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 dearelder.com, 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