Monday, September 24, 2012

I made it!! & Last letter home before I leave

I made it!! 9/24/12

Well we are here Mexico. Our flights were good, no problems. Going through security in Leon was kind of scary. They had some weird buildings and procedures. We had to fill out a bunch of forms, and then they checked our bags through an x-ray. Then they also hand searched it, going through every bag, book, and piece of clothing. The drive here was kind of crazy; I saw lots of different things. But they also had lots of American stuff, like McDonalds, KFC, Starbucks, Blockbuster, Chiles, etc. Drivers here are kind of crazy.

I’m not quite sure what else to say. I am here, I am safe, and I am a bit confused. It was fun to talk to everyone today! I hope you all are doing well!

I love you,

Last letter before I leave, 9/22/12

Hey family!

So today we have some time to pack and get ready to leave on Monday! It’s super exciting how close it is getting. I can’t explain how I can feel so excited and nervous and anxious at the same time. I can’t wait to get to talk to everyone while I am at the airport! Hopefully I will have quite a bit of time that morning!

It seems kind of unreal that I am leaving here, and the country. It’s been odd to say goodbye to people and teachers. Our teacher this morning Hermana Contreras said that she has seen a lot of districts leave and never until now has she had a whole district where she wasn’t worried about their Spanish or how ready they are. I thought that was pretty cool, it kind of shows how hard our district works and how we all kind of grew together. No one got left behind; we all helped each other progress. Tonight we will have our last lesson with Hermano Mitchel, he said he has a short little speech for us before we leave, so i am kind of interested to hear what he has to say.

Yesterday we had our in-field orientation. It was like the awful workshops that we have for an hour on Saturdays, but it was 14 hours long... It had some cooler stuff and I learned some good information but man I am glad I don’t have to do it again. They kind of talked about some of the things we would be doing in the field that we don’t do here. There were some really good video clips by Elder Holland, Bednar, and President Hinkley. One good thing that it did was make that fact that we are leaving a little more real. It’s becoming more real each day that we really are leaving. I am so stoked!

I know this email was kind of short but we can talk about whatever else on the phone on Monday. There is one thing I would like to share that I have learned from the MTC and a little from past experiences in life. I think I wrote home about it to someone (maybe Mary) but I’m not sure. God puts us in situations so that we can learn, we adapt and become better at whatever it is, learn, and become comfortable. Then as soon as we are comfortable or shortly afterward He pulls us out of that comfort zone and puts us in somewhere new where we are uncomfortable. He creates change so that we can learn. It is human nature not to like change, to have to adapt. But I know that that is the only way we can learn. Heavenly Father knows this and so he will throw something new at us, not to punish us or make our lives hard, but because He knows we can take it and that we will grow from the experience. After all that is why we are here: to learn and grow and then to return to our Father in Heaven. I know that as we face these changes and trials we will become a better person and more Christlike. We can’t do it on our own but with the Lords help we can do anything He requires. The last week or so I have been really comfortable at the MTC, I am good at what we do here, my Spanish is good enough to get by here, and we worked things out in our companionship. I am ready for the change and the challenge of Mexico. It won’t be easy, but as I trust in the Lord I know I can do it. It is the same in everybody’s life, no matter where you are in life; you will not be comfortable with your situation for too long. The important part is how we deal with these trials and changes, and our attitude as we go through them. We can always choose to be happy. In class today I heard something I really liked: Life is 90% Attitude and 10% Events.

I love you all and can’t wait to talk to you on Monday!
Elder Utley

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Travel Plans!!!!!!!!!!!

Hello family,

How are you all? It sounds like everyone is doing pretty well from the letters. Mom congratulations on the marathon, that is incredible! That is pure will power and determination to be able to do that without the proper training. It’s amazing how hard you can push yourself when you have the will of the mind overpowering the body! So you took Brooklyn’s stiches out while she was asleep? That is fairly impressive, how many did she have? I remember getting those a couple times it feels super weird, doesn’t hurt but she probably would have been freaked out. How is Mary? I didn’t hear from her this week.

So on Friday of last week we went to get the mail and all of our travel plans were in there!!! I am so stoked to get out of here! Probably the best day of the MTC so far. (Not that it’s not a good place with an amazing spirit but I’m done) Anyway so we report at the travel office at 5 AM Monday morning. Our flight leaves from Salt Lake to Dallas/Ft. Worth TX at 8:20 Utah time, we arrive at 12 Texas time. It is American Airlines flight # 2012 (kind of weird). From Texas we have a flight to Leon/Guanajuato it leaves at 120 Texas time and arrives at 340 Leon time. The flight is American airlines flight # 3211 (I’m not quite sure how all the time zones work). VERY IMPORTANT: I believe we will arrive at the airport at around 6, and be checked in and good to go between 630 and 7. I am hoping to call home from 630 to about 8. I have a calling card with 500 minutes but it subtracts like 130 minutes per call, so PLEASE try and pick up on the first one. You should send me a dear elder or email with which phone you would like me to call. Then again sometime between 12 and 1 I should be able to make a quick call home from Texas, although it’s not a huge layover so I don’t know how much time I have. Let me know which phone to call then too. I am not sure what will happen after that, I have heard I am able to send a quick email that I got there and that’s about all I know.

I think I will be able to email home again on Saturday, which is the day we are packing, doing laundry and prepping to leave. So if you have any questions I should be able to answer them on Saturday.

So those are my travel plans. It has been really hard for everyone in the district to focus because we know it’s coming up soon. But we have done a pretty good job, and learned a lot this last week or so. One thing I forgot to mention is we all fly into Dallas together but then 3 of us go to Leon and 3 of them will wait another half hour and fly to Monterey.

So this week I have been learning a lot about the Holy Ghost and how it works. We have kind of been studying it a little bit and I have had a few pretty cool experiences with it. I would like to share just one that happened when we were teaching in the TRC. I don’t know if I have mentioned the TRC before but basically once a week they have members come in who know Spanish and we go teach them either two 20 minute lessons or one 40 minute lesson. This last week was our last time so it was a 40 minute lesson. We taught a sister who had just returned from a mission a couple of months ago, she served in Guatemala. I love TRC because we get to interact with people and actually possibly help a real person instead of fake investigators. But I didn’t know what we could possible teach this return missionary. But we started teaching; the lesson was on receiving revelation through prayer. As we were teaching I just had the story pop into my mind about when I made the decision to switch schools from pine view to desert hills my senior year. I didn’t think much of it and shared it the best I could in Spanish. Basically I prayed and prayed and prayed but I never received an answer. Finally I prayed one night and told Heavenly Father I was going to submit the paperwork. I did and continued to pray, no answer. The answer came later, after I had been accepted and actually signed the paperwork to move schools.  I continued praying and didn’t feel it was wrong, but I just didn’t get the reassurance I wanted. After everything was finalized and I was really rather nervous about switching schools, I finally got my answer. I supposed to do that, I felt peace and I knew everything would be okay and I would be happy there. And I loved it. So we finished the lesson and left. The people we teach usually write up a little note on how we did and give it to our teacher. This sister did just that. It surprised me when I looked at it, she said that she was really touched by that story and that was something that she really needed to hear. At the time I told it I had no idea that that was a spiritual prompting, but I know realize it was. I have had a couple other similar experiences like that lately.

I know that if we are living right and have the companionship of the Holy Ghost it will guide us; any good thought or feeling we have is from the Holy Ghost. If we choose to follow those thoughts and feelings we can be an instrument in the Lord’s hand. God loves us and other and because of that he has given us the Holy Ghost that we might be able to feel of his love and his love for others. I have done a lot of scripture and other study on this lately and it’s all great stuff. But what I would challenge all of you to do is going onto lds.org and finding the Mormon messages. David A Bednar just put up a three part video on the Holy Ghost, how it works and how to recognize it. Then ponder it, and look for the Holy Ghost in your life, as you follow the prompting that relationship of trust will grow between you and the Holy Ghost and you will be able to feel its influence more fully in your lives. I know this to be true.

I love you all!
Elder Utley

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Visa! 9-11-12

Hello Family!

Sounds like you guys have had a crazy week! I hope Brooklyn in feeling better; I can't believe she got hit by a horseshoe. That will be quite the story! Is she going to have a scar?

Congratulations mom on your new promotion, that sounds amazing! Speaks to how hard you work and how well you do your job to be promoted so quickly. I hope everyone is over the sickness that was going around at home, I am like 90% better from last week.  I think the antibiotics helped and the nasal spray is awesome, I am trying to figure out how I can get it refilled so I can take it on my mission. (Mom you asked for the name, I am in the computer lab so I don’t know it but I will send it in your personal letter later this week.) Thanks for the letters this week, they don’t print them out on weekends so I got the mail yesterday and had 5 different letters! I was pretty excited.

I actually have a lot to write about this week. Last Wednesday we got a call on the intercom during one of our classes. It was the travel office, everyone get really excited, they then called Elder Cluff’s name, everyone was a little disappointed but I was happy I was getting out of class. Then after a long pause they proceeded to call everyone else’s name in our district. We literally all just got up and ran across the MTC campus to the travel office (our building is literally the furthest one away!) It was probably the most exciting thing that had happened to us at the MTC thus far. So we get there and they told us that Monday we would get to go to the consulate in Salt Lake City to sign our visas! We were all pretty stoked! So yesterday we left at 1:30 and took a bus ride to down town Salt Lake City, it was actually a pretty scary part of town. We got there, they took our pictures and fingerprints, and then we signed all the paperwork they needed. Everything there was in Spanish, and everyone spoke Spanish. I thought I was doing okay at Spanish here at the MTC, but I realized I will literally not know anything they say when I get there. I know the words but they just speak so fast. I was able to read a Spanish newspaper for the most part but I couldn’t understand when they were talking. So that was an exciting day yesterday, nice to finally get a taste of the real world again. Then last night we saw lightning hit the mountain just above BYU and it caught on fire, it was kind of cool we could see it right out our window. It burned out within 20 minutes.

So we should get our travel plans this week! We are expecting them tomorrow or Thursday. I am just relieved to know I got my visa and I won’t be going to Idaho for a few months or something.
Also, because we have been here so long we get to be the hosts for the new missionaries coming in tomorrow, which should be fun. Our schedule also changes a little next week, which is really exciting because it has been the same thing every week for the past 8 weeks. So these last two weeks should go really fast. I am super stoked to get out of here, but it’s getting really close and I am starting to realize, wait I am actually going to Mexico, I don’t speak Spanish and they don’t like white people. So a little nervous too, but mostly just stoked!

So the Lamberts are leaving the same day I am? Are they flying out through the salt lake airport? That would be crazy if I saw them! Also with me leaving I get to call home from the airport, I can get a calling card here that has more than enough time on it. I am still not sure what time we leave but I will let you know when we get our travel plans. Just plan to have your phone on you all day on the 24th!
Dad you were asking about our classes, it’s literally been the same thing for the whole time we have been here. We start by teaching an "investigator" then we learn grammar then we talk about a fundamental of teaching. We have not had any culture classes which is kind of a bummer. But one of our teachers is from Mexico, so sometimes we get her of topic a little and she will tell us all about it and about the culture and people and things like that. We also have in-field orientation next Friday, I’m not quite sure what that is but maybe it will have some culture things too.

So you might have noticed I haven’t mentioned about Elder Cluff or our companionship lately. Elder Cluff and I are probably complete opposites; we have absolutely nothing in common, nothing. So it has been really challenging at times, we don’t think the same way, we approach problems differently, the way we do things is just different. So that has been kind of tuff, but we have really been working on it the last month or so. I have been able to learn so much from elder Cluff, and especially how to work with people. We both want to do well, we both want to become better missionaries, and we both work hard. So we have been able to find our common ground right there. We have really figured out how to teach with each other. Our lessons even over the last week have become so much better its incredible. We are opposites but he has strengths where I have weaknesses and it goes the other way too. I am grateful for the opportunity I have had to work with him. We would have never been friends outside of the MTC. But through a mutual love for Christ and a love for serving others we have been able to find love for each other and even become good friends. I know if we are humble and willing to work at it we can come to love anyone, and I am thankful for the opportunity I have had to learn that.

This last week or two I have really been studying and reading a lot more because I am feeling more comfortable with the Spanish. Before I have had to study so much Spanish to prepare for my lessons, that I haven’t had a lot of study time. Now I know enough Spanish to get through a lesson, and I know the lessons really well, I don’t have to prep for so long for them. So I have been able to read a lot of the book of Mormon in Spanish, I am in 2 Nephi chapter 5 I think in Spanish. I am amazing at the story of Nephi and the visions he sees, simply because he is willing to obey the lord and trust in him. I also have been reading the book of Mormon in English; I am in 3rd Nephi right now. I absolutely loved Helaman, if you want a good read, read Helaman chapters 5-12ish. Also in 3rd Nephi I am amazed at the pride of the people. They were going to kill the believers because their signs were not coming. Their signs come and everyone is all of the sudden converted. They are good for about 2 years, and they start doing what is right. then they forget their the Lord, 2 years after these amazing signs and become evil again, they have prophets and people to remind them but they simply don’t care. I know sometimes it can be easy to forget the Lord, but we need to be humble and remember his hand in all things. The last thing I have been reading a lot is Jesus the Christ. I have read nearly 200 pages this week! I can’t put it down. If you have the time I would challenge you to read that. It helps you come to know Christ in a completely different way. The thing I liked most so far is they was it talks about how Christ still had the veil, he was born and had forgotten everything, just like us. He had to gradually gain his knowledge again. He had to learn. He had to come to the realization that he was the Christ and redeemer of the world. Our gospel knowledge comes this way. With studying it we can come to know better who we are and what our purpose is, and gain knowledge and wisdom in the gospel just like Christ.
I love you and miss you all!
Elder Utley

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Letter Home 9/4/12

Hola Familia!

I hope you are all doing well!  Sounds like life is going good from what I have read.  Tell Coop to get better, I hate those coughs.  I have only gotten one letter this week because of Labor Day, usually you guys send them on Sunday and I get them Monday  sometime, but we checked the mail earlier and the dearelder’s still haven’t come. Therefore I don’t have a whole lot to say today.

I got your package this week!  Thank you so much!  I really needed some family pictures, I have two of the big ones hanging up on my desk and Elder Nash gave me a photo album book to put the rest in!  I am also really grateful for the watch and the books. I don’t think those would have made it through the Mexican mail!

Elder Nash got his travel plans last Thursday and he left this morning.  I am really excited for him but also kind of bummed at the same time because we were really good friends.  So our trio is back down to two, the funny part was we were just starting to figure it out and feel comfortable in the trio.  I guess the Lord knew we all had something to learn from that experience and as soon as it was done, he was gone.

So we now have less than three weeks left here at the MTC, 20 days to be exact.  Kind of crazy but I am so stoked!  It’s gone really fast but at the same time it feels like we have been here forever and I just want to get out there and serve!  I feel like my Spanish is coming along well, I haven’t quite learned as much as I did the first couple weeks but I am still improving a lot.  I understand so much and I can usually say the things I need to say even if I have to work my way around a word I don’t know.  We have also been learning a lot about how to teach and its incredible how far we all of come. Our lessons are so much better!

That was kind of crazy to hear that Ryann Newby is getting married!  Tell her congratulations for me if you get a chance.  It was really fun to hear about all of the missionaries that were leaving here soon.  I have seen so many people I know, it seems like I see about 3 new people I know every week.  This week I saw Austin Ewell, Matt Judd, Alex Jackson, and Aaron Cass.  It’s been really fun to see people I haven’t seen in a while and especially to see them here serving the Lord, I couldn’t be happier for them.  I also saw Skyler Smith who I know from swimming this week (we met at zones one year).  I hadn’t seen him in about a year; he swam for Utah for a little bit, but he hated it and ended up not finishing the season.

I hope Shayne is doing alright, that was too bad to hear about her car accident, I know what that feels like...  Tell Eric that the letter I sent him got returned to me for some reason, so I am going to put it in the letter I send to you guys this week and hopefully you will see him sometime and be able to give it to him.

I want you all to know how excited I am to be here serving the Lord full time.  There is absolutely no place I would rather be. I know it has only been six weeks but this experience has already permanently changed my life.  I can’t wait to see the growth after two years when I can already see it in six weeks.  The biggest thing that has helped me to grow and change is becoming closer to my Savior.  Coming close to the Savior makes you want to change, to be better, and to be more like Him.  It makes you happy and gives you hope.  I know that you can become closer to your Savior as well, and that it will change your life just as it has changed mine.  I realize how lucky I am to be able to become closer to my Savior every second of every day because I get to serve him full time.  But I know that anyone who will honestly put an effort into learning about the Savior, His life, and His gospel will live a more full and happier life!  And I am so excited to be able to share that with everyone I meet!

I love you all so much!
Elder Utley