Monday, July 27, 2009

Seth's Letter 7/27/09

Hola!This week has been another good week. It has went by pretty fast.Our devotional last Tuesday was Jon Groeberg, he was the elder in the movie the other side of heaven. He was a member of the seventy and now is a temple president i believe. Him and his wife both spoke on the importance of making the temple the central focus for our investigators. This was two weeks in a row that our devotional was about the temple and the role it plays in missionary work in this life and in the past generations through geneology and returning to the temple and assisting in the missionary work on the other side of the veil, and through future generations and posterity. It must be pretty important to hear it twice in a row. I saw a quote in the medical office this week that had the definition of a missionary: someone who leaves their family for a short time, so that others can be with there's for eternity. This truly is our ultimate goal. The work and glory of this life is to bring about the salvation and eternal life of men and as missionaries and members of the church, we are his vessels to accomplish that for all of heavenly father's children.Yesterday, the branch president called me to be the district leader. I've immediately became either the most liked or most disliked person in my district. The district leader is in charge of getting the mail for the entire district and distributing it twice a day. So, If i have mail for someone they love me. I'm humbled that I would be called as the district leader, but it'll be a hard group of missionaries to lead. They're all very strong in their testimonies and capabilities and I would've supported any of them as the district leader. My responsibilities are to collect the mail, hold weekly interviews with everyone, and conduct all of our meetings and classes. We have a district meeting every sunday for an hour to set and plan goals and then on tuesday nights, we have our own testimony meeting after the devotional for an hour. I also have some additional meetings. I'm kind of selfishly bummed, because this will cut into my personal study time and free time and just make me busier, but I'm sure that I will grow from the experience. The branch president is a very wise man, and I've had some very spiritual discussions and moments with him. He's a very inspired that most importantly loves missionaries and loves people. The language is still progessing. We are officially teaching all in Spanish and all of class is in Spanish now. This week was the week that we were supposed to start, but our district is about a week of a week and a half ahead of the schedule we are supposed to be on. This will be neat because we'll probably finish the curriculum about a week and a half early that the teachers are going to teach us. We'll have basically all the grammar and will have our last week and a half to just review and practice and teach lessons with our instructors. We'll probably get extra personal study time too, which will be nice. Saturday night at the Referall Center, we had a nice chat with a teenage girl who signed on because she had been invited to church the next day with a friend and just was inquiring what it would be like before she went. My companion were able to have a nice discussion with her and teach her some principles and were going to ask her to follow up with us the next day after church but the system crashed and we got signed off and couldn't find her. I also called a lady who had requested a free item from the church and was able to bear testimony to her. She said she was struggling with a death at the current moment and hopefully it helped her, or she at least was able to be comforted a little bit by speaking with someone. I recieved Dad's package awhile ago and so thank you for that. I'm glad to hear that Dedas surgery went well,is he still recovering well? I've heard from all my siblings except monica, so tell her that she has to send me a dear elder and tell me what she is doing in her life and plans for byu.Were u able to recieve some of the pictures? I'll try to send more soon. We wear green ties on fridays(verdes viernes) and part our hair on tuesdays(martes partes) for unity i guess- and because they rhyme in spanish. It adds a little conservative fun to the week- and i have some district pictures of these. I miss everyone and love you all. Thank you for all the support!Con Amor, Elder Dunlap

Monday, July 20, 2009

July 20,2009

This is about the halfway point here at the MTC. My estimated departure date is August 25th, but I won't recieve a flight plan until about 2 weeks before I leave. I'll be able to call at the airport and will probably buy a callign card here before I leave. Most of the flights are pretty early in the morning on either monday or tuesday. We'll be getting a new district leader this weekend and having midway interviews with our branch president, so we're officially halfway to the field.

Last Tuesday, the devotional was by President Steuer and his wife. They are President and Matron of the Ogden temple and he was recently released from the seventy. They talked about finding lasting conversions so that we can get investigators to the temple. Last night, the fireside was by the administrative director of the MTC and he talked about the power of prayer. He went through the entire book of mormon, pointing out examples of how prayer is the foundation of conversion and testimony. It was really good.

On Sunday nights, we get to watch a movie. they have 4 to choose from and so last night we watched the testaments. elder walker and I didn't get a new companionship in our room this week, and i'm not sure if we will. we are in the first floor on the building near the cafeteria and so they're transitioning that area into housing for some of the full time Referal center missionaries. some missionaries with health problems serve here for 2 years in the referal center. they have great success- teaching over the internet and over the phone. not only do we have the best hall to live on, but i am also in branch 1, district 1a, and our branch president is probably one of the best. he's been here for 4 years as a branch president and so he's very wise. he'll be released in one of the coming weeks because branch presidents serve for somewhere between 2-4 years. i wouldn't be surprised if he was called as a mission president in one of the coming years. a lot of the branch presidents are called. some of our goals for the week are to memorize d.c. 4 in spanish, to teach 10 lessons, and to have 45 contacts in our companionship. they encourage us to share messages and practice teaching alot. we've signed up for a progressive investigator starting on saturday. he plays a role, and we start from a door contact and keep teaching him until his baptism. so, we'll have a week to prepare him for baptism before we leave, and if he does accept, you even give baptism talks. it's pretty neat because a teacher is the investigator and gives you feedback after every lesson. we'll probably meet with him twice a week, so it'll push us to learn spanish for the next visit and to also see the whole proccess of conversion unfold. during the week, they also have a teaching evaluation center, so my companion and i go about every day and practice teaching with just us and a teacher. it helps out so much. i've seen elder fisher a couple times, he has my same lunch. i haven't had time to talk to him, i have just seen him across the cafeteria, but tell his mom he's eating everytime i see him, so that's probably a good thing. i'll try to see how he's doing today at lunch. thank you mom for the package, i recieved it a couple days ago, probably 2 days ago. i don't really need anything right now, thank you for the love and prayers! sometimes in class or studying, my thoughts will turn to one of you and i know you're praying for me and i'll feel your love.

con amor
elder dunlap

Monday, July 13, 2009

Letter from Seth July 13, 2009

Another week has already passed. Time is passing faster as I get used to the schedule. This week our Tuesday devotional was by Angel Abrea, who is an emeritus member of the first quorum of the seventy. He pretty much just taught from the scriptures about the companionship of the Holy Ghost. It was very intellectually inspiring from the scriptures. I learned a lot. Our sunday night devotional was given by a member of the MTC presidency and his family. He has 7 sons and 2 daughters and all of them served missions. So, they all shared one tip for us and the grandkids sang some songs and there were other musical numbers. It was a very fun message about missionary work. One of the things that stuck with me was that we should remember who we are on our missions- a phrase that we often hear in our lives. But not only that he added that we should remember who we are so that we can tell others who they are. To find those who are searching for purpose and direction and the assurance that they're children of our Heavenly Father. Dad asked about gas- everyone here has gas. I think it's more the inactivity and sitting around then the food though. A district from our zone left partially yesterday and some more are leaving tonight. So, I'm losing my two roomates. One of them left for Nicaragua last night and the other is leaving for Panama tonight. I'll miss them, it was good having older roomates who could ease the MTC transition because they knew the ins and outs. They say the two nights you don't sleep here are the first night and the last and my roomate definetely didn't sleep last night. At one point he actually was writing in his journal in his little closet so he wouldn't keep us up with the light on. It's sad to see the district say bye to each other. They've spent 9 weeks together as brothers and they've shed a lot of tears. One cool thing about them leaving though is they leave behind lots of free stuff that won't fit into their bags. So, I got a brand new pair of black shoes from a guy who had four pairs and some face wash, and some granola bars. I don't think that leaving the MTC will be as hard for me, I'll miss the guys in my district who are going to Baltimore, but I'll be seeing the other 5 a lot in Canda I assume. Two guys from my district leave today for the Guatemala MTC, so there has been 12 of us. 6 calgary, 3 baltimore, 1 boston, and two guatemala. The ones leaving for guatemala are very nice but if this was survivor and i was forced to vote two out of our district it would be them, so it works out well. I got nathan's package last monday i believe. thank you for the laundry bags and gummy bears. I don't think that there's anything else that I need right now. We go to the referal center once a week in class and then can go in our free time as well. There we can chat online with investigators or make phone calls for follow-ups to see if people recieved free DVDs or bibles or BOM's from the commercials and from online. The real reason for calling though is they want us to discuss the content with the people and bare testimony and try to teach them a lesson. This is kind of scary but also really exciting. At the RC, we get to practice why we're here. It's pretty neat to be able to talk with real people. Most people aren't too receptive, but every once in a while someone in the district will find someone truly searching and will have an amazing discussion and we'll be around kind of cheering them on. It's exciting because you get the nature of your calling. Some missionaries even find investigators who they teach all the lessons to strictly online because for various reasons they can't see the missionaries personally. Every once in a while you'll call someone with a song as their ringtone on their cell phone which is weird after not hearing worldly music. Here hymns get stuck in your head instead of the radio.It's about time for another apostle to come for a devotional, they said that about every 3 or 4 weeks one will come. So that should be pretty neat. Pretty much all the teachers here show a video called The Miracle of Missionary work by elder holland. It was an MTC address given in 2000 i believe. It's probably one of the most powerful talks I've heard and if you can find it online i encourage you to watch it. You'll know why once you watch it. It's very passionate and can apply to all our lives.Everything is going well, we should get a new district in our zone this week and two new roomates. I'm mailing my SD card with pictures and video either tonight or tomorrow, I plan on getting some short video clips later today. Con Amor Elder Dunlap

Monday, July 6, 2009

Seth's Letter July 6, 2009

Thank you very much for the letters. I got memaws package with snacks this morning. Thank you very much. We eat dinner every day at 430, which is pretty early, even for going to bed at 10:30. This week has been good. The devotional last week was by Gerald Lund who wrote the work and glory series. Every tuesday, we have a general authority speak to us. It's odd to think that it's only been 12 days here. We've learned so much. We're already praying and testifying and starting to teach a little in spanish. Our instructors say that we're the fastest progressing class that they've ever had adn if we are diligent during our time here, then we could be fluent by the time we leave. They said the problem for most missionaries is about week 4 of 9 they become comfortable and slack off. They had us write ourselves letters so that we wouldn't forget the desire and enthusiasm that everyone has now. My companion is probably the worst in the class at the language, so my hour of langague study is usually spent tutoring him and helping him out, but doing that, I learn the material better and it's a nice review for me. I really am learning and growing a lot. I can memorize the grammer and retain it a lot faster than I could in high school. It's a testimony builder to me that I'm learning at a pace faster then my own strength and there's help from above in this work.A lot of people have asked about the food, it really is pretty good. Breakfast they have all types of fresh fruit and cereal and oatmeal. They always have really good salads, like chef salads, or spinach salads, and they put all types of meats and cheeses and vergetables on them and the dressings are very good too. At dinner i usually eat the meal they're serving and it's usually decent. The long lines keep me from eating too much. People that gain weight simply just overuse the buffet. My district still really gets along well. We usually play softball everyday and we get about an hour of gym. I'm going to mail some pictures sometime this week. They have a photo print place here too where it's pretty cheap so I might just print some out. Right now, the pictures are really just of people and the provo temple. That's the extent of the scenery. The buildings are all brick and look the same, but they do have some nice flowers planted which helps a little bit. I hear all types of great instruction. Just imagine hearing talks and lessons from mission presidents and general authorities almost every day. The best though this week was yesterday during mission conference they played a clip from Elder Bednar that i believe he only gave a couple weeks ago here in a devotional. He said everyone asks him how to distinguish promptings from the holy ghost from their own personal thoughts. He said quit fussing, worrying, and complaining about it. Be good, and live how u should be, keep your covenants, and pray diligently and the Lord will guide your life. He said it's that simple. If you're doing good, your thoughts will be good, and everything good comes from the Lord. You'll look back at your life and recognize the Lord's hand in your life. I thought that it was very direct, but very true as well. The temple was closed last week, but we got to go this morning. Our sessions is at 7, so we had to wake up at like 5 15. It was a great experience, and we get an hour nap on p-days if we want it. That's really all the news, the swine flu stuff is pretty much gone. They still won't let us play basketball, but i feel like they don't like basketball here because of injuries and want to keep it gone as long as they can. People are startign to shake hands again. I hope all is well at home. The funny quote of the week was in a meeting they told us: You're not cool, you're wearing a suit, So don't try and act cool. Sorry if the email is scattered, there's really just not much change from week to week. We have the same schedule every single day for the next 7 weeks. Eat three meals, about 7 hours of class instruction and 3 hours of studying- one hour language, one hour personal, and one hour with your companion. So, I'll try to come up with interesting things to say. Love Elder Dunlap