We've been getting lots of e-mails and letters from Elder Varvel! He has been out for two weeks, and it seems like he's doing fantastic! He loves any communication with friends and family. He can receive e-mails throughout his mission at firstname.lastname@example.org. He gets an hour once a week on the computer to read them and respond. He says he prefers letters though, because then he has a hard copy with him to read and reread throughout the week.
He sent an e-mail telling us about all the guys in his district. Here's what he had to say about one of them. "Elder Richards is basically Captain America...he is so buff. I have been following some of his workout routines and I really wish I hadn't, because now I can hardly move." That made us laugh!
He was able to go to the Provo Temple once, but now it's closed for cleaning. He might not be able to go again while he's in the MTC. He was bummed about that.
Elder Varvel and his companion had a hard learning experience while 'teaching' someone in the MTC. This is what Sawyer had to say about it.
In my e-mail I told you that we had an experience teaching Isaac that was really rough, so I will tell you more about that. We had been teaching him for awhile and we had been doing really well. He had been reading the pamphlets we gave him and the Book of Mormon. We even got him to pray and say yes to coming to church with us! But then the next lesson we taught went downhill. It was probably the best lesson we taught because we could feel the spirit so strongly and words were coming to our mouths that we didn't even think we knew. But it wasn't what he needed I guess, because when we asked him if he had faith in Jesus Christ and a belief in God he just kept saying no. That's when we realized that we really hadn't gotten to know Isaac. We asked him why he didn't have faith and he told us a story about his dad that made him lose his faith in God, but we couldn't understand any of it. It was really rough and since we couldn't understand him, we just moved on with the lesson. After that he didn't really seem interested in what we had to say. I was about to read a scripture and he just said, "Thank you for coming and I will see you next time." We left the room, and when the 'real' Hermano Torres asked us to come back in, he asked us how we felt. Elder Checketts started to cry and if I hadn't been in front of people I probably would have too. Elder Checketts said he had experienced something like that before. It is really rough! I felt so much love for Isaac and he isn't even a real person! It was a learning experience that I won't forget for the rest of my mission. We've decided that our next lesson is just going to be about Isaac, getting to know him better, and just being his friend.
I asked him in another e-mail if they were still teaching Isaac. This is what he said.
We are still teaching Isaac and it went soooo much better both times after that. On Monday when we closed the door, me and Elder Checketts went cheering and screaming, "He's getting baptized" down the hallways because the lesson went so good! It just gives a whole new perspective of having good days and bad days in the mission, but the experience as a whole is just amazing!
It's going to be so hard celebrating the 4th of July without Sawyer tomorrow! We are going to the Stadium of Fire in Provo. We will be less than a mile from him, but won't be able to see him. The missionaries get to go out to the field and watch the fireworks show. This is what Sawyer wrote about that, "It's crazy to think we will be close enough to watch the exact same show, but still two years apart." That made me want to cry! We sent him a 4th of July package to help brighten his holiday. He said that every Elder in his district took a picture of him wearing his sunglasses with his headband on, and waving his little flag! I hope someone used his camera, because I'm dying to see one of those pictures! What a nut!
We got an e-mail from him today, and this is a little message he shared with us from a devotional he had been to.
There is a replica of a stone that President David O. McKay saw while he was on his mission that completely changed his mission. At the top of the stone is the message, "What e'er thou art, act well thy part." It really made a difference in the way I view my mission. Whenever I have a situation to deal with when I'm out here I ask myself how I can be the BEST missionary. Then when I get an answer, I act on it! That strategy can be used in any one's life. People should be asking themselves the question, how can I be the BEST brother/sister? How can I be the BEST spouse? How can I be the BEST Priesthood holder? How can I be the BEST parent? Then after asking themselves the question, they should find a way to do it! Abraham Lincoln once said, "Whatever you are, be a good one." What E'er thou art, act well thy part!