Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Elder Rodabough's Last Week at the Mexico MTC

I am well. I am about to begin my last week in the CCM and am very excited. I'll give you a day by day rundown as I wrote it in my journal. I will redact some statements that are in the journal due to the private nature of them.  Here we go...
It rained most of our P-day which put a little damper on Christmas. I decided that I would write more in my journal like Elder Adam does.  On our devotional on Tuesday we had Elder Johnson from the Presidency of the Seventy come and speak to us about Lehi's vision and the 4 sets of people that Lehi saw. He also talked about how we should feel in order to get our investigators to feel the Spirit and to know with assurance that what we are saying is true.  Then I had a thought.  You can't feel with your mind, but you can know with your heart.  In our minds, the gospel can make sense. But in our hearts, the gospel is confirmed to be truth. 
Started off the day with some..... Problems.... Internal problems.... but by our lesson in the afternoon I was feeling much better. We taught our investigator Victor and it was a great lesson. We taught him about Lehi's first vision and how it relates to the Gospel of Christ and baptism.  Everything was going great. We got to the part in the lesson about repentance, and then things got real. When I say real, I mean it really isn't real because it's our teacher playing a character.  But it was real in the sense that a metaphorical brick got dropped in the middle of the conversation. We were talking about change and he tells us that he needs to change and we got freaking pumped. Well, actually, I don't know about Elder Marchello. But I got freaking pumped. It wasn't a surface freak out though. I kept my cool.  While I was busy internally freaking out Victor dropped the hammer.  He told us that his wife really isn't his wife... 'They've been living together for the last 25 years, have 3 little Victors, and she's legally still married to her first husband!!!!! They don't have enough money for a divorce and so they've just been going on with their life. We had no idea what to say and I wasn't even sure if I had heard what he had said right. I was really hoping I hadn't.  Elder Marchello and I sat there for a couple seconds and then Elder Marchello just took it away. I had no idea what to say. We ended the lesson and then figured out what to do for the next lesson.
It was a pretty uneventful day. Taught some lessons. Was awesome. No big deal.  So there's a guy who works here in the cafeteria, we call him Sketch Taco Boy. Don't let the name deceive you, he's a full grown man. His growth just ended in middle school. He is constantly walking around and looking all around as if someone is suddenly going to jump out from behind him and take him away. But anyway, some kids in my house were sitting at dinner and Taco Boy came up and asked them if they wanted him to go get taco's from outside the wall and bring them in. They said yes of course, and then he told them to meet them on the other side of the lunch room and have 10 Peso's in their hands to hand him off (similar to a drug exchange). They immediately got concerned and didn't go over but watched 5 other elders go and hand him money disguised as a hand shake. Then later they were teaching a lesson and he came up after and asked them why they didn't show up. They explained that it seemed sketchy as sketch and that they didn't want tacos. Then their teacher came up and asked what was going on. Taco Boy walked away super fast and their teacher made them explain what was going on. He then went to security. Yeah, we have armed guards at the gate by the way. We found out that we're in one of the more dangerous parts of the city. But anyway Taco Boy is still here but doesn't say a word to anyone.
Just another day in the CCM. We taught Eliana our other investigator, but she's not progressing as fast as Victor so we're still talking about the Restoration.  We also read together as a District out of the Book of Mormon in Spanish and talked about how even the first chapter of the Book of Mormon gives the lesson about the Restoration.
# of mosquito bites on my forehead: 3
# of meals with hotdogs: Once a week (We are happy)
I miss having food that I can choose to eat, and that is even good to eat. The chicken still has feathers and hair on it. That was fun to watch Elder Marchello, (Who I've discovered through similar methods shown on Big Bang Theory, is a "Finisher") eat said chicken. He was very opposed and I just laughed.  I love that kid.
We taught Victor again and we had to address the whole wife thing.  We told him that if he truly wants to change, this is the biggest thing he could do and receive the blessings of the Lord.  I then bore my testimony about receiving forgiveness.  What I felt as I bore my testimony, was a sense of forgiveness for my own sins. I wanted to say "I have been forgiven of my sins." Which in a nutshell is "Tengo recibir perdon por mi pecados." But what came out of my mouth was "Tiene recibir perdon por pecados." Which is, "You have to receive forgiveness for your sins." I knew what I was saying was not what I wanted to say but I couldn't change the words as they came out of my mouth. I looked into Victor's eyes and then the Spirit prompted me to invite him to be baptized. He accepted our offer.  I truly felt the Lord's hand in that lesson. I know that it wasn't a real investigator, but I know for sure that the Lord will help me say what needs to be said.
I've said it before and I'll say it again--Sunday is the Catz pajamas.  Ok, so I dropped the ball on the district lesson and didn't ask anyone to teach. But we just had a Socratic seminar (Elder Jordan introduced me to that term.. It's Socratic, like Socrates, what a champ) and it turned out pretty good.  We had class with the MTC President which was actually taught by an old member of the Seventy. Let me clarify something. Old as in he was a Seventy awhile ago. I'm not saying anything about his age. I respect my elders. But he taught us about asking for specific prayers. Asking God for specific things because he needs to hear what we really need if we really need them.  Then we watched a devotional video given by Jeffrey R. Holland back in February. He talked about the expectations of us as missionaries. My favorite quote was "You do not have the right to compromise the great history of missionary work. We as a church don't have a symbol like a cross or a Saint that people can look at  and know exactly what church we are. But I would say that our symbol could be two missionaries, walking down a street with smiles on their faces. You cannot ruin that." Then after the video Hermana Pratt announced that we would be watching THE TESTAMENT that night. I've been waiting 5 weeks to watch THE TESTAMENT so naturally, I freak out. After the prayer ended I said AMEN!!! Really loud. I love that movie.
It was the beginning of the end. In our lesson with Victor I was going to teach about the Holy Ghost, what he is and what he feels like and I just froze up in the middle of the lesson.  I couldn't talk. Every word I wanted to say I kept hearing in my head that I couldn't talk in Spanish, that I wouldn't be able to talk to people and teach them the Gospel. After we finished all the lessons Hermano Russell came back in and started talking to us. He said that this is our last week. After this there is only infield learning, real lessons, real people.  But then he said something that I can't get out of my mind. He said to listen to the Spirit. Listen to the Spirit more than you listen to anything else. I have to rely on the Spirit.
We went to the temple at 7 am and got back at noon. The veil was super hard this time and it took me as long as 'Nam to get through. But when I did I was super happy and it was worth the difficulty. And then I've been writing for three hours. That brings it up to now. Yesterday we got to speak to the native elders across the hall from our classroom for about an hour. Elder Adams did most of the talking and I threw in my two cents probably about 3 times. They didn't understand totally what I was saying, but they got the idea. Mission accomplished. Not my actual mission, just the talking to the native elders mission. I still have to finish the rest of my mission. WHICH STARTS A WEEK FROM TODAY!!!
 I love you all and know that La iglesia de Jesucristo de los santos de los Últimos dias is verdad!!!!
Su hijo,
Elder Rodabough the second

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Elder Rodabough is still the same quirky guy--finding trashed items he wants to mail home and climbing trees

MTC District at the Mexico City Temple

Fourth Week in the MTC: August 19, 2013 letter

Our temple trip was super interesting!  We left at noon and didn't get back till about 6:30 pm! We took the streets of Mexico City all the way to the temple and it took us over an hour and a half! You would hate to drive in Mexico. It's so scary and crazy, cars and motorcycles are darting everywhere and the traffic laws are just ridiculous.  We almost killed a motorcyclist and he missed our bus by inches.  But when we got there it was so amazing to be at the temple. The inside is exactly like the Jordan River Temple, session rooms and all.  It was like being at home :)  Some of the boys in my district, Elder Owen and Elder Jordan live super far away from their temples (Los Angeles and Seattle) and so they had only one chance to go through the temple until they came.  I sat next to Elder Jordan and helped him through the session, which was hard because everything was in Spanish. Let's just say the veil was interesting. I am so glad I went as many times to the as I did before I left, because even though I couldn't tell what was going on 100% of the time, I could understand about half of what was being said.  See I've been learning Gospel Spanish, so things in the church or about the church make sense to me, but regular conversation--nope. I’m assuming that the mission field will teach me that.   But once we got through it was amazing.  I got to just sit, pray and ponder in the Celestial Room for about half an hour. I asked the Lord for help knowing that he answers my prayers and if he will help me with the language if I commit myself to learn. I loved being able to go, I needed it so badly.  I feel so great now and we'll go next week for our last P-Day. We're pretty excited for P-day. Elder Jordan compares it to Christmas, so every Monday night we sing a Christmas song to celebrate.

Then later that night something interesting happened.  We had our devotional and it was the first international devotional in missionary history.  MTC's in Mexico City, the Phillippines, England, Provo, Peru, and a few others were all tuned in to hear from Elder Scott from the Quorum of the Twelve.  He talked about prayer. I listened very closely.  Then at the end he did something I've only witnessed a few times, but had never fully felt as powerful. He finished his talk and then stood there for a few moments in silence. Then he talked about his wife and apologized for his emotional nature throughout the night. He said that he felt her presence and that the Lord had allowed her to be with him as he spoke. Then he did something that was a direct answer to my prayers.  He gave a prophetic blessing upon every missionary of the church to understand the languages the Lord had asked them to learn.  He blessed us with comfort, knowing that the Lord hears and answers our prayers. It was amazing.

I don't have much else to write about Mom and Dad. I haven't received anything that you've sent and I'm a little concerned but at the same time I only have two weeks left so I don't really need anything that I can't go two weeks without.  Today we're going to get more missionaries, and we got roommates last week.  We have one more empty room in our casa so we might get 4 more elders today.... I'm all for more missionaries serving, but we're running out of room for them.

Know that I love you all and I'm so excited to be getting closer to serving in my mission area. I'm proud to be a missionary. I am a representative of Christ. His name covers my heart, and fills every part of my body and soul. I love him and will follow the Lord. We all should.


Elder Rodabough, the second.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Bingham boys all currently serving at the Mexico City MTC

The Missionary Farewell Tie and Bryce's latest email

Noah Jewkes wearing the Missionary Farewell Tie at his mission farewell on August 11, 2013
Elder Noah Jewkes leaves for the Denmark Copenhagen Mission on August 14, 2013
This tie has been worn by many Bingham High friends at their farewell 
 Elder Rodabough received this tie from his Scout Master Alan Jackson who wore it in the 1970"s

The tie lives on. I'm so glad it has!!! I was super worried yesterday for some reason about it and I’m glad to see that it's still going strong or at least I hope it is.  Do you know how many signatures it has on the back?

That article puts things into a somewhat better perspective than some of the elders think. While the CCM can hold over 1000 missionaries, President Pratt says that we'll probably receive upwards of 1,200 missionaries by the time I leave.  Today we receive not only the missionaries assigned to Benemerito, but now Peru and Argentina--probably around 200 of them. Peru and Argentina MTC's are over capacity and we're getting the overflows.  Less food for us. Thanks again for the cliff bars. I sold some to the other elders in our Casa and made some good Pesos.

But yeah I know the guy who wrote the article! His daughter is Carla Swenson and I went to Bingham Ball with her my junior year. He walked up to me as I was getting juice in the Comedor and he said, "Hi Bryce I'm here because Mr. Hicks wanted an article in the Prospector about all the Bingham boys down here." I laughed and didn't recognize him at first but then I did. He sat with me and my district for the next couple meals and took a couple of pictures of us.  He sent them to Carla who then put them on Twitter and I hear it's all the rage between Bingham and Hillcrest. (Elder Adams went to Hillcrest and was SBO President.) 

This week has been a doosey. At the beginning I was feeling super confident in my Spanish and my teaching skills, but this week has been a trial for me. Yesterday I had a real humbling experience while teaching.  Elder Marchello and I were teaching one of our investigators, Eliana, and I wasn't sure exactly what was going on in the lesson, but I was doing my best.  Suddenly I had the strongest impression to read from Moroni 8 about infant baptism. But like I said I wasn't sure what was going on in the lesson so I sat there hesitating to share. I never got around to it.  After the lesson I told Elder Marchello about this and he told me that's exactly what Eliana needed to hear.  I felt terrible. It weighted on me the rest of the day.  I may not know what's being said in the lesson, but El Espiritu does.  I won't ignore a prompting while I teach ever again.  The spirit knows what people need, and I can try my best to know. But I must rely on El Espiritu santo to tell them what the Lord wants them to know.

Let me just say that I've gotten much more organized and clean in the past few weeks.  I went over to the house where Elder Clark, Jordan, Jones, and Owen are staying and it was a mess. I asked them to clean it up so that they can have more room for the spirit. 

Elder Christensen had us do a squat workout where we did over 260 body weight squats and I haven't been able to walk for two days. Today is much better but hot diggity, I'm still limping a little bit. Hermana De La Vega likes to make fun of us when we kneel down to pray or walk anywhere. She thinks she's so funny. 

I'm sorry I don't have much to write.  This week has been hard, but I'm optimistic for this coming one.  We get to go to the temple for the first time today, and I look forward to seeing how the veil pans out. Spanish sessions are interesting I hear.  But I'll love it I bet. I really just need to be close as I possibly can to the Lord. I need some help.  Thank you for keeping me in your prayers, you are always in mine :) 

Yo sé que Thomas S. Monson es un profeta. Yo amo el Evangelio de Jesucristu. Estoy Agredecido por la oportunidad to be here in the CCM.  (Doing my best to do it in spanish) Yo sé que José smith es un profeta.  La Iglesia de Jesucristu de los Santos de Los Ültimos Dios es verdad.  En el nombre De Jesucristo Amen.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Elders Kelley and Rodabough--Just two members of the Army of Helaman

Elders Kelley and Rodabough were able to spend an hour together in the Dallas Airport on July 23, 2013.  Elder Kelley was flying to Italy and Elder Rodabough was flying to Mexico.  The cool thing about this story is that Elder Kelley's plane had been delayed for a few hours and Elder Rodabough was placed on a latter flight than the other missionaries he was traveling with.  If these things had not happened these two close friends wouldn't have had the chance to see each other!  Coincidence or tender mercy?  I think these two would put it in the tender mercy category. 

Friday, August 9, 2013

Deseret News Story August 9, 2013--Yes that is Elder Rodabough in the very first paragraph!


Mexico City MTC training hundreds of missionaries

By Jason Swensen , Church News staff writer
Published: Friday, Aug. 9 2013 7:36 a.m. MDT

 Elder Dalton Gee, left, of Nephi, and his companion, Elder Ty Dale of Mesa, Ariz., practice teaching a missionary discussion in Spanish with their instructor, Ryan Draper. (Jason Swensen, Deseret News) 

MEXICO CITY — Several weeks ago, Bryce Rodabough was serving as a Bingham High School student body officer, sporting T-shirts and enjoying his final days of class before graduation.
Things have changed. The 18-year-old South Jordan native now calls Mexico City his home — at least for another week or two. He wears a tie every day and tops off most of his meals with a corn tortilla. He's doing his best to converse with others in Spanish.

And everyone calls him Elder.

Elder Rodabough is one of 733 full-time Mormon missionaries studying at the recently opened Missionary Training Center in Mexico City. Many, like Elder Rodabough, are from Utah.

For the past few weeks, almost all new missionaries from the United States and Canada who have been called to Spanish-speaking assignments in those two countries are coming to this sprawling, 91-acre campus for intensive language training. Many other North Americans assigned to serve in Latin American lands are also spending their first six weeks of missionary service here at the Mexico City MTC.

Missionary companions Sister Chalese Johnson, left, of Ogden, and Sister Rebecca Newman of Elk Ridge walk to their dorm room at the Mexico City Missionary Training Center. (Jason Swensen, Deseret News) 

Just a few months ago, the majority of North American missionaries with Spanish-language assignments studied at the MTC in Provo.

That changed following the pivotal announcement last January that the storied, church-owned Benemerito de las Americas school would be transitioned into a missionary training center. Ceremonies for the final high school graduating class at Benemerito were held on June 14. The MTC's first wave of new missionaries arrived about two weeks later.

"The transition is practically complete," said Mexico City MTC President Carl B. Pratt. "And we still have a lot of room to expand."

An emeritus general authority and a Mexico native, President Pratt has witnessed decades of steady growth throughout his country and across Latin America. Still, he recognizes the new MTC in Mexico City is a dynamic symbol of a historic, hastened period of missionary work in the church.

The scenic entrance to the Mexico City Missionary Training Center includes a "B" on the mountain behind the center, a lasting nod to the facility's storied past as the LDS Church-owned Benemerito de las Americas school. (Jason Swensen, Deseret News)

Last year, the church announced a new minimum age policy for missionaries beginning full-time service — age 18 for men, 19 for women. Since then, there has been a surge in young people accepting mission calls. New or repurposed facilities and infrastructure, such as the former Benemerito school, were needed to handle the increase in missionaries.

The Mexico City MTC is able to accommodate 1,000 missionaries.

Despite the large number of elders and sisters studying here, the facility feels open and airy. Each day, instructors take their students outdoors to review their lessons under tall shade trees. Companionships practice their Spanish outside their dorm rooms or on a bench in one of the center's many plazas.

Time at the Mexico City MTC is not limited to rigorous study. Almost every day the elders and sisters have access to the center's variety of athletic and exercise facilities. Many missionaries have fun playing basketball, outdoor volleyball, ping-pong, soccer or Ultimate Frisbee. Others burn off the day's stress in the center's training room.

"Sunday is my favorite day of the week," said Elder Collin Butterfield, 19, of West Jordan. "It's a break from all the regular study of the week, and it's very spiritual."

In a few weeks, Elder Butterfield will leave Mexico City and begin his Spanish-speaking assignment in the Minnesota Minneapolis Mission. His time at the Mexico City MTC has provided him an appreciation for the Latino culture and people.

"I love it here," he said. "You can approach anyone, say 'Hola, como esta?,' and in an instant you have a new friend." 

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Email sent August 6, 2013. Seriously Elder Rodabough--you already lost your camera!

This week has been a quick one. When Elder Doman, and yes I mean Mitch Doman from Bingham High School, (There are 7 other Bingham boys here and more will probably come in the next 5 hours) told me that time would fly and the language would become more attainable after the first week, I believed him, but not to this extent!  The week went by so fast. 
I'm glad you got to see the picture from Bryce Cameron! He was super excited to see me and take the photo. He stopped me right on my way to class and told my companion to take it hahaha.  I can't find my camera, which makes me feel terrible, but I have a feeling it will turn up. I have faith. I've only actually lost a few things and I find things I'd say about 93% of the time. So statistics are on my side. And the Lord is on my side, which I would say is better than statistics.  You know what else would be good to have the Lord on your side? Water polo. He could just run around.
Well lets just say I'm no longer like Niagra Falls. I figured out that if I stop using the tap water to brush my teeth I don't have as many problems. Also the beans--beans are bad.
My district is doing much better, and we're coming together quite swimmingly.  Elder Doman asked me how we do it, being so close but not getting to distracted from our studies. I told him that I guess I just lucked out with my bunch.  Another pair, Elder Adams and Elder Christensen just got called to be the Branch Executive Secretaries.  So my district is representing pretty dang well. 
Ok, so I'm not totally out of using the non-missionary lingo. But it's only my second week. So I get some wiggle room.
Let me tell you about the MTC president.  He looks like one of the members of our ward, but I can't remember the ward member's name. He looks unhappy and serious all the time, But anyway, give him the voice of Jeff Bridges and that's it.  He's lived in Argentina ever since his mission. Either being a lawyer for the church or just being awesome for the church.  He's a real man's man you know? His favorite quote to use when a missionary asks a question is, "Well Elder, the worst thing they can do is send you home." but he says it much more sarcastically that I just can't describe through electronic mail.
Lessons are going well. Earlier last week our ïnvestigator committed to be baptized, and then became our teacher, Hermano Russell.  He's one of the most sincere men I have ever met. He is such a powerful teacher and missionary.  Me and one of the sisters in my district looked through Preach My Gospel and it was like "The Key" to all conversion.  It's like Isaiah himself wrote the notes.  Now we have two investigators, our orginal investigator, a new investigator, and our original teacher Hermana Sherwood.  
Spanish is getting better. I'm not amazing, but I can pick up more words being said, and I can use verbs a lot better, which is very helpful.  Time will give me the ability to speak, I just have to have faith and be patient.
Let's talk about my district. So if I reference them you can understand.
Let's start off with Elder Adams and Elder Christensen:
Elder Adams will be an Ambassador with me up at Utah state. He's from Sandy and went to Hillcrest.  He's the hardest worker in the district. he studies the gospel and the language. Elder Christensen seems to be having a hard time taking things seriously, but is still here for the long run.  He did martial arts in high school and is from Park City. He hopes to go into the Army and does about 200 pushups a night. Seriously 200--probably even more.
Elder Jones and Elder Owen:
Elder Jones is my true equal in the Spanish language. He, like me, can understand a lot of what is said, but cannot respond.  He played basketball in high school and is very athletic. He grew up in Las Vegas but lives in St. George. I introduced him to ultimate Frisbee and he is now hooked.  Elder Owen is from Las Angeles and is very.... serious.  He can crack a joke but seems like a kid who's here for business. He knows Spanish amazingly well and works very hard. 
Elder Jordan and Elder Clark:
Probably the funniest companionship in the district.  Elder Jordan is from Seattle, or at least he says he is. He's really from a town 45 minutes outside of Seattle. About 20 miles above where civilization ends acording to him.  He did a semester up at BYU Idaho. He's the funniest Elder in our district and he continues to be. Elder Clark probably would've been a really good friend of mine in high school if we had met. He lived in Kaysville and went to Davis High School. He talks, but in a quieter tone and knows by far the most Spanish in the district (aside from Hermana De La Vega). He took 5 years in high school and middle school.
Hermana Winters and Hermana De La Vega: 
I met Hermana Winters when I flew out from Salt Lake. When we were sitting outside our gate she sat down by me and we started talking. She did a year up at Utah State and she loves talking about her time up there. She played volleyball in high school and whenever we play it's like returning a serve from Zeus.  Hermana De La Vega is from Las Vegas and I met her when I flew from Dallas to Mexico. She had missed her flight and had to be rescheduled.  She went to a year at UNLV and her mother and father are both from Mexico. We all question why she's here for six weeks when she speaks Spanish almost fluently. We usually go to her with our questions.
Then me and my companion, but you know enough about us. But if you have any questions I'd be more than willing to answer them.  Also heads up, Elder Marchello's uncle lives in South Jordan and he says he's going to stop by..... Again, heads up.  The pouch still hasn't arrived but I imagine it will this week.  Part of my district responsibilities is to check the mail once a day.  So I'll see it then. The Hermanas also check it, "Just to be safe". haha Know that I am safe, I am healthy and I am filled with the spirit. 
Elder Rodabough