And now a letter from my very verbose boy, Erik, after his fist week the MTC. If you aren’t familiar with the MTC, here’s more info. on where he is and why he’s there before heading to Sweden : https://www.mtc.byu.edu/themtc.htm
Dear Family and Friends,
As expected, it was a crazy, exhausting but spiritually amazing first week at the MTC. The first day one walks into their language class, the teacher speaks zero English. This can be rather frightening and discouraging. You have no proper concept of what you got yourself into until you are flung into a class where the instructor is speaking a language you can’t speak that you are expected to speak fairly fluently in six weeks time. The first night I prayed hard. There was no way I could do it alone. Of course, I did not receive the gift of tongues in a bolt of lightning, for how would I grow if I did not have to work? What I did receive was overwhelming sense of love and comfort from the holy ghost and an assurance that if I work as hard as I can, the Lord will do the rest. Learning a language at the MTC is sort of a parallel to how Jesus Christ’s atonement works. You do the best you can, and the Lord will provide the rest. We must work hard though for it to work, for faith requires action on your part to create blessings. I cannot just simply believe I’ll learn Swedish, I have to work at it. A week in, I still am nowhere near ready to be dropped down in the streets of Stockholm to speak, but I have progressed further than I would of thought I could have. Starting on Friday each companionship had to give discussions to a mock investigator in 100% Swedish. The first one of course went bad, with really only two days of Swedish, but as we have met with our mock investigator we have increasingly improved and yesterday we spent a full hour with him, talking the majority of the time of the topic just discussing prayer and recognizing the spirit. Our mock investigator is actually Swedish, he served a mission, is going to BYU, and is super nice and, as all Swedes are, fashionable. My Swedish I know will get there for as my branch president said, Thomas S. Monson told him when he called him to serve as mission president in the Czech Republic “when the Lord calls, he will make you qualify.”
The best part of the MTC experience is definitely the devotionals, which we have been super lucky on. On Sunday, we had a member of the seventy who helped write “Preach my Gospel” talking on being self-reliant physically and spiritually, and then last night we had Sister Oaks, and ELDER DALLIN H. OAKS!!!!!!!! I was third row, dead center, no more than fifteen feet from Elder Oaks. His wife was really cool and down the earth. She gave a list of five tips for all missionaries; 1. focus on our savior, Jesus Christ, and learn more about him every day. 2. Know you are never alone, never underestimate the comfort of the holy ghost. 3. Love you companion. (which she said of course is easier said then done) 4. Be humble. 5. and make the scriptures your best friend. Elder Oaks spoke on why do you serve? I got several quotes from him (and he quoted C.S. Lewis 🙂 ) It was largely focused on serving the Lord and not ourselves, or as he put it “we must remember we are on his mission, not our mission.” and he very sternly laid down two statements: “Don’t try to recreate your ward from Orem or Ogden when serving in Uganda or Bolivia.” and “Do not believe or say that there is no truth in other churches.” The word is on the street….well on the sidewalks at least…that Elder Bednar is speaking tomorrow for Thanksgiving so I am truly blessed.
I’m in a trio companionship, with just three of in a dorm room that normally is six elders so we’ve got plenty of space and we pushed together two of the bunk beds so we have king sized beds for two of us. One of the Elders, Aldste Linchencko is from Idaho, and is very much your good old product of Idaho, and he is going to Sweden with me. The other, Elder Ort, has lived everywhere including Tacoma but currently is from St. George, and he is going to Surinam, Dutch speaking, which only has 20 missionaries. You really can’t find two countries more opposite in weather, political situation, economic status and culture than Sweden and Surinam. Our zone consists of all the Scandinavians (or often referred to as Vikings) and the Dutchies going to the Dutch Indies and Netherlands/Belgium. Our zone leaders are pretty cool, one is from Denmark, and they’re going to Iceland. (only 8 missionaries there, and you’ve got to spend 12 weeks here because the language is insane) My Idaho companion, as one would assume, thinks I’m just a crazy Oregon hippy…doesn’t help that I’ve gone vegetarian. The first two days I tried meat and it made me sick, so I’ve been living off fruit, the salad bar, veggie wraps, oatmeal and soy milk because even the normal milk makes me sick. I’ll probably lose a few pounds but nothing serious. Thank you very much, Mom for the oatcakes and jam. They are lifesavers. You are the best! My Idaho companion of course, thinks it is weird but then again he is the one who is eating all of the bad food and mountains of junk food and thus having to spend the majority of his mission experience in the restroom, hahaha.
It was pretty cool to have the Swedes that left of Monday here, because I made some pretty good friends with my potential future companions and also got a lot of help from them. I got along pretty well with Aldste Falkner from London and Aldste Jones from Cedar City.
I know this is the best place to be, and though I might go a little bit anxious being here for seven weeks, wanting to just go out and do the work, I know I need this time to learn my language. I am so very thankful I grew up in a home that taught me the gospel, and gave me my own personal testimony of it. I love you all and miss you,
Aldste Scott, or Erik, because I miss hearing my first name.