Hi, I have Jeremiah’s first official email. I am going to explain a few things for you that are not members of our church. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS) We have and use a few words that may not be familiar to you. So I wanted to try to explain what they mean so you can understand parts of his letter. You might think he is speaking a crazy language but its just organizational type words.
First of all the MTC stands for the Missionary Training Center. All missionaries go there first to receive training to help them teach people about the Savior. Some stay for a short time like Jeremiah but others stay for 6 weeks to learn a new language and the customs of the country they will be going to. There are MTCs all over the world, but Jeremiah went to the one in Provo, UT.
Elder (what we call male missionaries)
Sister (what we call female missionaries)
The missionaries are set up in Districts (group of maybe 12 people)
then a few of districts together are called a Zone. There are missionaries chosen to be District leaders (DL) they are the leaders of the district, and Zone Leaders (ZL) they are in charge of the Zone.
He says Mish meaning missionary or mission
I hope this helps a little, please feel free to ask any questions that you might have about the church or if you don’t understand something.
I added a few things with in the email to try and explain some of his abbreviations.
I just want to start off and say think you to everyone who has sent me letters/packages/cookies/etc. I am SO very grateful to y’all. I am well fed and in good spirits.
Man, so this week has been super crazy. It started off Monday night with no sleep as I was trying to get all of my stuff packed and my room put away. I only got about 20 minutes of sleep, so safe to say that’s when the whole streak of my no sleep began. Tuesday, I flew out of Columbia airport with my dad and a Sister missionary from Lugoff-Elgin who was entering the same day as me. Our flight from Columbia was delayed over an hour which set our whole itinerary off for the day. We got to the ATL airport and the gate for our original flight shut 5 minutes before we got there. So we spent the whole day, 10 hours, in Hartsfield-Jackson getting bumped from flight to flight until we got a spot on the 8:50 flight that night. Thankfully, the sister missionary was able to get on one of the earlier flights and I have seen her a couple times since. Anyways, we got to Aunt Lisa’s house at 12:30 that night and got up at 7 the next morning. Again, not much sleep. That morning, we saw family here in Utah and got some final items I would need then my dad unlocked the doors, slowed down to 10MPH and I jumped out the door and found myself at the MTC. (Missionary Training Center)
One of the first people I saw was Elder Jacob Barnes. I ran and gave him the biggest hug of his life. It’s so nice to have friends here.
That first night was both overwhelming and exhilarating. We got all of our stuff, found our dorm room and immediately sent to orientation, class and then we group taught three investigators. They put you to work quick here, which is good because they keep you so busy that you don’t have time to think about anything else. That night we met all the guys in our district (group of about 12 young men that will stay together for the time at the MTC) got a tour from the zone leaders( 2 young men that are leaders and watch over the group), which is exactly what I would be doing a week later (spoiler.) I met my companion, Elder Rushforth. He’s from Bountiful Utah and we couldn’t be any more different. He’s a quiet, musical guy and he’s super studious. We’re way different, but we work pretty well with one another. I think he gets pretty frustrated with me because I always want to cut up with the rest of the guys and go play sports or something and he wants to sing and study. We have to compromise a lot.
The other guys that are in my room are Elder Wood, Elder Doane, Elder Neubarth and Elder Simkins.
Here’s some profiles:
Elder Wood: Good guy, from Cedar Utah, plays basketball, red hair. (He, Elder Doane and I are basically brothers now). Serving a mission in Boise.
Elder Doane: big goofy Hawaiian kid. I love him to death. Obsessed with dinosaurs. He’s so funny. We pick on him a lot because he’s got a good sense of humor and he gives it all right back. He’s the third brother. Going to Boise
Elder Neubarth: Kinda quiet, from Portland. He’s been giving me all the street knowledge for my mish. (mission) Boise mission.
Elder Simkins: Super buff dude from New Mexico. He is the shyest, quietest one, but when he does say something it’s the funniest thing I’ve ever heard. Fourth member of the Boise boys.
Rest of the guys in my district:
Elder Gittins: District leader, from Sunset Utah. Medium blonde guy. Serving in New Hampshire.
Elder Byers: Big guy from West Jordan. Eats the most food I’ve seen in my life. Has an ice cream with every meal. New Hampshire mish.(mission)
Elder Miller: Big rugby player from Vancouver Washington. Good guy. Going to NH.
Elder Erbe: Super goofy kid from St. George. He’s hilarious. He’s the reason you never drink the OJ. Going to NH.
We met with the Branch Presidency (group of local leaders from church) Thursday night. Rushforth and I got called to be Zone Leaders (ZL) and I’m the senior companion (the older more experienced missionary). I blame it on my mother. I always tease her for being the RS Relief Society) president and I’m eating my words. But being ZL’s has its perks. We get a phone. It only calls the front desk but I still have a phone. I have to give it to Rushforth though or else I keep reaching in my pocket for it. Old habits die hard.
Friday started off nice because we all got locked out of our room in our towels because no one brought a key in the shower. (Learned a lesson that day.) The rest of the day we had class for 6 hours. It’s exhausting.
Saturday: The branch presidency challenged us to read six chapters of the Book of Mormon a day so we can finish it before our first transfer so we had been reading it as a room and as a district. We also had to read the mish (missionary) handbook and 5 pages of Preach My Gospel a day. We also got to go to the gym, which was our saving grace because we had been stuck inside for the past 4 days. It felt good to get to lift weights and row and bike again. Then we taught one of our teachers who acted like an investigator. He keeps falling asleep but it has been going pretty good. We asked him to be baptized and he said he would pray about it. As a district, we have all been wearing the same color tie everyday so we look like a squad. It’s sweet.
Sunday we had church meetings and that night we got a special performance from the Nashville Tribute Band. They were so good. I recommend them to everybody. They were all from Utah but the all had southern accents and played country gospel music and it reminded me of home.!
Monday was our first day teaching a real investigator named Lawanna which was cool but tough because she was on Skype and we couldn’t give her a BOM (Book of Mormon) or pamphlet or anything, but we went to the gym and I felt better. Then I met some sisters going to SC. I told them if they were ever in Lexington that I knew some people that could hook them up. I also saw Henry Thomas and gave him a huge hug. I love that dude. And I got a super sweet care package from the fam with all my favorite stuff. All the guys in my district hate me because I get the most packages and letters. I’m so blessed.
Tuesday was a service day so we cleaned in the morning. Thankfully, we’re only here for one Tuesday so we only have to scrub toilets once. Then we taught Lawanna and our teachers again and they went better. You can definitely feel the different from when you just teach a lesson and when you teach by the spirit. That night Elder Larry Echo Hawk from the 70 (group of men with leadership calling in a certain area) spoke to us and he had a good message about missionary work. I kinda wanted to see if Elder Runia (friends we meet at Hill Cumorah )would speak so I could show off to everybody that I was tight with a 70 but the devotional was good and he had a cool name.
Wednesday: So Elder Erbe had been super sick from the orange juice and had been up the past couple nights really sick so we have him a blessing and took him to the clinic. He’s better today. Prayer works, guys. We taught Lawanna again and she is becoming more responsive but unfortunately we only have one more meeting with her. We also got to welcome the new dork dot missionaries (that’s what they call the brand new missionaries. I think he forgot that just a week ago he was a dork dot) and Rushforth and I got to show the new district around and introduce them to the MTC because we’re ZL’s. (zone leaders)
Today we went to the temple and we got hair cuts since we’re leaving Monday. We have to get up at 3:30 AM on Monday and I’m not gonna survive.
Misc: Its hard to get used to calling everybody Elder or Sister but you get used to it. We have class everyday for two 3 hour sessions and I fall asleep every day. We get no sleep here. The food is good and you can have as much as you want. I watch what I eat though because we’ve been here a week and a guy in our district has already gained 10 pounds. It’s super awkward to talk to the sisters because we’re not allowed to flirt and so not many people talk for fear of coming across too strong. Basketball and volleyball are fun with the guys. We are all so close and it’s gonna be hard to leave them. I like talking to the spanish missionaries so I can speak spanish. They all assume I’ve been here for like 5 weeks speaking spanish because I’m pretty good (humble tho.)