Thursday, December 26, 2013

Week 8 and Final Email from the MTC

Christmas was awesome!! We all had a great time! 

The day started with us opening presents. Many many elders were very generous in putting together a couple of boxes and a stocking for Elder Baldwin! He was so excited to get it. Many of you contributed to a great Christmas for both of us! A special thanks to the fam, the Dalziel fam, Bruce and Amy, Carolyn, Joannie and Alec, and many others for great packages and Cards! I hope everyone had a great Christmas! From what I have heard so far it sounded like a great day. i hope the Dalziels have enjoyed their cruise. Not sure where they are, but if they see an Elder Jeff Pierson say hi!

We then had breakfast. It was cereal! I enjoyed it! Following we had a Christmas program! It was a talent show thing! There were singers and dancers, and violins, and guitars, pianos, Cup balancing, and magic! My personal favorites were the magician and the cup balancing. The cup balancing thing was a total joke. He balanced a cup on is head, and stood up and sat down and jumped around! It was hilarious! He actually was pretty coordinated, but it wasn't the type of thing you would expect to see in a talent show. The magician was from Korea! He was quite impressive. He could make stuff disapppear and reappear! He made a huge mess! After weeks of the usual I really appreciate the unusual haha! You can probably tell! Some of the singers were quite good! Many of the piano solos were amazing!

We then had lunch! It was delicious! they go all out for holiday meals! After a magnificent lunch (Which the sisters decorated a very cool table for) we had a choir practice! it was my last here at the MTC! The director is amazing! A spiritual Gnant!!! Practices with him are so much fun, and he gets a ton accomplished. He is also full of spiritual insights, and encouraging thoughts! Anyway that was really fun. I sat with Elder Holm, and Heilein and Anderson Elders. They are both going to hungary, and I am really good friends with both of them! That makes choir even more enjoyable because those guys are all cool. Elder Baldwin is a base so he was on the other side with some of the other in our zone. We were so fortunate to sing for Elder Bednar!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

When he walked in everyone stood, and there was just an awe that went through the audience! He is obviously a favourite! I was thinking about it, and his age and current rank make it very likely that he will be a future prophet! Anyway he and his wife took a very interesting approach to what was an awesome team talk! 200 red cell phones were passed around in the room! We were given a cell number to text in questions which came to his ipad. Missionaries in other MTC's were situated near computers from which they could email in questions. Missionaries from around the world sent in questions! It was so cool! Elder Bednar is obviously tech minded. It was the first time this kind of thing had ever been done! No one saw it coming! It was amazing! He is so in tune with the spirit. he would pick and choose through the questions giving many to his wife who is also amazing! Some of her insights were awesome. Some of the questions were "Why do I feel so inadequate" "How do I avoid temptation" "how can I live my life in a way where I always feel close to God" "What does it take to be an apostle or an apostles wife"

Some insights were.. If you don't feel inadequate you don't understand your job description... to avoid temptation you must be familiar with the scriptures (Matt 4)... It is easier for God to direct those who are staying on the path... pray often, and you are closer to God when you pray for others than yourself... when you understand the Plan of Salvation fully you no longer will sin because there will never be any desire... To be the best missionary you get out of the way, and forget yourself... The best members and missionaries are those that are always trying to better understand the atonement. There was a lot more and half the talk was in the delivery! They then collected and counted the phones! So cool!

After that we had a district devotional review. We also ate sack dinners. There was a jazz performance. There was a recorded tabernacle choir review! We then did our service assignment of taking down the gym! It was a great day! I hope you liked the pics!

Today we cleaned the temple for the second time! It was awesome! We vacuumed and dusted! It is kind of messy because of the renos that are going on.

We take off on Tuesday!  Take Buddy on walks and say hi to all of the family!

Love, Elder Stewart

Cards from Henderson Ward Primary
Elder Stewart and Elder Baldwin in front of the temple.
Elder Stewart and Elder Koegler
The classroom for the Albanian missionaries.
The line to go to choir practice!
Elder Stewart and other Canadian elders - Elder Francis, Elder Koegler and Elder Boychuk.
Christmas Morning breakfast! Parker's favourite!!
Christmas dinner at the MTC. 
Some of the Christmas haul. He felt well loved!
Elder Stewart and Elder Baldwin with matching Christmas ties! Courtesy of Tina Evans and Aunt Carolyn.  :)
Elder Stewart by "the map".  We gave him strict instructions  to make sure to get a photo by this map before he left.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Week 7 at the MTC

The week has been excellent! Thanks you so much for all of the letters and packages! I really appreciate All of the ones from family, extended family, and friends! It sounds like many of you are gearing up for Christmas! From What I can see it looks and sounds great! Good luck with the last couple days of school! 

Things here are going oh so well! Like I said I really am feeling a ton of support from home! I wish I could thank you all individually, but I just don't have time. You have all been so great! The one specific mention I wanted to make was the Henderson Ward Primary! Nice work I loved the notes and the pictures, as I am sure the other Elders did as well! I have multiple packages sitting on the desk in my room waiting for dec 25, and I have a few Christmas cards and pictures sitting open up there.

This week our Zone said goodbye to 13 excellent Elders and Sisters headed to Finland! They were all really great, and we got to become really close friends very fast! I am sure they will do excellent! Mandy Koegler also took off this week! On the flip side Michael Koegler, Carter Francis, and a new group of Finish Elders arrived this week! I had the opportunity to see Carter come in, and i got to host Michael! It was great to see them! Apparently Michael and Hayden had some trouble in the Calgary airport, and they both lost their luggage! Michael figures his should be here right away, but I don't know about Hayden. I hope things are going well for him in Peru! Maybe he will see me in thew choir during one of the live Apostle devotionals that are streamed to MTC's around the world! I see Andrew now and again! He looks like he is doing very well! It is great to spend Christmas in the MTC with a couple of friends. 

This last week the BYU Mens chorus were our Sunday Devotional! They did a fantastic job. I could see Kieran scanning the crowd after very song! I knew he couldn't see me. At the end as everone was leaving I gave him a big wave and a thumbs up!He saw me and waved with a thumbs up back! He was clearly excited, and I was very excited to get his attention!

This week the plague hit our district, and people have been dropping like flies to some unknown cold. My companion and I remain the only companionship to have attended all classes this week. I got some kind of painful throat and ear something on Sunday. I've been popping Advil Cold and Sinus Pills that Dad gave me. They keep the pain away. My ears don't hurt, and I can swallow. I went in to the clinic last night to make sure it isn't something actually bad. if i'm sick I can't go to Albania. Anyway it was weird going to  the doctor!! I havent done that... like ever! The doctor was nice enough. He told me that it should be gone in the next week and a half. i don't know what that means, but I'm ok with that! 

Tonight we start our "Concecration Week." It is a thing they do here at the MTC. We go completely without English for the Week before we leave. Its going to be sweet!I'm wicked pumped. Everyone has to speak Albanian! It should be good, and challenging, but awesome!

Personal Study and gym and choir remain the best parts of the MTC! Matt I'm a lights out shooter in Bball so you better watch your back!!

Good luck with Christmas! I hope you al have a wonderful time! As far as I know my email time is still on Thursday, so I will talk to you on Christmas Eve. If you happento be by the computer we can have a bit of a conversation. I can't call on Christmas due to the sheer number of Elder and Sisters here. We hosted 800 new ones yesterday! I will call you from the airport! The Christmas tree looked great at home! Lots of snow, great igloo! Basketball sounds like it is going well! Have a great time! I hope you get my Christmas package! I sent it to the house! Its not much, bu tit is something!

Take Buddy on Walks! Have a very Merry Christmas! I am loving it here at the MTC, and am looking forward to Christmas here!

Love Elder Stewart

Parker and cousin, Elder Andrew Gillis. Andrew arrived Dec 11 and is heading to Hong Kong.

Parker's Zone in front of the temple. Looks a little snowy!

The Finnish Elders. They have obviously been a key part of the MTC experience for Parker.

Mail that arrived for Elder Stewart all on Monday Dec 16! No wonder he says he feels well supported. That's awesome!

The doctor's office. His first experience in one as a patient at the age of 18... :)

Elder Stewart and Elder Koegler. Elder Koegler arrived Dec 18 and will be going to Jamaica.  It's amazing that they saw each other so soon as Parker welcomed Michael there.

This is a sister that Parker and Matt met while in Mongolia and she went on splits with AnneE. International connections!

The Christmas lights at the MTC!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Week 6 at the MTC

Hey there! How are things? 

Thank you for all of the packages and treats!! Everyone is loving them! Those cinnamon buns were amazing, as were the cookies.
This week has been very good! Andrew arrived yesterday, and it was great to see him! HE seemed excited to get going! It will be fun to have him here! We had a Tuesday night devotional from Elder Cook!! He did fantastic! It was a great talk. He talked a lot about the mission assignment process. He described the revelation that takes place while he and other apostles sit in the assignment room. Obviously he is a very spiritual man, but I don't think I realized just how spiritually in tune the apostles are. he spoke of specific experiences when assigning missionaries. It made me realize that we are more than a number to the apostle, and to the Lord. Elder Cook made it very clear that the apostles take assigning missionaries very seriously, and that it is a very exciting part of the job. He said that on the screen a picture of us comes up. It has details about us.. grades, health, known languages.. they get to see a lot of the stuff that we fill out. Based on our information one of the first things that they ask themselves is 'which mission president will benefit us the most.' He says in many cases that answers where we should go. The then look at missions and receive revelation. Elder cook made it pretty clear that getting to know our mission president is vital. He is the best fit mission president in the world for us. Needless to say it got me pretty excited to meet President and Sister Ford! Elder Cook also talked about how it is important to have faith, be humble, and be outgoing. He also talked about the need for us to get to know the members, and to push missionary work in wards. Its funny because he is not the first apostle I have heard say that while I have been here! I know I was a pretty bad missionary before my mission. I was to shy to bring up gospel discussions. I'd encourage you all to be better than I was. Being an example is good, but not everyone will ask us about why we do things, often we have to bring it up. Elder Cook said we need to be confident. We can't dilly dally. We are talking about Eternal Salvation. He said that quite a few times. He said that often times we feel inadequate. I now I do sometimes anyway. But, he also said that President Packer says at least once a month to the 12 that he feels inadequate, so i guess feeling inadequate is just part of this earthly experience. Elder Cook said we need to do as Elder Packer and just keep doing our best! It was a great talk! I'll get to hear from at least two more apostles before I leave!! Sweet!!

How about that #ChristmasDevo on Sunday! I thought it was pretty excellent! The violinists, and french horns were quite good!! Something to aspire to Sara and H, and all musically inclined cousins! It was cool to see Russel M. Nelson speak because he was just here at the MTC! There were also a few mentions of missionaries serving! That was cool! 

The Finnish Elders and Sisters leave here on Monday! I am going to miss a lot of them! I don't really know the sisters, but I've had a lot of good times with many of the Elders. My time here at the MTC is winding down!! Scary! But super exciting! It will be good to get into the field and be immersed in the language, speaking with people who know what they are saying as opposed to our broken MTC Shqiplish. (Shqip is Albanian, Shqiperia is Albania)

I haven't really gained much weight here at the MTC! I'm hoping I'm taller!! I have nothing to check against. I don't fee short here though surprisingly. I am taller than a lot of Elders, so I am grateful for the height I have.

I don't have any knew pictures this week. Maybe I will take some this week. The Christmas lights here look amazing!

Take Buddy on walks!

Love, Elder Stewart


Saturday, December 7, 2013

Week 5 at the MTC

The days are flying! It feels like I just wrote yesterday! I'm trying to slow things down because I really need to get this language haha. I can already tell that these two years are going to fly by, and I'm trying to get as much out of them as I can. 

Thanks for the Dear Elders and Emails!! 
Our MTC president is president Nally! He and his wife seem like really nice people. I have avoided talking to thewm though because once they get to know someone than that person becomes a potential for being called up to bare their testimony or share an experience in front of the MTC crowd. There are 600 in the choir. In that pic i sent you of the auditorium it is from the middle bar left of elevated seats. (I hope that makes sense) 
Say hi to all of the extended family that you see for me! Mom, I read the Elder Bednar talk! It was great!! I'll try and be quicker to observe. Elder Baldwin is pretty good at that. He has an eye for the craziest details! Best of luck to Andrew on Sunday! I can't wait to see him! With any luck they will put us down for hosting the new missionaries. We haven't got to do that yet! 
Thanks for all your letters, thoughts, and prayers! 

I have been really trying to give up speaking English! It is hard because I as with all of the other Albanians am not very good at the language. Up until this point the language aspect has been very overwhelming! Its so much to digest. In Albanian there are many different things that have to be done in order to put a simple sentence together. We have been slowly learning each of the concepts, and have been trying to implement them and match them up in the sentences. It is quite the challenge. There are a lot of things that have to agree. Masculine/feminin, present/perfect/imperfect, participles, clitics, articles, demonstratives. That is just a few. Its a lot of stuff that is not necessarily found in English, or in any other Language. It is a process!! I'm staying calm, and taking my time, but also trying to work super hard to get a lot of it down.

This week we got some snow as well. Not enough for an MTC PD day (I can't believe you got one of those haha) but enough to cancel the Elder Ballard Devotional! It was too bad, but the devotional that did happen by the previous St. George temple president was very good! There are still supposed to be more General Authorities coming in the next couple of weeks!

We received a ton of Elders and Sisters here at the MTC this week! We hadnt received any for two weeks due to Thanksgiving, but had still been losing so the MTC was pretty quiet on Tuesday. There were a ton of Empty rooms. MTC turnover rate is very high. It go t loud again yesterday though!

We had a very exciting tie trade this week. The fins started it, and we had a ton of Elders come in and join the fun! i got myself a christmasy tie. It is red and white with a little blue, It kinda looks like a candy cane! I also got a bright Orange and Yellow tie. Brother McGlothin says the Albanians love loud ties, and then I realized "Hey so do I." It was a good time had by all. Try to figure out what two ties I traded! I don't think you will be able to. 

The christmas lights look great here at the MTC! Elder Baldwin is good! Classes are good. Food is good! Gym is really fun! I've made some great new friends. Hopefully I'll be able to hook back up with some of them in two! I am having a great time! I love the spirit of the work, and of the MTC environment!

Take Buddy On walks!

Love, Elder Stewart

The ties after the trade. He's right...we can't tell which ones he traded!

No offense intended, but his ties were not hung this neatly at home! :)

First big snowfall in Provo. We had our first big one at home this same week resulting in the first snow day in Lethbridge since 1986.

Parker's comment for this picture in his letter was "Elder Stewart has a heavy load." :)