Thursday, August 29, 2013

REASSIGNMENT!




Carson received this email today from Church Headquarters----

Elder Gale:

At this time, we have not received your visa to travel to your mission. You will be serving a temporary assignment in the SOUTH CAROLINA COLUMBIA MISSION until your visa arrives.

Hoorah for South Carolina!  He will leave early Monday morning, September 1st for South Carolina.  Called to Serve!!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

LAST WEEK OF THE "EMPTY SEA"! (MTC)

Hello family, friends, and everyone else bored enough to read my blog! I hope you are enjoying life, carefully spending every second exactly how you would want to have spent your life-blood when you are on your death bed some years in the future.

Life at the MTC has been mostly the same. We do have basically the same schedule every day, so finding different things to write about can be difficult. But not for me, because I am above the difficulties that plague you mortals! 

We woke up at 4:45 again today to do laundry, so we're a bit tired.  There are several P-Days that different zones have. I know WednesdayThursday, and Friday act as other optional P-Days throughout the week. The laundry lines get very long in the afternoon, and we like having extra time to write letters during the day, so we get up early!

I did get the notification that I would be playing my violin duet with Sister Crofts the following Monday for a Senior-Missionary Orientation meeting that day. I was hoping to possibly play for the Sunday Devotional, but that didn't end up happening, and I can understand why. There are an unbelievable number of fantastic musical numbers trying out every week at the MTC from a group of 3 to 4 thousand missionaries, so it is very difficult to even get a "Yes" from Sister Nally, and very improbable to actually play a musical number unless it is one of the best. 

However, we did play! It went very well. The presider of the meeting was President Hacking. We were able to talk to him beforehand, and he mentioned that he had been a Mission President of the Independence, Missouri Mission! I asked if he knew Paul Gale from LDS Family Services, and he said he recognized the name. Everything went very well during the actual performance. The other musical number was a Sister who had a fantastic classical piano solo. It was wonderful to hear a virtuoso in the MTC!

The SND, Sunday Night Devotional, was very cool!  My companion said the opening prayer, so we were able to sit with the speakers and MTC president. It was such an awesome experience!

Elder Teela & Elder Gale
Before I forget, I want to mention the people I know here. Of course I know Elder Teela, who I saw the first day he came in. He is in my Residency building! I did not get to host him (about 650 missionaries came in the same day, and I couldn't see him anywhere) but I did happen to see him in the cafeteria later that day. It was awesome to see him again!


I met Elder Gale, and we took pictures and played soccer. 

One of my friends from BYU Music Camp, Ali Olsen, is working at the MTC Cafeteria, so we talk every now and then. 

I've met several people that know Ben Jensen. One of them is an Elder that my companion knew before the MTC, Elder Gariety. He said that his older brother is really good friends with Ben. 

The other person is one of the teachers, Irmao Belshoir (sp?). He served in Ben's same mission. He's from Mozambique, and served California, Spanish Speaking. He teaches one of the districts around us and substituted for one of our teachers once. 

I think we will be hosting again tomorrow. You're right, it is definitely a diversion from regular missionary life. It is fun to watch other missionaries take that life-changing step away from their families and try to soften the blow. It brings back lots of memories. The moms are always crying. 

I cant believe how quickly the time has gone. I feel like I just arrived at the MTC! At the same time, I feel like I've been here for way too long. Time's super weird at the MTC. I feel as ready as I think I will ever be as a MTC missionary. I am doing well in Gospel and Portuguese studies, so I feel pretty confident.  I'm excited to go. I have loved the influence the MTC has made on the way I think, work, plan, and teach. 

I don't know exactly how the stateside re-assignment is made, but I have faith that all mission calls are assigned with a purpose. If I am re-assigned, I was meant to be. I will likely get my re-assignment this Friday, and I have no idea when I'll leave after that. It's different for everyone. I think I will be able to call you, so I appreciate the calling card! 

Thank you so much for the packages you have sent this past week!  May I tell you a story?  I am in the classroom and get a notice from our District Leader that I have an urgent package to pick up. It is marked at the bottom of the note that the package is leaking. I go to the post office to pick up my package, and I see a cardboard box stained/dripping with an unknown sticky red substance. I pick it up hesitantly, and take it to my room. Naturally, I assume it was the dead and bloody corpse of Bosco that you chose to send to me, and so I disobeyed the rules and opened the package to see what it really was (so it wouldn't drip more). Needless to say, we feasted on Jam and Bread that night.  My room loves you <3

The cupcakes were also put to good use! The chocolate ones were pretty badly melted and pasty, but we had a district cupcake party with the salvaged chocolate and all of the vanilla ones! They were delicious, thank you so much!

As for the balloons, yesterday was an Elder in our district's birthday, and he got a balloon animal! He enjoyed it tremendously and says thank you for sending it :D

I will write her individually about this, but send my appreciation to Grammie, who has sent delicious packages of doughnuts to me over my stay at the MTC. My room says their thanks as well!

 I could use several of the ties I put in the "possibly send later box". There's a lot of tie trading that goes on here, and it would help to have ties to barter with. 

Another highlight of my week was the creative letter contests! I was very impressed by your creativity and wit. 

Father, (crossword puzzle letter) I will be needing those answers :D We figured out about 5 of the words, but our room is stuck on the others. 

Mother, (letter written on a roll of toilet paper) wow...just wow. So clever. So punny. So...wrong.

Austin, (Swag letter) I expected nothing less, but maybe a bit more ;)

Josh, (letter written in catsup) You only did well with that letter if it was written in the blood of Bosco. 

Benjamin, (letter written in code) I still haven't had time to decode it. But I'm excited to read its message. 

Brindi, (written on a blown up balloon that was deflated to send) That was such a fun idea! I had fun blowing it up and reading it! I still have it hanging on my bed :)

Tanner, (written in our family's "Dog" language)  I don't think I understood most of your letter, but I felt like you and Bosco wrote it together. I could picture you saying it as I read it!

Stay classy San Diego, 

Called to Serve, 

Elder Gale

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

MTC WASSUUPP!!



Another awesome week at the MTC! I'm having so much fun in this crazy workaholic atmosphere. Last week during the Tuesday Night Devotional we had Richard G. Scott come and speak to us. He talked extensively on personal prayer and how to truly receive revelation from God. I believe it was based strongly off of a talk he gave in General Conference in 2005.

This week I got letters from the family, Grammie, and Marcia. I also got one letter earlier this week from Gavin! I already wrote out my reply. He gave me a temporary tattoo of Iron Man. I put it on my left pectoral. All the other missionaries are jealous. Just like they wish they had such awesome parents that would send salsa over DearElder! THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THE CHIPS BTW!!!!  We had a fiesta :)

So I had an awesome musical experience! Sister Crofts and I were practicing Wednesday and really hoping we could find a pianist. We looked up the accompanist list and contacted several people, none of which were able to play with us. Finally, we decided to just go practice and figure it out later (we wanted to audition that Thursday). As we were practicing, we heard someone playing next door who sounded pretty good. I went over there and asked if she could just try it out for us. She played it almost perfectly the first time through! Her name is Sister Kratchner (I think...). 

We auditioned the next day (after only 2 days of practice!) and got a "yes"! Which is no small accomplishment. The musical auditions at the MTC are crazy intense. Even though we got a yes, it doesn't really mean we will play. Sister Nally (MTC President's wife) said she really liked it, so I'm hoping there is a shot that I might be able to play this Sunday. I actually dreamed about it. Everyone at the MTC, including West Campus, watches the Sunday Night Devotional.

My companion was released as District Leader this past Sunday. The new District Leader is named Elder Blackner. He is pretty chill and very funny. 

This past Sunday Devotional we had a guy named Vai Sikahema (sp?) speak to us. He was the first Tongan NFL player. He was uber-inspirational and funny. He is now a reporter. Look him up. 

We have started District Volleyball games on Monday and Friday. I'm using the skills I learned in Mexico very well! There's a lot of V-ball talent in my district. We get buckets. (for Austin). 

We started teaching each other yesterday! I haven't met who I'm going to teach, but I was taught yesterday. We pick an investigator that we knew before we came. 

Our room is in a battle with the cleaning checks. We've failed our room cleaning check each time. Maybe because Elder Worley (my favorite Elder I've met so far) made a hammock out of his sheets? Or Megabed? Idk. 

I loved the pictures you sent! They made it so much easier to visualize what's going on at home. I loved seeing pictures of Tanner's Baptism! Please send more whenever interesting things happen!

I just thought I'd mention that my favorite hymns right now are 1. The Lord is My Shepherd (I also memorized Psalm 23) and 2. Brightly Beams our Fathers Mercy. I'm learning how to sing parts much better than I ever did before!

I'm hosting tomorrow (which means that I escort new missionaries and give a tour of the MTC).   The call for hosting missionaries comes directly from the Prophet. I was told that when President Monson asked the Lord, he received a sudden vision of Christ pointing to a picture of me saying "this guy". 

JK!  Truthfully, we all volunteer for it. Almost everybody applies for it and they pick it based on scheduling conflicts. Find out (while we're talking) about when Jeremy will arrive and what car he will be driving. I will try to be his host.  I have not been a host before. This is the first week we are able to do it! They let us host after we have been here 4 weeks. I had the coolest host when I came. It was this awesome black guy from London going to Taiwan.

We find out re-assignments a week from this Friday.  The recent re-assignments I have heard of are Billings, Montana, New York, New York, St. Louis, New Hampshire, California, and SLC.  It doesn't sound probable, but two Sisters from the district that just left were actually re-assigned to their home missions!

I'm very excited for this Creative Letter contest. I'll decide what to do as a rightfully called Judge. My power is supreme and final.  I'm very curious and excited for this package I might need a knife for! I bet it's a zombie and I'll need a knife to kill it when it gets out.

Highlights of the MTC...well, I'm really excited for this awesome thing tomorrow where I get to study Portuguese for a couple hours. And on Thursday I think I might be able to study Portuguese, which should be fun. And I think this Sunday, I might be able to study even more Portuguese!  I don't mind the repetition. It's fun. 

I thought I would share this concept with the family. If you read D-C 130, you learn that when we receive a blessing, it is based on the law it was predicated on. When I write letters, I am very rushed to write them all. When I receive a letter, I will usually respond with a similar length. What I'm trying to say is if you want a long reply, write a long letter. :)                      

 Love you all!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

WISDOM OF THE FIRST 3 WEEKS!

Hand-written letter received during the week:
     It's amazing how fast time flies!  I can't believe it has been 3 weeks since I last saw you guys at the airport!  (The word "guys" is driving me crazy.  We're not supposed to say "guys", and if we do we have to do 10 push-ups.)
     Please tell the Jones family "Thank You" for the chips and salsa!!  It was very good, and my roommates made a party out of it!
     I miss everyone very much.  I look through my photo book nightly, and even our family craziness is starting to appeal to me.
     When I left, I was dying to think I wouldn't get a back scratch for 2 years.  To my pleasant surprise, I have gotten a back rub (which is still NOT the same) at least 6-7 times since my arrival.  Meus filhos (my children), the other Elders in my district, take care of their Momma.  One of the elders has an interesting technique.  He attacks your back like Jesus casting out evil spirits (too much?).  It hurts terribly while he is thus engaged. However, when he finishes, my back feels like it has been washed by the tears of angels. It's good and bad.
     One of the missionaries in my dorm is very similar to Austin, and I find myself drawn to having really long, interesting chats with him.  I miss Austin's personality and intellect very much.
     Tips I have learned so far:
*I would have focused more on Scripture Mastery.  I know it pretty well, but it would have been much better to really study it.
*I wish I would have read more from the Book of Mormon!
*I wish I were better at being more adaptable to other personalities.
*Girls have cooties.
*Rules at the MTC can be beat, but not too much.
*Rephrased by Elder Hayes--Rules at the MTC are made of string, and that string is spun from common sense. 
*Do the MTC choir.  It's awesome!
*Your district is your family.  Play nice.
*Don't shoot your Branch President with a Nerf gun.
*Don't stress too much over language.  It'll come quickly.  


LET'S CHAT!

The wonderful name tag!  I'm official!

    First of all, I think it's hilarious that when you sent me your letter, you spelled it "Tu tu bang"!  It cracked me up. Anytime there is a "m" at the end of the word, it is pronounced "ang". Like "Belem" (Ba-lang)! It should be Tudo bem!
     Well this has been a very engaging week. 2 of the Sisters in our district have been made the Sister Training Leaders, which is a big deal for only being here 3 weeks. 
    The Portuguese is coming along. I no longer worry every time I have an investigator lesson because I can communicate pretty well now. My companion and I are teaching well together.
     One of our lessons was with a man named Joaquim. We had a lesson planned out, but ended up suspending it as he described how his children are in the "Snowball" Church, (or something to that effect). I had never heard of it before. We tried to really teach to his needs, and it went really well. Later, our teacher told us we were the first missionaries that he felt had effectively taught to Joaquim's needs instead of what we had planned originally. It was a huge moral booster!
    Musically, life is going well. I met a Sister Crofts that plays violin in BYU's philharmonic orchestra. She is very good! We will probably be doing a version of "Lord, I Would Follow Thee" that is very pretty!    Love, Elder Gale

This week Carson and I were sending emails at the same time, so we were able to "chat" for almost an hour!  It was WONDERFUL!  Here is part of our conversation--
Hey Mother! You there?
I'm here!  How's your p-day going today?  How was the audition?  We can't wait to hear about it. 
Doing what I love!
My P-day is going very well! I played violin for a while today!
How wonderful!  I miss hearing you play. How often are you able to play?
I probably play 3 times a week for about an hour each time.  
So here's the update on auditions: 
First of all, my first pianist, Elder Packer, is a wonderful pianist. He is an amazing improvisational player who can hear almost any tune and play both hands on the piano!  But he can’t read sheet music well. 
Oh no!  Did the audition not go well? 
No it didn't.  We started playing and got off by a measure and were off the entire time. Sister Nally (wife of the MTC president) told us to come back next week and re-audition. 
Were you trying out for that particular song?  Is there anyone else who could accompany you? 
We were trying out with "A Child's Prayer". We are going to re-audition this Thursday, but I don't think it will go well.  But not all is lost! I happened to run into a certain Sister Croft, who is also a violinist.  She expressed interest in playing a duet with me, and I happily obliged. We practiced today, and it sounded really good. We need a pianist, but that wont be too hard to find. Sister Croft says she knows someone who can accompany us. I'll keep you updated!
This is so much fun “talking” to you!  Are you going to be able to write a letter as well?
Since I am chatting with you now, I might not be able to send you a very long letter today, but I’ll try my best!  I also always write to you all individual letters.
Josh says, “Hey Sexy!”
Look at Josh suggestively and smile like you have a secret that can only be shared between the two of you.  Slightly smile with only one corner of your mouth and gently lick your lips as you stare into his soul.
And Carson is back….:)  There is no way Mom was about to do any of that!  Josh
Hey Ca-KEE--this is Brindi. I want to know your agenda--what you do during the day?
Hey Brindi!  Our schedule changes most days, but it's filled with the same activities. It consists of personal study, additional study, language study, classroom study, and meals. Every Tuesday and Sunday there is an awesome devotional. I heard that an apostle will be speaking tonight!
Awesome!  Do you know which apostle? 
I heard it was going to be Elder Christofferson. But that might only be a rumor.
Companions!
Meu companheiro says Hi!!! 
Ola, Elder McCrea!  Tu tu bang!  Tell him I think he has the best comp in the world!  :)
I'll tell him! He said you are the best companion's mom in the world because you send good food :D
Sweet!  Tell him I am open to requests!  
I had a couple of snicker-doodles today and it was a wonderful refresher of my mother's love! I am grateful that I get super cool packages and a ton of letters, and my letters are always funny. My whole room cracked up at Ben's orphan blood thing and Austin's dog crap thing. It's not my fault I have such an awesome family!
Sounds like your district is really close--do you usually read your letters to each other?
We don't usually read our letters, but we share funny & interesting events from the letters, which can be pretty hilarious from you guys. 
 
My Belem Brazil District on
Tacky Tie Day!
I still keep in touch with almost my entire MTC district, 25 years later!  You develop a bond unlike any other. My MTC comp's daughter enters the MTC tomorrow.  We love that our kids are serving at the same time. That could be you and your district 25 years from now!!
Have they said anything to you about your visa or had you update anything?
Nope. No one in my district has gotten anything, either. That is unusual, because usually there are 3-4 missionaries in each Brazil district that receive their visas before they leave. 
All on the Lord's time table, right? 
Today we were in your old stomping grounds, LHS!  I bet that seems like a lifetime ago.
It does!  Life seemed so easy back then.  I must say, this is a much better school than LHS ever was!
You are in the Lord’s school now, brotha.  
THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR YOUR PACKAGE!!! I'm afraid that the Nerf Guns were banned right after I took them out (I guess the Branch President doesn't like being shot?). My roommates are in love with you because of your cupcakes. It was very needed. Thank you so very much. 
What other snacks or food would you like?  Homemade or sent from Provo? 
The homemade was good! Honestly, they feed us so much here that we're usually pretty full most of the day. Although the surprise cupcake party was one of my MTC highlights :)
So glad to hear it!  Anything to make your day better! 
Honestly, the best thing anybody can do is send letters. It's so nice hearing from back home. Every day we check the mail, and it's a huge moral boost when you have something. Even if you cant read it until 9:30 pm.
Anyone who shows up at our house gets/is forced to write you a letter!  I'm sure they would have anyway...
Super Hero Gale at the Provo Temple!
That's awesome!  :D I read that you were coercing people into writing me. I'll take what I can get :D
Do you ever get to go to stores?  How about the temple?
We just went to the temple today! It's been closed for the last month. Have you been in the last week? I'm sure you are aware of the video change. I loved it! I thought the better quality of film made the spirit even stronger. 
That’s wonderful!    
You'll like next week's letters because we are having a Creative Letter Writing contest that you get to judge. Should be fun!
Should I actually pick a winner? Because I will ruthlessly tear apart the contestants in the bloody gore of ludicrous wordplay until the true champion emerges. 
Then the creative writing must begin! 
Hey, it's been a blast chatting with you. My time is already up. Same time next week?  I love you guys so much. It's not until you are all gone that I realize how much I truly love and miss you. Please keep being the awesome family you always have been. Give my love to everyone.
We love you too!  You are in my mind and prayers all day, every day. You may be gone but you are such a huge part of our family!! Thanks for your example. I'll plan on next week!                                   

Saturday, August 10, 2013

GREAT ADVICE!

Howdy!  Thank you for the letters--they are like gold here at the MTC.  They are quite the motivation booster!  

Here are some answers to your questions:

~I'm glad you are concerned with the ever-prevalent problem of beautiful women flocking to the very sound of my footsteps.  However, you need not be worried!  I am satiating my amorous nature with writing letters to the girlfriends of other missionaries. I'll include a copy of one in a future letter (the letter, not the GF.)

~Yes, my teachers are awesome!  They teach both Portuguese and the gospel, and I aspire to be just like them.  They are both undergraduate students at BYU.  

~Sundays in the MTC are similar to any other day--we study the gospel and language for about 9 hours over the entire day, which is less than usual.  A random district is assigned each week to bless and pass the sacrament.  Last Sunday it was our week!  I said the blessing on the bread in Portuguese.  It was an awesome experience!  Because it was Fast Sunday, we had a testimony meeting as a zone.  It was entirely in Portuguese, and I felt like I understood every word!

~The food is wonderful!  There is so much of it that I'm always full.  And yes, Austin, it does taste just like "smooth money".


Here is some advice for this new school year:

*Constantly reassess who you are and what you want to be.  This year should be a turning point in your life.

You want to have success?            CREATE IT.

You want to influence others?      LOVE THEM.

You want to master yourself?       GET ON YOUR KNEES.


Please use your presence to uplift and edify.  "What manner of men ought ye to be?  Verily I say, even as I am."

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

WHAT DO PORTUGUESE, PING PONG, LOVE LETTERS & VIOLIN HAVE IN COMMON?

Hello World!   I hope everything is going well in the world with Facebook, Twitter, news, and texting. It is weird to think that anything could happen in the outside world and I would have no idea. It is almost refreshing to not worry about current events, but I still miss knowing what's going on in the world around me.

     I am loving my time at the MTC. I keep waiting for the voice to emanate from the walls telling me that my Visa has come, but it hasn't happened yet! Two new districts have come in (Portuguese speaking) and 3 of them have already received their Visas. Unfair!

The Portuguese is definitely coming. We tried our first day speaking entirely in Portuguese on Fast Sunday--it was very difficult!  I was the only one who wanted to go the entire day.  The rest of my district decided to stop at dinner. 

     I forget how much I said in my last letter about our investigators. Our first investigator, "Antonio", went very well, and near the end he accepted our invitation to baptism. He actually ended up being a new teacher of ours!  His real name is Irmao (Brother) Miller, and he is actually from Brazil. He is a lot more intense than our other teacher, Irmao Cannon. They are both good in their own ways.

     We just started teaching "Carlos" (also played by Irmao Miller). This time we did not read a bio before meeting him, and it didn't go quite as well as it had gone with Antonio. Meu companheiro's (my companion's) and my language skills are improving quickly.

     My dorm is so fun! There are 4 missionaries in my room and 6 from our district in the room across the hall. They have nerf gun battles that can get a bit intense. One of my favorite people I've met so far is a missionary named Elder Worley from Washington DC. He is also going to Belem. I suppose you could label him a very strong Republican, and so we have had quite a few discussions about many different things! He is great to chat with, because we are both willing to listen and really consider each other's views. We also write love poems to each other.

     The other Elder in our room is named Elder Klodnicki. He is from Texas, and very into acting. He is really into his girlfriend back home, so I decided to write her a love letter. It's pretty great, and I'll send it with one of these emails someday.

     One of the missionaries brought a mini Ping-Pong set just like the one I had at home. We are going to have some pretty serious games! One missionary, Elder Wright, is a very talented Ping Pong player. I will definitely be challenged! 

     We have Gym most days, and Elder McCrea and I usually switch off on what we want to do. I always want to play soccer, and he usually wants to play 4-square. The soccer games get really intense here...the missionaries are pretty good, and some of them played for BYU's soccer team. I'm sure it will get even more competitive when I go to Brazil!

     As you may know, every Sunday is a big devotional. Two days ago I went in expecting a Church speaker; you can imagine my surprise when I saw Jenny Oaks Baker, violin in hand, on the stage. I was freaking out. She played 5 or 6 songs and talked in between them. She is one talented violinist! Her children also performed a Piano, Guitar, Violin, and Cello quartet, which was pretty cool.

     I will audition for a musical number  this Thursday, and I am very excited. One of the Elders in my district, Elder Packer (yes, related distantly to THE Elder Packer), will be accompanying me on "A Child's Prayer".  He is a very good pianist. I'm hoping our performance will hold up with the other talent in the MTC.

     My time is up, and I must be done. I love all of you!