Saturday, January 31, 2015

January 26, 2015

Aray gidday!

This week we had a whole bunch of new Elders and Sisters join our zone. Among them was Elder Somephikhay from Argentina. He bore his testimony for us! He doesn't speak any English, only Spanish, but did his best anyway. In his broken English he said how that day was a very difficult first day of the MTC for him because he didn't know any English. At that point he started sobbing. My companion Elder Powers is a super tough guy, he was a football player and has a scholarship to play football at the University of Maine when he returns. But he just broke down and started crying at this story. Elder Somephikhay is 19 and was baptized 2 years ago. When he was going to be baptized his mom told him he had to choose between the church or her. He chose to be baptized and she kicked him out of the house. On the airplane ride up to Utah he lost his wallet with his passport and was very miserable, but he said he's going to be okay. The councilor from our Branch Presidency, President Callister, told us Elder Somephikhay has a lot of faith and courage to be able to say all that in English and come to America and serve a mission. He's one of the nicest little missionaries I know!

Also my dear friend Elder Triasakorn left for Thailand. Even though he is only 19 he is one of the wisest young men I know. He's going to be such a blessing for those in Thailand.

Tuesday night M. Russell Ballard from the Quorum of the 12 apostles came to speak to us! He told us how he has borne his testimony of Christ and the restored gospel before Kings and rulers of many countries, and that we are not that different from the Quorum of the 12. He said we will break down the strong things of the world, that we are called to testify and teach of Christ.

Sunday night Brother Stephen B. Allen, Director of the Church Missionary Department and a member of the Quorum of the 70 came to speak to us. He spoke a lot of how Satan knows how to push our buttons. He says we need to let go of our past transgressions. He taught us if we are depressed here in the MTC, it is a good thing because it means we are Missionaries. We must choose to be men and women of God.

This week we began learning how to write in Thai script! There are many confusing characters in the language and it seems impossible to learn them all. After praying about it I decided to start reading script before memorizing how to write it all. As Iron Man says, sometimes you need to run before you can walk. So far, it is working out okay! I am learning the characters better and in reviewing how to write them they seem to be sticking in memory a lot better!

Let the Holy Ghost be your Senior Companion in all your doings!

Elder Wager

Goodbye Elder Triasakorn!

January 19, 2015

Hola amigos(a)!
Being a Missionary is the best!! I miss being in Tucson with my friends and family and missionaries but this experience is definitely worth it!

This week started off super well when I got to see my dear friend Sister Shimizu She served in Tucson with me for a short time and now has honorably completed her Mission and works at the copy center at the MTC! It was great getting to talk with her again, she's such an inspiration. We exchanged photos and then I found out it was against MTC rules to take a one-on-one photo with a member of the opposite gender. Whoops. I hope she doesn't get in trouble for that!!

We started learning how to write in Thai! I'm a slow learner so I made a goal to learn two new characters each day. (I think there's something like 40 characters in the Thai script.) So far I have 6 memorized but it'll come along fast!

Last Friday was kind of a setback. Our teachers pretend to be investigators for us so we can have practice teaching lessons in Thai. Friday morning one of our teachers pulled my companions and me out of class and told us our "investigator" (the one she was pretending to be) wasn't going to meet with us anymore because we were too scary. She said this was supposed to be like a real experience. She explained we seem to demanding when teaching and don't seem to care about the investigator. What she meant is there are different tones to speak in when speaking Thai and the way we were speaking it sounded like we were angry or bossy instead of kind and loving. That made us feel bad because we were honestly trying our hardest, just not good enough. :)

We had a devotional this week where the Apostle Russell M. Nelson came to speak with us! He taught us that True repentance is synonymous with full conversion. Our investigators shouldn't be baptized without careful preparation. I loved how he mentioned that there are several members of Wards that we should work closely with: namely the Bishop and our best friend the Ward Mission Leader! I loved being a Ward Mission Leader more than anything. It's a whole different game being a Missionary. Planning lessons rather than going to lessons and bearing our testimonies in them is a totally different experience but it's coming along slowly but surely!

I also really love my teachers. One day I was having a really bad day, and my teacher Brother Shipley saw this occurrence. When class was over and I was on my way out the door he grabbed me by the elbow and told me: "Phom rag khun." (I love you.) I told him "khab khun khab." (Thank you.) Not letting go of my elbow he said again "Phom rag khun." I could feel this overwhelming compassion and care coming from him. My teachers are always so kind and thoughtful. They're all younger than me, too! I'm amazed at how wise they are. I think the oldest one is Pii Boy, and he's only 23. They all got back from their missions to Thailand within the last year or so!

Saturday morning we had TRC (Teaching Resource Center.) It was our first time, and it was really fun! It's basically teaching to people in Thai who aren't our Teachers pretending to be investigators. They were also returned missionaries and they are volunteers to come to help us practice our Thai. Our first lesson was with a girl named Carly who was Sister Painters MTC companion! The second lesson was with a guy named Gus... I think... and he was Pii Boy's MTC companion!

The food here at the MTC isn't the best, but it's still pretty good considering the cafeteria staff needs to cook food for thousands of Missionaries! I'm also so happy that we get to exercise in the gym for 50 minutes each day. Last week at gym my legs started hurting oddly enough while I was running after about a mile. Then my leg got a bubble in it. The nurse said that I should stop running and take it easy, so hopefully that will fix it. The bubble went away though my legs aren't quite back to normal. So in the meantime I will just get fat. :) But some prayers would be helpful too! :)

Today our older Pii Thais are leaving to go to Thailand! They're all so very nervous but worried about how well they will do. I'm confident they will do fantastic. I'm looking forward to learning the language as well as them!

Thank you all for writing letters to me! I found out requires some info about me in order to get letters to me. This info they require is my Unit Number (#81) and My Estimated Departure Date (March 2nd) from the Provo MTC.

Have a great week and do something special to make someone feel special! Even if it's a stranger!

Elder Mark Wager

0124 - Sister Shimizu vs. Elder Wager!

0128 - District 30B in their natural habitat

0130 - Red-color matching nerds!

0153 - Residence Life!

0154 - My queen-sized bed in the MTC luxury suite! Just kidding, we had an extra bunk bed in our room so we pushed two of them together and I get the whole bottom bunk to myself.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Mark Wager

Attachments12:19 PM (10 minutes ago)
to me
Greetings from the MTC!!

This week was a wild one. From last Monday till Sunday I was suffering from allergies. The snow started melting and was washed away when it rained revealing the trees and plants and all the pollen was released to wreak havoc on peoples such as myself with poor immune systems. It really impaired my ability to study, so I took some Benadryl. That helped out a little with my allergies but also impaired my ability to study because it made me sleep during class and study time. My teachers were really nice though! They didn't get angry or anything. But unfortunately because I was so impaired I'm more behind in my studying than most others in my district. Prayers on my behalf would be more than welcome!

We continued our lessons with our investigator Pii Boy. We taught him about baptism and invited him to be baptized but he just wasn't sure. The next day I had the thought to have him read Mosiah 18:8-10. He did so, and I asked him what the Prophet Alma taught about Baptism. He said people who have a desire to follow Christ shouldn't have anything against baptism. I asked him how he would apply these teachings into his life. He said he would be baptized! My companions and I were so happy. But then he told us he was leaving to Bangkok and wouldn't be able to meet with us anymore. Oh well.

The very next day, while we were in class, who should walk in but Pii Boy! It turned out he just pretending to be our investigator the whole time and was really our 3rd MTC Teacher - Brother Tirrell. But he will always be Pii Boy to me. :)

Another trial that hit me this week: in reviewing the rules of the Missionary handbook and learning more about valuable resources of strength and comfort for Missionaries I began to feel real guilty over my failures and shortcomings as the Ward Mission Leader of 3rd Ward. I spoke with Pii Boy (Brother Tirrell) and my Branch President about this. They are both amazing people who gave me so much guidance and comfort. Pii Boy told me I shouldn't worry about the actions of other people. He told me when I didn't know he was only pretending to be an investigator he loved how I taught him with love, that love is really how Missionaries need to teach their lessons. He told me not to worry about falling short in the language because of my inability to study this week. He said the language will come with time, that when he was learning it in the MTC for his Mission that even he wasn't very good at it and felt real bad. He said to seek first the kingdom of God and then we'll be blessed for it.

President Jackson taught me we can only be as good as we can be, that we will always continually strive to be better. He said he can tell I'm a sensitive person and that because I care about my actions as Ward Mission Leader and the missionaries back home it tells him a lot about me. He says I'll be able to use my experiences, both bad and good, to instruct missionaries in the field. I sure hope he's right.

This week we got our Japanese Encephalitis immunization part 1, and guess what! Turns out they aren't making us pay the 500 dollars it costs to get both immunizations! It's totally free! That made me so happy.

Sunday we had a devotional where the speaker asked recent converts from the last 2 years get up and bear their testimonies. Elder Eduardo Espinoza Pena was among them. His testimony was so powerful about the moment he knew when he needed to be baptized. He left this morning for Argentina. Our closing hymn for the devotional yesterday was "God be with you till we meet again." He's going to do so well and touch the hearts of so many people in Argentina along with our friend Elder Kauffman. :)

Also we got to watch the movie Legacy. I really recommend it to anyone who hasn't seen it! In it there is a scene where a young adult who was just baptized asked the prophet Joseph Smith what he wanted him to do. Joseph Smith said: "Help us to build a temple. Here on this very ground." That feels like what my call is to Thailand, to help them get a temple built in their country. Another quote: "Ye shall know them by their fruits. Here are their fruits. (The Book of Mormon.) Another testament confirming what every Christian yearns to know. That Jesus Christ is the son of God." I invite all my friends everywhere, Mormon or not, to read from the Book of Mormon. It is an incredible source of comfort and truth!

I hope all is well in Tucson! Elder Mark Wager

120 - Galaxy in our residence room!

121 - Provo Temple!

122 - Remember that snowy field from last week?

Monday, January 5, 2015

Hi everybody!!

Thank you to those who emailed me this last week! Things are going great. I reported to the Missionary Training Center (MTC) Wednesday afternoon and am loving it here. It took a couple days to figure out how to adjust, and I'm still adjusting but things are going ok thus far. :)

After putting my things away I met my first companions! They are the best companions in the whole world. I've been placed into a trio with Elder Liaga and Elder Powers. Elder Liaga is 18 and from West Valley Utah while Elder Powers is 19 and from Maine. They're both very loving, very funny and very hard-working. We have so much fun together all the time which makes learning very fun! The Lord definitely blesses us with what we need. He knew I needed to be in a trio companionship and I'm so lucky to be with these guys and lucky the leaders of the MTC listen to what the spirit tells them.

My district is also very great. We're told we are the fastest-learning district in terms of the Thai language. My whole Zone is fantastic. On day one they welcomed us in a very friendly way. There is a missionary named Elder Chamberlin who was having difficulty pronouncing my last name so he just calls me Elder Swagger, and now everyone wants to call me that haha!

Our teacher, Sister Painter, is also very nice and speaks only in Thai. That is probably why we are learning the language so fast!

Our Branch Presidency is really nice. In fact, the Branch President - President Jackson - served in Germany about 10 years before dad did! They really helped me feel at home when we met them the other night. While with them they gave us some quiet time and asked us to read a chapter out of the Book of Mormon - 2nd Nephi Chapter 31. (This is the chapter explaining why Jesus Christ had to be baptized to fulfill all righteousness.) While reading this I had such a comfortable spirit of peace and for a moment forgot I was in the MTC, I thought I was back at home. This just bore testimony to me of the power of the Book of Mormon. No matter where we go or who we're with, it can give us the peaceful feeling of being right at home.

Sunday we had a mission conference with the MTC President - President Nally - and it was his last one before he gets released next week. He and his wife spoke and I love what they had to say. Sister Nally said when we listen to speakers we should try to pay attention to what we feel and not so much what they are telling us. In other words, we need to pay attention to what the spirit is telling us. She also told of a friend who was recently baptized. The friend's whole family was actually baptized and this friend mentioned how previously no one in her family would go to church with her, but this gospel brought them all together. It made me think back to the times I've seen people radiate pure joy and happiness, and all of those times were when they were with their family in the gospel. It brings me comfort to think that in times when I might feel alone up here without many people I know that I may be sacrificing time away from my friends and family but I am sacrificing 24 months of my life with my family so that those I teach can spend all of eternity with theirs.

We also got to watch Meet the Mormons! I'd recommend you everyone watch Meet the Mormons when it comes out on DVD if you haven't already.

Last week I got a letter via! It is apprently a website where while I am in the MTC any of you can type up a letter to me and they will print it off and put it in my mailbox the very same day. I love love love getting letters and would love to hear from all of you about how you are doing! :)

My Thai is coming along slowly but surely. I'm learning first how to pray in Thai and it is coming in handy when we're teaching a Thai investigator. Although i don't know very much what he is saying I was able to teach him how to pray and he committed to praying every night.

Thank you for your prayers! Pom rag khun! (I love you!)

Elder Wager

0100 - MTC District!

105 - Companions: Elder Powers, Elder Wager, Elder Liaga at Provo Temple

107 - Snowy Utah Mountain

110 - Snowy Utah field!

113 - Elder Wager and Elder Espinoza! YSA 3rd buddies and MTC brothers. :)