Monday, December 1, 2014

Thanksgiving in the MTC - Elder Joshua Avery

Written by Elder Joshua Avery, training in the Provo Missionary Training Center of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He will report to the Singapore Mission on December 15, 2014, speaking Mandarin Chinese.

Elder Avery's Chinese nametag
Hi Family and Friends!

I knew Flynn would get a roomie. It was destiny! It makes me so happy :) Make sure that you all give Flynn plenty of attention or problems with Leche will get worse. Is Abi loving Leche?! I bet a new puppy has her going crazy! I wrote a letter for her and it is on it's way. (Josh is talking about the puppy our niece left with us during Thanksgiving while she is finishing school.)

I am really starting to get along with my district. I swear Elder Ostler is Kolby's twin or something. He and I get along great. Things with Elder Harmon and I are also going well. I think being zone leaders has really helped us grow.

This week was so crazy! We got to hear from two Apostles, and BYU Vocal Point came. Tuesday Elder Oaks was here. He gave us advice on how to be a great missionary. I could write lots, but I will just share what stuck out the most. He took out a pen and said that it was a tool, and missionaries likewise need to be a tool in the Lord's hands. He said that if you take a pen out to write, you need it to work. How would you like it if when you took your pen out to write it said, "I'm tired today," or "I just don't feel like working today"? He then went on to say that if your pen doesn't have ink, you could do whatever you want with it and it still won't work. We need to feast on the word of God, then if we are willing He can use us.

Thursday Elder Bednar came. It was so sick! (Note from mom....I'm pretty sure Josh means the good kind of sick ;) Every time an Apostle walks into a room you can feel it. It's just like the Spirit just floods into the room. It makes me think about how much more grand it would be like to be in the presence of the Savior, and what that would feel like.

Elder Bednar had us do a question and answer session with him. He passed out cell phones and gave us a number to text our questions that would be sent to his iPad on the pulpit. He also had an email for missionaries at different MTCs around the world to text him questions. It was so cool! I didn't have anything to ask him, but it was so cool. His wife was there, and sometimes he would call her up to answer questions. The first time he asked her to answer a question, she walked up to the mic and said, "I still need to text my question. 'Hey baby! How you doin' baby?'" I thought that was the funniest thing, to see that side of their relationship.

Yesterday some missionaries from our zone and I played (cello) for the departure devotional for the missionaries. It was cool, but it was a little uncomfortable to have a camera zoomed in on your face while you are playing! HAHA! It's been cool getting to know the members of the MTC Presidency. They are all so cool! Afterward, the BYU Vocal Point came and performed. It was AWESOME! I've never been a huge fan of a cappella groups, but these guys were awesome!

Out of all of these experiences, I don't know which was my favorite! But this last one I am about to share was up there. We had a substitute teacher because our teacher was sick. We realized that our new sub had a mainland accent and, sure enough, he was from China. We asked him how he heard about the church. He said that his mom introduced him to it and at the end of class he would tell us his conversion story. We waited till the end of class and he shared his story. It is one of the coolest conversion stories I have ever heard!

He and his Mom lived in the northern part of China. There was no branch or anything where he was from. She taught him what she had heard about the law of chastity and stuff, but other than that, he didn't think much of it. Then he and his mom took a trip to Hong Kong where they ran into some missionaries. He said that the missionaries taught him all day and he ended up getting baptized that night. When their trip to Hong Kong was over they returned to their home, but there was no branch or anything so he and his mom just did their own church services together.

Being such a recent convert, he didn't understand a ton about the church, but he knew that he needed to take the sacrament. He said that he and his mom would get water bottles and big pieces of bread, put them on a plate, and then he would pray. He didn't know how to bless the sacrament, so he said he would pray and tell God, "I know I need to do this, so please bless this bread and water, Amen." Then they would drink their whole bottle of water and eat their big piece of bread. They did this for 7 months!

When he went away to school, he ended up finding the church. He would take a bus two hours every Sunday so he could go. After that, he went on a mission to Scotland, speaking Chinese, when he was 22 years old. He is now attending BYU, and has been back from his mission for a year. Crazy or what?!! We keep meeting so many people from mainland China, it is ridiculous! It's cool to see how the church is growing there, without us being able to proselyte or build churches.

I love you all and hope you have a good week,

Feng Zhang Lao

Our Savior's Love (November 24, 2014)

As Long As I Don't Have To Wear A Dress  (December 8, 2014)