We've passed the middle marker! I've now got less time left in the MTC than I've been here. Of course, this may be very interesting to me, but all you people who went on languages that didn't spend 9 weeks in the MTC, you may not care at all. I have friends come in after me, and leave before me. So the halfway point in a 9 week experience is kinda important (all the English speakers who come in on a Wednesday and leave like, the next Saturday? Yeah, they don't care about counting out halfway). But it's been a great experience here in the MTC.
We departure about 4 weeks out, we should be getting our itinerary in about two weeks. We're all so excited in our district! Because now it's really happening! We have two Mandarin districts who came in before us left here in the MTC, but they'll all be gone by this Tuesday. That means that we'll be the oldest in our zone (by entry date), and thus the most experienced, and the example for the new missionaries coming in (which happens to be this Wednesday, we'll get some new Mandarin districts).
There's a saying here in the MTC that we here all the time: "Obedience brings blessings; exact obedience brings miracles." So we try our best to get all the things done as they should be, like being in our dorms when we're supposed to, and doing everything like we're supposed to. It's very structured, our entire day, here in the MTC, but it's really an awesome experience. It's a shame that English missionaries only get about 10 days here.
Speaking of sayings, one of the missionaries who is leaving tomorrow told us a few days ago at lunch something he'd heard once, "English speaking missionaries learn the gospel. Foreign missionaries learn the language and the gospel. Missionaries to Asia learn humility." I thought it was hilarious, and we'll see how true that is when I get to Taiwan. I told that to my teacher and he was like, "No, no! You'll learn all three." I'm just so excited to finally go to Taiwan.
I'm sure my letters will get much more exciting when I get to Taiwan, with many more stories, because in the MTC, absolutely nothing happens or changes. Sure, there's many devotionals and talks I could tell you about, but no stories (yet).
So, I was reading from the scriptures the other day for personal study, and one of the references took me to the story of Naaman. I don't know if you remember the story of Naaman, but it's in 2 Kings 5:1-14. After reading that, I had three lessons that could be applied from it.
1. Verse 11: If we're too busy being insulted about things, like Naaman was (because Elisha didn't come to the door himself and perform a miracle, instead he sent a servant to tell Naaman what to do), we will miss the bigger picture, and the blessings attached.
2. Verse 12: Sometimes we don't understand why we must do certain tasks we are asked to. We don't understand the rationale or the reasoning behind it. But that's okay. We do it anyway, because the Lord (or his prophet) has asked us to. Like Naaman, why choose the River Jordan? There are much better, cleaner looking rivers out there. But (after his heart was softened by his servant), he went and obeyed and was cleansed.
3. Verse 13: Sometimes the task seems to easy, and we don't want to do it. Remember the Israelites and the snakes, when the only thing they had to do was look at Moses' rod and be healed? It was so easy, many of them wouldn't look, and they died. The same is with us (and Naaman). Naaman's servant said (basically, not quoted), "If the prophet had asked you to do some big, grand, honorable task, wouldn't you do it? Why not then a simple task?" No matter the task, the request still comes from God (through his prophet). And so we obey.
I'm still waiting for a member of the Quorum of the Twelve to come give us a devotional. Apparently, in the weeks before our arrival, they'd had about 12 General Authorities (mostly from the Twelve) come and speak, but not a single one since we've been here. So we should be due for one coming up soon (I hope).
Have a great week! Be good missionaries! Just one final quote, now that I think about it, from an Elder David A. Bednar devotional: "When it's time for you to be released from your mission, come home from your mission but never leave the mission field."
Elder Sequoia Ploeg
Taiwan Taipei Mission