Wednesday, July 29, 2009

2nd Week

Well the MTC just keeps getting better! It has it's discouraging moments at times, but I've never felt the spirit this strongly before. I love it here and there's nothing I'd rather be doing. I can't wait to actually go out and teach though. I know I still have a lot to learn, but there's only so much roleplay you can do. I want to teach REAL people!

I had a couple really cool experiences in the Referral Center this week. For those of you who don't know what that is, it's basically missionary work over the phone or through chat (which we get to learn how to do tomorrow). On Thursday I talked to a 60-year-old woman from Maine. She had ordered a free copy of the "Lamb of God" DVD after seeing an ad for it on cable. She wanted it to teach her deaf granddaughter (11) about the life and teachings of Christ. She was a very religious person but had been frustrated with organized religion her entire life because she felt they taught some false things. We talked for quite awhile about the Savior's sacrifice for us and exchanged some personal stories. I offered to send her a copy of The Book of Mormon and she seemed really interested and said she would read it. I was able to bear testimony that if she read it and sincerely prayed about it, she would know of the truth of it.
The other experience I had was yesterday when I called an elderly man in New York to confirm the delivery of a copy of The Bible he had ordered. We then got talking a bit and when I asked if he'd like the missionaries to visit him he said "Yes! Can they come on Monday at 1:00? Because I need to change the oil before that." I assured him that they would be there at the specified time.
It's been awesome to see how prepared and ready some people are to hear about the Gospel. I just wish there were some way to find out how things turn out.

I'm still struggling with Spanish somewhat but I think it will come with time. I can pretty much understand the teachers when they speak it and grasp a good portion of the scriptures, but I have trouble speaking it. I also found out that I can't roll the (rr). The tutor told me that it's something we learn in the first year of our lives, and if we aren't exposed to that sound very much then a lot of us lose the ability to do it. I might never be able to, but he said people would still understand me from the context of what I'm saying. He said his dad has spoken fluent Spanish for 30 years and still can't do it, so oh well.

The weirdest moment of the week was when I met an elder with my same name. He spelled it Erik Olson but I still thought it was pretty crazy. I wanted to get a picture with him but I didn't have my camera.

Well,it seems like it was just yesterday that I was writing my first e-mail here. The saying "the days feel like weeks and the weeks feel like days" is definitely true. It's kind of a weird phenomenon. Thank you all for your letters and support!

Elder Olsen

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

First Week in the MTC

Wow! This week has been crazy and incredible! I got dropped off at the MTC on Wednesday and only had a couple minutes to say goodbye. Soon after I met my companions. I have been put in a threesome which I guess is pretty rare but I love it. I couldn't have asked for better companions. Their names are Elder Larose (from Pennsylvania) and Elder Burns (from Iowa). We bonded very quickly and we are already best friends!

Everyone says the in the MTC all you do is study, study, study, but even knowing that I had no idea what I was in for. It is nonstop. There is absolutely no time to do anything but study. Even preparation day is very busy. The thing that seems odd to me is that we haven't hardly been studying Spanish at all. Maybe an hour a day in a classroom setting. The rest we have been trying to figure out on our own. It's been somewhat frustrating so far but I feel like It's beginning to come. We all have to write a talk for Sacrament Meeting in Spanish every week which is crazy. Then you just get called out of the congregation to give them occasionally. Luckily, I wasn't called on last week.

The first night I was called as the District Leader, which has contributed even more to the busy schedule. There are a lot of responsiblities and meetings to attend. One of my duties is picking up the mail for my district twice a day which is exciting. I also interview each member of the district every week. My district consists of seven Elders and 4 Hermanas. We really lucked out to get Sisters in our district. Everyone in the district has very strong testimonies and we've really come together in just one week. It seems like everyone has the companion(s) that's just right for them. My zone leader is an Elder named Aaron Smith who lived in the building next to me at BYU. A lot of my friends are friends with him during school. I have also met a lot of people that I know from either high school or BYU here.

So one rule at the MTC that's pretty tough is I'm only allowed to write any kind of letter on preparation day, so if I haven't written back yet that's why. I only get 30 minutes on the computer and there is a timer so this letter is pretty rushed. I think when I get to Arizona this rule will change somewhat.

So as of last week we are allowed to play basketball at the MTC again! Perfect timing! For awhile we weren't allowed to play because of the swine flu scare. Also, as of last night we are allowed to shake hands again. I guess the problem has been nearly resolved.

Last night we had an incredible devotional given by Elder John H. Groberg on service. It was very motivitational. There have been many other great firesides and devotionals but it would take too long to tell about each one. The spirit here is so strong and it's been awesome to just focus 100% on the gospel with no distractions.

The food here is really good but I try not to eat too much of it. One elder told me he has gained 13 pounds in his first 3 1/2 weeks. That better not happen to me! Well, I've got to go get a haircut now and send this message before my time runs out! I'll do my best to respond to all of your letters today.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Farewell and Drop-Off

Farewell and good luck Elder Olsen!