Another week down, only seventeen days to go!
We had our first TRC (Teaching Resource Center) on Saturday. Members, often return missionaries, volunteer to take lessons from missionaries at the MTC, and they’re instructed not to speak in English at all. Elder Mahe and I taught two RM’s who served in Tonga. After the lesson I shared with one of the Tongan instructors that I felt like I was right on the edge of being able to understand full sentences and not just recognize words. He told me the best way to understand others is to speak the language myself. At the time I could actually write sentences faster than I could speak them, so this past week I’ve focused more on speaking the language than reading and writing.
On Monday and Tuesday we said our goodbyes to the departing Malagasy, Marshallese, and Kiribati districts. Though I only knew them for a couple weeks I felt proud and glad that they finally completed their time at the MTC and could move on to serve in the real world.
When President Willes (president of our branch/zone) called me to be a zone leader, he promised me that as I served in my calling I would be blessed to not fall behind in my learning of Tongan. I have felt the effects of that promise already. The past few days I was in class about half as much because of meetings and responsibilites, but the language feels more and more comfortable. We held a zone orientation for the incoming missionaries on Wednesday night and one of the Sister Training Leaders from my district said the prayer. Later President Willes introduced himself to the new missionaries and noted that probably none of them understood the prayer but they understood the Spirit. When he said that I wondered, “Wait, wasn’t the prayer in English? Why wouldn’t they understand it?” Then I realized it had actually been in Tongan but I hear it so often now it seems as natural as English. I ended the meeting with my testimony in Tongan and President Willes remarked how good it was for only three weeks. Seeing their faces as I testified reminded me that only three weeks prior I was in their seats marveling at the previous zone leader’s Malagasy, expecting that level of mastery of the language to take me much longer. That was a pretty cool experience and another way President Willes’s promise was met, as well as the promise in D&C 46 that if we ask sincerely and obey His commandments we can receive gifts of the Spirit including the gift of tongues.
Our investigator lessons continue to improve every time. We taught the Plan of Salvation to both Elisapeti and Fisi’inaua this week. Elisapeti asked why we were teaching her about Adam and Eve from the Book of Mormon when she already knew it from the Bible. I explained that both the Bible and the Book of Mormon tell the same story, but the latter gives us more understanding of its role in the Plan of Salvation. The Book of Mormon explains the necessity of Adam and Eve transgressing God’s commandment not to eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, so they could progress and have children. Fisi’inaua asked why the Fall of Adam and Eve should be important to him, and though I hadn’t really thought about it before, I was able to answer that it explains our need for the Atonement – that the Fall placed everyone in an imperfect mortal state exposed to pain, disease and temptation, but that we can be redeemed by the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Originally I thought the best lessons would be those that go perfectly according to plan, but really they have been the ones in which we have a real conversation with the investigator and can answer questions we didn’t prepare for.
I’m grateful for all the support from home. Checking for letters and packages has never been so exciting before. Though there might be months at a time that I can’t receive email, I can still feel your support. ‘Alu a!