Thursday, June 27, 2013

I Know Where I Am

Bula Vinaka!

    So remember how you were supposed to see me in the choir and the silly camera man didn't show a close up of me? Yeah, oh well. I'm right behind some Elder's big head in one of the shots, but that doesn't help you. When I get back, I'll point out where I was in the choir from the big group shots. I'm easy to identify because I'm near the stairs, next to one of maybe 5 dark skinned individuals in all the MTC choir, and I'm twice his height (or so it seems) so I'll point myself out some day. It was still great to sings in the choir. Also, another flub, the excitement was to sing for the prophet, and funnily enough, he wasn't there, just a video. The choir missionaries acted like six year olds to get a good seat or to be in the best position to see the prophet, and he didn't show up. I just laughed at them for being so childish.
    On the other hand, I have much more confirmed official news. I have my flight plan! I leave July 6th and land
on July 8th. For those who think it's a 48 hour flight, it is only ten, but we fly over the international day line and skip the 7th entirely. That'll be a weird feeling. I'm down to a week and couple days, then I'm out of here. Having the travel plans makes it so real. On that note, I will be in the Los Angelos airport from 4 PM to 11:30 PM, so whenever in that time period (that is the same as Oregon remember) I will be free to call home. Let me know when best works for the family because I will have nothing else to do besides read for that entire time.

     Something else exciting happened, though less so than the others. We got another teacher, or at least he came back. He was in Fiji on an internship for the last little bit. So he is fresh back and we know that his Fijian is spot on. He told us that, if we serve in the English wards (Wards with both Fijian and Indo-Fijians) it is important to learn at least some Hindi. To give us a jump start he taught us everything he knew, which didn't take long, about Hindi. (I hope people got what I was referencing, if not, my Father should be able to clarify). It was kind of a fun language to speak. It's a pidgin language of Hindi-Fijian-English everything is rather discombobulated. How are you doing is Kaise (Kai-say) and the proper response is Right hain (Right hay). Yes they stole the word Right from English. Speaking of stealing words, I knew that no word in Fijian ended in a consonant. It is basically impossible in their tongue. I realized this week that the very first word my teachers taught me isn't actually a Fijian word, but a stolen one. For awesome, cool, you good?, and all other uses of that nature they use the word "set." Set as in ready, set, go. It's just funny to me that of all the words to steal they liked the word set and decided to keep it.
     Last thing because I have no clue what else to say, now that I know a fair amount of Fijian, it's begun; I am translating songs into Fijian. I was inspired by my teaching bursting out into Meri ko Kila (Mary did you know?) last week. Of course, I have to choose the most ridiculous songs to start with, so I'm translating Do You Hear the People Sing? from Les Mis. I hope it'll be good. Oh, last last thing. Yesterday I hosted new missionaries to show them where to go and what not. It was crazy. 890 new missionaries arrived. The work is hastening on. God loves His children so he is filling the Earth with His gospel. If you don't know God loves you, get down on your knees and pray to know. He always delivers.
     Lots of Love,
               Elder Morgan

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Another Day Another Dollar

Bula Vinaka!
     This week has been quite the week I don't know where to start. I guess I should start with the big news and then work my way down from there. As I'm sure everyone has heard, there is going to be a HUGE world wide broadcast on missionary work (if you haven't heard, you have now) that the prophet and the apostles are all going to be at. Also, it is in the Marriott Center. And the Marriott Center is a hop skip and a jump from the MTC. If you think you know where I'm going with this, you're wrong. The first presidency has asked for a choir of 2200 people, half of which are missionaries, and I get to be in it! I'm not sure how good my seats will be, but I get to sing to the prophet (along with 2199 other people of course). If you haven't made the connection yet, this is a world wide broadcast, and when the choir sings, along with a slide show and video clip, they will cut back to the choir, so look for me when the choir is singing! (As a side note, I wanted to wear the family tie, but they don't want anything beyond thin strips and small dots or a plain tie for this broadcast so that no one stands out, sorry).
     Not I have to think back to the rest of my week. It's hard to write at the MTC because most of the days are pretty uniform and the same. We get up, we eat, we practice language, usually have gym, and then we eat more, study more, eat again, study more, and then go to bed. We have three "progressing Investigators" right now that we are teaching. Namely our teachers are pretending to be people that they taught while on a mission. It's really good for us though, they used to do only TRC once a week, and that was all the teaching you did. Now we teach everyday but P day and Sunday, including TRC on Saturday, though TRC is about teaching investigators, it's teaching returned missionaries to help out language skill and what not. It's a good program.
     On Tuesday we had a devotional with Elder Robert Gay, funny name, great speaker. Earlier that day, Brother Agilosi (his really name is Engel but the Fijians called him Agilosi, which means Angel) told us a story of a Fijian couple he taught out in the Bush so far that is took three hours to drive there  from the nearest city, and there was no electricity. He taught once and the man had a dream that night. In his dream two figures in white robes appeared and told him that in the palagi (Polynesian version of "cracka") gives him a Book and tells him it is the word of God, that it is and he should listen to his words. Well, Brother Agilosi, not knowing this gave the man the Book of Mormon and the man knew it was true. Elder Gay told an even more amazing story of a man in Ghana that had a vision of missionaries coming to Ghana YEARS ago and started teaching the people in preparation. In his vision he saw his dead brother who told him that he would know they were the missionaries he was searching for if they sang the song "Come Come Ye Saints," he also vividly saw Elder Gay. When the missionaries first arrived, and sang Come Come Ye Saints, nearly one thousand people had already been prepared by this man and were baptized a week later. Another confirmation came to this man when Elder Gay later served there as a mission president. Finally, I'm reminded of Brother Pennington's story of being impressed that he would teach a man he knew before. After hanging around the American Embassy for a while, he was transfered without meeting anyone he "knew before." In his new area he was teaching a doctrine class and he stopped, looked at the man on the front row, said "You are the man I knew before, and I'm going to baptize you." The man, in tears, replied, "I know."  I've heard many stories like this, but about six or so in the last week. It impressed me so strongly that there is someone in Fiji that I am being sent to teach personally that the Lord has prepared for me to be a vessel in their conversion. Those stories are amazing, and I hope I can come back with one equally as amazing. Though I don't know if I will, I pray I can find that person I need to teach through my obedience to the commandments of the Lord.
     I tried to send a few pictures, I think you got two, but the other two disappeared, so if you didn't get them, let me know. They were of my district and a LOT of missionaries walking from the Marriott Center. I don't have too much time, and other Elders here are getting antsy. Since I don't have a whole lot more to say I don't think I will. I have heard that I am in your prayers, especially that I will learn the language. I'm not even close to being perfect, but I know that I have learned this language WAY faster than I should have. Please continue to keep me in you prayers. I want to learn the language so fast I wish I could sit down and study constantly. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. That has been my mantra from the past few days, I think it applies to pretty much everything I do. Thanks for your support once again. I love you all!
~Elder Morgan

Thursday, June 6, 2013

First Week

Bula Vinaka Na Noqu Matavulvale!
First off, so David doesn't think I'm teeling you off, the top part translates into HELLO my family (just try figuring that out as I continue the rest of my email). This week has been such a whirl wind of activity I scarcely know where to begin. I must first say they wasted no time getting us to work. The first thing I did after grabbing all the packets they had for me and putting my stuff in my room (not unpacking, just throwing it in) was learn some Fijian. We learned greetings and simple questions the first day. Sadly, I'm still not very good at those, but I can do the more advanced things...which is weird. The Lord works in strange and mysterious ways.
I guess what everyone really wants to know is about my companionship and "home life" first, and then the rest later. My companion, Elder Moantewa (Mohn-tey-wa) is native to the large island grouping of Kiribati. It's hard to really explain where it is because it's very spread out, but look on a map, it's hard to miss. He's hard to communicate with because his English is broken, my Kiribus is nonexistant, and we are both lousy at Fijian. Mostly, if he can't express an idea in English, he uses hand motions to make me understand. I'm getting pretty good at being his urim and thummim (for you non Mormons, it's used for translation) for the rest of the missionaries. He's great, been a member his whole life, but was going wayward. His girlfriend turned him around and sent him on a mission. I'm grateful to that faithful girl. I also have Elder Tafuna'i and Elder Peery in my room/district. They are both American, though one of them is half Samoan/ Rotuman (I'll let you guess which one). They hail from Utah and Idaho respectively. They are great guys. Elder Tafuna'i was called as the district leader, my first indication that this is the work of the Lord, he's been keeping us on track so well I know it was right. Elder Peery is quieter, but loads of fun when he speaks. We all get a long so well it's crazy we've only been here a week. The two sisters in my district are Sister Trammel and Sister Crowell, they are from California and Hawaii respectively. They are loads of fun as well, sometimes we all have so much fun that we get sidetracked, but we're trying to lick the problem. It's hard when you are all such good friends.
The great thing about coming to the MTC now is to see that the work of the Lord is truly moving forward. 8 months ago, the Fijian district had three people. Now, we have two six person districts. The other district is just as fantastic as my own, we sit together at lunch because we like each other so much. In that district there is Elder Moka and Elder Wall, E Motuliki and E Tenney (I call him Tini- he's a pretty big guy) and Sister Wright and Sister Tauhivaajhoiahwefhjahsd;jfhiwoe (her last name is about that long and I have yet to learn how to say it or spell it, we just call her sister T). So, I have a confession to make and a great story to tell. Despite what my family thinks, I dated two girls in college, you met the second. :D Anyway, you'll have two years to get over that. The funny thing is that Elder Tenney, one of my favorites, dated that same girl in high school. We've had a lot of fun making jokes about that as I'm sure anyone that knows me would know.
ANYWAY, I don't know where to start besides that. The week has been such a blur and I didn't bring my journal with me to compare notes. I guess the first really cool thing was on Sunday for the missionary conference. The rest of the days were just average learning Fijian, writing a lesson (in Fijian), giving a lesson (in Fijian), hard stuff, but hey, that's missionary work. Speaking of which, we've been allowed notes in our lessons thus far, not anymore. After a week in they cut you off and expect you to give a lesson, if not in your on the spot words, then from memory. It's going to be tough, but I'm keeping a positive attitude. Right, missionary conference. A missionary conference happens once a month on fast Sunday, basically a stake conference type meeting (sorry, revelatory experience) in which the members of the MTC presidency speak. It was quite inspirational, and I have a thought to share about one of the talks. Sister Nally, the MTC president's wife, spoke on the power of the Priesthood and how it is truly God's power on the Earth. She spoke of John the Baptist restoring the priesthood to the earth to Joseph Smith when he appeared to Joseph. It was then that it occurred to me that you need a body to lay on hands and give the priesthood. John was killed by beheading before Christ was crucified, which was quite sad at the time, but when Christ was resurrected, the saints who were already dead were ressurected as well. Therefore, in order for John the Baptist to have a body to be able to confer the priesthood upon Joseph Smith, he had to be resurrected, and that could only occur if he died before Jesus was resurrected. It was a testimony to me that God's works cannot be frustrated. No matter how hard we trying to fight against Him, it all ends up for his good and his glory. I have another brief testimony to give, this concerning the language. I've been here for seven days, roughly, six of which I spent trying to learn Fijian. The very thought that I can teach a twenty minute or so lesson, in my own words more or less, in that language is a miracle. I never really understood the gift of tongues, nor did I ever think I would because I thought it was only when someone got up and spoke funky words and only one person in the room understood because it was needed for that person alone or something like that. I'm here to tell you that the gift of tongues has blessed this simple 19 year old boy from Medford Oregon to be able to teach another in a different language in a matter of six days.
On Sunday night we had a fireside in which a man names Ted Gibbons "spoke." I put that in quotes for a reason you will see soon. Basically, he got up an recited a story to us, but it felt so natural that I had to remind myself that the person he was portraying was indeed dead and had been for some time. He told the Joseph Smith story through the eyes of Willard Richards, one of the three men with Joseph Smith when he was martyrd. This man did not get a a single hole in his clothes, and only a scratch on his cheek while two lay dead and one severely wounded. His witness, through the eyes of another that, as he said at the end, "I don't think Joseph Smith is a prophet of God anymore...I know it," struck me with so much force, I knew it was true. He told of many prophecies of Joseph Smith, and that they all came true. That was such a great testimony to me that I'm doing the right thing out here.
I know I'm giving an overload of stories of speakers, but those have been my favorite parts thus far. Elder Tad R Callister came and spoke to us about what he called the blueprint of the church. He said that when Christ came to the earth he left a blueprint for how he wanted the church to operate. This blueprint is called the New Testament. He compared this to his own home. Since he designed his own home, no other home in the world matches that blueprint perfectly. Some homes come close, others not so much, but no other except that one. This is like Christ church, everything from the foundation of apostles, prophets, seventy authorities; to ordinances of blessing of babies, baptism by immession when older, and baptism for the dead since baptism is essential to get into heaven; to teachings of the nature of God and Jesus Christ, and the knowledge that they have bodies of flesh and bone because Christ, when he was ressurected, had a body and would never die again, death being the separation of body and spirit; and lastly the fruits of the people which discusses happiness and healthiness and good works. This all finally reaches a pinnacle of revelation directing Christ's church, which is a direct link to heaven. What is great about this talk is everything he said had a scripture in the New Testament to back it up. Basically, he showed how one can logically know the church must be Christ's church restored on the earth. I'll have to show it to everyone in two years because it was amazing and I think you all need to see it, if I remember. I have it all written out in my journal thankfuly.
I don't have much more time to write, so I guess I should close now. I'm doing well, and enjoying it. I'm working hard and obeying the rules. I have other emails that I need my emails sent to, but I forgot to bring them. Mother, I'm sorry your computer is on the frits. I hope all is well at home, but not in Zion. Let the process of becoming a Zion people begin with you. I know from being here that man doesn't qualify for the work of Christ, Christ qualifies the man for the work (I made that up myself).
Elder Morgan
P.S. give my Fiji mailing address to Brother Minor