Monday, May 23, 2011

Elder Arnold Arrives in Anaheim

Well here I am sitting in a library in Anaheim. It seems a little surreal but I am finally here. Wow! Let me tell you about my crazy first week. When I got to Anaheim we had an orientation for most of the day and then we finally got to meet our trainers. Elder Johnson is my trainer and he is super cool. He has been out for about a year and has already trained 3 times. He is from Orem and went to Orem high but we have never met before. Too bad.

After we finished with all of the instructions, we went out and started working. My area is the Yorba Linda 5th Ward. It is a little bit of a rich area but it is kind of a mix of everything. Anyway when we went out and we had dinner with some members. We get really good dinners almost every night. Then that night we did some tracting. Elder Johnson calls it hide n' seek. They are hiding and we are seeking. The fun thing about tracting is all of the crazy people that you meet. That first night I asked this guy if he believed in prophets and he said, "I am a prophet." Weird.

We have a bunch of investigators in our area. That first night we also went and taught the Ready family and it was interesting to be part of a lesson with real people. They are super awesome and the wife makes us cookies every time we go over. Brother Ready went to a temple tour with us on Saturday and he was very interested. I love sharing the gospel and knowing how much happiness it can bring people.

It was very nice to be able to go to a real ward yesterday for church. In the MTC church was just spread out all day and there were only missionaries. Here we get to interact with real members so that is very cool.

We have an investigator called Dale Coy. His dad and brother were baptized a while ago. He is now 9 and really wants to get baptized. He had to get his mom's permission and she wasn't really wanting to give permission. Then we got the Bishop to call her and he had a really great chat with her and so now he can get baptized. The baptism will most likely be on June 4th. Yay I am so excited for him!

We met a really great lady named Rowena this week. We talked to her at the door and she said we could come back the next week so we will be seeing her on Wednesday. She is going through a hard time because both of her parents have recently passed away. We really feel that the gospel can bless her life and bring peace and happiness. She works in the army and has had to go to Iraq. She is a single mom with two kids who are 15 and 11. I hope our visit with her goes well.

Sad news. My MTC companion Elder Herron got a hair line fracture in his wrist the second day out in the field. He is ok now though. He got a cast and now him and his companion just walk everywhere. It is a bike area and he isn't very good on a bike. He got scared when a car was coming and so he just jumped of his bike. Ouch. I talked to him on Saturday and it seems like he isn't too depressed. So that is good.

I am loving Cali! It is fun to walk the streets as a missionary just like I have seen my whole life. Have a great week!
Elder Matthew Arnold

Tony Wan is the father of a recent convert family. They are super awesome. We went over there to visit and share a message. We left with a whole bunch of food. Sister Pope is super nice and I'm glad that you got to meet her. Everyone is just taking care of me here and it is the best.

I don't need a bicycle as of right now. We will see if I ever get transferred to a bike area. I haven't gotten any paper letters yet. They deliver the mail to us every Thursday. You are just supposed to mail all letters to the Mission Office. They told us to tell you that you shouldn't send anything perishable because they only deliver it once a week. Next week I will bring my camera with me and send some pictures home. I live in an apartment so that is cool.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

ANAHEIM here I come!!!!!

May 14, 2011

Well I am just about done with my MTC stay and I'm excited to get out in the field. I have one more class period tonight and then I am done with class. The time has really flown and I can't believe that it is already my 3rd p-day. When I look at the missionaries in my zone who have just started I remember when I first walked in. I felt like everybody was so old and knew so much. I am now 3 weeks older but I don't really feel experienced I just feel like I am sick of class.

One awesome thing that happened this week was that Elder Neil L. Anderson of the Quorum of the Twelve came and spoke at the Tuesday devotional. He gave a great message about the merits, mercy, and grace of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. It really motivated me to go and teach the gospel. After he was done talking some of the members of my district and I went and stood outside to wave him off as he drove away. There were probably around 100 missionaries waiting to see him. Then Elder Anderson came out and shook all of our hands. He is such a great example of charity and humility. You could feel the Spirit testifying that he is a prophet of God.

Yesterday I watched an old devotional given by Elder Bednar. He talked about becoming a missionary and not just going on a "mission." I have been trying to take that to heart and serve with all my heart, might, mind, and strength. Sometimes it is hard to focus on class all of the time but overall I am learning a lot. One of my teachers told me that this would be the hardest I ever studied in my life. However I feel like I am just in a continuation of school. It is probably a good thing I left so soon after school was over so that I could just keep my study habits.

I am excited to get to call all of you on Tuesday. I am leaving the MTC at five in the morning. Our flight leaves at around 8:40 I think. So expect to call between those times. It is going to be a little strange getting to talk to all of you but it will be refreshing.

The more I think about getting out in the field the more excited I get. Pretty soon I will be knocking on real doors and trying to give people better lives. It has been a little strange teaching my teachers here in the MTC but every time I think about the people of Anaheim I start to get really excited.

ANAHEIM here I come!!!!!!

Love you all and miss you tons,
Elder Matthew Arnold

Monday, May 9, 2011

What's up guys?

Howdy doody. What is up guys? I like saying guys because I can only say Elders nowadays. I hope all is going well outside the MTC prison walls. Haha. When I went for my temple walk last night I was thinking how easy it would be to hitch hike a ride home. It is really strange to walk around outside and know that just a little while ago I was a free man and could go anywhere in Provo. Saying that however, everything is going really great here in the MTC.

This last week we welcomed a new district to our zone. They are all really cool and for some reason they are all really tall. I could see in their eyes that they all felt like we were so old and experienced. Haha it is pretty funny because we have only been here for one week. I remember the feeling though that everyone was so old. It is strange to realize that we are all about the same age.

I am learning loads about teaching the gospel. Even though all of the investigators are fake you still gain a lot of practice from it. It is funny to go to the TRC and to teach people you know are members but they are making up this entire fake past. They also always throw lobs. Meaning that they will ask questions that lead you right to your next point or help you clarify some part of the lesson that you missed.

Last night we had a fireside where the administrative director of the MTC spoke. It was really powerful. He had about ten missionaries come up to the stage that had been baptized in the last two years. Then he asked them lots of questions about their conversion. It showed that what we are learning is what really converts people. Some of them talked about prayer, the Book of Mormon, and the spirit the missionaries brought with them. He talked about how we should teach the lessons in order but that we should show the investigator how each doctrine relates to their life. I have been kind of wondering about how exactly to address the needs of investigators through the lessons so it was a very timely message.

Elder Whelan in my district loves to try and scare the other Elders in my district. However I am somehow immune to his scaring power. His favorite tactic is to hide in your closet and jump out when you open the door. The first time he tried it on me it was at the same time that a member of our branch presidency walked in to our room to check on us. So when I opened the door he just got up out of my closet and walked out because he didn't want to do it in front of Brother Gray. It was really funny to just see him crouching in my closet and then to just get up and walk out. He tried to scare me again last night but I was just grabbing a towel from the top of the shelf and so I didn't really jump at all. I think my nerves have been steeled after all of the scaring we do at home. I am too used to people jumping out at me after using the bathroom or other things to be scared anymore.

I am loving the spirit that comes from being a missionary and talking about the gospel all day. My testimony has been strengthened in the simple concepts of our church. I understand the Restoration of the Church and The Plan of Salvation a whole lot better now. I have realized that I have been prepared my whole life for this opportunity and now I am ready to be a missionary and teach the gospel. The only thing that I still have to work on is just presenting the lessons more clearly and simply and to really connect with the investigators.

I love you all very much. I miss being around every one of you. Happy yester-Mother's Day, Mom!
Elder Matthew Arnold

PS There are eight elders in my district. Six of us are going to Anaheim and the other two are going to Little Rock, Arkansas. You are right that there are no sisters in my district. We didn't even have any in our zone until this last week.

Monday, May 2, 2011

I'm Alive

Hey everybody I am still alive and kicking in the MTC. My companion's name is Elder Herron and he is from Virginia Beach, Virginia. He is a really awesome Elder and we have only had a couple of major fights. Just kidding. MTC life is a little bit crazy because of the strict schedule. However, it is really amazing to be able to study the gospel all day. The principles of the gospel are becoming more and more clear in my mind as I study and learn. We have already started teaching some fake investigators that are acted out by our teachers. I thought at first that I was going to bust out laughing during the lessons but surprisingly enough you stay very focused and can feel the spirit during the lessons. One of the teachers acts as a golden investigator however our other teacher is a little skeptical so she is harder to teach. That is probably more how it is going to be out in the field. Guess what Amy and Ben? One of my teachers is Sister Voyles from the district 2. It is very strange to see her in the videos. Our other teacher is Brother Brown. He is a BYU business student who is very enthusiastic about the gospel and missionary work.

Osama is gone. Crazy! I guess I can't use that as my name at restaurants anymore. Too bad. It is very strange to be cut of from the outside world. Good thing I still get my sports highlights. Thanks Amy! It is kind of funny because when we pick up mail I always have a ton of DearElder letters and it makes the other Elders a little jealous. The sports highlights are usually four pages long. The only Elder who gets more stuff than me is Elder Parry. We have started calling him Elder "Package" Parry because of all the packages he has received from home. He is a really innocent kid from Idaho and he is so hilarious to be around. Thanks Amy for the donut and balloons that really made my day. I talked to Talisa before she left so that is really good and she said that she got the balloon package too and was very thankful for you.

It feels a little bit like home here already. Ryan Chadburn came in this same week and I see him all the time. We have eaten together a couple of times and can hang out in gym. There is also a ton of Elders I know from around Provo that I have run in to so that is cool. When I ran into Leonardo then I really felt like I was at home. I walked away from him with a big smile on my face and just thinking about my family. The other night I was looking at our family picture I have on the desk and Elder Herron said, "Oh I didn't think I had scratched it." I guess that he had knocked it over earlier and was feeling guilty. Haha it was pretty funny because there was no scratch I was just looking closely at my family.

I miss a lot of things from home but am starting to enjoy missionary life. I miss Parks and Rec plus The Office. However, we did get to have movie night yesterday which meant we watched the Testament and it was really good. I guess they realize that the missionaries miss tv so they give us a movie night. Yea! Our district has become really good friends which is really great. We are always pulling pranks on each other like one Elder scared another Elder by popping out of the closet. It was super funny to see his reaction. It is probably not very appropriate for a missionary but o well.

I miss everyone from back home.

I love you all,

Elder Matthew Arnold