5th letter

Hola familia, amigos, etc.–
 
So here I am. Week 6 of the MTC (but only 5 weeks here as of yesterday). Breathing. Living. Laughing. Loving. And I should probably transition to sentences that aren’t one word long. Anyways…let’s jump right into things. I want to do this email a little differently today, and keep it a little more under time, so we’ll see what happens. 🙂
 
First off, the visa situation. There have been new developments, and be sure to read this part carefully (it may get a bit confusing, and towards the end there’s a vital piece of info). They let us know (finally) today that our visas are still delayed, definitively. Which, true, isn’t much different than what we were hearing, but now we know for sure we are not leaving on Tuesday with the next travel group. (One elder from our district, Elder Joyce, is…he got his visa on Monday, and inexplicably is leaving 8 days after that, this Tuesday. None of us know why, but at least he’s off. We’re all going to miss him…he is absolutely hilarious. But he’ll bring lots of joy to the people in Peru, so it all works out. :)) So…still send letters, packages, and what have you in a timely manner when you can, but they also said that there’s a good possibility I’ll be here for the rest of the 4 weeks, and then after that, if my visa still didn’t come (I’m optimistic it will, and they’ve said Peru visas haven’t been a problem in the past), I’d get reassigned, but we’ll cross that bridge when we get there…so yeah, no need to worry that my mail won’t get here until after I’m gone or something. Am I bummed about this? Certainly, but I kind of see that as a positive thing…I’m actually excited now, unreservedly (well, OK, obviously I still have little reservations here and there…it’s another country we’re talking about), to go to Peru. I want to see the rest of my district again, I want to experience the Lima MTC there, and most of all, I want to serve. In the field. Will it be a crazy experience, with new things and hard things and different things happening pretty much every day? Sure. But I totally trust in the Lord (especially after last week, if you remember me talking in last week’s email about how I felt at first when the visas started coming in again then), I know it will be great, and that He’ll be right there for me, every step of the way. When my visa comes, it comes. I’m disappointed, but I’m happy to be getting more time here to learn, to grow, and to just drink in the Provo MTC experience. 🙂 OK, important info: I will be calling, most likely tonight. The travel office (who, by the way, was very friendly when we went to ask about our visas earlier/when we found out officially that our visas weren’t coming for a bit…see, I TOLD you I don’t hate them/have a grudge against them :)) gave us all phone passes to call home, mostly because we never got the chance to call when our visas started being delayed originally. I only get to make one call, and have a 5-minute time limit, so I’ll just be calling one house, unfortunately. The good news is that I will get to call for a much more extended amount of time when I have a layover in either Atlanta or Dallas/Miami (it will all depend on how my flight is when my visa comes), when I’m flying out to Peru, and I’ll have time to call multiple houses/people as needed. (Mom, thank you for the phone cards, btw. :)) Mom, keep your phone with you (I’ll call Ariel if you don’t pick up), and I think my companion and I were planning to call around dinner time…so about 5:30 or so, Utah time. (DST still confuses me, so don’t ask me to remember what time that is AZ time. :)) If I don’t call tonight, I will for sure to do it tomorrow. (And one last thing: They confirmed to us that visas do come in at random, so there’s still a fair chance they could come in for us in the next 4 weeks, and we’d go like normal, either the next day, or the week after as is the case with Elder Joyce.)
 
I’m going to go right to MTC Tweets, in a break with tradition. For some reason, I don’t have as many this week, so I’ll have more space to talk about other things. (Right? :))
  • So I might have just had the most miraculous Horse game ever. (Just with a little foam basketball and mini-net in the other companionship in our district’s room.) Right when I got to H-O-R-S, I made every single shot I needed to stay alive in the game, for about 6 times in a row. It was pretty crazy. — 10:12 PM, June 1 (So yeah, this really wasn’t a tweet, more like a mini-story. :))
  • Elder Joyce (who else): “I got no swag. I’m swagless!” — 12:26 PM, June 2
  • Good news: Elder Joyce just got his visa. Less ideal news: He leaves in a whopping 8 days. #MixedBlessings — 1:35 PM, June 4
  • Elder Marlin K. Jensen just gave his last MTC devotional as an active Seventy, and I got to see/hear it. A very spiritual hour. — 8:01 PM, June 5
  • Brother Priest just started off our district post-devotional meeting by having us go out to the parking lot, put on solar glasses, and view Venus passing in front of the sun, which won’t happen again until 2117. I love our branch presidency. — 8:15 PM, June 5 (Side note: We then spent the remainder of the hour having an incredibly cool discussion about evolution in a spiritual context. Brother Priest never fails to blow our minds. You all seriously need to meet him someday.)
  • This has probably been one of the wackiest, most interesting nights I’ve had at the MTC. And every minute has been worth it. #ILoveBeingAMissionary — 10:30 PM, June 5
  • Hermano Williams, teaching about the Spirit: “2 plus 2 is…” Elder Thorup: “2!” #MathFail — 9:12 AM, June 6
  • Um…the power just went out. In the entire building. This is awkward. #AnyoneAfraidOfTheDark? — 10:01 PM, June 6
  • OK, it’s back on. Our (3 minute) long nightmare is over. 🙂 — 10:04 PM, June 6
  • Why no, we didn’t just lock ourselves out of our room accidentally, and we’re totally not standing and waiting in our towels in the hallway for some other elders to go get us a key from the front desk. No, not at all. (Yeah, so we totally were. At least we went 5 weeks without this kind of thing happening.) — 7:38 AM, June 7 (So my companion and I, who are the only two people left in our room, usually crack our door open a healthy amount, so we can get back in after showering, since we never take our keys with us to the shower. He left the room after I did, and he cracked it open as usual, apparently, but our door for some reason moves whenever certain other doors in the building are closed, so we surmise that it must have closed, and thus we were left naked and keyless in the hallway, with only towels to cover us, until we got a temporary key. Fun times. :))
OK, more items of business, before I forget. (I wrote down stuff I needed to cover once again, but I still forget sometimes, so…yeah. :)) Mom, my deepest apologies for not mentioning the photo album/Ariel’s pics before now. Funny story: Back when I got that photo album, when I first looked at it I looked at the back, so I didn’t realize it had pictures in it. That night I did, and it brought me much excitement and joy. 🙂 I’ve showed off those pictures to my roommates (well, by now, it’s just me and my companion, as I’ve mentioned), district, etc. And yes, everyone who has seen Geo here has remarked he looks like a gangster. (Well, Elder Armijo, my companion, usually asks, “Doesn’t he look like a gangster?,” but still, everyone always answers yes. :)) Other funny story: I didn’t notice Ariel’s prom pics (from Facebook, I gather?), the grainy ones, were in that box until like a week ago. I’m a dork. (P.S.: We finished all the fruit snacks. And are still greatly enjoying the other goodies. :)) I also got Ariel’s nice prom pics, and they are excellent. I have also shown them off to anyone who will see. 🙂 Muchas gracias, Mom (and Ariel and Co.) for sending all those pictures, and for the phone cards, CD player, and headphones and everything. 🙂
 
So…letters. Ay ay ay. I’m so slow at them, but I want to write to you all so badly, but I’m still working on them. Ariel, so far today, I’ve made huge headway on yours, so whatever it takes, I’ll send it off tomorrow. (Side question: Have you guys got my pictures yet? Let me know when you do. :)) As for the rest of you (gosh, that sounds like a movie with a mean teacher)…I promise, I’m getting to you. Just know right now that I love you all SO much, and I love hearing from you. Granny, I can’t believe I’m in week 5 and haven’t sent you something yet, but I’ll get one to you this week, because not writing you is, I’m pretty sure, an offense punishable by law. 🙂
 
Mom…my companion has a request. He saw my rockin’ cow and music pajama pants, and he was wondering if you could make some for him. (He offered to send money too, but I told him heck no. :)) He’s from Texas by way of Oklahoma, and has a total hardcore accent, so he would like something Western-themed if you could get some fabric with that theme. Let me know what you can do. There’s no rush, but just so you know, I’ve bragged to him about your incredible sewing skills, and every time I tell him, “she hemmed that,” or “she made those,” etc., he is CRAZY impressed. You have a fan. 🙂 (He’s about 36 length, 32ish waist, btw.)
 
Patriarchal blessing update…yesterday, I went on LDS.org and just requested a copy, so it is being sent to you guys (meaning 2204 E Harmony you guys) as we speak, and should be there in about a week or two. If you already talked to Bishop and got another one ordered, then that’s OK, but if you haven’t, just wait for that one and send it to me if you could. I’m sure my patriarchal blessing is around the house somewhere, but since none of us know where it is, I might as well just get a new copy for now, since I’m dying to read through it here. 🙂
 
So…let’s talk in a bit more detail about how things are going here, before I close. I’ve been asked (not really “called,” since they’re not really callings) to be the music coordinator for our branch, so this past Sunday, I picked the hymns (and you know how much I hate doing that :)), and played the piano. So basically, my ideal not-exactly-a-calling. 🙂 (Music coordinators…or at least the last two…usually lead the music, but since there’s a dearth of piano players in our branch, and I can play pretty well on short notice and volunteered to, I’m taking care of the piano for now, which tickles me pink.) That’s an upside to staying longer…I get to pick more weird hymns in Spanish! (Insert evil laugh here. And I won’t pick TOO weird ones. Our branch only has 24 members or so right now, since we’re down to districts of 4,9, and 11, so it’s best to pick hymns at least a few people know. :))
 
For once, I’m actually going to end with my testimony. I’ve felt the Spirit so strong here, and received so many witnesses of things that I really already know, but I definitely needed reminding of. I know, without a doubt, that the Book of Mormon is true. You guys have seen how I’ve always liked reading the Book of Mormon…but here, I’ve grown to love it. It’s so powerful in teaching (a fact that was hit home these past two weeks, in firesides, devotionals, and lessons), and it changes people’s lives, and people’s hearts. There really isn’t a better book in the world to read, study, and cherish. I also know that God loves us. Each one of us. He’s there to help us, to guide us, and even to try us. Trials are hard, trials are painful, and they’re definitely not fun, but they’re for our good. They’ve helped me learn so much, and I’m incredibly grateful that my Heavenly Father loves me enough to have me go through them.
 
I’m so thankful for all of you, for your thoughts, letters, prayers, support…everything, both now and in the months leading up to the mission. Every time I think about how many people are behind me at home…it really, truly humbles me. There have been times I’ve wondered if I deserve all that…but then I remember that I’m a child of God. I’m a servant of the Lord. With His help, I can do anything. That’s an incredible promise. Thank you all for helping me get to this point, and be where I am today. It really means the world to me. 🙂
 
Even though I’m here longer than I expected to be, I’m still very happy, and I trust in what the Lord has in store for me. Never forget that He’s there for you…all of you. It’s kept me strong when times have gotten hard, and I know it will do the same for you. I love you all. Be sure to keep me posted. 🙂
 
Con mucho amor,
Elder Randall
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