Pictures from the Provo MTC

Aaron sent home his pictures from the MTC in Provo before he left for Guatemala.

Aaron and his companion on a frosty morning.  Notice the silhouette in the snow of the angel Moroni on the top of the temple.

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In front of the Provo temple.

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Christmas at the MTC.

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Celebrating New Years!

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It’s not all book learning.  You do have fun in class too!

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Aaron and his high school friend, Nick (entered the MTC a few days before Aaron left) at the traditional picture-taking site at the famous MTC map.

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Aaron and his district.  Everyone is learning Spanish, but all are going to different missions.

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From the Heart

We received this hand-written letter from Aaron today, and he asked that I post it for all his friends and family to read.  (It is typed word for word, with only a few small spelling errors corrected.)

Dear Friends and Family                                                                January 18, 2012

I have come to realize that I wasn’t going about my mission the right way. I was focused more on myself here than anything else. I am realizing now that this is not two years of my time, it is the time of our Heavenly Father and Savior Jesus Christ. For all you future missionaries, that is a very important thing to remember. We will not be the most successful missionaries that we can be until we completely devote our time to the Lord. I can promise you that your missions will be tons better when you realize that. As we develop a Christlike love for our companions and the people we serve, we will become great missionaries. As you do that, I can promise that you will receive blessings. It isn’t always easy, I sure haven’t had the easiest time with it here, but it is possible. As we turn outward, Christ will help us feel that love for others. I have made that a goal of mine and have found that I am beginning to feel that love for the people of El Salvador and I haven’t even gotten there. I get to spend two whole years as a representative of Jesus Christ and preach his gospel. That is such an awesome thing to me that I will be able to bring that light into other peoples lives. Just remember that when we lose ourselves, we find ourselves. So, in other words, lose yourself in the work, and you will find out more and more of who you really are. I f you are remotely thinking about serving a mission, my advice to you is to do it. It will be hard, but definitely worth it. My first few weeks were really hard for me, but now I have a great desire to serve and am loving my mission! The Spirit here in the MTC is very strong and I love it. One thing that comes to mind when I think about a mission is the scripture Mosiah 2:17. It says that “when ye are in the service of your fellow beings, ye are only in the service of your God.” Our Heavenly Father loves all his children. We need to remember this as we teach. Everyone that you will teach on your missions are a son or daughter of God, always remember that!

As I was studying today, I felt strongly that I should write this, and one thing I have learned here is that when you feel prompted, or feel very strongly about something, while on your mission, you should do it. Listen closely to the Holy Ghost and follow its promptings. As you do that, you will become closer to your Heavenly Father. I don’t know who, but I know that there was someone out there who needed to hear whats in this letter. Always, always listen to the feelings from the Holy Ghost. You never know what will happen or whose life you could change.

Amor,

Aaron (Elder Black)

Off to the Guatemala MTC!

Aaron leaves for Guatemala City today!  He will be going through the LAX airport.  He has a 5 hour layover (what fun) and said he will get to call home from there.  We have only communicated with him through mail and email, and haven’t talked to him since he entered the MTC six weeks ago, so we are all pretty excited.  (With several thousand missionaries at the MTC, they don’t have enough phones or time to have them all call regularly.)  He arrives in Los Angeles around 7:00 our time, so everyone will be home from school and work when he calls.  (Nathan just might have to miss his 7:30 basketball practice though!)  

Aaron usually emails only on Thursdays, but since he is leaving today, he got to email this morning too:

On Tue, Jan 24, 2012 at 7:33 AM, Aaron wrote:

Happy birthday dad! (belated – it was the 21st, but he can only email on certain days) I am sending a little box of stuff home today so it should be there sometime soon. Sounds like quite the busy life going on at home right now! Lots of basketball! I am super excited to leave today!

Well, I am off the Guatemala City today and could not be any more excited!  When you all are waking up tomorrow, I will just be flying in!  This MTC has been fun, but I am ready to head off!  I am excited for the food, the climate, and especially that I will get to go out and practice street contacting down there.  Also, it will be way cool to see Guatemala City on my p-days!  Love you all and I will write again soon.  I am sending some letters that I am going to try to get off before I leave.  They will probably be pretty short though because I don’t have much time.  I will get the package send and the letters written as soon as I can!

I don’t know how they do the busses to the airport really.  (Mom asked Aaron if he would be going to the airport early in the morning with all the other elders, even though he doesn’t leave until early evening).  I just know that I am supposed to be in the travel office at 1:30 this afternoon.  Yes I got that envelope.  I’m pretty sure you put just about every sickness possible on those.  I will be fine though! haha.  (Mom sent a list of sicknesses and what to do for each if he gets sick).  I just sealed up the box to take to Sister Biddulph so I will probably miss her.  I’ll just drop it off in her office though.  (Aaron’s Uncle Greg’s Mom works at the MTC, so he’s giving his winter coat which he won’t need for two years, and a few other things to her to bring home.)

Amor,

Elder Black

Last week in the U.S.

The excitement mounts!  Aaron will be leaving on Tuesday, January 24th, 2012 to go to the Guatamala Missionary Training Center.  He loved the MTC at first, then I think reality hit that he would be gone for two years, and he had a bit of a slump.  He sprained his ankle, and got sick, and didn’t really send anything interesting to post, but things are looking up for him, and he is sounding very excited to be on his way to Central America!  Here’s his email from Thursday Jan. 19, 2012:

Dear Family,

Yep I have less than a week to go now and I am off to a new country and won’t set foot in the U.S. for two whole years!  I am so excited to get the chance to go down there.  So with my travel plans, I leave SLC on Tuesday at 4:55 pm and land in LAX at about 5:50 pm their time.  I don’t fly out again until 10:45 pm their time and get to Guatemala city at around 5:50 am.  It is going to be such a long day with being on a plane all day.  I’m not really sick anymore, but I don’t really feel all that great still.  I just need to go out and do something and not sit on my but all day every day.  I got the package you sent.  Thanks for that!  I am going to leave my shoes home and I don’t think I need anything else before I leave.  I think I’m all set.  When I get down there, I’m going to get to go out on splits with the missionaries that are in Guatemala City.  I also get to go out and practice street contacting when I am there too!  That’s awesome huh!?  If it’s not to expensive to send, I’ll try to find some ties and bracelets or something like that when I get there.  Have you seen pictures of the Guatemala City Temple?  It is such a pretty temple.  Look up some pictures of it.  It is in the city, but it kind of seems like it is kind of in a jungle area also.  I haven’t seen Nick or Logan yet, but I am going to try to find them today.  I will see them sometime before I leave at least.

I am really starting to like my mission.  I changed my attitude about things here and have completely turned my mission around.  I am a lot happier of a person and am starting to have a really good time.  The more fun I start having, the faster time goes.  I will be in Guatemala soon and wonder where my last week here went.  It is going to be so awesome to go there!  I am the travel leader for the group that is going with me, which is cool, except for the fact that I don’t really know what I do or anything yet! Haha.  Oh well though, I will find out sometime soon!  I will send an SD card home soon with pictures.  Sorry I haven’t sent it before.  Don’t worry about sending it back for awhile though.  Just send it whenever you are planning on sending a package again.  I should be fine with the weight for things though.  I’m going to take my temple stuff and just put it in my suitcase and take my temple bag as a carry on with some books and other stuff on it if I end up needing to get rid of some weight.  So I had something really funny happen to me the other day, but kinda gross too.  So I was sitting in one of the stalls using the bathroom and I heard the one next to me flush.  I didn’t think anything of it until I heard water pouring over the side if his toilet.  My feet shot up to the stall door just in time to see a sheet of water shooting under me.  Luckily I didn’t get any on me and there was a drain right there next to me so it all drained out pretty quick.  I was laughing so hard when it happened though! Haha

Well that’s about all I’ve got for now.  My next email to you will be from Guatemala!  It’s kind of weird to think that in less than a week I will be gone and not set foot in the United States again for almost two years.  I am going to love it there!  I love you all and hope you have an awesome week!!!!!

Amor,

Aaron (Elder Black)

Later on Thursday he wrote:

I saw Logan today in the cafeteria.  It was pretty cool to see him.  I also saw Mr. Hunsaker and his wife.  I guess they got into the MTC a few days ago and are headed off to the Farmington, New Mexico.  I haven’t seen Nick yet though.  Love you!

(Logan and Nick are friends of Aaron’s who just entered the MTC yesterday, the 18th.  Mr Hunsaker is one of his teachers from middle school that he really liked.)

Random Quotes from the MTC

Here are a couple of quotes from Aaron’s letters to his brothers (Jan. 13, 2012):

From Jared’s

“I have been pretty sick today and yesterday though and I just stayed in our room and slept most of the day.  Hopefully I will feel better tomorrow though.  I got my travel plans today.  I leave here at 4:55 PM on the 24th and land in L.A. at 5:54 PM, then don’t leave again until 10:45 that night.  So I have a five hour layover.  I get to call home from the airport, so I will probably be calling sometime after 6 PM California time.” – We are all excited about that.

From Nathan’s

“The MTC is hard, but I am managing.  I can’t say it’s my favorite thing, but it needs to be done!  I can’t wait until I am in El Salvador!  When I come home, I’ll bring you some cool stuff.”