Tuesday, September 28, 2010

MTC Week Four!

September 28, 2010

Dear Mom, Dad, Family and Friends,
Since the last time I wrote you one of the Hermanas in our District left to go to the MTC in Peru and she was way cool!  We got 4 new elders from another district to join our district and the new Elders are awesome. Elder Sainsbury and Elder Olsen were two of the new Elders, the ones that I mentioned loved the Skizzy! I sent you a picture of them. As my hair grows I’m rocking the comb over now and so is Sainsbury, we call it “el cabello de los Reyes”, the hair of the kings.

We have been teaching in Spanish a lot and just got done with the plan of salvation. We are teaching an investigator named Kiki for practice and just got to teach him the second lesson in Spanish.  My Spanish is coming along well and I am fairly sure I will leave the MTC being nearly fluent. It is crazy to say that, but I know the Lord is helping me 100 percent with the language as it’s hard to learn a new language in just nine weeks. We had a guy come teach us named Brother Reis about how to be better missionaries. He is one of the Elders from the video “The District” you remember, the videos I was supposed to watch before entering the MTC. Anyway, he taught us some great things about how the gospel ties into everything in the world.

 I have been trading ties with some of the Elders here and now I have some pretty sweet ties. Tell Mom not to be sad, but I only have like 3 of the originals that I brought with me now. I’ll have to send you some pictures of them; I got this sweet tie from the 80's. Since we no longer look at the girls here, the guys have started to take a real fascination with ties and trading them trying to get the best ones they can find.  If I win the pull-up contest, I’ll be taking about 18 ties with me to Portland.  I guess I will have plenty of ties to give away throughout my mission huh?

 The gym opened last week! So I have been playing basketball during gym every week. Everyone calls me “Air Mormon” because I wear that shirt that I made like Michael Jordan but with a Book of Mormon in his hand.  Even though I’m not that tall, I can still go down in the paint and get the rebounds!

 I got your package and it was awesome! The cookies were gone in a few minutes, remember Elder Muntini and all of his Tahitian brothers and friends came over and cleaned them out ha-ha. The beef jerky is amazing and so is the trail mix! The mangos were so good and I brought them to class to share with my district. I gave everyone some and then left for an hour or so to go study or something leaving the mangos behind in the classroom. When I got back they were nearly all gone. One of the Hermanas in my district ate them all when no one was looking. We call her the “La Ladrona” (thief) now as a joke. She felt bad, so she promised the next time she gets a package she will give everyone some. If you want to, you could send me some more Costco dried mangos since they were a big hit here at the MTC.

We served in the cafeteria again and it was amazing. This time we put frozen foods into huge freezers. It was so cold in the freezers while we stacked the foods but it makes you feel warm when you get to serve others. It was one of the cafeteria workers birthdays and we sang for him. His name is Shannon and he is like 4 ft tall.  He turned bright red when we sang for him, it was great!

There was a wrestling match in one of the rooms last night but I did not join in this time since I learned my lesson from last time. I still have scabs on my feet and knees from last time I wrestled.   All the elders came into a small dorm room that we live in and watched two elders go at it. They started out the match with an announcer, one of the elders put gold balm powder in his hands and blew it out as he entered the room, for dramatic effect, it was pretty funny to watch. At the end of it though, they both had bloody, rug burned knees from the carpet.

I have been reading in Matthew about Jesus Christ’s earthly ministry and it is so amazing to read. It is hard to explain in words how I feel when I talk about Jesus’ teachings and parables. He is so intelligent and amazing, the way he taught. I mean, He is the Savior and he does know all things, so I guess it shouldn’t surprise me but when I read his teachings I feel the spirit so strongly. I love the way that the Sadducees and Pharisees tried to disprove the Son of God and couldn’t.  I don’t understand how they couldn’t believe with the amazing doctrine he taught. I know that he is my Savior and through Him and His atonement, I can return to live with my Heavenly Father and family one day!

I read the scripture in Ether 12:27 that you sent me and prayed about it. It really hit me hard how the Lord will help my weaknesses become strengths. I prayed and the Lord has shown me my weaknesses. Know it is my job to make them strengths with his help, thanks for sending that to me.  I know the Lord answers my prayers, as every night as I kneel down and pray I know He is listening. The feeling I get when I know He is there is indescribable. That’s why I love to pray so much. 

 I have been learning so much spiritually while here at the MTC as I have time to pray, ponder and listen.  I have learned to choose to see the good in all people, and ignore the bad.  I am striving to do that.  I have also learned that you need to be yourself as you teach, and not be a robot or try to be someone you are not. You can’t lose your personality in this work, and maybe my personality will help me reach some people that others could not.

Anyway, I am out of time so please tell Oscar I will write him when I get more time.  He is very special to me.

I read in 2nd Nephi 33:15 Nephi’s closing words, “for thus hath the Lord commanded me, and I must obey. Amen. I love how these were Nephi’s last words. It is my desire and goal to obey the Lord and be the best missionary I can be. 

Peace out!  Give my love to everyone.


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Week Three at the MTC!

Dear Family and Friends,

What’s up? I have been good since the last time I wrote you! I have so much to say so here goes.

Mom, if you want to send me a package that would be cool, I haven’t gotten one yet. You could send some Beef Jerky, some Nature Valley Honey and Oat bars and candy would be nice, and then I could share it with my companions. Could you also send me some pictures of the family and my friends in the mail too so I can show my friends here about my life back home? I have been receiving letters from my boy Hardy as we will remain in contact for the next two years and share with each other our spiritual experiences! I just got a letter from Scott the other day and it was pretty funny, I’m so glad he wrote me. I also have been getting letters from girls that I knew at college and back home. It’s always a good feeling when they pass out mail at the end of the day and you see that you have one and someone cares about you!

Spanish is going great! I’m not fluent yet ha-ha but I’m striving my best to learn the language. Our teachers in the MTC say that our whole district speaks Spanish very well, but it isn’t likely that I will leave here before nine weeks. The native speakers, who are already fluent, leave within 3 weeks of being here and I’ve already been here about 3 weeks. My whole district is going different places. Four of the guys are going to México, my companion, Elder Larson is going to Salt Lake City, and the four Sisters are going to Bolivia, Peru, St. George and Seattle. I met all the other guys that are going to Portland and they all seem pretty cool, the only reason I’m not in there District is because they are in the beginner Spanish class and thanks to Mom I am in the intermediate class. Thanks Mom! There are about 8 of them; it’s crazy because they are sending so many guys to Portland right now.

My companions and I have decided to try and not speak English anymore, only in case of an emergency. Anytime you get caught speaking one word in English, you have to do 10 pushups. If you speak a sentence, you have to iron someone’s shirt. If you completely give up, you don’t want to know what we have planned. We have been doing this for about 5 days now and we will continue on for another week. I can see my Spanish improving everyday as I do this and my pushups too. I’m learning so much here about the gospel and the Spanish language. It truly is a miracle that I can stay awake for 16 hours a day studying and still wanting to study more. I have stopped doing pull-ups for now because I get a huge headache. I don’t know why so I have been taking a break from pull-ups. I still think I can win the tie contest at the end of the nine weeks though.

The other day my companions and I had some free time and so we went for a walk to the Book Store. Before we got there we were asked by a lady to help out with carrying some suit cases for some senior missionaries. After we were done helping them out, some old guy that served a mission in Japan started giving us some awesome advice for our missions. He told us that attitude is everything! He said “If a lot of people say no, one will say yes”! He also told us that he got in a bad car accident in his life and went into a coma for 3 months, but after he got out, he took the same positive attitude he used on his mission to recover. He was a thug! His name was Elder Rowe or in Japan they say Echi Rowe! After talking to Echi Rowe, I will continue to have a positive attitude no matter what happens in the mission field.

I have been playing softball during gym time and that is always fun, I always merk the ball! We also have a thing called tie Tuesdays too, where we trade ties with everyone each Tuesday. I have gotten some pretty sweet ties so far!

I have also made a pact with the guys in my district to not look at girls more than once. It wasn’t that hard in the beginning, but now it is becoming extremely tough! All the girls are starting to look like super models. But as Elders, we cannot focus on that so we have made a pact within our district that if any of the guys catch you looking more than once, they get to punch you in the arm! You know how the saying goes, look once you’re a man, look twice you’re not a servant of God! Anyway, that’s helping and it’s helping us to further focus on our purpose here. We have decided instead of saying “that girl is fine”, we say there goes another daughter of God, or there goes a Sister of Zion. Crazy, but it helps to stay focused.

We taught our second lesson in Spanish and it was amazing! The Spanish was a little bit iffy but the Spirit was so strong. One thing that I keep remembering here is what Dad told me, that people don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.

Service was awesome this week again as we laid cheese on trays in the cafeteria. We started singing hymns again and really made the lunch ladies happy; they were applauding and requesting songs again. I’m glad we get to help out in the cafeteria!

Last Sunday I was having a pretty bad day, my head hurt and little things were bothering me. It wasn’t the people that were the problem, it was me. So I got on my knees and prayed to the Lord for help. I pretty much poured out my soul to Him telling Him about all my worries and concerns. I know that He answers my prayers and I know that He has helped me since Sunday. I am no longer frustrated as much with the language and have been able to exercise more patience. I love the Lord with all my heart and I know He loves me too. Talking to my Heavenly Father is one of my favorite things to do and the Spirit I feel is so strong when I talk to Him! I know I can go to Him whenever I have any problems.

I watched the movie “The Testament” a while ago here and even though the acting wasn’t the greatest, it was still a great movie! There is no denying that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world, I know this with all my heart!

I am out of time so have to run. Peace out!

Give my love to everyone,


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

2nd Letter from the MTC!

I have so much to tell you again and the time is going so fast I have to write quickly. I will have to write you a real letter later as 30 minutes is just not enough to tell you all the cool things that are going on here. So much has happened and I am having such a great time. My relationships with my companionship and district members are growing so strong! I have been able to go to the Provo temple today and last week too. We get to go every week on P day and that is such a blessing! The Spirit that I feel there is amazing and I know that God is listening to my prayers as I speak to him in the temple. I know that he hears me wherever I am for that matter, but the temple is such a quiet, spiritual place.

Provo, Utah Temple

I have learned allot this week since I have been reading in the New Testament. I have been reading in Matthew about Jesus Christ. I love every part in it but as I have been reading it this week what particularly stood out to me was Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. How great are the teachings of Jesus! I found myself being bothered by this other missionary that has class in my hall. He would always bother me with little pranks and I kind of wanted to take him out. But after reading about the Sermon on the Mount and how the Lord said to love thy neighbor, I have gone out of my way to befriend this guy and now we are really close friends. I think he’s the man! I am striving to live by the teachings of Jesus and not judging others because I have a beam in my eye!

Now a cool experience has happened to me since I last wrote you. These new Elders moved in down the hall and they are from the Marshall Islands, Tahiti, and Tonga. They all speak different languages so it is hard for us to communicate with each other. So, I got my boys from my district together and we went over and welcomed them and it barely seems like there is a language barrier between us now at all. It was really awesome getting to know them and after that I invited them over for some beef jerky and Milano cookies. They all loved the cookies and I think that beef jerky and cookie were some of the first words that the big guy from Tahiti had ever learned in English. He always comes over to the room now and says Cookie. He’s the man!

This past week we had a service day where we got to help out in the MTC cafeteria. Our job was to lay out bacon on a tray for the Sisters who work there to cook. At first, it was getting kind of boring and repetitive so my companions and I decided to start singing hymns from the Church to liven things up a bit. It might sound lame, but it was really fun. The people working there, like the lunch ladies, started to request songs for us to sing, and even stopped working for a minute to listen. I’m not saying that we sounded good; it was just that we were having fun while serving! We even sang happy birthday to Mary, a lady that worked there who was having her birthday the next day! It was really awesome to serve and I hope we get to work back there again!

We taught the first lesson in English to investigators that have come to the MTC to learn more about Christ. I could feel the spirit strongly as I testified that Jesus Christ is our Savior and by His atonement, we can return to live with Him again someday.

I had a wrestling match the other night and let’s just say it probably wasn’t the best idea! I first wrestled one of the guys in my district named Elder Boyack. After we wrestled on the carpet our knees got rug burn and hurt pretty bad. Then Elder Bowers wanted a piece of me and challenged me to wrestle. I couldn’t deny a challenge so we wrestled and my knees got burnt even worse. After I got done wrestling him, my big new friend, the guy from Tahiti, that only speaks French wanted to wrestle. I really didn’t want to wrestle him because this guy is pretty big; he is about 6'2, 225 pounds. But everyone was calling me out and my pride wouldn’t let me walk away. So I squared up with him and we started wrestling. Little did I know that in his mind, we were playing rugby, he didn’t think we were wrestling. So after he came charging at me, I dropped down and hit him with a fireman! I flipped him right over onto his back but it was not worth it at all. My knees got all messed up on the rug and I even chipped my tooth a little. After I let him up off his back everyone was cheering. Even though the Prophet Joseph loved to wrestle and horse around I think this will be my last time, especially with big Tahitian’s. I’ll send you a picture of him though, his name is Elder Mutini. It is so fun spending time with everyone here!

Sunday was amazing as my friend Elder Munoz gave a talk in Spanish and I understood just about every word. He basically said it doesn’t matter where you are called to serve, “no importa”, it’s that you were called by God to serve. That really hit home to me as I realized that it doesn’t matter. I got to say goodbye to Bennett before he left for Mexico and I know he will do a good job spreading the word of God. I’ve learned a lot about myself here, that I am pretty prideful. Next time I get challenged to a wrestling match on rough carpet, I should be able to say no, because I have learned that nothing good can come from it. I also need to have humility in the fact that I’m not perfect and there are a ton of things I need to work on!

I am now up to 28 pull-ups in a row and I am more than half way to my goal of 40 by the time I leave here. I am working hard to win the ties!!!! Something funny on a closing note is that I have a couple of nick-names already. The guys all call me Elder Dolor here. I guess just like Elder PAIN in English, Dolor means pain in Spanish haha. They also call me King Lamoni because I tend to fall asleep when the spirit is really strong!! Haha.

Please send me addresses from the family so I can write them all letters. Also, can you send me more pictures of my friends and family cause I want to show them to my companions? I will send you pictures of what’s going on here in the mail! I am learning a lot here and will continue to update you, I love you.
PEACE OUT!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

1st Letter from the MTC!

Dear Mom and Dad,

I only have 26 minutes to write you and I have so much to say because so much has happened in the last week since I got here! So if my spelling or grammar is bad I’m sorry, it’s just because I’m rushing to get in a much as possible.

So, after you all dropped me at the curb at the MTC, I was escorted by my host Elder who is from Australia. He gave me the low down on what goes on here and I was very excited to start. As soon as I got all my papers that I needed I met back up with him to go to my room. That day is all a big blur, so it is a good thing I have been writing in my journal everyday so I know what I did! After I went to my room, I had to go to my classroom where I met my district! Everyone in my district seems really cool and I am excited to get to know them over the next 9 weeks. I then met my Spanish teacher Hermano Garcia and I found out he is from Chile. He is a really cool guy and I feel the spirit strongly every time we have class. I then met my companion Elder Larson who introduced himself to me by asking if I liked to play soccer. I said of course I like to play soccer and from then on I knew we would be great companions together!

After I got to meet everyone, we went to lunch where I saw Bennett Nichols sitting next to one of my friends from BYU-I. They were sitting together at lunch and once I yelled over to Bennett the whole table threw up the Skizzy! Ha-ha they told me that they have been spreading the Skizzy and telling people about me hah, I don’t know why. I have got to tell you about two Elders I met named Elder Sansbury and Elder Olsen. I told them about the Skizzy and now every time I look over at them, wherever they are; I see them teaching people the Skizzy. So everywhere I go now people are throwing it up and saying “Yo Elder Dolor (means Payne in Spanish).

As I talked to Bennett, he told me about this game they play at the cafeteria called reverse pick pocketing! Instead of taking something out of someone’s pocket you put something in someone’s pocket! So they take spoons and put them into people’s pockets when they aren’t looking ha-ha! We have been playing this game during breakfast lunch and dinner! When you check your pockets you end up having like 3 or 4 spoons in them. Kids are getting really good at being sneaky. The spoon game has been going nuts because everyone is playing now, some people end up going back to their rooms with spoons in every pocket! I don’t participate that much but it is so funny to watch it happening.

After dinner we talked to some investigators about the church and it was like a roll playing thing in a group. Me and my companion stood up and shared our testimonies in Spanish about prayer with one of the investigators! I sat next to Elder Utuifi in one of the groups (remember the Elder we met at the Distribution Center). It was hard to teach some of the investigators because most of the elders in the group don’t know Spanish very well yet.

Anyway, I went back to the apartment and met everyone on the top floor where we are staying. One of the Elders next door is an Elder Payne too, but I don’t think we are related. I then met the other guys on the floor and we are all really good friends now. My district and I have also made up a competition to see who can do the most pull-ups at the end of 9 weeks. The winner gets 1 tie from every loser! I hope I win, so I can get some cool new ties! I am up to 24 pull-ups in a row right now; I think there is something in the food here that makes you stronger or something. After 9 weeks I should be back up to my 30 in a row during my wrestling days.

I can also see the gift of tongues helping me as I say Spanish words that I have never said in my life during conversations. My Spanish is improving dramatically and I thank the Lord for that. We met the Branch President and counselors and they're awesome! I also had an amazing spiritual experience! My companion Elder Larson wasn’t feeling well so he asked me to give him a blessing and I did. I’m glad that he had so much faith in me even though he hasn’t known me for more than 2 days. But it feels like 2 weeks here. We have now gotten Elder Riches in our companionship making us a trio. He is tight and we all get along together very well.

I have been a little sick while at the MTC these past few days but I have still enjoyed it thoroughly. I figure if I like it here when I’m sick, I’m really going to like it when I’m a 100% healthy. The food is good here, and I was able to share my testimony in Spanish the other day with 3 random people in the MTC. My testimony is growing and so is my desire to study the scriptures every day. If you would have told me that I would like to read and study for 16 hours a day a month ago I would have said you're crazy! But I really do love to study the words of God and learn more about Spanish everyday!

When I got here they told us we weren’t allowed to say Dude or Bro anymore, so I am trying to substitute it with other words like Elders of Zion, or Disciples of the Lord, etc. I got a letter from Elder Hardy the other day and he was like Dear Dawg, I miss your attitude Bro. So I know I can still talk like that a little, I just have to know when, and pick appropriate places. Our first companionship inventory went real well and I felt the spirit as our companionship counseled with each other. The rules here are pretty strict but I know as I follow them the Lord will bless me as He has already blessed me so much!

It has been so great here and I really love it. The spirit is so strong and I know that I am doing what the Lord wants me to do right now. Sunday was such a spiritual day and it was great to reflect on what has happened. I just want to leave you with my testimony and say that I know God lives and he loves me! I know that Jesus is his son and my Savior! I know that the work I am embarking on is the Lord’s work and I can’t wait to serve him and the people of Portland Oregon. I’ve got 20 seconds left, so peace out!


Elder Payne

Friday, September 3, 2010

I made it to the MTC!

Hi Everyone,

Sunday, Elder Richard Hinckley came to reorganize our Stake Presidency and I was a little afraid I would not know the new Stake President to well.  Boy was I wrong, what a wonderful blessing for me that my good friend and previous Bishop, C. Watson Nichols was called to be the new Stake President.  It was so cool to talk to President Nichols and reach the goal of going on a mission we set together. I will always appreciate his example and his love.  I hope to live up to his family mission statement of " We do hard things".   President Nichols set me apart in his office on Sunday night and I am now officially a full time missionary for the Lord Jesus Christ.  I can't wait to get to the MTC and get started learning Spanish and preparing to share the gospel.

President Nichols at my Open House

My parents and I left Monday morning  to go to SLC to visit family and to attend the SLC temple before going into the MTC.  It waas so awesome to see everyone and the temple was amazing inside.  I could have never imagined how beautiful and how sweet the spirit was inside. 
 I was sad to say goodbye to my little Abuelita as she is 90 and is getting very old, I only pray she will be here when I come home.  I have a special place in my heart for both my Abuelita and Nana.  It was great to be able to celebrate my big sister Alexandra's birthday too and to hang out with Clare, Parker, Nana and the gang.  I hope they write and stay in touch because two years is a long time. 
We got to go downtown to the Joseph Smith Memorial building and we saw a great new movie about Joseph Smith and the Restoration.  We met a Sister missionary from Portland who said it is a great place and I will love it there.  We took a tour of the Church office building and the Visitor Center and everyone was so nice.  Everyone said hello, and asked where I was going to be serving, it made me feel very blessed to be going on a mission. 
We left for Provo and the MTC around 11:00 AM, Wednesday morning,  so we would have plenty of time before I had to report at 1:30 PM.  We stopped in Orem at the Missionary Mall to pick up a backpack and get the free tie they offer for all Elders.  I picked the most outlandish tie they had!  We stopped at the 9th Street Creamery for a bite to eat and about 1:15 PM headed over to the MTC.  Wow, it was super to see all of the Elders in their white shirts and ties out there to greet and assist everyone.  They made me feel right at home.  I had a host to help me get my suitcases and to show me the ropes.  They said they expected about 440 Elders to show up that day.  I said goodbye to my parents and headed in to get started on the next two years.  I will keep in touch and let everyone know how things are going. 

Write me OK!
 Be good! 
 Peace Out!

Elder Nathan Payne

Cat nap on the plane to SLC

I will miss my Mom so much!

Modern Day Pioneer "Oregon or Bust"!

26 Story Church Office Building

Statue of the Prophet Joseph Smith

Joseph Smith Memorial Building, SLC, Utah

Conference Center downtown SLC

SLC Temle Grounds

View of the Great Salt Lake Valley

View of Temple Square from the top floor of the Church Offices
My Little Abuelita
Me, Alexandra and Parker at the Market Street Broiler Celebrating Alex's Birthday
My Nana and Granpa Clare
Missionary Training Center, Provo, Utah
Adios!  See you in two years.