Well, I have survived week one. A good friend described the MTC as a well-dressed prison, and sometimes it does feel that way. Nothing feels quite as good as going for a walk outside, because all of your time is spent sitting in a classroom learning and studying. But it has been amazing to see the changes that everyone has undergone is such a short period of time. My companion's name is Elder Bytheway, from Richfield, Utah. He's a great guy and we are both learning a lot about how to effectively teach the gospel.
As part of the training exercises, you are required to teach your MTC instructor as if they were an investegator with a profile that they created. Our first lesson was with Dan. The lesson was pretty rough (in my defense, it was our first...) but we taught with the spirit as best we could. At the end, we both felt impressed to extend him an invitation to be baptized, and he accepted, to my surprise. The power and strength that we felt when offering the challenge was amazing. It served as yet another testimony that this is the Lord's work and He will guide his missionaries if they put forth their best effort.
I have seen some really bizarre things here (senior missionaries pulling out their contact lenses and sucking on them in their mouth??) and been exposed to a variety of languages and cultures. The food is bland, with a rare exception every few days. (I had to throw that in there for Taylor's sake..) The days are long and exhausting. But there is no where else I would rather be. As I have increased my dedication to the work, the Lord has increased my strength and I have never felt the spirit so strong or been so blessed. Small miracles happen every day. At the beginning of my first day, our Coordinating Sister, Sister Evans, told us that "No matter what your question or problem, turn to the Book of Mormon and it will provide the answers." I took that to heart, went and purchased another copy of the BofM, and went to work studying with two purposes: 1) gain a stronger testimony of the Restoration and 2) learn to apply the scriptures to missionary work. It has been painstakingly long work (1 hour for two chapters), but the blessings have been amazing. For example, I finished reading the story of Nephi going back for the plates and then went to Devotional. What was the entire talk about? That same story, and the explanation given of it was one that no one in my district had ever considered. It blew my mind. Stuff like that has been happening the whole time. Pretty cool. Anyways, I am out of time and need to go, but I love you all and miss you! The Church is true, I promise!!
Oh, and PS, I have bucked the trend of weight gain at the MTC. That's right, I've lost three pounds already ;) Amazing what running can do for you!!