Missionary Training Center, Week 5, 08 December 2011

As far as sickness, my apetite comes and goes and I feel nauseous occasionaly but I haven’t gotten sick yet. I plug along like a little freight train, completely unstoppable at the moment as far as health goes. I think that it is in large part due to my efforts to stay hydrated and eat at least as healthy as I can, which means I eat at least one salad a day and lots of fruit.  As far as sarcasm goes [he set a personal goal to eliminate sarcasm], it is getting a lot easier. I literally bite my tongue alot, because I really don’t think about it alot before something comes out. However it is getting easier, and I am doing it considerably less often then I was when I was still home and my first week or two. It is also making a much more perseptive person. People don’t shut themselves off emotionally if you aren’t being sarcastic as much, which has led to a lot of good discussions.

My companion, I admire a lot of things about my companion. He has really strong faith, it runs him. He is also super good about reminding me if I am being sarcastic and working with me at getting better at all things. He is diligent with his studies and doesn’t try and skip out on everything. He is a good example. My favorite principle to teach is the atonement. It is so easy to get the spirit into the conversation when talking about the atonement. Plus, I have all of the vocabulary that I need to teach it with clarity in the same way that I would in english.

Speaking of my spanish, I have made considerable progress this past week and am really beginning to consistently make fluent sentences. My accent needs some serious work, but I assume that it will come once I am in the field and actually talk to a lot of native speakers. One thing from the Spirit this week. I was doing some scripture study to try and help out one of my district members. They were just struggling a little bit.  I was struck by this idea as I studied the atonement and the love of God.  If you were the only person that the atonement would ever save, God still would have given his son, and Jesus Christ would still have suffered the agony in the Garden of Gethsemane, even if it were just for you. I think that is a powerful, powerful idea. So that was probably the best thing that has come out of this weeks studys.

Alright, I love seeing the decoration of the christmas tree, although I am not sure why people are wearing my hat 🙂 [Caleb always wore a Santa hat around the house during the holiday season]  I am just kidding, it needs use, because it brings happiness, or at least for some reason always made me happy. Do you think next week you can send a couple pictures of nativities? I really love seeing them. Addie was that the splits that I saw a picture of? Good work! Nathan and Gideon congratulations on your merit badges, I am very impressed.  Keep up the hard work; it will be worth it when it is all over. Give Justin [Taylor, who was called to serve in the Carlsbad, California Mission] my congratulations, is he Spanish speaking? or English? [English]  I am pleased to hear that he is getting out into the field.

So, news from the week. On a somber note, Tuesday morning an elder went home with cancer. He was in my zone. The story however is significantly better. He has skin cancer on his face, he had seen several dermotologists about it and they thought it was just an acne scar. While playing basketball here at the MTC, he sprained his ankle and so went to get it checked out.  The doctor saw it and felt impressed to get a biopsy, which resulted in a positive test for skin cancer. The really crazy part is that they predicted he would have died mere weeks after coming home from his mission if they had not caught it. It is incredible, certainly no less then a miracle.

President [Steven E.] Snow of the presidency of the Seventy came and spoke on Tuesday.  It was a good talk but I enjoyed the comments his wife made about how the mission will change us, more then I liked his talk. My scriptures, English ones that is, are quickly become chock full of notes, personal cross references and doctrinal dissections. I love it.  I literally spent an hour and a half in 2 Nephi 9 yesterday. Such a good chapter of the scriptures.

I don’t know what else to share. Wait, we put christmas lights up in our classroom, we got our teacher to pick them up. It is really nice to have a little bit of christmas in the place that we spend 10 hours of our day in. I don’t have too many plans for the day. I have letters to send to you guys, speaking of which, Mark I don’t have your street adress, which is super inconvenient. Thank you Mom and Dad for your letters; they were very comforting and helpful. I want to quickly close this with a scripture that I really love. 1 Nephi 20:10 (This will not be a perfect quote, sorry) “For behold I have refined thee, yay I have chosen the in the furnace of affliction.” That coupled with 2 Nephi 2:2 where it says “and I will consecrate thine afflictions for thy gain” are two extremely powerful scriptures about when times are hard. I am thankful for them. Mom, I do know that you guys pray for, and love me. Thank you for that. I love you all and pray for your health, safety and happiness daily. Read your scriptures, do what the Lord wants you to do and you will be blessed.

All of my love,

Elder Caleb Tonkinson

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