Things are going very well here at the MTC. There are thousands of missionaries and only four phone lines apparently. Therefore, I won't be calling home for Christmas. And the mail room closes on the 22nd, so I won't be able to get any mail or packages after that. I'm not sure when it opens again. Happy Christmas!
Elder Zwick of the Quorum of the Seventy spoke at our Tuesday devotional. His wife told a story about the first phone called they received from a missionary when Elder Zwick was serving as the Mission President of Santiago, Chile; apparently the missionary said something to the extent of: "I'm at a pay phone and I'm only wearing a coat... 12 terrorists burned down our church building and took my clothes. What would you like us to do?" It was interesting. He told us about his mission as well; he served in Bolivia and rode horses as a primary form of transportation, built the first chapel in Bolivia and baptized 500 members in 3 small Bolivian towns. He emphasized throughout the talk the importance of coming to know Christ and how to do so. I have been following his example of testimony by praying, studying and being obedient in order to gain great faith in Christ.
Elder Brown and I prepared a zone activity for a meeting on Monday. We split the zone up into groups and each group discussed 2 things that they can work on personally and 2 which they see others doing which drive away the Spirit or distract them from their purpose as a missionary. Each group picked one distraction that they felt was the worst and we discussed it as a zone, applying our purpose as missionaries, being a representative of Christ, and having charity. From this we made a specific goal for each distraction which the entire zone then commit to. Hopefully it was helpful to making us better missionaries and better representatives of Christ. From the goals we made, we are now playing a zone wide game of "El Nativo," which is basically just a way to get us to speak more Spanish throughout the day. We use a system called Speak Your Language or Hable Su Idioma in Spanish; the idea is to use as much Spanish as you can at all times and ask when you don't understand or don't know how to say something. It is extremely beneficial when it is done diligently.
Apparently you are supposed to dry clean 100% wool sweaters.
Last week was very testimony-building time for my faith in the prophethood (probably not a real word) of Joseph Smith. We watch the Joseph Smith movie every other Sunday. It is really great. If you have the opportunity to watch it, do so. We have been teaching the message of the Restoration of the Gospel for a while, and each time I bear testimony of the truthfulness of the First Vision and of Joseph Smith, my faith grows stronger. I'm so grateful for the opportunity I had to go on the Church History trip. It's difficult to express how visiting all of the Church sites that we did is affecting me now, but it is doing so in a very powerful way. I know Ben isn't able to go with Garth W. Tesch this summer, but it would be really good if he could find some alternative eventually, because I'm feeling so blessed by the testimony I gained and the effect it had on my life and is having today.
Thanks for the letters; I wrote one today to the family, but I don't know how long it takes to get there. I doubt it is faster than e-mail. We're having a great time and we are progressing quickly and becoming better servants of the Lord. We're excited for Christmas (kind of) but we're really excited for Mexico (and Bolivia and Peru, for the other Elders in my district).