Monday, September 29, 2008

Sleep Talking in Spanish

Hola Familia,

This week has been really good. I've been learning and growing a lot. This last week, on Thursday, we taught for the first time in only spanish. It was insane. I didn't know that I knew enough spanish to talk to somebody about the gospel for an hour. We truly are blessed with the gift of tongues. I'll tell you more about it in my letter.

The temple was especially good this morning. I was more prepared than ever before and I learned a lot. I feel spiritually renewed and ready to go to work.

I did get your card with my SD card in it. Thanks. The video was really nice. I really enjoyed seeing you all move around and talking. It's been a long time since I got to see you outside of a picture. That's also really cool that Elder Arnold and I are related. I told him on Sunday. He thought it was pretty neat. We would've been able to see the connection if he had gone back one more line in his family. Thanks for finding that out for me.

We had a really good speaker last night at our fireside. His name is Stephen B. Allen. He talked a lot about missionaries that had done something really just stupid this last week and ended up getting sent home or even put in jail. You don't need to worry about me doing that though. They were things like making bombs! And in that case there was a sheriff just three houses down. I won't go into the details but there were a lot of things that really were not very smart. The reason he talked about all of those things was to stress the importance of our companion. How we're together to protect each other from, one, doing stupid things, and two, to provide a witness against false charges. Elder Burr and I have are have always been really good about following that rule, but we're even better now. Some people at the meeting probably really needed to hear that.

It sounds like your date was fun Matthew. I would've liked to have been there to see you. Make sure you send pictures so I can feel like I didn't compeletely miss out. I would've loved to have eaten the food. The cafeteria food here just kind of tastes the same now. Occassionally we have really good meals. Nothing like home though. I can't complain though because it will probably be lots better than what we eat out in the field. We probably just won't have time to cook anything.

Sorry I didn't send the pictures. There wasn't very many new ones anyway. I had it all ready to go on Tuesday but I couldn't ever find any time to get over to the post office to have it weighed. Just to make sure I put enough stamps on it to make it to you.

I think I might dream in spanish sometimes. Elder Burr said that he woke up one night and me and Elder Sudol were talking to each other in spanish. Weird huh! I don't remember have very many dreams though.

I'm so excited to hear all of the wonderful things that you are all doing. I wish I could be there to take part in it. I love you all so very much. I pray for you everyday (more than once). Be happy and look for opportunities to help others. You'll find even greater joy and happiness.

Elder Ben Arnold

Monday, September 22, 2008

Spanish is Taking Over!

Hola querido familia,

I can't believe it's already been over a month since I've been gone. See, I'll be home before you know it. This past week has been extremely crazy. I've been forced to learn and experience a lot. I'll tell you more of the details in my letter that I write later today.

Since it's been a month there has been lots of changes in leadership in our branch. Elder Burr and I were both released as zone leaders. Elder White and Jasperson replaced us on Sunday. They're a solid set of missionaries and will do an execellent job. All of the district leaders and the coordinating sister were also changed. Elder Murray, George, and Faasee were all released. Elder Sudol took over as District Leader in our district. He's one of our roomates and you have a picture of him I think. I'm definitely going to send you the pictures I've taken today. We made some pretty cool ones last night.

The Spanish is coming along excellent. I even occasionally forget what words are in English and can only think of the spanish word. It doesn't happen very often but it is still cool. I've been understanding our teachers really well lately. We've also made a major transition to speaking pretty much only spanish during class. We're working on diminishing the english we speak outside of class too but that is not going as well. We just have to keep working at it.

We gave our last lesson at the TRC in english on last thursday. That means this upcoming thursday we have to give the entire first lesson in spanish. We are going to be so ready for it. It is amazing how quickly the Lord is allowing us to learn our new language.

I'm jealous of you Matthew and Jonathan. Even though it was muddy I would've loved to go mountainbiking with you. I've met a couple of Elders here who share my same passion. Elder Dahl and Elder Sudol both like mountainbiking a lot.

Thanks for the healthy snacks. It's nice to have something that isn't one hundred percent sugar. Which reminds me that I've been slowing down a little bit on gaining weight. I'm only up to 153 pounds now. I think it had something to do with being sick. I'm just about over it now though. My goal is 160 by the time I leave the MTC.

The food here was really good to begin with. Now it usually just okay. Occasionally we get a good meal. It all kind of starts to taste the same after a while. My favorite thing though is the chocolate milk. I usually have one glass with two of my meals each day. I hope that it's not too bad for me because it tastes really good.

I'm glad to hear you made there okay grandma. I'm excited to try some of your cookies (healthy or not). How long are you going to be staying?

We got to go to the temple again today. It is always a cool experience. Lately we've been doing names for President Watkins. I think we've done over fifty names as a zone for him.

Keep working hard in school. I pray for you to do well and have the desire to work hard every night. I feel like I'm in school right now. Except we study only spanish, preach my gospel, and the scriptures for several hours every day. Including on Saturday. Our classroom is not very large and we cram twelve of us plus a teacher in there for most of the day. It is crazy how well it works.

I need to go now. I need to leave a little bit of time so I can go and print all of my emails.

I love you all very very much. And I pray for you often.

Elder Ben Arnold

Monday, September 15, 2008

Ben Gives a Talk in Spanish!

Dear Family,

I didn't get to see the CES fireside our the other thing you talked about. It would be awesome if you sent me a copy of the talks. We did however get the chance to hear from both Elder Cook and President Uchtdorf at recent devotionals. They were both amazing talks. They give you such a strong desire to go and do good continually.

Thanks for the way sweet awesome cool ties. They're some of my newest favorites. I forgot to take pictures of me wearing them so I'll have to send you some next week when I wear them again. Also, thank you for the candy. It's always nice to have something to eat in the evening. We have dinner at 4:30. Early, huh. I love the cafeteria food. I can eat as much as I want. Don't worry mom I've been eating lots of salad and fresh fruits! I usually have them at least two meals every day. This has been causing me to gain more weight. I'm up to 150 now. I wonder how much I'll weigh by the time I leave. I bet I won't keep gaining weight out in the field though.

All of that weight is not turning into fat though. I work hard and have lots of fun during our gym time. Most of the time I play basketball and drench my shirt in sweat. On saturday though, I ran 5 miles in forty minutes with Elder Sudol. That made me really tired. And my legs were sore for a while after that.

I've been sick for the last few days. I think that I'm passed the worst of it though. I didn't feel as bad this morning as I did yesterday. I think the sickness got accelerated a little bit because I fasted and then ran 5 miles soon after that. I'm taking better care of myself now, so I should get better quickly.

I'm looking forward to eating some of grandma's cookies. They are some of my favorite!

I'm working on getting some more pictures to send you. I probably won't get it to you until next week. Maybe I'll surprise you though. I wanted to take pictures of all of the different places in the MTC so you could see all the things that I get to do.

It's pretty neat that you know Brother Parma, Amy. Thanks for the hug. He is an awesome teacher. When I found out that he knew you I felt like I had a physical connection back to you instead of just a strong spiritual one. Pretty cool.

Besides you all, my family, I've only written to Jeff Ackley and Jeff Dunford. I'll make sure I write my grandparents today. If there is anyone who really needs a letter just let me know. I'm starting to get really fast and good at writing them.

Right now I am doing my laundry. It's pretty easy. There isn't very many settings on the machines. Mostly all you do is put the clothes and the soap in and then tell it either to do whites or colors. There's no temperature control or anything like that. I'm pretty happy about that actually.

I gave a talk in Sacrament meeting yesterday. It was all in Spanish too! It only had to be five minutes so it wasn't too hard. It's amazing how blessed we are to learn the language so quickly. When we have the spirit with us we can learn so much with proportionally little effort.

Elder Burr and I went up to the temple again this morning. Once again it was awesome. I love how strong the spirit is there. It is a great place to ponder and to be taught by the spirit. I also got some cool pictures up there this morning. I can't wait to show you them.

It sound like flag football was pretty cool. I wish I could've been there to see you. Good job on giving it your all until the end Matthew. Remember that enduring to the end is always the hardest part when it comes to the gospel. I'm sorry your foot got stepped on Jonathan. That always hurts.

I love getting your letters. Your words make me feel close to you and they bring me comfort when I am missing you. I think of you often and love you so very much.

Elder Ben Arnold

Monday, September 8, 2008

He Misses Computers...but Loves the Temple

Hello Family,

I got the package with all of the stuff in it. And the calendar is awesome. I hung it up at our desk. It's cool to be able to see the time we have in the MTC in a larger picture. All we had before that was our day planners.

I'm sorry I haven't sent you any pictures yet. I'll make sure I send you a DVD today. I'll also try to take more pictures before then. I hope you enjoy them.

I heard about the Regional Conference. One of my teachers, Brother Parma was able to attend. I guess I didn't tell you. Sometime last week, time has become a big blur for me, Elder Cook the apostle came and spoke to us at a devotional. We have devotionals every sunday and tuesday. They're always very uplifting and spiritually strengthening.

Elder Burr and I saw the new Joseph Smith movie last night for the first time. I would highly recommend seeing it. It is the best most powerful movie that I have ever seen. And I mean that.

I'm still gaining weight. Last time I checked I was up to 147.5. Matthew watch out! I don't think I told you but I also ran a mile a few days ago and I surprised myself. I did it in 6 min 1.59 seconds. Now I've just got to shave off a few more seconds. Elder Burr and I run, lift weights, and play basketball during our gym time. It's a lot of fun and it's a nice break for our brains.

There are a lot of computers here and I can't do anything with them. It's driving me crazy! Haha. They have a pretty restrictive version of windows on them. And you can only check your email on some of them. It's kind of a bummer. It's better not to be distracted by all of that anyway.

We went to the temple this morning and did some names for President Watkins, who is our Branch President. It was an awesome spiritual experience. I learned a ton from the session. I can't wait to go back again next week.

Maybe it's a good thing I didn't clean up my room. You probably would never have found that remote if it was packed up in a box. I'm sorry that I left it such a mess though. Our dorm room is really clean. And we've been getting nothing but outstanding on our weekly room reports!

I've been doing really well at writing in my journal. I write about one page every night. I think that I'm up to page 24. By the way thanks for the journal. It's really nice and it makes it easier to write in it. It feels more like a book that I'm writing for you and my future children. That's what motivates me to be so persistent in doing it every day.

The Español is coming along great! The harder I work at it the quicker it comes to me. We're mostly learning how to say gospel related things. We're also getting pretty good at saying prayers and bearing our testimonies en Español.

Yo se que Dios es nuestro Padre Celestial y nos ama.
Testifico que Jesucristo es nuestro Salvador y Redentor.

I pray for you every night in Spanish too.
Te pido que bendigas mi familia con consuela y fuerza.

And we do all things:
En el nombre de Jesucristo.

I'm sure that I did something wrong in all of that, like miss an accent. So don't be too critical.

I just want you to know that whenever I have to do something hard or I'm feeling down that if I say a prayer and ask for help I always receive an answer. We are all weak, but we can all be made strong through our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I hope that all of you will do this as you face your challenges and trials. Remember, bare with patience thine afflictions and the Lord will give unto you success.

I've been getting better at working hard, so I'll probably send out a couple of letters today. And again, I will definitely send you all of the pictures that I have.

I miss you all very much. I can feel the effects of your prayers. I'm so glad that I have a family as wonderful as you are. I love each of you with all of my heart.

Elder Ben Arnold

Monday, September 1, 2008

el Hijo de Dios

That's really neat that you had the missionaries over. I hope that I get to visit with members often up in Washington.

It's been an awesome blessing to get so many letters from you. One missionary in our Branch has only gotten a couple. It wasn't until just recently that he got them. Everyone shares all of the goodies that we get. Elder Sudol is one of our roomates had his birthday on Saturday. His parents sent him a big cake and his girlfriend sent him a ton of candy. Everyone appreciated getting some extra sugar in their systems. By the way I really enjoyed all of the candy and cake bars that you sent me. I still have some of the nerds.

Sorry for the misunderstanding on Jonathan's letter. I'll make sure I address it to the right person next time. I'm glad that you have decided not to tell anyone my email address. I would rather spend most of the time writing to you.

The word for son is "hijo", pronounced "eeho". As in "the son of God", "el Hijo de Dios". By the way Spanish is coming along really well. I don't know if I already told you but we've been saying all of our prayers and baring testimony in Spanish for a while now. I have really noticed the gift of tongues helping us to learn the language at an extremely quick pace.

If there's anything I've learned while here in the MTC it is to prayer before everything you do and invite the spirit to guide and help in doing whatever you are about to do. The difference when I study without verses with is more than a ten times difference. The spirit is the best teacher out there.

I hope Matthew gets better soon. There's been a sickness going around our Branch lately. I hope I don't get it. We already have a lot of work to do. Learning Spanish is a daunting task. I need all of the energy that I can get. Which reminds me that I've been eating a lot of food at meal times. I'm up to at least 145 pounds now. I forgot to weigh myself yesterday. It's a good thing that we get to exercise often in the MTC. Elder Burr and I are pretty focused during that time and we push ourselves pretty hard. I wish that I could take a 3 to 4 hour nap sometime. We have the Lord strengthening us, so we'll be fine.

A wise missionary told us that here in the MTC the weeks feel like days and the days feel like weeks. It's completely true. The days seem to last forever. Mostly because you work so hard all day long and we're not used to doing that much in a single day. It's crazy that the two week mark is coming up tomorrow.

Elder Burr and I have just about got the Zone Leader responsibilites down. We organized our first sacrament meeting yesterday. It went pretty smoothly but we'll do even better next week. Mostly we've been working on helping the missionaries in our Branch to overcome any problems and to keep on task. You have to let them do whatever they want, but we have to set a strong example, which we could do better at, and lovingly encourage them.

I love you all very much, I love every letter that I get from you. Hopefully I'll be able to answer some more of the comments and questions you had for me in a letter later today. I'm about out of time and I don't want to lose this email.

Love Elder Arnold