(This is everyone in the computer lab...)
Hey you guys! Week 3 is in the books. Not much has happened since we last talked. As one Elder put it, "the MTC honeymoon has worn off." I'm sick though. I have no doubt that I got it from one Elder who has been sick since like day 5 and as far as I know has not been to a doctor. I'm fine. It's more of a nuisance than anything else, I just hope I start feeling better soon because speaking the harshest language in the MTC while your sick is no fun. The MTC choir is going to be singing in priesthood. They can only take so many though and I ended up not making it. Three other elders in my district did though so that's cool. We had to take a survey and rate ourselves and considering that I have never sang in high school choir and can't read music well enough to sing to it, I didn't like my chances.
But enough bad news. Some good stuff did happen this week. I got to perform in the choir that sang to an apostle that came yesterday. The apostle was M. Russel Ballard. It's crazy because I think most missionaries go through the whole MTC not hearing from an apostle and I've heard two. Since conference is so close it must be because they're all in town. Needless to say I'm grateful. He talked about being a missionary (duh). One of my favorite parts of it was when he talked about how important it is to remember the worth of souls. Elder Ballard explained that behind every person, is a soul. However bad that person may be, God loves them and it would mean so much to Him to have them back. One of the funniest parts was when he said "When you get to be my age, the alarm goes off and you think 'wow I'm still here guess I'd better get up.' and then you go and do the best you can." The last thing he talked about that I'll share is how from time to time he will hold personal interviews with himself and evaluate where he really is, and if he is giving the best he can.
Another cool thing that happened this week is our teacher, Brother Norton, wanted to have one on one time with each of us, trying to get to know us better. He started with me yesterday and I really enjoyed it. He gives the most amazing lessons and has a fascination with the gospel it just rubs off. In this one on one session I asked him how you teach investigators that believe that every church is good and that it doesn't matter as long as you believe in God. The reason why I asked is because we got a new "investigator" and those are his beliefs. We turned to Preach My Gospel and looked at a section that talked about listening. He explained that one of the characteristics of a successful missionary is to listen and to discern what the concerns of an investigator really are. Brother Norton talked about how in his mission (he served in Suriname) he would have upwards of 7-8 appointments a day, there was no way he was able to make lesson plans, it would get too complicated. He said that what they did instead was have a topic that they wanted to talk about and then trust in each other to say the right things. What this did was force them to listen to each other and also to listen to the investigator. He explained that when you listen to the investigator and then form your thoughts from there you make them pay attention because your talking about their life, and their concerns. It reminded me of what you would say, Dad. How when you're at work you have to be willing to listen to the customer and listen to their concerns and help them to feel comfortable about it all. Needless to say I really enjoyed it and it made me set the goal to really not focus so much on trying to teach everything in the lesson or everything we had planned, but rather to focus on what the investigator needs. It's tough because we still aren't perfect with the language and what we want to say sometimes can't be said the way we want it to.
Anyways, Week 3 in the books, it doesn't feel like I've been here for that long. As far as visa stuff goes I don't think we get to hear about it until like the weekend before we leave which is frustrating but it is what it is.
Love, Elder Cooper
(These two pictures are my submission to National Geographic...)
Take a look at the bees...