today we did laundry, got haircuts (my hair is super short), and had our second trip to the temple (and our last one for 4 weeks, as the temple will be closed).  We also taught Gyula how to pray.  I have now been in the MTC for exactly two weeks and have exactly two months left.

Thursday, 30 June 2011
Thursdays are not nearly as relaxed, fun, or fast as the first half of the week.  Today we had our first TCR.  It went fairly well, and we taught Ashley (our newest investigator) an hour long lesson on the Book of Mormon and the Restoration.  I am definitely starting to pick up and understand the language, but at the same time I have a whole lot that I don't know (the majority of the language) and am in dire need of expanding my prayer vocabulary.

Friday, 1 July 2011
Today I got to show off my fencing skills by going against the rest of the Hungarian missionaries in a fencing drill for 40 minutes.  We also taught Andi today.  I didn't have much to say at all in our lesson.  We'll teach her again tomorrow.  Hopefully, it will go better.  It just goes to show that the Spirit is not a constant thing.  Today was, hopefully, just one of the lower fluctuations.

Saturday, 2 July 2011
Today went much better than yesterday.  While there was no gym today, we started our day by teaching Andi.  Although our lesson was short, Elder Swett decided that after yesterday's lesson, he'd do less talking, so I gave the majority of the lesson, and we managed to find out a lot more about her personally, and take some time to better introduce ourselves and explain our purpose.  By the end, we all thought it was a successful lesson.  Because there was no gym, we had an hour at the Residence Hall.  We decided to play a giant game of Sardines, with the entire building acting as the boundaries.  Finally, tonight was the Stadium of Fire, a special devotional, and our 4th of July Celebration.  We started by singing "Yankee Doodle" and "Yankee Doodle Dandy", which, when women were mentioned, caused a lot of shouts.  The speaker for the Devotional was Steven Stutterd.  He served as an assistant to three Presidents (US Presidents, not Church Presidents), and is currently a Branch President here at the MTC.  He gave a very powerful talk about the Spirit of God being behind Freedom.  He spoke of our nation's motto: "In God We Trust".  He spoke of a couple marine stories and of their faith and dedication, and also a very sorrowful story of a Serbian family, whose father had to strangle his three year old daughter so that the other fifteen members of their family could remain hidden, and eventually live in freedom.  We finished with a parade of flags and a group on the bagpipes as they played, and we sang "Praise to the Man".  Afterwards, we headed outside, got ice cream, put on a bunch of the glow sticks my family sent me, and watched the fireworks from Stadium of Fire.

Sunday, 3 July 2011
Today was Fast Sunday.  The day started with Mission Conference, at which President and Sister Bratasso spoke.  President Bratasso spoke of Enduring to the End and being saved by grace, something members tend to overlook the significance of.  During Sacrament Meeting, all the Albanians, and some of the new missionaries, got up to share their testimonies.  This past week has amazed me at how many missionaries come here while being the only member in their family.  The Fireside tonight was a little different.  The speaker was Jenny Oaks Baker, who is a renowned violinist, and Elder Oak's daughter.  She played "Amazing Grace", "I Need Thee Every Hour", and two other songs, and her three daughters (ages 6, 8, and 9) played a violin/piano/cello trio of "I Am A Child Of God".  We finished the evening by watching "Mountain of the Lord" on the building of the Salt Lake Temple.  Lastly, while we no longer sing "Called to Serve" or "I Believe In Christ" at every meeting, we have switched.  We now have sung "I Know That My Redeemer Lives" at three meetings in a row, and "We Thank Thee O God For A Prophet" at the last four meetings in a row!

Monday, 4 July 2011
Today was the 4th of July! Yay Independence Day!  Other than that, nothing impressive happened today.  The main event of the day was the 20 minute lesson we gave to Gyula on the Plan of Salvation.  Unfortunately, he claims to have forgotten how to pray, so we'll have to teach him again when we see him on Friday.  

Tuesday, 5 July 2011
I love Tuesdays.  They go by fast, you learn a lot, and get a short, but great, Devotional.  Today we got a new investigator, Lilla.  She is from Pest (in Hungary, the residential side of Budapest), is 21 and a student studying Psychology.  One of her friends, Nefi, is a member of the church, and gave Lilla a Book of Mormon.  Although she has not read much of it, she's interested in learning about the church, and we've already scheduled our next lesson for Thursday morning.  Lastly, we had an amazing Devotional tonight by Cree-L Kofford (Emeritus Seventy).  He spoke on obedience and the Spirit, teaching that faith is given as a gift from Christ for being obedient, have regular silent meditation to hear, feel, and recognize the Spirit, and also that success in a mission will come through sharing Feelings of the Spirit.  He finished his talk by sharing the journal of Colonel Kain and his visit to the abandoned Nauvoo.  Those entries are something I'd like to look up when I come home.

It's hard to believe that I was dropped off here exactly 3 weeks ago.  The Osi (older Hungarian group) leave in a week and a half (they started their Hungarian-language-only week today), all the Albanians on Monday, and my group leaves in less than 2 months. 

Hope everyone is doing well, and I'll talk to you all again next week.

Love you!

Elder Shipp

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