Sunday, November 17, 2013

2nd day in Portland- Oct. 22, 2013

Well, here's mine! :)

Yikes, what a crazy day. What a crazy week! I had p-day last thursday, and yesterday was supposed to be mine, buuuuut they had transfers, so we got lucky and have it today! I'm glad to be here in Portland! Well, Hillsboro... ok, more Aloha, so I'm pretty close to Jessica actually! I think she is just out of my zone, north, because on our map I cannot find where she lives. The MTC was one of the greatest experiences of my life, and I didn't really want to leave, but I did. I'm like the guy in How to Train your Dragon "I believe in learning on the job!" speaking of which, somebody still needs to tell me that quote!!! "Something something the viking you ever were!" when peg-legged man says it to Stoick. Anyways, packing was terrible. I spent much much too long trying to balance out all of my suitcases to be underweight, and I lived on the fourth floor... so I would wheel it/carry it all the way to the scale to find out it was 1lb over, which is 80 bucks worth, so I had to take a pound out. It was crazy, but eventually my suitcases ended up at 47 and 49 pounds (the checked ones) my carry-on was 35 (max was 40), buuut my shoulder bag was 25... ssshhhh ;) So carrying them was terrible.

I don't know what you other missionaries did, but I took a bus to the Front Runner, then took that to Salt Lake where I caught another train that took me to the Airport. I got to call home, that was great! Everybody sounds practically the same! More or less.... yeah.

It's funny when I think about the MTC and how under NO OTHER circumstances would I have met the people I did. We practically had nothing in common, and lived nowhere near each other, but I still ended up loving them all, which is bizarre.

So I arrived in Portland yesterday, had meetings all day (only til four or so, so not bad at all) then had 3 appointments! Yikes, my companion's (Trainer) name is Elder Peterson. He is from Sandy, UT, and he is a really funny guy. We went and had dinner with a less-active family, but they were so loud and fun and crazy the whole time that we never got to share our message (oh well, I fellowshipped them a little bit and found a need) then we went to this other appointment with a family. That was when I had my worst case of Deja-Vu ever in my life. I recognized them ALL! What?! I didn't know names, but I had seen them all. And there were 3 members of the family, and two people came over. The oldest daughters "boyfriend" who is very active, went to camp Helaman. Her best friend, who's parents are VERY against the church :( and then the mom and son who is just older than kestra. It's funny because the two sons from both families have the same name, and both do not care for the church, in fact the kid who is just older than kestra left the room once we began to teach. But we have figured out what we need to do, and I learned that I can relate to the boys past experience, so hopefully that works out well! The daughter Crystal and the friend Michelle both like band a lot. Crystal marches, and Michelle broke her leg once upon a time, so she doesn't anymore, but she plays trumpet, so I got to tell her my horror stories of what has happened to my trumpet. Overall, a very good family and group. And I have the feeling that I knew them before this life, and hopefully there is something I can do (by being an instrument to the Lord) to reach out and help these people!

Our third appointment cancelled, so we went back so I could unpack, but a family from the ward came to visit. They were very fun. And unpacking was weird. Aaanyways, to start p-day off we did some good ole service up on rooftops cleaning out gutters at 7 a.m. reminds me of what Mom told me about Garrett. It was fun, and not too hard, but the dumpsters were heavy! And now here I am. Only four days since I last wrote, so not a lot has gone on.

Packing the candy was fun (yes I'm jumping around, deal with it). Packing the drinks was even easier, because I didn't bring em! We drank them all! Everybody in my class and my teacher had one, but we didn't get get halfway done with them, but after gym everybody was dying, so we finished them off. Everybody was SO grateful for them. So props to you, Mom and Rebekah, for getting those. Great idea! Having my temple bag shipped to me in the MTC made it difficult to pack things, but everything worked out. I'm only going to be able to go the temple 4 times a year. Ok, not ONLY, obviously some people its once in a lifetime or something like that, but I'm from Utah, so now that the opportunity to go whenever I wanted is gone, I miss it. We went to the Temple yesterday though! It was closed but we went to the visitor's center. This was with President Morby and the rest of the greenies. It was fun! We even had lunch. Ok, speaking of the visitors center, one of the people from my MTC district who came along had a "companion" for the day before we go here. But it feels like I've known her. AND! It's even worse! IT FEELS LIKE I KNEW EVERYBODY IN MY MTC DISTRICT WHEN I FIRST MET THEM! I'm telling you, either I am very good at becoming good friends with people SUPER fast, or I just knew them all before coming here. It is crazy. Impossible to describe, but there is definitely power, and purpose in this work. Don't you ever doubt it!

I'll keep you updated on the families and stuff, and I'm going shopping for food today, so don't worry about me starving :) I won't get a bike til next week though cuz we are booked today. Yes, we are in a bike area. OH! I listened to Lamb of God this morning on my CD player! Best thing ever. Because one of my biggest fears is singing in front of people, BUT somehow in the MTC I couldn't stop singing. I had cabin fever because of the severity of the music withdrawals I was having. I couldn't listen to any in the MTC, so I would sing instead. I sang at my service project last monday morning at 6 am when I cleaned the buildings (The song witness was repeated). And I sang everyday, anything! Heavens, this reminds me! Since last Thursday, while in the MTC we taught two last lessons on Saturday. One to a "less active" (TRC and one last one to our progressing investigator. We committed our P.I. to baptism, and FINALLY GOT HER TO PRAY! And guess how we started the lesson? Yup. Singing. We walked in the door and sang a medley of songs. Apparently the rest of the district snuck up on us and listened in, but anyways, Solomon and I sang Joseph Smith's First pray (first verse with last line changed) then we spoke about why, and then went into a child's prayer, then into I lived in heaven, then into when I am baptized, and lastly into a song that we wrote her. The purpose behind this was to bring the spirit in and to touch on all we had taught her, and summarize what we would talk about then. It sounded weird at the beginning, but once I missed a note it suddenly started sounding good. We were nervous so our tone wasn't good despite our accuracy. But once I missed a note, I smiled and almost laughed, and then I decided "what the heck" and went for it, and it sounded so good. For singing everyday, my voice has improved so much. Like seriously though. I can stand to hear myself now. IT'S AMAZING! Anyways, that wasn't to brag or anything, but we told her that we loved her and were there to support her and she ended up making decisions as we guided her. We asked her if she wanted to pray to close but she didn't feel like praying "in front of us" But then I just re-affirmed that we were there because we loved her and wanted to help her, and God wanted to speak to her. SO SHE PRAYED! It was miraculous! I got misty eyed. Even though it's not a real thing, you can still have a very real experience. The spirit was SO POWERFUL!!! It seems cheesy that it would be, because of the artificialness of the experience, but the truth was spoken and changes were made and commitments and all that jazz, and the spirit testifies of truth!

Ok, to start wrapping things up. I tried to listen to Rebekah's CD this morning. Apparently I grabbed the wrong one. I started playing it as I sat down to write her a letter when this country song comes on. Never heard it. So I skipped to the next one, and it starts blaring this bass and drums. I freaked out and turned it off, fearing my companion would think I was a heathen in the mission field, but thankfully he was in the shower. I took out a sharpie and wrote the word "NOT!!" next to the previously written "Rebekah's Reverence CD" Soooooooo, Rebekah, could you burn me another copy and send it out? Otherwise the CD is somewhere in my stuff. It's not funny btw, so whoever made the swap is in trouble.... lol, ok, it is hilarious, but still I WANT THAT CD!! :D

My address to write letters to for about the next 3 months is:

715 SW 206th Place
Aloha, OR 97006

We are in Quatama, and are actually living in a members home. So it is nothing like what I expected, but it will be so much fun. Speaking of "fun" the first thing I did this morning was exercise. Who in their right mind does that RIGHT after waking up? Idk, but my companion stretched for over half the time. He did crunches and some push-ups.... HA! I totes did a million things, and my triceps and abs want to kill me. (I had to show him up see ;))

Anyways, the hardest thing about leaving the MTC was the people. I'm going to miss them, and I'll probably never see over half of them again. But the MTC hasn't stopped yet. The MTC is the MTC for my mission, and my mission is the MTC for LIFE! Oh, speaking of people, I had talked about CS 240 to the people in my district on Sunday, and then at lunch Professor Woodfield was there (my teacher for that class) AAAHHH! Speak of the devil! Oh, Carly Schmutz is here, and she is Sister Heaton's trainer. Interesting. I'll write what Sister Jensen and Heaton kept asking her about in a different letter.....

Now to finally end this letter. It's been great, it will be great, and I can't wait to hasten the work. Here are just a couple pictures! Ok, I lied, this computer does not want to look at the pictures. So I will send the pictures at 4:30 ish my time tonight so that I can get a few more AND use the other computer. President Morby took a bunch of group pictures and all that yesterday, and they intend on sending them to the parents. So you'll be able to see the glorious pictures he took. Anyways, TTFN, ta ta for now!

-Elder Wilkinson

I have nothing to say about not having a cool quote except that I have nothing to say about not having a cool quote. Ha.

ps, sorry this is whack-job, but this first week is whackjob, and I didn't get the chance to outline my letter before hand. But anyways, keep having good lives! I love hearing about yours! :)

MTC-- Sun, Oct 20, 2013 at 12:39 PM

Re: Good Morning! need info from you...

Hey, I got permission from my Branch President to get on and send you a quick email letting you know what I know about travel. 2189 flight number, Delta Airlines. Buuut, I have to wake up at 3 to get to the office by 3:30.. When I get to the airport, get all checked in and stuff, I can call you. My flight leaves at 8:31 or so. So anywhere from 6-8 I'll call YOUR cell phone. It'll cost money per call, so please pick up ;) I wish you had sent my temple clothes to me in Oregon, because it's difficult fitting them in. I'll take them with though. Good luck with Kestra's surgery. I haven't been able to read everything, 23 unread, but I can't read or respond til next p-day, which may be the monday AFTER next monday... we'll see. Well, talk to you tomorrow. Cya! This is the only email I can send, so peace out.

My first Weekly Email-from MTC

Thu, Oct 17, 2013 at 12:30 PM

Holy cow! It's been so long! But it really hasn't! The week past by so fast! It went soooo slow until Sunday hit, and now it seems like a crazy mad dash til monday. Even now I'm stressed as heck, hoping I can write everything that I want to...


Alright, my companions name is Elder Solomon, he is from Taylor Arizona, he wrestled in high school and played the trombone in marching band for awhile. He is terrific, his laugh is one that makes you laugh too and we've had a lot of good times, but I'll get to that.


Now let's start at the beginning. I got dropped off and followed instructions, but nothing felt real. My host and I didn't really have anything in common, but once I told him I did 5 and a half front flips into a foam pit he lost his mind and kept saying "really? really????" It was pretty nice. But I'm on the fourth floor, and from the outside of my building I can see the place where we would drop off packages to send to our friends in the MTC, so if I'm around and you pull up and park, I could end up seeing you ;). I had a ton of luggage, and going up all those stairs suck. Its a good workout though. Anyways, he took me to class and that's when I met Elder Solomon, but I wasn't in a terribly excited mood. My teachers are Brother Norris (looks like Wilson Hulme a bit, I will have to get a picture of him), and Sister Mitchell. Sometimes coming in to help is Brother Alder and Nate, and Flinders. And Sister Evans came yesterday, but I'll mention her later, she caused my worst lesson! Not directly though... anyways! When I got to class I was not very spiritually ready to be there, and was bored for most of it. I took some notes, but it was weird, they then sent us to a fireside and all they did was make jokes about being dear johned. Yikes, they prepared us. But I already told you about the first two days. the third day I woke up, and that day it hit me! God has given me all I have, and I already knew that, but the reality hit me. I was frustrated that I couldn't write except on P-days (sorry about that, and Rebekah, your letter will arrive in five days hahahaha.... yeah....) And I learned that my p-days in Oregon will be on mondays. I leave the MTC monday morning at 4:30 :( wah, that's way too early, even for a missionary! But anyways, once I realized that God was the cause for all my happiness, being at the MTC became much easier and much more fun. I realized that EVERYTHING I had, and ALL my relationships with the people I know was because of him, so I definitely was humbled and I definitely am not bitter.


The food is just like the canon center, and the Orange juice has changed, nobody has gotten sick, so Kenny and Dad, you lied ;). Lets see, my classroom building is very new! Very very nice compared to the stinky foreign language ones we had to wake up at 5:30 to go clean on monday. Ewww, when I was a library aide in junior high, my least favorite thing was cleaning computers, well guess what I got assigned to do? Yup, clean computer labs! It was terrible, but i was glad to being serving, and I got told to speed up. It was actually fun, and that one day felt like three.


A typical day is, you wake up at 6:30 (I wake up at six to shower mostly), and then you get to the classroom for personal study by seven, do that for an hour, then go to breakfast, then after that you go back to the classroom for either more personal study OR actual class time. Sister Mitchell teaches in the Morning for 3 hours, and Brother Norris in the Afternoon for three hours. Waking up the first day was easy as pie because I had no idea where I was, or who anybody was. I also had a nightmare that I was driving in the car with Mr. Jones from OHS talking about chess when suddenly an earthquake came and killed us (we fell down a cliff).... odd.... I tried to assure them that there was a life after this, but towards the end of the dream, even I doubted it as I feel to my death. When I awoke my hands were asleep.... yikes. But life got better as my testimony got stronger. It's weird. It's NEVER BEEN STRONGER! It's really cheesy and cliche, but I know exactly what the spirit feels like and what it doesn't, I know when it's there and when it's not, probably because the MTC is consecrated ground. Let's see... I'm just trying to get everything down here on paper, but there is so much, so this is not necessarily in chronological order.


We got to pick a progressing investigator to teach, with our teachers posing as them, Sister Mitchell is a woman named Michelle, and Norris was a guy named Andy, and Alder is a guy named Greg, they told us about each of them and told us to pick who we felt inspired to teach. Solomon and I picked Michelle, thinking she would be easiest. Nope. Not at all. It has been a roller coaster. I'm glad that I played all those games with Melissa and Mikayla when I was younger where we used our imaginations to summon and create worlds, when we played Zelda or Stargate on the tramp, because it prepared me for this, it has allowed me to immerse myself in the activity where Michelle is Michelle, I don't see her as Sister Mitchell anymore, and I feel like I'm actually in the field. I can attribute some of this ability to video games as well believe it or not. Anyways, we also got assigned a TRC investigator, where at a certain time (we only got to teach him twice) we go and teach him. But first with Michelle. We taught Michelle every morning when the first class would start, the first hour is dedicated to teaching our P.I. (progressing investigator). But because the 3 sisters in our district also wanted to teach Michelle, we get 15-20 minutes and sometimes 10 to teach her instead of 20-30. So it's harder. Oh, before i carry on, let me describe the district!


Elder Ballard and Bennett: Elder Ballard is from Arizona as well, total southern accent, and great man, fell asleep with his head on his hand, and his face slid down until it fell and smashed against the desk, funniest thing of my life. He also awoke in the night and threw himself against the wall screaming "What the" this is because there was a really loud snore, and he thought somebody had climbed in bed with him. Hilarious guy! His nick-name is Piglet, but we aren't supposed to have nicknames, so we don't call him that. Elder Bennett looks just like David Hewlett from Stargate Atlantis, so his nick name is Rodney Mckay (like you mikey), so we call him Elder Rodney. He is quite the guy and actually served his mission for three months in a trial run before coming to the MTC, so he is experienced. He acts and talks like Rodney Mckay too, I will attach a picture and you can decide for yourself, actually I'll insert it:



Yup, thats him! totally Rodney Mckay, with more hair! Alright, here is my companion, Elder Solomon and I:


Ok, enough funny business, uploading pictures takes too long, I may attach more if I have more time, there are some I NEED to show you though. Anyways!


Then there's Elder Freshour and Lewis. They are great. They are Baloo and Baghera, Lewis is Baloo, so his nickname is Elder Balewis haha.... So funny! Elder Freshour is from West Virginia, and Lewis is from St. George. Both are coming to Portland, and so is Ballard, But Bennett is going to Rodchester NY :( we tease him a lot, it's because he's so great. And between us, Elder Solomon and I have died laughing many a time when we think of him tripping, just because in the face of pain he says he's the terminator, so we try to imagine his face. It's not very funny, but for some reason... oh well, you would just have to be here to understand.


Then we have the sisters in the district, Sister Jensen, Sister Romney (yes, related to Mitt, second cousin or something like that), and Sister Schreiver (spelling?). They are fun to be around but very sassy! Good Ghandi!


Let's see.... Oh yeah! Back to Michelle, she is 65, lives on a farm with her husband, has 3 kids that are grown up and gone, and she is spiritual but not religious. She was raised Christian but something caused her to fall away. Sounds easy enough, just hit on the importance of families and their eternal nature. WRONG! Our first lesson went horribly. We planned a whole tree of things, and based on her responses we would take the lesson one way or another, but we didn't get very far, because she wasn't anything like what we thought. It screwed us up. Depending on her answers, I would teach the plan of salvation, and Elder solomon the restoration (we didn't know which would be better), but basically we were all over the place and didn't ask her or get to know her at all, so it was embarrassingly bad.... BUT we had a comeback the next day. We got to know her better, found out that she didn't ever want to pray because she felt God hadn't answered her prayers in the past, and didn't want anything to do with her, and even to this day, regardless of what we tell her she ain't budging, but we have decided a better approach. For the Second lesson, we decided to teach her the restoration, but referencing the nature of God with prayer as an underlying theme. And guess what Dad? I had been trying to figure out how the missionaries used the Parable of the Paper cross when you were 16, and I figured out a way, and it was amazing. I almost cried at the end. After the inital conversation and cementing our ideas of her need, I taught that parable to her, then we transitioned into the atonement and the apostasy, and then into the restoration where Elder Solomon bore powerful witness of the First Vision. It fixed up our first lesson, and we even introduced the Book of Mormon, where it came from, and it's use. I used to other visual examples/ object lessons, I used a mirror in representation of the gospel, and the apostasy shattered the mirror, and everybody tried to put it back together again, but by the time you grab various pieces of it (baptism, faith, and other principles) and you glue what you have back together, the image is still distorted, and the Lord knew the Mirror needed to be restored, so he gave us a brand new mirror with the same image as the other one, the same mirror, but completely restored. We also used the example with a pen and the two fists to describe prophets. Ask Kenny if you don't know what that is. But anyways, I'm getting close to times up! The only thing was we still didn't get to know her! And since then we had two bad lessons, and one killer one but we did a service project for her and got to know her, and now we know her need and how to help her with it without telling the "smoker to stop smoking" kind of lecture. It'll bee good, but we won't be able to get her to commit to baptism, but she did agree to come to church, and she has read the Book of Mormon. We are making progress, but we only have one more lesson. I don't care if she doesn't commit to baptism. We just want her to have a relationship with God. So we need to teach her to gain a desire to want one with him, so she'll want to pray. Easier said than done, and it's actually very complicated.... but that's ok... we'll figure it out.


Onto Nick! He was in the marines then in the army, he has seen a lot of suffering, and doesn't believe in organized religion, but he does all sorts of research into other religions, so a friend of his in the army got us a referral (he is our TRC investigator, well, was... anyways), he teaches hand to hand combat and only believes that prayer has internal use. We only had two opportunities to teach him, and I regret that, but it was hard to actually TEACH HIM. You can tell him stuff, but all it does is tell him about Mormons' beliefs, and not help him grow. So our only tool was getting him to read the Book of Mormon and pray about it. So both Elder Solomon (what a beast) and I bore powerful testimonies about what we had taught but told him the only way he could know for sure was to not take our word for it, but to go to the Lord, so our parting words got him to want to go to church and read the book of mormon to pray about it... actually I'm not sure if we got him to commit to want to pray about it. But we left letters in the cover of the book where we challenged him to and bore witness again. He seemed to appreciate the gift very much. OH! And we don't know if he was a real investigator or not, nowadays it's more than likely, so we may have changed a man's life! It's what the spirit can do! With Michelle though, it's hard to relate to her, because I've never had a prayer go unanswered, and I've never felt abandoned by God, but that's because I've always prayed for things the way the book of Mormon says to, even if the answer is: "Yes, No, or not yet" there is always an answer, even if I only see it in hindsight, but she never had, and had been sincere. but yesterday Sister Evans was teaching her to demonstrate a concept for the class (teaching Michelle) and she said she could relate to not having prayers answered by God. WHAAAAAAT?!?!?!?!? That smashed me! Neither I or Elder Solomon could relate to Michelle on that! Because the prophets promise an answer if you do what Moroni 10:3-5 says! So My testimony flipped out based on what this trainer said (RM who works for the MTC), and the idea that God would abandon you crept into my mind. It wouldn't leave, so when we went to teach Michelle, the Spirit was NOT there. One of my worst experiences in my life. Nothing went according to plan, and our progressing investigator took a step back instead of forward. The spirit couldn't help us and our lesson plan fell apart, and it wasn't there to unify us. I could cry if I wanted to. We had a long talk with Sister Mitchell afterwards though, and we talked through our discouragement and realized a huge lesson from this! I had made a list nearly a page long of things we had done wrong, and she told us to find at least three that went right (very hard). But anyways. God DOES answer our prayers when we ask! Knock and ye WILL RECEIVE! Don't you DARE question that. He is your father, the only way you won't get an answer is if it's selfish, or you are too blind to see it! Or you won't accept what he gives you. He is no respecter of persons and loves us all the same. Anyways, we are going to kill next lesson. The spirit is by us again, and now I know exactly what it feels like to have it with me. Exactly. We will not fail again, and I'm glad we failed here, and not in the field. Anyways, I have other emails to respond to. This hour has gone by quickly! Send me questions with what you want to know. I will elaborate more when I read through the letters again. Thank you so much for Everything! I have loved the drinks so much, and the candy I will never finish, so my friends will love it too ;). It is a great idea to send stuff for Elder Solomon. He would love that, and he doesn't know I said that. There are six of us in a room, so if you want to send something for them all, go for it, but I don't think it's that big of a deal. I have by far received the most mail. Sister Romney is close though. Getting mail is the greatest thing and makes me feel at home. Sorry I didn't elaborate on the MTC a lot, I will next time more fully describe the MTC itself, but now I'm running out of time! So I love you all, and will write you again!

Ps, I forgot my temple clothes.... they are in a bag in the closet, I think the temple provides the to missionaries for free, but Idk about the temple in Oregon... soooo.... and the drinks are gone as soon as you send them. I still have some lemonade but the gatorade is gone. It was a great idea! Anyways, thanks for all the letters, and tell Sister Christiansen (two houses down from us) that she is wonderful and I love the quote book!! Uhm..... I think that's all for now.

Oh last thing, I won a game of speed in gym! Elder Solomon has the same tricks as me though, so he won the next game.

Anyways, next time I write you will be in Oregon. So see ya later!

~Elder Wilkinson

pps, I will get to the things I haven't yet, never fear! My mouth is large, but in a lesson I have coined the phrase: "Shut the heck up and let the heavens speak" hahaha, anyways, bye now!

First letter from MTC- Written Oct. 10, 2013- Arrived Oct. 15, 2013 by US mail

This letter was scanned into the computer as a pdf. I need to have my Dad change the format so it can be uploaded. When it is changed I will post it.

Letter from Provo MTC Presidency Thu, Oct 3, 2013

Dear Elder Thomas A Wilkinson,

Congratulations on your call to serve! We are excited about your arrival at the Provo Missionary Training Center next week and are grateful for your decision to serve the Lord. We would like to share some important information about your stay at the MTC.

You should arrive for your training at the main MTC campus (2005 N 900 E).

This will be your MTC mailing address:

Elder Thomas A Wilkinson
OCT21 OR-POR
2007 N 900 E Unit 59
Provo UT 84602

Please share this address with those who may want to write or send packages to you while you are in the MTC.

Also, please pay close attention to the following instructions:

1. Your service begins the day you check into the MTC. Remind your family that complete separation from loved ones is part of the sacrifice that families and missionaries contribute to the work. For this reason, you should ask your family and friends not to attempt to see or visit with you while you are at the MTC, not even during your temple walks or at other places near the MTC.
2. All missionary mail must come through the US Mail or commercial delivery services. These services should not be used to send pizzas, fast foods, ice-cream, or any items that will spoil if they are not refrigerated within 24 hours. Missionaries are not called out of class to receive packages, nor do they have access to a refrigerator. For security reasons, we cannot accept any items delivered by hand.
3. Communication with family can be done through your missionary email account on your weekly Preparation Day. We cannot accept telephone calls for missionaries.
4. Families and friends should not visit missionaries as they depart to their field of labor, whether at the MTC or at the airport.

Please do not reply to this email. If you need to communicate with the MTC, please call 801-422-2602.

Sincerely,

Provo MTC Presidency