Sunday, July 21, 2013

This is actually June 13

In advance, I would like to apologize for the lack of pictures. I took them, but my Kodak camera requires that I have Kodak software installed in order to get pictures from the internal memory.
When I arrived at the Missionary Training Center (MTC) on Wednesday, I dropped my luggage off at my room, met my roommates for 2 minutes, picked up my study materials, met my companion (we preach the gospel 2x2), and started class. (Insert class picture here). Things go so fast here, it's crazy. Every day, we study upwards of 2.5 hours and go to class about 6 hours. There is so much to absorb, and it's all simple. It all focuses on our purpose as missionaries. "Invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end." So we've learned that it doesn't matter if a person is baptised if they don't come unto Christ. We've learned to care more about the people we will teach.
I really started to get it after my first visit to the Teaching Resource Center (TRC), where we do simulated visits with volunteers. Our volunteer (in real life we call them investigators because they are trying to find out about us) is Daniel Limon. He swore at us in the first visit. It went terribly. So the next day, we went back and apologized. It's all about how the investigator feels, not about who swore at who. He was more open to us that time, and we actually got to pray with him at the end of our visit. Yesterday, we got to leave him with a copy of the Book of Mormon and our testimony about how it can help him and his family. Even though we know he's an actor, we pray for him. One of the other companionships was less blessed. They were assigned to Erik, who just Bible-bashes the entire time. This means that he uses scriptural verses to fight, instead of listening to the Holy Spirit. It's really easy to get caught up in a fight like that because there's always a verse that will disprove what the other person is saying. We're not supposed to "prove" that the gospel is true. We bear our testimony of its truth so that the Holy Ghost can have a place in their hearts. We found out that the actor who plays Erik isn't a member of the church. He got this job so that he could bash new missionaries and discourage them. What really ends up happening is that the missionaries learn to keep trying to bring people to Christ. They learn a lot of patience. They learn to love someone who doesn't want to be loved.
Our teachers, Sister Grenfell and Brother Green, are the best I could ask for. They don't teach us directly; it's all on us to drive the lessons.
My companion is named Faelofani Talive Afemata. Elder Afemata is a big Samoan from Compton, California. 

 He talks with every Polynesian he sees, and somehow knows all of their cousins. He's just a really funny guy, singing Rihanna all the time. I've tried to match him in every meal he eats, but it's tough. Elder Afemata has taught me so much already. He taught me to Keep It Simple, Stupid when we talk about the gospel. We do rock-paper-scissors every meal; winner gets to bless the food and thereby gets the lion's share of blessings until the next meal.
I only have a few more days here at the MTC. I leave Monday at 3:30 AM for Manchester, New Hampshire.
Well, my hour of computer time is up. Love you all, and I wish you the best of luck!

Elder Jon Harrison Richins

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