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