Elder Colton

Elder Colton

Sunday, February 26, 2012


Hola mi familia y mis amigos
Another great week gone by in the Provo MTC.  So an interesting thing happened today (well it started a few weeks ago).  The second week here, one of the elders in our district, Elder Davis, asked if I would accompany him and three other missionaries from our district while they sang "Praise to the Man" (a church hymn about the Prophet Joseph Smith) but set to the original tune.  So even though I had never accompanied at all (except once or twice in sacrament meeting and other meetings here at the MTC) I said I would.  We sang it in sacrament meeting last Sunday and it went very well.  Elder David and Elder McPhee have sang for a long time and Elder Harris and Elder Frost have learned very quickly and all four sound fantastic.  And then someone suggested we audition to play in an MTC devotional (all of the Tuesday devotionals have a special musical number).  So, today we auditioned.  As the kid who has never made it through a piano recital without messing up (not to mention the Temple Celebration moment, ask Kevin for the youtube video of that moment if you ever want a laugh), I predictably messed up a little (not badly, but a little).  But, we still made it.  The MTC's relief society's first counselor, Sister Nally, who is also the wife of the MTC first counselor, fell in love with our song.  So sometime in the next four weeks, the five of us will be performing in front of all 2,000+ missionaries here.  Plus all of the MTC's around the world because Sister Nally so kindly thought I would love to know that these meetings are broadcast to all of them.  Plus whichever church leadership member happens to be speaking that day.  So, prayers would be nice.  Advice on how to not mess up while playing would be even nicer.  I'm doomed :)
But other than the second most embarassing moment of my life coming up, everything has been fantastic here (and I'm actually really not even that nervous for the performance, I just enjoyed making it dramatic).  Spanish is coming along nicely and I'm relatively comfortable with teaching now (meaning I can talk with a four year old now and probably not feel pathetic).  One of the things emphasized in our devotional on Tuesday was the importance of the Book of Mormon.  So I've restarted reading the Book of Mormon in spanish.  I'm getting by.  My goal is to keep up with Meredith, and thankfully she has a boyfriend to distract her.  Have a great week. 
-Elder Colton

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Attitude is Everything

Hola mi familia y mis amigos
Even though I always start my messages out with "Hola mi familia y mis amigos" and then proceed to write then entire message in english, I promise that I actually am learning spanish.  It would just be a complete waste of time for me to write in spanish because my already short messages would slim down to only a few sentence.  But...I am learning spanish and have learned more spanish in the last month than I have in four years (although I will also give all my spanish teachers a lot the credit for that because what they taught me has allowed me to learn as much as I have). 
This was another great week in the MTC.  One of the things that I've noticed more and more though: attitude is everything on a mission.  If you want to be here and do everything you can to focus on the people you'll be teaching, then you'll love it.  If you focus on the days or letters from home, then it will crawl by and be significantly less fun. 
So I think I've explained a little about how the teaching here works at the MTC.  We spend time each day teaching one of our teachers as he or she acts like one of the people they taught on their mission.  We have two full time teachers and one part time teacher.  Our full time teachers are Hermano Sagers and Hermano Wassom, who are two of the greatest teachers in the MTC.  Hermano Sagers takes the role of Jared, a 50ish year old man he taught in Honduras.  It took him a few lessons with Hermano Sagers to even begin to believe in God, so Hermano Sagers acted the exact same way as we've been teaching him.  It's been a challenge to teach him, but his reasoning for not believing in God was because he thought it wasn't fair that he had a lot of good things in his life but everyone else suffered.  It's a little more challenging to teach in spanish but it's actually refreshing because it forces us to be simple.  Our other teacher, Hermano Wassom, acts as Francisco, a nineteen year old he taught when he served his mission in Chile.  A few weeks into teaching him, his mom (who was a member of the Church) had a serious back surgery and watching her attitude towards it helped him realize that her faith wasn't some figment of her imagination and that she actually knew it to be true, which helped him choose to be baptized.  We also just began teaching our part time teacher who is acting as Fernando, a twentyish year old from Puerto Rico.  It's been amazing to teach them and learn from them.  Soon I'll be making the distant drive to Salt Lake to begin my true mission. 
-Elder Colton

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Two Truths

Hola mis amigos y mi familia
Another week gone by here in the MTC.  My companion loves reminding us of how many days we've been here (22 for anyone who was wondering).  Advice for anyone planning on serving a mission: don't worry about the days.  Even though I've just barely begun, I've already been able to tell that the missionaries who spend all their time thinking about how the days gone by or the days left (or if they will get a letter tonight) typically have more problems with homesickness and aren't able to study as hard.
Nothing exceptional sticks out about this past week.  Everything seems like it just kind of blends together (I'm fairly certain God plays with time in the MTC whenever he needs a laugh.  Even our hour of gym time seems like it's three times longer than it actually is). 
So I've read enough missionary letters to know that they are normally boring (which I am guilty of).  And that they typcially end up feeling a little preachy or 99% testimony (which I am trying very hard to not be guilty of).  But today I do want to say this little speal (I have no idea how to spell that word).  One of the things I've thought a lot about for these past few weeks is what I know to be true for myself, what I know to be true because of trusted people telling me it's true, and what I simply want to be true.  There are more than few things I know to be true for myself, but two of them I know absolutely.  One, I (and all of you, and all of the world) have a Father in Heaven who loves us with a perfect and complete love.  It doesn't matter who we are, what we've done, or where we live.  He loves us.  He wants more than anything to help us and bless us.  And two, the Book of Mormon and the Bible contain the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Both are inspired of God.  Despite being less well known, the Book of Mormon is absolutely true.  I know it. 
-Elder Colton

Another Excellent Week

Hola mi familia y mis amigos
Another excellent week at the MTC has gone by.  Highlight of our past week:
Elder Holland and Elder Nelson came to speak for our Tuesday night devotional because it was the 50th anniversary celebration of the MTC.  (And for anyone who is a member of our church reading this, both men are members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, which is the second highest group in our church.  So both of them coming on the same day was one of the most exciting things that could happen at the MTC.  Missionaries were lined up two hours beforehand).  Elder Holland only spoke for a few minutes but bore a powerful testimony of the truthfulness the message we are going across the world to teach.  Elder Nelson spoke mostly about the history of missionary work.  He talked about two people in particular that interested me: Samuel Smith (the brother of Joseph Smith) and Harriet Nye.  Samuel was the first missionary for the Church way back in the beginning of the 1800s. After getting rejected from a few hotels on his first night because he was Mormon, he spent the night under an apple tree.  I'm glad we at least have an apartment to sleep in.  And Harriet Nye was the first female called to preach the gospel (in 1898).  Both of them were impressive people.  And we also learned an interesting fact: there have been more than 1 million missionaries total.
Nothing has changed drastically in the past week.  Everyone has settled into the daily schedule.  Some of the missionaries in our district who come from farming communities have struggles with 10ish or more hours a day studying, but they are working hard.  Our choir director point something interesting out to us this week which I hadn't thought of before: Christ never felt guilt until the Garden of Gethsemene.  It made the Atonement all the more amazing to me.  We have a lifetime of dealing with guilt, but it starts with feeling only a little guilt when we are little kids.  It literallly passes all my understanding how much pain the Atonement actually encompassed.
And on an interesting side note for anyone not of our faith: if you want to have a general idea of what our church is all about, I would recommend reading "Our Search For Happiness" by M. Russel Ballard.  It's a short book and is directed toward people who aren't members of our faith but want to understand what it's all about without trying to convince them of it's truth (he says that all in the first few pages). 
I hope all is well with everyone back home (or whereever you happen to be when you're reading this).
-Elder Colton