Another week in the MTC has gone by, and it has gone by so fast that I cannot believe that I am almost half way done in the MTC!!! The first week was deathly slow and now this past week has come and gone so fast.
It has been a great week. We have been teaching Enrique in Spanish. Me and Elder Kearl have got him to commit to baptism (again, this investigator is an actor, but we treat him and pray for him as if he was real). Probably the coolest lesson me and my companion have ever taught with him was when we were talking to him about prayer and the Holy Ghost. He was talking about how he felt good when the Spirit was with him, but that he had a hard time knowing if the church was true (It might have been the Book of Mormon that he was worried about, I can't remember that...). Anyway, I bore my testimony to him in Spanish and helped him to understand the Spirit better and how to feel it continually throughout his life. I then asked him if he could pray with us at that very moment and ask God if the church was true. He responded hesitantly, but agreed. It was probably one of the greatest spiritual experiences ever when we knelt down and listened to Enrique ask God if the church was true. Afterwards, me and my companion remained silent so that Enrique could think and feel the Spirit. He then told us that he felt warm inside, and that he thought the church was true. It was an incredible experience.
No, we did not give him a blessing. My companion was worried because we weren't familiar with the language enough to do so. I really wanted to do it, but it is okay! We are finished teaching Enrique now. Our teacher (Hermano Ostler) said that we had a certain number of lessons to teach. If Enrique was a real investigator, we would probably still be working with him. But because this is just practice, we have ended. The person who acted as Enrique is Hermano Harris, and he is now a second MTC teacher for our district. We now have two more practice investigators named David (our teacher, Hermano Ostler) and Leonardo (same person who acted as Enrique). We taught David two days ago for the first time and it was a very humbling (and frustrating) experience!! He wasn't even paying attention! I wanted to grab him by the shoulders and yell "Escuchame!!" (Listen to me!). HAHA! But it was a great experience! We will teach Leonardo for the first time later today.
Teaching is incredible. We have also taught in the TRC program (Teaching Real Citizens). This program involves having real people, whether inactive, active, or nonmember, come and listen to missionaries teach them. That was a cool experience. We focused on getting to know the people before teaching the lesson because that builds trust. In one of the cases that we taught a real person, our conversation with her flowed beautifully. I could understand her, she could understand us. We were joking with her and we were having a great time. It is an amazing experience. Not only is the language amazing, but the Spirit is also wonderful. There are moments in lessons where you just have to say something! You just have to bear your testimony while looking into the people's eyes because you feel so strongly that you should! It is awesome.
The language is coming along very well. I can go much of the day speaking Spanish, but I don't do it often. I need to work on that because it is best to speak your language every day. There have been some (not many haha) moments during lessons where I say something in Spanish that flows so smoothly that it sounds like I have been speaking Spanish for years. Those moments are fantastic. When you don't have to pause or think about it...you just say it, and it is understood.
So I will answer the rest of your questions. Yes, Elder Flake is in my district. We found out that we both know Jon already. We even found out that before our missions, we were in the same room together during Jon's farewell. I was watching two skinny kids playing ping pong, and lo and behold, one of the kids was Elder Flake! Elder Flake is a very good man. We have become very good friends.
I have gotten sick again here at the MTC, but it is okay. My companion is giving me Airbourne and that helps. And yes, we cannot shake hands. We do "elbow taps" instead haha! Thank you to everyone who has written me (Masan, Grandma/Grandpa, Katie, Jon, Brandon, Bro. Jones, etc.), I will write back as soon as I can today. It is really hard to find time to write so much so please be patient with me haha!
And your last question: Fast Sunday was really good. Me and my companion had a personal and companionship fast. I didn't really feel much hunger because we had so much that we were doing that day so I didn't really think about it very much!
I forgot to mention last email...me and my companion have been assigned as Sacrament Coordinators, which means we are in charge of assigning the prayers for Sacrament Meeting, and taking down and setting up the Sacrament.
Me and my companion get along very well. We joke around all the time! HE hates cats so much so I will often tease him by asking something like "Usted quire muchos gatos?" (Do you want a lot of cats?) and he will sometimes respond by saying something like "No! Los gatos son de el diablo!" (No! Cats are of the devil!) Haha I love Elder Kearl. We race each other up and down the stairs as well. We have a record of 15 seconds to run up 4 floors and we want to cut it down to 10 haha. It is just a fun thing that we do to give the day some extra excitement. Me and Elder Kearl don't really have any serious problems as a companionship. So that is good.
However, God is teaching me to be patient, because there ARE some people in the district that drive me absolutely nuts. It is often very loud during study times so I have to be patient and not react with anger to all the people that are goofing off during a spiritual time. But I know it is normal that people are bothered by other people's quirks...and it is often very simple things. For example, one Hermana's voice annoys me to death. But, I need to be patient! And patience has helped me to feel the Spirit.
I am 13 pounds heavier than when I last weighed myself, which was probably a few months before my mission, maybe more. So I don't know if that weight came from the MTC or not, but I wouldn't be surprised if it did. I am working out like crazy during gym time so that helps me stay in good shape.
I had a cool spiritual experience earlier in the week. Actually there are 2 that I want to mention. First, I was doing some studying on some things, and I was thinking how it was possible that one such as God could work through someone such as me. I thought of an analogy that I learned in seminary. Diamonds are formed from coal, when the coal is pure, and is exposed to heat, pressure, and time. So in life, this is comparable to trials. We begin as coal, but trials refine us into diamonds. So I shared with my district some of my feelings (because we do that every day), and told them that I felt God was telling me "Chase, I have not called a diamond to serve this mission. I have called a lump of coal. And as you serve I can make you into a diamond." I thought that was cool.
Also, we watched a video recording of a talk given by David A. Bednar in the MTC in the past. He spoke of recognizing the Spirit. His answer to the question "How do we know if we are feeling the Spirit, or if it is just our own thoughts?" was "Quit worrying about it!!" He said that we are not guided by the Spirit when we sit down and analyze how we feel. We are guided as we get up, move forward. As we keep covenants and press onward, our thoughts and feelings merge with the Spirit. So, often, spiritual promptings come in the form of simple thoughts that we don't immediately recognize as spiritual impressions.
Love, Elder Anderson