13.1

This Saturday marks halfway through the MTC!

Half-ways are interesting points. They are catalysts for change. Opportunities for improvement. Or, they are the mark of continued monotony in grueling trials of endurance. Luckily, the MTC is not the third option! I love it here!

There were rumors going around that, once upon a time, missionaries could “test out” of the MTC two weeks early if their language and teaching skills were up to par, but those days have come and gone, I’m afraid. No such system exists anymore. I think the Powers That Be have placed more emphasis on the development of the district over the course of an intense two-month training program. I can’t complain. I feel my love for the Brazilian people and for my companions growing every day here. There was a girl from Fortaleza who bore her testimony of the truthfulness of Christ’s restored Gospel on Sunday and she had a thick Northeastern Brazilian accent (in Portuguese, not English, just to clarify). I couldn’t see her because I was sitting behind her and I had no idea who she was, but something about the accent and the language just clicked. I get continual reminders while I’m here that I am supposed to be in Recife specifically. I suppose I’ll know more about that when I get there.

Although I would love to get out and work in the field sooner, I’ve come to realize that my work in my district is quite possibly just as important as the work I will be doing in the field. Having taken Spanish before, I have wiggle room in my studies to focus on helping the other missionaries, which is good. I have a lot a lot a lot to learn about being more humble and more compassionate and more willing to jump in and help instead of offering the hackneyed, “Let me know if you need any help!” (Because nobody ever does).

I was asked to serve as the assistant to the Branch President this last Sunday for our North American Branch. The job has some well-defined responsibilities (meeting with District Leaders from the 3 districts, making comments on their district reports, setting the agenda for the Sunday Branch meetings, etc.) but overall the job seems relatively loosely-defined here in the MTC. The general impression I get is that, if someone needs to set an example of maturity and reverence, it should be me first, which is ironic, because…well, let’s just say there’s a lot of pressure for me to grow up from a 12 year-old boy to a 30 year-old man over the course of 4 or 5 weeks. Every day there are multiple reminders (almost all personal reminders) that there is room for improvement. It helps to keep my focus on the idea that, as a minister of Christ, I ought to be trusted and loving rather than untrustworthy and loved.

This morning in the temple there was a power outage so we had to do everything in the dark (really just the last half hour or so). I was surprised by how little changed in the temple. It was still a place of peace, a place of lasting happiness, and a House of the Lord. For those of you who haven’t seen an LDS temple before, I encourage you to take a peek at some of the temples on lds.org.

Despite all the nuances and rules and idiosyncrasies of this place, the MTC is, above all, a place where you can feel the Spirit testify of the truthfulness that Christ lived, died, and rose again, taking upon himself our sins and making possible our return to Him after this life.

God bless you all.

I love you and miss you.

-Elder Fleming-

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