Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Just Grindin'

Hey Fam!!                                                                                                               

It’s been another great week down here in the CCM! (MTC in Spanish). I have learned so much again and had some great experiences. My friends and I all met up to greet Marcus at the curb on Wednesday and it was such a great feeling. We all knew it wasn't a coincidence that his visa didn't go through. The days are really starting to repeat themselves and blend in, which can be actually be really frustrating, but I continue to stay motivated. It was kind of another up and down week down here though. Sometimes you are just feelin’ it and want to read every page in the BOM in one sitting and other times you just want nothing more than a nap. That happens every day actually. 10-minute power naps keep me going, of course.
Elders Roderick, Leone, Parkin & Croft 
This week we taught a lot more and spoke a lot more Spanish. While in class, we made a class goal to not speak any English, which can be difficult but it forces us to speak a lot more. I learn so much better when I'm just talking to someone and trying to expand my vocabulary rather than sitting by myself looking at flashcards, which I really need to work on. Amann and I have totally gained some unity together while we teach and we have taught some really powerful lessons. We were able to teach our district meeting this week and it went really well. I have learned to love teaching mainly because I also learn so much! Just guiding a discussion is a lot better than lecturing. We taught our teacher, Hermana Barlow, and it was one of our rougher lessons because we didn't really know how to address her needs. Then, however, we were able to tell her that we wanted to help her with her life by showing her how she could learn the gospel, instead of us just teaching her. Since then we have had some spiritually filled lessons and she's been really happy with us.
We got a new teacher this week named Hermano Wooden. The dude looks like he is 17 and just got off his mission about 2 months ago. I love him though, he knows exactly what we need and how to say it to us. When he talks to us I can actually understand everything he says, which is really comforting. He also really tries to address our personal needs and it helps so much. In a lesson this week, Amann and I were teaching to our TRC girl, Maribel, about how we are all children of God and in the other room some missionaries started singing "I am a child of god" and she started crying so hard! The Spirit was so strong and all she could say was "no coincidencia." It was so cool! She is such a sweet woman and I love teaching her. She actually has some health problems and we weren't able to teach her one day but she says the missionaries that teach her keep her going and allow her to be herself! I told her I wish I could give her a hug pero us missionaries have "mucho regalos". I have really found my purpose down here and I just pray that I can keep the motivation that I have going for me run.
Elders from Highland High School 
Probably the biggest thing I learned this week is patience. I was in class and started to get really down on myself because for some reason I wasn't able to speak as well and I was really discouraged but then I thought to myself, “No one just learns a language in a couple weeks!” I've tried to find a balance between setting high goals for myself but not too high that I feel down when I'm struggling. Also, Amann's Spanish is still a little behind mine so I’ve been really trying to let him try his best in the lessons which can be frustrating because I know what to say in those situations but it's selfish of me to talk the whole time. 
We said “Goodbye” to Taz last night and it was actually pretty tough. Our classes were right next to each other so it will be weird not being able to see him everyday! I was in a lab with Andrew one day this week while he was practicing his Russian and I was just laughing at him as he was spitting Russian. He sounds really good though. On Sunday all four of us were able to have dinner together and then sit in the devotional and movie together. We kind of ditched all of our comps, but it's all good! I’ve got wash my clothes now because I was being "salty" the sisters this week so they won’t do it for me.  LOL!


P.S. One more thing… I think I should share that during my last two PDays, while in the temple, I have really felt the presence of our grandpas. Last week, I sat in between two empty seats in the celestial room and it really felt like they were there with me. It was a pretty cool experience!

Remembering My Purpose

August 9, 2016

Hi Fam!                                                                                                                      

Elder Roderick reports for duty.
I hope you guys are doing alright! I'm glad the roof is still on our house with me gone and everything. To be honest, this is one of the first times I’ve had a chance to think about home and all that stuff and I really miss you guys! I’m kind of glad our goodbye was so short because I would’ve cried like a baby if it were any longer. I walked into the MTC with Andrew and as soon as I got in there and received my tag I saw Elder Will Larsen and we had the BIGGEST hug. He is so awesome and I immediately knew I was in good hands. We sat down in the introductory meeting and immediately sang "Hope of Israel" and I instantly felt the spirit so strong and I knew I was supposed to be there.
My companion is Elder Amann and he is way fresh. He went to Skyline and then to USC for year. We are making connections all over the place. I love my District and we have all gotten a long really well. It took me a while to get used to the Heramanas because obviously, they are older and at first they acted like they were our moms. But, now they are all good and I’m trying to convince them to do my laundry. LOL! My Zone is way tight too. I’ve gotten a long really well with the Elders in the other District that came in last week, as well as the one that came in this week. Elder Dallimore and Elder Paulson are way sick. The District that arrived this week has two Elders that are going to Mendoza and they are just like me so we've been telling each other sooo many stories. I love it! It’s been nice to have some kids that are just like me who I can relate to.
I love my teachers, Hermanas Barlow and Tolk, as well as Hermano Hicks, who is way tight too. They only speak Spanish which can get really frustrating but I learn so much everyday. So far I have learned soooo much Spanish! All of my prayers, testimonies, and the three lessons I’ve taught have been in complete Spanish and its so awesome! In each of my prayers, I have prayed for the Gift of Tongues and I have seen it work so much. I go in my lesson and spit sooo much Spanish and then I walk out and don’t even know what I said. When I was able to speak so well that I committed my first investigator to read El Libro de Mormon and get baptized I was soooo hyped. Elder Amman and I were just running around the class cause no one else could get him to do anything. HaHaHa!
I’ve learned sooo many things while I’ve been here and my testimony grows everyday. We have a teacher instruct us between breakfast and lunch and then we teach after lunch then after dinner we have ciclo which is an hour each of personal, companion, and language study.  The best part of my day is seeing my homies. I see all of the homies literally everyday. Elders Croft and Nonu have class in the same building as I do so, I can see them whenever I want and it makes my day! I feel so comfortable here now and I am having so much fun. I try to stay busy and not think about home but it's alright. I'm living on the main campus right next to the store. The food is obviously nothing like my momma's cooking but its good and I haven’t really had a bad meal yet.
"In Two!"
Since I’ve been here, I have laughed the hardest I ever have in my entire life by just telling stories and relating to all these kids. The best part of the MTC is that there aren’t any cliques down here. Everybody just gets a long and we have a good time. We are all so different and that makes everything so much better. The most surprising thing about the MTC is that there isn’t much supervision. If you wanted to sneak out or just ditch class and take a nap you totally could. Obviously, I’m not doing this, but I could. One of the highlights of the week was when Ma Willow Jeppson dropped off some Czech pastries for me. My roommates and I chowed on them during ciclo. Honestly, that made my day! Another surprising thing has been that all of us get along so well. Honestly! The most difficult for me is to avoid comparing myself to others. I work my butt off to study this language and when I talk to the teacher and I say some ridiculous thing I feel so stupid and think of kids who are in the intermediate class can just say whatever they want. At first, I started to feel a little discouraged, but I'm taking it slow and learning so much already.


August 16, 2016

Hey Fam!                                                                                                       

Another week down in the MTC. It really seems like I was just talking to you guys! To be honest, this week was a little more rough than last week. After talking to my friends and family back home I got pretty homesick and started thinking too much about what was going on back home. But, later Tuesday night, after emailing, we got to hear from Neil L Andersen and it was sooo cool! He gave such great insight to us missionaries and really was motivating. Then, on Wednesday, saw Lambson walk in to the MTC and it really made my day. He had the deer in the headlights look like I did but it was great.
My teacher Hermana Barlow has kind of gotten sick of Amann and me and all of our jokes so she hasn’t been taking any of our crap and this has made class seem sooo long. She's really sweet and a great teacher but she’s put a stop to our fun. However, we started to get taught by our first investigator, Brother Mecham, and he was sooo cool. He moved to Las Vegas so he only taught us twice but both of his lessons were my favorite so far. He pushes us with our Spanish, but helps us if we are confused and then really brings the Spirit into the room. Also, Brother Allred started teaching us this week and we kind of got off to a rough start. He made me take off the Batman Lego guy I had on my shirt and then made me take of my bracelets, which is technically a rule but no one said anything about taking them off before him. He told me, "Obedience brings blessings but exact obedience brings miracles." The Lego guy and bracelet aren’t that big of a deal but this experience made me realize how important obedience is.
I learned many things this week but the most important thing I learned was not being discouraged if an investigator doesn’t keep a commitment or doesn’t want to be baptized. Time is precious and it takes time for people to convert to this gospel. I realized that the needs of the people are soooo much more important than what I want.
We teach so much everyday now and Amann and I are really progressing together. We started TRCs which are basically a 45-minute lesson with an investigator that are filmed. Our teacher watches them and gives us a critique on how we did. They are a little intimidating but really cool. My investigator is Maribel and she is such a sweetheart. 
After a tough middle of the week, Sunday and Monday were so rewarding. Sunday morning, we had our ciclo time and I was able to study and be productive. It was my first normal sacrament meeting in the MTC and it was a great experience. I passed the Santa Cena and was able to teach priesthood and that was awesome. I taught about enduring to end which might seem like a weird topic to teach to 18 year-old kids but we had a great lesson and the Spirit was present. I have learned to love to teach and have improved so much. Sunday night we heard the talk "Character of Christ" by David Bednar and it was the coolest thing I have ever heard. It taught me how converting to Christ is the most important thing we can do. The main lesson I learned from Elder Bednar’s words is the importance of turning outwards to others instead of inwards to ourselves, especially while I’m a missionary. This is such a great concept to remember because that's how Christ lived.
Yesterday was the first time I hit the weights since I have been down here and it felt so nice. My man, Shad, and I went hard and I am so sore today.  Almost every day this week I have been able to have a good conversation with one of my friends and it makes me feel soooo much better. But, I have also made sooo many new friends down here and it seems like we have been friends for years. Specifically, Dallimore, Paulsen, Arshad, Poulson and Schelley have become my best friends. We share so many stories at night time and sometimes it’s hard to go to bed because I have been laughing so hard.
Now I’ll try to answer some of Mom’s questions. My regular day consists of three long periods between meals. One of them is our ciclo time which is our study time. Another is with a teacher during which we receive instruction and the other period is for TRC's where we teach for 45-minutes then our teacher critiques our teaching.  After that we usually have a lesson for an hour.
Sundays have turned into my favorite day! On Sunday we have ciclo in the morning where we usually end up writing our talks for Sacrament Meeting and quietly reading. Then we have Sacrament Meeting. Sacrament is all in Spanish, besides the two main talks, which is awesome. Spanish church hymns are soooo much cooler than the English ones. After sacrament we have lunch then priesthood and district meeting which is basically just Sunday school. We then have our temple walk and those are nice because everyone in the MTC is out there. Before dinner on Sundays we usually tune in to some dope talks that we like or Mormon Messages. Dinner is usually something more special because its Sunday and then we have a devotional which is always cool.  At the end of the night we have movie time which is our choice of a dope devotional that they have recorded or the movie 17 Miracles or something like that. The Spirit is everywhere on Sunday! I just love it so much!
Pday is also soooo chill. We participate in a session at the temple then usually email and do laundry around lunch time. I'm getting a haircut today and then I’m planning to go ball with Lambson. After dinner we have a devotional too so we literally have no class. It's very nice to have a break.
Highlights of the week are probably teaching, seeing my friends and actually being able to talk to them. During the last two Sunday devotionals I’ve sat next to Andrew and Thomas and we've caught up its been great because it keeps me normal. I also love going to the temple and telling stories at night. In a package I’d like to get some canned caffeine and especially the flavor blast goldfish. We went through a carton of those in 3 days. Any home cooked goods are great and the toaster has been the talk of the dorm room!! You should’ve seen the reactions my roommates had when I pulled it out of the box!
This week was a rollercoaster but I am so grateful for the tough times because they make me stronger and a better missionary and cause me to remember my purpose. I love being a missionary. I'm not here for myself or any of my benefits; hopefully they just come along the way.  I am here to help others come unto Christ and share with them the happiness that this true gospel gives me! I love my family so much!!

Elder Roderick