September 15, 2013
Family and Friends,
So for my last letter sent from the MTC, I’m going to do it about the same, with a rundown of the week.
Tuesday: So for the past few weeks we’ve realized that neither of us like getting up early (5:00) on P-days, so we stopped doing that and got our sleep. However, our district wanted to go to the temple with one of our Sensei’s. But he could only go at 8, and we had to start packing and getting prepared to leave since it was our last P-day at the MTC. So we woke up at 5 to do laundry. Then we started packing and I’m not worried about making weight at all! 2 quotes of the day: S Choro said that it’s like we’re in the 4th quarter of a game so we have to do all we can to make sure we win. J Choro then said that it’s much more exciting being in the game (working), than sitting on the bench, so work hard.
Wednesday: Well to start I was able to Host Elder Hansen so that was great! So one of my Sensei’s told us to share heartfelt testimonies in our lessons cause it brings the spirit more. To prove his point he had us have a little testimony meeting. I felt prompted to share the following. So by now most of you probably think that for me the MTC has been a place full of spiritual enlightenment and not a hard day in sight. Now while the first is true, the second definitely isn’t. 2 weeks ago on Thursday, I was really struggling. I felt like back home I had people who cared about me, loved me, and were just all around kind to me, and I felt like I didn’t have that here. Well then I realized that it was just Satan trying to get to me. So, when Gym time came I decided that I was going to run it off. So I ran a mile and a half and not a thing happened. So I tried a core workout. That didn’t work either. I then decided that working out wasn’t going to help, so I just sat down on some chairs on the second floor. Well not long after, a sister in my district and an Elder in my Zone who happened to be the Sister Training Leader and the Zone Leader came up to me and asked if I was doing ok. At that moment I knew that God was watching out for me, and that I did have people around me who loved me. Now that was a hard day for me, but it was also strengthening and enlightening. So remember, even on your hard days, they can be great days. God is always watching out for you.
Thursday: Today was In-Field-Training. Basically 8 hours of meetings to get you ready for the field. They told us all about how to get members involved and our resources as missionaries. It was long, but great. During class one of the Elder’s likened the missionaries to Lehi in his dream. We like Lehi have the gospel, we know of God’s love and want to share it. Lehi didn’t force his family to come taste the truth, he invited. Likewise, we can’t force the gospel onto people, we can only invite.
Friday: So we had this great lesson today about what a missionary is. We made a list, supplemented by PMG, and it was a pretty good, lengthy list, of what a missionary should be. He then asked the questions: Are you everything on this list? If not, what do you need to change in order to be all of it? Then we talked about power and authority, and how we cannot lose sight of our purpose or we won’t have the power we need.
Saturday: Today was a very very difficult day. I woke up super sick, and in for a bit of a surprise. Well I was going to go to the health office, but it turns out that it isn’t open on Saturdays…I got a blessing, but still felt terrible, and my district wouldn’t tell me, but I looked like death. After two hours of class my teacher took me down to the front desk, and they called the on-call doctor. They ended up sending me to the Urgent Care Center at BYU since nowhere else was open. I had a temperature of 101, felt achy, nauseous, exhausted, and had a terrible headache. Well at first the doctor thought it was strep, but the test came back negative. They did some more tests and couldn’t figure out what it was. I then asked if I should still leave Monday. The doctor said he didn’t know. He called the MTC on-call doctor and they decided that they’d make a decision at 1:00 on Sunday. I was given a few pills and told to take the rest of the day off. I then finished packing just in case, and said goodbye to my Sensei teaching the night class. It too was a rough day, but it also strengthened me. I decided that no matter what happened, it was what God wants. If I have to stay a week more, God wants me here for a week more. If I get to leave, God wants me to go to Japan. Not our will, but God’s be done. Remember that in your struggles.
Sunday: Well the pills helped a ton. I feel a lot better, and feel like I’m getting better. At 1:00 today I called the doctor and he said that I am cleared for departure tomorrow at 4:30am. I was so happy to hear that! The one condition is if I take a turn for the worse, I just won’t hop on the plane and they’ll delay me however much is needed. We had a great sacrament and got some good pictures with the Dai Sempai and Branch Presidency. By the way for those of you who are wondering, I still don’t like pictures, but I know some of you would kill me if I didn’t take any ; ). We had a great devotional tonight by Bro. Tanner, who is a descendent of John Tanner from the church movie about him and cousin to T.C. Christensen, the director of “17 Miracles” and “Ephraims Rescue.” He actually helped produce both of them and talked to us about them and showed us clips from “Ephraims Rescue” which looked like a really good movie! I also got a few more pictures with friends at the map, and am now heading to bed, since I’ll be waking up at about 2:15 and I like my sleep. So I’ll write again from Japan, but I want you all to know that I know that this church is true. I know that God loves us and that He answers prayers. Joseph Smith was a true prophet, and restored this church through the power of God. Jesus Christ performed the Atonement for each one of us individually, and he was only able to do that because he was God’s son, and was sinless. I hope you’ve watched “Earthly Father, Heavenly Father” by now, and I have another recommendation. Watch “Mountains to Climb” and think about how everyone needs and deserves to know the happiness and peace that this gospel brings. This church is true, I know it, and I cannot, and will not deny it.
I love you all and hope all is well!
Elder Stephen Bickel