Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Week 4

Apa Kabar Semua Orang!

Thank you all again for all the packages and letters. They really are great to get here, and it shows me how much support I have from all my family and friends! Thank you Leslie, for all the treats, and the kind notes from my cousins! Thank you Jennifer for the great rolls and treats you gave! The stationary with my name imprinted is also very nice, I use it in all my letters now! And thank you to everyone else for all you have done to make my MTC experience an awesome one.

Recently, my Mom, and my brother, Harrison, have had their birthdays! Best of wishes to both of you, and you have letters coming.

This week will be my halfway mark here at the MTC! It is going by fast now, and I am glad that I can start counting down the days until I fly to Indonesia! The things we are learning in the classroom have really begun to pick up pace, and we are starting to use the language more and more. We each have three fake investigators who we practice teaching each week. However, we treat the situation very seriously, and they speak nothing but Indonesian! So it was hard at first to express ourselves, but we have now became much better at teaching the lessons completely in Indonesian. Our teachers are fantastic. As a district, we are improving greatly with acting like missionaries, and the experiences we have had are because we have learned when to have fun, and when to focus. We have become very close with each other, and we are all great friends. I think I would have a much harder time at the MTC if the situation were different.

Since the weather has been getting cooler, we have gone outside for Gym as much as we can, before it gets too cold. We play sand volleyball, and we play other districts. We are probably the most competitive one, so it can get pretty intense! In our Branch, many of the districts have already left, since they were going somewhere stateside. Last Sunday, there were very few people, but this week and next we will get some fresh meat. One of the harder things to adjust to here is how much we sit down. In almost every event on our planners, besides gym, we are sitting down on uncomfortable chairs! I really can't wait until I get out to Indonesia, and start walking around!

This past Sunday was a lot of fun, since we were able to attend the Brigham City temple dedication. It was very cool to hear Elder Perry, Nelson, and Packer speak. It is incredible to be part of such a great movement that can help people come to the temple.

Luckily for my companion, my nighttime adventures have become less common as I become more comfortable here. However, I still do some pretty weird things at night. The other day, I woke up at 12:30, woke my companion up, and thought it was time to go. I started to get dressed, and he headed towards the shower. He came back, realizing that we had only been asleep for two hours, and we went back to bed. I then did it AGAIN at 2:30! I really felt bad once I realized it wasn't time to go! Hopefully I will continue to improve!

Well, I wish I had more time to write, as always, but I have to go! The MTC is great, and the Gospel is true. I can see it bless my life more and more as I gain more of an understanding of the Book of Mormon.

I wish you all the best!

-Elder James

Sunday, September 23, 2012


I received photos from Andrew's companion's mom the other day. 
I like this picture of their entire district.

This is Andrew's friend Jordan. He is a return missionary that went to Indonesia. They met in college and Jordan was the one that made Andrew so excited to serve a mission in Indonesia! Jordan volunteers at the MTC to act as an investigator so the elders can practice teaching the lessons in Indonesian.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Week 3

Hello Everyone!

Before I begin, I want to thank all of you who have sent me packages, letters, and anything else! It truly is a blessing to receive things here, as we do not get much news from the outside world. Thank you for all your prayers and thoughts as I learn in the MTC.

This week went by really fast! It seems like last P-day was yesterday! I am really glad that things are now starting to pick up pace. The schedule does get a bit tiring sometimes, but it is structured in a way that maximizes our learning and growth. Both the language lessons and the gospel lessons are getting more complicated, but I am keeping up for the most part. Now that we are all starting to speak somewhat, we are beginning to learn the many complexities of Indonesian Grammar. It is very difficult to learn an entirely new grammar structure, but it is very interesting at the same time. On the spiritual side, I have felt the spirit and have been studying the gospel more than any time in my life. I have been reading the Book of Mormon a ton, and I am barely starting to see the blessings it can bring. Every P-day we go to the temple, and it really is a great experience to go once a week. It is a chance for us to get away from the MTC and the stress that comes from learning, ponder, and rest.

Our district is still really close, and we have not killed each other yet, so that is definately a good thing. We were a bit crazy and loud at first, but we have for sure calmed down and really adjusted to Mission life. Especially now that we have been here for as long as all the English speaking missions. We still have six weeks to go, so we should be as mature as the Prophet by then... My companion and I had two roomates who are going to the Phillipines, and they left the other day. They were both really nice to us, and it was cool to see how excited they were to get out into the field. They helped us adjust to the MTC for sure. I don't think they will miss us as much, as I constantly sleep walk and talk, and wake them up almost every night. The other night, I woke up outside our room, without a key. I went to the wrong door, being half-asleep, and knocked. There was no answer because no one lived in that room, but I did not know that! So I knocked for a long time, becoming quite frustrated, and then I realized I was knocking on the wrong door. I then went to my room, quietly knocked, and my companion opened the door. I felt bad about it, but it gave me a metaphor for prayer: sometimes we pray and pray with questions for God, demanding answers, and not realizing that we are missing something. We become more angry with him, instead of seeing our own faults and trying to pray with humility and patience. I have seen that as a Missionary, as I focus on the development of others, my prayers are answered much more, and my testimony grows. The key to increasing a testimony is to share it and help others come to the peace and joy the gospel brings.

Anyway, I am doing well and I have really been grateful for my teachers, leaders, and fellow Missionaries who help me along this journey. I look forward to hearing from all of you, and I would love to talk with anyone who wants to send me letters! I wish I had more time to write, but my time is up!

Thank you all,

-Elder James

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Week 2

Apa Kabar orang-orang! Terima Kasih atas pesan! {Have some fun and use Google Translator to decode}

Well, the first week really went by slow, but it is really starting to pick up! I can't believe that tomorrow at 1:00pm, I will have been here for two weeks! Its crazy. I have been learning a ton, and the language is coming along great! We have been teaching a fake investigator, all in Bahasa Indonesia, but we always have notes with vocab. Yesterday we taught her completely without notes! It was insane. But it taught us a lot, and we are growing each day.

One thing I really like about the MTC is Gym time. We sit down all day, and study, study, study, so it is really nice to play a brutal game of basketball to release some tension and anger... Just kidding, but it is really fun!

Just so you know Mom, I have been getting your letters and Dad's. They are so nice to receive! So keep them coming! And thank you a ton for the package, it was perfect.

Also, thank you Leslie, for the doughnuts, Karen, for the cookies and WD-40, Grandma James, for the Rice Krispies Treats, Spencer for the shoes, (they fit perfectly) and for everything else people send to me! It is so nice to get things!

Mom, thank you for telling me about Hanna. I was so sad that I wasn't able to be there to see it off to him, but thank you for organizing it so he could get those things. I'm sure it was a very great experience. 

The food here is good, but I eat WAY too much, and the fried food and such is getting really old. Our District is talking about going on a diet from all the food that makes us sick, but our Indonesian teacher said it would probably be the cleanest, best quality food we will have for two years, so we might as well enjoy it! Our teachers have been telling us a lot about Indonesia, and it is getting us very excited! One thing that I am definately looking forward too is the cheap items I can buy. Apparently, Gucci, Armani, and many other fine clothing brands make their fabric there, and we will be able to buy custom fitted, real Armani and Gucci suits for about $120!!! And many other things like that will be available for purchase! I sure hope these seven weeks go by fast, because I can't wait to go out!

Our day to day life is becoming pretty much the same now that we are all settled into the MTC. I am starting to get adjusted to waking up at 6:30 a.m., and sleeping at 10:30 a.m. The only exception is Saturdays, where each district has to clean for an hour at different times of the day. Our district was by far the luckiest, since we do service at 6:00 a.m., and have to wake up around 5:30am. Lucky right?? (can you hear the sarcasm?) We mostly just clean toilets, mop the floor, and clean many other things. But I am really enjoying my district, so it's not too bad. We are, in fact, such good friends that we have a rather nasty reputation for being the loudest, most obnoxious group in the MTC. But we are getting along much better than some other groups, so it's worth it.

We have devotionals on Tuesday nights and firesides on Sunday nights, which are my favorite, because the speakers are incredible. Last Tuesday a member of the Seventy came, who gave a great talk, and I have heard that apostles come as well sometimes. We also watch movies after the firesides on Sunday, and even though they are sometimes pretty cheezy, they are nice to watch.

It is incredible how much you can learn in only a few weeks when you focus really hard. I can now understand some conversations if they are spoken very slow, and if I really concentrate. Indonesian is actually not too bad to learn, it is mostly vocabulary that takes time to memorize. You can quite literally speak like a caveman, which is improper, but everyone understands. So I could say "you give me apple?" or "you happy?" and it is okay! There are also not nearly as many grammar rules and exceptions, as in English, so it can be learned fairly easily.

I thank you all for the support, and I am so glad to be here. I wish I could write more, but our time is limited, and I have to get going!

Love you all,
Elder James

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Week 1

Hey Everyone! I hope you are all doing fine without me. It must be tough not having anyone cool around the house anymore. Well, the first day was pretty crazy... Right when you guys dropped me off, I was sent through a line of stations that set me up with my name tag, books, etc.. I was then sent right to my classroom, where the teacher, Brother Meek, was speaking in Indonesian the entire time, and we began learning right there. I met my companion, Elder Costner, and the other 7 Elders (no sisters) in our District, making 9 total. We then had a few introduction courses and meetings which went over the rules of the MTC. Its pretty strict, even more so than I imagined. They also put the responsibility on you to wake up and follow schedule, which is pretty tough getting used to. We then went to our rooms early to unpack, and went to bed. I am on the top bunk, on a bed that was created in 1843 or so, (It squeaks so bad I can barely move) and we are on the top floor of the furthest building, with mold in the ceilings and showers that change from boiling hot to ice cold every 5 seconds. But other than feeling like I'm in boot camp, it is good.

The second day was rough getting up at 6:30, and putting on a suit. We went right to our classroom where we learn by the teacher completely in Indonesian. We write down as much as we can, but it mostly just slips right by! Our district is extremely cool though, and after just a few days, we were all way good friends. The teacher also scared us by saying that we were teaching a (fake) investigator completely in Indonesian on Friday. Insane. We worked our tails off preparing lessons and learning how to speak the right way so she could understand us. We then also had personal study time, which is nice, but with 9 guys in a room and no sisters, we get a bit rough and loud. But we are getting better! The food that day was also really good.

The third and fourth day were a bit rough since we had a ton of meetings for our Branch, Zone, and District, but we met a lot of cool people, and it was nice to learn about the future activities and speakers. We assigned a District Leader, who is Elder Johnson, and organized our Zone. The MTC is at capacity, so everything was extremely crowded and busy. We also had our first day of Gym on Friday. We mostly played basketball, which was a lot of fun, and really nice to get all the energy out of us. During Classroom time, our other teacher, Brother Miller talked a lot about what Indonesia will be like, and it got all of us really excited to go. The days thusfar were ridiculously long, but Friday wasn't too bad.

The fifth day was Sunday, and it was fast Sunday. So the night before, we all went to the vending machines and ate as much junk as we could to hold us over.... It didn't.... we had sacrament at 8, after personal study, and we were all pretty hungry then. Also, since it was fast Sunday, we had mission conference for two hours on really uncomfortable seats. Then, we finally had dinner. It was, by far the best meal I have had in a while. (no offense mom, I was just really hungry!) And then we all felt a lot better and more happy. For our fireside, we watched the birthday celebration of Thomas S. Monson. It was really cool to see, since it was the closest thing to entertainment we could get! It spoke of the story of his life, and praised his great qualities. It was very spiritual and uplifting.

Monday was my favorite so far. Weeks 2-8 of the MTC are the exact same, so I'm sure it will get old, but it was nice to get into routine. We were in the classroom for almost 8 hours throughout the day, so we learned a ton about the language and how to teach investigators. I studied really hard on how to say a prayer, and I got it! I memorized a prayer for our lesson later that day, and it really felt good. It shows how much you learn when you focus, and have the spirit with you. We worked our tails off that day, and it paid off.

Today is our first P-day, and it feels like Christmas! It honestly seems like we have been here for a month... It was really nice to go to the Temple, and it brought a peaceful feeling.  Letters and packages are amazing to receive, so don't be afraid to send some!

I don't have too much more time, but I love all of you guys, and i miss you a ton!

Selamat Tingal!