Thursday, July 31, 2014

Who is YOUR hero?

Zone Selfie

Dear Mom & Dad,

I hope you're ready for a big spiritual thought today!

I had a rough couple of last days. My heart just wasn't in the work and, as such, I was going through the motions but not getting any results. Fear not, it's fixed! But it was rough. As such, I have quite a bit of spiritual fodder that I wrote down to pick me back up.

First off, I want to talk about Elijah. Elijah? That guys like, thousands of years old! Why would I want to talk about him? Who even reads the Old Testament??

We were assigned to find a scripture hero, but not our "default" scripture hero, for class. I got to thinking about when Elijah challenged the 500 (or maybe 1,000 I'm not sure) prophets of Baal to see who could burn an altar (ish thing) to their God faster, via the power of their God. Elijah gives them hours (I think something like ten) and they couldn't do diddly squat. Then, he tells them to pour buckets and buckets of water all over his altar. He proceeds to call upon God and the altar is burnt. I've always loved this story because of the in-your-face kind of faith Elijah possessed, so I decided to read more about him. and holy COW! He was a pretty awesome guy.

Among the things he was able to do were:
-Splitting the Jordan river so he could walk on dry ground
-Raining fire upon soldiers sent to capture him and bring him to the king
-He told a man that when he departed from him, a lion would eat the man. In the next verse, the man was eaten by a lion after he departed from him.

The thing about Elijah is that he just had so much faith. Faith is what gives us power. Elijah had enough faith to do these absolutely miraculous things. If I can have just a little bit of Elijah's spirit, I can do great things as well. In fact, Elisha, Elijah's 'apprentice' of sorts, did just that. Elisha followed Elijah to where Elijah was translated, and then asked to have Elijah's spirit upon him. Due to Elisha's faith and actions, Elijah was able to give "double the portion of his spirit" upon Elisha, which enabled Elisha to do miracles of the same caliber (like pouring salt in water during a drought to enable a city to have enough water, or raising somebody from the dead).

I want that kind of faith.

(I'm going to write the rest later. Gotta go check laundry! Love you!)

My second thought for today is about the devotional we had yesterday. It was by John H. Groberg, who is the man that Other Side of Heaven (book and movie) is based off of. He talked a lot about testimony and one the things that really helped me get out of my funk was bearing testimony that night. I realized that I had not born my testimony much at all since I came here to the MTC, which is pretty silly.

One thing that really stuck out to me about that talk is the line "We can influence all for good." My mission isn't about baptizing somebody. It's not about teaching lessons, or making more contacts, or becoming an Assistant to the President, or any of those terrestrial markers we use to signify progress. My mission is about influencing people for good. Maybe it's by helping someone get over the troubles of their past, or maybe it's by bringing them to the temple. No matter what it is, it's helping people be better by bringing them closer to the perfection of Christ.

I was practicing cursive yesterday and I needed something to write, so I wrote my testimony down.
"I know that this Church is true. I know that I can be with my family forever. I know that God is our loving Heavenly Father and that He wants us to be happy. In order to accomplish this, He sent His only begotten son, Jesus Christ, to atone for our sins. This is called the Plan of Salvation, commonly referred to as the Plan of Happiness. Families are central to this plan. I know that Jesus Christ's atonement is the way through which our sins can be cleaned and our burdens lifted. I have devoted the next two years of my life to sharing these truths because I know that this truth is open to and should be given to every man (and woman, of course) on this Earth. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

I also know that the Book of Mormon is true. I know that it's another testament of Jesus Christ, and that it outlines the story of a people who traveled to the Americas. God reveals his gospel to all that are willing and before the time of a connected world like today, that was primarily done by establishing prophets for all his peoples. The Book of Mormon is a record of these prophet's teachings."

There was a cool thing about the Book of Mormon being another Testament of Jesus Christ that Elder Haskell shared with me:
The old testament could be called  the Book of Ezra. The New Testament could be called the Book of Athenareas. In the same way, the Book of Mormon is not a book about Mormon, but a book of God compiled by Mormon. It is Another Testament.
--Elder Spencer Henry
 These big bubbles are what we exercise in. The last one on the right's the volibol one; I'm in there every day! Volibol is SO much fun. (I got 2 AWESOME blocks today in one play :-)

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Parable of Picasso

Elder Henry y Elder Carter

 How I came to this parable is a long and convoluted and needless story, but a great parable came to me yesterday. I didn't get the opportunity to share it with my district, so you guys get it instead!

First off, as a missionary, I am a tool of the Lord. We are always tools of the Lord, in the sense that He works through us like I work through a shovel to dig a hole, but during my mission I'm a highly specified tool. It's clear when you look at me what my purpose is; to spread the truth. In life generally it's not so specific, as we can be used differently for different things, but during our mission it becomes very clear how and where the Lord is working through you.

Here's the point I'm going to make. I've always struggled with pride. I think that I've gotten better throughout life at suppressing it, and being pretty humble considering how prideful I started out, but it's a big problem in my life still. But being such a specified tool lets me see that the glory is not mine. To explain this, let me talk about Picasso.

Say Picasso is making a painting. Without a paintbrush, it would be impossible, or at least it wouldn't look very good. It is through this paintbrush that the work is done, to bring something beautiful to pass. But does the paintbrush get the glory? Of course not. Picasso is the one with the vision, he's the one with the knowledge of where the paintbrush should go and what the paintbrush should do.

I'm a spiritual paintbrush for these next 2 years. The Lord is working through me to create something so much more beautiful and so much more grand than anything Picasso ever made. But just because the Lord is working through me, do I get the glory? Of course not. That's silly. And that thought helps me so much to remember Who's work I'm doing.

The great part about being a spiritual paintbrush versus a real paintbrush is that I have eyes. Despite the fact that I'm not able to take the glory for the beautiful 'painting' 'Picasso' is making, I (unlike your standard paintbrush) get to see, up close and personal, the work of the Lord. I get to see His strokes, His miracles. I get to see beautiful scenes laid out before me.

People pay millions of dollars to see a Picasso in their home every day. The value of being able to see the Lord in my life every day can't really be put in terms of a price, but I can tell you that it sure is worth more than anything we'll find on this earth.

(photos, then a few random emails and mail--he's Spencer what can we say?)

 This is Elder Haskell. One of our zone leaders and he was our district leader and he's bein silly right now but he's the BOMB!

IMG__0020 Here's a picture of our zone on sunday before 2 districts left on monday. Getting 2 new ones today!!! Hermana Keil (the Polynesian one in the middle right) TOTALLY needs to meet Jessica Chatman. They'd be besties.

We had Elder Sheffield (the one that looks really old) with us for 2 days while we waited for his plane because his whole district left. We went from being the 12, to being District 13! We forgot to make our mockingjay signs though oops. He was really cool. Also, They're tearing out the sidewalk behind us so we got that as a nice backdrop for the picture haha oops

​Here's the district + dos hermanas who just left on Monday studying (not everybody in the district is in the picture)

My room

Here's the best shot I could get of the care package from Wendy. The whole district is LOVIN it!!! :) Just opened the fritos last night!

From a letter home:
Well I got my first haircut on Wed, they did a great job.
Anyway, yesterday was pretty good (it's 6:45 in the freaking morning right now). The days are so busy it's really hard to find time to write haha. I forgot to send you a great quote from maestro (teacher) Holman by the way. It was "Don't stress about the language, stress about the people."  It was really helpful haha.  So, I'm finally getting pretty decent at studying. My daily goals are 20 words and 5 phrases en español but it's really difficult to find good phrases to memorize.  The 20 words is going decently well.  On the one hand it seems like the MTC will drag on forever but on the other hand it feels like if I blink it'll be gone and I'll be standing in San José like a little lost puppy.
-Wendy gave me a HUGE care package!
-Thank you for the package from home! (photos and some personal items)
-got my Mission Belt replacement!
Can you get Madi Selee's email address for me? She wrote me and I have no idea how to write back haha
-Tell Tori that I miss her a TON and pray about her a lot!
- "Yanet" ended up being our new teacher so now we have 2.
I love you guys!

0. Oh my gosh I miss cattssssss. Also the email definitely didn't explain that the whole hermanas-diablos thing was a joke :P They're in on it too. We're actually getting pretty tight with the hermanas in our zone.

1. Saw (Jessica) Hermana Chatman today! That was great :) Tons of fun. I saw her at lunch at the main campus (we go to lunch on main campus every P-day since there's more selection there)

2. I haven't gained any weight! We found a scale on main campus in some corner somewhere

3. Volibol (Volleyball) is where it's at. We've been playing it every day haha it's a total blast although sometimes Elder Carter gets too competitive (he played actual volibol (He doesn't get mad at people but he gets to be a ballhog haha)) but yeah it's great fun. I'm pretty decent! :)

4. Class is going great. Our first investigator is now our second teacher so that's cool. She's a new teacher here at the MTC so she's still learning the ropes but she's really cool and knows the language well and everything. (AKA Nothing compares to Maestro Holman)

5. The reason my numbers were all funky last week was because I started on 1 but then got to my spiritual thought on like #2 or something so then I just went backwards since you want to end with the spirit haha

6. I saw Hermana Vance too! I WASN'T SURE IF IT WAS HER at first haha really awkward kinda but it is cool to see her! She's on West but she's getting fast tracked!

6b. Can you figure out when exactly Colton Johnson reports? I can greet newbies outside of their cars even though I'm not hosting because Wednesday is my P-day!!!! Woohoo!!

I love you! All out of email time. I'll write you sometime, if I have some time!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

THE TWELVE: first MTC emails

No MTC photos yet so you get Portland Temple ones
I want more mail!!!!!!!!! Haha I love mail so much its THE best thing everybody needs to DearElder me because I want mail so bad haha.
Elder Spencer Richard Henry
2023 N 900 E Unit 834
Provo UT 84602

1. Have you been getting my letters? I've sent a couple.
2. I will tell you later I am only using a half hour right now mostly to read & left my list of things to write about at West (I'm on main campus right now)

3. Again I'll tell you later, teacher is Hermano Holman and he is AMAZING. Baptized 30-per-month-2nd-year-of-his-mission amazing. yeah.

4. Please send me GRANOLA BARSSSSSSS!!!!! And Panda Express :'(

5.  Dani's address and if you can get Dani, Drew, and Valerie's e-mail too that'd be great.

MTC west is THE BOMB
Everybody there is speaking Spanish (well more of spanglish haha) but it's great. I am learning SO MUCH holy cow! and I feel the Spirit so strongly so consistently it's unbelievable. Our classrooms are apartments (Raintree I think) and obv we're living in the Wyview apts. It is so great and the A/C is MMMM good. I'm gonna miss that in Costa Rica haha. We have a district of 12 YEAH TWELVE YOU HEARD THAT RIGHT elders YEAH NO HERMANAS YOU HEARD THAT RIGHT and my motto for the district is "No habla(n) con las hermanas" and occasionally just say "diablo" when an Elder is looking at an hermana hahaha (Mom is going to have a little letter about this to make sure it's under control)

I am just loving it here.. I can't even explain. We study ~9 hrs/day and that took some serious adjusting to but its so great being able to focus in so much on the gospel. Our first 'investigator' is named Yanet and despite the fact that she's probably a member me and my companion feel so much love for her it's amazing. 

I love my whole district.
Elder Carter (companero)
Elder Haskell (District leader) (same apt)
Elder Kleinman (I am putting companions together in the list) (same apt)
Elder Tullis (same apt)
Elder Giles (same apt)
Elder Tueller (apt above us)
Elder Crawford(apt above us)
Elder Haderlie (he looks like ferris bueler) (apt above us)
Elder Roberts (he complimented a girl on her hair and let me tell you he got some flak for that) (apt above us)
Elder Henderson (NORTH STAKER!!! :O) (apt above us)
Elder Johnson (apt above us)
I won't bother telling you schedule or any of those shenanigans. I'm glad that we don't have any hermanas in our district just because it makes it easier for me to get along with everybody. Since we are all in a teensy little apartment living room for class it is SUPER crowded. We all arrived last Wednesday, and half (or maybe just 4?) of us are Costa Rica bound while the rest head to various Mexico missions. We don't have any elder who don't want to be here, they're all putting their 100% in and it's great. We all get along really well.

I am just gonna spew stuff out and let you have to go around and put it in an order for me :)
MTC main missionaries are MISERABLE its funny and sad. We made eye contact with dos elderes today and said hola and they STILL didn't respond. Everybody says hola and such on West. It feels like since we are all one language and we are so small we are all pretty tight it's cool. 

It's pretty crazy to think that I've only been here a week. It feels like I've been here at least a month. I love it though, the mornings are getting easier as my circadian rhythm gets used to everything.

For exercise we can play baloncesto, (basketball) volibol, futbol latino, y weights. as I said my companion is a football player so I indulged him and lifted 10 pound weights while he pulled out the 50's haha.
Volibol was SUPER FUN we did it yesterday and it was the first time but MAN i was all SMASHIN IT and stuff.

I have had some pretty insane instances this past week. Not all of them I feel comfortable sharing in such a rushed medium like E-mail, but it's been so great. My testimony has never been stronger (I even enjoy reading scriptures now which like NEVER happened before haha!) I miss everybody pretty bad but on the bright side the lord has blessed me to not miss my cats too bad haha. At least I don't have to lint roll, right?

So everybody in my apartment is pretty tidy and I'm super thankful for that. Me and Elder Carter basically live out of our suitcases because we don't have desks in our room. The other two rooms have more stuff about but they also have desks but everybody picks up after each other so it's good. For some reason Elder Carter assigned us to toilet duty today (you do service in morning on P-days) and I'm still lost about that one haha silly Elder Carter.

Elder Carter is so great mom. I am a total nerd and he is a total jock (starting corner for Timpview -- back to back state champs for football) but it just gives us experiences to help each other with and bond even closer. Every night the first week we were supposed to have companionship inventory which is basically just a heart to heart but then you only have to do it once per week but we have heart to hearts daily without even planning it. It's great.

The language is coming along. They say that basic, rudimentary, kind-of get along Spanish is 500 words, 15 phrases (or 50?) and 15 verses of scripture with all the grammatical understanding and right now I went through the sheet and I think I'm at about 200 words. A lot of this came from the other Spanish classes, obviously, but Hermano Holman is SO GOOD. He is setting us at a 33% faster pace than the other missionaries so we'll get done with all the curriculum in 4 weeks and then review for two. The goal is to learn 20 words per day and I think 5 phrases. The phrases is difficult but the words is pretty easy to get 20 (well IDK this is the first day we're doing it but its P-day so we arent really focusing on it but frankly you just pick words up on normal days). I don't want to set my goal too far ahead of where I'll be able to reach but if I could get 1,000 words by the time I'm out of the MTC I'd be at about (or maybe a little above) a level for on whatever scale they use -- which is the baseline of fluent. Hermano Holman promised us that if we put the effort in we could get to level 4 and I agree with him and how cool would it be if I was (baseline -- barelyyy) fluent when I got there?!?! It seems attainable to me right now. Then again, anything is attainable with faith so long as the Will of God is on your side. It's pretty great to be able to see him have such an active part in my life.

I will email my other half later today! Ask me any more questions you wanna know about!

So I've got my notes now. I should be more coherent haha
(yes this is how Spencer numbers things, starts with negatives...nerd much?)

-3. So talking more about Elder Carter, um yeah he's a pretty great guy. He seems like a stereotypical jock from Utah (he lives like 10 minutes away from the MTC haha) but in reality he has a heart of gold and a compassionate mind (see: Not Utah Mormon). He's taught me so much, even though I'm ahead on the language and he thinks that he doesn't know that much he has taught me SO much. Plus I am learning good workouts from him and he is a total social butterfly haha it's crazy he knows like EVERYONE haha.

-2. Since we have 12 people we are called 'The 12' and also our district leader is "Elder Haskell" so we are the "little Haskells" like little rascals haha.

-1. Yeah so it's pretty toasty here in Utah. We get sweating pretty hard playing futbol because the field is outside haha I wish we had 7AM exercise like Main'ers (that's what I'm calling em now) but we have it at 11:30 instead. But the A/C is solid so it only really sucks when we're in suits walking to the Marriott center ewwwww.

0. Elder Tullis in our district (and apartment) is a tennis player. Wait for iiittt. He won state 3 times. THREE TIMES. He's in the top 50 IN THE COUNTRY. It's so much fun to talk to him about tennis!!!! He's a super loving guy and even though we're on totally different plains he's so humble and it just makes me want to go grab a racket haha it's great. I love Elder Tullis man, he's really solid. Also he's like a SPITTING image of pre-mission Mike it's really strange haha.

1. When we were walking back from the Marriott center for the devotional on Sunday Everybody was honking and waving at us and it was a HUGE pickmeup after a GREAT talk on charity, which leads me to point 2

2. The devotional on Sunday was on Charity and I didn't bring all my notes on it but it was sooo good about how we have to sacrifice for charity and how it isn't something we obtain so much as passes through us from Christ and oh my gosh just SO good. My favorite scriptures from the talk were 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 and I later read verse 13 which is REALLY powerful. The other verse was Mosiah 28:3, which talks about how (i can't remember who haha oops) (the sons of Mosiah) quaked and trembled at the thought of anyone being unable to live with God again. This was an example of charity because charity is the Christlike love that would make you feel that sorrow, but it really hit me. I feel a little bit that way about the people in Costa Rica already, but especially so many of my friends back home. I thought to myself that night as I was falling asleep about how I'd feel and it went a little bit like this (although words won't be able to do justice to the power of the emotions that overcame me):
I imagined myself standing in the Spirit World, chillin by the pearly gates or whatever it actually looks like. And while I'm just waiting there, minding my own business, feelin pretty good about how I lived my life overall, a person would run up to me. Their eyes would be filled to the brim with tears, and it would take them a while to get past their own emotions to say to me "Why, Spencer? Why couldn't you have tried just a little bit harder, so that I might have known the truth and come closer to God? If only you had put yourself second and given everything you had to help me, I could be standing here happy. Instead I am in a pit of misery wallowing about the sins of my past. Why, Spencer? Why?" and it filled my heart with so much grief. It was good, though, don't get me wrong. I am so motivated to do all in my power to help the people in my life, both from Costa Rica and whoever else I run into, so that when I'm hanging out by the pearly gates I can instead have my friends and family run up to me with tears in their eyes saying "Thank you, Spencer. I don't know what else to say -- Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!

The Lord's work is great. I'm far from perfect, but the Lord still wants me as His tool and I am so excited to be sharpened and refined into something far more spiritual than I am right now.

GRANNY AND ACE ARE GETTING MARRIED?!!?!?!?!??! I AM SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO HAPPY I yelled out as soon as I read that "oh my gosh!!! My Granny's getting married!!" And everybody laughed but my heart was so full of joy. So full. Ace is such a wonderful man, I'm just so happy about it. Ah, man. So happy.

That's my life right now, you know. So happy. Back at home my days were riddled with sadness, because I didn't put the effort in to be in close proximity with God. God is kind of like the sun in the fact that the closer you are to him, the stronger you will feel his love. It's still there for you even if you're lightyears away from him, but it feels great to be close to him. Spiritually toasty :)

I love you mom! Tell Tori to write me!!! I want more letters :) Tell dad I love him soo much and his letter brought a huge smile to my face, but I'm running pretty slim on time I think. 
Love, Spencer

 I LOVED your letter. Or rather, Padre, lo AMO su cartera. It was so great and it's great to hear you still have that romantic touch with Mom haha it was so cute to read about all the little things you're doing. It's alright Dad we know you're solid on the job situation because we've got the Lords hands tied since he has to keep you employed to keep me on a mission haha :) I love you dad. Keep you head up even though times are tough and remember that Christ has infinite strength when it comes to carrying our burdens for us. Please make Tori write to me, I really miss her a ton and want to know how she's doing! I love her I love her I love her! Make her write me (letter or e-mail whichever) about girls camp, please!

Love you dad!

Mtc is awesome!


Monday, July 14, 2014

Am I in the LEGO Movie? Because everything is AWESOME.

Am I in the LEGO Movie? Because everything is AWESOME. The first day has been sooo great and I just can't wait to go to bed so that I can wake up tomorrow and learn some Español! The Spirit is such a constant companion here it's great.

  • We had spaghetti but the Lord must've blessed my taste buds cuz it was good. (HE HATES SPAGHETTI! WHAT IS THIS PERSON?--Mom)
  • My teacher is so awesome and the class environment is very anxiety free. It's awesome.
  • I get ansy in meetings because I want to go study/have a heart to heart with my companion so bad haha.
  • My companion is so great Elder Carter is from Provo and he is a jock and I am a nerd but that just means we get to learn more from each other! We are both desirous to put our 110% in and I can already tell we're going to get along really well. 
Love you!

7/10 Hola Mama y Papa
¿Dande esta la casa de la Dani? No tengo.
What is Dani's address? I don't have it.
El dia segundo es muy bien.
The second day is very good.

I am loving it. I can speak Spanish and butcher it and nobody gives me a hard time. We all laugh at each other's mistakes but there is no malice.

Also, can you send a copy of my farewell talk to me, Valerie, and Drew? Gracias.

Necesito un copy of my Patriarchal blessing por favor.

I didn't know how to send a letter from here at first so that's why you get two at once.
Les amo! I love you guys people! (that word is not allowed here) Also, I say this to my (all Elder) District a lot:   "¡¡No Poden hablar con las hermanas!!" (Don't talk to the Sisters!)  I love my District they're great.  We are a dozen people!