Monday, June 24, 2013

June 24, 2013


So much to tell you and not enough time. Where do I begin? Sorry in advance for the bad grammar, we don't have enough time to proofread.

So anyways, the MTC finished strong and we left off the train to meet the mission president. We were standing around for a good 30 minutes until President Winn pulled up and welcomed us. he's a bit intimidating to say the least.

So we get in his car (me and three others from my MTC district) to be the first to get interviewed. We pull up to the house and President says to us "See that white fence? That's President Monson's backyard. The mission home is across the street from the prophet's house. WHATTTT?

So anyways, the first day in the mission home was relaxing. We had a great dinner and hung around until we went to bed. We got up the next morning and went to pick up breakfast for the missionary introductions. Sister Winn was driving us and one guy asked what we were dressed up so nice for and Sister Winn told him (jokingly) that we were transporting drugs. We all laughed so hard. President and Sister Winn are amazing and it's sad to see them leave after just meeting them. 

So we get to the church house, and they explained to us the procedures of the day. We got paired up with our companions, and I got placed with the Elder that was S. Williams' trainer. His name is Elder A., and he's probably the most focused missionary I've EVER met. It's awesome because he's such an amazing trainer. In our area is me, Elder A., Elder Ar. (he doesn't speak any English and is from Colombia), and (guess who!) Elder Williams. I'm serving with my roommate from freshman year! It's awesome! I'm actually the only assigned English missionary in my district, so everyone else speaks Spanish. As a result, I'm now unofficially studying Spanish during the extra hour of study time. Guess I am learning another language after all.

Later that day, we went street contacting in Temple Square and we had an awesome experience placing some Book of Mormon's. When we went back to our area, it was crazy how tired I was, but we taught 3 more lessons. We have a total of 8 investigators right now with 2 baptisms set up. We're expected to also have a baptism next week. The tutoring has helped immensely because I came kinda pre-trained where I don't need to learn how to teach. It makes it a lot easier for all of us!

We got back to the apartment and I discovered that I'm living and serving in the ghetto. We're in the lowest tiers of society, and within the ranks of our investigators, we are teaching a reforming Wiccan witch (yes, Taylor a witch like the one in Oswego), a prostitute, and a drug dealer. It's incredible to me to see how sad so many of the situations are. The Church provides hope and meaning for people that don't really have any purpose in their lives other than smoking crack and getting drunk. It's just sad. It's probably worse than Cicero, but it makes me happy I get to be a part of giving the gospel to the people who need it most.

So far I've witnessed two drug busts and a few drug deals. Mom, DON'T WORRY. We're doing great. It's a bad area, but during the day it's pretty laid back. I'm telling you all of this to just let you know how much I LOVE you and Dad. Just after this week I've gained more perspective than I ever have had before. Everyone here respects the missionaries, so we never have any trouble at all. The lessons have been great. I've had too many spiritual experiences to list. Everyone knows we're genuinely good people who are helping others so everyone stays friendly and open to us. I've grown used to being friendly and nonjudgemental. This is openly stated as the most difficult area in the mission for a reason, and I feel privileged to be given the opportunity and trust to help here.

By the way, cool fact: My companion and I cover the Wells stake, and one of the wards is called the Jefferson ward. That's the ward that President Monson was bishop over a long time ago. He actually comes to visit it on occasion so chances are I'll get to meet him in the time period that I'm serving here.

Mom, Dad, thank you so much for raising me in the Church. It's incredible how much of an impact it has on those who do their best to follow it. The difference in each household is night-and-day and you can feel it to the very core. The work is incredibly hard but worth it every bit.


Thursday, June 13, 2013

First Letter!

We received Michael's first letter today. Happy day!! Here it is:

Hey Family,
First off, I want to say thanks for writing! I've gotta say that this week has definitely been the most intense, draining, tiring, amazing week in my life. My district is amazing! We all are super focused on following the rules to the best of our ability and we all support and help each other. My companion's name is Elder C, and he's from Hawaii. He's a super awesome guy with an amazingly simple and strong testimony. I love that guy to death (I'll send you pictures of our MTC stuff when I can get on a computer out in the field).
So, where to start? When I arrived, I instantly felt like Daniel being thrown to the pack of lion's. Everything was incredibly fast paced and we were studying our tails off from the start. I've gotta say that I'm used to long school days, but none of them were spiritually-based, so it's been incredibly trying for me. I'm extremely glad that I came when I did on my mission, because I would have been far out of my league if I had gone any earlier. I'm so glad I tutored in high school because the teaching aspect is really the only thing that has come naturally to me. We have had multiple mock investigators where we have had to teach, and when I get in the zone, the Spirit has been incredible! It's like you can reach out and put it in a bottle. I'm glad I've been sent English because otherwise I don't know if I could have coped with the frustrations that came along with that. The thing is, is that the MTC heavily emphasized teaching with the Spirit on an individual basis. There is no such thing as a rote presentation anymore in the mission field, which is really nice because even though I'm great at memorization, I'd rather be learning this way.
I've been living for the gym time we get everyday. It's so nice to have some personal fun time where you can let out some stress.
The interesting thing is that learning by the spirit really is a completely new language. It's hard to differentiate emotion from spiritual promptings so one of the things I have had to learn is how to transition myself into forgetting everything I know about people and giving into the feelings of charity I have prayed fervently for every night. It's tough, but incredibly satisfying and worth it!
Our district is awesome! We all actually have great singing voices, so sometimes to pass the time we come up with six-part harmonies and go with it. It's super awesome. Last night we talked for hours after lights-out time (I know, I need to go to sleep earlier) and we ended up freestyle rapping the first discussion to each other (don't ask). It was the funniest thing ever!
I was really frustrated when I first got here because I didn't have time to look at my slacks at all. I had to put them in my suitcase and then leave. The thing is, I went to put them on, and they gave me a 46X37. I don't know how my order got messed up that bad! I was however, able to send them back and they didn't charge me. I did need to use my suit pants all week though until I got my slacks yesterday, so I guess all's well that ends well!
Ryan: Everything is a churchy opportunity here! There's absolutely no downtime for anything but churchy stuff. Oh, and my district all loves Nacho Libre and we quote it on a regular basis.
Mom and Dad: I can't tell you how intense this last week has been. It's been the most incredible test of faith for me that I've ever had and I've learned to rely more on the Lord that ever before. For the first time ever, I'm seeing my prayers answered almost immediately, and it's such a humbling experience. I'm glad that you've been able to teach people! One of the best things they've stressed is to see the investigator as God sees them. Looking at their Spiritual potential helps to isolate the best way to help them come unto Christ initially.
Well, I'm out of time now,
Great talking to you and excited for hearing from you again,

Monday, June 3, 2013

Elder Michael Hollingshaus
will be serving in the 
Salt Lake City Mission. 
He enters the MTC on Wednesday, June 5, 2013.
We will post his weekly letters.
Come join us on his journey!!

Salt Lake City Temple