Week 5 – MTC

Malo e lelei! We finally got our travel plans! We’ll be flying from SLC to Los Angeles, then to Auckland, New Zealand. From there we take a smaller plane to Tonga. The trip is supposed to take over 24 hours of flying. Thankfully all of the Tongan missionaries are traveling together so it should be fun.

On our way back from the temple last P-day we ran into a Brother Gent who had just been released from an assignment as a missionary housing coordinator. You could tell he loved talking to missionaries. He gave us so much advice about missionary work in just ten minutes of conversation. Brother Gent was a strength training coach for football players and he made an analogy that stuck out to me: there’s no growth without opposition, just like in weightlifting. Whenever it gets hard in the mission, ask yourself what you can gain from those challenges and thank the Lord for them.

There was a rumor that Elder Holland would come speak to us for Tuesday’s devotional. Of course someone says that every week so I didn’t believe it until we found out he was in Provo for BYU Education Week. Then we noticed that the speaker wasn’t scheduled which could only mean that an Apostle was coming to speak. We arrived at choir practice before devotional just late enough that they wouldn’t make us fill up the bleachers first, so we were able to overflow into the front seats. The speaker turned out to be Sister Oscarson, the Young Women general president. We were kind of disappointed, and then Sister Oscarson jokingly apologized that she wasn’t Elder Holland. Apparently the rumor had gotten so big that even she heard about it.

Something I learned from her talk was the eternal importance of the decision to serve a mission. I had only ever thought about how serving a mission would help me in my earthly life, but her talk helped me realize the potential eternal impact a mission can have if you allow it. Elder Holland said in a 2006 MTC address that there hasn’t been a day since his mission that he hasn’t thought about it. The mission is a source of experiences, relationships, and testimony that I will draw from for eternity. Understanding this has made be even more grateful that I decided to serve.

Our investigator lessons have continued to be very successful. The first few weeks we were just worried about knowing the lessons and relevant vocabulary, but now our planning is more based on how we can best teach the investigator according to their needs and background. We’ve also been working a lot with Sister Fotu in roleplaying contacting situations. She picks a role to act and we have to approach and hopefully invite her to be taught. At first it felt really forced trying to tie in the conversation with the gospel and a lesson invitation but when I focus more on being friendly and listening sincerely it’s much more natural. Contacting is really just getting to know people well enough so that the Spirit can then help you know what to teach. I’m super excited to go meet real people in Tonga. Especially there, they love to talk about their families, which is easy to relate to the Restoration.

Hard to believe but the next time I post I’ll be in Tonga! I think I’ve fully enjoyed my time at the MTC but it’s time to move on! ‘Ofa lahi atu kiate kimoutolu! ‘Alu a!

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Author: Elder Patrick Watts

I am serving a two-year mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Tonga Nuku'alofa Mission.

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