Dear Family - 1st letter - Hand Written 3/12/10
I'm so excited to send my first letter! This is so awesome. Well to start off, everything from the day I left has been going smoothly. I'm sure Robert told you but we had a fun small amount of time before he dropped me off. But honestly, I'm having such a difficult time remembering the week since then! It feels like ages since my first day and I think that's from just how enjoyable the MTC is and because of how much information we all get jammed in one day.
The first day is definitely the longest. I arrived and the first thing they do is usher you to an orientation where you get your name tags for the first time. I then went to drop off my bags in the dorms and immediately went to class to meet my district. And my district is amazing! I couldn't have asked for a better group of missionaries to be grouped with. My companion's name is Elder Brighton and he's from Roosevelt, UT and we get along well. He's pretty much a human encyclopedia of scripture references and I can always turn to him and say "I forget, where does it say this?" and he'll know exactly where to find it. It really balances me out because I don't have a lot of scriptures memorized but I'm definitely working on that. :-)
Other Elders in the group are three others from Arizona. 2 are going to Boston and 1 is going to Connecticut. I think Dad will be excited to hear that the next Elder is from England. I was like "Are you serious?" When I first found out and heard his strong accent. I told him dad went to Birmingham and he was like "Yeah, I'm from Coventry, right next to there." So you'll have to get back to me and tell me if Dad served there too. Anyways, he's going to Calgary, Canada too! We're already planning, (if we are near each other) to make some trifle when we get the chance. Ha Ha! We also have 2 sisters in our district, thankfully. They really balance out how crazy we Elders can get. :-) One sister is headed to Calgary too while the other is going to Connecticut.
So I'm doing this the old fashioned way because the e-mail system is ridiculously complicated. We log on to our e-mail account and before we begin even reading anything, a 30 minute countdown begins, and automatically shuts you off when its done. So I was only beginning to figure this all out and I ended up with only 5 minutes left to write anything. So, I thought that this would be less stressful. ha ha!
Thank you so much for my first care package! I'm glad to have pictures to show everyone now. Thanks Dad for the talk from Elder Oaks. I have only been able to read the first 3 pages because we're all so busy, but I really enjoyed it. And I'll read the rest soon.
I'm so happy here at the MTC. The spirit is insanely strong and I'm learning and growing so much. I've already been able to go to the temple and I must say that that's the only place that I feel it stronger! I've also been using my camera a lot. They have a printer in the bookstore here so I'll send some with this letter. (note: there were no pictures included, he must have run out of time!)
We've had our first devotional last night (Tuesday) Elder Bruce C. Hafen of the First Quorum of the Seventy was the speaker. His address was very powerful and full of the spirit. He talked about how we gain testimonies and how we can apply that to our missions and also our lives. A really great thing that he pointed out that really struck me was the fact that a testimony is gained from private religious practice, not public. He said we can see this when we compare Nephi with his brothers Laman and Lemuel. Despite the fact that Nephi's elder brothers witnessed many great things like miracles and Angels, they didn't have a relationship with Heavenly Father because they didn't strive for it in private prayer or scripture reading like Nephi did.
Anyways, well I better wrap it up because it's late and I should probably be asleep. ha ha! Thanks again for sending me things, I really love it. Anyways, as I am rattling on about nothing I should just close my letter by saying I love everybody! :-)
Thank you all for your love, support and prayers. I absolutely know this Church and this Gospel is true. I also know that this work that I'm about to embark on is the most important work there is; It's the Lord's work, not mine. And I know and believe in Jesus Christ and His Atonement. We can all come unto Him and be perfected through our faith and obedience.
Can't wait to hear from everyone again!
Love, Elder Madsen