Tuesday, July 24, 2012

First Week in the MTC

Hey guys!

I know you must have been expecting an email yesterday, seeing as p-day is usually Monday, but since there are around 2,500 missionaries here it's all switched up and mine is Tuesday. I'm typing this from one of the computer labs in one of the buildings I take classes in.
The MTC is awesome, and so is being a missionary. I had no idea I could really feel like this. The moment I walked in, I underwent a very organized process (which makes sense, seeing as the Church is a well-oiled machine) and received two nametags and some information about the MTC. I was directed to a classroom where I was to meet my district, a group of 7 other elders all attending my same mission (which apparently is rare or something). I met my companion, too; his name is Elder Zane Kaelberer. Our first fifteen minutes together was spent trying to pronounce his last name, turns out it's pronounced "Kelber". Anyways, he's a good guy: from Tennessee. We got along pretty quickly and have been amiable together ever since. The second day we met our Branch Presidency and they interviewed us individually and I was called to be the District Leader! I'm very honored to be able to lead these 7 other men these three weeks in the MTC; it's a leadership position that both intimidates and humbles me. Other than being responsible for the district and going to a LOT of different meetings (branch council, leadership training), I also get the mail twice every day for the district, so don't hesitate to use snail mail! :)
The classes here are mind blowing. I wake up at 6:30 every day and go to class until 9:30 at night, so it's a heavy workload but I'm learning so so much. Elder Kaelberer and I share a room with Elder Wynn from Arizona and Elder Reeves from Colorado, and we're all really good friends. The other day Elder Wynn and I were talking about how easy it is to retain scripture and doctrine here and it's so true: the Spirit is always so strong in every class, it's just about impossible to not learn something.
The SECOND DAY we had to teach a convert playing himself before his conversion; it was daunting and a little scary. Long story short, it went amazingly well; we forgot that he was acting and the lesson went across beautifully, much to our surprise. I can say now that we might have gotten a little full of ourselves, because a lesson yesterday morning about the Plan of Salvation fell on its face, but we prayed together and regrouped for a lesson we had last night to a REAL investigator that was fantastic. The Spirit was definitely present and teaching; it was an incredibly special experience for Elder K and I.
The food here is wonderful, much to my surprise. All you can eat for all three meals is music to my ears, and we have an opportunity to work out 5 days a week. I feel like we're becoming accustomed to MTC living just in time to get kicked out, but isn't that what life is like, really?
Now Elder K and I basically have to teach someone every day, and we never know if they're actors or real investigators. The MTC offers small payment for those to volunteer to be taught by training missionaries, so there are always very good chances you're talking to someone who genuinly wants to learn more; that's the scariest reality for me. The first day we were here we had to share something we were nervous about, something we feared for these next two years. Mine was feeling like I couldn't give someone willing to learn, willing to be happy and come unto Christ, the satisfaction because I was inadequate. Because I didn't know the right scripture, or I didn't pray ferverently enough the night before/morning of, etc, etc. I know now that it isn't always up to me to share what they need to hear; we are but vessels for the Spirit to teach. I love the approach here at the MTC, it makes almost too much sense. One of the many things I've committed to memory since I've been here is our purpose as missionaries, and I love it: Invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored Gospel through Faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, Repentence, Baptism, the Gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end. We try very hard to implement that into every lesson, as every lesson, whether it be about the Plan of Salvation, the Restoration, etc, etc, is really about the doctrine of Christ. Elder K and I realized that the reason our lesson yesterday fell flat is very simple; we were teaching the lesson, not the person. It isn't about "I'm going to get this investigator to learn about the Restoration", it's "I'm going to let this lesson of the Restoration help this investigator come unto Christ". I'm getting chills typing this stuff, it's so freakin' cool. I'm probably not allowed to say freakin' anymore, so let that be a testament to how cool I think this all is.
I've been receiving your DearElder letters a day after you send them, Mom, so those are way cool and helpful! I received Katies on yours too and she's sent me a couple letters, which has brightened my day. I loved the box of forgotten stuff, and all the letters, especially Syd's. I sent her a letter back today (as I can only write letters on P day also) so she should be getting a letter soon! My estimated date of leaving the MTC is August 6th, so before then I'll have another address and yadayadayada. I hope you had an awesome birthday Dad, sorry I couldn't be there to celebrate your halfway-done-with-life day, hope it was fun!
I love you guys and I love hearing from you guys; keep me updated and I'll return the favor! Pray for those in the Las Vegas West mission that the Lord has been preparing to receive the Gospel, and I'll return that one, too.

Much much much much love,


Saturday, July 21, 2012

On July 18th 2012, Elder Dowdle entered the Missionary Training Center to start his mission to the Nevada Las Vegas West Mission. After all the goodbyes to his family, he walked away with his bags in tow to start his training and the newest phase of his life.