The first day was the hardest day of my life. One hour of sleep, altitude, and tons of sitting and studying. But I got used to it, and everything's great.
So the flight from Burbank airport was a joke. Elder Bacera, Elder Gardner, and some sister missionaries waited about four hours in the lobby area before boarding the plane. Apparently a lavatory light was out and we simply could not fly without a bathroom light. Long story short, it was a super long wait and we showed up a few hours late to the MTC.
I missed my first class and a few other meetings. When I arrived they gave me all my gear, missionary badges, ID card/debit card, and my key to our dorm. I hadn't found my companion yet so I was temporarily assigned to some elders going to Montreal, Canada. They were cool. Finally, as I was loading my suitcases into my dorm, a bunch of elders came running up smiling and shouting "Elder Zierenberg, you made it!" Kinda an important moment for me because I was feeling a little nervous and out of place. When these guys came running up like that it made me feel pretty special. I could tell that my district, TEAM CAMBODIA, was gonna be great. My companion is Elder Christensen. He's from Riverton, UT. He just finished a year at BYU, and he turns 19 this next month.
So I got praying in Khmae down and I’m praying multiple times a day. We have taught our investigator, Sokhaa (pronounced SOH-kah, not sokka like avatar) and we teach him in 100% khmae. We taught him about God (Preahvoobeidaa Sua), Jesus Christ (Preahyeesuuhkrih), and Joseph Smith (Yosabb smiitt) and we taught him to pray...funny story: When we were teaching him to pray, he tells us (in khmae) that he already knows how to pray, like buddhist style. So "Bong Broh" Sokhaa starts doing this weird singing/prayer thing in khmae. It was the weirdest thing I’ve ever heard and Elder Christensen and I started laughing like three seconds into it and couldn’t stop laughing through the rest of the lesson because we kept remembering the singing. And when I'd finally stop laughing for a few seconds, elder C. would start laughing again and on and on. Even our investigator was laughing a little. . We study our language for 8 hours a day.
The food here is all right, except that the cafeteria workers pile every plate as if we are at the final feed for wrestling. So we eat a ton. Thank goodness I brought a container of psyillium from home. Because everyone else in my district is suffering...stress the "suffering" part. One thing that is cool is that Elder Christensen is into exercising everyday, just like me.
So yesterday was Sunday, we had Sacrament Meeting and Priesthood with our Branch. The Branch president is Pres. Jackson, he is just always smiling and super nice. It was great and I love all these guys. Then Sunday night we had a devotional/watch a video. It was called "Characters of Christ" by Elder Bednar. Just a video of him speaking but it was powerful and good. It definitely strengthened my personal study of the savior. Anyway...Then the REAL Elder Bednar walks in right as the video ends…we were like going crazy. Elder Christensen, a few sisters from our zone, and I had snatched some seats about 5-6 rows back from the pulpit. So Elder Bednar was like from the "blue van to the mailbox" distance from us. He had a Q & A session with everyone at the devotional. It wasn’t very crowded because these devotionals are optional, and apostles NEVER come on Sundays. Elder Bednar testified with power on many, many questions he answered. The Spirit was so strong. I wasn't expecting to see and hear from an Apostle on my third day in the MTC. Sister Bednar carried the same power and strength in her testimony. I wish all of you could have been there with us.
Anyways, I love you guys… And thank you, thank you for the Dear Elders.
"The atonement could not have happened without the CHARACTER of Christ"