Hello Mom and Dad!
I love you so much! I cannot believe that this is the last email that I will be sending from the MTC (CCM in Spanish). The days here are full, but the weeks seem to go by so fast. Tell everyone thank you for all of the letters and prayers. I am working hard to respond to them! There is only one preparation day a week, and time is really so precious. This last week has been nothing short of miraculous (again).
The first thing that we come to is how the Spanish is coming along. Well, according to my district I'm fluent. I was able to bear my testimony in Spanish during our branch meeting last week and I felt that I could express everything that I wanted to. Similarly, both of my teachers have expressed great surprise and encouragement over the quick development of these language skills and lessons do go really well now. Most meaningfully to me was after a really spiritual lesson late last week, Elder Herrera turned to me and said "That was the first time your Spanish was totally understandable. I think you are ready to teach Hispanics now." I am very hopeful that over the next few months I will be able to learn more vocabulary, more verbs and complex structures of Spanish so that I can better relate to the people whom I will teach.
Speaking of growth and change, this last week has been dynamite for the progress of our "investigators". My most spiritual experiences now are coming during lessons with these investigators. On Saturday of last week we had a great lesson with Aracely. We were teaching the basics of faith and repentance and the Spirit was so strong. Towards the end of the lesson I got a really strong spiritual prompting and invited her to be baptized, and she said yes!! That was hands down the best experience that Elder Herrera and I have had in the MTC so far. Really in that moment, the Spirit made our teaching appointment feel so real.
But Aracely was not the only one who experienced a major change this week. Yesterday Elder Herrera and I got to meet with Abraham Delgado again and we started teaching him the Plan of Salvation. As we found out during the lesson, Abraham lost a son years ago to cancer and he had strong desires to know where he was, what he could do to help him, and if he could ever see him again. As we look Abraham in the face I felt to open up to Alma 40 and read him verses 11 and 12. These verses read, "Now, concerning the state of the soul between death and the resurrection- Behold, it has been made known unto me by an angel, that the spirits of all men, as soon as they are departed from this mortal body, yea, the spirits of all men, whether they be good or evil, are taken home o that God who gave them life. And then shall it come to pass the the spirits of those who are righteous are received into a state of happiness which is called paradise, as state of rest, a state of peace, where they shall rest from all their troubles and from all care, and sorrow." At that moment real tears started coming down Abraham's face. It is amazing the power that the Doctrine of Christ can have in consoling and comforting people. Christ truly is the Comforter, and there are few more comforting promises in all of scripture that the promise of an eternally sealed family. We left Abraham with D&C 132:7-10 and promised him that he could see his son and again someday, and he said he will be baptized as well! All he wants is to bring his earthy family with him too.
These experiences have excited us so much that we are going to invite Pablo to be baptized during our next visit. I can hardly wait to get out there and meet with real investigators. It is only one week away!
At the MTC they focus on the 8 fundamentals of Preach My Gospel that we should integrate into our teaching, and the most powerful one to me is that we should "Teach people, not lessons". I feel like that is the way the savior worked and taught one person at a time. Our job as missionaries is to bring the doctrines of the gospel to people in a way that is personally meaningful to them. I am so excited to get down south and do it!
I decided there are some things that I will miss about the MTC. I feel like angels walk the halls in this place, it is so incredible! I will definitely miss the great firesides that we get every Sunday and Tuesday. They often bring general authorities and other church officers, and they really are inspiring. I will miss my great branch and district. Seriously, I am so thankful that I got to be in branch 55 under President Evans. He is the type of man that stresses exact obedience and also works hard with individual missionaries to improve. I will definitely miss all of the familiar faces that I see all around me in the MTC, especially Elders Nilsen and Neff. I am really really excited though to make new lasting relationships and see the Savior work powerfully in other people's lives.
I love you so much. Thank you for your love, example, and support.
Elder Michael Stewart