Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Week 5 Provo MTC

   Hello family and Friends,

This has been probably the fastest week of my mission so far. I honestly feel like it was just P-day...crazy! I don't have too much to say, because I mean it hasn't even felt like more than 3 days since the last email. but it has been amazing. in no particular order, I did choir again on tuesday! except this time I didn't just go to practice, I actually sang in the devotional! it was so awesome. we sang a song called "Jesus Once of Humble Birth" I think, not sure on the name. but the choir director is such an inspirational and spiritual guy, he gave some great advice during practice. and when it came time to sing in the devotional, I was overwhelmed with the Spirit. as I was singing, I could feel the emotion of every one of the 1200 missionaries in the room, I could feel that we were all here for the same reason and it was a great experience to sing with such studs. oh and Elder Galbraith was sitting right in front of me too! love that guy. and the speakers at the devotional were sooo good. the main speaker is 1st counselor in the Presiding Bishopric and was born and raised in France, along with his wife whom also spoke. they were so powerful in their message of utilizing the Spirit. they said we are essentially superheroes, and our superpower is the Holy Ghost. I never thought of it that way, but I love superheroes, so I loved that analogy. it's so true. without the Spirit present we are just normal people teaching a lesson. however, with the Spirit there to testify of the truth we share and carry it to the hearts of the people we meet--that is a superpower. I am so excited for tuesday next week when I finally go to Italy! I am more than nervous about speaking to people in a language that I barely know, but I've learned that if we are bold in sharing our testimony when we are prompted to, the Lord will put the words into our mouth that need to be said at that exact moment. I know I'm only at the MTC, but I've already experienced such things, and it is truly a gift of God.

The main guy that spoke had some family and friends that came to see him speak. one of which was a middle-aged man from ROME, ITALY! and of course, he and the Roman did a combined musical number at the end. it was the most beautiful thing ever. it was a compilation of 3 or so hymns, amazing hymns. It was Spirit of God, A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief, and another one I cant remember. but it wasn't like you think it was. they blended them all together so smoothly, and it was on the piano. but they were both on the piano at the same time. it was soooo beautiful! there were 4 total hands playing the piano simultaneously, it was something I've never heard before. and I don't know how to describe the sound, but it was like somewhat upbeat at parts, and it sounded like it had an Italian/French influence to the sound. which makes sense considering they're from france and Italy haha. but it was like 8 minutes long and I didn't want it to stop, it made me happy listening to it. music really gets to me here at the MTC. between the musical numbers in sacrament/devotionals, and hymns in class, it fills my heart with joy. I have so many favorite hymns now. one of them, which is unfortunately not in the new Hymn books, is Come Thou Font Of Every Blessing....AGH it's amazing! also, If You Could Hie to Kolob, A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief, How Firm a Foundation, As Sisters in Zion/Armies of Helaman, and many others. one of my all time favorites though, is this one song called "Mandate Voci di Gioia all'Eterno" may be wondering why it's in Italian and not English. well, that's because it's only an Italian hymn. no other language has this hymn other than Italian. and let me tell you, it is amazing. it's only 2 verses, but it's so happy. when we sing it in class it makes me smile and brings me joy. it's based off of Psalms 100 or 101 or something I can't remember, but it roughly translates to "Bring us joy throughout eternity" it's so beautiful. just the sound of it feels like Italy, and it makes me love Italy that much more already. I encourage you to find it on youtube or something and listen to it because it's so awesome!

Not much has happened outside of class this past week, just some usual Zone Leader meetings and fun times with the Anziani (Elders) However, class was amazing. I've been really praying for help with Italian, and I have seen it this past week. it's crazy that we only study the actual language like 1 hour a day, the rest is just scriptures and "preach my gospel" lessons and some activities to get us better at teaching. I mean, our teachers only speak to us in Italian, so that helps, but we really only "learn" Italian for an hour a day, except on wednesday and sunday- we learn none haha. but to think that i can understand everything my teachers say, and that I can teach 30 minute lessons, and bare my testimony for over 10 minutes, ALL in The Lord is helping me more than I ever thought possible, and I couldn't be more grateful. Going through the scriptures a few days ago, I came across Alma 57. it talks about the stripling warriors. it talks about how young and inexperienced they were when they were going to war, but the Lord was on their side. it says in verse 56/57 "never has anyone fought with such miraculous strength"...that is me, that is all the missionaries. we are young as can be, more inexperienced that you could imagine, and here we are going out to a country on the other side of the world, speaking a language that I study for 5 hours a week for less than 6 weeks, and preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ to people that we have never met before. we are absolutely NOTHING without the Lord. luckily, the Lord IS on our side, and he WILL help us, with the gift of the Holy Ghost. He will help us [preach] with such miraculous strength, that people will be incapable of denying the presence of the Spirit. he will help us with Italian, he will help us to communicate and reach the hearts of the people. if we humble ourselves before the Lord, and realize we are nothing but instruments in His hands, He WILL bless us, and strengthen us, and help us fulfill His errand of bringing the lost sheep back to His fold.

I couldn't be more excited for these next 22 months I will spend in Italy, and fully expect and look forward to the trials God gives me, because they will only strengthen me. I know this is the Lord's work, and I am beyond blessed to be able to help carry it out. I know these may be the hardest and most challenging 2 years of my life- I am fully aware of that. but, I'm glad they will be. they'll be far more than worth it. If I shall labor all my days in crying repentance unto the people, and save it be one soul, how great should mine, and their joy and glory be in the Kingdom of God. I love you all, and I think and pray about you all every night.

con amore,

Anziano Blaise
This is my Favorite Hymn!

I got my travel itinerary!

Friday, February 20, 2015

Week 4 Provo MTC

Well, here it is, I've been here 4 weeks! Now I have only 12 short days left until I depart for Italy! Ahhh, I am so excited it's crazy.

I'd first like to start off concerned with the fact that my English grammar and vocab are already deteriorating due to the constant Italian being spoken. I guess that's good and bad. That being said, the language is coming along! I'm still nervous for how fluent I'll be out in the field, but if I've learned anything so far, it's that with the Lord on my side I can literally do anything...

My lessons are going well with my simulated investigators, we got one to commit to baptism! I'm also quickly learning the duties of a Zone Leader, as I have about 4+ meetings on Sundays and I even had to teach for a whole hour during Priesthood class! The best part is, it was an emergency, so they gave me 20 minute notice to prepare a 60 minute lesson. Needless to say, I was nervous, but it actually went quite well. I thought it was alright but everyone told me it was super good, so I'll take this compliment haha. Also, it snowed a little bit on Monday! It was only for like 20 minutes, but still. Plus, I did choir on Tuesday for the devotional! I dont usually do that kinda thing, but I did and I loved it. I also surprisingly have not gained a pound, and I'm definitely guessing that's a blessing from God, since the food we eat here is more fattening than when I ate Taco Bell 6 times a week. 

I'm having a great time here. Honestly, I love the guys in my zone. although my companion may be the most awkward and different among the entire zone, I still love everyone and it's just so awesome to be here. Every day we get one of our teachers to talk about his mission, so he does until he realizes we're getting off topic from the lesson. But when he does, it's so amazing. He says the people there are so lovable it's ridiculous; that they're the best people you will ever meet. He also says, obviously, that the food there is so amazing that you cannot stop eating and will never want to eat in America again. He says that it is the most beautiful place he has ever seen in his entire life and that it's also the most peaceful. He told us his favorite places he served in were Napoli, Palermo, Calgari, Rome, and some other place along the southern coast of Italy. He also said there are a ton of different dialects throughout Italy that we'll need to learn and that they speak Sicilian in Sicily, not Italian. and apparently it's not even similar to Italian, so that'll be a fun bridge to cross someday...oh and Malta is in my mission, and if i go there I have to learn Maltese, which is a mix of english, french, and arabic....yikes!

Every day I find out something new that keeps me motivated to work hard. Though I have lots of fun and am doing what the Lord wants, I still come across challenges, almost daily. but I know the Lord gives me these challenges, not only because I can handle them, but because I NEED them. He knows I will grow from them, and that these trials are necessary to become the person/missionary He NEEDS me to be one day! I am so grateful for the love He has for me, and that we have to opportunity to literally TALK to God! Prayer is the greatest thing, I'll tell ya. I've had multiple experiences these past 4 weeks, personal experiences, where I have SEEN the Lord answer my prayers. It's such a comforting feeling to know that we can ask for help and answers and He WILL give them to us! I am so blessed. y'all are so blessed. life is great, and it's a gift. we should all treasure it to the fullest and strive our best to make it good in the eyes of God so we can one day return to live WITH HIM and become just like Him! Eternal life is the greatest gift, and sharing it with your family is even greater. I am out here for that reason. not for baptism numbers, not even to baptize people. I'm here to unite families together in accordance with God's plan, so that they can receive eternal life together, and partake of the purest of all joys.

If ye should labor all your days and save it be one great should your joy be in the kingdom of God-- just a paraphrased version of D&C 18:15 (I think) since I dont have my scriptures on me. but that is so amazing. that is my goal. If I can save just ONE soul, change ONE life, THEN, will my mission be worth it. The 2 years of labor, hard work, failure, tribulation- all of it will be worth it if I could 'save it be one soul'. 

I KNOW this church is true. I have received personal revelation from God on more than one occasion telling me so. I know that I am doing what He needs me to do. I know that by being an instrument in His hands, I can do absolutely anything He wants me to do, including performing miracles. I have learned to appreciate the trials He gives me, and look at them as a growing experience. Ever since I have made that change in mindset, my life has been amazing. I challenge you all to ask the Lord for challenge. I know that sounds crazy, but I challenge you to ask Him to give you an opportunity for personal growth, and that He may help you to recognize it as just that, so you may attack it with momentum and come out of it stronger than ever. I love the Lord, and I love this church with all my heart. I love you all, and want you all to know I am praying for you every day, and I can also feel your prayers. I appreciate them more than words can describe. I know these next 22 months or so will fly by, somehow, and because of that I vow to make the best of every moment, and never turn down an opportunity for growth. these truly will be the best 2 years of my life, and FOR my life. I can already see that after 4 short weeks. 

Again, I love you all, and love to hear from you.

-Anziano Blaise

An Elder in my district decided to build a fort on his bed, lol!

Thank you  Lepak family for the yummy treats!

Me and some of my buddies on Sweater Saturday! (we all wear sweaters every Saturday) I love these guys,they're great.

The other two Elders in my room

My companion and two Sisters heading to serve in Stockholm, Sweden.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Farewell to Anziano Blaise

We had a wonderful party at our home filled with friends and family to say farewell to Carter. We enjoyed some Italian dinner and desserts of his choice.  The next day, he spoke at church where he had a lot of support as well.  He gave a wonderful talk on Repentance that had me proud, in tears and laughing while feeling the spirit
.  The following Sunday he was set apart as a Missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

I know Carter appreciated everyone that came out to support him and continues to feel the support while serving his mission.

Thank you!