Well, this is it -- my last MTC email! I leave next Monday! We got our travel plans last Thursday... ready for it? I leave the MTC at 3 am on Monday, October 19th. Our flight leaves SLC at 6 and we arrive in Dallas/Ft Worth at 9:30. At 12:15 we leave for Mexico City; we arrive there at 2:45 pm. We don't leave for Tuxtla Gutierrez until 6:45 pm, and we should hit Tuxtla around 8:15. Needless to say, I'm extremely excited about this. I can't wait to get to Mexico. Leaving at 3 am is a little creepy (witching hour!), but oh well. The sooner the better!
There are 8 of us heading to Tuxtla Gutierrez, but I don't know who anyone else is except my companion. In our district, 4 are going stateside and then we have an elder going to Oaxaca and an elder to Merida, which are on either side of Chiapas. So we'll be on the same flight up til Mexico City, which will be lots of fun.
Another thing we learned is that in Mexico and other South American countries you can't have a backpack with two straps, because they're too hard to get off in the event of being mugged. (Sounds like a strange reason, but a missionary was shot because his assailant misunderstood what he was doing... anyway, that's not the kind of story to tell someone as they're going to sleep :) and I'm sure I'll be fine, but that's why it's a rule.)
We haven't actually heard about our visas yet -- sometime this week we go up to Salt Lake and meet with the consul and do some other stuff. They haven't given us any other details, but as far as I know the plans we have are correct. I'll let you know if anything changes.
It shouldn't be too big of a deal with the traveling. I'm really looking forward to it. On the subject of calling, I can call from Dallas, or somewhere between 4 and 5 am from SLC. The one is while the girls are in school; the other is super early. So if you want to decide which would be better, I'll do that. It doesn't really matter to me either way. But I am really looking forward to the phone call. :)
I'm really excited to leave. I've fully enjoyed the MTC, and I haven't gotten sick of it or anything, but I'm definitely ready to get out into the field. My Spanish has been picking up a lot recently; it's coming pretty fast and I usually don't have to think about a lot of the things I'm trying to say. It's really cool. I still have a long way to go, but being immersed while in the field will help with that. No worries about the language or the culture or anything; I'm just pure excitement. I really can't wait. :)
One thing I've learned from the MTC is that this is really the best way to live. Obviously, after my mission I don't intend on keeping the same schedule I have here. But the focus placed on studying the scriptures and filling my life with things of the Lord -- that is something that I want to be doing every day for the rest of my life. It's amazing the effect that living this lifestyle has on me. The Spirit is powerful and I can feel it so often; I'm studying and learning new things every day; and I'm just constantly happy. What an incredible opportunity!
A couple things that have happened this week that I really liked. The devotional last Tuesday was Ben B. Banks, an Emeritus Seventy, and he talked about how important the Spirit should be in our lives. He mentioned how there are many ways to feel the Spirit and quoted about 10 different scriptures that talk about
those ways. We all feel the Holy Ghost in certain ways, and we need to learn how we are best prompted so that we recognize impressions and insights when they come. This goes along with what you were saying, Dad, about how the gospel was written for us; and who is "us," if not "you"? :) The Gospel of Jesus Christ is a personal thing. Heavenly Father has a plan for each individual son or daughter. There are indeed parts of scripture written specifically for me, and for you, and for everyone else. Similarly, the Savior knows us -- personally! I think that's why we're always told to "be of good cheer" -- it's hard to feel sad or depressed when you understand that the Savior and our Father know us personally and have specific things in store for us. That knowledge really takes away a lot of the frustration of life. When you place your life in His hands, you don't have to worry or fear anymore. That's something I've been gradually learning during my time here.
One last note -- at the fireside on Sunday, Stephen B. Allen spoke (he's spoken to us before). He said something that I loved. "Feelings or temptations don't make us evil. They make us human." That concept goes along with being of good cheer -- if I had more time I'd talk more about that, and what I've learned, but in any case I really find solace and comfort in that quote.
Well, the timer's swiftly heading for zero and there's not much more I can say in less than a minute. I love each of you very much. I miss you, but not in a homesick way at all. I love where I am and what I'm doing. I'm so excited about the work.