Saturday, November 8, 2014

My Last Letter from the MTC

Irmao M.!!!  (Professor M.!!!)
  Hey Everyone!

 It's so cool that there's a new missionary in our ward!  I actually have some good friends serving in the India Bangalore mission.  If I remember right, Sister A. P. is serving in the India, Bangalore mission.  Elder J. P. and Elder N. S. (I can't remember exactly how to spell that) are serving in the India, New Delhi mission.  If he sees Sister Pedely have him tell here that I said hi!  Well, the past 6 weeks have absolutely flown by.  They say that time flies on the mission, and it is so true.  Saying goodbye to my professors today was hard, they're such incredible people and I feel like I've really gotten to know them over the past month and a half.  The days don't feel too long, but it is a ton of work.  The weeks fly by, and the months (or month, rather) just sneak up on you.

    Congratulations on the baptisms!  I know it's a lot of work, but the remaining baptisms will come if it is God's will and we exercise faith.  In our in-field orientation we were told about an area in the mission that President Monson presided over in Canada.  It hadn't had a missionary baptism in something like 6 years.  As a result, it gained a reputation as a "hard area," and most missionaries went into it with low expectations and faith to match.  President Monson eventually closed the area, and he also learned that Brigham Young himself had preached there much earlier and had baptized 40 people in 30 days.  He quickly spread word around the mission that he was going to be opening up an area (without telling the missionaries which) in which Brigham Young had preached, and had tremendous success.  He assigned 4 missionaries to re-open it, most of them being new missionaries who hadn't heard of its reputation.  It quickly became the highest baptizing area in the mission, and I know that there were at least 80 baptisms there in the first transfer or two.  Faith goes a long way in missionary work, so keep your hopes up!  When we set inspired goals and exercise faith unto action, we will achieve!  One of my Portuguese professors, Irmao Machado, told me a couple days ago that he baptized enough people on his mission to have had a baptism for each week that he was out.  Pretty cool!
    I've been pondering a lot on meekness lately.  As I pondered on what it truly means to be meek, and how this is achieved, an interesting thought popped into my head: "Meekness is knowing from whence our power comes."  After receiving that, the concept of meekness made so much more sense!  A truly meek person is not one who is submissive to all and easily pushed around and taken advantage of, or a person who is so sensitive that they fail to act.  A meek person has even greater confidence than one who's will to act is based upon personal pride, because they know that they are doing God's will, and they know his power.  Often when I've thought of meek individuals, the image that comes to mind is a quiet person that's, standing in the corner, not saying much, and looking at their feet.  There are so many great individuals in the scriptures that were just the opposite though!  Look at Elijah, Esther, Moses, Ammon, Nephi, and of course Christ himself.  None of these individuals had any problem when it came to acting, or speaking up when needed.  They knew from whence their power came.  It's also interesting to look at pride from this perspective.  I believe that pride is Satan's counterfeit for meekness.  It grants people the courage to act, but gives the individual the glory.  Meekness also grants the courage to act, but gives God the glory because it is by his power that we act.  Who's power would you rather have backing your actions, yours or the Lord's?

   The past week has been excellent.  My Portuguese is really coming along, and I feel like I'll get it down fairly quickly once I get to Brazil.  The Visas for the other missionaries have been coming through really fast too, very few of us are having to be Visa waiters.  I'm fairly confident that mine will come through quickly.  It will be nice to have some time in the US though, and I certainly wouldn't mind spending Thanksgiving and maybe Christmas here.  I'd like to go to Brazil more though, so I hope everything comes through quickly.  Today it also occurred to me that getting good at a martial art is nearly the exact same process as learning a language.  Your training your body to take in information, and respond through trained muscular movements.  You learn a language by learning the fundamentals, repeating them until you feel confident in them, and then learning more advanced material, and repeating that until you attain a decent degree of confidence.  You achieve fluency when the pathway between input (eyes and ears for a language) and action (contractions of the diaphragm and various throat and mouth muscles) becomes second nature and requires no conscious thought.  This is what our goal is in martial arts as well, achieving fluency so that the pathway between input (eyes and feeling) and action (contractions of various muscles throughout the boday) becomes second nature and requires no conscious thought.  Hence, I think that a similar learning model can be applied as well.  It's amazing just how similar the learning models are; there's so much focus on repetition in both, as well as memorization.  This gives me a little more direction in how to train over the next several years, and I hope that I get companions that are willing to help me out every now and then.
Tell everyone else that I love them, and that I'm looking forward to talking to you all on Monday!  I love you so much, see you soon!
Here's a picture of my district and our professors.  The two who are kneeling at the front are our professors.  Irmao S. is on the left, and Irmao M.  is on the right.  (Ordem E Progresso on the Flag means Order and Progress)

Elder Logan Sweet

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