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Monthly Archives: April 2011

SURPRISE: MTC Lows and Highs

Bahn-jurr!

The MTC hates us or something.

They decided to change the schedules yesterday so now everything’s different. We were just getting the hang of everything and now we have to completely readjust. It’s really confusing and I don’t quite have the schedule down yet but these are the changes (as far as I can tell): Earlier gym and service, no more companion study, no more tutors, shorter meals. We also have a thing called TRC where we go in and teach a member. That was usually on Wednesdays but now it looks like it’s on Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday. And now P-Days are on Tuesdays which is why I’m writing today!

And for some reason they’ve decided to close down half of the cafeteria so there are less tables to eat at and way less lines. In fact, now there are only two lines that they try to feed everyone through. Dinner was pretty bad last night. We were in line for nearly a half hour trying to get our food. They kept running out of food. And then by the time we got our food we only had like ten minutes to eat.

The worst thing that’s happened so far is that our zone has shriveled down to nothing! Most of the missionaries in our zone left yesterday! They’re all on the Ivory Coast, in Geneva or in Paris right now. That’s kind of a weird thought… The missionaries in Paris are probably eating dinner right now…

Anyway, it stinks that they’re all gone. Our zone used to be HUGE and now we only have three districts (one of which is super small). We get seven new missionaries tomorrow to replace them–it won’t be anything like what it used to be! We felt so lonely last night. We usually go and talk to some of the other missionaries but they aren’t around anymore. It’s kind of sad. :( Oh well, we’re hoping these new missionaries are pretty awesome. I’m sure they will be! We should be getting two today, actually. One is from Canada and the other is from French Polynesia, I think.

Also, my companion, Elder Hunter, broke his nose playing Basketball. Also, Elder Cushing broke his hand a couple weeks back (I don’t know if I mentioned that before). Anyway, we went to the hospital yesterday to get the nose checked out. I guess it magically healed itself so he’s fine! Annnnd we got to go OFF THE MTC to go to the hospital so that was nice. ;)

So those are the lows the of the MTC. This place is still awesome but I have to admit that it’s kind of annoying that they would go ahead and change the schedules on us like that. And also the meals situation. But oh well!

There have been some highs here at the MTC too, mainly SUGAR HIGHS. I got SO. MUCH. stuff for Easter. Thank you, everyone, who sent stuff over! I have so much candy and sweets in my room, it’s crazy. I don’t know if I’ll be able to finish it all. I do my best to share but a lot of other people got loads of candy too so they don’t want mine haha. I think I might have gotten the most, though. My district was pretty surprised last Friday when I got like three or four packages in one day. It’s great to know that I have so much support back home! Seriously, it means a lot that some of you have sent me letters, cards and packages! :)

Anyway, I see Ryan almost every day which is cool. Erik Hansen is here too so I ususallly say hi to him. I think he is going to Argentina but I don’t remember. Also, Travis should be coming May 5th/4th so that’ll be cool! There are so many people here from Mesa — mostly Mountain View. And Elder Cushing is from Kansas but was born October 30th 1991 in Mesa! (Just like Saul)

There are good guys in my zone. The Lord has some great missionaries getting ready to leave. We had a our own testimony meeting in one of the rooms a couple nights ago. It was something the Elders did on their own — it was cool. I can tell that they all love the gospel a lot.

Sunday, we had a great devotional speaker. Stephen B. Allen, the Managing Director of the Missionary Department, came to speak to us that night. He majored in Communications and produced the LDS Homefront commercials. We got to watch them and they were hilarious! They also had some great tag lines. Here are some of my favorite.

– When everything says you can’t, believe in the part that says you can.
– It’s not who you aren’t, it’s who you are. And being yourself is great.
– It’s often life’s small moments that bring the greatest memories. Don’t let the magic pass you by.
– The people in your heart can’t hear what’s in your heart… If you love them, let them know it everyday.
– Whatever you do in life, just do your best.

I think I’ll make the last one the motto for my mission! :)

So, yeah, even though it didn’t feel like Easter, it was a pretty nice Sunday. In fact, a missionary from Hungary played a Vivaldi song on the organ before he got up to speak. When he was done, Elder Allen asked him if he knew how to play a different song (I don’t remember its name). The kid did and got back up on the organ and started playing the craziest, fastest, most INSANE song ever: all with his feet. When he was done, everyone stood up from their seats and applauded like crazy. Of course, you’re not usually supposed to applaud in meetings and stuff like that, but it would have just been wrong not to. I’m pretty sure even the MTC Presidency was applauding. That kid had talent!! It was awesome! :)

Anyway, that’s pretty much the jist of everything that’s gone on in the last few days. I hope everyone’s doing well! Feel free to write! :D

Add-ee-ohss,
Elder Marquez

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Posted by on April 27, 2011 in MTC

 

An Apostle of the Lord

Once again SO MUCH happened this week–but I’m only going to have time to write about one particular event. Although this event is a pretty cool one so you should definitely read on. :)

Sunday and Tuesday nights the MTC has devotionals. Tuesday nights are supposedly the best because that’s the day they have general authorities come in to speak to us. We were hoping for an apostle or someone cool like that but some of the missionaries who have been here longer than us said that an apostle hadn’t come since January. They had yet to see one and this week would be their last chance.

Well, we decided to line up for the devotional early so we could get good seats, just in case. We were originally going to go down around 6:30 (it was going to start at 7) when we saw some of the missionaries from our zone heading down there around 5:45. They told us that the line started that early so we decided to go! When we got there, our entire zone was already crowded at the front of the door. Us “Frenchies” waited there at the front. Some of the Mexican missionaries weren’t too happy that we had it barricaded ha ha. But it was all good and we had loads of fun. We sung primary songs as we waited. It sort of reminded me of all those fun times we waited in lines to go see movies.

After a little less than an hour, they finally let us in.

We got seats near the front, a little off to the side. We were maybe five rows back and I had a perfect view of the podium. A couple elders and I started speculating about who might be speaking that night. They said Richard G. Scott but they seemed to be joking about it. We threw out more names like President Monson and Jesus and Me. And Jesus again. We were doing that when one of the presidency of the MTC stood up and told us that when an apostle or the President of the Church enters a room, we’re supposed to stand up.

Well, everyone started talking like crazy after that! Now everyone was speculating who might be coming. We didn’t get much of a chance to talk too much, though, because they started making us sing hymns. We sang a few of them when we got to I Am A Child of God. After finishing a verse, everyone stood up as Elder Richard G. Scott, one of the apostles of the Lord, walked onto the podium. We recognized him immediately because we were in the front, but some of the others missionaries in the back couldn’t see him. When they displayed his picture on some of the screens and projectors they have in the room, there was like this slight collective gasp from behind us.

They sat us back down and we finished singing I Am a Child of God. The choir did an opening song and then Elder Scott stood up to address us.

He told us that he would normally shake all of our hands–however he said he wouldn’t get to do that that night. Instead, he reached his arms out and gave us a “virtual hug.” It was pretty funny and everyone was laughing. Not many people can say they virtually hugged an apostle haha.

He finally started his talk. He began speaking about the Spirit and how it was so necessary to have as a missionary. He told us about his experience as a missionary. He found that the best times he could feel the Spirit was when he could find a quiet place to be alone and pray. He then talked a lot about prayers and weaknesses. He told us that weaknesses allow us to be humble. Being humble allows us to be taught by the Spirit.

And then he did something amazing.

Elder Scott gave us an Apostolic Blessing. He told us that he would bless all of us with the Gift of Tongues. It was simple but powerful. He raised his right hand in the air and said something along the lines of “I confer the Gift of Tongues.” It was amazing. I’m not sure how to describe it. Our Branch President spoke with us after the meeting and told us about the power of an apostolic blessing and how we should truly appreciate and take advantage of what had just happened.

And while that was so cool and amazing, I think the best part came afterwards. When Elder Scott had finished what he prepared–when we stopped talking off of a script–he gave us his testimony.

He said if there was one thing we remembered from that night, it should be his testimony. As he gave it, the Spirit was so strong. There’s no way anyone who was present couldn’t have felt it–known that his words were true. I’ve only felt the Spirit so strongly only a few times before. I don’t know how to describe it–I don’t think words can accurately describe it. I just felt like a warm blanket had been draped over my heart.

I was copying his words down as fast a possible and got most of it down. It was so powerful as he walked off the stage and waved to us one last time before he was out the doors, the entire time his testimony running through the back of my mind.

“Remember that a humble individual, weak and with all kinds of debilitating efforts in his struggle to serve the Lord, but who holds the keys of the apostleship, declared that Jesus Christ is a glorified, resurrected being of perfect love. He loves you and He will strengthen you… I know that he lives. I bear that humble witness with every cell and fiber of my body because it is true. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.”

 
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Posted by on April 22, 2011 in MTC

 

In One Day: Provo, San Francisco, Vegas and Salt Lake!

SO MUCH has happened this week. There’s no possible way I can fit it all into one email–especially considering that I only have twenty minutes left to write. So I’ll just go over the largest event of the week: Our trip to San Francisco.

We had to wake up extremely early in the morning. Normally we wake up around six but on Tuesday we had to wake up at four. We were at the MTC Travel Office by five and on the way to the airport by 5:30. One of the sister missionaries accompanied us because she’s also serving in France. She was in charge of the group because she was the oldest. We were basically all on our own–it was cool! It was also interesting because we were heading to the airport with all the elders who were just leaving the MTC to enter the field. I guess we got an early preview of what it’ll be like in about eight weeks!

Anyway, our plane left a couple hours later. We were flying Delta (in a super small plane!) so we had assigned seating. Before we left, some of the sister missionaries gave us Book of Mormons to try and place during our trip. I had one of them and so I kept hoping to give it to someone. Well, the guy I was sitting next to had his iPad out the entire time and his earphones over his ears. He pretty much ignored me the entire time. He was watching The Fighter the entire time. When the pilot announced that we were descending, he finally decided to take off his earphones–that’s when I got to speak to him. He asked about my mission and then mentioned that he had gone on one to Nicaragua. He didn’t say much about it, though, other than that it was “cool.”

When we arrived in San Francisco, we got picked up by a chauffeur who I guess has been driving the French missionaries around San Francisco for years. He took us straight to the French consulate where we had to hand them over our visa papers and passports. They filled them out, got our fingerprints, took our picture and then sent us on our way. They kept our passports and paperwork so it sounds like they’ll be processing it all and then sending the visas to the MTC Travel Office.

After we finished there, out driver took us to Pier 39 to get lunch. It was a weird experience. A huge group of Mormon Missionaries in San Francisco = a lot of angry stares. All the attention was on us. Some of us found it funny that people seem to think we can’t hear them talking about us when we’re about five feet away. Either way, we ignored them and headed off to a pizza place. (Pam–if you’re reading this, I totally saw a sign that said SAUSALITO!!! hahaha). When we were done at Pier 39, we headed over to the Golden Gate Bridge where we took loads of pictures! It was so much fun! :D

We then rushed back to the airport to catch our plane. We had a layover in Las Vegas. (San Francisco and Las Vegas… the two worst places a Mormon missionary could be in? haha)

The Las Vegas airport was funny because they have slot machines IN THe AIRPORT. It’s pretty ridiculous, really. I guess some people just can’t wait.

Anyway, I was going to pick up some postcards from Las Vegas but then I got really really sick suddenly. It pretty much ruined my whole day. Thankfully, one of the elders was able to find some medicine so I took that and started feeling better.

Something cool did happen while we were at the LV airport, though. A memebr from the church (I think her name was Sister Bollinger) got all of our mom’s numbers and called them up for us. We couldn’t talk to our moms but she did for us! She let them know we were doing alright (well, i wasn’t at the moment, to be honest–haha) and that we were on our way back to Provo.

From there we hopped on the plane and flew to Salt Lake. It was raining when we got back (YES!) and so the day ended pretty well.

It was a crazy day! haha. Unfortunately, I never did get around to placing that Book of Mormon. The other guys I sat next to on my second flight didn’t want to talk after I broguht up the church and my third flight I ended up sitting next to one of the other elders. :( I’ll pass it on to the next set of missionaries who go to SF.

I can’t type much because I’m just about out of time but here’s a few things I wanna share from this week really really quick:

– BYU Men’s Choir came Sunday night. They were AWESOME and so much fun!
– We taught a mock investigator everyday up until yesterday–in FRENCH. it was very cool. he’s now our teachers.
– The French is coming along. Unfortunately, I feel I’m forgetting some Spanish. However, a few other French missionaries speak Spanish too so I like to talk with them!

And I got asked this a lot. The other elders in my district are from:
– Elder Hunter, Paradise, California
– Elder Russo, St. Louis, Missouri
– Elder Zollinger, Bountiful, Utah
– Elder Cushing, Kansas
– Elder Cheel, Oregon but originally Taiwan
– Elder Turnbow, Tampa, Florida
– Elder Jensen, Queen Creek!

Hope you’re all doing well! Write me! :)

~ Elder Marquez

P.S. – They’ve figured out I like Harry Potter
P.P.S. – Someone send me an ELDER WAND so I can complete my full “Elder” experience.
P.P.P.S. – The sister missionaries like Harry Potter too. :)

 
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Posted by on April 15, 2011 in MTC, Uncategorized

 

IT SNOWS IN UTAH!!!

I feel like the I didn’t explain to a lot of my non-member friends that I’m not going to be in France until June. So for anyone who doesn’t know, for the first two months, I’m in Provo, Utah, preparing for France by learning the language and getting more familiar with the Gospel. I don’t know the exact date of when I’m leaving to France yet. We got a sheet with the departure date but it said April 12 (haha)! But it sounds like it’ll be June 6 or 7.

Anyway–It’s snowing! The last few days here at the MTC have been awesome because it’s been either raining or snowing. It’s awesome. My companion is Elder Samuel Hunter. He’s really good guy. He’s fun to be around but he’s also serious about getting missionary work done. He also took four years of French in High School so he’s been helping me out loads with learning the language. The district is really cool too. I share my room with Elder Hunter as well as Elder Russo and Elder Cheel. Elder Hunter, Cheel and I are all going to the France Paris mission. Elder Russo will be serving in Toulouse (I hope I spelled that right). Elder Cheel is serving a Mandarin speaking mission in Paris. It’s awesome because he walks around with two name tags: one in French and one in Mandarin. He provides most of the laughs in the district too. He’s like a human iPod. He’ll sing a song and do all the beats with it too. The other guys in our district are Elder Turnbow, Elder Zollinger, Elder Cushing and Elder Jensen. Elder Jensen was in my mission prep class back in Queen Creek! It’s pretty cool that we’re both in the same distrcit now. All of those other guys will be serving in the Geneva mission.

I also saw Elder Ryan Garrison! Aside from the host missionary who helped me with my bags when I arrived at the MTC, Ryan was the first missionary I saw. I walked onto campus and he was there with his companion it was awesome. I’ve seen him once since in the cafeteria. He also left me a creeper note. We got a bag with books and stuff and I found a note from Ryan in there! Some of the other Elders got notes from their friends too.

Everyone in the district, except for me and Elder Cheel, has experience in the French language. Thankfully, my Spanish education is kiciking in TREMENDOUSLY. Yesterday we had to teach an investigator in French. Elder Hunter and I prepared a script and used that to guide us through the discussion. To my surprise, I understood almost everything I was reading and almost everything that our investigator was saying. We also have to prepare talks in French. The Branch President will pick random missionaries to give the talk during Sacrament meeting this Sunday. And yeah, it has to be in French. I’m still preparing mine, but I’m surprised because I’m finding it easy to construct sentences. What takes the most time is looking up every other word in the dictionary. But it’s coming–I can see it. It’ll get there eventually. :)

Also–We’re going to SAN FRANCISCO! We’re hopping on a plan Tuesday morning to visit the French Consolate to get our visas. We’ll have lunch there and then fly back the same day. I know it’s not really anything special but for some reason I’m excited for it (haha).

I’m having lots of fun here but I’m working hard. We’re meeting with our investigator again later today so Elder Hunter and I have been preparing our lesson. And I’m doing the best I can in studying French.

Also–Elder Cheel wants me to let everyone know that he brought lipstick. And he really did. The other night he brought out lipstick to kiss his letters home–hahaha.

I hope everyone is doing well. I don’t think it’s hit me yet that I’m not seeing anyone for two years. I feel like I hardly have time to think about that. They put us to work right away. French class is pretty intense. Our teacher, Sister Mumford, hasn’t gone over the basics of the language yet. She just dived right in by making us teach, sing, pray and testify in French. But I’m learning!

I got Sister York’s letter. Thank you so much! And I also got your letter, Mom. Thanks for the encouragment. It means so much.

I hope you’re all doing well. Write me! I hope to send out a few more letters soon! :D

~ Elder Smarquez

 
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Posted by on April 9, 2011 in MTC