Elder Woo is an elder in our district, called to Quebec to speak French and Mandarin. And he's probably the funniest guy in our district. Since I'm district leader, for comedy purposes I kind of take the stereotypical over-obedient missionary (reminiscent of Barney Fife), and he's my opposite (Andy Griffifth/Jim Halpert?). We're like a comedy dynamic duo. Anywho, one day at lunch, we were all talking about going off to our different missions, and me and Elder Woo were like "Dude, after this we aren't gonna see each other in two years. That's so sad." So we both went in for like, a comfort hug, you know? So, we both had our heads tilted to my right, and we both thought we would correct so we don't bonk heads, so we both switched our heads to my left. All this time we kept moving forward because we thought that the other one wouldn't correct his head. So we end up getting within like 4 inches of each other, with our heads still heading towards each other, and we were like "Wait WOAH!" and both jumped away. It's hard to explain via email, but basically I almost had my first kiss at the MTC. With a dude. Haha, everyone was laughing at us, and it was one of those moments where you could pretend it didn't happen and be super awkward, or you could just laugh along and ride the train. So we were both like "There's something we have to confess to the district. We can't deny our feelings anymore..." It was so funny, and we couldn't stop laughing about it. And the sisters were right in front of us, so we were both like "That's right, the two hottest elders in your district are taken, so hands off ladies." So, if life gives you those awkward moments, just laugh along and make a joke out of them.
The MTC is so awesome. Once you finally get the routine down, it just feels like home. I honestly can't remember most of my life outside the MTC. I think I was born inside here, and the outside world is just a legend. I've become an outside-atheist, one who doesn't believe in anything outside of the world in which I live. Haha.
I'm doing really good. Everyone in our district is getting along really well, and we finally have hit our groove, so we all just enjoy being here. Us elders have what we call "District Shower Time," which is where after gym time we all hit the showers, sing songs, etc. Before the MTC, one of my fears was that my companion/district would get annoyed with my shower singing. It's nice to know now that people are just as quirky as you are.
Being a District Leader isn't like some glorified position like it's made out to be in the movies. You're just a normal guy like everybody else, and you occasionally answer questions. Honestly, my district is so on top of it that I rarely have to pull in the reins. Compared to lots of districts, we are so much more reverent. And I think we've finally found the balance between work and fun. We've all learned so much from each other. We're like a Band of Brothers (and Sisters).
Side note, I ran into my good friend Elder Alex Day several times this week! It was awesome to see one of my best friends here.
We don't really have free time here, there's always something more you could do to prepare or learn. We get an hour of gym time every evening (except Sundays and PDays) right after class gets out, and that's super relaxing. Foursquare, basketball, jogging, volleyball, soccer, they've got it all. It's so relaxing. Other than that, there's not really any down time. Sometimes if we take a break we'll sit around and tell jokes and stories, but that's about it.
The food is so good here. When you first come into the MTC, you see all the food they serve, and you think "Well, if they're serving it at the MTC, it must be good for you." Wrong. A few nights ago, I realized that I was eating so unhealthy. So, I reread the Word of Wisdom, and I set out my healthy diet. So far it's going very well; I feel better about what I'm taking in, I'm more cheerful, and a bit quicker. Yay for healthy eating! And gym time helps a lot.
Once you get past your first Sunday at the MTC, time flies by. There are basically three days at the MTC: Sunday, PDay, and everything else. All the days really kind of blend together, and then you're like "Oh, another week went by. That was fast." But at the same time, it feels like it's dragging on. Probably just because the routine is all the same, but I still love it.
Classes are going great. The language is coming along. Our district goal is to speak all French from breakfast to gym time every day (except PDays), and we're doing pretty good at it. One thing I forgot to mention last time was that we teach "investigators" lessons in French. We picked up our first investigator on our first Friday here, and this past Saturday we gave her a soft commitment to baptism (tip: do it on your first lesson, but we didn't know that), and she said yes! Then yesterday we picked up our second investigator, and tomorrow we get our third. So by the end of the week we'll have three investigators. It's stressful to plan lessons for all of them, but Elder Herring and I manage, with a lot of help from the Spirit. Elder Herring and I have this deal where, if he can learn how to teach the entire Law of Chastity lesson in French on his own, then he can give it randomly to one of our investigators whenever he wants. We could plan to give the Restoration lesson, and then he could walk into the lesson and just start talking about chastity. Haha, and he's serious about it too. So we'll see how that goes.
PDays are glorious. Last week it was stressful because we didn't know how to manage our time for everything, and we didn't work as hard last week, but today is amazing. We worked super hard this week, and we got all of our chores done an hour ahead of schedule, so it's glorious. Laundry is going well, we get to go to the temple every PDay morning, it's awesome. Going to the temple as a missionary is so cool, because you realize that people around the world are praying for you, and you go through an endowment session and you pick out the simple truths you are going to teach the investigators. Then around 4 o'clock we get back into church clothes, go to choir, and then go to the devotional.
As awesome as PDays are though, nothing compares to Sundays. No classes, no lessons. You still have a lot of meetings and devotionals, but it's an opportunity for you to refresh yourself spiritually. Sacrament meeting is so reverent, it's just a branch of thirty people over the age of eighteen, so it's super quiet and relaxing. This Sunday I played piano in sacrament for the first time! It was so awesome, I did about fifteen minutes of prelude music, three hymns, and then five minutes of postlude. It was so cool, because during prelude, I could tell that everyone was reverently listening to the music, and I realized that I was helping the Spirit into the meeting. HUGE shout-out to Sister Robins for being my teacher for 11 years, thank you so much! The Branch President got up to start the meeting, and he said "You know, I think we should just let Elder Phillips play for the rest of the meeting, we'd probably get a lot more out of it then," and I was just thinking "It's all thanks to Sister Robins!"
I love getting all those letters and treats from y'all. The post office here is weird, so there'll be a stretch of like three days where I don't get mail, and then one day I'll get like two letters and two packages. But that's the post office's fault, y'all are awesome. I'll get off a day of healthy eating, and then there'll be a box of Krispy Kreme waiting for me, and it'll make me happy.
My favorite thing about the MTC is feeling the Spirit 24/7, and recognizing that I am feeling the Spirit. It's not any burning in the bosom kind of thing, the Spirit speaks very individually. I always feel so clean when I feel the Spirit, like I just washed my hands in lukewarm water. It makes me smile. Every night, when I'm going to bed, the Spirit will always give me little impressions about how to be a better companion, missionary, or district leader, in a very loving way, and I'll try to apply them the next day. Ah, I love the Spirit.
Me and Elder Herring are getting a long really well. These past couple of days, we have just been on fire. We haven't ever argued, or had any kind of contention. Whenever we disagree on something, we just discuss it very respectfully. There are some parts of the day where we feel really tired, and so we just don't feel up to talking to each other, which is totally fine. We both just kind of look at each other like "I'm really tired. Let's just like take a 15 minute no talking break". But man, I love my companion. He's such a stud. I think we're just realizing the potential for how awesome of a companionship we can be.
When you're a missionary, you have two choices: you can do it your way and try to be a superhero, or you can surrender your agency to Heavenly Father, and He can totally turn your life around. This week I just had several small experiences where I realized that I was becoming who Heavenly Father wanted me to be. I've been so much more happy, and a lot more loose and relaxed too. I honestly can't remember the last time I've been so happy. The months leading up to my mission, I felt like Satan was really attacking my personality, and it really wore me down, and then I got to the MTC and it's been cool to find myself again.
As Elder Bednar says in Character of Christ "Your greatest convert on your mission will be yourself, but not because you are trying for that".
Puis Dieu vous benit,