I'd like to share some lessons I've learned, alongside lessons my fellow missionaries have learned:
1. A kidney stone is the worst experience ever. An elder in our district is currently in the process of trying to pass a kidney stone, and has been diagnosed with it for about a week now. He is absolutely rock solid tough in dealing with it. I got sick again this week (same as last week, just flu symptoms), but I didn't come even close to the discomfort this elder has been feeling. There's always someone having it worse than you, so don't complain.
2. Always eat food before Lortab. The elder with the kidney stone is on Lortab now, so that's what he recommends.
3. Don't eat too much food. You can get fat off of MTC food, so watch yourself. But don't get caught up in a health frenzy. Treat yourself, enjoy the food. It's all about finding a healthy balance.
4. If you want a free laxative, drink the orange juice.
5. Always relate what you have learned back to the investigators and their needs.
6. P-Day naps are the best.
7. Don't do language study during personal study.
8. I absolutely love my family. I haven't been homesick, but I sure do recognize how very awesome my family is. I love you all so very much.
9. Write in your journal or write poetry to de-stress at the end of the day.
10. Learn how to get to know other people.
11. Don't flirt. Elder Woo's rules for interacting with sister missionaries are as follows: when you must talk to them, speak towards the air around their general direction, and speak as meanly as possible so they know you aren't interested. You cannot look at them, but if you must face them, keep your hand (or other protective barrier) over your eyes (glasses or windows will suffice). (: Seriously though, don't flirt. It makes everyone groan on the inside.
12. Be emotionally open, but not emotionally dramatic. At this point, I'd like to say: Sorry Mom and Dad for not being as emotionally open to you both during high school. I now know how y'all felt when I would keep my emotions to myself. I promise that when I come back I will always be emotionally open with you.
13. Always listen to the Spirit. Sometimes it's hard to discern what the Spirit is saying. I've learned that oftentimes when we feel the Spirit we don't even recognize it as a prompting. It just seems like the consequence of being a good person and making good choices. Be a good person and make good choices, and the Spirit will be behind the scenes working miracles. If you have time, look up the story of Elder Packer and Elder Bednar and the 20-marc note.
14. It's important to have companionship unity. When you are on the same page, your lessons are amazing.
15. Don't rush lessons. Speak slowly, let the Spirit guide your speech.
16. Prayer and fasting have real power, and with faith your requests will be answered in the Lord's way.
17. The fifteen minutes of quiet time before bed are your personal appointment with the Lord. Don't be late to that appointment.
18. You and your investigators have to know the doctrine and principles before they can apply them to your lives.
19. Tell the investigator why you're here.
20. You're a representative of Jesus Christ. So act like Him.
21. Live the laws of sacrifice and consecration.
22. As perfect as you may think you are, you'll never be as perfect as the Savior. Or Elder Menzel (German elder in our zone. Seriously, he is flawless).
23. Make people laugh in a good way. This week, we got two new roommates in our room, both going to Lansing, Michigan. I had the ingenious idea to turn on my very convincing British accent and tell them I was from London. I kept this up for four days. Naturally, it was perhaps the greatest joke I've ever been a part of. I played the part very convincingly. Don't bully people or do pranks at the MTC, but there are plenty of healthy opportunities to laugh along the way.
24. The saddest sound you will ever hear is a suitcase rolling down the residence hallway, followed by someone shouting "I'm going home! I'm done with all this crap." No one in our district or zone has left. I didn't even know the missionary, I didn't even see him walking out, but it was the most heart-wrenching thing ever.
25. Don't expect mail to come, and you'll always be overly joyful when it does come.
26. Give it all to Him.
27. Keep phone out of your pocket at least a week before you leave for the MTC.
28. Be not afraid.
29. In the two years you're gone, your friends may all move on, and everything you know might disappear. You will miss out on many opportunities. But the opportunities the Lord will give you are always greater than the opportunities you give up in His name.
30. There is always someone to teach, and someone to learn from.
31. Use your talents.
32. Love one another. Be kind to all.
33. Intelligent humor is more powerful and healthy than loud laughter and potty humor.
34. Be exactly obedient, but don't be a Nazi. Understand why the rules exist, keep them all, but don't let them take away from your personality.
35. Take time to sharpen the saw.
36. Patience is key.
37. The language will come, little by little, with time, study, and faith.
38. The power of the Priesthood is real.
39. The Church is true.
40. Have a knowledge that God loves me and you.
41. This is the Missionary Training Center, not the Missionary Be Perfect and Show Off How Awesome You Are Center. It is great to be prepared, but don't for a minute assume that because you are prepared that you are too great for all of the lessons you can learn here. Even if you are learning something you already know, learn it again. You come here to train and learn, not to already be the perfect missionary.
42. You will never be a perfect missionary. But you can be a good missionary. Even better, you can be the perfect missionary for the specific assignment the Lord has for you.
43. Exercise and gym time is for having fun and relaxing, not for showing off. If you take gym time seriously, you're going to get shown up by someone who is better than you, and you make it less fun for everyone around you.
44. Learn to laugh and shrug it off.
45. There is a time and season for everything. Be where you are, and live in the season you are currently in.
46. Everyone has their agency. You can't make anyone follow the rules, it is a conscious choice to be obedient.
47. Don't give up on yourself
48. Don't be a hypocrite
Sunday evening, we had Sheri Dew as a devotional speaker. She was awesome! She is so very educated and sharp. Is it okay if I have a slight crush on her? (; These are the most important lessons I learned/re-learned from that devotional, applied to my experiences here:
49. "There are divine laws that govern access to heaven, and when you covenant with God, He teaches you how to open the windows of heaven"-Sheri Dew.
50. Angels walk the halls of the MTC. Live in such a way that they feel invited, welcome, and comfortable in the room.
51. The Holy Ghost is real. The two greatest experiences you can have at the MTC are these: when you feel the Spirit 24/7, and when you look back at your life and realize that the Holy Ghost had always been there right alongside you.
52. Jesus is the Christ, and oh how I love my Savior.
There are plenty of others I have learned, but these are all that come to mind right now.
I wish you all the very best, and I love you all so very much.
Avec beaucoup d'amour,