Sunday, February 24, 2013

Another Letter from the MTC - February 19th

February 19, 2013


I've decided that the one thing that I miss the most that I can't do here is just google random things when I want to know something. There have been so many times that I have wanted to know some random fact and I can't look it up. Jacqueline, can you get that quote about obedience from dad that he loves and send it to me? If you want to make it all fancy and have some background picture that would be great but I'm just struggling to remember it exactly and its really bothering me. That one quote thats something like "When obedience ceases to be an irritant and becomes our quest...". Thanks a ton!
This week at the MTC has been good and probably more enjoyable overall then the prior weeks. We have a new district coming in this week with another Elder Crockett, so thats going to be funny. I'll let you know where he is from and such so that we can hopefully figure out if/how we are related. The two districts in our zone that have been here longer than us will all be gone by tomorrow afternoon so its going to be kinda weird being the most "experienced" district in our zone. All of the elders going to mexico out of those two districts have been reassigned to SLC and Boise for a transfer because they didn't get their visas in time. All of us in our district that are going to Mexico have been praying that we will get ours in time. We find out our "travel plans" if we have visas this thursday, but if we don't get them and they don't come in for the next week after, then we get our temporary reassignment the following thursday. I didn't know this but I guess I get to make a 5 minute phone call if we do get reassigned so I suppose that is one plus of being reassigned, but I'm really hoping that we get our visas on time cause I am just really excited and anxious to get to Tijuana. 
One thing that has been really cool this week is that we started using each other to teach legitimate lessons to. Instead of having a teacher or volunteer be our investigator, we teach other companionships that are pretending to be our investigators. In order for this to work, we each had to pray and think about who we should pretend to be (generally a nonmember friend/family member). Its been really cool to put myself into other peoples shoes and I am being taught. Its amazing how the spirit not only helps us as missionaries to know what to say and ask when we are teaching, but how the spirit also tells us as investigators how they would be feeling in that situation. For example, my companion and I were being taught about prayer and the missionaries that were teaching us weren't the best at spanish, and were being extremely persistant about praying with them there. I learned so much about how to better handle a situation like that because I was able to feel how uncomfortable the investigators would feel if a missionary who I had just met 3 minutes before was pushing me to prayer about my most personal things in front of them right then and there. As I was being taught several different times, the spirit was able to prompt me very strongly to send certain people letters and such about certain things.
Throughout the last couple of days I have constantly been amazing at the power of the Book of Mormon in not only teaching and inviting the spirit but also in creating a testimony and being the rock that a testimony is built on. There is an elder in my zone who leaves later today for the Provo spanish speaking mission (I'm hoping he ends up serving with Devon!) and I've become pretty good friends with him over the last couple of weeks. Elder Ramos is from Alaska and was homeschooled because he lived out in the middle of nowhere. He is the kinda guy who reads anything and everything and just really loves to learn and talk about everything from different political theories to archaeological sites to big foot. While I was talking to him about some stuff he shared how he ended up on a mission and it has really been on my mind for the last week. A few years back, he decided that he didn't believe in God at all because all of the facts didn't add up when taking into account the age of the earth as scientists claim verses what the Bible says. He said he was really interested by all religions but he didn't believe in any. He would read lots of different books, from Hindu scripture to anti-mormon stuff to anything about any religion simply because he found it all really interesting. His whole family are members but he told his parents that he didn't believe in the church and that it wasn't something he wanted to spend his time on. He said eventually he decided to actually read the Book of Mormon because he figured he wanted to know that is was fake for himself. He said before he started reading the Book of Mormon, he decided that if Joseph Smith could make up a religious book, why couldn't he? To make a long story short, he failed at making up some scripture, and said he knew that the Book of Mormon was true before he was even close to finishing it. While he says that he doesn't understand how all of the scientific facts can be so strong and so contradictory with the gospel, he says that he knows that the Book of Mormon is true and that everything else that the Church is has to be true. I have really been amazing as I have read the Book of Mormon this week at how much there is on every page that can apply directly into our lives no matter where we stand. I'm grateful for it and know that it is true.
I'm running out of time, but I just want to say I am grateful for all of you and that I know that as we do our best to come closer to Christ, whether that be becoming baptized or simply by praying more sincerely everyday, that we can become the happiest that we can possibly be.
Con amor,
Elder Crockett

Thursday, February 14, 2013

And another one... Febeuary 12

The time here at the MTC seems to go by so quickly it is crazy. Our zone currently has 4 districts and is getting another one this next wednesday. The MTC is getting so full its insane. Some people have to wait like 20 minutes in line to get food if you don't time things right and almost everyday we see missionaries carrying mattresses around campus trying to prepare for the influx in missionaries. I'm just really greatful that I am here now in Feb instead of being here in May when there are going to be TONS of missionaries.
As a side note, I apologize for my spelling if it is wrong sometimes. I have never been that good at spelling and learning spanish just makes some words get mixed up in my head that I can't spell them correctly in either language. The word "investigator" is personally probably the hardest word to spell because I say it in spanish in my head and just struggle to remember how to spell it in english. Hopefully that means that I am progessing with spanish somewhat!
Jacqueline, one missionary in my district, Elder George, reminds me of you so much. He is one of the most awesome guys ever and is obsessed with disney. Its so awesome. :) He is going to Tijuana with me and I think we might try to room together back at BYU cause he goes there also. I just have to tell you what one of the elders in my district said in regards to the new Star Wars movie being made by disney. "If its anything like Tangled, it will kick butt." - Elder Jensen.
Just wait Daniel, when I get back in two years I will demolish you so bad in Madden you won't even want to play it anymore.
Mom in response to your questions - Thanks for the package!! Everyone loved the special K bars!! The date on the mailing package changes so I'm not entirely sure exactly when we are leaving here. They had us come in a couple days after we got here to resign a visa application that said we would be going in on the 5th of March, but mexico is not giving out visas very quickly right now so I will be surprised if I get to Tijuana in the beginning of march. Its more likely that I will be reassigned to somewhere here in the States until my visa comes in and then go straight down there. I'm praying everyday that our visas come on time but whatever happens, the Lord is in control so I know I will be where I need to be when I need to be there.
Also, in regards to that article you sent me, I know the professor who did the study! Thats way awesome.
This morning as I was standing at the recommend desk in the temple waiting to get my recommend scanned, Blake Lawrence and Michael Blomfield from BYU grabbed me from behind. I guess there were doing baptisms and had just happened to look over when they were walking out and then saw me and came over. It was really really good to be able to see them, because I was a little bummed that it hadn't worked out to see them before I went into the MTC. Michael should be getting his mission call this next wednesday and Blake has his interview with the stake pres on the 20th of Feb so he is going to have his pretty soon also. Super cool. Also, Sage got her mission call to the Louisville Kentucky mission speaking english! So right next door to us!
This last week overall has been really good and encouraging. I was released as district leader this past sunday so I am trying to figure out how I can help the district from the back now and not stealing the job from our district leader. Spanish is coming along better and better everyday. I find myself not having to think as much during lessons/discussions and being able to express what I want to say instead of simply saying what I know how to say. Its amazing how the Lord blesses us and expands our ability to learn and remember when we are serving and striving to be exactly obedient. On sunday night we watch "films", pretty much meaning old devotional talks or the church movies. Last sunday we watched a talk given by Elder Holland in 2006 here at the MTC entitled "Missions Are Forever". It was really powerful, and actually quite entertaining. It really talked about how much our missions had the potential to mean to us and to the world and that we really need to man up and take things seriously because if we don't we won't ever regret anything more. That talk along with a talk we discussed in class also by Elder Holland, entitled "The Best is yet to be", have me really excited to learn more and to become the best missionary I can be before I leave the MTC so that I can be ready when I get to Tijuana. I think that talk was really good for everyone in our district, even though it never mentions missions. The talk is about not looking back on anything and only pushing forward. The talk says "Faith is always pointed towards the future". I love that because we can only progress if we focus on the future and don't dwell on the past or on things that we think might be better than whats ahead of us. I know it definitely makes me think twice before I have a thought about something I miss out here.
I'm so grateful for the opportunity I have to be out serving a mission and even though I have only been gone for 3 weeks, I know that the Lord has been blessing me incredibly and has been helping me to accomplish things that I know I can not do myself. I'm so grateful for the examples that all of you have been of for me in my life and have helped me to grow and learn.
Con amor,
Elder Crockett

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The Work Continues...

Our teachers here at the MTC are absolutely amazing. I want to work here when I get back for sure. So we had started teaching an "investigaor" whose name was Carly and we taught her 4 or 5 times and then stopped. Turns out the next morning she was in our classroom as our second teacher, Sister Coleman. Its really amazing how both her and Hermano Kiser will have a whole lesson planned out but by the time we are done singing the opening hymn they say that they feel prompted to talk about something else so instead we spend 3 hours discussing different things. One thing that has been really good about having the teachers is what they call Coaching Missionary Study. The teachers pull us out individually and then talk to us about what we need to do to be improving and bettering ourselves. Last week I had talked with Hermano Kiser but it was more about the district and what things I could do to help out with the issues we had been having, but I talked with Hermana Coleman yesterday and it was really good. She gave me a talk by Pres Kimball titled "Christ: the perfect leader" and its been really helpful as I've been struggling to know how to lead our district and help resolve some of the problems that we are having. I just have constantly been learning that I need to study more, but I'm extremely grateful for the studying that I had done all throughout seminary and right before coming out to the MTC because I have been able to remember scriptures that I read and have been able to focus on following the Spirit more instead of learning the lessons in Preach My Gospel.
So last week Ben Ehlert came to the MTC and I ran into him at breakfast on thursday morning. We found out that the Tagalog zone that he is in and my spanish zone are on the same schedule so we run into each other all the time, and we play basketball for an hour everyday together at gym so its really really fun.
Last night we started with the TRC (teaching resource center?). Its where volunteers come in to be taught by the missionaries. Nearly everyone comes in is a member, and especially because we are teaching in spanish most of them are return missionaries. Its basically home teaching, and we spend 20 minutes each with 2 seperate people talking and then sharing a message and then they evaluate us afterwards on a little paper. At first it seemed a lot harder then teaching investigators because I felt that I didn't really have anything to contribute to these people since they are already return missionaries themselves. But I guess it went better than I thought, because on the evaluation sheets one of the guys that we taught wrote that our spanish was the best spanish he has heard in the last ten times he had volunteered and the other guy when we were talking to him couldn 't believe that we were in a beginner district. While my companion is alot better at me in regards to speaking the language, I think that I just need lots of practicaly practice where I am speaking, because I already know the majority of the words and grammer that I would use in a simple teaching situation here, but I'm just not as fast at putting it all together.
One thing that I really think is super cool here at the MTC is how the fake investigators work. When we teach our "progressing investigators", they are our teachers pretending to be somebody else. At first I thought it was just to help us learn how to teach but as I've learned more it turns out that the majority of the time the people that are teachers pretend to be as we teach them are family members or friends that don't have the gospel and that our teachers use the lessons we teach to recieve inspiration on how to help out their loved ones. When we were teaching Carly, she had said right off that she believe the Book of Mormon was true even when she had only read a chapter or so, but we needed to keep her reading it but I wasn't sure what to challenge her to read. As we were sitting in a devotional, the thought came to me to ask her to read the book of Enos, and I really had no idea why, but at the end of our next lesson I challenged her to read it and she said she would. The lesson after that we talked about his faith and the power of prayer and such and then moved on. It wasn't until yesterday when I talked with Hermana Coleman (Carly), that she explained that Carly is her sister and is not a member and she has really been struggling to understand what she can do to help her with her trials when she doesn't want to turn to the gospel. She said she was really confused when I challenged her to read Enos but she did anyway and found a verse that talks about how our brethren will be blessed because of our diligence and prayers and she said that it was a huge answer to her prayers and was a big comfort to her. It constantly amazes me how much love our Heavenly Father has for each and everyone of us and how truely mindful He is of our individual needs.
Hope you are all doing well!
Elder Crockett
Ps - if you have a burning desire to send me a package, load it up with mints of any and every kind. Its a rule that we can't chew gum, and since I'm trying to be exactly obedient I don't. And its even harder when I have 3 brand new packs of gum in my suitcase. haha it makes me laugh though so its not that bad :)

Sunday, February 3, 2013

The First Letter!

 Here's part of Elder Crockett's first letter home:
The first week here has been nothing I expected but really really good. I guess I never really thought what to expect of the MTC but its really fun. We started on Wednesday when I got here just jumping straight into our teacher only speaking spanish for several hours straight and surprisingly there was very little I didn't understand. We had a testimony meeting with just our district in english and that was really cool to see why everyone was here getting ready to go out on a mission. Our district is 12 elders, half of us are going to Tijuana, 3 are going to Tacoma Washington, 2 to Mexico City East, and one to San Antonio. All of the guys are really cool and I'm learning lots from all of them. My companion, Elder Solorzano is from San Diego and is pretty good at spanish. His parents spoke spanish to him growing up but he was always too stubborn to respond in English so he understands everything but doesn't know a lot of the words he needs to speak spanish. So far we have taught 3 lessons to our "investigador" Carly, and they have all gone pretty well concidering that we have to teach it all in Spanish. Its really cool to see the progress that we have all made in just one week and how much influence and help Heavenly Father gives us when we ask for his help and are trying to learn something to serve him. Out of our district, I think that our companionship has the language down the best. Elder Solorzano has a really good accent and sounds like a mexican, and I somehow remember (not somehow, its the Lord helping me) lots of vocab from high school.
So far here I've seen Micah, Caleb Stepanik from the Andover ward, Jessica Brox (a girl I worked at valleyfair with), Zach Sabin (the guy from my ward going to Indianapolis), and Trevor Shaffer. It was really fun to see people I knew and to get a chance to talk to them for a little bit.
While the MTC is fun most of the time, its really draining because I wake up at 6:10 everyday (so that I can beat the rush of elders trying to shower, especially since there are only 2 showers that put out hot water and even those turn ice cold whenever someone flushes a toilet), have class all day long and then go to sleep at 10:30. Our personal study and language study was really hard at first because there is absolutely no supervision and its 12 guys in a small room, which pretty much equals zero focus. Despite those study times being unproductive the first couple of days, we are improving........
One thing that I've really been thinking about since I got here was exact obedience. I had never before really felt a desire to follow all the little rules at school and such, but I've really been thinking about it and wanting to follow every rule exactly. I think this is because I've realized how much help I want to be able to get from Heavenly Father, and I know I can only recieve all the help He is willing to give me if I follow all of the rules that he has set out. In 1st Samuel 15:22 (i think that is the reference) it says "obedience is always better than sacrifice." I've been thinking about Micah's letter and how he talked about when break the rules, even if they are little ones, that we don't love God as much as we should. I've really been trying to follow everything that I know I need to be doing, and as I have been trying to do it I know that I'm being blessed because I have been able to learn and remember things so much quicker here in regards to the language and scriptures than I ever have before. 
(p.s from Jacqueline- I added the photos he sent to the side bar)