I’m done – Letter 5/31
From: Ethan Cade Brimhall [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Tuesday, May 31, 2016 2:55 AM
I honestly can’t believe I’m done already. Three weeks is hard because it is class, day in and
day out, no breaks, always teaching, absolutely zero chill time except for Sundays. Wednesdays we go to the temple and email, but then we have class again. Maximum stress for almost a month. I couldn’t do six weeks like the French-English or English-French missionaries here have been doing. It has been spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and physically exhausting. There is no time to catch up on sleep ever. If you miss a precious minute, there is no getting it back. I am so ready to be out in “the field” on Thursday, although I doubt the sleep situation will change.
My biggest struggle has been to feel the spirit 24/7. I’ve been trying to do that since I got here. It’s difficult when I’m so stressed about fitting everything into my brain and practicing all of it and UGH. Thankfully, I’m done. It’s been a crazy three weeks and I can’t believe it’s already over.
I have been trying to put as much faith forward as I have to give, but it seems like I don’t have enough sometimes. I haven’t been getting answers to some of my most pertinent prayers, but I just have to continue in faith that they will be answered exactly when I need them to be. No sooner, no later. Still, it would be nice to know some things before going into them. He’s just stretching me as thin as I can go until He answers. It’s really very humbling (which is exactly what I need).
This MTC experience has been life changing. The big three I have been counseled on (prayer,
humility, and obedience) seem so much more important now. I am gaining a better understanding of the people here in West Africa. The Lord is expanding my mind every day as I pray to merely accommodate the mass influx of experiences and responsibilities I am getting. I ate omotuo (a mashed rice ball, eaten like fufu) and okra soup the other day. A sticky mess, but it was good. The food isn’t too bad, at least for lunch and dinner. Breakfast is terrible. I mean that in every sense of the word. I talked to my MTC President, Pres. Brubaker, about how I have been doing, and I found that we have a lot in common. His mission saved his life, and hopefully, mine will do the same. I’ve been helping some Africans with future BYU plans. Everyone here wants to go to BYU.
Our last teaching day was Saturday. We wrapped up teaching our mock investigators (I only
ever got through the first or second lessons on The Restoration and The Plan of Salvation, respectively) and said goodbye to our instructors. I am really going to miss Sister Rodaline Appau-Nkansah (uhpew-nkahnsah). She really drilled us, but did it in a loving way. We had a lot of fun with her during class time. I am also going to miss my district, especially my companion. Elder Badoo is a really good guy. I’m sad to see him go. Hopefully, I’ll see him again while out in the field. Many of the non-American missionaries are strong in the scriptures. Mostly the bible. Many of them didn’t know the story of King Lamoni and Ammon. I think it’s because most of them are converts of just a couple years and only studied the bible until then.
On Monday, we watched a demonstration of two missionaries in the field and had a huge, intense in-field orientation day. Probably the most intense day of class so far. As a district, we bore our testimonies to each other. I have learned that I have been cursed with the weakness of needing constant reassurance, so I keep my testimony only through literally constant prayer and spiritual witness. I have learned that I know a lot about the Gospel, but I don’t know the Gospel itself. I need to know it if I am to bear testimony of it. Our district performed “Battle Hymn of the Republic” at the closing devotional. Every district had to perform something. We were terrible. My piano skills with that song are less than mediocre and my district’s singing skills are about the same. All that matters is that we had fun, right? It was a good way to end the day. With laughter at our epic failure of a performance. We had some pretty weird pizza for dinner that day. Two small pieces of really Africanized pizza. I’m not sure how to explain it other than it tasted decent but was really unfulfilling.
Something that has been on my mind for a while is something that Sister Brubaker said earlier in the training. She said, “Start with the end in mind.” I thought to myself all day how I would do that. How do I want my mission to end? I have had many pieces of wisdom and guidance given to me in my setting apart and patriarchal blessing. The big three that stand out in everything are these: constant prayer, humility, and obedience in all things. Here is an excerpt from my journal:
“This mission is to be the basis of my future blessings. I want to end a Man of God, one who fulfills all that is asked of him. One who magnifies his calling. One who is worthy of the love of one of His daughters. One who has the strength to stand unwavering in the face of testimonial opposition. As I finish the MTC, I must prepare for what awaits me in the field, mission and after.”
The Big Three help me and they will help you. We may not have the same challenges, but I promise that as you live these principles, you will feel an outpouring of support in whatever trial you are currently facing. Prayer keeps us close to God, our Heavenly Father. Humility is the antithesis to the mother of all sin, pride. Obedience keeps us on track to the eternities. I bear you my testimony, through this screen, thousands of miles away on a continent many of you have not even visited, that as we seek to do that which is right, we will be blessed for our efforts. If any person lacks wisdom, faith, testimony, patience, happiness, anything, let him ask of God who giveth to all men liberally and upbraideth not. That’s my version of James 1:5, the scripture that changed the world. I hope you take this journey with me and try to get closer to your loving Father in Heaven.
It’s so nice to hear from you directly. I’ve missed your wonderful smile. It still doesn’t seem real for me to be totally honest. It probably won’t until I get feet in Sierra Leone and start proselyting. Congrats on winning football! That’s so awesome! If I were there I never would have lost hope. You seem to pull through nearly every time. Two touchdowns is amazing.
I’ve learned a lot about prayer while here. I didn’t really pray before I came to the MTC, but when I got here, I prayed all the time for every reason you can think of. Even to help me get through breakfast (which tastes terrible – it’s a bunch of bland oatmeal, two slices of bread, overcooked egg whites, and old fruit slices). Every prayer I said was unique except for a few things that I pray for continually. Vain repetition is bad, but repetition is not. Just like you told me you learned in Sunday School, The Zoramites were using vain repetitions in their prayers. I have also learned that God wants me to do three things: get humble, pray a lot, and be obedient. I’ve been trying really hard to do those things, but I mess up all the time. Can you pray for me? The prayers of children (especially nine-year-old brothers) count triple if you didn’t know. I’m happy that you have learned this lesson already. It took me until I got to the MTC to learn it!
I’m sorry your good friend Kadin is moving away. It’s sad to say goodbye to friends. When we moved to Henderson from California, I was in the middle of Kindergarten and had some really close friends. That move shut me down. I got so shy and I had a difficult time making friends. I still do. No matter how amazing of a friend you meet, there is always another one in your immediate future. God placed us here on earth to gain experience so we can become like Him. The people around us teach us more than we can teach ourselves, so the more good friends you have, the more like God you come to be. If you pray about it, God will comfort you and help you find more great friends. With your winning smile and attitude, I don’t think it will be too difficult for God to help you with that. Know that I pray for you and the rest of the family almost every night. I am so excited to be doing God’s work. “The field really is white already to harvest” (John 4:31-38). I have heard stories of people baptizing many people in one day in a river in Sierra Leone. A lot like Alma did after he escaped the wicked King Noah and taught some of the humbled people (Mosiah 18). This work is divine, and I am so humbled to be able to further it.
I love you!
Don’t send my white socks that I accidentally left behind. They had socks at the temple. I leave
tomorrow, June 1st at 12:15, as do half of the elders going to Sierra Leone. The other half leave today (12 and 12). Mostly from my district. I’m so done with the MTC. I just want to be out in the field. I don’t know how I could do even one more day here. I JUST WANT TO BE IN SIERRA LEONE AND TEACH PEOPLE AND BAPTIZE THEM. I’m less nervous about heading into the field than when I left home. I feel so much more prepared and I know what I have to improve on. I’m good on snacks. I have about 2/3 of it left. I won’t forget to give Elder Kochevar his stuff. I am not looking forward to packing tonight after the temple. It’s good to hear that I will always have the opportunity to email on Tuesday if for some reason I don’t get to on Monday. The MTC feels so empty with everyone gone. We’re kinda laughing a little bit at the French missionaries. Their flight got cancelled so now they’re on their way back here until they can get another flight. I uploaded a video of the chapel just to show you how empty it is. Only about 12 people here still.
That’s exactly how I felt when Dr. Peterson was training me to be a technician at his office. Luckily, he was nice to me and helped me when I messed up. It was embarrassing often. I felt so pressured to do it right because doctor’s offices are so strict legally. I know what you’re going through. The feeling of accomplishment when you finish one day without any mess ups is amazing, as I’m sure you know. At least here I have a knowledge of the Gospel and some leadership skills. At the office, I had no knowledge of any of it. I am still praying that you will get comfortable there.
That Trek is going to be awesome! I’m so excited for you guys. Make sure Alex knows how important it is that he makes the most of that trip. It really is a once-in-a-life-time opportunity.
P.S. My tear ducts hurt from being denied tears in public. My general email and Alex and Dexter’s emails to me really screwed me up. I love it!
P.P.S. I’m scared to get a haircut. These Africans have no idea how to cut white people hair except buzz it off.