I've made it to P Day! (P[reparation] days happen once a week and is basically the day we get to send emails, do laundry, all that stuff! My P Day while in the Missionary Training Center is Saturday.
It's already kinda hard to believe that this is my 4th day in the MTC already. Every day is pretty packed and long, but I think with the "less sleeping" part of things, it really just feels like one really long day altogether haha.
So after I got here on Wednesday, I went inside the MTC, got my nametags, my books, dropped bags off at our residency, and then went to our classroom to meet our teachers, and do some Orientation type stuff on the computers. Met my companion, Elder Miller from Surprise Arizona. He's kind of a quiet kid, but has definitely been warming up, and is really funny and very insightful when he wants to be. After that we went to a kind of "welcome" fireside/meeting in one of the older chapel-like buildings in the MTC. There were a lot of new missionaries in there! Definitely got the distinct impression while I was there that "yes, this is where I need to be" and further had the thought "this is where EVERYBODY needs to be." The spirit is definitely here. A clip from elder Holland this last conference was shared, when he said essentially Christ tells us to "Come as we are, but don't intend to STAY as we are." Man, Elder Holland gets me every time.
On Thursday, we experienced that first 6:30 AM alarm. It wasn't too bad! I think the novelty of being in a new place helped. Got up, got ready, and Elder Miller & I started studying for imaginary investigators we had already been assigned. We had a few classes throughout the day, and study time as well. Classes are usually an hour or so of instruction, ways of changing our perspective and the way we look at teaching. (Teaching to invite people to act on principles of the gospel rather than just teaching them information.) After that, we role play, and even Thursday afternoon (our first full day!) had a lesson with the teacher playing an investigator that we prepared in class. It went... okay. Thankfully, our lesson with her the next day went really well, and Elder Miller and I felt a lot more confident about it.
Thursday night, we met our Branch Presidency. (The adult leaders around to specifically help our group of missionaries.) They're all nice. We all introduced ourselves by sharing our name, families, where we were serving, what made us want to serve a mission, and so on.
So of the members of our zone (our group of missionaries here in the MTC) that came in on Wednesday, there are 4 Elders, including myself, and something like 16 sisters? I was moved by each of my fellow elders' introductions and stories, but wow. These sister missionaries are just incredible. They have such strong testimonies and faith. Afterward, we got some more orientation stuff, and were taken out one at a time for just a quick interview with one of the members of the branch presidency. They asked if we went to school or worked before our mission, if we'd taken mission prep classes before, and stuff like that.
After the meeting was over, the Branch Presidency came in and talked briefly about leadership positions. They said after prayerfully considering who should be District Leader, Elder Dahl was that person. Um yup so I'm district leader now. Within the new members of our zone, our district (that I am leader of) has the 4 elders [all going to Arkansas little rock w/ me], and 6 sisters [all going to Georgia, I think?] The other district within our zone is entirely sister missionaries, [Going to Georgia, oklahoma city, Cincinatti? We're all in-states, and the midwest/south area] and another one of them was asked to be Sister Training Leader.
So yeah, I was already kinda overwhelmed with all the newness and stuff I had to do before, and then I was called to be District Leader. Fortunately, most of what that means, I've discovered, is that I check the mail for everyone and just conduct our district classes.
The Elders of our zone (my district + the district of elders from each previous week) are all in one corner of the residency hall. Like 4 rooms of 6 beds each [3 bunk beds] and 4 Elders in each room. So lots of room, thankfully. Some of the Elders that have been here longer have taken the vent off of the A/C system [like the tubes that carry the cold air around the building? I forgot what those are called] and use it to put their extra sodas and treats in there to keep it cool. They then put the vent back on to keep it secret. I guess there's a banana up there that's been in there since before these Elders got there haha. The other guys in our zone can be kind a rowdy, but it's fun. And actually really cool to see them doing human-wheel-barrow racing down the halls after curfew one minute, but then planning lessons for investigators and saying really meaningful prayers the next. Idk, they work hard and play hard. Two of them are going to the Orem, Utah mission (yikes) and our "neighbors" downstairs are actually going to be serving service missions in Russia! Which I guess I thought was a totally closed mission. Apparently 1+ of these neighbors had actually been assigned to a different mission while they were here! Whoa.
Friday morning was a lot harder to get up haha. Pretty typical day already though. We had a part of one class outside, next to the new buildings on the MTC Campus, which are set to open next week. (Idk if you've heard about these, but I guess they've been in the works for a while, now, and the missionaries this month will be the first to ever use them!) Our teacher did some talking and got our district a chance to walk inside the doors to check out this cool wall-sized mural of the Book of Mormon prophet Nephi. He said walking in that building was like walking into the temple, and that even though you can feel the holy ghost on the MTC campus, you can notice a difference in the feel of that spirit in the new building. With that in mind, we walked in the front doors. Wow. Yes. This mural was of Nephi overlooking Jerusalem, on the verge of something kinda scary, being "led by the spirit" but "not knowing beforehand" what he was going to do or say. And you could feel the spirit so strongly--stronger than I've ever felt it because of a building before. Temples are sacred, but the different power of the Holy Ghost testifying of the sheer amount of potential for GOOD that everyone who walks into that new building will have was just amazing. Exactly what I'd imagine walking into the Sacred Grove would feel like. This was definitely the spiritual highlight of the week.
We had our exercise time after that and played volleyball. I was reminded that I wasn't very great at it, but it was fun, and one elder from the UK with the perfect accent from our zone made it pretty hilarious.
So basically that's been life the last half of this week! Classes, study time, meals. Meals are pretty good! We're eating well, here. But I'm still on the same notch of my belt, so I'll keep you updated on that haha.
This morning we got up at like 5:45 and did a session at the Provo Temple across the street. It was hard to stay awake, but looking at the picture of the Savior in the celestial room there was also a spiritual experience. I felt like He was proud of me.
We got back and now i'm in a computer lab in the MTC writing this email!
As for a funny/embarassing story: last night I was kinda tired, and so, as one does, I grabbed my like toiletries bag and went to brush my teeth in the bathroom. I put the toothpaste on, wet the toothbrush, and started brushing my teeth. Man, this toothpaste didn't taste great. [spit, rinse, continue.] I look over at the "toothpaste." yeah, no, it wasn't toothpaste. I'd accidentally put anti-itch cream on my toothbrush instead of the same-travel-sized toothpaste I got from my last dentist appointment hahaha. I'm still alive to tell about it. I wasn't afraid to laugh about it, and got just about every other elder in the bathroom at the time laughing to tears. It was actually great.
So that's that! The days are long, already kinda blurring together, and it seems like the wednesday I was dropped off was simultaneously yesterday and a month ago. The MTC is good, though. I've had a great time here already, and have enjoyed at least most aspects of every day. :)
I love you all! The Gospel is true.
Elder Oliver Dahl
Serving A Mission!
What's all this about? As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, it is expected of me that I will serve a two-year mission. (And yeah, the "riding bikes and wearing nametags and knocking on doors" kind of mission.) But this isn't something I'm doing because it's expected of me... I'm doing this because the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ has blessed my life SO much, in SO many ways. I can't think of a greater honor or responsibility than being able to play a part in someone's story of finding and enjoying these blessings, too.
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(After June 20, 2017)
Elder Oliver Wrigley Dahl
Arkansas Little Rock Mission
905 Kierre Dr
North Little Rock AR 72116