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 -