What a absolutely amazing first week this has been at the MTC! I don't even know where to begin...
The Spirit of the Lord is so strong here- I have always been told of how great the feeling is and how fast the learning is. But I never really understood until now what it would be like. My companion is Elder Johnson from Bountiful, Utah, and reminds me a lot of Ben Schulthies. Our district has 10 elders in in; 4 going to Berlin and 6 to Frankfurt. Our district studies and is in the classroom for 10-12 hours a day! So we have gotten to really know each other! The most shocking thing was the very first moment I walked into the classroom and the teacher spoke all in German. No English. And that is the way that it goes here! The first few days were a bit frustrating, just because our teachers would use just a few minutes of English compared to the hours of German. But it all paid off when at the end of day 3 I could pray and bear testimony all in German. We continued learning the German basics for the lesson on the Restoration of the Gospel, and prepared some lessons for our role-play investigators. As time went on, I really felt the German come and stay in my mind- faster and better than anything I have ever learned; even though it feels harder than Physics of Calculus... just because there is so much and it is so saturated. But the Holy Ghost is amazing, and is the best teacher available! Elder Johnson and I taught two lessons to "Jonathan" all auf Deeutsch! We got out of the first lesson, and even though I did a lot of the talking, we both felt so great- We discussed why we felt so good, and decided that the Spirit of the Lord doesn't care if it is a role-play or not. When truth is spoken, the Holy Ghost will witness of it; especially when we have worked so hard to get it in a new language.
So those lessons were great. By the 4th or 5th day, we felt we weren't progressing as fast as the first few days. So we decided to change our focus, and it has worked wonders. In my call letter, it said that I was called to be a missionary for the Church, and then assigned to Germany. So why were we focusing on the Germany part so much? We decided to do those things to become the missionaries that the Lord need and expects us to be. That will bring the spirit, and then the German will come naturally, especially during the classroom time. So we have set a plan to read the whole Book of Mormon by the time we leave the MTC (about 10 pages a day) and really get to know "Preach My Gospel". And during companionship study, we have been reading several stories a morning from the Gospels in the New Testament about Christ. We read it, view Christ as a missionary, replace Him with us, and think about what Christlike attribute we need to develop in order to become the kind of "missionary" Christ was. It has been absolutely amazing! Several other companionships have joined in with our discussion, and the Spirit has been in great abundance!! I would challenge you to try it- pick an account from Christ's life (they aren't stories), and read it as is, then replace Christ with you, and whoever else in the account with co-workers, or siblings, or whomever, and see what attribute you need to develop in your life to become more like our Savior. You will be amazed at what personal revelation you can receive.
Our Zone has about 7 districts in it, and it is also our Branch, all German Elders and Sisters, either going to Berlin, Frankfurt, or the Alps German-Speaking mission. There are about 45 total missinonaries, and we all live in the same part of the residence hall. It is so fun to walk around and hear so much German! And then we go to the cafeteria or devotionals and hear so many different languages! But we are all in the same business, doing the same work, regardless of languages: bringing souls to Christ. Andrew and Amy teach in the same building and same floor as I have class, so it is so much fun to see them and talk with them, and test my German on Andrew. We have zone activities on Saturdays where half pretend to be people on the street, and the rest missionaries and we practice street contacting. That was the first time I really felt the amazing power of the Spirit help me to speak and communicate. It is truly incredible- one week ago, I would bearly say the German alphabet; now I can carry on a 30 minute conversation and bear testimony of Jesus Christ. But it is not me; the Lord has gone before my face, He is on my right hand and on my left, his spirit in in my heart, and his angels round about me to bear me up. (D&C 84:88)
This work is true. Otherwise, I wouldn't be spending two years of my life pretending to believe in a false cause. God lives. His Son is Jesus Christ; my Savior, my Redeemer, my Brother. Joseph Smith saw what he said that he saw, and from that, God's kingdom was established again on the earth, with His power, His authority, and His prophets.
All my best, and with much love,