Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Preston England, MTC

Hey Everyone!
So a lot has happened since I left home! It still seems unreal that I'm in England! I'm not quite sure where to start! 

Well, I guess I'll start at the beginning. As I said in my last email, the airport travel was crazy. My flight on 27th kept getting delayed later and later, until finally at 12:20 or 12:50 A.M. it was cancelled because the pilot had logged too many hours, so he couldnt make the flight to England. And then the replacement pilot didn't show up for whatever reason. The airport then sent us to a hotel about 40 minutes away, since all of the local ones where full ("There was no room in the inn"). While we were at the airport, we talked to lots of people, got to know a little bit about England, and made some friends.  

Funny story: while we stayed at the hotel, there was a very kind worker. she arranged for us to use our airport voucher while the chef made an exception to make us pizza and she let us use the hotel phone to call the MTC. She was very kind and understanding through the whole process. I wrote her a kind note, thanking her for her kindness. And I folded the note up with a passalong card inside. One of the sisters later informed me that she was a member of our church. I found it quite humorous. 

So we flew on the 28th at 6 or 7pm, and spend much of the day waiting around. I set some goals for the first year of my mission. We finally landed in England in the London airport. It's a beautiful airport. We then flew from London to Manchester, where I found out that my luggage (along with the luggage of 4 other missionaries) was lost! That made the travel easier from the airport to the Missionary Training Center (MTC). We were picked up by Brother Miller. Believe it or not, it was raining when we arrived! Classic England. I'm still getting used to how often it rains here.  

My companion's name is Elder Jensen. He and I met at BYU, and it's been fun to get to know him! He's from California, plays basketball, and is very easy to get along with. He works hard and has a strong testimony that has shaped the way he lives his life. I feel a lot of trust and respect for him, and am humbled to be his companion. He's my District Leader too!
Elder Jensen
Nick Laney?!?! Yes yes! I know him! I love him. He's Darla Pack's nephew?!!? He actually got there a day late because he was going to the MTC in provo because he had a bad sickness or something, but he got better so then he got there the morning after I arrived. I believe on the 30th. But he's a great guy and I like him a lot.  

Brother Mars was great! So nice of him to talk to me, and buy us all pizza. Its kinda neat to have that group of 8 people that were all stuck in the airport together, because we see each other everywhere here! I like how small the MTC is! It's so cool to know everyone (almost. there are a couple sisters I haven't met. But they're girls so ew, stay away. We're friends with the cook Stephen, friends with the Mission President and his counselor, friends with the workers, friends with the teachers, etc. Yay for friends. Aww Sis Schaefer. How sweet.

I will answer your questions in rapid fire fashion. Our room has 3 bunk beds for the 4 elders in my district. It's just small here! I love the food, Stephen (the cook) is amazing. I think my teachers are all British, I love they're accents. I haven't picked one up yet! We're busy throughout the day. wakeup at 6:30, breakfast at 7, personal study, maybe companion study, we get taught, do role plays, have teaching appointments where we get filmed, have lunch, exercise on some of the days (meaning basketball, or vball, or football AKA soccer). After lunch we often get taught/do roleplays/study until dinner, after which we resume all these activities until 9, during which we plan until 9:25, have a "snack time", and then go up to get ready for bed, and do personal things. I haven't really learned very much about the culture. Everywhere here is dangerous (kidding. I feel very safe as a missionary. Example: when the plane had turbulence, I wasn't even scared. My patriarchal blessing talked about my mission, my setting apart talked about my mission, and I knew I was protected. Boom. Safety, exhibit A. Gratefully there aren't any cameras, I feel pretty good/adjusted to England time, haven't spent any money, and I'm not sure how far I am from the mission home. We'll probably be driven there in a bus from the MTC. I haven't opened my "bad day" letter yet! I haven't needed it :) I have been very grateful for prayer recently. I told my companion the "loo" story! He was grateful for my vast knowledge, I'm sure. It doesn't rain non stop, I feel like It just starts raining out of the blue, and then stops after a while. I heard it rains 250 days a year. I'm journaling well, and listening to music! I love it. The elders in my district love your music/singing! I am happy! I think I'm going to love serving. I'm excited to leave the MTC, but at the same time I realize there's a lot I need to learn. I've been writing a lot in my journal! Which has been good. And I haven't had to use my super duper umbrella yet. I am taking pictures! i'll send some  in a minute. 

While I've been here at the MTC I've learned so much! And it hasn't even been a full week. I've had multiple prayers answered already, and feel God much closer than I think I have in my whole life. At first I thought it might be tough for me to spend all/most of the day focusing on the gospel and learning how to teach, but I've come to love it. I've felt my heart changing, and I really want to work hard. Sometimes the days seem long, but by the time it's bedtime it feels like the day flew by.  
Just trying it out!!

I loved putting on my nametag as a missionary. President Preston (funny name for the MTC President in this city), talked to us about it for a while. I quite literally took upon myself the name of Christ when I put it on. It's a good reminder to me, every morning, that I am representing Jesus Christ and trying to say do the things that he would say and do. It's amazing how powerful that can be.  

I'm realizing that the gospel of Jesus Christ helps people in every aspect of their lives. In our studies here, we are taught to assess the needs of those we are teaching by asking thoughtful questions, listening with my physical ears, and listening spiritually. I recognize how important it will be for me to have the Spirit with me as I teach in order to be guided with what I say. 

I've done really well with writing in my journal! So I feel like there's so much I want to share. And this email may be a little sporadic since everything is a blur. 

I play the piano often in meetings here. It's been fun for me to play the hymns. I think I have the most piano experience out of the 26 or so Elders and Sisters here in the MTC (it's a small MTC). The Food here is great! Sometimes it reminds me of home, although it's never quite as good as Mom's cooking :) I'm in a room with 4 other Elders: my companion, Elder Calle from Spain, and Elder Henrie from Canada. We all get along super well and are growing together. 

My testimony has grown since I've left. I'm so grateful for Moroni's promise: if we "ask God with a sincere heart, and real intent, having faith in Christ, he will maniefest the truth unto us by the power of the Holy Ghost. And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things". It's so powerful to know that people, myself included, can ask God to know that he's there, to know that the Book of Mormon is true. Not only can we just ask, He answers! Individually, we can each KNOW for ourselves of its truth by the power of the Spirit. Amazing. 

Elder Russel M. Nelson and his wife came to the MTC on June 1st! That was amazing. 

MTC with Elder and Sister Russell M. Nelson

I've played basketball, soccor, and volleyball here. I dunked on one of the hoope here! (yes it was 10 foot). I have started doing pushups in the morning, and it feels good to know I'm not losing all my strength by not lifting :) 

I have come to love all the Elders and Sisters that are serving here. There are elders from the US, Spain, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Canada, England, and other places I can't quite remember. I've been speaking a good amount of spanish to the 3 Elders that can speak spanish here. It's fun for me to speak again.  

The Elders in my district love the music I brought! Especially Vocal Point and your cd, mom :) 

Preston, England Temple

I feel God is continually strengthening me and helping me. I feel my heart softened, and often feel humbled by the work I am to do. Today I was blessed to be able to go to the Preston Temple. I feel even more strength and peace from that! My understanding increases as I continue to attend, and I gain more knowledge each time. We can overcome all of our challenges when we recognize our weaknesses (Ether 12:27), and turn to God wholeheartedly (Peter 5:6-7).  
Elder Henrie and Elder Calle on the walk to the Preston Temple

I've probably written enough for this week :) I'm really loving my time here at the MTC. I love President Preston, my companion, the food, the Spirit that's here, the temple, my MTC teachers (especially Brother Webb), the gospel. I'm so grateful for Jesus Christ! Because of his Atonement, I can be forgiven of all my sins and weaknesses, and be enabled to overcome my challenges. I've found strength and comfort in prayer and the scriptures and the gospel unlike I have in my whole life. It's amazing how much of a difference a sincere prayer makes. I'm so excited to share that with the people of England. I really do love it here and wish you all could join me!

Much love,

Elder Withers 

P.S. Here are some random things that are different here: the accents, driving on the left side of the road, the power outlets, light switches flip down instead of up, each of the outlets has a switch,  

Some word differences: post=mail, crockery=plates, chips=fries, crisps=potato chips, the spelling is often funny, rubbish=trash... I can't quite remember much else but I'll see if I can do better next week.

Some pictures of everyone in the MTC, and pictures with Elder Nelson and his wife. I could've touched his shoulder!!! I didn't though, because his body guard was there. And he was taking the picture. I didn't want to seem suspicious :)

No comments:

Post a Comment