Friday, February 15, 2013

A Week In!

Elder Hamm in front of the Provo LDS Temple - look at those mountains!
Hi Everyone!,         
               Welllllllll I've survived my first week in the MTC and I have to say...not as bad as I would/did expect. Time here is like everyone says it is. The days go very slowly as you have class for 7 hours a day and are running on an average of 7-8 hours of sleep. I was always told that the times when Satan can tempt you the most can be put into the acronym HALT. The times when you are Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired. The irony is clear but I feel as though I should elaborate anyway. Over the past week and a half I have at one time or another experienced all these feelings, and even some of them in combination at the same time. I know what you're thinking though, you have to have a companion wherever you go...let me tell you something. This in NO way means that you don't feel lonely. Especially when you and your companion might not share quiteee the same interests. But anyhow things are going great. The food is good and going through me better than ever (be that good or otherwise), I absolutely LOVE my district and I have been honored and excited for the opportunity to serve as district leader.
               So this past week has been pretty good. I'm loving gym although something about the difference in altitude here has clearly thrown off my shot just a bit. ;) but I will be adjusting soon I'm sure. It's hard not to be totally competitive sometimes because some guys here think that if you play well enough you get out a couple weeks early. But most of the people realize its just for fun and we have a fun, clean, ....well maybe just fun game. I have been going to class and learning a tonnnn of Spanish. I can't believe how much i have already learned even though I've been here such a short time. i can honestly say that i have never in my life experienced such high quality teachers! My teachers are the greatest and they bring a fresh new perspective to our classes as well as real in-field experience which helps for laughs and advice.
               I think that my favorite teacher out of all of them is Hermano P. He is sooo funny and he is from the East Coast too! He was like oh I'm from D.C. and I was like wait but really from DC? and he was like only an East Coaster would ask that question!! haha and I was like yah I'm from Ashburn and he said he's from Herndon! so ask around. He is getting married in 13 days and then going back to the East to visit family. He is so awesome though. He relates really well and took  the time to actually get to know us individually. And he has a great sense of humor when he teaches but then suddenly he is so in-tune to the spirit, it's great.
               So the MTC is getting RIDICULOUSLY crowded. Like you wouldn't believe it. The lunch room is like a Zoo in there...except in the zoo the animals are in cages so you aren't worried about spilling your tray food all over them. With the new influx of missionaries we have also had to add new beds to the rooms. Each room is built for 4 missionaries and we are about to have 6. This morning they asked us to go downstairs at 6:30 to help them carry up the new beds to our rooms and then build them....kinda sounds like hiring someone to dig their own grave...except the word hire implies pay which we would not get haha luckily they canceled it, unluckily it was during our temple time so we missed our session...but then luckily again, we were able to get into a later session and it was really great.
               I have been realizing something about leadership in the short time that i have been here. I received an impression on Sunday while in a district meeting about leadership. I have found it curiously UN-ironic that the picture on the front of the District leadership binder is of Christ washing the feet of the disciples. It was impressed upon me that leaders are given power. But the power that they are given is to have enough strength and meekness to realize that they have been placed in this position not over but under those whom they have been given stewardship over. Christ washed the feet of his disciples because of an everlasting, perfect love. Now it's time that I have some of that same humble love as i serve my district. Speaking to this point there is something that happened to me this past week that is one of the most powerful, testimony building experiences dealing with personal revelation that i have ever had. I'd like to share the story with you now:
Elder Hamm with his MTC district
              As the leader of my district, it is my job to collect the mail twice a day. You have to know that here in the MTC mail to a missionary, is like a 9 Volt battery for a toy car- it's what keeps you going through the tougher times. So a few days ago I was worried about a few members of my district because they had not been getting any mail, or very VERY little mail. I of course felt bad for them and began to think of ways that I might be able to help them. I knew they wouldn't care if they got a letter from me, or at least that it wouldn't mean the same to them. So I thought up the idea that I could ask them for their addresses under the presumption that I was going to use it to write/find them after the mission. Then I would be able to send a letter to their parents saying something like "Hey, I'm your son/daughters district leader and mail here is what every missionary looks forward to so I would encourage you to try and send as many letters as possible to your missionary. Thanks" Something along those lines. But that night as i lay in bed, a dark feeling came over me. I couldn't figure out why i felt this way because my idea was harmless and it was service to my district members. But i knew it must not be as good an idea as i thought. Then the next night i was praying and asked God to help me know again whether it was a good idea or not. After getting up from my prayer, the same dark feeling came over me. Something just isn't right. I walked over to my desk to turn out the lights and paused as I saw my Spanish scriptures laying there. I felt prompted to open them up to Alma so I did. When i reached Alma I felt so clearly to turn to chapter 12 (which I haven't ever read) so I did. Then just as clearly I was impressed to read verse 5. Which I couldn't because it's in spanish and the language of the scriptures "es muy raro" or very strange. So I opened up my English BoM and ended up reading 4-6 which you should open up and now. But for those of you not owning/near The Book of Mormon I will paraphrase. It says something like: "Thy plan was a subtle plan, even a sublte plan of the devil as thou sought to deceive this people. For the devil hath exercised his power over thee, that plan was a snare set by the adversary that he might chain you and drag you down to destruction." So i had really gotten an answer haha but then the next day one of the elders was saying he wished he could get just even one letter. Again I felt sorrow for him and the plan again flashed through my mind as I reflected on the feelings I'd had and the scripture I'd read. How could it be so bad?! Then the final witness came so powerfully that night as i sat in class inspired to read my patriarchal blessing. I know you aren't supposed to share it but I feel comfortable sharing that a small part promised me that through prayer I would receive teachings from the Holy Ghost that were different from my own inclination. 
I am left searching for words as the incredible wisdom of the Father surrounds me. I'm so grateful for the power and influence of the Spirit in my life and there is no doubt in my mind of the power of the Holy Ghost and revelation. Since all of this happened, each and every one of the members of my district has gotten letters, AND each member has gotten at least one package. So God works in mysterious ways, but He always works. 
Love, Josh
Provo, Utah LDS Temple with Wasatch Mountains behind

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