Max with MTC District.

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Max with MTC District.

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Max’s First E-mail!!

Hello family and friends!

   This has been an amazing experience first off! The time has just flown by and I love the MTC! It is basically a missionary factory here! So right after you guys dropped me off they took me away and put me through this orientation. It was just a blur! People were handing me things and talking to me and it was a really fast assembly line. Since then we have just been studying Spanish and learning about the gospel and how to teach. Every day we have so much to do and get done. The first two days were a little overwhelming. I was in shock! They were teaching us so much and giving us tons of assignments. To top it all off it was all in Spanish! They threw you right into the language. The language has been relatively easy for me. They want to move to one of the intermediate or advanced classes, but that would mean I would have to leave my companion, room, district and everything. I have prayed and talked to my branch president (who is so awesome and we have a lot in common) and he told me he thinks it would be better if I stayed in my class right now. I decided not to move up.

 

 My companion is a really hard worker! I like him a lot. He is from West Valley, Utah. His name is Travis Roberts (Elder Roberts) He has a girlfriend and loves music. We have a great relationship. He is not very good at Spanish though, hahaha. On the third day we were here we got to teach an investigator (actually a member actor) and we had to do it in Spanish. The investigator was from Mexico and investigating the church. It was insane! We have taught him 5 times now and yesterday he accepted baptism! It felt so good! I was practically jumping out of my seat when he said “si”. It was not easy though. There were many times when he did not know what we were saying and we did not know what he was saying. We probably sounded like 2 year olds but that’s why the spirit is the converter. It was funny when he would talk for a while and we did not know what he was saying and I would look at my companion and say “you got this one elder.” Too bad he would look back at me while laughing and say “no comprendo” – hahahaha.

 

 It has been such a great experience though. It really does humble you. I can not wait to be fluent. I have felt the spirit soooooo much. There are so many amazing speakers and teachers and other missionaries that I can learn from. My district is really cool! There are 6 companionships in my district. One elder from St. George is the class clown of our district. He tells us so many stories about his funny life and we all die laughing. I have become good friends with some of the other guys and love playing basketball at gym time with them! Gym is so awesome. It feels so great to run around and yell and just relax your mind. I am getting really good at basketball so you better watch out “Chip” (Nic). One guy actually is going to play basketball at BYU when he gets back. His name is Elder Smith. He is like 6’6″ and can “throw down”. Everyone wants him on their team. My stomach is pretty messed up from the Cannon Center food – haha. I loved the Dear Elder candy package but I would love some power bars or healthy foods!. I love getting letters and reading them at night. Tell everyone to send letters! I miss you guys a lot! Write me letters not emails. I don’t have a lot of time on the computer but I have a lot of time to read letters.

It is so crowded here! This is the time of year when the MTC is most full. There is something like 3000 missionaries in here. I have run into so many people . . .  a whole bunch of friends from school and many others. I have talked to Jacob a lot, and Steven Dougherty. There are 4 people to a room. We sleep in bunk beds. The rooms are like dorm rooms and the bathroom is like at Helaman Halls. I only have time to write and email on P-Day. Also it is the only time I am allowed to. So we have our dorm room, which is where we sleep and a classroom where we live. It is  on the fifth floor of this building which is great because we have amazing views of the mountains and BYU campus.

 

 I have accomplished so much and learned how much you can actually do if you spend your time wisely. I want to write you all every day because there is so much I have to say!!!!!!! I love you all and miss you. Spiritual thought: We are given authority from our calling, but we can only attain power through obedience. Christ is the ultimate example of humility which means he has attained ultimate power in his teaching. We must “walk even as he walked”. We need to follow Christ’s example in every way. I love you all and with talk to you next week!!!!

Max’s Farewell Talk

Thank you friends and family for coming. I pray the spirit will be with me and that all of you will be able to learn something from my talk.  

Brothers and sisters, as many of you know, I will be entering the MTC on Wednesday and 6 weeks later I will be headed to Santiago, Chile. So many emotions and memories have been swirling through my head the past couple weeks as you can imagine. It is still so weird to me that I will be living on the other side of the world! When I got my mission call and I read that I was called to labor in Chile it blew my mind! I knew where chile was roughly, but thats about it! Since then I have read a little more about it and learned that it is not where the restaurant Chili’s was started. The national anthem is not Dani California. The weather is only chilly in the southern part for about half the year and the national dish is not Chili. Since my mission call I have also had the opportunity to think of the many amazing experiences I have had in my life and how they have built my testimony and brought me to the desire to give up two years of my life to teach the true gospel. I know that the Book of Mormon is true and the gospel contained in it will bring peace and happiness to your life in a way that nothing else can! 

 

      Seven years ago in deacons quorum we worked on memorizing Doctrine and Covenants section 4. I ended up memorizing it, but not until recently have I realized the truth of its words. As a missionary I am asked to give 2 years of my life in the service of God. Doctrine and Covenants section 4 verse two states: 

Therefore, O ye that embark in the service of God, see that ye serve him with all your heart, might, mind and strength, that ye may stand blameless before God at the last day. (D&C 4:2)

I am one that is embarking in the service of God, therefore (as the scripture says) I must serve him with all of my heart, might, mind and strength. And since God has commanded us to serve Him with all our heart, might, mind, and strength, Satan is going to make it hard for us to keep this commandment. Throughout my life I have experienced the truth of this principle and I know that if we push through the storms that Satan throws at us, serving God with all of our heart, might, mind and strength, we will be blessed. 

My grandmother passed away on Wednesday November 10, 2010. That Friday night I had the biggest game of my high school football career. We were playing Irvine High School, our biggest rival. The team that won the game would advance to the playoffs and the other team’s season would be over. Our team had not been to the playoffs in many years and we had not beaten Irvine in many years either. As a team we had worked hard together for four years to bring us to this point. I had worked very hard all of the off season and prayed and prayed that my team would be successful. There was a lot of pressure on me and the team to win and with my Grandma’s passing it added a new obstacle. My grandmother’s death tested the hearts of my whole family greatly, but especially my mom because it was her mother that passed away. As we were in our pre-game meetings I made the decision that I was going to play the game for my mom and grandma. I wrote my Grandma’s name on my wrist tape. The game definitely tested all of my might and strength. On offense the ball was in my hands on pretty much every play and I also played defense. The game went right down to the last seconds and we ended up winning! I have watched the recorded game film many times since then and on so many different plays I saw the Lord’s hand in helping us win. (Im not saying that it was a miracle we won. We worked hard and played well, but at certain crucial points in the game everything was in our favor). For example, on our last drive we ran a play and I threw the ball to one of our receivers. The ball tipped off his hands only to land in the arms of one of the opposing team’s players! As the player started to return the interception, he was hit by my good friend Mark Tatomir and he fumbled! We ended up recovering the ball! The next play, with about four seconds left, we scored a touchdown and converted the 2 point conversion to win! I know that the Lord blessed me with success because I put all of my heart, might, mind and strength into winning that game for my mother and grandmother. After the game I met up with my family on the field and I showed my mom my wrist tape. She started to cry tears of joy and said she knew that my grandmother was watching. My mom needed a win that week and Heavenly Father blessed me and her with success and happiness. During this experience all of my heart, might, mind, and strength were tested and because of my efforts my mother was blessed with her spirit lifted a little bit.     

Another amazing experience I had recently was receiving my temple endowments. I grew so much spiritually and learned a lot about God’s plan for us as His children. I also learned how much hotter it is wearing two t-shirts rather than one! In 2 Nephi chapter two Jacob teaches us that “there is an opposition in all things.” I received my temple endowments on a Saturday morning and later that evening me and my brother went to the spectrum. We needed to get some presents for my dad for Father’s Day and as me and my brother were looking at the store directory, two young men approached us. One of them asked us some trivia questions and me and my brother knew all the answers. They were impressed and said that no one has ever known all the answers to their riddles, but they didn’t stop their interrogation. Next the young man asked me if I had ever copied off of someone else’s homework during school or cheated even a little bit. I said yes. He then asked me if I had ever looked at a girl and thought she was pretty. I said YES! He then asked me if I had ever told a white lie. I said yes. He then told me that I was a cheater, an adulterer, and a liar. He said that I was destined for Hell. I replied with a puzzled okay, but in my head I was thinking he is probably mad because we stumped him on all of his trivia questions! He then explained that I was a sinner and that I need Jesus Christ to be saved. Me and my brother were asked a few more questions about Jesus Christ and our thoughts on the afterlife. We answered those questions easily because of our many seminary and sunday school classes. {So Bro. Henderson, all those early morning seminary lessons you prepared paid off even though I may have been half asleep}The other young man stepped in and asked if we were Mormon. I thought, Wow this is going to be a great missionary experience! I was going to teach this young man some more things about our beliefs and he would accept baptism! Unfortunately, this was not the young man’s intentions. In fact, he started attacking different points of our doctrine and questioning everything we believe in. My brother and I held pretty well and answered his attacks. As we kept talking I realized that this conversation was going no where! He was not going to budge and neither was I! I told him that I didn’t want to Bible bash and he replied to me with a challenge to go and question my leaders and find for myself what the truth is. After being attacked and having my beliefs ridiculed by him, I got a little fired up! I have had this happen in sports when someone is challenging me, but this was a little different. I caught the missionary fire! I turned it on him and said here is my challenge for you buddy! Read the Book of Mormon and pray and ask God, The Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ; he will manifest the truth unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost (Moroni 10:4). I told him that I knew that if he did what I told him it would work. This experience taught me clearly a lesson I learned in a missionary preparation class at BYU. My professor told us many times that once we decided to serve a mission and were serious about it, Satan would attack us with more strength and with more frequency. He told us that Satan will use everything he has to stop us because we are his greatest opposition on the earth. I know that Satan’s attacks will come, but God will be there to protect us and strengthen us and through our faith we will be able to overcome these storms of opposition.

With the Olympics recently occurring I have thought of an analogy that relates missionaries to the Olympic athletes. The olympics occur every four years and in the time between, athletes train and prepare for their events. Some of these events only last for a matter of seconds (as in the case of a race with Usain Bolt) and in most of these events the difference between first and second place comes down to a few hundredths of a second! Those hundredths of a second seem so small compared to the four years of arduous training and hours and hours of practice. So if you even want to be able to stand with the competition you have to put all of your heart, might, mind and strength into your training for those four years. Missionary preparation is very similar! We have 19 years to prepare for the ultimate competition that will await us on our missions. But unlike the olympics, the competition is in a spiritual realm. I will be competing with Satan for the souls of men. And since their is opposition in all things I will need to be at the top of my game. I will be searching day after day for those “golden” investigators just like those athletes are searching for that gold medal. My mission preparation has been a lot of repetition. I woke up at 6 AM day after day to go to seminary. I went to church every sunday. I had so many lessons in firesides and youth conferences and was taught so many things. Although, when I look back I see that I really was being taught the same things over and over again. Much like olympic athletes, we learn from repetition also. I am so grateful for all of you and everything that each of you have taught me. I have had experiences with many of you where you have taught me key things that have kept me on this course towards leaving for a mission. I know when I get to Chile there will be many things that I was not prepared for, but I know that God will help me overcome those things. 

Going along with learning and preparation I would like to relate a story to you that I learned from one of my co workers at the Newport Beach Temple. Even though everyone I worked with was at least 50 years older than me, my experience in working at the temple was amazing! Since everyone was so old, each of them had many amazing experiences in their lives. One of my co-workers told me a story about his grandpa who was a pilot. His grandpa was a pilot during WW1 and so he had to learn how to fly one of those old school planes. It was the kind of plane with two seats, where one seat was behind the other and both had the ability to control the plane. There was also a propeller on the front. So on his first flight lesson he was sitting in the front seat of the plane and the teacher in the back seat. The teacher flew the plane up to a good cruising altitude and put the plane into a stall. He slapped my co workers grandpa on the back and said “Now fly this baby!” My co-worker said that his grandpa learned how to fly that plane really fast in the next 90 seconds. Although his grandpa had no real life experience in flying planes, he used what he learned in his classroom flight courses to be able to fly the plane. I guess you could say he had to learn on the fly. I know that when I get to Chile I will have to learn a lot on the fly and just use what I know to find a way to keep the plane flying. I know that being thrown into the thick of things will help me learn faster and grow exponentially! This summer I have worked at Z pizza and have experienced this principle of learning by doing. You may think that it would be easy to take somebody’s delivery order over the phone, but you are sorely mistaken. I had no real training on my first couple days of the job. My boss gave me some tips on how to do things, but that was about it. So my first couple experiences of taking peoples orders on the phone were pretty disastrous! The first issue was I needed to get their phone number and address. People would just blurt out their order and think that was that. I would be like woah woah woah hold on. WHERE do you want me to deliver this pizza? Other people would get impatient because I took too long with their orders. They would be like: I want this pizza, but take this this and this off, and ADD this and this, but I only want a little of this, and a lot of that, Oh and can u make the crust gluten free? also make it a little crispy. I want it like medium well to well done. It’s just a pizza for crying out loud!!!!! Not a 50 dollar steak!!!! Through these experiences I truly understood the principle of learning by doing. These experiences have also shown me that we need to rely on the Lord for inspiration and guidance after we put all of our heart might mind and strength into what we are doing.  

Throughout my life I have learned through different experiences how serving with all of your heart might mind and strength can benefit you in the end. Through FOOTBALL I learned how to really put all of my physical might and strength into succeeding. During my experience of being confronted at the SPECTRUM I learned how crucial it is to be knowledgable and be filled with the spirit so that we can serve fully with our minds. After watching the OLYMPICS I could plainly see the good fruits that came from the athletes that trained with all of their heart might minds and strength. I want to carry this principle throughout my mission. I will give all of my heart might mind and strength to serving the people of Chile and serving the Lord. I want to return to my bed every night knowing that I did all I could do. I love all of you and want you to know that I KNOW that the Book of Mormon is the truest of any book on the earth. I KNOW that this gospel will bring you happiness and joy. I KNOW that the structure of the church is set up so that we can be supported and strengthened by our peers. I am excited to serve and know that is the right thing for me to do. IT’S TIME TO GO TO WORK.