Hello, everybody!Crazy to think that at this very time, my mission is already 1/24 over. And by the time I leave the MTC, it'll be 1/12 over. Well, doesn't time fly?
Today, the MTC is taking in 152 new Senior Couple missionaries. That's an all-time MTC record. Seems like we'll basically have a whole section of the auditorium where they'll be seated.
On Thursday, an Elder from another district auditioned to perform for one of the major devotionals (he's singing, I'm accompanying). The audition went really well, but Sister Nally (who is the MTC President's wife and judges the auditions) gave us a few pointers and told us to come back next week and try again, because this week's slots were already filled up. So, back to practice.
On Wednesday, I'll begin my fifth week here in the MTC. Because I'm learning Chinese, I knew I was going to be here for a very long time. But I think I over-prepared for it--I've basically moved in here, and I feel like I'm never leaving. But then I realize, that I'm already half finished with my time in the MTC. And then I realize that I need to start learning Chinese faster still.
Our whole district is always a little down about, "Oh, these people (who've been here longer) know Chinese so well, I could never learn that much before I left." But really, it's incredible how in the amount of time I've been here in the MTC, I've been able to learn an impressive amount of Chinese. For example, I can teach (at least) the first and third lessons from Preach My Gospel. Outside of gospel stuff, however, I can say, "I want this thing. Or this thing." So, with much pointing, I should be able to survive the first few weeks in Taiwan.
Last night was movie night, once again. My companion and I went and saw a President Holland MTC Devotional from Thanksgiving Day, 2014. He talked a lot about how important the mission was. One of the things he said was, "I can't live with people who say, 'After my mission, I'm going back to real life.' This IS real life, capital R, capital L. This is the closest to real life you can ever get." He talked about how little we realize how privileged we are to live in this time and dispensation.
He said, every other dispensation has ended in apostasy. And every prophet of that dispensation knew it would. He said, "It can't be very fun to know you're going to fail." But, to be part of this dispensation is a special gift. For all of human history before the Restoration, there has been one temple on the earth, rebuilt three times, but always in the same place. "How many people could just head on down to Jerusalem and catch an ordinance session?" (Not a direct quote, that one.) But to live in the dispensation that will not end in apostasy is an honor. And it is our privilege as missionaries to go out and work side by side with the Lord to bring to pass the Plan of Salvation.
He said, we know how badly we want our family to live together for eternity. But God also wants his family. Every single thing God does, is to bring his family back to Him. And we are essential to the Plan of Happiness, bringing as many people to the knowledge of the truth as we can.
He talked a lot about names, that names are important, and the Lord knows each of us by name. He called, "Adam, where are thout?" "Moses, my son, and thou art in the similitude of mine Only Begotten." Samuel, an 8 year old child, the Lord called to three times (by name). The Lord knows us personally. In the sacred grove, he called Joseph by his name, too.
All in all, I'm having a great experience in the MTC. I'm learning so much both about the language and the gospel. I'm also learning a lot about cafeteria food: when you eat it for a month, you usually gain weight (because it's not the healthiest stuff on the planet). Just about everyone gains weight here; it's a little scary.
Have a great week!
Elder Sequoia Ploeg
Taiwan Taipei Mission