Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Week 3: MTC Half-Way Point

So week 3 is just about over, and this week has been pretty jam packed!

So last Tuesday night, Elder Marcus B. Nash of the 70 spoke to us at the MTC, and that was really cool! Elder Nash spoke at the ASU institute building a few weeks before I left and I went to that, and guess what! He gave the same exact talk!!! Haha! So that was funny, but I did get a lot out of it! So that was cool! That same morning, Tuesday morning, Elder Vance went home with severe depression, so I am in a trio now with Elders Draney and Larsen! They are super stellar and we get along really well! The next day, June 24, was Dork Dot Day!!! Wednesdays are the days that all of the new missionaries arrive and they where this orange dot on their tags to show that they're new and might need some help! So I had my eye out for 3 people the entire day; Elder Gurr, Elder Roberts, and Elder Hofeling! I even made my companions study outside with me just hoping that I might catch a glimpse of any of them! But no luck, it was about 2 o clock and I was talking to another class full of new missionaries going to Brazil, and as I was talking in Portuguese at them, I turn around just in time to see Elder Gurr walking down the hall with his escort! I yelled at him and gave him a big hug then sent him on his way! So he has class in the same building as I do, and I see him a couple times just about every day, so there is a tender mercy of the Lord. With renewed faith that I would see my other friends, I went on about my day with my head on a swivel, constantly looking for Elder Hofeling and Elder Roberts! It was after recess, and we were coming back from the missionary field across the street (the gymnasium was shut down all week for the mission president's seminar), and as I was walking back to my room, I saw Elder Gurr again! I shouted "Hey Elder Gurr!" at him, and he shouted back, "There's someone behind me that wants to say hello!" I looked behind him a ways, and LO AND BEHOLD! There was Elder Hofeling just smiling and waving timidly at me from I distance! I just about jumped out of my socks when I saw him, and I ran as fast as I could and wrapped him up in a giant bear hug! I picked him up and just held him for a minute. I love Elder Hofeling! He is one of my best friends and has always been there for me when I needed a friend! So talked for a minute and I met his companion Elder Howard, and found out that they are in the same building as I am!!!!! Better yet, just one floor above me! So I go up almost every night and say goodnight to Elder Hofeling and shoot the breeze with him for a few minutes, and talk about the MTC and how he's feeling. I know that I wish I had a friend here when I got here to vent to for the first few nights. The first few nights in the MTC are the worst, and you don't really know your companion well enough to tell him the things of your heart, so it all just gets bottled up inside and it hurts, so I've been trying to be there for Elder Hofeling if he needs it! I mean, Elder Hofeling is strong (just look at his biceps) but we all need help from a friend every once in a while!!! So it is super good to see Elder Hofeling, and we see each other EVERYWHERE! At meals, in between classes, and at residency! It doesn't sound like much, but that is really all our days consist of here at the MTC.

I was looking at my planner the other day with Elder Larsen and Elder Draney and realized that our schedule is this:

Wake up
Eat Breakfast
Eat Lunch
Eat Dinner
Go back to Residency and Sleep...

Super exciting, right?

But we find ways to make the time fly by! I testify that time is different when you're reading the scriptures. I feel like I'm closer to God when I read my scriptures, and what feels like I've only been studying for maybe 5 minutes, I look up at the clock and realize that 2 whole hours have passed me by. So that has been a huge testimony builder to me of the power of the scriptures!

So on Thursday I was really struggling. The language was difficult, the lessons weren't going all that well, and I wasn't feeling well at all. My biggest problem was that I wanted to share the gospel so bad, but my language capacity was hindering me. That has been my biggest problem the entire time, that my desires and goals surpass my abilities... So I guess I'll just have to work harder!

So Brother Nothum asked us on Friday to do an English Fast until Sunday morning! So we didn't speak any English on Friday OR Saturday! AT ALL! That was crazy!

I was also really sick with a fever Friday night, all day Saturday, and Sunday I slept in and had a priesthood blessing! But I'm all good now! But on Sunday I slept in till noon, and that was BEAUTIFUL!!!
So with it being the Mission President's seminar, all of the general authorities were here! We saw Elder Oaks and Elder Ballard in their cars as they left on Sunday while we were going to our temple walk! We lined the street and Elder Ballard rolled down his window and waved to us! Super Cool!

Sunday night Elder Allen of the General Missionary Commission or something like that and it was so much fun! He got super animated and jazzed about missionary work and got all of the missionaries involved! He was so funny and cracked jokes the entire time!
So the Provo temple is now closed for a couple of weeks, and today my zone gets to go in a clean it! That is something that I've never done before, so I'm super stoked to do that! And tonight is a general Authority's devotional! So I'll let you all know how that goes when I get the chance!

Oh! My mission President! I got to meet with him 3 times and even met some of his family that he brought! His name is President Koch (Pronounced like Kaw, like the sound a bird makes)! He and His wife are super awesome! They are super nice and sweet and fun to be with! He hasn't gotten his visa to Mozambique yet, but he is in Swaziland on a tourist visa right now while his other visa processes, so we'll see how that goes.

So I heard that Sister Kinnaman did a phenomenal job with her farewell talk! I am super excited to see her progress in the mission field and MTC! My zone leader is actually going to the same exact mission as her, and I had a few Elders leave this morning for the Brazil MTC because they got their visas, so I told all of them to give her a nice firm handshake for me when they see her! Haha!

Well, I wish I had more time to write, but I've got to go! I love all the mail you all have sent me! I pray every night for as many names as I can remember from home! Since being out on a mission, prayer has taken on a whole new light for me. They have become longer, more meaningful, more thoughtful, more selfless, and I can sometimes pray for an hour straight just thanking God for all of the wonderful blessings He has given me; My family, my friends, my mission, my companions, my health, tender mercies, EVERYTHING! I love it!

Well, tomorrow is my MTC hump day! Wish me luck! I love you all!

Elder Rash

Elder Rash and Elder Hofeling (Best Friends)

Elder Woods - The missionary Elder Rash described doing dance moves with.
Elder Hofeling and Elder Rash

Elder Rash with his MTC District

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Week 2: Mail time is my favorite time of the day!

So this week has been pretty crazy! This week is the mission President's seminar, so the whole MTC is in a frenzy trying to prepare to have ALL of the Apostles here this week while they train the new mission Presidents! My mission President, President Koch, will get here on Wednesday with all 615 incoming missionaries! Apparently he speaks very good English, and we will get to meet him on either Thursday or Friday! With this frenzy, all of the MTC leaders are cracking down on MTC dress code. If your socks don't match your shoes; "GO CHANGE!" If your tie isn't long enough or is too long; "FIX IT!" If your side burns are too long; "GO SHAVE!" Its nuts! I don't have too much of a problem with it, but some missionaries get chewed out quite frequently!

I have been able to do 2 sessions in the Provo Temple. My P-Days are on Tuesdays, and so every Tuesday at 8 am, we go do a session, then do laundry and email home. But I LOVE the temple! It is one of my favorite places on this Earth!

We got a second teacher on Friday. We used to just have Irmão Nothum, but now we have Irmão Machado. Irmão Machado is from Florionopolis Brazil! He is super cool! So we have 2 three hour blocks of instruction time, where we learn Portuguese, and practice teaching investigators! It is interesting. The Portuguese language is coming more slowly now, but teaching in Portuguese comes so much easier. I am astounded every day as to how real the gift of tongues is!

Our "English Fast" didn't go too well.

We started off the day just great! Only Portuguese for about 4 hours... then a couple of missionaries gave up, and everyone just fell apart. So I think it may be more realistic to work up to entire day fasts. So tomorrow we're just going too fast for half the day!

The Book of Mormon challenge is coming much better! I am slightly behind where I need to be, but that is coming along really well!
I am super stoked to see Elder Hofeling, Elder Gurr, and Elder Roberts here tomorrow! I don't get to Escort until my third week, but I will be waiting to see them! I know the route that they take the missionaries, so you can bet that I'll be waiting in their path to give them a big hug!

So this past week I left my mark on the MTC! I had just gotten ready for gym time (we like to call it Recess), and I was super hyped up, so I jumped in the air! No big deal right?! Well when the MTC was being built, they did not expect to have 6' 1" Elder Rash with Black man hops to be jumping in the hall. So as I jumped, I smacked my head on the ceiling, and broke one of the ceiling tiles... Oops!

We were all at dinner last night, and we dared Elder Larsen to eat 6 bananas! Not only did he eat 6 bananas, but he kept going back for more! After he had consumed 10 bananas and had acquired a large pile of peels, he finally called it quits! So now 10 is the record to beat! We'll see how I do later tonight!

But every Tuesday night and every Sunday night, we have devotionals with guest speakers! On last Tuesday we had Elder Evans of the 70 talk about Work and Obedience! Super Good! We had a guest speaker Sunday night as well, Brother Littlefield, and I cannot, for the life of me, tell you what he spoke on! I was exhausted and fell asleep through most of it. I know! I know! How dare you, Elder Rash! But the gym was warm, and I was tired! Can you blame me?

So all week Elder Woods and I(Elder Woods is my other Z.L.) have been having a fake battle. We will throw pretend grenades and c4, and dynamite at each other! And we have gotten pretty creative! Elder Larsen wrote him a note saying "You're already dead. Look under your chair," and under his chair was a note that said, "BOOM!" So we do a lot of that to pass the time! I also had a dance battle with Elder Woods! Now you've got to understand something... Elder Woods is my height, probably 325 lbs, and is from Montgomery Alabama! And he can dance unlike anybody I've ever met! He has so much flow and rhythm! But the two of us ended up swing dancing, which by itself is hilarious, but as the grand finally, I DIPPED HIM! Full on dip/foot popping action! It was awesome! So I love Elder Woods! We have also begun the spoon game! Where you try to slip spoons into people's pockets without them noticing! So I guess you could say that I am now over the shock of being in the MTC and am now really starting to enjoy it!

I really do love it here! Thank you so much to everyone who has sent me mail! Mail time is my favorite time of the day! I will try to write you all if I can! So be patient with me! I love you all. I know this Church is true. I know God lives. I'll talk to you next week!

Eu sei que Jesus Cristo é nosso Salvador. Eu sei que nosso Pai Celestial ama nos. Eu sou grato por a oportunidade para servir Deus e ensinar o Evangelho de Jesus Cristo. Eu sei que José Smith é um verdadeiro Profeta. Eu sei que Cristo vive. Eu Amo Vocés. En nome de Jesus Cristo, Amém.

Elder Ryland Rash

P-Day Emails in the MTC

MTC Roommates

Results of Missionary Shenanigans
 *Note from Parents:
Some additional details to share from emails from Elder Rash today.

Sadly, Ryland's MTC companion, Elder Vance, went home this morning. He has been extremely homesick and having depression since entering the MTC. Keep him in his prayers and perhaps he will be able to return to the mission field. Ryland is now in a threesome with the other two roommates he has. 

Ryland also learned that there is another zone in the MTC that has 6 other missionaries going to Mozambique, so there will be 9 total going to his mission.

Ryland loves getting his mail. He is the district leader and gets to go and retrieve the mail for the entire district. The other day he came back with 2 packages and 6 letters. His district was very jealous when they realized that all of the mail was for Elder Rash only. 

Ryland sounds good in his emails and his homesickness seems to be all gone at this point.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Week 1: A Tough First Week But Still Excited

So I survived the first week! So 1/3 of my mission is already over! I've been told that your mission can be divided into 3 equally long portions; your first week, the rest of the MTC experience, and then the rest of your mission! So I'm a third of the way done! It feels like I've been here for an eternity! It has been an emotional roller coaster these past few days! Day One was REALLY difficult for me. I was super homesick that night and felt like I had no one to talk to. But that night I had an epiphany- I had my Savior Jesus Christ to talk to. I testify to you all that the power of prayer is real. That God does listen and care about each and every single one of us. I prayed for comfort and peace, and that I would not feel so overwhelmed. And guess what, it worked! I woke up the next morning with a renewed energy and spirit about me! And it has only gotten better! I've got to say that my favorite part about the MTC is that every minute of every class of every single day is centered on feeling the spirit. It is a feeling that I have never quite experienced before. But revelation comes easier, thoughts, ideas, and love for others comes easier. Patience comes easier. Charity comes easier. And the language comes easier. Because of this spirit, I've been blessed with being able to pick up on the language fairly quickly. We came in on Wednesday and taught our first lesson in Portuguese on Friday. Our investigator's name is Amauri. He is from Brazil and has a hard time feeling God's love for him. When we taught him the first lesson in what we call our "caveman Portuguese," the spirit was thick, we taught him how to pray, and promised him that if he would read the scriptures, that he would grow closer to God and more easily feel of His love!

So some mission president promised one of the Elders in my district that if he read the entire Book of Mormon in English in his stay in the MTC, that he would leave the MTC speaking fluent Portuguese! So our ENTIRE district took on the challenge because we all really want to learn the language REALLY bad! We also have made a goal to have "English Fasts" every Wednesday, which is where we will only speak Portuguese the entire day!!! So I am super excited for that!
My companion is Elder Vance; he is also going to Mozambique.
If anyone would like to, I strongly encourage everyone to look up and watch Elder Bednar's MTC address entitled Character of Christ. SO GOOD!!! I won't explain it too much because it will take up too much time, but it is about an hour long, and it is so inspiring! Please watch it. Please.

Well, I am just about out of time, so I'll close with my testimony.
Eu sei que Jesus Cristo esta nos Salvador e esta o filho de Deus. Eu sei que Joseph Smith es um profeta verdade. Eu sei que O Livro de Mormon e verdadeiro e O Livro de Mormon es as palavras de Deus. A igreja esta verdade. En nome de Jesus Cristo, Amem. 

So that is not 100% accurate, and I don't know how to type in Portuguese yet, so there are no accents, but hey, I've only been learning for 5 days! Cut me some slack! The Church is true. I know it with all my heart. I love the Lord. I love this work. I love the People of Mozambique. They are my mission, not the country. I wish I would have shared the gospel so much more while I was at home. I want my friends to experience the joy and happiness that this message has brought me. I love you all. Keep sending me mail through DearElder. That is the best part of my day is reading mail from you guys, so thank you to everyone that has sent me mail so far! Keep it coming! I love you Guys! Talk to you in a week!

Elder Rash

P.S.-The Chocolate Milk here is delicious!!!

Note from Parents:

Elder Rash also sent us two letters that we got today in addition to his Email. I thought I would share a couple of additional things with you that he shared with us. He and his roommates are all going to Mozambique. The 4 of them are the only missionaries in the MTC going to Mozambique in July. There are 12 missionaries that just left Mozambique ending their missions and no more coming until these 4 go out in July. Elder Rash was selected to be a District Leader. As such he gets to go and pick up the mail daily and as he noted in his letter the Dear Elder notes that he gets daily are a spirit lifter for him. Anyone who wishes to mail him through this website can drop him a note by going to www.dearelder.com. You can create your own account and then send him an email using his MTC address info on the blog. He will get these notes everyday if sent by 12:00 pm or the very next day. No cost associated with it. Emails he can only get once a week. He is enjoying regular mail or Dear Elder mail each day. 

Elder Rash & his companion Elder Vance

MTC Roommates: Elder Draney, Elder Larsen, Elder Vance, Elder Rash

Elder Rash & Elder Peterson (Friend from School)

President Jackson (Branch President)

Elder Rash and Elder Vance (Provo Temple)