Elder Austin Fullmer – First letter from the MTC

Mom, Dad & Family,

So the past six days, I have been thinking in the back of my head about what I wanted to write today. Believe me it has switched a lot. Hopefully this letter is a fair display of all that I have felt this past week. First, I want you to know about this cool website DearElder.com. It is a free service where you can write to me and the me and the letter gets to my mailbox the same day. Anyone can write me this way. It also saves time. I only have ~30 minutes a week to email, so it will be nice to read letters from DearElder.com during the week instead of during those 30 minutes. It gives me more time to write you back. For reference my box number is MTC Mailbox #224. This service only works at the MTC, so will have to stop when I leave.

Anyways, about the MTC. Instead of having only one companion, I have two because there is an odd number of new German speaking missionaries (27 of us by the way, which is unusually high). They call us the Dritt which in German means “there are three of us.” My Companions’ names are Elder Burnett and Elder Stovall. The three of us will all be going to Berlin. Elder Burnett is from Colorado Springs, CO. He is really awesome. He helps me a lot with German; he is really good at the language, and I am not so good at the language. Elder Stovall is from St. George, UT. I like both of them a lot. We get along well together, which is good seeing as I will have to be with them 24/7 fro the next nine weeks. Oh, that reminds me: I’ll be at the MTC for approximately nine weeks. I have this little card that came in my packet that says my estimated departure date is 26 July.

The first day was pretty cool. We got our I.D.s, name tags and companions. My name tag says: ELDER FULLMER KIRCHE JESU CHRISTI DER HEILIGEN DER LETZTEN TAGE. Way cool. We also met our teacher Bruder Evans. I really like him a lot too. He served his mission in Switzerland. We also got organized into Districts. My district is my class that Bruder Evans teachers. There are nine of us in the District/Class. There are two other sets of Elders and one set of sister missionaries. Then there is me and my companions – the Dritt. Those other four Elders are going to Frankfurt and then the sisters and the three of us are going to Berlin. I really like my District alot. It is pretty neat that we all get along so well.

After the first day, I began to feel very overwhelmed to be honest. Here is a bit from my Journal entry on 28MAY11:

“Oh, my goodness. Today was the fourth day at the MTC. I have just felt so overwhelmed. My teacher is Bruder Evans. He is awesome. My companions are awesome too … Despite all this and a great district, I have just felt so much self doubt. On our third day we taught an “investigator.” He teaches her, but for the lesson he only spoke Deutsch and we had to teach him! I understood absolutely nothing of what he said. Luckily Elder Brunett understood most of it. I didn’t say a single word. Today was our second lesson. I said a broken prayer and one other sentence. Elder Brunett & Elder Stovall did the rest of the talking. THey both said they could feel the spirit so strongly, but I felt nothing. Why?! I just felt defeated, like I would never learn the language … Later that day during class, we had a moment to ourselves and I prayed. I prayed to feel the spirit. To feel some comfort … I really felt the spirit. Then Bruder Evans asked us all to to turn to Matthew 14: 24-33. I felt an immediate response to its truth. The disciples were scared. They were in the middle of the storm on a boat. Like me they were overwhelmed. They they saw a man out on the water. Not knowing it was Jesus they were frightened. When Peter realized that it was his master he walked on the water to Christ. However he lost faith and began to sink. I have felt like this the last four days. I went on my mission; I walked out onto the stormy sea, but I began to sink and I was beginning to loose faith. The language was overwhelming me and I didn’t feel like I was a asset. When I read verse 31 & 32, I felt an immense rush of of the spirit and comfort over me. I felt embraced in my saviors love. He immediately reaches his hand out for mine. What Glory! I started to cry and just felt so much peace. I know my savior loves me. With out a shadow of a doubt, I know that he loves me. What Glory! I know that through him I can learn German.”

The language is definitely hard. We were told that the German speaking branch is on the Church’s language pilot program. Which means they are making us learn by immersion. We never learned the alphabet or pronunciation. We just jumped in. This was especially hard for one of the sister missionaries and myself who never took any German in high school or college. I’m trying to stay positive. We all start as novices, you know? The better your spirit, the better your German. It doesn’t work the other way around. That I am grateful for.

Yesterday was Sunday and it was the best day. My Branch President’s name is President Dunn. He and his wife are both great and has so much love for the German speaking missionaries. Our first Priesthood meeting was great. President Dunn spoke about recognizing the spirit. He used parts from a talk that Elder Bednar gave in General Conference a couple conferences ago. Sacrament Meeting was mostly in German except for the main talk. My companions and I went to choir too. I quickly realized that I am no longer a tenor or at lease I can’t hit some of those high notes. Sunday night we had a fire side. Brother Allen and his wife spoke. Brother Allen is the director of the missionary department at Church headquarters. Oh, we got to walk up to the Provo Temple too!

Will you please send me one of those fleece blankets up in my room? I have instituted my I-am-not-going-to-sleep-under-my-sheets-because-I-never-want-to-make-a-bed routine. However just sleeping with a sheet is a little cold. Could you also send me a new bottle of Cetaphil Facial Moisturizer? Feel free to use money from my acount. Also please send me my pea coat and my colored pencils if you can find them. The color pencils should be in the desk draw up in my room.

Can I leave you with my testimony auf Deutsch? Ich weiß, dass Gott sie liebt. Himmlischer Vater will alles gut für sie. Ich bin dankbar für die Lieve. Ich liebe mein Himmlischer Vater. Ich weiß, dass Joseph Smith ein wahrer Prophet war. Durch Joseph Smith stellete Gott seine Priestertumsvollmacht. Ich weiß, dass das Buch Mormon wahr ist. Wann sie beten, werden sie das Heilige Geist in ihre herz fühlen. Der Heilige Geist hilft sie die Wharheit zu wissen. Sei sind ein Kind von Gott. Ich weiß, dass Jesus Christus sie liebt.

Finallz I waled into the Bookstore office with my companions and vocally said that I loved this paper poster of Gordon B Hinckley quote. One of the ladies there gave me a copy. It says, “Things will work out. Keep Trying. Be believing. Be happy. Don’t get discouraged. Things will work out.” This is my new motto.

I love you all very much,
auf Wiedersehn,
Peace,
Elder Austin Arthur Fullmer

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