Thursday, August 30, 2012

Expect the Miracle, 8/28/12

Hey Family!

How is everyone this week? It sounds like school is going well! Things are good here, this last week we finished up all the grammar that we will learn, so now we just have a few more weeks to perfect it and learn more vocabulary! Other than that things are pretty much the same, kind of boring but I am learning a lot.

We had our first classes with our new teachers yesterday. They will be our teachers for the rest of the time. Their names are Sister Contralles (I think) and Brother Mitchell. They were fine but we are all wishing we still had our old teachers; the last couple of week’s classes have been really fun and something to look forward to. Now they are kind of just another thing we have to get done. I hope we can get to know these teachers fast and make it fun again. The sister is from Monterey México! This is really cool because she knows how Mexicans speak and has experience with the people. The only problem is she is a native speaker and didn’t have to go through the process of learning Spanish as an adult, so a lot of times when we mess up the just looks at us like we are stupid and you feel really dumb.

Last Tuesday we had a devotional and Neil L. Anderson spoke! It was so cool! It was actually on President Monson’s birthday so he kind of focused his talk on President Monson and told us stories about him. His talk was a list of 9 things that President Monson would say if he was here. One interesting thing I learned about President Monson is that he loves to fly-fish! I thought that was really cool, and thought dad would enjoy that. My favorite point that he made was a quote from President Monson, he said “Those who are doing the Lord’s errand are entitled to the Lord’s help." I love that quote and it’s so true. His point was that we are serving the Lord full time, and we should expect the miracle. I believe this applies to anyone serving the Lord at any time. In your callings, expect the miracle. I know that the Lord helps us when we are doing His work! The other amazing part of his talk was his testimony of Jesus Christ. He talked of Christ like he knew Him personally, almost like he sees Him all the time. He knows Christ is his brother and his best friend.

I want to bear my testimony that I know Christ lives; He loves me and cares about me, and everyone on this earth. He is my friend and I can go to Him with anything, and He will help me. He is my Savior and my Redeemer and I love Him.

I love and miss you all!
Elder Utley

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Letter August 21, 2012

Hello Family!

I hear school has started for all the kids, excititing! I got a letter from Mary telling me how it was. You guys should also help Brook write me so I know how she likes her first grade class.

Things are going well here. I am learning a lot, especially a lot of Spanish, although I still feel like I am no where near where I need to be. This week we are learning the subjunctive tense. Before we started I was finally starting to feel comfortable teaching lessons in Spanish and this just floored me, again. There isn't really a subjunctive tense in English so I dont know how to explain it, but I realized I have been saying alot of things wrong in Spanish for the past 4 weeks.

This is our last week with our current teachers, I am pretty bummed about that. Brother Jarmin has been teaching us all of the grammer, he is a great teacher and he makes it fun. He is hands down the best teacher in our zone. This is also our last week with Sister Eyring, she is great too. I guess the byu semester starts next week so everyones teachers are changing, hopefully our new ones are good.

There is another district in our zone leaving today and tommorow morning, exciting but it kind of sucks because there were some awsome missionaries in that district, they were always pretty helpfull to all of us. There was also a new district that came into our zone on Wednesday, and Nathan Smith is in that district! Its kind of cool to see someone I know all the time. He said his brothers come into the mtc in 2 weeks. I also saw Justin Gooch this week, he got here Wednesday as well. There are so many people here that I went to high school with! everyone from desert hills is going to take a big group picture in front of the big world map in the main building this sunday night.

I know I have told you guys about one of our "investigators", his name is Miguel. I dont remember what I told you so I will give a little recap. He is married, has 2 children, his wife and kids are members of the church. He has been taking discussions for 3 years and he knows and beleives almost everything about the church. His problem is he cannot read and he will not admit it! For 3 years the missionaries have been telling him that he has to read the book of moromon to be baptized. he is loud, obnoxious, and easily upset. Before our last lesson we had had 4 lessons with him, 3 of which we got kicked out of... the last 2 lessons we litterally put in about 5 hours of prep per lesson, just to get kicked out both times. He kept telling us the Book of Mormon was a punishment. We figured out he though God was punishing him with the book of mormon because he could not read. Therefore he thought that God was unfair, and that God did not love him. We tried to get him to listen to the book of mormon on take but why would he listen to something that god is punishing him with? All these issues were completly intertwined and we figured if we cut out one of those theories the who thing would be resolved. We knew all this before the 4th lesson and thought we had it all figured out, we went in with this amazing lesson plan and we got kicked out... At this point I was really frustrated, I didnt even want to prep anything for him because it didnt matter, we would just get kicked out. Elders Nash and Cluff were also frustrated but finally we got a lesson plan put together, again we thought we had it. In all the other lessons we tried to dodge the real problem untill the end because we did not want to get kicked out in the first 5 minutes. This time it was all or nothing, we were either going to do really good or really bad. We decided we needed to present our lesson in a different way than before, we all brought our plans together and got one figured out. In the lesson Elder Cluff started by adressing that we were going to talk about baptism and what was actually required. At this point I had a really good feeling and just kind of took over the lesson. I used the same basic lesson plan but went a completely different direction with it. We read him the baptismal questions and asked him if he heard anything about the Book of Mormon. Of course he replied no because there is nothing about it in the baptismal questions. He was on the edge of his seat, really paying attention for the first time ever, and not craking his usuall jokes. I told him those were the only things he needed to get baptized. He thought for a minute, then tried to start an arguement. He asked why the other missionaries who were representitives of Christ had told him for 3 years that he had to read the Book of Mormon. He was understandably pretty upset. We talked for about 5 minutes about this issue, but he was still pretty hung up on it. I had this thought to come into my head to say the other missionaries were a little stupid and they weren't concerned about his needs. I pushed it away because I really didn't want to bash on the other missionaries even if they were stupid. But it came again and a third time and finally it just came out. He laughed and went off about how stupid they were for about a minute. But it worked, right after that we got him to commit to a baptismal date. After the lesson Brother Jarmin, who was playing Miguel, said that that was exactly what he needed to hear. The other cool part was I did all of this in Spanish! (my companions just kind of sat back and listened, I tried to involve them but it was going the right direction and they just let me go for it). The Spanish just came out, I had never been able to speak like that before. I had received a prompting to take the lesson a little different direction and I followed it, because of that the Spirit helped me accomplish what it wanted me to do! It was a real testimony builder for me. (It might seem funny that this was all a fake investigator but beleive me during the lessons it feels real, you are not teaching your teacher who is acting like an investigator, you are teaching that person, Miguel).

I know great things will come as we follow the promptings of the Holy Ghost, and if we are prompted the Lord will provide a way to do the things He has asked. I challange you all to look and listen for promptings in your own lives, dont push them away, follow the Holy Ghost. I know you will be blessed by doing this!

I love you all!
Elder Utley

Friday, August 17, 2012

August 14, 2012

Hey Family!

I hear the kids are starting school tomorrow, that’s exciting! Tell them I wish them good luck. It’s kind of crazy they are both going to new schools, but I am sure they will love it.

I got your package! You guys are awesome, that was some of my favorite food! Mom, don’t worry about a dear elder package, honestly I didn’t know they existed but I like the stuff you send better anyway. You asked if I was craving anything and you would send it to me, I think I am pretty set for at least a little while, I still have all the stuff I brought with me plus almost all the stuff you sent. I think people have it in their minds that we don’t eat here! But really all we do is sit in class eat sit in class eat sit in class again and then eat again. So don’t worry about sending food for a while, honestly I have been trying not to eat it because I have already gained a little weight!

Thanks again for the updates on the Olympics; that is super exciting that Mexico won the gold in soccer! And it’s always good to know that we won medals overall.

Big news for the week, Elder Nash got added to our companionship, so we now have a threesome companionship. Elder Nash is going to Peru Lima South, but somehow did not get his visa with the rest of the Peru missionaries in our district. Elders Hartvigsen, Van Komen, and Atkins left this morning, it was sad to see them go because we have all gotten pretty close but I am excited for them. So I am really excited about having Elder Nash in our companionship because he is awesome and we are pretty good friends. The only part I am a little upset about is that all the rooms are now being changed around. Luckily we get to stay in our same room, and Elder Nash is moving in with us. But unfortunately our current roommates Elder Peterson and Elder Boyce have to move to the room next door. It’s been fun rooming with them. This new companionship is going to be interesting; it will be weird getting used to keeping track of 2 people instead of 1 and weird to teach with 3 people. Elder Nash will be sent to Peru when his visa comes so we are not sure how long he will be with us. They said he could have it within a week, but they also said they usually only send missionaries down there every 3 weeks, so it could be anytime really, we just don’t know.

Other than that it’s been a pretty normal week, nothing exciting has really happened. The language is coming along, we study and learn all day, we teach at least once a day. We do a lot of role playing in class. The Spanish is tuff, every time you think your starting to get it they throw some new grammatical thing at you and you realize that you really don’t know anything. There are days I am so stoked because I did so well with the language and then there are days when I think I don’t know anything.

What else? I got a kick out of dad’s letter when he said “It’s been a really chill weekend". It makes me wonder how much things have changed in 3 weeks! I have never heard him say that before.

I am glad you guys are doing well! This week I have been studying a lot about faith, through faith weak things can become strong (ether 12:27). I was studying for one of our investigators but I realized even though it’s such a simple thing, the first principal of the gospel, it is often overlooked. We forget that just having faith in God and trusting him in everything will lead us to leave better lives and overcome our weaknesses. I realized that I can learn from these simple principals over and over again, and I know you can too. Please read ether chapter 12, and also ether 4:12 (I am pretty sure that’s it...) and Alma 32:27. I know that anything we are struggling with we can overcome through faith in God and being willing to exercise that faith. One last thing is a quote from preach my gospel it says “there comes a time in every man’s life where he is backed up to a wall of faith, and there he must take his stand".  I challenge you guys to take a leap of faith and let God direct your lives.

I love you all!
Elder Utley

August 8, 2012

August 8, 2012

Hey Mom! Hey Dad!

So I feel like I addressed you letters pretty well in my email, that’s why I am writing you together - except dad’s question about personal study.  Personal study is awesome when I get to use it for personal study, but usually I nave to prepare lessons in Spanish or do assignments for class.  I think I will like it more when I get out in the field.

Anyway I wanted to share two of my favorite experiences here at the MTC. The first one was my first Sunday here. They gather everyone in the MTC into the gym for a devotional Sundays and Tuesdays. There are 2,900 missionaries here, so that is pretty cool being in a room with that many missionaries. To open the meeting we sang verses 1-3 of “How Firm a Foundation.”  Then there was a speaker from the 70, he did great but I don’t remember much of what he said.  The most powerful part of the meeting was the closing hymn; we sang “How Firm a Foundation” verses 4-7. I would encourage you to read verse 7, and imagine 3,000 missionaries singing it. When the 7th verse started the spirit hit so strong. Everyone just got louder and louder until we were almost screaming the last two lines. I have never felt like my testimony has been strengthened through a song until then. But those words are scripture and they hit me hard and I really meant them as I sang. It was pretty incredible.

The other experience was just as incredible, I know they both seem like small things but our testimonies can be strengthened daily through little things. So here it is, we were teaching our investigator Mateo last week. It was our 4th lesson and I was really struggling with saying anything. The funny part was in class I knew just as much as anyone in the district and I could speak as well as anyone. But when I got to the lessons I froze. Elder Cluff had been carrying me through lessons. I said a prayer in my head that I would be able to say what I wanted and needed to say. The rest of the lesson I carried Elder Cluff through. When he needed a word, I had it. When I wanted to say something I could say it, it still wasn’t’ easy. I had to say them in funny ways sometimes, but I could say it. Ever since then every lesson I have been able to say more and more. This was a great testimony of prayer for me. I know it wasn’t a big deal, but God cares about us and the little things in our life.

I love you guys, and hope you are doing well!

August 7, 2012

Hey Family!

Happy anniversary mom and dad! Hope it was a great one! You guys are getting old... just kidding. I hope everything is going well at home. When do the kids start school? Thanks for the Olympic updates. Are they over now? Can you send me a letter with the medal totals? That would be awesome. Also the guys in my room want to know who won soccer and basketball.

This last week just flew by and was so fun until yesterday. I don’t know what it was, maybe because I have been sick, but yesterday was a rough day and it just seemed to drag on. I got back from teaching a really tough "investigator" (we just started teaching him his name is Miguel, we will teach him the rest of the time we are here) and I had 4 letters sitting on my desk for me! It totally made my day and the rest of the night flew by after that.

Mom I have seen everyone I thought I would see from school and home and more up here, with the exception of Kendall Wilkey. He must have left just before I got in. I keep getting stopped by random people who know who I am and after a second I can usually figure out who they are. I guess there is a kid who I used to play with when I was little or you did day care for him or something, does Taylor Bradshaw ring a bell? He looked familiar; we have talked a couple times. Anyway it’s been fun to see people like that. Dad, Elder Cluff is going to Monterey West, which is a pretty scary part of Mexico. It’s the place where they found all of those bodies cut up on the road a couple of months back, but the Lord will protect him.  3 people from are district are going to Monterey West, and 3 are going to Leon. So be grateful I got Leon! The other two elders in my room are going to Leon which I exciting! Maybe at some point I will be able to be companions with them, they are both awesome! Elder Cluff and I are still getting along well. It’s weird to have the same person with you 24/7 but we communicate well so we don’t have any problems.

You also asked my favorite part of the MTC. There are 3 things I really enjoy. (1) Temple on P-days, (2) Sunday and Tuesday devotionals, the speakers are always great and so is the music. No one from the 12 has come yet but we have lots of time so I hope they do. (3) And of course gym time, it’s really nice to have gym after sitting in class all day every day and be able to go play basketball or soccer and get out all that extra energy.

Well everyone asked about my Spanish and my week. The Spanish is coming along very well. Still not anywhere close to where it needs to be, but so much better then when I started. The classes are not only in Spanish anymore. When they are teaching Spanish they are in Spanish, with the exception of grammar because we just wouldn’t get it if they tried to explain it in Spanish. The teaching concepts are also in English. We got our new permanent teacher this week! He is awesome! His name is Hermano Jarmin. He teaches grammar really well and how to teach investigators really well. It seems like we just laugh the whole time but somehow we learn more with him than anyone else. It’s always great to have someone who can just make learning easy and fun.

This week just flew by! The biggest thing that happened this week was we started teaching Miguel our new "investigator" aka Hermano Jarmin. Miguel is a real person from his mission. He has been taking lessons from the missionaries for 3 years! His family members are all members of the church. His wife was baptized without his permission while he was working out of the country. He believes everything about the church. His problem is he does not like the Book of Mormon. He refuses to read it! He is super funny and fun to teach. I think he just can’t read and tries to hide it by making fun of our Spanish and our lessons. I guess we will see…

What else? I got a haircut earlier today! It looks good, not to short. I have picture but not too many. When do you want me to send those home?

We also have a district from our zone leaving today at 4. I am kind of sad because they are awesome! But I am excited for them. They gave us hand downs, which are just items that get passed down from district to district as older ones leave. I got a Lego star wars ship from Elder Cockrin! I was pretty excited. So this is the 2nd district from our zone we have seen leave. We will get a new district tomorrow. The crazy part is we will be the second oldest district in our zone after today. The one ahead of us have the current zone leaders and they leave in a week and a half. We are all kind of nervous because the new zone leaders will likely come from our district. And we only have 3 companionships to choose from because 2 companionships leave next Wednesday! One companionship has their visas already and travel plans. The other ones Elder Nash and Hartvigsen don’t have visas yet, and I am praying they don’t get them till the end of the 9 weeks! I know that’s kind of wrong but they are some of my best friends here.

I know this gospel is true and the Lord answers prayers! I am so thankful to be able to serve in his church. I love you guys! Read Alma chapters 33-37 if you need something to read. I have been studying that and its great stuff. Look for a letter in the mail, I am going to try and write everyone a short individual letter and send them this week!

Elder Utley

Letter August 2

August 2, 2012

Dear Family,

Sorry I was not able to answer everything through e-mail.  The time went really fast. I also forgot to bring the letters you sent me to I wasn’t able to respond to any of it, so I am writing this.
We sing all our songs in Spanish, and they gave us a Spanish set of scriptures so it’s good that we did not get them in SLC.

I don’t remember if I told you about my district yet… they are Amazing! Everyone is really cool and just funny. We work together well and have lots of fun.  My companion is great too. He is the nicest guy I have ever met. He never complains about anything and he works hard.

So dad was asking about memorization and thinks like that.  We do not memorize discussions, but we have Preach My Gospel that we study from all the time! It has 5 lessons not discussions and we are just expected to be able to teach the lessons. We do still have a lot to memorize though. Right now we are memorizing D&C 4, the sacrament prayers, baptismal prayers and baptismal challenge, all in Spanish and English. We already memorized our purpose in English and Spanish.

In our classes our teachers have started speaking in English when necessary. There are just some things none of us will understand in Spanish. So that is a nice break occasionally. But they still mostly speak Spanish.
For the bishopric, or whoever needs it, my favorite scripture is Helaman 5:12.
Last thing, dear elder is great!!! Please tell anyone who asks to use that, and it’s free for sending letters to the MTC. It was fun to hear from you guys. Please continue to write and update me.

I love you all!
Elder Utley

John's first letter home

July 26, 2012

Dear Family,

The MTC is great! After I was dropped off we were taken to a building where we were issued our nametags, got our ID cards printed and verified some information. Then our host missionary (the one who took our bags) showed me to my room.  We dropped off my stuff and immediately went to my classroom I met our instructor Hermana Eyring.  (I found out later she is President Eyring’s granddaughter!).  She only speaks Spanish to us. I was actually surprised how much I understood.  She rushed me to a computer where I did some short orientations. It felt like a whirlwind to this point. After the orientation on the computer I went back to the classroom and met my whole district, which consists of 10 Elders, 4 going to Lima Peru East, 3 to Monterey Mexico West and 3 to Leon Mexico. I met my companion, his name is Elder Cluff, and he is from Mesa Arizona.   He is a really nice guy and we get along well, to this point.  We had some meetings and a workshop last night. I will tell you more about that in my e-mail. We had dinner and met zone leaders they are great. Today we started preparing to teach our first “investigator” who is a member but will act as an investigator.  We teach him our first lesson in Spanish tomorrow.  I understand a lot but can’t come up with words so we will see how that goes.  I look forward to our weekly e-mails. I will include more experiences in the upcoming e-mail.  We were told to write you today but other than today we cannot write any except on P-days. My P-day at the MTC will be Tuesdays. I love and miss you guys.