Saturday, January 2, 2016

Week 6 - Mostly Christmas Things (last email from the MTC)

Salut tout le monde!

I hope everyone had a good Christmas this year and that this email finds you all well!

The first noteworthy event would have to be the game of hallway soccer we played. We finished our studies one eve and were about to depart for the gym when we heard it was closed. So instead we decided to play 5 on 5 hallway soccer. The soccer ball was like a grapefruit. Only in size though. All other attributes were soccer ball-like. The hallway was not at all like a grapefruit and was maybe an arm's span wide. Needless to say it was an overly crowded mess with much shin kicking and toe stubbing. It was absolutely a blast. It was amazingly fun! And the even more amazing part: the keeper of the opposing team was a Tongan elder who none of us had spoken to until the night of this game. As much fun as we were all having, this man was having more than all of combined. He looked like he was about to die of joy whenever the ball came near him. I'm not sure how he played- he was quite good- considering every time the ball approached him he was a fit of giggles, joy, and enthusiasm. I never learned his name. I was just so impressed upon by someone who experienced such intense emotion from something so simple as a game of unorthodox soccer.

The second non-Christmas event here would be the secret stash hidden in the air vents. It's a serious vent too. Several screws had to be done away with to access it. As it turns out there is a secret tradition of stashing things in the vent-- it's a fire hazard I'm sure, but a fun one at that. We found a football from 2007 covered in signatures from missionaries who had found it and put it back, a rather ugly tie that you wear once then sign, and a few other odds and ends. All in all it brought in some much needed pre-Christmas fun to the table.

This has been one of the most memorable holiday seasons I've had. I have spent a holiday away from family and friends this way before-- that was at times something I lamented this week. I have also never spent a holiday closer the the Savior Jesus Christ then this last week. Never have I felt so much gratitude for the gift that our Father in Heaven gave for us: the life, the example, and the sacrifice of his only begotten son. The spirit has been so very strong this time of year. I have so often been moved by acts of kindness these few days.

I had the chance to listen to many devotionals. Elder Bednar spoke. We had the opportunity to text him questions; they passed out a bunch of cellphones for us to ask questions on. The MTC in Ghana got a chance to email questions in too. Then he just picked out the ones he felt he need answer and answered them. It was very cool. He spoke about agency, and how we have a moral imperative to not only avoid evil, but to be an active force of good. In scripture study, in prayer, and in action, we must be agents. We must search and find out for ourselves. We must seek to be good. Seek to grow our faith by acting on it. Seek to share the truths that we do know with others. He spoke about Jesus Christ. And how we can come to gain a personal testimony of him- and a relation with him too- through studying his example, through prayer, and through action. Through loving others. Through trying to be like him. Elder Bednar talked about the message of hope and happiness the gospel brings. Jesus Christ has literally felt every pain and sorrow and woe and set of emotions everyone of you has ever felt. There is always someone who understands how you are feeling. And that person is rooting for you. That person is waiting for you to learn and grow from your struggles. That person has arms extended. That person, Jesus Christ, waits to help you through your difficulties. Here in the next few days, I ask you to take something that weighs on your mind: an unresolved sin, a cause of despair, a pain, a tragedy, a fear... and take it to the Savior. Pray with faith. Speak from you heart. Ask for aid. Express your pains. Ask for forgiveness. Ask for help in healing your heart. I say, and challenge, these things in the name of Jesus Christ.

Au revoir!
Elder Alex Hacker

The entire group of French speaking missionaries bound for places all over the world
Alex and his hometown friend Mark Kim (who's on his way to a Korean speaking mission in Vancouver)
PARENT'S NOTE: We were able to speak with Alex for 30 minutes by phone on Christmas.  He sounded great.  He was very appreciative of everyone who has sent him emails, mail, and packages, and wanted to make sure that we passed that on in case he ran out of time to email everyone personally.

Alex got his travel plans.  He will be flying out on a direct flight to France on the evening of Tuesday, January 5.  Since the P-day (the day that missionaries can send email) in France is on a Monday, and since Alex will be leaving from the MTC next Tuesday (the day he usually get to email on), we won't likely get another email from him until Monday, Jan 11.  There will, however, hopefully be some news and pictures about him and the other missionaries in his group arriving in France posted on the Paris France Facebook page when they make it in next week.  

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