The food is tres bien. I'm working on fattening up before I leave for Africa. As me and my companion say, "We're gonna gain 50 pounds so that way we can lose 100 pounds". (;
My district is amazing. We all have a good time, and we love each other a lot. There are 11 of us total (8 elders, 3 sisters), and they are all going to Quebec Montreal. All except my companion, Elder Herring, who is going to Benin and Togo as well!
How to best describe Elder Herring? Well, I'm 6'5" and he's 5'2", and like he says himself, "We're complete opposites in height...and everything else". We really are different, but we totally balance each other out. We finally hit our groove, and now we're just on fire. He's from Provo. Elder Herring is super fast, and he's got more enthusiasm and drive than me! He's got an absolute heart of gold, and he tries his absolute hardest. Man I'm lucky to have got him as a companion.
So, it's a lot of work work work here at the MTC. It's absolutely nothing but study time. I've got the most French experience of the elders, so I'm like the go-to dictionary (little do they realize that I know less than they do. Haha!). It's amazing how real the gift of tongues is. French is super hard to grasp, but we all try to speak as much French as possible. We're at the point where we can't even say some words in English right now. We only say "Oui," or "Je suis desolee" or "Tres bien," stuff like that, instead of "Yeah," "I'm sorry," "Awesome," etc. It's the little things that count, right?
I always forget that my name is Brian. I'm so used to being called Elder by now. But I still get giggles inside when I hear "Elder Phillips".
Thursday night we had a meeting with our branch presidency. They're all super cool. And old, but mostly cool. They talked about how they're going to choose a district leader, and I was like, "That'd be pretty cool," but then two seconds later the Spirit said "Trust me Elder, you don't want that calling," and so I was cool with that. Then the Presidency talked about emailing home, and President Barker said "Don't use social media websites to share pictures," but I misheard somehow, and I heard "Don't use social media websites or pictures," and then he said "You can only send one picture per email", and so I raised my hand and asked "So, wait, are we allowed to use pictures?" President Barker looked at me and said "Look, you're purpose is to invite others to come unto Christ. You decide if sending pictures home fits your purpose or not." Then he called me as District Leader to punish me. Haha, just kidding, the Presidency loves me (I think).
But yeah, I'm District Leader. And it's super hard. Over the weekend, I was so overwhelmed. Overwhelmed in a good way, but still overwhelmed. I wanted to love my district as much as possible, but I just couldn't love them enough, you know? I couldn't take care of them on my own.
Then, Sunday evening, we watched an old MTC devotional from Elder Bednar called "The Character of Christ". Umm, wow. New favorite talk. I'm not exaggerating when I say that it totally changed my life. Elder Bednar talked about how the character of Christ is to turn out to others when we as natural men would turn inwards. I learned that I can't love my district on my own. That's a hard job right there. I need a part of Christ's love to really help and touch my district.
I found a cool insight in the Book of Mormon (a seminary teacher showed it to me years ago), and I shared it with my district, and I want you guys to get it too. 1 Nephi 4. Nephi goes to get the brass plates from Laban. He sees a man passed out on the ground, full of wine. He realizes it's Laban. The Lord says "It is better for one man to perish than a nation to dwindle and perish in unbelief". Then Nephi puts on the garments of Laban, and his voice sounds like Laban too. He goes to the servant of Laban, who lets him into the treasure room of Laban.
Now, use Laban as a symbol of Christ. During the Atonement, Christ took upon himself the sins of the world, and became full of our sins. He was sacrificed so that a nation would not dwindle and perish in unbelief. We all know that part of the Atonement, but we often miss the second part. When we partake of the Atonement through the sacrament and temple ordinances, we take upon ourselves the name of Christ, and His countenance. Because we have the countenance of Christ, the servant of the Lord lets us into the House of the Lord, His Celestial Kingdom. So, if you want to love people more fully, use the Atonement, partake of His ordinances, and you will receive the countenance of Christ.
I love you all, and I love getting your letters and packages, and reading your spiritual thoughts, it totally makes my day. Until next week. Pray for me and Elder Herring to get better at the language and to have the Spirit with us as we teach.