Sunday, July 27, 2014

Week 5 in MTC.... Doing great as Zone Leaders

Hey all!!

I'm still doing sooo good! This week has been one of the best weeks yet! Elder Wilcox and I haven't had barely any time to even stop moving and rest for a little while, we've been go go going!! We had a million and a half problems to work through with the zone this last week, so we spent most of the week planning and meeting with leaders and our district leaders to try to figure things out! There were a few sticky situations that I thought had no chance of working out well, but I did a lot of praying, and some fasting, and miraculously, everything turned out! I saw the hand of the Lord softening the hearts of the members of the zone, and helping us all become better together... it's been so cool!! 

Elder Wilcox and I have been gone so much doing all of our zone leader duties that our teachers even came up and asked us where we've been because they feel like they haven't seen us in forever!! We just had to apologize and tell them we have had lots of zone leader duties to perform this last week! However, it was so cool to see how everything turned out. I have been promised in a blessing that as I work my hardest to watch over and protect the members of my zone, and do my zone leader duties to the best of my abilities, that the Lord would help me with the language, and I have surely seen that this week! Elder Wilcox and I didn't have any time between Saturday night and Mondays lessons to prepare ANYTHING for our investigators. We didn't stop mowing until Monday morning. So, we prayed, had faith, and went into our investigator lessons. The Spirit definitely guided us to know what to say, and it was amazing to see how everything went as good as it could go! Also, in class when I'm trying to learn all of the in's and out's of Polish, I have seen miracles. Polish is an inflected language, meaning that every word is essentially conjugated to mean different things based on its ending. There are like 6 or 7 different cases, and each ending makes the word mean a different thing... and it's a bit stressful. As I was learning one of the most important cases, during that time where Elder Wilcox and I didn't have time to breathe, I found myself learning things 100 times faster and easier than I ever have been before, whether at the MTC or in high school. Things just "stuck", and everything worked out! I know that was a blessing from the Lord and I am so grateful to see his hand in my life!

I have made a goal to look for, and record at least one miracle I see in my life every day while I'm here in the MTC. It has been amazing to see that as I am obedient to the rules and guidelines I have been given, that I will often see MANY miracles around me every day! It is strengthening my testimony tremendously.

We are teaching a "progressing investigator" here at the MTC named Jacek. He is Catholic, and wants to find God more in his life, but is having trouble being baptised through our teaching because of his strong relationship with his Catholic mother. In one of our lessons that we didn't have much time to prepare for, Elder Wilcox and I went in and taught him about baptism. The Spirit in that room was stronger than I have ever felt it in an investigators lesson(other than during Danielle's real lesson I was able to be a part of), and the Polish just came. I found myself promising Jacek in Polish that if he took the first step and was baptised, that everything would work out, and that his mother would see his example and come to Christ.... and I've never met his mother! It was super cool, and I am so grateful for my experiences!

My English spelling is going out the window at this point... I can't spell almost anything anymore, and I can almost feel the awkward as I realize that I haven't talked normally to, or even hugged a girl in over a month... Be prepared for awkward missionary Justin in two years... it'll be great...:)

This week has been one of my favorite weeks because we got to welcome our new elders and sisters this week! We taught them a bunch of things, took them on a tour, and bore them our testimonies in our mission languages. I've known them for exactly one day, but I already feel so much love for them! I don't know what it is, but every elder called into this zone has something to do with drama or theatre or choir I feel like.... it's really good for me to learn to live with people that I don't exactly share common interests with...! Elder Wilcox and I spent our quiet time last night making sure they were good and okay before we went back to our residence.(they were put in a different building), and they're doing great! They're all great guys! All of the Elders moved from our old residence to the new elders' residence(as per President) so that we can be close to them and help them feel welcome! We're all moved in now, basketball hoop in our room and everything!

It's been so cool to get to run into Tanner Erickson and Cole McEuen a bunch at the MTC! I sure miss those guys a bunch! 

I'm still playing a lot of soccer here at the MTC! I love it because it's the biggest stress reliever I have here! haha

I'm feeling so good, I'm doing good things, and I'm studying hard! I'm praying for you guys! 

Elder Quackenbush
Justin was sad to see Elder Stakebake, his soccer buddy head out.
Elder Stakebake (left) and  Elder Quackenbush (right)
Part of the Zone at the Temple.
(Sorry, I can't get the picture flipped:()

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Four weeks in the MTC

Cześć, wam!!
Jak się macie??
This week has been one for the books! I've learned more about the gospel and about how to be a better missionary this week than any other week so far! this week has also been one of the hardest weeks I've had at the MTC so far... maybe even ever!(except Junior year finals week or working for Pampa in the Summer digging ditches.:)
     So Friday night my throat started to REALLY hurt, but I pushed through with straight missionary spirit and prayers. Saturday morning I woke up before the alarms because my throat was killing me. I went to find a doctor, and of course the doctors were all gone until Monday..... so there's that.  All Saturday and Sunday I was a wreck. Sunday is my busiest day of the week by far as I try my best to fulfill all my zone leader duties and such. I run from meeting to meeting all day long and check on members of the zone, and have sooo many meetings! Those two days, I kept pushing through, just telling myself that I was a missionary and that I could do hard things. Monday morning I work up and couldn't even function. I was SO sick. I have no idea how I even made it out of bed and to class that day. In class, I think I understood 1 word all morning-Robić... all morning. It was terrible. Miraculously, and as an answer to prayers, the front desk called my class and told me I had an appointment at 11, just when I was about to break! Christ was definitely looking out for me. The doctor confirmed I had some nasty virus, and that I needed sleep and liquids(I didn't tell him I'd been running around for like 3 days by that point)...I went back to the residence, and rested while I could. When everyone was ready, the Elders in my zone all gave me a blessing... 15 Priesthood holders all using their Priesthood to bless me. The Spirit was so strong in my room. However, I wasn't blessed to be healed. Instead, I was instructed in other things. The Lord opened my eyes and allowed me to learn a lot from my experience. I know that the Lord was teaching me a lesson, and I'm so glad he loves me enough to give me trials! I learned so much and I'm so grateful! ja wiem że Bóg jest kochającz i jest moj Ojciec Niebieski. Jestem bardzo widyęncynz. I'm feeling so much better, now! I know that the Lord carried me over those days, and continues to carry me, even now!

I am continually surprised at how much the Lord has been blessing me with my Polish. It surprises me when I look back at the day and realize that I understood so much of what my Polish teacher said that day, or how easily I was able to memorize my notecards, or how smooth my testimony went in my last lesson. I know I wouldn't know half the amount of Polish, or be half the missionary I am now, without my Savior Jesus Christ. I'm still realizing every day how incompetent I am without Him! But, I keep giving it my all and let Him worry about the rest!

I'm super excited to be welcoming in all the new Elders into our zone on Wednesday!! I remember how different the first day was for me, and can't wait to help the new Elders through it!! Elder Wilcox and I run a meeting with the newbies and the Sister Training Leaders on Wednesday, and I'm only a BIT nervous... but I can't wait for the adventure!

I'm super sad that all the Bulgarians are leaving this week! Elder Stakebake and Elder Harris and Elder Harper, along with a bunch of the cool Sisters ship out on Tuesday.... I'm really gonna miss them... It'll be weird to not walk into the residence to find Elder Stakebake lying in my bed, or eating all my food... I'm gonna miss them a bunch!

Thank you all so much for your prayers and love and letters! They really helped me through this week!! I'm so grateful to be out here and still have the support and love from all you back home! Do good things, and just keep on loving!! I love you all so much, and I'll talk to you soon!

Na razie,

Starszy Quackenbush
Dear Family and Friends,

A lot has happened this week..! Elder Wilcox and I were called as the new zone leaders earlier this week. We went through initiation(both official and unofficial) and started right away! Our focus is to help the missionaries here already, as well as welcome and help the new missionaries coming in in about two weeks. Due to the fact that there's been some major problems within the zone, Elder Wilcox and I have literally been running around the MTC for the last week! We've gotten to know the Sister Training Leaders very well as we worked through some problems in the zone! But, we've been relying on the Lord, and have truly seen him uplifting members of the zone all week!

We are so exhausted from working so hard this week! Over the past 3 weeks, I have come so much closer to my Savior. I have spent many, many hours on my knees to the point where my knees crack and give me a little grief, but I wouldn't have it any other way! It feels good to struggle through prayers and force  myself to stay awake because I'm sooo tired from working hard every day! I know that's what the Lord would have me do, so I just keep doing that!

The language is still coming along! After I humbled myself, set goals, and began to work towards those goals, the Polish is coming so much faster! Through the gift of tongues, things will come to me that I didn't even know I could say! this week while teaching an investigator, the conversation turned and all of the sudden I found myself bearing testimony that I know that this church is ture, and that the Book of Mormonj is right, and that if he would pray to God with great faith, God WOULD answer his prayers and show him the church is true. I then taught him about praying in faith. After the lesson, I realized I could barely remember, let alone understand, what actually went down in that lesson, but I know it was a blessing from the Lord!

One of the greatest surprises to me in the MTC (besides discovering that the showers DID actually have shower curtains) is how fast the Book of Mormon can bring the Spirit. Even when I'm reading Księge Mormona and don't even have the slightest idea what Iąm reading! Also, everyone was right about how quickly you can learn the language when studying the book of Mormon in your mission language. In only 3 short weeks, I can now read the Book of Mormon and understand so much of what it is saying! I can understand mz teachers so much easier, and even end up translating for the rest of the class on occasion. The Lord has been blessing me so much as I have worked hard, and turned to Him. There are many nights where I have no idea how I'm going to study and prepare lessons for 4 hours, but when I ask the Lord, He alwazs carries me through, and blesses me with strength that is not my own.

I have been able to see Elder Lant a bunch since he's been here! We actually got to sit down and eat dinner together and talk about home and everything! He is doing so well, and I'm sure he'll continue to do so! I also ran into Cameron Christensen today. It was so cool to get to see him! He's on West campus, but he'll be here for a while, so we'll run into eachother again soon.

I also got to be a host missionary for the new missionaries on Wednesday! It was so cool to get to welcome them, and assure their parents, and help them out! I met some really amazing Elders heading all over the world!

I am so thankful for the Elders in my District and for Elder Wilcox. Despite our differences, they're already some of my best friends! Sure, Elder Wilcox and I might argue like 80 year old best friends from Vietnam, but we always work things out, and come out closer than before! Us Elders do everything together. There is rarely a time during the day when we all aren't together! We watch out for eachother, share food, and work to uplift eachother when the times get tough! I'm so grateful for all these Elders.

It actually surprised me a lot what happened last night. In my zone, there is an Elder who has lived in Idaho or Alaska for his entire life... if that makes any sense..Last night he camne into the room and asked us Elders for a blessing, and asked if I would give the blessing! I was a bit surprised, because we aren't exactly that close... but of course I was happy to bless him. I gave him a blessing, and the Spirit FILLED the room. I spoke the impressions that came to my mind, and after he came up and hugged me and told me that what I had said was exactly what he needed to hear. It is amazing to me how powerful the Priesthood power is. I am so grateful for the Priesthood that I hold.

Despite being so tired, I am doing absolutely amazing! I feel good, my stomach's good, I'm feeling the Spirit, the Lord is hleping me with the Polish, and life is great! I know that I can do all things through christ, and that I can do nothing without Him. I know this is where I need to be, and I know without a doubt that this church is true, and that the Book of Moromon is the word of God. I love this gospel and I love all of you! Thank you so much for the letters and emails and care packages! They make my day every time!

I love all of you, and I'll talk to you soon!


Starszy Quackenbush

Monday, July 7, 2014

Letter #2 from MTC
Hey guys, I'm still doing great! I'm so grateful for all the supportive emails, letters and packages I've received this week! You all know who you are, and you honestly made my week!! This week absolutely flew by! Ever since last Friday I've been telling everyone how it was almost Preparation Day, and all of the sudden it was!
     The Polish is coming so much faster! I'm understanding so much of what our teacher's actually saying! Everyone in my class is so surprised that I'm actiually doing so well after my tougher first week debut...! I kept having to remind them that I'm not actually mentally challenged, but that Polish is just hard for me! I have the biggest box of notecards EVER that help me have so much fun duting study time(like all day every day). I'm loving the experience though!

So in my zone there are a few districts. THere's my Polish district witht he 3 other Elders from my room, there's another Polish District from another room, there's some older Bulgarians/Czechs, and there's fresh Turkish/Bulgarian recruits. Some of my favorite people are the older Bulgarians and Czechs. There's Elder Harris-nicknamed the Gangler-because of his super long arms and legs. Ther's Elder Stakebake, who played goalie at BYU and played some with Real Salt Lake Soccer Club. We get along really well, and are always talking about something! Elder Vennard is a football player from Mesa. He is

recovering from spinal surgery, and is so funny! We get along great because we're both from Arizona. 
I'm sleeping a lot better this week... I think the snacks and treats are helping a ton!!

We pretty much go to class all day(with meals being one of our only breaks), and then everyone gets together(usually on my bed...) and we all talk and mess around until quiet time... it amazes me how my bed hasn't broken yet-we have some pretty big boys on that bed!!

I think 4-Square will end up ruining my life... The other Elders love it and it's just stupid! I always get out, there's no physicality, and I'm absolutely terrible at it 90% of the time!

On the bright side, I have been able to give so many blessings since I got here! It's amazing! Elder Stakebake absolutely destroyed his quad when we were playing soccer last Friday. It was fine until the next morning. That night, he could barely walk, so we got all of the Elders in the zone together(there's like 12-16  of us) and we gave him a blessing. Elder Harper annointed, and then Elder Stakebake asked me to give the blessing. It was really hard for me, because I wanted to bless him with health so bad, but the Lord had other plans. As I talked with Elder Stakebake and Elder Harris later on, Elder Harris told me something interesting. Elder Stakebake didn't pick me because he likes me... Elder Harris told me that was actually personal revelation that Elder Stakebake had. The blessing was exactly what Elder Stakebake needed. The Power of the Priesthood is real, and I am so thankful to hold it and to be able to exercise it!

Sometimes when I get down, I think a lot about my FAVORITE quote from my MTC experience so far. It says:
You missionaries are no longer boys, you are Elders. The boys are back home dating your girlfriends... Dating, not marrying.
Good times, good times.

I'm really working on my goal of turning OUTWARDS when I am experiencing trials, instead of turning inwards. That has been one of my goals this week, and It's made such a huge difference!

So Matt and Hayden are here now... I've been looking around, but I haven't seen either of them!! I'm glad they're here... Derek and Max just left this week or last and I miss them!! hahaha

I'd like to publicly thank my Mom for making me play the piano for all those years... it's really paying off. My district and I decided we wanted to do a musical number at the MTC, and are going to sing Come Thou Fount. We got the music, but hadn't found an accompanyist yet, so when we went to practice, I told them I'd give it a shot. I ran through it once, and then played it all the way through while everyone sang, and it was super cool! YOU WERE RIGHT MOM.

It's really sad, but we won't get to go through the temple today or next week because it's closed. Instead we ate breakfast and lunch as a district, I actually got to take a nap, and I wrote some letters! It was such a needed catch-up day for me!!

I'm learning to be patient and not walk so fast that I leave my companion in the dust... and it's getting easier! I love the Elder, and I'm so grateful for Elder Wilcox.

I hope you all are doing well!! Enjoy summer for me, do fun things, be safe, and I'll talk to you soon!! Love you all!

Wiem że kościół jest prawdziwa.
Do Widyenia, Kocham Wy,
Starszy Quackenbush

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

1st real letter while in the MTC

Hey guys, 
How are things down there?? Has everybody already taken my room, clothes, and watches yet? They better get on that!

You guys sound like you're having such a blast! I keep forgetting it's actually Summer back there! All the Elders are complaining about how hot is here, and I just laugh and make fun of them!

I'm absolutely loving the MTC. Everyone is so friendly, the guys in my district are as close as family at this point to me! I've even started calling the Residence my Home...! The Elders I'm around are different than what I'm used to. They are all either singers, or dancers, or actors. My companion's name is Elder Scott Wilcox. We are very different but I love him! He's from Syracuse, Utah. He sang in high school and college. His favorite movies are plays, and in his free time he loves to read scrips from plays and talk about anything Disney.  I love how sociable he is. He talks to absolutely everyone... and I thought I talked to a good number of people, but I guess not! Elder Wilcox and I share a room with 2 other Elders from our District. Elder Wright is an actor and writer and filmmaker. He's a lot like me and we work well together. Elder Coutu is the other Elder. I actually met him at Tucano's before I even entered the MTC! He's an dancer at BYU. Both Elders are super spiritual and fun to be around! We have lots of fun! They start singing random loud bursts of songs from plays and movies that I would never imagine singing myself... but I've learned to just run with them! I'll jump in when I know the song. None of them sing bass, so I usually sing that in our little quartet! hahaha

The language is definitely coming! I can already say prayers, bear my testimony, navigate lessons, and say so much in Polish! It's coming a bit slower than I would have hoped, but I'm having faith, and it's all working out!

Elder Wilcox and I have been teaching Marcin, a Polish "Investigator" in the MTC. We've had like 4 lessons with him. The first 3 lessons we read off our Polish scripts that we made, but on the 4th lesson, Marcin threw us a curveball that trashed our lesson plan. So, Elder Wilcox and I looked at each other, and I went off in Polish! I started teaching and describing faith to Marcin all on my own(with a few helpful verbs from a dictionary from Elder Wilcox) and I bore my testimony to him. It was one of the most amazing experiences I've had! the gift of tongues is real! 

I've had the opportunity to bless two missionaries with my priesthood so far. A sister was having a really rough time being here, and an Elder from my District really needed some help, too! It was so cool to be able to already use my priesthood so readily!

It still amazes me how strong the Spirit is here... Everywhere I go, I feel so protected and so peaceful, I wonder how I ever dealt with not being here only a week ago!

I haven't been able to play the piano yet(But the Elders and Sisters in my district are going to do a musical number with me on the piano in the next few weeks!), But I have been able to sing in the MTC choir! We sang in the Tuesday night devotional for all the outgoing mission presidents as well as D. Todd Christofferson, Russel M Nelson, and David A Bednar. We sang Praise to the Man and I absolutely died to be able to sing like that with so many other missionaries!

Gym time is definitely one of my favorite times of the day(Besides mail time to see if I got any letters). We play soccer, kickball, volleyball, you name it! i'm loving hustling the missionaries in Kickball. They didn't know I played soccer, and I stepped up to bat a few times and hit it over the outfielders like every time! It was so funny!!

My nickname around here is 007... I guess they think I look like a secret agent in my suits or something...?

There is one thing that hasn't changed however... Just like always, I'm constantly hungry. I eat a salad, a fruit bowl, and between one and THREE entrees at like every meal, and every day I'm starving. (I guess the MTC doesn't believe in 2nd breakfast, 2nd lunch, and 2nd dinner...) So pretty much I'm starving here, and might even end up losing weight.

It's been awesome to be able to hang out with Derek Hatch and Max Hann up here in the MTC. I love those guys and am so glad we got to go through part of the MTC together!

I've learned that mail is like gold this week. Thank you to everyone who sent me letters and packages, I absolutely loved them!(Mom, you're the best, your package made my week, it was so needed!!) 

It's so cool that the Dalton's ran into me during my gym time... I was wondering who was yelling at me during gym!! They were absolutely right, I am loving every second here!

Nights are definitely one of the hardest parts at the MTC. I was having a little trouble falling asleep as I try not to think about all the people I love and miss back home, but it's all good!! I'm getting used to it and sleeping a lot better!!

Guys, I definitely know this church is true... If it wasn't I would have come home 8 days ago. stay strong and do the things you need to do, and everything is going to work out! I miss you guys a ton, and hope everything's going well! I love you guys all so much, and can't wait to hear from you!!

Do widzenia!

Starszy Quackenbush