Yes it's true - I have now survived two weeks in the famed MTC. Actually didn't even come close to dying. In fact, I have in fact gained weight (not the good kind), probably due to being the most active champion here in defending my ice cream eating title. It seems that right now my defining characteristic to the district is that I ate an entire ice cream sandwich in one bite.
All this is in an effort to make a bit more sleeping insulation. The residences are kept pretty cool - I robbed an old lady of her blanket so I have two, and use the mattress pad they gave us as a third.
This week we had a pretty cool Sunday devo - Richard Elliot and David Archuleta came and made music for us. I'm pretty sure Richard can play the organ better with his feet than I can with my hands. I learned something - David made "glorious" for Meet the Mormons with his name tag on, companions at his side. He was still on his mission and they couldn't wait a few weeks! So it's a really special song to him.
The holidays have been amazing here. The first day we got here, the MTC president said to us that it was no accident we arrived at the Provo MTC on Dec 17. I don't think I have come to understand the full measure of that yet, but I am already grateful that I got to spend the holidays here.
Yesterday my district received iPads. For those of you who don't know, I should probably explain. The NYNYS mission is right now a pilot mission for testing new technology in learning and proselyting. That is why I am in the Provo MTC instead of Mexico. We are one of 5 districts here using iPads. It will be interesting to see how much of a challenge this technology presents, and how much of a help it will be to us. Not sure why I happen to be in this mission - I am literally technologically impaired compared to the others in my district. So maybe I will be able to figure out how to send pictures next week.
Our schedules aren't quite as desperate any more but now my comps and I spend a lot of our time practicing new music - after playing for the Christmas devo I now seem to be the official MTC accompanist. Luckily both my comps sing, so they are helpful and aren't bored.
We had a really good devo where we watched Elder Bednar's "Character of Christ". It was the most amazing message ever. Unfortunately, it's only available in the MTC (or through dark magic maybe), but it is in a book called "Act in Doctrine". I would challenge everybody to read it.
Christ is our perfect example in all things. One of the most notable characteristics of Christ is that in times of trial, he turned outward, when most of us turn inward. I hope we all can try to follow his example and deepen our conversion. I testify that Christ's doctrine is the way to peace. Don't let anything come between you and God. Doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith.
I testify that His gospel is restored. God knew there would be an apostasy.
Amos 8:11-12 says, "Behold, the days come... that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord: And (people) shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the Lord, and shall not find it".
God honors our agency. He has promised that nothing will prevail against his church, but he will not destroy our agency - that was his plan. Every dispensation has ended in large scale apostasy, according to the will of the people. While God has promised this final dispensation will not end in apostasy, we all have our own agency in personal apostasy. In the gospel, we are either moving forward or moving backward. I testify that conversion is not an event, but rather, a lifelong process.
In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.