Good news, everyone! One of the new elders in our zone is also an actor! It's been rough being the only actor in these parts. Mostly because I've decided to memorize the First Vision, Joseph Smith's account of when he first saw Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father, as a monologue in Russian, which requires a lot of talking to myself... So, the people that pass by while I practice give me a lot of strange looks (luckily, Sister Sommers has already accepted the fact that I'm just odd). It's okay, though, because Elder Maxfield, my fellow actor-missionary, understands the struggle.
Also, I made friends with the statue of Samuel H. Smith, the first missionary, in the courtyard. It's fine, I'm not going crazy having been here for 7 weeks now. But to be completely serious, Samuel H. and I are talking to each other informally in Russian now, so you could say we're besties. It's whatever.
I like the MTC. There are a lot of wonderful opportunities here, and I've learned more than I ever have in my life. However, it's also not an easy place to be in. This past week was probably the hardest one I've had yet on my mission. The MTC, as my cousin, Jason, told me the first week I got here, is a place for harsh self-reflection and growth beyond what I thought I could go. The amazing thing about life is that there is no cap to anything. While sometimes that means that you are having the most difficult time you've ever had, it also means that you can become greater than you were ever able to before. Joy, love, and knowledge are then endless for us.
We were able to go to a broadcast of Boyd K. Packer's funeral, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve that died this past week. Elder Oaks, another member of the Twelve, was one of the speakers and his talk really hit me because he said a lot of things that were like medicine to all the aches and pains of this past week. He quoted Jesus Christ. "Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." (Matthew )
Perhaps the most hopeful and helpful thing for me about the gospel is that while it is very difficult to make the decisions in your life that lead to Christ, you don't have to do it alone. Jesus Christ is our Savior, from our sins, our weaknesses, and our pains (sin related or not). Life was never meant to be easy, and it never will be, but trust in Jesus Christ has made my life a lot happier and a lot healthier.
Elder Oaks also stated the following at Elder Packer's funeral, "Love lives on. Death is only a horizon that limits our view of the glories that lie on."
I hope that whatever this next week has in store for you all that you remember that I love you and that our Father in Heaven loves you.
Sister Sommers and I in our matching shirts
Sister Grant and Sister Derek looked so pretty with the light. I had to take a picture.
These are some of the Sisters in my zone.
Back row left to right: Sister Matthews, Sister Johnson, Sister Sommers, Sister Wilson, Sister Orr, Sister Hall
Front row left to right: Sister Morris, Sister Grant, me, Sister Cox, and Sister Derek