Thursday, December 29, 2011

Christmas Day Letter from Elder Powell

Well guys (and gals), Justin is down to his final 2 ½ weeks in the MTC.  He is leaving for Mexico on January 16.  He thinks that he will have to stop in Dallas and visit the Mexican Consulate to have his Visa signed and will overnight in Dallas, so that should  be an added adventure. As you will be able to tell, he is really loving the MTC and is making loads of progress.  He has also made some great friends there and sounds so positive and uplifted. He’s always been a good kid, but I’m so proud of him.
Please keep the letters heading to him. He told me that he loves hearing from his friends and family at home. Keep him in your thoughts and prayers and send him good energy for this final push before heading out of the country and into the "meat" of his mission. Peace and love to you all, especially during this New Year's celebration.

Hey Familia y Amigos! How are you all doing? How were the Christmas Holidays for everyone? My Christmas was pretty grand! I was a bit homesick at first, but it was actually a great Christmas! Thank you so much for the Christmas package familia! I'm very grateful for it and I hope you all like my Christmas package.

So starting with Christmas Eve, we had a fireside with the MTC presidency and had such a blast! We watched A Christmas Carol and had amazing popcorn! The whole night I wore this Christmas tie (Thank you Ellingers!) and my companion got these Christmas light necklaces from his parents, so I wrapped it around my tie and had a light up Christmas tie all Christmas Eve and Christmas! Everyone thought it was the coolest thing ever because they thought it was part of the tie. After the Christmas day devotional, my companion and I went up to the MTC presidency and met with him, when I got up there they were laughing and kind of shocked that an elder had a light up tie in their own MTC. President Brown was like: "Only today is that all right Elder Powell." And then I ended up taking a picture with 2 of the 3 presidency. Their wives were all laughing hysterically. It was pretty funny. My companion gets these comic packages from his family like for example, 3 of us wore mustaches around the MTC a couple weeks ago, and it was soo funny! Everyone was laughing! I think President Brown would have had a heart attack if he was me with it! Haha!

And then we had this Christmas Eve party with my whole floor in this Elder's room. Chips, soda and fun! There were like 30 elders in this small room just partying for Christmas Eve! Most of them are Latino and so we all sang at the top of our lungs "Feliz Navidad"! A lot of elders in the other floors were mad! But we all had Christmas spirit and then our party got broken up by security... It was still a blast! Don't worry, I'm obedient! Just having some fun too! Haha! :)

And on Christmas day we had a sacrament meeting (MTC wide) in the gym with Elder Bednar and his wife. Elder Bednar was so inspirational to hear from! He talked about the natural attribute of Christ and how he should just look outwards instead of thinking of ourselves. If we just think about others rather than worrying only about ourselves, we should find everlasting happiness and we will be better people. He told this one story about when he was a stake president and how he saw this attribute of Christ demonstrated from this lady that had every opportunity to just worry about herself, but in the face of complete depression and sadness, she still acted just like Christ. Stake President Bednar received a phone call from the Relief Society President of a ward late one evening and said, "President Bednar, there has been a terrible accident near where you live involving 3 young women; one of them is my daughter. One of them is confirmed dead and the other two severely injured. Will you please go identify which of the 3 is the deceased young woman?" President Bednar said he would and what he noticed about the phone call is that the Relief Society President/Mother had another phone to her other ear and he understood that it was the nurse at the scene of the accident. There was some silence and President Bednar then heard the confirmation of the deceased young woman—it was the daughter of the Relief Society President. What really astonished President Bednar was that the first thing that came out of the Mother was, "President, please go confirm the other two young women and tell their mothers." He was amazed that she thought about the others before herself and what she had just lost; her only daughter. It's truly tragic what happened and it would be understandable if she felt sorry for herself, but she cared so much for others and demonstrated this Christ like attribute. Continuing, a couple days later, President Bednar received a phone call from the mother again and she said, "President Bednar, I want to extend an invitation to you to come see my daughter before they close her casket because the workers here at the Mortuary prepared her so well and I don't want your last memory of my daughter to be her when she was dead in the accident (all disfigured). So could you come with me to say goodbye before they close the casket?" Again, President Bednar was amazed of her thinking about others before herself. Finally, the morning of the funeral arrived. The mother was preparing at her home and she received a phone call from a very unhappy woman of the ward. This woman had been sick at home and she didn't receive breakfast in the morning from the relief society. This mother who is about to go watch her young only daughter be buried into the earth actually makes breakfast and takes it to this woman, on the way to her daughter's funeral! What strength and courage this woman has! Instead of just thinking only about herself and what she's dealing with, while she's facing probably the greatest disaster a mother could go through, losing her only daughter, she continues to act like Christ and look out to others before only thinking of herself. The beauty of worrying about others before yourself that a lot of people don't understand is that you will receive so many blessings and you will find so much more happiness! Because imagine you serving others before yourself, and if everyone followed your example, people would want to serve you as well, and you will receive endless blessings! That was probably the most inspirational talk I have ever heard! Elder Bednar seriously made this Christmas a lot better!

That Christmas night, I was hanging out with 2 elders that are dear friends now that were leaving the next morning, and pretty much a lot of the floor came over and we all sang "Feliz Navidad" again! I recorded it so hopefully you can hear it and see it! I also am sending my memory card home as we speak with over 100 pictures, so look out for that!

This week was kind of hard because 2 districts that are on our floor, who are like brothers to me now, have gone on their missions. They were both Latino districts and they all have interesting stories and backgrounds. Amazing people and it was tough saying goodbye, but I'm going to have around 30 friend requests from all of them by the time I get home to Facebook. Haha!

I hope all of your Christmas' were great and I hope your New Year is the best yet! I love you all and take care! Please keep in touch!

Elder Justin Powell

Leia Mais…

Friday, December 23, 2011

A Very Merry Christmas letter from Elder Powell

I’ve been looking forward to receiving this letter from Justin—his first Christmas letter home. I wrote him a couple of weeks ago and told him that I was jealous of him because he would be, for the first time in his life, celebrating a Christmas that was solely focused on the Christ and not on presents or other commercialized items. I asked him to pay attention to his feelings surrounding the true meaning of Christmas and the birth of the Savior and that if he did this, he would certainly not be homesick.  We should all be so lucky to be able to ignore the shopping and the sales and concentrate on things like charity, gratitude, service and love. I can tell, in his letter, that he did not disappoint and that he is getting it—getting what the true meaning of Christmas really is.  Hope you enjoy the letter and please remember that you can leave comments and if you could, I know that at the end, Justin will really appreciate it.  Merry Christmas to you all and may we all remember that celebrating this holiday isn’t supposed to be about what we get, but what we give. Peace and love to all of you.

Hola Familia y Amigos,
How are you all doing? Well I'm doing pretty well. Just pretty much another week already flown by! Now I have 3 more weeks in the MTC and then off to Mexico I go! Well the Spanish is definitely coming along very well and I am learning more and more each day. On Tuesday we were privileged to hear from Sister and Elder L. Whitney Clayton of the Presidency of the Seventy. They were both really great and had such great messages about this Christmas season. They talked about there are times in life when we can't really give the best of gifts back to people like how I want to get a great gift for you guys, and I can't really do that because I am out here. But what I and you could do is receive well. If you have gratitude and show much appreciation, that may be enough of a gift to the giver. And now that makes me feel better about what I can give back to my family/friends. So I just want to say thank you for the sacrifice and help for me getting here to the mission. I am truly grateful for all of the support from all of you that I have been receiving here in the mission and I truly love each one of you and wish you the best Merry Charismas! I wouldn't be the person that I am now if it really wasn't for you guys, and all that you have given me to this point is truly the best gift that I could receive. I'm very appreciative.
Now I realize that God works the same way. We are so blessed with all that we have and all we have to do is show gratitude and serve our fellow man. That is how we can give back to God for all that he has given us and that's exactly what Christ wants just as well, for his sacrifice that he has done for us. How great it is to give thanks by simply showing true gratitude and following Christ's example. And out in the mission field, we will be dedicating 100% to just people and all we ask in return is that they progress. And I know that when I see people progressing or when they become happier because of my service to them, I will be happy because that's how I want them to give back to me. So focus on the giving portion this Christmas and not about what you will receive because I promise that you will be truly happier when you give and then receiving the gift of gratitude towards you. That is a greater feeling to me than getting the nicest gift. And I know it will be for anyone because of all the blessings you will receive along with happiness.
I'm positive a General Authority is coming this Christmas and speaking. It will be very neat to be here to listen to him and his wife.
Here at the MTC, everyone on my floor is pretty much family. We are all kind to each other and it will be sad when many of them leave Monday. It was funny when 2 other missionaries and I wore fake mustaches around the MTC and people thought it was the funniest thing. I've got pictures so I'll mail the card home right after Christmas. I don't know how to upload it on the computer because everything is blocked. But it will come soon and then if you could mail it back before I leave so we can do a card swap like every some period of time.
I heard some crazy news happened like the leader of N. Korea passing away and The Hobbit is coming out December! Wow crazy! And Chris Paul traded to the Clippers and Kobe divorcing his wife. And my Broncos are doing well! Where are the Utes going for the bowl game? (GO UTES!!)
Well I am pretty much out of time but I want to wish you all a Merry Christmas and I'll be on again to wish you all a Happy New Year. Sadly I won't be able to call home on Christmas but I'm pretty sure I can at the airport. I'll let you know how it goes. Merry Christmas and I love you all. Thank you again so much for all the support and you all are truly inspiring to me. Best of luck in whatever and time is already flying here so it won't be too much longer until I see you again! Almost 1/12 of the way done! But I can't wait to get away from this food and to the Mexican food! I haven't gained any weight here but seriously, it doesn't feel right eating like this for 2 months... Alright I'm now out of time!
Merry Christmas!         

Elder Justin Powell 

Leia Mais…

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Week 4 in the MTC 15 December 201

Another week and another letter from our Elder Powell. I got a hand-written letter from him earlier, last week, and in it he talked a lot about the struggles that he is having with his companion—as he mentions here in this letter.  Let’s let that be our cue—let’s rally around him, send him letters and love and let him know how much support he has from home.  Let’s keep his spirits up, especially during these holidays, and for the final push before he heads to Mexico. He’s doing great things so let’s all take a second and send him some written love—yeah? On to the letter…

Hola Once again everybody! How are you all doing?? I'm doing very well and I am about halfway through the whole MTC experience! I'm so excited to get out to the mission field and start the work!
It has been a pretty wild couple of weeks with me already changing companions like 4 times! A lot of change, a lot of new adapting but it's a great learning experience and I learn to just deal with people with different personalities. I switched my first companion, Elder Buhler because I switched into a more advanced Spanish class which meant I switched districts. And then my 2nd companion, Elder Shafer, left to the Peru MTC a week ago and that meant I switched rooms once again! :/ And then I was stuck with a trio, Elder Fitzgerald and Elder Thompson. Elder Fitzgerald and I became really good friends and we worked well together, but then he got his Visa to go to the Peru MTC on Tuesday evening and we had to rush and pack for the rest of the evening. He left at 4 in the morning, so I was up on Tuesday night/Wednesday morning for 2 consecutive weeks helping my companions pack, and my current companion is most likely leaving next week too. So a lot of changes, but it's alright. My current companion is pretty difficult to work with. He just wants to party and doesn't work, which I really don't mind if he doesn't work because I've always just rather work or teach so that I know it was done the right way. So that is the positive side of having this kind of companion, it's just when the investigator asks him to bear his testimony, he sounds really dumb but oh well. I've tried my hardest to convince him, I've tried my hardest to pray that he would become better, but he's choosing not too and he will have to learn someday. I just hope it doesn't hit him very hard when he does learn to actually take this mission experience serious and use the time wisely. I have no problem with having fun and being yourself, but it's when no work is being produced. That's where I get frustrated.
On a brighter note, we had the privilege in hearing Elaine Dalton (General President of the Young Women) on Tuesday night and she was spectacular! She had so many great tips and advice to give! She talked about how we have faith and how we must obey, and even though we don't understand everything, just obey and we will be happy. I don't think we would be led on a path that only brings a bad ending. This can be applied to my mission, what I see right now is 23 more months of some of the hardest work I would probably be doing. Most of the times I just see the glass half empty, but what missionaries need to think is the ending and the time when we get off the plane thinking about our mission. I know that I will be very grateful for the mission and how it helped me a ton, I probably can't see that now and I'm pretty nervous, but I am going to give it my all and serve to the fullest. Because I want to be able to look back on this whole experience proud and pleased with myself with the work I've done.
And we also listened to a talk given by Elder Bednar given at the MTC like in the 1990's, and he was so animated and serious about us missionaries not going home. Because he knows that this missionary experience will help anyone who serves a mission and he really wants us to be a part of it. And he said that we need to teach people and not lessons. That we need to teach about Christ and not just aim for personal gain. That we need to teach because we want them to be happier and etc. There was a lot of messages that I heard and I wish I could share them all, but I have like no time.
I hope everyone is doing well and I will see you all soon. Keep in touch! :) Love you all! Ask any question you want and I will answer, just send a letter!

-Elder Powell

Leia Mais…

Friday, December 9, 2011

Week 3 in the MTC for Elder Powell

Can’t believe that already another week has passed, but here we are with another letter from Elder Powell.  It sounds like he’s still doing great, though he sent me a letter via snail mail and said that he wishes more people would write to him—that he hasn’t heard from any of his friends from the Scripture Study Group. Come on, guys! Let’s hook the guy up with some letters or care packages or both! He misses you guys and we don’t want him to get homesick or begin wondering where everyone has disappeared to. 
Remember, it’s so easy to use  It’s free and simple and fast, so I hope everyone will take the five or ten minutes to send him some holiday cheer.
Take care everyone—until next Thursday!

Hola Familia y Amigos!
How are all of you doing? I hope you all are doing great because I am doing very well still! I am learning so much still and I can't believe how much I am progressing as a teacher and in the Spanish language. I am almost fluent! Just a couple weeks more and I should be pretty dang close to speaking very comfortably in the next 2 weeks if I keep at this rate of progressing and learning! Something interesting that I have noticed this week is that this week is flying so quickly! I can't believe I am already writing to you guys on Thursday and it feels like yesterday I was just starving on fast Sunday... haha.
So right now I have 3 investigators to teach so far and it's pretty interesting because they speak only Spanish and I have to teach lessons in Spanish. Sometimes it's pretty frustrating to forget one word in a sentence and having to stare at the investigators with a blank stare... But I am far better in my lessons than I was a week ago. We don't really baptize the investigators, but we just get them to that point because they just volunteer (I believe they're already members).
My companion just left to the Peru MTC and now I am in a trio with Elder Thompson and Elder Fitzgerald. They're way cool and funny! We have good times and it makes the MTC experience enjoyable. It's nice to be able to act like 19 year old boys with your companions when you have been studying the gospel for 9 hours a day! There is a time to have fun and there is a time to work hard, and sometimes I have to remind elders in the district about that because we can sometimes lose focus on our purpose here. But if you don't have fun here, you'll burn out in a heartbeat. Just an FYI for you future missionaries. :)
I was very privileged to watch the First Presidency Christmas Devotional and it was a treat to listen to the Presidency talk. I hope many of you had the opportunity to watch and listen because they had great messages. What really got me was how everyone is losing the true spirit of Christmas. It's not about who has the fanciest gifts, or the nicest parties, or the most decorative homes. It's about the celebration of Jesus Christ and his birth. And what does that mean? It means it's the season of giving and serving each other. To be with your loved ones and it's the time where we can be grateful for all of the things we have. For all the blessings we have, and finally for the sacrifice Jesus Christ did for us. So don't worry about needing to make a perfect Christmas. Just simplify and be with loved ones, it's a time of giving and not caring so much for what you will receive. I kind of got homesick after listening to the line: "an opportunity to be with your loved ones." Well I may not be able to be with my family for Christmas, but I have the opportunity to make families happy with the gospel in their lives and to actually serve and be servant of Christ. And you all have the same opportunity to do the same exact work as I will be doing, serving your fellow man. So I challenge all of you to think only about others this Christmas season and be completely selfless, because I promise that you will be happy and blessed.
I also was privileged to listen to Elder Steven Snow (Presidency of the Seventy) on Tuesday night at the MTC weekly Devotional and he also had a great message. He talked about working hard on the mission and sometimes you may feel discouraged at times, but he knows that we will feel so much more satisfied looking back on our missions knowing that we served to our fullest. I know that will be true and I now understand why everyone says that a mission was the best decision they ever made because it is hard work now, but if I could make it through this, I could make it in just about everything. So it was a neat talk and I was very privileged to listen to him.
Well I guess I better be going because I am out of time but I love you all and keep in touch! I would love to hear from all of you to know how all of you are doing. Especially my Scripture Study Group that I haven't heard from them since I've been here! Write me and keep in touch! I love you all! :)


Elder Justin Powell

Leia Mais…

Thursday, December 1, 2011

New letter from Justin--1 December 2011

Well, it’s P-Day again and here is another letter from Elder Powell that arrived in my e-mail.  I hope that you all enjoy it as much as I did—he sounds like he’s progressing and learning and growing. In spite of some feelings of inadequacy that he had, he sought out advice and perspective from a great source and continues forward with a humble and excellent attitude. Please remember—especially those of you that have not been on a mission—letters and packages are wonderful highlights and Justin would love to hear from you, especially during the holiday season.  Please take a few minutes of your time to put together a letter or a care package to let him know that he is thought of and loved.  Peace and happiness to you all.

Hola Familia y Amigos!
How are all of you?? I'm doing very well! This place is still great and I'm learning so much! I am getting very good at the spanish and doing solid on my studies! We have to teach investigators at the MTC already (except they're teachers) and we have 3 each companionship. They're pretty difficult to teach sometimes because they portray investigators from they're missions, but it's an awesome learning experience. I wish I had a lot more time for studying for investigators because we barely have no time! We have classes for like 9 hours a day and we have gym everyday for 50 minutes. :) We get plenty of time to eat though which is good. The food here is still way good! And the better thing is that I haven't gained weight! The bad thing about dinner time and stuff is that we all have to binge eat because we eat at around 5:15 each day and we get so hungry by the time we get personal time at 9:30. Personal time is pretty great here too because its pretty relaxing and it is so crazy how exhausted you get at the MTC. No one likes to go to bed late because we value our 8 hours of sleep. Sometimes its very difficult to stay very awake in class because of how tired we get. It is good work though and I'm glad to be a part of it. 
The MTC is a great place to be and it is very spiritual. My testimony is growing stronger and I'm doing much better. I just can't wait to get out into Monterrey, Mexico to start teaching! I talked to my Branch President Tyler, (who by the way reminds me of Gramps, he is an amazing person!) about some of the problems I've been also having here at the MTC. Because for awhile, I have been struggling with my teaching skills because of scenarios where a family is happy in another religion and then I don't know how to convert from that point on because my main goal is to just love and serve all who I come in contact with. President Tyler told me that in the MTC, "they will pound gospel doctrine into you until you become sick!" And that is pretty true, for my case, that I am getting overwhelmingly pounded with gospel doctrine, but I am very appreciative for the opportunity to learn about this Gospel. It's just there are not enough times to serve people here and that is where I feel the spirit the most. I feel the spirit the most in the actions and through the appreciation of the person or people I help. Not as much when I read an amazing scripture or when I do a daily prayer. I thought I was a weird specimen of Missionary, but President Tyler told me "that I am a rare type, but the ideal missionary. That the spirit will just radiate off of me, and that he knows that I will bless many on my mission." That was very uplifting and my confidence is amped up again. I thought I was weird and having feelings and questions about whether I was really in the right place or not, but President Tyler probably didn't think that his comments would help and strengthen my mission a ton, but it did. So to everyone, I challenge all of you to just compliment anyone you come in contact with and just think about nice things to say to people because you never know how much your compliment can mean to someone else. 
Gosh I'm almost out of time already!!!! :(
Well today is P-Day and we're going to the Temple for the first time since we've been here, and then we have the whole day to just take care or personal things (laundry, haircuts, etc.). It will be such a relaxing day and a good time to write letters. And yesterday was the 2 week mark of since I've been here! Its crazy how time is just flying so quick here. It feels like I got here like a week ago, but its already been 2 weeks!!! 
Oh and Brother Yumoshita of the Seventy and his wife came to talk with us in a devotional Tuesday night. It was a pretty cool experience because they just moved here like 4 months ago from Japan (I believe?) and their english was rough, but I totally understood their talks because of the spirit they had and their message was excellent. 
Well I have to be going now, but I love you all and take care! Missionary work isn't only for the signed up missionaries, EVERYONE has the ability to serve your fellow man. So do so with love and charity, because it will bless you in return. Thank you all for the support and I would love to hear from you in letters and etc. See you all in no time!
-Elder Justin Powell

Leia Mais…