Elder Wadman does not access this blog directly. Messages should be sent using the contact information listed on the side

Sunday, September 28, 2014

[Note: the following email was sent by the MTC President with the attached pictures]

Two of the best districts in the entire MTC.

Wishing you God's speed.


District 870 with the MTC Presidency

Provo MTC 149th Branch. Districts A & D

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

September 24, 2014 #2

[Note: items in blue brackets have been added for clarification]

OK, let me attempt to update you on the rest of my week!

It's been a pretty great time! I know I'll get to the field and still be lost, but all of our investigators keep complementing our Spanish because it makes sense and is really good in comparison, at least when compared to missionaries who have been learning the language for two weeks haha! We had a devotional from the Old MTC [Missionary Training Center] president on Sunday and he talked about some really good things that we could do to be "100 Watt Missionaries" and really continue to grow in the field. The last thing I want to do out there is work hard for a while and stagnate or start having some other problems.

We had a lesson this week with a lady Hely who was really cool. She was actually really excited to talk to missionaries who knew enough Spanish to explain why we disagree with certain Catholic beliefs instead of just disagreeing with her. We talked about the example in Acts 7 [verses 55-56] that shows that the Trinity isn't exactly what people make it out to be, and she felt like she was not very close to God anymore, despite wonderful experiences in her past with God. We showed her the promise Joseph Smith gave in the Book of Mormon introduction and then shared Moroni 10:3-5. She read verse 3 where it talks about the mercies of the Lord and shared an incredible testimony of the love God had for her to spare her life when she was living in Guatemala during the civil war and was literally waiting for a man to pull the trigger and kill her on the street. Did I tell this story already? Not sure.

Next week, Mexico!!!!!

Love you!

Elder Wadman

September 24, 2014 #1

[Note: items in blue brackets have been added for clarification]

I'm leaving early, but not THAT early! I'm leaving Sunday night at 8 and I should be in Xalapa about 4pm on Monday. I'm the first person to leave from the district, and only one other elder in the MTC [Missionary Training Center] is going to Xalapa with me, but I'm not leaving until then. I took some pictures of all sorts of stuff though! A lot of it is stuff we prepped for lessons either for the district or for investigators. Then there's some with our travel plans, and then one of another district in our zone in front of the Provo temple, which is a little oddly shaped but still very pretty.

M. Russell Ballard spoke last night, so we kinda lucked out with the double duty with the apostles and everything. He talked about how when he was a missionary he thought he understood the gospel well enough, but he really didn't. That's a wake up call if I ever heard one! 

Kate, if you're reading this blog, which you should be, I saw Mckenna Thorpe the other day, she arrived last week and I saw her at the Ogden Temple Dedication we got to watch from main campus on Sunday.

Elder Seely and I slayed the 60 lessons in three weeks goal here, we're sitting on 68 right now and gunning to make 80 before we get sent out to the field. We've learned a lot about connecting with people and making these lessons purposeful.

I'll give you a bit more of a full summary of my week a little later today, I have about 4 minutes left in my half hour before I go off to the temple and everything though, so I'll have to tell you about the rest a little later.

I just want to say that I've felt the spirit so strongly here, and I know that what I'm teaching is true. One of our "investigators" stays in touch with the missionaries who teach her at the MTC, and she showed us a picture of a missionary who left 4 weeks ago standing with a family of 7 all in white baptismal clothes. I don't need a big number or any number, I'm just so excited to be doing God's work and helping people to make choices that will give them better lives and more joy.

By the way, the last mail I will get comes in saturday at about 2, so anything you try to send after that will either be forwarded or never arrive to me. Not sure which.

Love you guys!

Elder Wadman

Going to the Prove Temple
Travel Plans

District Info
Enduring Lesson

Enduring Lesson

Lesson Prep

Thursday, September 18, 2014

September 17, 2014 #2

[Note: items in blue brackets have been added for clarification]

So I'm me and I don't have my camera with me so the 5 minutes I saved to send pictures are super mega useless. I'm glad you guys are studying Preach My Gospel [manual]. Right now we're helping an investigator with addictions and have been studying that section and shared 2 Nephi 4:28 [in the Book of Mormon] with him since he's not very good at reading and a chapter might be hard. Let me know if you have any insights on that part of Preach My Gospel! I think it's in chapter ten but I can't remember. Spanish is eating at my brain..
One more thing. It's kind of hilarious but everyone here thinks that I'm super organized and put together because that's what I'm like here. It's kinda really great because they're all like you were born put together and wake up on time and all of this. So that's super great! It's kinda funny though knowing who I am.

Elder Wadman

September 17, 2014 #1

[Note: items in blue brackets have been added for clarification]

I'm doing good!
My laundry  bag will be strong and of a good courage all the days of it's life. If at some point that life comes to an end.. Well 4 American dollars is about 50 pesos so I think I can manage a laundry bag in the budget. I'm sure it still has many months of service remaining.

I did the choir my second week here, and it was great, but I've got a lot of other stuff going on. For example, we went to choir practice last Sunday because I was sitting and reading the book of Mormon and suddenly felt like we should, but on Tuesday in the pre-devotional rehearsal we were teaching a lesson after we would have had to have been on a bus headed to main campus.

Last night Richard G. Scott spoke -- of the Quorum of the twelve if you missed that. If the missionaries who left on Monday knew they would be so mad! Apostles don't show up here all that often. I mean it's often, but most missionaries see one or none while they are here. He spoke on prayer and shared an interesting idea. When we don't get answers to prayers, it often means that it's because the Lord trusts us to make our own decisions based on what we know of the commandments and the gospel. We should be grateful for those opportunities that we have to act as independent agents in our lives. The Lord won't let us stray too far without guiding us back or confirming our choice.
The biggest thing I noticed about his talk is how incredibly familiar he was with the scriptures. I don't mean he knows where this scripture is, I mean he really has pondered it and understands it on an intimate level. He talked about sections of the D and C [Doctrine and Covenants] and parts of first Nephi [in the Book of Mormon] that I knew but somehow it felt like he understood them at such a deeper level than I did. It's just another goal to add to the list I think! Although my guess is understanding the scriptures like an Apostle does takes a little longer than two years.

In the last 13 days we've taught 48 lessons and we should reach our goal of 60 before we leave a week early. We're thinking 80 sounds like a good minimum. We have to make up for the other companionships in the district if we want to get ties the last day from our teachers! It's wild though, it's P-day and I have 4 lessons scheduled, on top of laundry and the temple and email and all that.

We were going to try and do all of the ordinances at the Temple today, well that missionaries are allowed to do (we can't do baptisms and can only be children in sealings) but we have too many places to be around to teach at. Still plenty to learn, but I should be getting my travel plans on Friday, so that's pretty wild. Since I've already been to the consulate it's pretty much a done deal that I'll be headed straight there, but stranger things have happened. Two guys headed to Ecuador got notices last week that their visas to Argentina were not yet available, so that's a little confusing.

The other day we had a lesson with an "investigator" named Gabriel who shared an incredible testimony of the power of prayer in his life. His mother told him years and years ago that whenever he was lost or in a bad place, he could pray to God and he would get the help that he needed. One day two of his brothers never came home from school. His mother was a wreck and had to take pills to sleep that night. The next afternoon, he was crying and went to his room to pray to find his brothers. He told his Father in Heaven that he knew that he would get an answer because his mother had promised he would. He walked to the front door, opened it, and saw his brothers.

Years later he had a son who was dying. He had been praying for months to no avail. One night at work he prayed and got the impression that he needed to go home. He ignored it at first but then hurried home. His son was really bad and he took him to the hospital. The doctors told him his son would likely die that night. He accepted it and was willing to let it happen because he trusted God. But his son survived and is now going to school for music, after overcoming cancer. First time we had an investigator in tears during a lesson though!

Hope things are going well for you!

Elder Wadman

September 11, 2014

[Note: items in blue brackets have been added for clarification]

[Handwritten letter reproduced here]

Mom and Dad,

You’ve heard most of what I have to say in my email, but I have a little time so I figured writing the two of you wouldn’t hurt anything.

Yes, I got my patriarchal blessing and it’s already smarter than I am, and I did get the flash drive, USB, and mission president’s letter.  I mean, Hannah sent me cookies . . . but . . . ha ha anyway the mail has been really nice and as far as I can tell I got everything.
For the most part, things really have been going well.  I’ve been having my ups and downs, but I feel like I’m getting somewhere.  I have to get up early and do an hour of service in the morning, so that will be super fun.

I’m starting to realize just how long I’m going to be gone though.  It’s not like I’ve been here a super long time, but I haven’t even been here long enough for one transfer, which is kind of wild.
So, technically we have three hours set aside for studying every day, but when you’re trying to teach 20 lessons a week at a minimum you have to get creative.  Here’s my schedule for tomorrow:

5:45        Wake up
6:15        Service

7:20-7:55 Change and 15 min study (for Alfredo)

8:            Breakfast
8:20        Alfredo (Comp [companion] study while other companionships teaching)

9:50        Class (Coaching + Idioma [Spanish for language])
11:35     Gym time

12:25-12:55         Change and Prep
12:55     Lunch

1:40        Rafael Lesson (talks and prework while others teach)
3:00        Class

4:15-5    Carlos (commandment lesson)
5:20        Dinner

6              Study Cycle – (actually personal study 6-7)
7:10        Adrian (J the B Q)

8              4 Elders Lesson (we teach these guys who we found who never do anything during study cycle time, so when we study at the same time we go do a practice lesson)
9-9:30    Planning Session

So it’s kinda crazy.  It’s nice that we get to actually find people who are sitting on benches and talk to them, although they’re volunteers so contacting them is never really that difficult.  We probably have teaching records for about 15 people by now though.
Also, I don’t’ have Kate’s address but if you could get that to me that would be nice, since right now her letter is sitting on my desk. [address has been sent]

Talk to you soon!
Elder Wadman

Thursday, September 11, 2014

September 10, 2014

[Note: items in blue brackets have been added for clarification]

So those of you who are sending me stuff all the time are going to feel like I never talk to you, and those of you who send me a short update every once and a while are going to feel like I'm talking your ear off, but I figured it wouldn't hurt to shoot out an email to you guys about what's going on.

And Dad, if you would like, you can make my letters into a blog. Sometimes I don't have time to write in my journal on days when I write letters anyway and I suppose it's ok if vaguely curious people glance at what I'm up to once and a while.

I didn't take any pictures this week although my district as a group has some good ones so hopefully I can get some of those sent to me. It didn't rain quite as crazy as it did in Tucson but we had quite a bit of rain the other day. 

Anyway, I want you guys to get a feel for what the CCM (MTC [Missionary Training Center] in Spanish) is really like. Since Thursday I've taught 18 lessons and I'm ideally teaching two more today. Several lessons have fallen through, which I didn't expect to happen at the MTC, but it is what it is. I am getting the stuff and the mail, don't worry it's still America for now. Anyway our teachers decided we needed  more of a challenge so we were told that as a district we need to teach 180 lessons in three weeks. We're pretty much on track, that means Elder Seely and I are teaching twenty lessons a week in Spanish (keep in mind a week is basically 5 days because of P-day [Preparation day] and Sunday, although it's P-day and I'm probably going to teach some lessons.

I'm on the west campus where we basically only speak Spanish, well at least everybody is learning Spanish. A few times a week the whole campus is bussed over to devotionals at main campus where random church people speak. Every Tuesday has been a member of the Seventy, Sundays are random MTC people. The busses are a conglomeration of BYU shuttles, coach  busses, and 2 prison busses. Literally there are cages at the back of them. It's a nightmare getting from one place to another because it takes like 3 full loads of all of the busses to empty the campus.

I get up at 6:30 every morning, except like half of the mornings when they tell us to be somewhere before 6:30... so that's a lie, but whatever. Since I got here three weeks ago I've read more than half of the Book of Mormon in Spanish (for those of you on this list who are Mormon, I went from 2 Nephi 1 to Alma 40.) And my communicational Spanish is better, since I'm teaching so often. I also do a ton of contacts every day where we go talk to random "investigator/actors" who are sitting around, practice with other missionaries, and sometimes teach messages to the security guards for funsies.

We've had good speakers and great speakers, and a lot of the messages have been powerful to me, but my summaries probably won't do them a lot of justice. One talk discussed how influential we can we in the lives of people who have recently joined the church but have not yet attended the temple or don't feel that they belong. We talked about working to assure that people understand the message that's been taught and be thorough about it, so many times we teach them once and assume they understood everything we said. The general impression I got was this:

There is so much to do. There is no time to rest.

I know the doctrine I'm teaching, but the real challenge that has come up for me is dealing with the fact that I have to understand the needs of the investigator and teach the message for them, so they can see why on earth this Gospel would help them or mean anything in their lives. People generally don't talk the missionaries in because they just desperately want to know if this church is true or not, people have problems in their lives or obstacles to overcome in order to find happiness and come to God, and are looking for something because in some part of them they understand that something is missing, even if they've never experienced it. Well that's also a generalization some people have no idea at all... and that's ok too.

The challenge I'm having is I have the answers, but It's so hard to get them to understand and accept them at a personal level. It's hard for people who have lived hard, incredibly difficult lives to understand that God cares about them personally. I can't make those needs go away, but through Jesus Christ people can understand, and that's the challenge. How can I help them to achieve that understanding and discover the joy that they can feel?

I took that question with me to the temple and received some really incredible insight, and I've also been able to get some great help from my teachers who talked about the gift of discernment from God that helps us to stand in someone else's shoes, the teaching method of the Savior exemplified in John 21, and some other great stuff. In the temple I read several passages from Peter that deal with the expectations placed on the shoulders of the missionary and what their role should be, and found some other great references in Corinthians. I hope you don't mind, literally if I started dumping my study notes and scripture references on you guys it would be way longer of an email. All I do all day is learn Spanish, teach, and read and find scriptures that can help others or improve my ability to help them, so it get's a little crazy.

Ok now for the fun story time...

Earlier last week Hermana [Spanish for "Sister"] Reeves was having a rough day, and she and Hermana Smith weren't getting along very well. We decided to leave them some feel good goodies and a nice note. Elder Gochnour insisted that we use his "Elder Theo Gochnour" stationary.

The note said:


Thank you for bringing the spirit into our class. Sorry if we sometimes drive it away ;)

The Elders, District 149A

We put it in front of the wrong door. We hid under the stairwell and waited to hear them come out. Elder Seely was the only one close enough to hear them, and this is what happened.

Hermana 1- Someone brought us goodies! (looks down the road) They were fast! Its from... (and then in complete horror that can only be made by a worried mormon sister missionary who is concerned someone is flirting with her) THE ELDERS!!!!!!

Hermana 2- This is terrible!... What do we even do????

So we were pretty sure the branch president was going to show up and give us a talking to. Eventually we found out it was just the Hermana's roommates and it got sorted out. But yeah, I'd say that was an adventure.

Ok, so outside of that, this week was really hard. The fact that these investigators clearly needed help, and I had some way to help them, but I couldn't figure out how, was really difficult. It made me realize how far I had to go to be an effective missionary. It takes a lot of study to be able to give someone specific reading from the Book of Mormon that will help them with any problem under the sun so they can start to understand that the book doesn't just prove the validity of modern prophets and the restoration of the Gospel of Christ through Joseph Smith, it has a real, profound impact on our struggles. If they all wanted to study and pray to God they could find that on their own,  but how do you help someone who's to angry to talk to God, or to guilty to accept his love? Or to disinterested to understand what they are missing? It's been a learning process and I've got a long way to go, but I feel closer to God than ever and I've been amazed by my experiences.

Saturday was really, really rough, but I did have a powerful experience that I'd like to really briefly share. Sorry non-Mormon listeners this is most of my life...

I was exhausted and felt like a failure because I just can't teach the way I need to, with empathy, understanding, clarity, and love, all of which can invite the spirit to testify of these things, in Spanish. But I got to dinner and said a silent prayer before I started eating, just like normal, and I just felt this warm feeling like arms around me. It was like I had just gotten home and told my Dad about a hard day, but it was from a different Father in a different place, who was glad I was trying, and was willing to uplift my sorry little self in my quiet little need. God lives.

Talk to you all next week! I'll try and get some letters out!

Elder Wadman

September 3, 2014

[Note: items in blue brackets have been added for clarification]

It's good to hear from you! I'll do my best to get your questions answered.
No one in my district is going to Xalapa. In fact up until yesterday I was under the impression I was the only person at the MTC [Missionary Training Center] going to Xalapa, but one of the Elders on the consulate trip thought the same thing, so we'll likely be companions as we seem to be the only people headed to Xalapa on the 29th. I may be leaving two days early, not sure yet.
There's one other companionship of elders in my district, but they're in a group of three. I may be able to send you a picture later today if I get it from other members of the district.
Elder Funke (Funky) is our District Leader. He wrestled in high school, loved to hunt, and came out right after he graduated. He's also shorter than me. HAH! He was a little distracted and crazy the first few days, and I maybe made some angry comments to that effect, but he owned up to them after a few days and said he needed to be better. That was a huge change that really helped the district overall. He's a funny guy who sometimes gets stuck in that "I can't stop laughing" kind of phase, but he's a lot of fun. He apparently dealt with a lot of anxiety problems before he came while he was growing up, but he says the gospel has really helped him have them all under control. He (and the rest of his companions) is going to Tampico, where literally people are emigrating because its so violent. Have fun!!!
Elder Pastrana really likes talking to girls but had some brothers he didn't get along with so he has a hard time with the guys here. We're supportive as much as we can be but he's really become more and more introverted, we're praying for him and hoping to turn things around though. He was supposed to be in the beginning class apparently so he's really struggling to understand what is happening in our class most of the time. he's right out of high school.
Elder Gochnour (gok-ner) is a super funny, super tall guy. Before he came out on his mission he had hair past his shoulders and he talks kind of like a hippy, but he makes us all laugh and has really improved his spanish since he got here. He's done a year of a civil engineering program at UVU. Or one of those Utah schools...
The two sisters are going to Panama.
Sister Reeves graduated from college and taught math for a year, then decided to go out on a mission. She's from Arab (Ay-rab) Alabama, the birthplace of the KKK. She went to school and I think teaches in Huntsville, so she knows Cyndie (Hannah's brothers wife) which is kinda fun. She sometimes gets annoyed with all these silly kids she's dealing with, but we got her some time to talk to the branch president and she seems to be doing better.
Sister Smith did a year at CSU or SCU or something in Colorado doing equestrian science and wants to be a nurse. She's literally just Haley from Michelangelo with slightly darker hair and no alcohol. She's pretty fun but tends to randomly stop working and ask us about our life stories.
Elder Seely is from Washington, a place called Maple Valley near Seattle.
The weather is nice, though it's kinda cold in the mornings. I wear my sweater some days.
The visit to the consulate was really uneventful but it means my visa should be here with no problems in a few weeks. Lots of time sitting in trains though!
Spanish is going better though it's really a long learning process. I'm doing my best to get through the Book of Mormon though. I had read through 1 Nephi in Spanish before I came, right now I'm in Mosiah. I'm hoping to finish in Spanish before I leave the MTC.
I've just been writing in margins with my pen and marking things. That's what I usually do anyway. I could pick up some colors at the bookstore though, and maybe I will, but right now I'm reading to learn Spanish and keeping notes of scriptural answers to questions, so that's not really what I need them for.
My laundry bag is starting to tear at the seam where the cord is attached, but the fabric is pretty tough. I might need another one though. I don't know that I need much else though.
I think that would really help. I don't know that I can upload pictures right now, so a USB chord would be great.
Elder Wadman
From Left to Right
Elder Seely, Elder Wadman, Elder Gochnour, Elder Funke, Elder Pastrana, Hermana Smith, Hermana Reeves

August 24, 2014 #2

[Note: items in blue brackets have been added for clarification]

The sleeping schedule is really easy actually. For whatever reason it's just not an issue. We got up at 6:15 to do laundry before I emailed you this morning, and I was up and about and fine. I went to the temple a few hours ago, that was really great. My companions name is Elder Seely and I said a bit about him in the letter, but that was a while ago. He's great, we both break into random harmonized hymns all the time and we think the same things half the time and both work hard in the language and in being obedient. We get along really well and we have a lot of the same priorities. He just finished his first year at BYU and now he's just down the road, so it's a little bit weird for him. We both talked a lot about the temple after we were in the Celestial Room [of the temple], and that was really cool too. He abandoned me in the laundry place on accident, but I guess I can forgive him.
Church was pretty cool. I like my Branch President, but the entire presidency is going to be gone for the rest of the week so we have replacement people for a little bit. It's so cool though because they just barely know us but we can feel the love of the presidency and their wives almost immediately. I passed the sacrament on Sunday to our little branch of 40 missionaries and random missionaries got called to give 3 minute talks in Spanish on faith, I didn't get called, but of course I was ready! I'm stopping by the Mexican consulate next Tuesday to tell them where I'm going and why I'll be there and all that stuff, so that will be fun.
I'm learning a lot about Spanish but we've also been focusing on the missionary purpose and the importance of understanding investigators individually. Most of the scripture knowledge is stuff we pick up in our own personal study.
Basically, I have 3 blocks of class every day and it feels like we're always going to a meal. One of the blocks we have a teacher, one we have study time (personal, companion, language) and one of them we teach an investigator and do some of the other work we have to do to keep up with all of our commitments to memorize things and do pre-work for Spanish lessons. It's kinda crazy the first few days because they give you stuff to do and no time to do it, but now we have study time so that's probably good.
Still have to work out the picture thing, I'll try to get some to you next week. I only have one so far anyway so I'll get on that.
Elder Wadman
Elder Seely - Caught in the rain

August 24, 2014 #1

[Note: items in blue brackets have been added for clarification]

I hope you get the letter I sent sometime soon! I put it in the Mail Monday morning, and then Tuesday evening I'm getting all these threats about you calling the MTC [Missionary Training Center]. I don't have P-days [Preparation day] until Wednesday, so I didn't get one last week! Things have been going well here, I'm getting along well with the district and we're teaching our "investigator" in Spanish most days. He told us that he wanted to be baptized after our second lesson, but still had some concerns and questions. I understand him pretty well and he knows what we are saying to him, but there are a lot of things that we don't know how to say or say kind of badly. It's been a long time since I've done all of these conjugations, so that's been crazy!

I really appreciate all of the letters I've been getting! It's great to hear from you. I don't know if I told you about Elder Bednar's talk in the letter I sent, but I don't think I did. He wasn't here, don't worry it wasn't that crazy, but we watched a video of a talk he gave here last Christmas (or whenever it was that Christmas fell on a Sunday....) anyway it was a wonderful talk about the "Character of Christ" and the way that in every situation he turned out and worried about others, like after he fasted and was tempted by Satan, he didn't actually get ministered to by angels, the Joseph Smith Translation explains that he sent angels to minister unto John the Baptist in prison. His life was full of these sort of examples. Elder Bednar explained that there is a difference between having a testimony of the Gospel and being converted to the gospel. People who are truly converted to the Gospel of Christ never fall away as the personally connect with the character of Christ and follow his example to the best of their ability. People who keep acting like the cookie monster (yes Elder Bednar imitated the cookie monster-- I WANT  BAPTISM NOW!!!) and focus on themselves may have testimonies, but still are dangerously close to falling away from the truth.

I'm doing my email in 2 half hour chunks, so if you respond in the next few hours, I can probably get back to you later today. I love you, I love the letters, and I'm glad things are going well at home.

Elder Wadman