So last Friday night, me and Elder Tahuri were called to be zone leaders for the entire zone. They basically had us as “zone leaders in training” until Tuesday when the zone leaders we had went to their missions. So two days ago on Wednesday was when we were the “official” zone leaders when the new district of missionaries came in. The MTC experience has been a little overwhelming because they really do plan your schedule down to the minute and they make it very difficult to get stuff done… especially if you’re in a leadership position. Regardless, somehow we’ve been able to work it out and obviously I’m still surviving lol
Easter Sunday was really great. For Sundays at the MTC, they have your zone and the “branch presidency” meet in a room to partake of the sacrament and then a couple missionaries will give a 5-minute talk and the leaders would give a talk. However, this Sunday was different because it was Easter Sunday. We actually didn’t have the sacrament at sacrament meeting. Instead, they waited until we went to the Easter devotional and gathered as all the missionaries and partook of the sacrament in this one big room… with President Uchtdorf in it!
So we got to have President Uchtdorf speak to us on Easter Sunday, which was really cool! We had a really good seat being in the first front 4 rows on the right side of the building, which was pretty cool. He talked a lot about how as missionaries, we need to let the Atonement of Jesus Christ work within us so that we will not fear any man and can work our hardest and not let fear overtake us. He spoke of Peter the apostle and how he was very close to Jesus Christ and then Christ told him that he would deny him three times. Peter would not believe him, but when the moment finally came, fear overtook him and he denied the Christ three times. He left weeping and prayed for forgiveness. When seeing the Resurrected Savior, Peter was a changed man and no longer let fear get the hold of him. He preached the Gospel even until his very death when he was hung upside down on the cross because he did not want to die the same way Christ did. So the main message was that as missionaries, we need to learn to not “fear man” and to speak with everyone we can.
Then starting on Monday, we had what is called “TRC teaching.” Basically, what it is is that it is the chance for us to “teach an investigator.” They have it all scheduled out where we teach an investigator regularly the rest of the time we are at the MTC. They do not tell us if these people are really members acting as nonmembers or not because 1) that’s not the point, and 2) It’s meant to be authentic and show missionaries what it is like to teach. This has easily been the most meaningful part of being in the MTC for me. As you all know, I have not had many teaching opportunities thus far serving in the Gilbert Mission. So as sad as it may be, I have taught more discussions here in the MTC than I have in the mission lol. But it’s been good though. Because it has really given me a chance to stretch myself and really improve as a missionary. Because doing role-plays between missionaries in the field just doesn’t cut it. Especially since most missionaries can’t take constructive criticism, so they don’t like giving it lol. So even when I am learning a lot of the same stuff in the classes that I already know, the TRC appointments have really taught me a lot, so that’s been really good.
Then on Tuesday, we had Elder Oaks speak to us. So within two days, we had General Authorities speak. So that’s been really cool. His talk was more directed to the typical “new missionary in the MTC” stereotype audience I think than anything else. He talked a little bit about different concerns that we have to get over such as playing video games and watching movies and how we’re now on our missions, and yada yada. And then he talked a lot about Preach My Gospel and the doctrines taught in it and how to be a successful missionary and have the spirit with us. One thing I really appreciated in his talk though was that he said that our purpose as missionaries is not just to baptize. We are to invite ALL to come unto Christ. Missionary work is more than just baptizing converts. It is keeping those converts active, re-activating those are not active, and strengthening the testimonies of all around us. We should not ignore an opportunity to help someone just because they are already a member. I really appreciated that because that’s a lot of what the Gilbert Mission is like, at least from my experience. Plus, it was a big refresher from the 9-hour class we had the day previous about how we’re not fulfilling our purpose if we’re not baptizing (ugh…)
So then Wednesday, me, Elder Tahuri, and the Sister Training Leaders gave the little “Welcome to the MTC” talk where we just went over a few things like “getting to know you” exercises and going over certain MTC-specific rules and all that. So that went pretty well. The Sisters in the new district seem super quiet but the Elders in the new district are super fun and energetic, but still excited to work so they’re pretty cool.
Then yesterday, I had a very powerful experience. One of the Elder’s wasn’t feeling too well and was still trying to adjust to the new time zone and asked for a blessing of healing and asked me to give the blessing. Now, I’ve been able to have experience using the Melchizedek priesthood and giving blessings in the past, but it’s still been an adjustment for me to realize how to fully recognize when something is the spirit. But when I laid my hands upon his head and recited his name (which was extremely long, by the way), it felt like my mind was just cleared of any other thought. Like, the only thoughts that came to my mind were the words that I should speak… and I wouldn’t think of anything else until I spoke them. It was as if there was just this wave of revelation pouring from me. And when I finished the blessing, it took something out of me for a little bit and I had to adjust my thoughts a little bit. It wasn’t until after that blessing that the Elder told me that I said things that related to past experiences and things that other blessings have said about him. It was such a powerful experience. I was very honored to have had that experience. And my testimony of the Restoration of the priesthood and of its power has increased a bunch. I always knew it was real, but I REALLY know that this is the same power and authority that Christ gave to his Disciples. That same power is present here today… and it is awesome.
So overall, the MTC has been a bit of a mix for me, but overall it has been a positive and a good experience. That being said, I still can’t wait to just get back into the field lol. Anyway, it’s been good.
I hope you guys were able to have a great Easter and a great week as well! Love you all!
Jacob Baldree, who works at the MTC now and lived with Elder Foxx’s grandparents while serving in Surprise, AZ saw and recognized Elder Foxx.
Easter basket from Mom and Dad…
Elder Foxx, Elder Greenhalgh and Elder Tahuri…