A few big things this week.
First, HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MTC! That's right. The MTC turns fifty this year. To commemorate it we sang a breathtaking (literally) version of "Precious Savior, Dear Redeemer". Maybe you can find the rearrangement on Youtube. It's stunning. Plus, we had reserved seating in the auditorium itself since we were in the choir. We were all waiting with baited breath to find out who was speaking, since they weren't sharing that until the last minute, but it was worth it. Elder J. R. Holland opened for Elder R. M. Nelson. They both talked about missionary work. Holland talked about our committment to keep our covenants and represent ourselves as missionaries. "Be what this church thinks you are." It is our solemn duty and oath to be at the forefront of the church around the world, and people are looking to us and our standard. It was a beautiful talk. Nelson told stories of the MTC and its history and the history of missionary work. Harriet Nye is officially one of my heroines - the first Sister missionary. I may never be like Dan Jones or Samuel Smith, but that shouldn't stop me. "We all stand tall on the shoulders of the giants who came before us", right? Then AEldste Petersen pointed out that, one day, ours will be the shoulders that the next generation of missionaries stands on. If that isn't humbling, I don't know what is. He then gave the dedicatory prayer for the 5 renovated buildings at the MTC and even though it was the longest prayer I've ever heard (beating out even Pres. Hinckley's, but only because he gave a mini bio of the person for whom each building was named), it was also the most powerful. The Spirit was almost tangible as an apostle of the Lord communicated with the Savior. During the District Discussion metting afterward, many of us were in tears.
We've decided to keep our AEldster too, by the way. They actually made it to the temple session on time today and ate breakfast with us afterward. AND they even saved us seats at their table. It was really special, being in the Celestial room with my companions, my AEldster, and the Dutch district. Our whole zone. We've all become incredibly close. Katie, you can expect a poem from Elder Romer soon - and that's all the heads up you're getting. After hearing me describe you, Elder Douglas kept pestering me to set him up with you. He's only 19 ... Hm ... Anyway, and the Zusters come over and we swap cookies and nail polish and all the gossip one can collect at the MTC. Usually it's along the lines of:
"I really liked AEldste Swenson's tie."
"The red one?"
"Yeah, that one."
"Oooh, it used to be Elder Taylor's, but he traded for AEldste Swenson's blue one."
"Yeah, our Elders are so cool."
We usually have picnic lunches with them on P-Day's while we do our laundry too, rain, shine, or snow. We've had unfortunately beautiful weather here, so it hasn't been a problem. Once it devolved into a snowball fight, which is, apparently, illegal. However, gleefully tossing an armful of powdery snow in the air when you just happen to be right behind an Elder who really ought to be paying better attention to his surroundings is totally kosher.
We also had two of our "investigators" commit to baptism this week. The other, who was a complete moral relativist (a small degree is healthy, but this was so far out of the ballpark) has started prayerfully reading Mormons Bog and asking questions, not just trying to debate religion and philosophy. I feel bad. AEldster Peterson and Christensen have one who is in a band and won't commit to church on Sunday because he'll "probably have a headache that morning, if you know what I mean." He says he'll come to church when they come to his concerts. He gets so distracted whenever they do lessons outside. "Yeah, that's great, but look at that tree! There's a bird in i- *gasp!* two birds in it!" Apparently, there are a sad amount of Danes like that. I'm so excited for Denmark!
12 days. Only 12 days.
Really quickly, I'm almost out of time. I had to/ got to give the talk in church in Danish and it went really well. It was on the Atonement, even though no one understood.
Jeg elsker jer!
Mom - I love your packages. My teachers walked in, saw the Valentines hearts on the board, looked at me, and shook their heads. I have a reputation, I guess. I'm excited to give the Valentines cards to my zone. Big plans. Oh, and thank you for your answers in your letter. I loved what you said about God allowing good things to happen to bad people and how the way He shows His hand in it is to give all men their agency, but offer them relief if they choose it. Why will you be in California? That's cool. And I'm sorry about your teacher, but really excited about the new family plan. I don't think I need anything right now except what I listed in my last letter, but I'll try to let you know with enough time.
Dad - I LOVE your letters about the boys. I've had to share them with everyone now. You have a knack for taking every day stories and recognizing that "all things testify of Christ". That's something I've been trying to work on.
Cheryl - Thank you for the cookies! I don't remember if I thoroughly thanked you enough. I love the shirt too, and the pin is proudly on my coat. The boys have good taste. Thank you too for your card. Sorry it's so delayed (I keep finding new things to put in it), but expect the package for you all within the week! That's easy, since I leave right after that. Andrew's cake sounds absolutely incredible. I kind of want my 22nd birthday to be Angry Birds now ... Tell him I say happy birthday and give him a big hug for me! Matt too!