Monday, January 31, 2011

MTC Week 3: "Great"

Hola!  So this has been a great week.  My companion and I taught the first lesson a few days ago to some fake investigators. It was absolutely amazing.  We taught so well.  

So I told my companion I knew how to hypnotize people and he told me he didn't believe in hypnosis. Little did he know.  But don't worry.   I'm not hypnotizing people during our lessons. It is legitimate teaching by the spirit.  Of course, I do use a lot of teaching techniques and influence techniques when I teach, but it just makes it better.  

I am really good at studying and staying on task. Thanks mom!  Because of that, I'm able to learn so quickly.  My Spanish is still getting better, and so are my teaching skills.  I've started teaching the first lesson in Spanish too.  I don't know enough to make it amazing, but at least I can do it.
So last week I wasn't doing so good, then I remembered my talk, and decided to focus on service.  To be honest, there's not really much service you can do at the MTC, but I do what I can.  I'm floating on a spiritual high now.  I feel so energetic and excited to teach.  I just want to get out to El Salvador and get going.

The devotionals here are awesome. The old guys that get up and talk to us are geniuses. Also, I get to sit on a comfortable seat when I listen to them, which makes it even better--so thanks for sending me that seat cushion.

What else... There's really not a ton to talk about here because we basically do the same stuff every day. Study, get taught, study, eat, exercise, go to a devotional on Sundays and Tuesdays.  Oh yeah, we have a new teacher, Hermano Moen.  He is awesome!  He is always so excited at teaching and gives awesome lessons.  He uses a lot of influence techniques, and he's so good at them I'm really wondering if he knows what he's doing.  But he is so inspirational.

So I've started writing some of my fellow zone members' little sisters. This is because we get like...four hours to write letters, and I never really have any to write.  So if you want me to write you, write me so I have your address.  My companion seriously gets about four letters a night.  Yes, I do get Dear Elder letters.  We get them the day of.  But I can't write you back unless I have your address.  

Elder Mendenhall is looking over my shoulder right now.  He's great.  My whole zone is great. Except one of the districts is leaving this week, which is too bad (cause they're awesome), but at least my district won't be the new people anymore.  

Life is still great and I love the learning and teaching here at the MTC.  I'm having a great time!  Yeah. That's all I got for now.  Write me and ask me questions if you want more.

Elder Chris Bailey

Monday, January 24, 2011

MTC Week 2

K.  So we seriously only have 30 minutes to write.  This is driving me crazy not being able to use a computer.
I'm good.
Everyone else says that the weeks are short and the days are long, but they still seem like 7 days and 24 hours to me.  But there's really not much to say.  We just study and have classes every day.  But here's some of what's been going on.
On Tuesday we had a devotional by Elder Gong of the Seventy.  He talked about being cheerful.  It was really good.  Halfway through, he asked about QED's and if anyone knew what they were.  I raised my hand, then looked around and realized that there were only like three other people raising their hands with me.  Yeah, I'm smart.
On Wednesday during our last lesson, one of the elders in our district, Elder Jordan--a...bigger guy..., got called down to the mail room.  He came back with a box full of a huge rack of raw ribs, barbecue sauce, and a thermometer.  The price tag on it was about 100 dollars.  He had no idea who it was from.  Pretty funny.  We couldn't cook them though, so we had to throw them away.

I drink a lot of chocolate milk here.  Yesterday, I had 8 glasses.  But I'm not worried about getting fat.  In fact, as much as I try to gain weight, I just keep losing it.

My teachers' names are Hermano Beesley and Hermana Nilson.  Hermano Beesley is awesome.  He looks like the guy off of Blues Clues.  I've had some sweet spiritual experiences with him.  Hermana Nilson is uhh nice.
I finally stopped checking my pocket for my phone.
I see Elder [Tim] Henderson all the time.  We have gym at the same time.  It's pretty cool.
Sunday was a cool day.  Our branch presidency is tight.  The devotional was great.  Well, I don't really have much to say.  You can ask me any questions, but mail them to me, or send them through dear elder, because I can only check email today.  And then I can't write as much.
Thanks for the packages and letters, and send me more!
Elder Bailey

Monday, January 17, 2011

MTC Week 1


I want you all to know that I'm alive and doing well.  The MTC is an awesome place, but I'm not sure if I'll be able to make it 9 weeks here.

My companion's name is Elder Gealta.  He's from California and acts like one of them too.  But he's cool.  He's probably the perfect companion for me, because we're supposed to be with our companions at all times, and I'm not too good at that--I like to explore a lot.  But where ever I go he's always there.  In fact yesterday I walked out of the bathroom stall and he was standing right in front of it.  Yeah, he's that good.  (it was a joke, he's not actually wierd like that.  He also gets a lot of letters and packages, which makes me feel unloved because I've only gotten something from the Nuffers (Thanks!).  So I'd love letters.  Especially from women, cause I miss women.  There are ten people in my district and they are all awesome.  We are already soo tight.

Thursday night was interesting.  I figured when I got my call that I would get sick and throw up during my mission, but I didn't think it'd happen so soon.  Apparently there's a stomach flu going around our zone, and I think I picked it up from eating Elder Stokes's (a guy in our zone) popcorn.  I woke up at one in the morning with my stomach hurting.  Then I realized that something was moving up the throat, and booked it to the nearest toilet.  I threw up for about ten minutes, then again two hours later.  That wasn"t the worst of it, but I'll stop there.  On friday we all forgot our keys and got locked out of our room.  I should have brought my lock pick set with me.  I think I'll go make my own soon just in case taht happens again.

I'm tired a lot.  We don't get very much sleep and me and my four roomies (Elder Gealta, Elder Parry--he's from provo, is going to the el salvador east mission, and sings really loudly, and Elder Mendenhall--yeah, from alpine going to the same mission as me and Gealta) can't stop talking till 11.  I do get to exercise everyday though, which is nice.  I try to run a 5k everyday.  I'm also picking up Spanish really quickly.  Everything I learned from Senora Swartz in school (whether I paid attention or not it seems) has all come back.  I can already do street contacts in spanish.  I'm basically pro.

Sunday was awesome.  Our Branch President, President Romney, is awesome.  He gave an awesome talk during sacrament meeting, and THe MTC presdient gave another great talk on commitment during the fireside that night.  A lot of people think the MTC life is really tough, but I feel the opposite.  Between goal setting, leading, and studying really hard, I'm getting along really well.  I've really been prepared for this.  In addition, all of the doctrine I've learned from priest's quorum, sunday school, and my mission prep classes is all coming back to me and making sense.  Even though I didn't feel like some of them were really that helpful when I took them, they really are now that I'm in the MTC.

A few days ago we also got to go walk around the temple.  Elder Mendenhall kept coming up to people and pointing to their ties, telling them there was something on it.  When they would look down, he'd poke them on the face.  I fell for it a lot cause my ties are new and I'm afraid their dirty already.  Soon, everyone was doing it to him, and he wouldn't look down.  Because we were at the temple, he had his camera with him, hanging across his chest.  So I took advantage of the situation and took his camera while he was refusing to look.  Wow, learning how to pick-pocket has really helped me get back at other missionaries on my mission.  He was running around making a big scene of it, and it was pretty funny (don't worry, he wasn't angry--it was all in fun).  We gave it back to him eventually.

Shout Out!
I've ran into so many people I know, Simon Taylor, Forrest Tait, Matt Rossy, Kolten Barfuss, Ian Pierce, Jason Perry... the list goes on.  It feels like my whole high school is here with me.

Well, I'm almost out of time.  Just know that I'm doing great in the MTC, and write me letters. I love you all, and the gospel's true,

Elder Bailey

Thursday, January 13, 2011


The "official" photo
I would like to tell you about a girl named Alice. Alice was a young, well-mannered girl, who enjoyed adventures and had a very vivid imagination. One day, through a series of strange events, Alice found herself wandering down a long path in a forest. Soon, the path broke off into two, and Alice was encountered by a strange Cheshire Cat. “Cheshire-Puss,” she said, “Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”

“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” replied the cat.

“I don’t care much where, so long as I get somewhere”

“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the cat. “You’re sure to get somewhere, if only you walk long enough.”

With the beginning of each new year, we get to set our new year’s resolutions. Many of these goals we set remain the same from year to year: improve our grades in school, exercise three times a week, lose ten pounds, spend more time with the family, save more money. Usually, these goals are lost or forgotten within a week and don’t get found until the next New Year’s, when they are thrown away and the process starts all over again.

Occasionally though, we decide we actually want to reach our goals. When this happens, we take the next step and come up with a plan on how to reach them. Maybe we decide to post a reminder to read the scriptures everyday on our mirror, and every day we read, we put a check mark on our calendar. Then, on a regular basis we look at our goals, evaluate, and measure them. We see what’s going well, what’s not going well, and what we should start doing that we think will go well. Then, because peer pressure is an excellent motivator, we may have a friend or family member check our progress each month. President Monson summed this idea up when he said, “When performance is measured, performance improves. When performance is measured and reported, the rate of improvement accelerates.”

When I was on swim team, I had a goal. I wanted to qualify for the Western US Sectionals Swim meet. I looked up the time I would need to go in order to qualify for the meet, and posted the time on my mirror, bulletin board, and refrigerator. I then set up some smaller goals to help me reach my ultimate goal. I made a goal to break a minute in the 100 backstroke by my sophomore year, and 57 seconds by my junior year. I made a goal to go to every morning practice I could. I made a goal to research my stroke and know what the fastest way to swim it was. After each swim meet, I would look at my goals and evaluate how I was doing. Step by step, I accomplished each goal, and after several years of reaching my small goals, I made my sectionals cut.

We are all familiar with how goal setting works to accomplish our temporal goals. The same principles also apply to achieving our spiritual objectives. However, many times we, like Alice in Wonderland, forget where we want to go. So let me remind you: our ultimate goal is to return to live with our Father in Heaven and gain eternal life. The problem is that it is so easy to get caught up in things of this world—money, fads, education, girls, work, ourselves. While none of these are bad, each can be taken to an extreme that can “take our eyes off the prize.” We have to remember that these things are not our ultimate goals, but part of our journey, and that if used in the right way, can help us gain eternal life.
Elder Mark E Petersen said, “I believe that in many ways, here and now in mortality, we can begin to perfect ourselves. A certain degree of perfection is attainable in this life. …I am confident that one of the great desires of the Lord our God is that we shall keep that great commandment which says, ‘Be ye therefore perfect’ (Matt. 5:48).”

Many times our spiritual goals may not always be reached in the same way as our worldly goals. Much of the world is obsessed with numbers. The successfulness of a business is determined by its productivity rate or profitability. A student’s success in school is determined by her grades. Spiritual goals, on the other hand, may not always be quantitative. Elder Dean L. Larsen said:

“Spiritual qualities do not necessarily develop in the same environment as that which fosters the attributes esteemed in the material world, nor can these spiritual qualities always be accurately measured in a quantitative way. The qualities of the spirit are susceptible to assessment, but they must be assessed by spiritual means. True, they often are reflected in individual lives in observable ways (through feelings, attitudes, commitments, and perceptions), but they are not always easily measured in a quantitative way at arbitrarily established audit periods.”

Some of the best goals we can set that will get us closer to our Father in Heaven are not easy to measure. The Thirteenth Article of Faith has some good examples of this:

“We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men…if there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.” If we look anywhere in the Book of Mormon, we can find attributes that we should strive for.

President Gordon B. Hinckley’s B’s are some more good examples. Be grateful, be smart, be involved, be clean, be true, be positive, be humble, be still, be prayerful. Each of these are spiritual qualities that we should desire. I’ll give you a few ideas.

Be grateful: When I opened my mission papers, I was ecstatic. Everywhere I went it felt more spiritual and that I had the Holy Ghost with me. But after a while, that feeling went away, and I was having the hardest time keeping the spirit with me. Two things my dad has always taught me is service and gratitude, so I set a goal to be grateful. It wasn’t anything I could really measure quantifiably, but after expressing gratitude to my friends, family, and Father in Heaven, I once again could feel the Holy Ghost as my constant companion.

Be true: Many times, it is so easy to fall to social pressure and not live up to the standards we believe. Maybe a good goal would be to decide now, that you will ALWAYS stand up for what you believe. Then when those circumstances come, you will have already made the decision to do what you believe and stand for what’s right.

Be positive: (2 Nehpi 2:25) “Men are that they might have joy.” One of my professors in college taught that “the best thing to do is to find something you love and do it.” This is an excellent goal. Find the things you like to do in life and do them. I love the gospel, so when I read my scriptures and go to church I don’t want to leave. I love learning, so when I go to school I love it, and many times I just want to stay there and keep learning. When I go swim, I love it, and I don’t want to stop. Then I go hang out with friends, and I love doing that.

Lastly, I would just like to suggest that we don’t make goals a once a year thing. The main reason New Year’s Resolutions fail so much is because people try to accomplish many goals at once, and a person can’t handle it. We shouldn’t overload ourselves with too many goals. Benjamin Franklin came up with his own list of 13 virtues that he desired. He would start with one of his virtues and plot his progresses on a chart until he mastered that virtue, then move on to the next until he mastered them all. Once he had been through them all, he would start over again, back at the first virtue, and cycle through them again. Perhaps we could take a lesson from him and not overwhelm ourselves with tons of goals, but perfect a few at a time as best we can.

When Alice met the Cheshire cat, she didn’t know where she was going, and she didn’t care where she’d end up. Let’s not live like her—not caring where we end up. Something our bishop has talked about several times is the phrase “purposeful living.” We need to remember our purpose in life, and set goals that will help us achieve that. We need to remember to evaluate those goals on a regular basis, and keep in mind that they are not always measured in the same way as temporal goals.
Dropping off a very excited Elder Bailey at the MTC