Thursday, August 22, 2013

Last letter from MTC Letter 08/22/2013

Kamusta ang akong pamilya!

The MTC has been great but needless to say, I am ready to get out! This time next week I will be emailing you from the Philippines and may or may not be using my left hand as toilet paper. Things have gotten loads better with my district. I have learned a lot about patience and love. If anything, having this kind of a district in the MTC is a blessing because I know I will be able to better deal with elders like those in my district through out my entire mission. When you don't like someone, it's easy to just remove yourself from their presence. You can't do that here and so you have to work things out. The Missionary purpose states that we are to "bring others unto Christ..." It doesn't say investigators, or nonmembers, but "others." That means everyone. That means each other. "What we're really fighting for is each other..." to put it in the words of Civil War Colonel Chamberline. 

I have been reading about Alma and the Sons of Mosiah this week. Their story has so much more weight now that i'm actually on a mission. I read Alma 26 four times in a row. I don't know how you could read that chapter and not have a testimony. I love Ammon's personality. He is so bold. Can you imagine asking an investigator a question and then waiting an hour for an answer like Ammon did with Kind Lamoni. I love at the end of chapter 26 how he says that if this is boasting then You bet I'm gonna boast! You take everything my Lord has done for me and then give me a reason why I shouldn't boast of my God! (This is just how I imagine things were going through his head) "For this is my life and my light, my joy and my salvation and my redemption from everlasting wo." I almost imagine Ammon being a similar character to Elder Holland. 

On Sunday when our president spoke in sacrament meeting he told us this analogy about an old mule. So this old mule fell into a dried up well. The mule was old and the well was dry so the farmer figured he would fill in the well and bury the mule thus allowing him to get two jobs done at once. So the farmer began to fill in the well and as the mule felt the dirt hitting it's back it began to panic but then figured out that he could just shake of the dirt and step up. So surely enough the Mule continued the process of shaking of the dirt and stepping up until it was able to walk out of the well. Sometimes when we face adversity it's easy to panic but all we have to do is shake off the dirt and step up. Dad, I know what what you're thinking, because I had the exact same questions. (1) What kind of well is big enough for a mule to fit in it? (2) How in the world did the mule survive the fall? and (3) what kind of morbid farmer would try to bury his mule alive? Despite the flawed logic however, the message was good and I think I was the only one who thought about it enough to notice the flaws anyways.

On Monday we were taught about how "we invite, they commit, we follow up." One of my favorite parts was the concept that we must put the Doctrine of Christ in every lesson. If investigators can know the Doctrine they can understand the principles and know and have a testimony of why they must act accordingly. And along with that it is crucial that we always teach with a smile and always teach with peace. During afternoon class we discussed the things like tithing and church attendance that investigators must do in order to be baptized. We discussed the point that if we only try to commit, God will only try to Bless. This is about doing. And even if we fall short on our commitments we recommit. That's why we take the sacrament every week. He told us the story of a fisherman that he taught who was hesitant to go to church because if he went to church he couldn't fish and provide for his family. One Sunday he committed to come and our teacher and his companion went to church and awaited his arrival and he wasn't showing up. The meeting started and he still wasn't there. So naturally they were pretty disappointed. They were speaking so they sat on the stand and as they were sitting there he showed up. He hadn't had much success fishing and so he came to church. Overcome with joy because of his arrival our teacher and his comp. prayed later that day for a miracle for this man because of the faith he exercised in coming to church. Just a little background before I go on, These fisherman had these shallow buckets about 6 feet in diameter where they would put their fish. On an average day they would catch about 7 buckets and they would sell the fish for a living. They might catch 10 buckets on a good day. So the following Monday, our teacher and his comp get this knock at their door early in the morning from the children of this investigator who had come to church the previous day. They brought them to the docks to show them that their dad had caught 25 buckets of fish!! God answers prayers and he blesses those who keep commitments. 

On Tuesday Richard J. Maynes from the presidency of the seventy spoke. I sat by Elder Reid it was sweet being able to talk to him. Just some of the highlights: The Most successful missionaries are those missionaries who not only know their purpose but live it. We must always stay connected to our purpose because we are on the Lords errand and you never know who is watching. We can do this by (1) Understanding how important this work is. We don't really think about it this way often but Joseph Smith represented every investigator. He had the question that all investigators have. As missionaries it is our responsibility to allow the spirit to answer those questions through us. It is our job as missionaries to follow in the footsteps of the perfect companionship of Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father when they appeared to Joseph Smith. (2)Remember How much our Heavenly Father Love his children. DC18:10 Those souls are his children, our brothers and sisters. Sometimes all it takes is a simple testimony. It only takes a spark to start a fire. (3) Be worthy of and sensitive to the promptings of the Holy Ghost. Of course I want to be worthy but it's not about me. It's about those people's lives that I have the potential to change through the message of the Restored Gospel. Without the spirit I am nothing as a missionary. Mendy played the organ and so I talked to him afterwards. School started today. Anyways, for the opening song we sang "Called to Serve" and so everyone stood up but apparently we're not supposed to so the MTC presidency made us sit down. I love them, but I was very upset with them. I'm sure there is a good reason somewhere but even Mendy agreed with me that we should be able to stand during that song. 

I love hearing from you all. I hope all continues to go well. Keep the Faith and may peace be the Journey. Never hesitate to share the gospel. There is no reason we shouldn't share something that has brought us so much joy. I love you all and wish me luck as I depart to the Philippines!

Love, Elder Ethan Lowe

Thursday, August 15, 2013

MTC Letter 08/15/2013

Kamusta ka Pamilya!
Salamat para sa imong gugma ug kahupay!
It has been a solid week, And that goes for all aspects. So yes my digestive system is getting back in order. My grammar is still pretty terrible but I can say for the most part what i want to say in our lessons sa Cebuano. I do speak Cebuano in my sleep. In fact, I yell Cebuano in my sleep, usually it's just words and not full phrases. But it's subconscious none-the-less. So we did hear from an apostle but I'm going to take this in chronological order. Usually when I email I just sit at the computer with my journal and take it a page at a time.

On Thursday nights when p-day is over we have what is called the Teaching Resource Center (TRC). This is where people (usually returned missionaries) come and volunteer to be taught and so we teach them sa Cebuano as them (as opposed to them acting as an investigator that they had on their mission because we do that too, but not in TRC). You wouldn't thing a bunch of greeny missionaries would be able to teach anything to a returned missionary in a language they barely even know but I was surprised at the amazing spirit that is present when we teach. So we taught one of our teachers, our topic was Ang padayag pinaagi sa pag-ampo. (revelation through prayer). While we were teaching he asked if we could pause for a sec while he wrote down a revelation he had just had. It was such a rewarding experience to see the spirit at work. Later on we had a discussion about our purpose, identity and potential as missionaries. We are imperfect people but we can have perfect desires. And because God sees as we can become His answers to our prayers are perfect even if they don't seem perfect at the time.
During class on Friday we were doing demo teaching. This is where the teacher and a volunteer sister or elder do a teaching scenario and we talk about it as it progresses. While we were doing this I had a cool revelation. I was thinking that It's hard to know exactly how investigators feel as they search for truth. The thought occurred to me that I've always had the truth having been raised in the Gospel. But then I realized that perhaps that was an ignorant thought to have. Even as members, it is still a constant search for truth in our journey towards conversion. We may know where to find the truth, but it still has to be found. It's still up to us to search for it. To find it. So in that sense, we should know exactly how it feels, for we are all investigators on the road to personal conversion in this adventure called life.
So we have devotionals on Sunday nights in 19 M and it's broadcast to west campus and then on Tuesday nights we all go to the Marriott Center. On Sunday we heard from Brother Heaton. He's on of the top dogs at the MTC. His talk was about the purpose of the purpose. It's easy to get distracted with important things and discard the most important things. The Purpose of our purpose as missionaries is to help others reconcile themselves to God. If we baptize people and they understand that it's in vain. We want people to be baptized of course, but there's more to it than that. I don't do it must justice explaining it but it was a really good talk. It was Very practical and applicable to the next two years.
Alright now then, On Tuesday evening we had the opportunity to hear from Elder Richard G. Scott. He is so soft spoken but everything he says is so powerful. He is so humble and you can just tell that he has an extraordinary relationship with God. He talked to us about prayer and how we can make our prayers more meaningful! It was amazing. General conference is good and all but when an apostle comes and speaks to a specific group it's something special. I have heard many amazing talks from him but this one was my favorite. I learned so much about making my prayers more meaningful. When you pray you must pray in faith and faith means action. As we act and use our agency, God will let us know whether the path we have chosen is right or wrong. Sometimes when we don't receive answers it's because God trusts us enough to make the right decision on our own. He was a bit emotional and near the end of his talk he explained why. He began to talk about his late wife and he said that he had the strongest feeling that she was permitted to be there in the Marriott center at that devotional. It was really cool to hear him say that. The spirit hit the audience like an ocean wave. Afterwards the branch president was telling us that he has heard Elder Scott speak about six times during his time as a Branch Pres. and that he always talks about his wife but never has he made note of her presence. We only fill one third of the stadium but I'm pretty sure the other two thirds were filled with Heavenly Hosts. At the Beginning and end of his talk he blessed us who were learning a new language with Apostolic Authority. The spirit of his words was indescribable. I am so grateful we got to hear from him. I will use the notes from his talk for the rest of my life. I would have shared more but I left my notebook in my room.
I have been cruising through the Book of Mormon like crazy and this past week I started Alma. I read about Amulek's encounter with Zeezrom. What a powerful story. As we live righteously, we have that very same spirit with us that through Amulek caused Zeezrom to tremble. As I read about Zeezrom, I pictured him as someone who has a face that you just want to punch. And He needed to be punched in the face. And he did get punched in the face by the spirit. That is one of my favorite stories. We should all look up to the examples of Alma and Amulek and remember that there will be people who try to stump us but we have the spirit of the Lord with us to help us bring people like Zeezrom unto Christ.
Sometimes in class our teachers will just talk about mission life and about life in the Philippines. These are some of my favorite discussions. Yesterday (wednesday) someone shared a quote from his mission president. 
"Diligence without a Goal is Slavery,
A Goal without Diligence is a Daydream,
but Diligence with a Goal is Success." --President Shmutz

Well I am out of time. I will try to get some handwritten letters to y'all this week but no promises. Thanks again for all the love and support. I love hearing from you and hearing about all the adventures at home. Keep the Faith and may peace be the journey.
Elder Ethan Lowe

A note from JaNae- My brother Elder Mason Reid and Elder Lowe ran into each other at devotional a week or two ago and Mason sent us a picture. So, here's a picture of Ethan. I haven't received any other pictures but when I do I'll post them :) 

Thursday, August 8, 2013

MTC Letter 08/08/2013

Pamilya! Komusta ka?
It's getting harder to know what to write in my emails. I learn different things everyday but the schedule is the same. My week is like clock work. There is always a place to be and a time to be there. I have to say that the part of the day I look forward to the most is gym time. After sitting in class and studying all day it's a good way to release tension. I do a cross fit work out everyday followed by an ab workout. I have only gained five pounds and all my pants still fit. (Ali - our bet still stands ;) ) the track/workout place on the top floor of 19 M has a window that has a perfect view of the windmills and when i look at them it's hard knowing that I'm so close.
Class is good and I'm learning how to better manage my study time. I never thought I would be able to focus like this. Class is divided into three basic parts usually of language instruction, coaching, and doctrine/teaching. We have practice investigators that we teach 2-3 times a week. It's hard but I love it. Elder H. and I always plan out our lessons completely in English and then we will practice the vocabulary we need for that lesson in Cebuano. It's super hard but we can say basically what we want to say. It's just hard getting all the grammar rules down and applying them.

Fast Sunday was a really neat experience. The spirit is always strong at the MTC but there was something special about the spirit on fast Sunday. We had mission conference and one of the Mission presidency wives talked about the elements of a testimony and how it's not story time or a travel log but a expression of our belief in Jesus Christ, our Father in Heaven, and the Gospel thereof. For the Sunday devotional Jenny Oaks Baker came! She was incredible. I heard the CD that mom listens to live. I loved it. I was surprised that I was the only one in our district who knew who she was.But she was amazing and the spirit was so strong in her music. Her message was about spiritual gifts. It's funny to hear her quote her dad, Dallin H. Oaks.

The Days are like weeks and the weeks are like days. This is in a sense Spiritual Boot Camp. It's a full on Mental/Spiritual work out. Just like physical training, It's a constant process of being broken down only to gain more strength when built back up. If I didn't know my weaknesses before, I do now. And this is how it's supposed to be. I never expected it to be easy. But it is worth it and I love it all. I already feel like I have grown so much. I still have a ways but I am striving towards being my first convert. In 2 Nephi 12:5 Isaiah invites the house of Jacob to "come...and walk in the light of the Lord" and to come out of their wicked ways. I think it is important to heed this invitation. We shouldn't be upset that we are being corrected but blessed because we have a Father in Heaven who cares about us enough to send his servants to again invite us to repent and come unto him. Granted none of us are vile sinners but nobody is perfect and becoming converted is a lifelong process. That is why enduring to to the end is such a big deal.

I love you all. I am grateful for your love and support. I know this Gospel is true. God loves each and everyone of us. I know that my Savior Jesus Christ lives and loves us. I am an imperfect person but I am involved in a perfect work. Keep the faith and may peace be the Journey.
Ayo Ayo
Love Elder Ethan Lowe

Thursday, August 1, 2013

MTC Letter 08/01/2013

Another week has come and gone at the MTC. The days are long, but the weeks are short. I love receiving your letters. It's nice being able to read them outside of my email time, so continue to take advantage of snail mail and dear elder while i'm in the MTC. The address I gave you at home had unit 77 on it. That is correct but the reason I have been addressing letters from unit 87 is because that was what was on this little card they gave me at the MTC. But whichever one you send it to, i'll get it.
We sit in class for almost 8 hours everyday. It gets really long but I absolutely love my teachers. They are all excellent teachers that have a lot to give. Sister O. is our main teacher but in the afternoons we have either Brother Taylor, Brother Young, and Sister S. I love all of them. They all add a different flavor to the learning experience I guess.
The Devotionals on Sunday nights and Tuesday nights are good, Sunday we had two speakers, they were both really good. I wish we could have an Apostle come though. On Tuesday we sang "we'll bring the world his truth" for the closing hymn. I have always loved that song but have a greater appreciation for it now. They change the words for us to "We are now the Lords missionaries" and whenever we sing that line my eyes fill up with tears. It is truly an amazing privilege to be able to wear the name tag that bears Jesus' name. I am a representative for Him. Last Thursday evening when our P-day was "over" we had class and in it, Sister O. asked why we are missionaries and why we are here. My whole life it's always been a question of when I serve rather than if. I've grown up knowing that whether or not I wanted to, I was going to serve a mission. I am however grateful that I grew to know of the truth and gain sa pagpamatuod (testimony) that I would want to serve. I am here because I want to share with others something that has given me and our family so much Joy. I came with a desire to serve and every day I am here my desire grows and my ability to love increases. I know that my Savior lives. I know my Father in Heaven answers our prayers. His message is one of Joy and Happiness and I want to share that.
We had a lesson on Tuesday afternoon in which we talked about listening to the promptings of the spirit and never doubting his promptings.The teacher did a demonstration in which I was the volunteer. I went to the front of the room and he asked me to do a few simple things such as, spin around, or jump three times and so I did. Then he said, "fall strait back"... So I did... And I kept falling... and when I was about 8 inches from the ground he finally caught me. The point of the exercise was that we should never doubt the spirit, but he had never had someone keep falling and not catch themselves. He wasn't ready to catch me because he didn't think I would keep falling. It was pretty funny except for the fact that I almost died. Perhaps I'm a little too trusting sometimes. But in the case of the spirit I hope we can always Fall strait back (perhaps there is more to the 'trust fall' exercise than we thought).
Becoming a Missionary is a process. You don't just put on a shirt and tie and name tag, you have to live worthy of that name tag. As I said earlier, we are representatives of Christ. I am nowhere near perfect but I am working at it. Everyday my ability to feel the spirit grows stronger and I know that with the Lords help all things are possible. This past week I studied the crucifixion in all four of the gospels. We truly cannot  comprehend the pain that Christ suffered and he did it all because he loves us and because his Father loves us. I love the part when Peter chops the guards ear off and Jesus heals him and tells peter that if he wanted to fight back he could snap his fingers and have legions of angels by his side but he didn't for the purpose of the Atonement. For that cause he was brought into the world. I cannot comprehend everything that my Father in Heaven does for me but I know that everything I am and everything I have is because of Him. For class one day Sister S. taught us about having a Culture of Righteousness. I love this concept. We (as missionaries and as Latter-day Saints) are all light houses and have so much light and guidance to offer by way of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We just have to be exactly obedient in order to have the entirety of those blessings and Along with being obedient and NOT doing the Bad things, we must also always be doing the good and right things. And as you do the good things, Not doing the bad things won't seem so hard. Just because your not doing anything wrong doesn't mean your doing right. And on that note of being good, Pres. Hinckley once said, "Don't be just good, be good for something." As missionaries, there is more expected of us. We must be more than exactly obedient. We must carry ourselves in a way that is totally and completely in accordance with representing Jesus Christ.

"Faith is the action, Obedience is the price.
Love is the motive, the Spirit is the key
Christ is the reason." -anonymous
And as Elder Rob Lowe always said, Keep the faith and may peace be the journey,
gihigugma ko kamo!
Love, Elder Ethan Lowe