Friday, December 14, 2012

Week 9 LAST OF MTC (12/13/12)

ITS MY LAST P-DAY HERE IN THE MTC!!! CRAZYYYYYYY!!!!!!!!!!!!! This week has surprisingly gone by faster than I thought it would since getting my travel plans last Thursday. Probably because I've been trying to make it go by quickly by not getting caught up in the fact that I'll be on a plane and already in California in..... 5 days. Oh and some holiday called Christmas is coming up too which is pretty exciting. Like i've said, holidays just don't exist in the MTC. so Yeah! Last Thursday we got our travel itineraries!! I will be leaving 18 December in the morning and will arrive a mere few hours later in California. Whereas the 14 other Elders and Sisters going to Armenia and Georgia in my District have a total of 42 hours of travel time, including a 13 hour layover in Austria. So I'll have already experienced a full day in the field by the time they get there! So that is definitely a plus to staying state-side. However, I found out i will be traveling alone to California. I guess I'm the only one flying out on Tuesday to Cali so I am a party of one and my own travel leader for that day! It's also going to be kind of lonely on Monday because Everyone else leaves in the morning but I don't leave until the next day. I guess i'll get some super effective study time in the classroom! It'll be the only time in these two years i'll be allowed to be alone. but even then i have to pair up with one of the other greek elders who live in my building on my floor to be my companion outside my study time in the classroom. 

So anyways, the rest of thursday was really good. TRC was really fun this week with our second 40 minute lesson. We got to teach one of my more favorite RM's, Ryan....something. He's really cool and he really enjoyed our lesson and gave great feedback. Also Thursday night, Mom came and got my suitcase from the MTC in light of the recent events of my learning that I'd have to replace my suitcase. so i had to go take that up to the front to drop that off. Friday came too quickly as usual however, I forgot to set my alarm so we woke up with a start when we realized that people were already in the showers before us, which doesn't happen. Luckily we only slept in 10 minutes. Our class time we had the boss of our teachers, Bro. Snyder, come and teach us. It's amazing how when you make the gospel your actual job how much you learn and are a master at cross-referencing! blows my mind every time he teaches. Elder Ericsson and I had our lesson with Samvel that we were really excited for didn't go as well as we had planned it. We were teaching him about the priesthood and how he couldn't be baptzied until he lived the commandments but we ran out of time so he didn't understand. Then that night ended with Elder Fry, who is probably one of my favorites, not that all my district isn't great but he is just Elder Frey, so he came into our room at the end of the night and gave us a rundown on the new hobbit movie that is coming out. How it is supposedly shot at 48 frames per second which is unheard up but supposedly makes it super real. I'm stoked to see those when I come back. So that was fun :) Saturday morning we had our lesson with Susanna and she told us about a very special experience of when she was pregnant with her daughter and she got very sick and thought she wasn't going to live. In a dream she had, she saw Christ and he said she was going to live and that here baby, Mariamay, would live and that she shouldn' t be baptized into the Armenian church. and Thus they both lived and that is where she got the name for her daughter and she later found out the reason why she wasn't baptized was becasue she would be later baptized in our church! so that was really cool to learn.

the rest of saturday wasn't too exciting. Elder Fagg's mattress was stolen before he got into the shower after gym and when he got out he had three mattresses. Oh English elders and their pranks... Saturday night was our last planning session for the mtc. kind of put things into persepective of how short of a time we have left. Sunday was really fun. It was dumping snow as i'm sure most of you know and that was just fabulous because i had been wanting snow before I left and I got it :) YAY! Sunday morning while doing my sunday online assignment things we had an assignment to get onto the family history site which was really reallly cool to see. I don't know on whose side it is but we have records of a Thomas B. Wheeler who was born in 819 in England. That was really cool! I'd recommend checking that website out just to see more of our ancestory. But maybe i'm just nerdy and thought it was cool... 

Sunday night we got to have a performance from the BYU men's chorus! It was awesome. they were amazing and i guess are the largest group of collegiate men's choir in the world. I can definitely see why they are so renowned! Monday came next with some fasting for Elder Wood. He has been having some health problems in his leg and arm supposedly have some dying nerves in them and he might have to go home. still waiting on the decision to be made. I hope he doesn't, He'd be a great Missionary in Armenia. Monday was also another snow day! just love the snow so much. also i started buying some last minute items from the bookstore in preparation for my departure on Tuesday. And unfortunately, my lessons on monday weren't the best. Susanna's was really good but Artoor is just not getting it. He is just a 14 yr old kid and he doesn't seem to get that he needs this. His life is hard but he just doesn't get it. so that is really frustrating. Tuesday was our last service day!! so sad because i really did enjoy service. and thankfully we didn't have to clean toilets :) 

Mom sent me a rather large package with some matching christmas ties with elder wood morley and littlewood that we all wore. so that was precious. I had an interview with Bro. Stutz about how things were going. He told me about Arcadia, more specifically Glendale, and how much i'd love it. he told me that my trainer who he knew was a stud at the language and that i'd really like him. I'm so excited to just get out there! he also told me i'd probably be learning something like 3-4 different dialects of Armenian including Western Armenina, turkish, russian, more arab armenian in general, and most likely some Farcy which is a totally different lanuguage. so that is sweet! kind of intimidating but i'll handle it :) 

And lastly, I got to give Elder frey a blesson on Tuesday night because he has been really sick and found out it is because of a digestional tract virus which thankfully he got some antibiotics for. that was really special. Wednesday I taught Samvel for the last time and it was amazing. we commited him to live the W.O.W. so he can be baptized. Also, we got to host! and for those of you who don't know what that is, basically we got to welcome all the new elders at the curb when they are dropped off and take them to their rooms and help them find their classroom and then do that again! it was kind of depressing not going to lie to see all the families hearbroken having to drop their kids off. made me apreciate my parents more! love you guys! 

So that is about it for this letter. I love you all. my next email will be from California! My mission home address should be posted on my FB but if not just email me and i'll email you back with my actual address when I get there. i love you and and hope you have a merry Chirstmas season :) 

Elder Tanner DeBry

Week 8 (12/6/12)

So basically this is my second to last P-day here in the MTC!! and I have to say I am even more ready to be out of here than last week! and like i say in every letter, i love it here but the field will be much more exciting. even though i know i'll be thrown into deep water with the armenian language non-stop that is flying through one ear and out the other at a million miles an hour, i'm excited :) but it's a bittersweet excited because i will have to say goodbye to all those in my district who are going to Armenian. But i know i'll stay in touch with them. most of them live in utah anyways so i'll see them in 22 month. that's weird to think. 1/12 of the way done with my mission. and to think that once i get into the field it will fly by even faster! but anyways :)

this week has been a really good one. despite the fact of me having a cold and that wretched cough that i always get each winter. dumb coughs. Anyways. last thursday's trc was the first trc lesson that was 40 min instead of 2 20 min lessons so that was kind of intimidating at first but when elder morley and i got into the lesson, we were just on a roll! we got a native armenian too so that was cool to hear him just talk naturally and not like our teachers do which is kind of slowed down so we can understand better. it was intense. I made a slight language mistake and when i was referring to the guy's children, i said toilet. the two are semi-close. not sure how it came out that way but it did and it was quite funny to all of us. Friday was kind nice because i ran into a friend from byu. Elder smith going to new mexico. we all used to hang out with Dan Gardner. who i guess is home now because of medical reasons? so if someone could find out more and have him write me that would be great! i'd love to hear from that boy. 

Also, friday was sister nelsen's birthday! and a birthday in the mtc isn't that special. i mean you can't sing happy birhtday in the cafeteria or anything and you only get a letter from the mtc presidency that says happy birthday. but we made it special for her and made a giant card that elder sarafian ( an architecutre major) drew the provo temple which was pretty cool. and it just so happens that her family sent her a huge package with party supplies in is so we had a secret party in our classroom at the end of the day to celebrate a bit with some cake and treats. Also friday we had a transfer of companions. i haven't had to transfer yet because elder morley and i have been such good companions but now my new teaching companion is elder mckay ericsson. he is one of my roommates so we will see how that goes but we have been working well together and he is a solid elder so it should be good :) Saturday we had our first lesson with a new investigator, Susanna, and i am so excited to have another investigator! i know i always say we are always busy but we are just busy with studing but i'd much rather prefer to teach than just study. teaching is fun! so that was good. we also had a zone activity where we got to teach other elders in our zone just according to their needs so that was kind of nice to just teach an actual person like trc. Also, i received a compliment from one of my teachers, brother carlson, that he has seen quite the progression in my teaching/language abilities and that he has seen a change in me and that i'm going to be a really good missionary :) that kind of was nice to hear since usually we only hear what we need to work on. however, saturday i felt some cabin fever of being cooped up in the mtc for so long. hence all the excitement that we get our travel plans tomorrow (or should anyways) and that we leave so soon! it just gets so repetative here and i'm ready for a change. 

on sunday was mission conference/fast sunday. and as usual mission conference was good but just typical mtc presidency and some random elders having to bear their testimonies. i always feel like it will be me. we did get to usher during this mission conference and help people who come in later find seats. the head of security here, brother angus which is a very fitting name for his size and stature, was kind of grumpy so it wasn't as fun as i thought it be. but that gave us the opportunity to sit in cushioned seats :) which was very nice. also on sunday, we got to watch the first presidency christmas devotional which was way exciting! it brought some christmas spirit to the mtc which i have desperately missed :) the time here in the mtc just doesn't exist. seasons don't exist. the world doesn't exist. its quite strange. on monday elder ericsson and i taught an awesome lesson to samvel about the priesthood. it was so good and we applied it so well that he asked if he could be baptized that day so he could bless his family.

also monday, the cold really started to hit me and kind of made it a very long day. and we had some changes made to our desk situation in our room! we got actual desks and not the tiny ones that barely fit one piece of paper on. Tuesday brought service and more being sick and tired. after having to clean more toilets (which really isn't that bad), i was pooped and didn't go to gym but instead relaxed back in the room to try and feel better. it worked! but i just need a whole day to do that and not just an hour. but tis mtc/missionary life! we also got to pick out the spelling of our new name tags that we will be getting in the field! they will be written in all armenian so we got to spell out how we wanted it to sound :) mine doesn't sound too different. i'm glad i get an all armenian one so i don't get left out!

WEdnesday elder ericsson and i had to teach two lessons. Susanna's lesson on the restoration went really well and Artoors lesson on the plan of salvation needed some work but we are getting there. better to find out what we need to work on here than out in the field right? i also received my armenian flag shirt that i had ordered from the bookstore. pretty stoked about that! and lastly and probably most interesting, i got my suitcase handle fixed yesterday from it breaking the first day here in the mtc. when i went back to pick it up from it being repaired i was informed that the bold holding the strap down was stripped and it was just superglued and would need to be replaced. and then the lady helping me said that if it was still under warranty that one of my parents could replace it so, she called my dad right in front of me! it was kind of funny to get to hear him on the phone even though it is against the rules to actually talk to him. the lady commented after the conversation that my dad was a goof. i definitely agree but you gotta love him right? but in the end, hopefully my suitcase will be replaced soon so I don't have to try and fit it all in one suitcase or buy another one! 

Overall, it was a really good week. i received some great letters that really made things alot cheerier and the language and lessons are really progressing. even though i know i am feeling alright with the language right now, when i get out in the field it will be tough. but i'm excited to be thrown in deep again. Well, until next time, which will be my final p-day here in the mtc, so long for now! i should have my travel plans next week too so i'll let everyone know when i will be calling at the airport approximately :) love you all and have a great Christmas season! 

Elder DeBry

Week 7 (11/29/12)

So I realized that after I sent my last weekly letter, i mentioned talking/telling about my schedule on Thanksgiving but I never did!! Ooops. It must have been the waking up at the break of dawn to do laundry. Which was the funnest activity to do at that early in the morning with almost every other missionary who has P-days on Thursdays....Not! But anyways! Today we hit the three week marker. I will now be leaving with the other Elders who came in yesterday. That is a weird and peculiarly inspiring thought that I need to work even harder than I have been. Not that I haven't been working hard but I need to step it up. I mean, in three weeks, I'll be in California. A totally new adventure. And I'll finally be out of this bubble of an MTC and teaching real people and not knowing anything they are saying because they speak way too fast. I watched a conference talk the other day in Armenian....yeah.... as much as I'd love to say that I understood a bunch of it and enjoyed that experience... nope! I could pick up a few words here and there but by the time I recalled what that word was, the speaker would be on a completely new sentence. So I have some work to do! But I'm excited even more because of it!

Last Thursday was probably the longest day here in the MTC. Not only did I have to wake up at 530 just to do laundry, but that laundry session took about 2.5-3 hours just because of how busy it was. I also had thought since there would obviously be no one else to do laundry that early, I decided to take ALL my white shirts to wash which took up a third machine. So that was quite fun! Definitely a Thanksgiving I won't forget. After we finally got done with Laundry we had to hurry back to the room, get ready, laundry put away, then go hustle to get in line for the devotional with the General Authority. It was worth the rush because we got to listen to Elder Holland talk. He is such a powerful speaker that just hits ya right in the ol' ticker. He talked about being grateful for all the opportunities we have and that we don't get it how much we take for granted which is definitely true. All the time I was fasting keep in mind so I definitely realized how much I really took for granted. I am glad I fasted that whole day. It made it much more special to me and for the reasons why I fasted. But anyways, after the devotional we had some time to relax until our humanitarian project where we made and sent education and healt/sanitation packets to Mali to the OUELESSEBOGOU project or whatever. It was really fun but they were playing some really funny music that made it seem like we were little elves in a workshop. Which we kind of were. It was weird but for a good cause right? right. The rest of the day we just had some down time to write briefly but mostly we had some more devotionals/programs that consisted of more mtc speakers and music numbers. A few that stood out what a fiddle melody that turned into clapping and a hootinany. the other one that stood out was singing 'to grandmothers house we go' as well as a live reinactment from the mtc presidency of the first thanksgiving. I wish I took more pictures of that. But finally after that we got to watch the movie 17 miracles which is about the Willey Martin handcart company crossing the plains. It was a very good movie and I recommend it to those who haven't seen it. Overall, it was a very long, tiring, thanksgiving day that definitely made me thankful for all that I took for granted. The next day, Friday, I was so starving and exhausted from the previous days fast. But it went on as usual, having lunch with my teachers and joking in armenian, learning the first vision in armenian which i can now recite fully in lessons, and district leader interviews. Those interviews were the last ones I had as a Zone Leader and was kind of bitter sweet because of the great Elders I had gotten to know. Oh well.

Saturday our new teacher Sister Crawford started teaching finally and it was a good change of view from the other teachers. And as usual, Saturday mostly consisted of our weekly planning which of course consisted of going over our goals as a district which we have been kind of slacking on. Not that we haven't been working but because we just.... we just have beeen slacking on those goals to speak every day in armenian and such. Sunday I was finally released as a Zone leader and had to say some good bye's to the English district that I first welcomed to go to Canada and kennewick washington. I'll miss those elders. Although, I did get some sweet ties from them!! I have found out I am quite the tie trader and all the elders on my floor at some of the trades I pull off. I think i'm at 40+ ties at the moment where a few weeks ago I barely had 30. And I konw everyone may think there is no need for that many ties, but when you are a misssionary and have to wear a suit every day, ties are your personality in an article of clothing. And for those who have served would understand. Monday I had an interesting lesson with our investigator Artour. He raised the question of 'why are we judged' which was totallly unexpected to our planned lesson. And considering that answer is hard to say in english, we failed to answer it in our lesson but had him read up on it and try and figure it out. I should probably get used to now knowing questions to those more difficult questions. Not that that was a tough one to answer, but it was just unexpected and I didn't know how to anwswer in armenian. 

Also monday, Sister Nelson in our district broke her thumb playing volleyball which really sucked. But thankfully she found out that it won't affect when she will be leaving for Armenia which is good. Our district really is just accident prone. Sarafian with his knee, Wood with his dying nerve in his leg, and now Sister Nelson with her thumb. better hope I'm not next! (knock on wood). Tuesday was particularly exciting because on our way to gym after we had finished service and were about to leave our building, there was a big commotion in a room down the hall and lo and behold, there was a mouse in one of the rooms with about 10 elders trying to catch it. It was nuts. this little mouse scurrying around the room was causing everyones voices to go up a few octives in their screams. No worries though, we safely and with no harm to the mouse, which we named stuart, caught him and released him outside. thought about keeping him as a pet but that is against the rules unfortunately :/ bummer. 

Also on Tuesday we were assigned new investigators because of our new teacher joining us! Our new investigators name is Susanna and has a daughter who was recently baptized. Not sure when we teach her first but I'm excited to have more work to do which may sound weird but i think the funnest part is actually teaching which is why i'm excited for the field. Wednesday we had a lesson with Samvel and it went really well! we taught him about joseph smith and told him about the first vision and whatnot. it was a really strong lesson and he understood it well. He accepted the commitment to read the whole BOM. Hopefully he really does but so far he has been good about reading. he does it for his family which is really special to see. 

Also wednesday, we got the new elders that are going to greece, guam, honolulu. All really sweet missions! the group we leave with are the guam and honolulu elders. which is weird to think we won't get to see a full group again. 

That is really all i have to write about this week, like I said, it has been so repetitive and same old that that is all that is really new. I'm sure these next few weeks will pick up with the acquired work-load and us getting our flight plans and such next friday! Pretty soon I'll be writing from California! Can't wait. I love you all and hope to hear from you soon. Keep on keeping on! 

Elder Tanner C. DeBry

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Week 6 MTC (Thanksgiving - 11/22/12)

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!!!! Although, so far, it hasn't been super happy due to the fact that today is P-day and it isn't really a P-day for me :( not only that, but we got up at 530 to start our laundry because we have a ton of other stuff to do today that i'll explain later in the email. Let's just say we weren't the only ones to think we'd get an early start. Try every other missionary who has P-day today. So it has been a long day already! But I'm sure it will be a good one. So last Thursday was probably one of the best P-days i've had. I got a bunch of pictures from Emily via email that really made my day so Thank you, Emily, for those :) but not only that but it made my day because Elder Morley got a letter from Mom and he absolutely loved it!! I've never seen someone happier to get a letter. Just goes to show that letters to a missionary really are like Christmas in an envelope!! It was great. 

But other than that, we had a really good TRC last thursday with Elder Morley. Mostly because the second half of it we got to talk to this volunteer, Brother White, who was one of the very first missionaries to go to Arcadia and spoke Armenian! It was an interesting story because he served in Armenia as an office Elder doing computer stuff and whatnot but then two other elders got sent back to the states because of medical reasons and they ended up going back out and being sent state-side to Arcadia but it wasn't officially the Armenian speaking mission at that time. But when they started doing the work they found a ton of Armenian people and so Brother White, Elder at the time, started talking to the mission president of Armenia mission and he got transferred to California to see if it could be started into a mission and sure enough, in 2011 it was started as the official Armenian speaking mission in arcadia! so that was cool and I definitely will be pioneering this mission because they don't have a branch set up or anything so that will be exciting to see if something gets organized while I am there. But anyways, after TRC we had another group of missionaries come in. A massive group of 16 Elders and 3 Sisters. And so we went and got them all oriented and whatnot and the branch presidency kept complimenting how good of a job that me littlewood and sister haynie did as ZL's and the coordinating sister. they said it was too bad that this would be the last group that we got to welcome and do orientation for because we get released this upcoming sunday so others can have the opportunity to serve. I'm glad that I got that chance to lead. it was fun! Friday there isn't too much to report. Except that we Spoke our language all day friday and tried to not say any english. it was a lot of fun to see how much Armenian we really knew! It was exhausting i'll tell you that but it was fun. we made it a goal this past saturday to do it every MWFSa so that has been a lot of fun and we have all learned a lot from it. Other than that, Littlewood and I conducted district leader interviews and nothing too much to report. Just some minor companionship problems with one companion being too dominant in the lessons and what not. that was mostly in the new group of elders. 

Then came saturday and as ususal it didn't really feel like a saturday. However! Mom did send Elder Morley a package and it was like a full blown Christmas! It was just a bunch of little trinkets and whatnot and she sent him my old camera to use since he didn't have one and he serious was jumping with joy! it was so wonderful to see. Other than that. Nothing. Sunday was a very long day of meetings. We got up early to meet with the branch presidency as ususal and we asked our branch presidency two questions that had come up in the past week which were if naps were acceptable to do during gym time and if we could study in the residence halls before breakfast instead of having to rush to get ready and go there for 15 min before breakfast. and sure enough, they made us feel dumb even for asking such questions and it turned into a big deal. in the end, we can neither nap nor study in the residence halls at any time. oh well :/ I also gave a talk in a special sacrament meeting we had with the cafeteria staff and it went really well! it wasn't as large of a group as i thought there would be so it wasn't nearly as nerve wracking as i thought it would be! Also in my normal sacrament meeting me elder morley frey and wood did a special musical number which we only  got to practice once the week before and everyone said it sounded really great so that made me happy to hear! during the sunday night fireside there was a special musical number of a bunch of elders going to Tonga and they sang a song in tongan acapella and it sounded amazing. Wish i could sing like that! but alas, i cannot. 

Monday i had some withdrawls from music. some people in my district started singing some songs that they missed and It made me realize how much i've missed music when i didn't think i'd really miss it all that much! so i can't wait to get into the field and listen to some classical or motab or something because music isn't allowed in here. bummer. We also got a new teacher monday! Sister crawford who has been off her mission in armenia something like 10 weeks ago. She is really nice and we have taught her in TRC before. I don't think she'll teach us that much just because she has to go through a lot of training but she has been in the classroom every now and again to observe lessons being taught and supervise the teaching. But monday was an awesome day for teaching. our investigator Samvel who has really been progressing committed to be baptized next month! it was a great thing to see him want to take it all in and care for his family. so that really made my day. But something that didn't make monday fun was that my friend from byu Colin Bledsoe left for D.C to speak french :/ so now i really don't have anyone to see from the outside world anymore. oh well. only a few more weeks then i'll be leaving! can't wait! not that i don't love the mtc but the field will be a much better experience. Tuesday I got oodles of letters from Warren and the Williams family that absolutely made my day. especially the one from Jazou where he asked when i would be coming back over to 'his hous.' Miss the little guy! 

But Elder Porter is doing great and made it through his first transfer. he says that the language is coming along much better than it did in the mtc but it was really hard at first. He said that his sunday meetings with his little branch or whatever is held on the second floor of a soccer stadium so that is cool!! It'll be exciting to see him in two years :) Wednesday we had a cool culture workshop about the Armenian people to try and help us not become complacent. It was really deep to learn about the genecide and all the persecution they have had as well as to see how they have clung onto their religion because of their persecution. It made me gain a greater respect for them all and i'm excited to actually get to serve them in whatever i can. Also yesterday, Elder Littlewood and I decided to fast today. Yes we know it is thanksgiving and it is a day to overindulge but we thought it'd be cool to give up the food we would have today to help others we have in mind. So today I will not be gorging myself with turkey or mashed potatoes but i'm happy about it. besides, i get enough food as it is! 

Well it's time for me to wrap up but i Love you all and thank you all for your support. The mtc has been a lot of fun but i'm definitely excited to go into the field. I hope to hear from people soon about the outside world and everyone's daily business! 

Much Love!

Elder Tanner DeBry

Monday, November 19, 2012

MTC Week 5 (11/15/12)

Surprisingly, this week hasn't gone by as fast as the rest! but it has still flown by but for some reason it did take a while to get to p-day but i'm glad it is here! what a week. its so crazy how many meeting, investigators, teaching and other stuff you can fit in a week let a lone each day! But i'm loving it. Our teachers say that week 5-6 are the complacency weeks where missionaries start to not work as hard as the first few weeks. I can see why though, we are in here for so long that we just want out by about now! weird to think that i'm already half-way done with my mtc experience. I bet that is how it will feel at the half-way mark of the mission overall. I guess we'll have to wait a few more months to find out! It has only been a month and a half afterall. But let me relive this past week once again for all those who are interested in my mission life.

Last Thursday was a really good P-day. not nearly as stressful as the last p-day i had which was not much of a p-day at all! so it was very relaxing. unfortunately, i cannot recall what made it so great but i do believe it was just the fact that I didn't have to go to any doctors appointments or anything like that. But Elder Morley and I had a great TRC lesson last thursday. our language just started clicking and we were just conversing with this sister return missionary who was really cool. it just seems like everyone we teach at TRC like elder Morley and I. We are just that legit :) but anyways. After TRC elder littlewood, sister haynie and i had to go to an orientation for the new Elders we received last wednesday with the branch presidency. that meeting was alright. a little more stressful just because we had to make sure we sounded like we actually knew what we were doing but the elders seemed to enjoy it and are taking a liking to us as zone leaders so that is good! we met with them and then had to give them a tour of the mtc campus and show them where everything is. even though it really isn't very big. I remember those few days of still getting lost. seems like so long ago! 

Friday Elder morley and I had a lesson with Samvel and it went alright. We weren't the most prepared as usual with our friday lessons but we gave it our best effort to try and explain and apply Lehi's dream but it was pretty complicated so it went just meh :/ Nothing else was really significant other than our interview with the district leaders that we have to do each week that we report to the branch presidency. We had two problems with two different companionships. one companionship, who was just about to leave the following tuesday,one of the elders was really struggling learning and was getting stressed out so we talked to his district leader and offered to give him a blessing, which we did on saturday. the other companionship was a new elder who was not quite pulling his weight in the companionship and that was stressing out his companion enough to tears. It was a rough week for the companionship to say the least. Don't want to tell names though as you can tell. but Saturday was just another typical saturday. It was still snowing which is always a fun sight to see but is hard to think that i won't see it for two years when I get to Cali. Sad face. OH well! But because of the snow, they have closed the field which really isn't fun because I enjoyed our gym time pick up games so we were all forced into the gym and play basketball which i'm finding out i'm not good at, at all whatsoever in the slightest! but its okay i'm still fun to play with because i'm that bad haha. but later saturday night we got together with some of the soon to be departing elders and traded and signed ties to remember each other by. i'm learning that the more ties i trade, the less i have to trade in the future if they end up signing the tie! so i know what i'll be asking for christmas! i'm going to have a beastly collection when i get home thats all i have to say! But like i said, also saturday night we gave that elder a blessing who was really struggling and stressing out about going into the field. It was cool to see all of his district reach out to him to give him support and to feel that power of the bond we share as missionaries. It was very touching and spiritual. Any blessing always is and i know that it will help him out in the field. 

Sunday is now meetings day as a zone leader becasue we wake up earlier to get to breakfast earlier to have a zone leader meeting followed by zl, dl and branch presidency meeting followed by a sunday lesson with those in that meeting and then the typical sunday meetings with other presidency meeting inbetween! It was the longest day every. not fun. But i did find out that this upcoming sunday i will be giving a talk in a special sacrament meeting for the cafeteria workers and i will also be doing a musical number in my own sacrament meeting. yikes! i'm not even that great of a singer! well not compared to the other elders i'm singing with whose one's parents are in the MoTab and is a great singer. so i'll be singing softly :) Monday came and after the lesson with brother carlson i'm picking up better strategies to memorize vocabulary to use which i have been struggling with but now i'm getting a lot better with it. We also had a lesson with Artur and it went really well. we taught him how we have a heavenly father and we need to pray to him and at the end of the lesson, he prayed in front of us! Also we found out that he attended church last sunday like we committed him to do! but unfortunately he did it without his dad's permission so we had to tell him he needed to get permission first. 

Also Monday we had to say goodbye to the elders leaving the next day which was harder than the previous groups because at least I had gotten along well with them and will miss having them around. To think that's how every week will be. Tuesday came along with a haircut because our branch presidnet kept bugging me that my hair was touching my ears! so i finally got it cut and it still looks good :) Also tuesday was the best day ever because our room decided to forgo gym time which hadn't been fun as of late and take a nap after service which was so incredibly nice just to take an hour nap. so nice. I also was asked to participate in another blessing tuesaday night with an elder who hadn't been feeling well that day so that was cool to feel so wanted to participate in all these blessings! Other than that, tuesday was just really relaxing and is my absolute favorite day :) Wednesday was also an amazing day because it started off with the best lesson elder morley and i have ever taught with Samvel. We taught him about how we need to read the book of mormon and obtain the word of god, again telling him about lehi's dream and he just ate it up! he loved it and wanted more so we committed him to attend church this sunday and to read the bom every day! he is progressing so fast and it was incredible to see. that lesson made me converted to thiswork :) I love it. Also, we welcomed 16 new elders and 3 new sisters into our zone! so many its crazy! they are heading to Kennewick, WA; Philidelphia, San Jose, Ca; and Provo! they seem like a good group but they all seem like a good group after the first day becasue they are so tired and just in a state of shock and awe that they just left their families for two years. i can relate because i was the same way. 

Well that is my update for the week. I really love being here and I think of you all everyday and have you in my prayers always. I miss you and love you all and hope to hear from you soon! 

Elder Tanner DeBry


Thursday, November 8, 2012

MTC Week 4 (11/8/12)

This week is officially the month marker! So CRAzy!! One down, 23 to go! 

But I have loved it. It truly is such great work and I'm grateful to be here and am honored to serve with the great people I get to. But anyways! This week didn't fly by as fast as usual which kind of surprised me but one day after another, it was Thursday again. But let me, as usual, update y'all about my weekly highlights and activities that everyone is dying to know about.

Last Thursday was probably the most stressful P-day yet. And for those of you who actually got a letter, be thankful because it was crazy busy. So it turns out that after i finished laundry and emailing Littlewood and I went back to the room and found out that Elder Sarafian had gone to the health clinic and made an appointment to go off campus to get his knee checked out because it was still bothering him. So somehow Littlewood and I got dragged into taking Sarafian to his appointment. which sucked for him more because it was his birthday. but anyways, it was really weird driving around provo and being outside the mtc prison gates as usual. the outside world is weird now! I was begging the driver to stop by taco bell but to no prevail :/ bummer. so we went to some clinic and got his knee ultra-sounded and they said he might have a possible ACL tear or something but they weren't helpful. typical. So we returned to our P-day at the mtc and it took so long that we had to grab a sack lunch super quick and go to a later temple session which let out at dinner time and right after dinner we had TRC. Leaving me no time to write at all. Oh well. TRC was great though. Met with two new RM's. One said elder morley and i were his favorite and the other was actually not an RM but an elder from the group of armenia-bound missionaries before us. he got sick with some serious stuff. something similar to jaundice that made him turn yellow and had to be released but he is better and is hoping to go out soon but might be going stateside. Maybe to Arcadia with me! but i was so surprised how well he could speak. it gave me hope that after 10 weeks of being here i'd be speaking similarly. 

Friday wasn't too special of a day. We watched 'Miracle of a Mission' by Elder Holland in class and talked about it. Elder Holland is just the man. Also that day, I had an interview with my teacher Brother Carlson who is the one that reminds me of Kiel and who I look up to. It went really well. Just talking about how I was doing, companionship, language and just general stress level. He made me feel a lot better about things so that made friday a good day :) Also on friday, Morley and I taught our investigator Artur. It was a somber lesson because we found out that his dad is an alcoholic and hates the church and because women in armenia are very suppressed, Artur's dad doesn't approve of the church and he got in a fight with Artur and so we ended up trying to teach him about praying for his dad but he said he didn't want to. Sad. Things with him get better though. Especially because Elder Morley was actually in a situation like that before he came here so he could actually relate which made me love him even more. He's a stud. Saturday I also feel like nothing substantial was done. I even wrote that in my little pocketbook of highlights during my week. But Elder Morley and I did have a companionship inventory and set some more goals between us and it went really well. I set some personal goals to be more organized with my planning sessions each day. that has been really helping i think. Then sunday was quite the day. not even wise but Littlewood and I got called to be Zone Leaders! So that is exciting! Kinda will make things be a little more stressful because during the week we have to have orientation for the new elders coming into our zone and meet with the branch presidentcy but it will be cool to be the one that the new elders look up to. so we will see how that goes.

Monday I had a lesson with Samvel which went really well talking to him wise but we were answering off lesson questions he had so we ended up running out of time and didn't get our point across that well. so that was a bummer especially because we had big plans for that lesson. we drew a picture of him and his family and us going to church with them :) i thought it was a good idea. but oh well. Then monday night was probably the most fun night we had in the mtc. so because i had received a large package of ties i didn't bring here, i had them sent to me and some other elders were in our room looking at them all and that attracted more and more people from all over our building and it turned out to be a massive tie trading party with a good 20 ish people in our room at one time. I traded one tie ( it was bright red with little blue whales on it) to some elder for these two sweet skinny red and black plaid tie and one other skinny blue striped tie. No idea why he wanted that tie. but everyone was just loving on my ties and it made me feel special. I didn't make any other trades because it was time for lights out but I will. I'm going to have a bomb tie collection by the end of these two years. 

Tuesday, best day of the week, wasn't too exciting but nice all the same. Service went well and was cleaning entry ways as usual and then had a sweet game of morning soccer. the other district we play against are going to Holland and to Atlanta Georgia. they are cool. good discription huh? other than that, nothing to report for tuesday. other than we learned that Sarafian has a torn miniscus and might have to get surgery but he is just going to try and do physical therapy. Wednesday was an abnormally long morning for some reason. Morley and I taught Artur again and that went really well. we focused on how he can be happy by coming to church and having faith but we learned that he will have to ask permission to come to church or be baptized but he said that he wants to do both so we were really happy about that. Also wednesday, we got new elders and gave them a brief orientation! there are ten of them. half going to seattle washington and the other half going to edmonton canada. they are a good group of guys and i'm excited to get to know them better. we have anther orienation with them tonight with the branch presidency. but that will be more stressful becasue the branch presidency will be there. 

Well that is all for this week. Overall, the language is coming along. slow but steady. it's fun work and i love the people i'm here will. I love you all and thank you for suppporting me and writing me. be safe and i'll talk to you all next week! hajootyoon! 

Elder Tanner Clark DeBry

Monday, November 5, 2012

MTC Week 3 (11/1/12)

This week has flown by yet again. I don't know what it is that makes everything seem to go by so fast. Maybe it is the lack of sleep or the large amounts of food but all I know is that the days are now flying by. This week especially because we have been teaching every week and the grammar we have been learning has been intense. I'm starting to realize the public english education I received wasn't good at all and I now know better grammar in Armenian than english. 

Anyways! Last Thursday went without much event other than our first TRC which, for those of you who haven't been in the MTC, is where we teach return missionaries who speak armenian. Elder Morely and I were definitely not prepared at all to teach and were not looking forward to the experience at all thinking that it was going to be painful to try and understand someone fluent in the language and expecting us to teach them an actual deeper doctrinal lesson to uplift and edify their spirits. But we went in and both of the RM's we taught were so friendly and nice. The first one walked up to us and gave us the biggest hug ever because he was so excited to see us and be there. Automatically loved him. Even though our lesson wasn't that great and our speaking really wasn't that great, it was really cool that they both took time out of their schedules to come let us teach them and to feel the Spirit. Pretty cool if you ask me. If I end up staying at BYU after i get back, i might have to look into that. So that was the highlight of the evening of thursday other than receiving mail from everyone. I know understand how my little buddy Jack Williams feels when he receives mail. SO EXCITED!

So continuing with my week, Friday was kind of a downer because I realized I was missing out on Emily's birthday which made me kinda home sick and miss everyone but thankfully everyone in my district are really supportive here and cheered me up the best they could. But still. Hope all is well in NOLA! So Friday Elder Morley and I taught our investigator Samvel and it went so well!! We taught him about how prayer can help him and his family. Even though at first he thought that meant that God would give him money to feed his hungry kids, he finally understood that he would be blessed in other ways. So he accepted our invitation to pray with his family until we met with him again. And that is that! Saturday I found out that I am 1/5 missionaries ever to be sent to speak Armenian outside of Armenia! I was so stoked about that but I also realized that I would probably either be stuck with the same Armenian speaking companion in Cali for long periods of time or be stuck with another language speaking companion. Guess time will tell! But Saturday Elder Littlewood and I realized that he is now on my..... umm...... 'schedule' at around 2 o'clock. Some may not understand this but people that know me, will. 

Sunday was yet another typical Sunday consisting of boring meetings and blah blah blah but to my surprise, I didn't even fall asleep in any meeting! Probably because our Branch President, President Mickelson, didn't speak in sacrament who is very monotone in his speach and is just a bundle of joy to listen to....... But instead we were taught by one of his counselors, Brother Laney, who is like the Master scriptorian and can connect scriptures and make talk references to conference like none other. To give you a little hint at how intense he is, his scripture journal is probably 15 pound binder with papers that are as this as maybe 1 and a 1/2 dictionaries. Crazy! He likes to pick on me because somehow he knows Grandpa DeBry and so yeah. I get called on a lot which helps me to stay awake. Sunday night we also had a very good devotional by Brother Allen. I know this is bad to say but I honestly can't remember the exact topic but I just remember it was very good and intense. So look it up! Monday was the day that I realized how enthusiastic my teaching companion, Elder Morley, is about this work. While we were planning our lesson for Artur he would just get so excited and want to do so much with him and it kinda took me back a second but made me love him even more because he is goofy and is a very good missionary. But because we planned so well for our lesson, our lesson with Artur was so awesome! We taught him about the Holy Ghost and used an object lesson with my nerf hoop and ball and making him try and make the basket (eternal life) without the light on (the holy ghost) and then we had him do it with the light on and he really understood it all. So when we asked him to be baptized he said that he would when he understood a little bit more of our doctrine which was amazing because no one else had a response like from their investigators so we were on cloud 9 after our lesson to say the least :) 

Tuesday I received word from Mom about the hurricane in NY. We haven't heard anything officially about the storm but just what people's parents have sent them in emails and such. It sounds massive and I hope everyone is okay that is there so if anyone would like to keep me updated via, it would be much appreciated! I hate being kept in the dark with this kind of stuff going on in the world. But second thing, while our district was at lunch some elderly man came and sat down with us at our table and just started talking to us and it wasn't until a few minutes into the conversation that we realized it was President Brown, the MTC president! So that was kind of cool. He is very knowledgable and liked asking scriptural questions to fill our lunch time. Then later that night we had a devotional with Elder Clarke of the 70 and it was such a good talk. He talked about how we as missionaries need to help those we serve, our ward, our family, our ward leaders, and so on. Very informative and powerful. And lastly was yesterday. Morley and I taught Samvel again and followed up on his committment to pray with his family. He said it brough peace to his family and so we are definetely ready to go into deeper lessons. I am starting to make friends with other elders not from our Zone from gym and some other elders on my floor so that is nice to not be stuck with the same people all the time. 

Time here in the MTC really has been great. Yes it is busy and stressful and mostly busy but it is really great learning this language and speaking it everyday, teaching these investigators and getting to work with other great elders. who have been bugging me lately some of them but others I have grown closer to. But unfortunately my time is up for today so farewell for now. Hope all is well with everyone at home and like I said, i love getting mail :) I love you all. 

Elder Tanner Clark DeBry

Monday, October 29, 2012

MTC Week 2 (10/25/12)

This past week has flown by so fast. I honestly cannot believe it is my third wednesday here!! At the end of each day it really seems like each day is an eternity long but at the end of the week, the weeks just seem to fly by. I'm not sure if it's because i'm having so much fun or because I am so busy or what. But I am loving it! So since last P-day a lot has been learned studied, and happened all together. Thursday night after my p-day officially ended we had a lesson from one of our teachers Brother Carlson. Who, by the way, reminds me of kiel for some reason. but anyways, part way through the lesson, he opened our door and in came one of our supposed investigators, 'Vasgen' who turns up to be our third Armenian teacher bro. stutz! we were all blown away because we had all been so frustrated trying to teach him with such a language barrier. but they then announced that we would actually be instructred more on the language and grammar and such which we were all happy about and which has been very beneficial to us all because now we can conjugate simple sentences and such for lessons instead of going in on a script we had previously translated. Friday went without much event besides learning some deep doctrinal lessons and finding out more about our new investigators that we would be teaching. they also sprung on us the fact that we were going to be having a change up in teaching companions. so instead of teaching with our companion, we got assigned to teach with another Elder or Sister in our district. I got assigned to Elder Morley who is a convert to the church. He is a really cool, goofy kid who kind of likes to take things lightly and mess around a lot but when we actually get working, he is really powerful. It took some getting used to teaching with him though which ill tell later on in my letter. So Saturday was weird. i say it was weird because it was the first saturday that i actually realized that it was saturday and wished it was an actual weekend instead of just another day. But it was a good day overall. we had our first lesson from bro. stutz and he is kind of awkward i have to say. maybe it's because i keep thinking he is some teenage armenian kid who isn't a member and is stubborn. but he is a really good teacher so far. we also had a lesson from bro. white on stress management which we all needed. not that i have been extremely stressed but i have definitely so busy that it has been overwhelming at moments. but his lesson taught us to just lose ourselves in this work and we will be okay and that the harder we work, the easier it will become to deal with the stress. So then came sunday. and man was everyone right about sunday. what i'm referring to is the fact that sundays are like an all day church meeting and its really nice but its a little much to say the least. My sunday schedule goes something like this:

630 awake and prepare
730 breakfast 
830 priesthood 
930 branch presidency interviews/study time/ time to write a talk for sacrament that we may have to give in the spur of the moment
1130 lunch
1230 sacrament - trying to stay awake after eating and hoping not to have to give a talk. 
130 temple walk 
230 more branch presidency meetings/ study time
430 dinner
530 fireside 
700 film

And i'm not complaining because sundays are really cool in the fact that the film that they usually play at the end of the day is really good. this past sunday we got to watch a talk given by elder holland at the mtc on eternal missionaries which was amazing. he became my favorite apostle after watching that talk. i'd highly reccommend looking it up to anyone who wants. Next came monday which was just like any other day. except it was the first time that elder morley and i taught one of our three new investigators named samvel who is an armenian man who is married and has two children. The lesson started out really really well just having small talk with samvel and getting to know him and his family with our minimal language skills but then once we actually started to go in the direction of a lesson, it didn't work out so well. elder morley and i just weren't on the same page with the lesson. we didn't exactly even have a lesson completely prepared because we were so busy doing everything else. but oh well. we will do better tomorrow when we teach him.
Tuesday is basically like a miniature tuesday. it starts out with service around the MTC. this most recent tuesday, elder littlewood and I got to clean bathrooms!! it was so fun!...... it actually wasn't that bad but it still wasn't as pleasant as it was cleaning windows last week. but we were all just really lazy after that and ended up laying around on the floor until lunch. but elder morley and i got to teach our first english investigator! it was actually so nice being able to understand everything and to say what i wanted to say! and elder morley and i were on the same page which was always nice. then wednesday just was a typical wednesday with nothing too exciting to report other than another lesson with our third investigator Artoor who is a 14 yr old kid who was very shy and didn't talk much which was frustrating. 

So overall, this past week has just flown by. Having taught 8 lessons in Armenian as of today, 1 english lesson, am now able to read, pray and sing in armenian. Elder littlewood and i are really getting along so far and i'm kinda bummer we arent teaching companions. and another thing i'd like to finish off with is the fact that i am definitely glad i got brown shoes and no black suit because with my two suits and brown shoes and all my dazzling ties, i am the best looking missionary :) not to toot my own horn or anything. 

I miss everyone and hope everything is going well! Feel free to write me during the week via email, dearelder or handwritten letter. i look forward to the mail everyday to see if anyone was thinking about me. so far, mom has everyone beat with sending me a letter at least once a day. one day this week she sent 4 including a package.... that might be a little much but i love her anyways. So long for now until next p-day! 

Love, Elder DeBry

Thursday, October 18, 2012

MTC Week 1

Tanners First Email:

Hello from the MTC!! 

Wow this week has been so crazy. It's true what they say, the days seem like an eternity but the weeks go by in a flash. I honestly can't believe its been over a week. I definitely needed this P-day though from the craziness of regular day life. So here is my typical schedule on a day to day basis here. 

6:30 - wake up and get ready
730 - breakfast
8-12 - classroom instruction/ personal study
1215 - lunch 
1-2 - language study 
2-5 - class instruction
5-530 - dinner
6-7 -gym
7-8 - language study
9-10 - plan next day 
1030 - pass out from exhaustion

It has been so much fun though and I have learned more than I thought i would in a week. So my companion is Elder Jeremy Littlewood from north ogden Utah. He is a pretty cool guy and we get along pretty well. we arent super buddy buddy but that is probably better than us being best friends so we can actually get stuff done in our personal and companion study. i found out that i am the only one that isn't going to armenia which kinda bums me out just because i have already grown to love all the elders and sisters in my district that i wish i would have at least one of them coming to cali with me. but i am very glad that i am going stateside because i've heard they will have approximately 30 hours of travel time to aremenia. that would be too long for me! and they don't have taco bell in armenia. so it's all good! but anyways. i really have enjoyed this week a lot. the language is very hard but coming along slowly. i am starting to read and can conjugate very simple sentences but that is very limited. what suprised me and has been the most stressful though has been the fact that we have taught an investigator everyday so far. aside from the first day but that is understandable. the investigator we are teaching is named Vasgen and he is 19 and from armenia. his dad died and only has him mom and is going to serve in the armenian army for two years which is mandatory. Elder littlewood and i have taught him five times thus far and he still hasn't been receptive of our message. he is very stubborn and makes me frustrated that we haven't just been taught the language and then told to teach. but i suppose they know what they are doing. my teachers are also very cool and very knowledgeable in the language. so much that one elder in my district who can understand western dialect of armenian thought one of them was actually armenian. pretty cool i guess! but anyways, every day has been a new adventure to say the least and i am excited to see what this next week has in store. its a bummer that we only get 30 min on the computer or else i would write more so this will be it for now. but a great way for me to get letters the same day is and i get a print out of whatever email you send me. but i do prefer handwritten letters from family but just know that i don't have a ton of time to write each day. but i do wish more people would write me throughout the week. 

i love you all and miss everyone so much! 

Elder DeBry

Tanners Farewell

Hello everyone! Tanner before he left requested we post his updates on this blog to let all his friends and family keep updated on his activities. For his first post he wanted us to put up his farewell talk he gave just before he left. I also just got Tanners first email and have an update on how he is doing which I will post later this afternoon. For now here is his talk: 

"Good afternoon, brothers and sisters. [BAH-REE OARHS BARON YEV TAKEEN. AYO, YES HASKANUM EM YEV HOSUM EM HAYREN ME KEETCH BITES VOTCH SHOT LAV. SHORDHAKALUTSOON YEV TSE-TEH-SOO-TYOON].  In English, good morning sirs and madams. Yes, I can understand and speak Armenian a little but not very well. Thank you and good-bye. It is a privilege and blessing to be speaking here today in front of family and friends. As was said, I have been called to serve in the California Arcadia Mission speaking Armenian.

I don’t know about everyone else but I had no idea there was even an Armenian population in California, let alone a mission.] [Nevertheless,] I am thrilled to be called to serve the Lord and the Armenian people in California.
Not only do I get to learn and be immersed in such an exotic language and culture, but I also get the luxuries of home such as Taco-Bell and hot showers. But I’m sure most of you, just like I did, are wondering how many Armenians could possibly be in California and how often I’d really be speaking the language. So let me read you some facts about Armenian Arcadia.
a.      The 2010 American Community Survey estimates that there are a little less than 1.5 Million Armenian Americans here in the U.S. The highest concentration of Armenian descent in the Los Angeles area with estimates of 450,000 – 800,000.
b.     Ironically, Glendale, California, [an area inside my mission] is widely known as the center of Armenian American life. With about 40% of the city's population of Armenian origin.
c.      And approximately 53% of the ethnic Armenians living in the United States referred to the Armenian language as the 'Language Spoken at Home'.
I have to admit, this is my first talk in Church. I’m not sure how this happened seeing how I have been in this ward for about 12 years… but I guess I should get used to speaking seeing how I will be doing it everyday for the next two years.
Today I have been asked to speak about how being steadfast in Christ strengthens missionaries. To begin I’d like to discuss what it means to be a missionary, and why the churchplaces such a strong emphasis on missionary work.  Elder M. Russell Ballard wrote, “ Weknow the purpose of life. The rest of the world doesn’t. It rests on theshoulders of every young man to prepare himself to declare that message to theworld.”
This is precisely the reason that young men in the church should want to serve a full time mission, to fulfill the commandmentgiven in Doctrine and Covenants section 88 which reads,  “BeholdI sent you out to testify and warn the people, and it becometh every man whohath been warned to warn his neighbor.”  We as members of the church have beengiven a great blessing by already receiving this Gospel, and because we havebeen given much, we too must give. It is for this reasonthat I have made the same choice to serve anhonorable full time mission. I want to testify to the world about thetruthfulness of the Book of Mormon and the comfort, and joy it brings to my life.
If the Book of Mormon is the keystone of our religion, then Christ is the foundation upon which the arch is built. His time on this earth provides anexample of what it is to live a perfect life, and it is for our eternal benefitto follow his example. As missionaries work harder to gain Christ-likeattributes, they willbecome more in tune with the spirit, and therefore better able to bring soulsunto Christ.  Doctrine and Covenants section 18 says, “Remember theworth of souls is great in the sight of God”.
Christ loves each and everyindividual, regardless of sin. What a great blessing this is to know that our Father in Heaven will love us no matter our mistakes. Missionaries must develop this Christ-like love in order to effectively serve and teach the people that they too can become worthy of all the blessings He has to give.
2)   What makes a good missionary?
A good missionaryis one who not only serves the people, but truly loves the people with the purelove of Christ. Preach My Gospel, a guide tomissionary service, says that  “Charity is a gift from God….your love for allpeople will increase, especially those among whom you labor. You will come tofeel a sincere concern for the eternal welfare and happiness of other people.You will see them as children of God with the potential of becoming like ourHeavenly Father, and you will labor in their behalf….You will develop charityas you look for opportunities to serve others and give of yourself.”
Christ wasthe perfect demonstrator of charity, as His mortal ministry was centered onlove. He provided the ultimate example of love, when He sacrificed himself sothat all mankind may be saved. By following Christ and His example, missionaries can truly become strengthenedand be better qualified to teach His word. But in order to follow Christ, wemust first have faith in Him.
Faith, as defined in Alma chapter 32 “is not to have a perfect knowledge of things, therefore if ye have faith yehope for things which are not seen which are true”.
Faith is a cycle; inorder to come to know for ourselves what things are true, we must first havefaith in those things, and the Holy Spirit will then manifest to us of thetruthfulness thereof. Missionaries who have faith in Christ will have theirfaith increased, just like the old Primary song: “Faith is like a little seed; if planted it will grow”.  Proverbs 3, verses 5 and 6 advises to “Trustin the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding. Inall thy ways acknowledge him and he shall direct thy paths”.  If we have faith inthe Lord, we find ourselves blessed.
I found this to beparticularly true in the BYU Testing Center: During this last year at BYU, I got into the habit of praying before a test. So, sometimes when I would forget to praybefore a test, I felt like I wasn’t as able to recall the information I had studied. But when I would pray for help and guidance, I found myself better able to recall information, and, as a result, did much better on those tests. And I know this principle will be true in the mission field. If missionaries will trust in the Lord and rely on His divine intellectto guide them by following Christ’s perfect example, then they will be blessed with being true Disciples of Christ. 
According to Elder M. Russel Ballard, the most important knowledge you can acquire will be the assurance that you are a true disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ. “The word disciple comes from the Latin word discipulus, meaning “pupil”. Many people think that to be a disciple means simply to follow, with a connotation of following blindly. But becoming a true disciple is nothing of the sort.”
Being a disciple requires us to learn and to know of Jesus Christ, to study the principles of truth for ourselves and to receive answers; in other words, to receive knowledge. Once we have knowledge of the simple principles of the Restoration, combined with a deep and abiding faith in the truths we do not yet know, we become true disciples of Jesus Christ, and not simply followers.
The difference between being a disciple and a follower is like the difference between a ship’s anchor that is lodged solidly at the bottom of the sea, holding the ship fast, and an anchor that is merely suspended in water because the chain is too short. Such an anchor may appear to be doing its job when the seas are calm, but it serves no purpose when waves are high or during storms. Remember these words from the prophet Nephi:
“Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life.”
Every great prophet, including those in the Old Testament, the New Testament, and the Book of Mormon, has had to go through the process of becoming a true disciple by coming to an unshakable knowledge of Christ. Each one has had to ask himself, Is Jesus Christ the Son of God, our Eternal Father? Does He live and does He preside over His church today? As I strive to become the best missionary I can be, I will have the opportunity to testify of the knowledge that I have of these things, so I can touch the lives of others and bring them to the knowledge of the gospel.
The knowledge that Jesus Christ is the Savior and Redeemer of the world provided the courage for Meshach, Shadrach, and Abed-nego to enter a fiery furnace without fear. Abinadi’s knowledge of Christ gave him the power to testify of Christ while being burned to death by the wicked priests of King Noah. And the same knowledge that Christ lives gave Nephi the power to endure the incessant insults of his brothers and gave him the strength to suffer until his brothers broke the strong cords that held him bound during a storm at sea.
The scriptures are filled with righteous acts and testimonies of men and women who came to know for themselves that Jesus is the Christ. I know at times that the knowledge that Christ is the Savior has provided me courage and comfort when I have needed it most.
Two years ago this upcoming spring, one of my best friends mother passed away and left this Earthly life to join her Heavenly Father again after having fought the good fight against cancer. I was heartbroken to hear of the loss because she was like a second mother to me after having grown up with her always there to greet me at the door or to offer me breakfast after I’d let myself into the house on Saturday mornings. So as I attended the service the following week, my heart wept as I spoke with my friend, his two younger brothers’, and his father. I was upset because it seemed so unfair that this had to happen to such a dear family to me. Not only to me, but also to her three little boys whom I had grown up with. But as the service went on I noticed a smile on the family’s face. A smile that lifted up my spirits because they knew that their wife and mother was in a better place. That she was in the arms of her Father and knew they would see her again. Their smiles and my friends desire to continue on the path to serve a mission inspired and drove me to go on a mission. I knew this was the path I needed to follow so I could give others the knowledge and faith in Christ that I have and has kept me anchored in happiness, even when the times were dark. To give them the knowledge that even though they may have lost a loved one, that through Christ, they could see their families again. They say that every missionary is sent to a specific mission for one specific reason or family. I know that I have been called to serve in Arcadia because some family needs me to teach them that families can be together forever.
That same testimony of Christ can be yours, because the gospel has been restored in its fullness in these last days. So I challenge you to have a steadfast faith in Christ.  My testimony and knowledge came as a result of my personal faith and prayers. I ask my Heavenly Father to bless me with faith and courage, and I know He will help you endure any challenges you may face if you simply ask it of Him. He will help you overcome loneliness, feelings of desperation and hopelessness, setbacks of a personal, emotional, financial, and even spiritual nature, or will strengthen you when you are simply feeling overwhelmed by all of the demands of daily life.
I know this church is true, and I am ready to go and proclaim these things and this gospel to the people of Arcadia. I can’t wait to enter the mission field just like my goodfriends and even better examples: Elder Hulbert, Porter, Barton, Newman, and soon to be Elder Bennet. They have provided such an excellentexample to me of what it means to truly serve God and forget oneself. Ihope to be able to achieve the same level of righteousness that they have whileI serve the Lord. I have been truly blessed to have such greatfriends who have always been there to love, support and help me grow. I know that Jesus is the Christ: that He died not only forthe sins of all mankind, but for my pains and afflictions. It brings megreat comfort to know that Christwill always be able to comprehend the pain and affliction I have gone through in my life. I know that the prophet Joseph Smith restored the fullness of the Gospel to this Earth and that families can be together forever through our Heavenly Father’s plan. And I know that through the Savior’s atonement we can be made clean.
It is this message that I am to deliver to the people of Arcadia. I know that by following theexample of Christ, I will be able to be liftedup and empowered with the Spirit as I go forth and serve. I thank my Heavenly Father every day for the opportunitythat has been given me to grow up as a member of the church in a kind, lovingfamily. I would liketo take this opportunity and thank my wonderful parents for always being therefor me. I appreciate all that you do for me, and Iwish you and the rest of the family happiness and safety for the next two years. I love you all, and I say these things in the name ofJesus Christ, Amen. "

Tanner sounds like he is doing great. He requested I ask everyone to send him letters through (an online service which allows you to type an email to him but they print it and get it to him that day - also you can send treats and gifts to him through that website as well). I will add his email up later today or tomorrow! 
Thanks everyone -