Wednesday, July 28, 2010


Nothing else really exciting has happened this past week, haha that's about it. As far as crazy foods go, I have no idea what weird things I'll be eating once I get out into the field, but since being here I've already had quite the variety- Astronaut Ice Cream, Bacon Flavored Mints, Chicken Hearts, and Pigs Feet. All very interesting. We, as a district, have also discovered that no living human being has the capacity or self-discipline to put a skittle in their mouth, and let it disolve entirely without chewing.
Tomorrow I'll hit 6 weeks here in the MTC. Not much else to say other than what I've said in the past. The time is going by sooooooo fast. Tomorrow we'll be getting a new district of Russian speaking missionaries in our branch (6 Elders and 3 Sisters) We don't know where they're going, but it's probably to Russia. The other Russian speaking Branch is empty now, except for one district of ten that got here the same time we did, and they're getting 18 more missionaries. It's been weird without all the older missionaries this week, but it'll be nice to see some new faces.
Last Tuesday's devotional was from H. Ross Workman (Emeritus 70) and it was way good. One thing he mentioned that I've been thinking about was Hebrews 11:1. When we keep a commandment, sometimes we don't see immediate results, and the blessing is delayed. When this happens, our faith is tested and it grows. It kinda got me thinking about the blessing of "delayed blessings" and how important it is that our faith be tried before we see results. It also puts things into a different perspective, about what truly motivates us to action. I've also been doing a lot of study in the first few chapters of Mosiah-with King Benjamin's address. I've come to love it more and more everyday, and see the truth in it. Anyway, that's a bit about what's been on my mind lately.
I have a feeling that tonight's devotional is going to be from an apostle - I can just feel it. I'll let ya'll know next week. I would still have to say that my favorite part about the MTC is the devotionals on Sunday and Tuesday nights. They always get me so excited to be a part of this work. I am truly grateful for this opportunity that I have been given to serve our Master Jesus Christ. Especially grateful to do it in the Baltic.
Anyway, my time is up, my typing skills are dimishing little by little each week, I feel like I have less and less to share, haha.
Thank you all for the letters, prayers, love and support.
Love- Elder Austin P. Atkinson

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

You sir, are a Moron!... A Mormon?!? but I'm from Earth!‏

Hello everyone, hopefully all is well.

I am going to have to say that this week has probably been the most uneventful, but hey, what can you do. I like the fact that I'm on a tight schedule, I always feel like I get so much more done, and I feel more organized.
The older District in our branch left this week, so we got a bunch of pictures and stuff with them on Sunday. They were all way awesome, but now we're the senior district, woo!!! We get 2 or 3 more Russian speaking districts on the 28th of July, so that will be very fun. We're gonna recite the first vision AT them, and make them think that we know a ton of Russian, haha. So because the older district left, we got new leaders in our branch/district. Our Zone Leaders are Elder Reynolds and Tucker going to Kiev, Ukraine (Ukrainian Speaking) and my district leader is my companion, Elder Thomas. I totally saw it coming, he's a way hard worker, and the job really suits him well. Though he is now also the Senior Companion, so I am completely and utterly powerless.
Oh another exciting thing happens next week-the temple opens up next monday, so that means I'll finally get to go again! It's been so weird not having the temple, I guess it's good I got a taste of what it'll be like when I actually get out into the field. But yeah, the gym is still closed here cause they're re-doing the bleachers, so no more basketball for me (probably a good thing, I know). You can still run or lift weights on the third floor, but I usually just go out to the field and play soccer. It's pretty fun, I love it.
But because the gym is closed, they have to send us to a bunch of random places whenever there's a devotional, like on Sunday we were in the Cafeteria and they just broadcast it to us. Sunday we heard from Richard Heaton, head of administrators here at the MTC and it was really interesting to see how everything works behind the scenes here. He also talked about the process of how Preach My Gospel came to be, and that the transition from the pre-PMG era still isn't complete. Last tuesday's devotional was from Elder Ronald T. Halverson (another Emeritus seventy) and he gave a good quote from Emerson "God will not have his work manifest by cowards" We have been called here to do the work and there is no reason to fear; Fear was not given to man by God. If I intend to be successful as a missionary it is going to require more effort and energy than I have ever put into anything before. (1Timothy 4:12 and Alma 29) He also said that as missionairies 'we are not to linger on a plateau of mediocraty" i thought that was cool too. Anyway, I'm still learning and growing each day, thanks for the love, prayers and support.
God Bless

-Elder Austin P. Atkinson

Sunday, July 18, 2010

You're mocking me, aren't you?

Zdravstvuoytseh! (sorry, that's the best american sound translation I can give for hello)

I have now been in the MTC for 28 days- so so so hard to believe. The time is absolutely flying by. If I was english speaking I would already be in the field, so I am truly grateful for all this time that I have here.

We had a pretty good devotional last Tuesday night, from Elder Robert K. Dellenbach (and emeritus seventy) and he opened up his talk by talking about journal writitng. He showed us his Mission journals, and expressed to us how important they really were. I guess when he got back from his mission in Germany, the church was interviewing him about it, and asked if they could use his journals for their own records! Crazy right? I guess you'll never know what can happen. So I have set a little goal to try and write something everynight, and to remain positive about it. I think it was President Kimball that said those who write in journals every day are more likely to remember the Lord in all things- I can testify of this statement.
I'm still getting along very well with my companion Elder Thomas, sure we have our differences but he is so dedicated and it really helps me stay on task. We do very well with setting our goals and really helping each other reach them. Also, Elder Huber (the Canadian) says that I don't know how to really make my bed, so he does it for me every single morning. I can't complain =)

Russian is still going well, we met the some of the Latvian/Lithuanian/Estonian speakers this week. I need to go talk to their teachers to find out more about my mission. Because all of my Russian teachers went to Russia, they really have no idea what it is like there. I mean it's probably similar, but it would still be cool to find out more about. I found out there are like 20 of us going to the Baltic on the same day - August 30 (10 of which are in my branch).

So the gym is being closed tomorrow, they're finally putting the bleachers back in. But that means it'll be closed the rest of the time I'm here (that's what they tell us anyway) so we'll have to do gym outside from now on. It's also kinda lame that they took out the bleachers, because they don't have an MTC-wide choir without them. I was kinda upset about that but oh well, I'll get over it.
The temple is still closed too (bad timing? I'm not sure) but only for two more weeks. Hallelujah!

I'm still doing alright with the food, everyone else like hates it and complains about it all the time- I'm honestly happy that I don't have to cook for myself =)
oh the older district in our branch got their flight plans last week, that was pretty exciting. They're all going to be flying out next week, except they're all going by themselves. So I think they'll be switching up Leadership positions this sunday- again, it's so weird that I have been here for this long already!
The Sunday Fireside was really good as well; it was Sister Jenny Oaks Baker (renowned violinist and youngest daughter of Elder Dallin H. Oaks). She did a mix of talking about her experiences with the gospel, and performed a bunch of songs from her new CD, it was beautiful, and nice to get to listen to some music. Elder Oaks was there too, but he just sat in the audience (Like two rows in front of me, it was legit!)

I was also really touched by the talk that President Childs (our branch president) gave in sacrament. He spoke on the Atonement, and I swear- it was as if he prepared that talk exactly for me. It was just what I had been praying about, and what I have been working to increase my faith and testimony of. So good, I'm really grateful for our branch presidency, and all they do to help us.

Well my time is running short, thank you all for the love, prayers, and support.

-Elder Austin P., Atkinson

Saturday, July 10, 2010

"so what are you gonna do about it?" - Elder Brimley

Hey family and friends, I hope that all is going well with you. Thank you so much for the letters and DearElders, I love hearing from all of you!

This past week has been a bit more eventful than the others. It's hard to believe that I've already been here for three weeks!!!
Saturday night they did a little presentation about how the founding fathers and people like Martin Luther, John Calvin, and Columbus were inspired to help bring about the Restoration. Afterwords, they let us go outside and watch the fireworks from the Stadium of Fire (we also got to hear a bit of Carrie Underwood, oh yeah Cowboy Casanova) It was a pretty good show too, and we were allowed out until like 11:30.
I don't know if i've mentioned this before, but they don't allow your own music here in the MTC, kinda a rule so you don't try to play it too loud in the Residence Halls. So I am going absolutely crazy without it- I would totally kill for some MOTAB right now, only 8 more weeks until musical freedom. Also, something else funny I forgot to mention, in the cafeteria, we (all the Russian speakers) eat on the West side of the room by the windows and behind the pillars- We call it the Iron Curtain. =)
Sister Elaine Dalton was our speaker last Tuesday night, that was pretty cool I guess. After every Tuesday night devotional, we have a district review of it, and we all share our insights. Elder Derek Brimley (in my district, going to Donetsk Ukraine-Russian speaking) said the quote above, and told us that it was running through his mind the entire duration of Sister Dalton's talk. So that's what I've been trying to focus on- I'm learning all of these new things, but I need to think about how I am going to act on them. I've noticed that a lot of the speakers are starting to cover some of the same things. Like it's a three week rotation for the Elders that are always coming in and going out. I was also saddened when our district leader pointed out that one of his friends got his Mission call last week, enters the MTC the first week of August, and will be gone before we are. Yeah... I Know...
I also had my first Fast Sunday here, and it was a little bit different, being the 4th of July- which I'm sure most of you found out. We had our testimony in English, so I understood everything perfectly, and it was awesome to hear some of the other Elders in our branch bear their testimonies. Our Branch presidency is awesome too, they are way helpful and are taking a genuine interest in helping us to become the best missionaries we can become.
I've come to see the importance of obedience and planning in my time here so far. I know that even though most of the lessons I have been teaching here aren't to real investigators, that my preparation and desire to be exactly obedient is assisting me in utilizing the Spirit in my teaching. It is awesome and I can tell that I have learned and grown so much. I was also trying to think about how I can devote my entire self to my calling as a missionary, and I realized that I have nothing to worry about at home. Don't have to worry about the family, about school, about the real world. When I realized- "what am I thinking?" This is the real world. This is as close to real life as I am ever going to get. I need to remain diligent and faithful in the work before me, and I know that in doing so, the Lord will take care of everything at home.
The Russian is still doing alright, I can tell that this is what I need to remain diligent in, to avoid becoming discouraged in my work, but I know that I can learn it through the power of God.
Well that's all I have for now, sorry if this is kinda disorganized-they literally put us on a 30 minute timer here =)
I love you all and pray that the Lord may bless you. Keep the letters coming =)

-Elder Austin P. Atkinson