Thank you for the great pictures and the lovely letter. Seems like everything is going well. Kaylie is married now, holy cow! I am really not surprised though. I wish I could have talked to Isaac, because it sounds like he had a great time and more information than I do about our visas. I am sure that we will talk a lot when I get back and it will all be in Mongolian! Also, my district appreciated the fun monotony breaking games you sent, but I think we need to switch up the rules a little bit and apply them to our purpose if we are to play them. We are still fine-tuning 'Thumb Wars' and 'Box The Dots'. Hopefully they will soon be veritable power tools of learning Mongolian and the gospel!
To answer some of your questions:
The longest stay in the MTC for a district with visa difficulties is 16 weeks. For those of you keeping score at home this is week 15 for me. The record may be broken this week, but I do not have much hope on staying because of this next piece of groundbreaking news.
Our branch president (basically the bishop of our zone) talked directly with the MTC President and requested temporary reassignment for us four lone warriors. Selfishly I wanted to stay here and keep improving my language and teaching skills in a safe and conducive environment, but I know that our time to work has come. So, I will call you when we find out where they are sending us to wait. We further information save that it SHOULD be by the end of this week, but with this whole situation... Who knows!
One other note related to my eventual travel to the independent country of Mongolia, and this made my Saturday long and slightly discouraging, 5 missionaries, including a senior couple had to leave Mongolia because of political incidents. Isaac was right about the new democratic party taking office, but in this time of transition the old Communist party still has a heavy hand in the government. Unfortunately some pictures were illegally taken of elders passing the sacrament (which is legal as long as it is performed in the church building, which it was) and the immigration office decided that this was a form of proselyting, so they are spread from Oakland to Washington D.C. permanently. I am really sad about that and I wish that they could have my place, seeing as they are immensely better at the language than me and undoubtedly all around better people that I am.
That being said, my district's chances and prospects of serving the majority of our mission in Mongolia is probable and very hopeful. I am looking forward to the opportunity and the only suppressant of my exultant jubilation is the unknown.
This week I was very blessed to feel sustained by the graceful hand of the Almighty God. I was way tired Friday and Saturday and didn't think I could focus or stay awake much longer, and especially going to bed, I really dreaded the thought of the alarm going off at 6:28. I was amazed at how fully the Lord lifted me, and as I remained obedient and diligent I was granted strength and optimism. The days and weeks have flown and I cannot wait to get into the field, any field, to further the Lord's great work that He has called me to. I will go where He wants me to go.
Jenny Oaks Baker, the daughter of Elder Dallin H. Oaks, presented a message to us on Sunday. She was the first chair in the national symphony for 7 years and she can play a violin!! My favorite part was her four children, the oldest daughter (10) played the violin, her second oldest daughter (9) was on the piano her youngest daughter (7) supported the cello and her son (5) strummed the acoustic guitar. They played I am a Child of God. I am willing to excuse the 5 year old for vainly trying to not giggle when he saw himself on the huge monitor in front of 2,000 missionaries. I even forgive the youngest daughter for scratching her nose when the camera was on her. I was so impressed with the youthful quartet that I went up to the boy afterwards and told him he did a great job, and extended a hand of congratulations. As I left my hand in front of him as an invitation to be accepted he refused to even look up from his doodles and did not even acknowledge my token of friendship! He was better at the guitar at age 5 then I perhaps ever will be at anything in my whole life, but I taken aback at the focus and dedication he was giving his doodles. I noticed him reject the incoming distractions of several "friendly" elders and sisters as he unwaveringly set about to accomplish his task at hand. This young, future missionary taught me the meaning of perseverance and complete mental orientation to a purpose and goal.
I know that Christ also did not stray from his course of achieving perfection and accomplishing His divine purpose. My purpose is to invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost and enduring to the end. I need to not let temptations or laziness get in the way of my straight and narrow path of discipleship and missionary work. The adversary is trying desperately to blow me hither and thither like chaff in a whirlwind, but as I saw this week Christ: His example and power, will overcome all challenges and trials. May we all put our trust in Him and never forget our mission on this earth. I love being a full-time servant of Christ and learning about His gospel so that I can have a firm foundation in my life and help me stay in the light as I live the right way and do the right things. I know that wherever I am sent, it will be where the Lord needs me and where those people need me. I will keep you updated.
Also if you could send me a high school ID card or some form of photo ID, that would be expedient, in case I must needs travel by plane to reach my stateside mission field. Seeing as I only have an invalid drivers licence I would appreciate back up. Thanks! Oh, and can you send me hard copies of pictures of our chickens, garden, and maybe something funny to show Mongolians, that would be wonderful, because they love pictures!