Alright, I'm officially in mini freak out mode. :) Not really, but I feel ready and I'm not worried about the packing because I came here with extra space, so hopefully I'm good! Yesterday was In-Field Orientation and that was amazing! So many fun activities and so much great information for the field. I'm set for whoever I meet on the airplane. I had a prompting to get a Book of Mormon and write my testimony in it. So I did! I learned from President Monson to NEVER ignore a prompting, so I'm ready. :) Before I forget, if you haven't mailed a letter you want me to get by the time I leave, don't mail it to the MTC address, mail it to my new one, or else I won't get it for a while. :/
Elder Alec Gallego
2500 N. Bristol St.
Santa Ana, CA 92706
I can't believe I'm already headed out! Time has already flown by so fast. I can't believe you are already going home in less than a month, Matthew! Keep up the great work and finish strong, you're such an example to me! :)
My voice is back completely now, thank goodness, and it came back JUST in time for Elder Russo's and mine musical number, "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing." I was SO nervous about my voice, not necessarily in the sense that I wanted to sound good, but I didn't want to distract from the Spirit that is felt during that arrangement of that song. So I prayed before and when I got up there, it still wasn't completely there, but it was enough to where I could sing the notes correctly, and they said it still sounded really good and felt the Spirit. :) The Spirit WAS so strong, and Elder Russo sounded awesome, too! My first musical duet in church. So nervous, but it strengthened my testimony of prayer, and I was so grateful for the chance we had to do that.
After the musical number was over my voice kind of died again, but I didn't care because I wasn't singing anymore! :) Or so I thought... At dinner Elder McMahon and I were called to the front desk to be told that our vocal duet of "Lord, I Would Follow Thee," that we tried out for was chosen as a musical number in the Welcome Meeting for new missionaries the following day! Oh my. It was funny because right after we read the letter explaining it, he turned to me with a smirk on his face, and said, "well...you know what you're praying for even harder tonight, right?" ha I laughed and looked at him, "my voice?" "That's right." :) Needless to say, Elder McMahon put me on vocal rest until the musical number. ha I wasn't allowed to talk, sing, or laugh until then. So I learned semi-sign language that day! It was interesting, but when it came time to sign, again my voice came back for the performance! And it has stayed back since. :) Again, I was grateful for that experience as well, I sure love the power music has to bring the Spirit. :)
This Sunday we had the wonderful opportunity to watch the dedication of the Brigham City Temple! I just LOVE temple dedications, the Spirit was so strong, and I loved hearing about the importance of temples and Elder Packer's testimony and stories. What a blessing it is to have them. President Dennis (my Branch President) was telling us that he memorized all the names of the temples when he was in Primary...all 8 of them. :) Now there are 139! It's amazing how much the church and the need for more temples has grown. I sure love the temple.
Also, this Sunday in Sacrament Meeting, Brother Caywood gave an amazing talk that I want to share with you. First, he talked about Leprosy. He explained how Leprosy is not nearly as common as it used to be in the Savior's time, with only 5% of the world really susceptible to the disease. The symptoms of Leprosy are not that the skin rots away from your body, but rather the loss of feeling that leads to it. When you have Leprosy, the bacterium attacks the nerves hear the surface of your skin to where you literally cannot feel. For example, you could carry a pot of boiling water from the bottom and not even tell, which leads to the melting away of skin. Many other things lead to it, all of them leading back to the fact you cannot feel. The revenue for Leprosy nowadays is a couple-dollar shot as long as it is caught quickly. He then likened this disease to Spiritual Leprosy. Spiritual Leprosy has the same effect. The analogical meaning is that you cannot feel anything of the Spiritual nature. He said the symptoms are explained clearly in Ephesians 4:18 when it says, "having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their hear." Just as Laman and Lemuel refused to feel the Spirit even though they had seen an angel. We need to beware of this Spiritual Leprosy by avoiding anything that offends the Spirit. That is the beginning. However, there is a revenue for the Spiritual Leprosy, as long as it is caught quickly as well, just as there is one for physical Leprosy. It is the mercy of God to provide a way back to him. It is the Atonement of Jesus Christ. He warned, "don't let it get to the point when there is not return, just as physical Leprosy has that point. Just as when the Leper is healed, he is clean, when the Spiritual Leper is healed, he is clean." Repentance is the key. I heard another quote that reminded me of this from Brad Wilcox this week. I don't know if you know who that is, but his daughter is in the new District, so he sent us a talk of his. :) He said, regarding the Judgment time, "the older I get, and the more I understand this wonderful plan of redemption, the more I realize that in the final judgment it will NOT be the unrepentant sinner begging Jesus, "let me stay." Not he will probably be saying, "get me out of here!" Knowing Christ's character, I believe on that occasion it would probably be Jesus begging the unrepentant sinner, "Please, choose to stay. Please, use my Atonement-not just to be cleansed but to be changed so that you WANT to stay." Let's be careful to avoid Spiritual Leprosy, and remember that the Atonement of Jesus Christ provides a way to help us steer clear of it. What an amazing talk, once again! I'm sure going to miss my Branch Presidency, they have taught me so much!
So this week has basically been a week of last minute cramming, and lots of good byes. :( It's going to be super hard to leave the MTC. I will especially miss my teachers, Branch Presidency, District, and Zone, who I have come to love so much. I will extremely miss my amazing companion, Elder Russo. We have grown so much together, and I know he will be one awesome missionary. I have learned so much here, and I know I will be prepared for the mission field thanks to my amazing teachers! So it's time. As I hosted new missionaries and gave the tour this week, I came to realize the cliche, "out with the old, in with the new." I love you all so much, can't wait to talk to you, family on Tuesday! :) And so it goes, "out with the old, in with the new," goodbye MTC, hello Cali! :)
"The Lord doesn't call the qualified, he qualifies the called."