A word of warning about these early letters… to the average, somewhat cynical person living in the world and not spending their days immersed in the study of the gospel and the service of others, these letters will sound Pollyanic. Everything is "great" or "awesome". Reality sets in a bit later on in the mission, so bear with it and just enjoy the enthusiasm and innocent faith of a new 19-year old missionary. 🙂 What really annoys me is how much I underlined stuff. "Incredible" isn’t enough. I had to underline it. Sheesh.
Mom, Dad, and Chitlins,
I’m extremely tired right now. Got up at 4.45 to do initiatory work at the temple. Doing laundry now.
Thanks so much for the goodies. A perfect package. Looking forward to more Outland… As few cookies as possible, though. I may be gaining. Eeek. I have gym regularly, but it’s harder to limit yourself at meals here. And with 2 plates of brownies and a cake down and another plate of cookies plus yours to go…
I’m concerned about Kate over-doing it. I get something from her every day. 2 plates, a cake, a hymn book (engraved B-day present), a banner, a few cards… a "survival kit"… a framed picture… She’s not acting like the friend we agreed to be. Which reminds me, haven’t heard from Tiffany yet. You get her my address?
Ah well. Women are not a concern anymore – nothing’s distracting unless it’s blatantly romantic. Friends are, though. Hope she writes soon.
Ahem. You can really tell that they’re "not a concern" when I spend so much time in letters discussing my old girlfriends. That also tapers off in time 🙂
The discussions are coming along. I’m pretty nerved out about learning to teach like I want to. But I know I’m not expected to be a veteran when I hit the field. If I can just keep working on them and keep the Spirit with me as much as possible.
My district is so great. We’ve had problems already with getting along too well. So well that we hardly have the Spirit with us in classes because we’re joking around too much. We had a meeting and decided to get priorities in line, though.
They’re all going to England Coventry except one to Bristol and 2 sisters staying State-side. We’ve got an incredible mix: a 26-year old, 4-year convert, a rich Nebraskan, a Utah farmer, a down-to-earth Salt Lake comic, a monster California football player, etc. etc. They’re all great.
None of my instructors have been to England (Spain, Hong Kong, & Korea), and they canceled culture class for our culture, so we get to wing it.
Culture class was a class specifically focused on teaching you the culture of the country you were going to. Ours was canceled because well England is just so similar to us that we didn’t really need it, right? Well, I’m sure we didn’t need it AS MUCH as the guys headed to Korea, but a few warnings would’ve been good.
Can you do some gospel study with me, if you have time? We’re reading 2 Nephi 9 every day for a month as a challenge from the MTC President who says it’ll change your life. It’s about Atonement, but… give it a read and offer insights.
So much happens here. I’m growing spiritually and socially be leaps and bounds every day. There’s too much happening to me to even soak in completely and apply, let alone write in my journal about it, let alone explain it to 3 or 4 people in writing. Suffice it to say, for now, that my testimony has doubled, tripled, etc.
I now can say I know the Book of Mormon to be the Word of God. I think I tried explaining what’s happening to me in the last letter. Things that I’ve always thought were true, I just never allowed myself to put the faith into them required to "know."
Now, I’m more forgiving of myself and others, so I become more in tune, so I see more clearly… it’s a domino effect. My life falls into place and has meaning.
Well, looks like you’re all happy. I’m happy. Hey, things are just ducky. See mom, this mission-thing is already a good deal. I do miss home, a little.
I love you all very much. Just don’t let Jenny get carried away with my newer tapes (B-52s, Madonna). I barely got to listen to them and would like them in decent condition when I get back.
Love you all, Elder Chris
Another letter from the MTC, not long before getting on the plane to England. "Travel leader" was an assignment made to one of the group flying together to make sure noone got lost in the airports, etc. Also there’s mention of a tape I made, which I don’t think I have anymore.
Here’s some stuff I don’t need – the less the merrier. Also, a tape made Monday and Tuesday and Wednesday, I think.
Just got your letter. Great to hear more than one member of the family is being humbled. Oh, and I hate to say I told you so about [my sister]‘s guys, but…
The Spirit’s great here, and much has happened even since the tape, but there’s little time in this rush to leave, so settle with assurance that I am growing up quite a bit. Lots of humility, lots of closeness to the Lord. No hot water, too – that helps.
Things are great with all the "friends." 4 of our district’s visas didn’t get in, so they have to stay behind a week and I have been reassigned (long story) to travel leader for our group. No change in my plans, though.
Sorry about the account – was going to balance before I left, should’ve told you I knew there was an imbalance.
Yes, I see everyone often [reference to my high school buddies also at the MTC] – except Peter. Only seen him a couple times, not like it’s a big deal when I do though.
Gotta run. Love you all, Elder Chris
A final letter from the States.
One more note from the US so I can get some pics to you cheaper.
Things are so great. We did some sealings today. What an experience. I wish it wasn’t so tiring.
Stuff happens here. Serious stuff. In the past few days, I have been more filled with the Spirit and overwhelmed with a peaceful joy than in my whole life combined. Half of yesterday’s meetings was spent in tears of sweet happiness.
The excitement I feel for the Work and love for God’s children is driving me at 100mph. I’ve learned so much in the last 2 weeks. This is the most intense learning experience I’ve had – and I haven’t opened a book other than the Bible, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and my journal.
Some members of our district were humbled last night by a spiritual experience with relatives that had passed on. They were in the room with them, bringing them to tears until 2am. Stuff happens here.
Anyhow, I can’t describe to myself what’s happening to me, let alone anyone else. I love you all. Thank you for everything.
Love, Elder Chris