As far as devotionals go!
I just have to say that I don't think it gets better than this week as far as devotionals go. So, we have two devotionals every week; one on Sunday night and one on Tuesday night. Usually how it works is Tuesday night you'll have those who have are in the MTC choir give a musical number and then you hear from a member of the Seventy. On Sunday, you'll have a musical number by one or more people that can be piano, violin, singing, etc then you hear from, usually, an old Mission President or someone who is just a good speaker who they asked to come speak to the Missionaries, then you watch a video for an hour or so that's church related.
Well this week for the devotionals, the speakers were both better than your average speaker.
First, on Tuesday night, our district had gone to dinner early and we got done rather quickly so we just decided to go to the devotional early. We got on the front row. Normally, on the video screens they give the name of whoever is coming; this week they didn't but we didn't think anything of it until 5 minutes before the devotional started, lo and behold, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland walked in. I don't think I need to say more because I know you all know how great of an experience hearing from Elder Holland is. Anyways, we were about 15 feet away from the podium. He often times just stare at some of the missionaries when he talked and it looked like he was staring into your soul. He basically talked about the obligations we have as missionaries and by the end of the talk I don't think anyone doubted that they were supposed to be on a mission and furthermore, we all knew that this was not something to take lightly. As he put it, he might be an Apostel with an upper case A but we're apostels with a lower case a and have the full responsibility to treat our work exactly how it is. He said the one thing that upsets him more than anything about missionaries is when they come back and take up the way they we're before the mission. We are supposed to come back greater than before, the mission is too incredible of an experience to come back unchanged. Even if you were great before your mission, you should still come back better. You know that when Elder Holland is passionate about something he let's you know and I think he might have made a couple missionaries wet their pants. He also told us about how the mission is our reality, it's more a reality than what we would be doing at home right now and that never doubt that power of God which comes from the fear that many missionaries have on their mission in order to act. Man's extremeties is God's opportunities.
Well, if it couldn't get better than just having Elder Holland, it did. Learning from last time, our district decided to eat quickly so that we could get front row again. Quick story first: this last week I did go and try out on Thursday for the Sunday musical number but they said they already had selected someone. Well, when we got to the devotional we found out who the speaker was, which also explained the musical number: Alex Boye. If you don't know who he is, he is a singer from London, England who records a lot of gospel related songs. I would suggest if you haven't heard him that you look him up on youtube; my personal favorite is when he worked with Jon Schmidt on his new song called "Peponi" -he is the guy singing in Swahili during the video. Anyways, he gave an opening (Primary song melody) and closing performance (How great thou Art). Even better though was his talk. I promise you, I have never laughed so hard in a period of 30 minutes. I really wish I had it recorded. I don't think there is anyway I could make you comprehend how funny it was. He told about his conversion story and the events leading up to it but the mixture of his mannerisms, his British accent mixed with his own African style, the fact that his pianist would play background music to fit to certain situations in the story, and the hilariousness of the story itself just made it so great. The President of the MTC, who is a really serious guy, almost had a heart attack from laughing so hard even when though he was making some race jokes (e.g. "oh, it's ok. I just walked away from the fight with two black eyes, not that you could tell a difference" "It's always extremely weird when a black brother talks like the Queen" you would have thought he might have been more reserved in the MTC, nope.) But after the story he gave the most inspiring talk ever. The main message came down to how we become what we think about, and what we talk about and how that in our life as we spend it thinking and talking about Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ that's how we become more like them. He used an analogy of how a farmer plants a seed, walks away, and later returns to see a tree; he does not plant the seed, sit there, and then get frustrated that he can't make the seed grow. This often symbolizes how we are with the power of God. We start to doubt our ability to do things when in reality there is a certain measure that we have to rely on God and his power after we've done all we can. We need to be patient with ourselves and allow the Holy Ghost to work through us to shape us. As we turn to thoughts saying I can't do this, I can't learn this language, I can't teach this Gospel, I can't become better we are in reality becoming selfish because all I, I, I. Turn outwards and trust the Lord's power, allow it to reside in you and all things are possible. He also just reemphasized many of the points Elder Holland made that we shouldn't take the mission lightly and that we were going to mean the world to people, as a convert he knew.
Well I'm over my time so I've got to go but I love you all
Gott sei mit euch bis auf wiedersehen