Cloth and Vinegar

One day, a boy was sent by his parents to buy some cloth and vinegar. After purchasing said items, he was walking home when he saw a huge eagle. Startled by the sudden appearance of the bird, he spilled the cloth and vinegar on the ground. Swaths of fabric spooled through the air and landed crumpled atop the wet earth.

This unusual story comes from a Chinese tongue twister my companion told me about. Strangely enough, I feel that this story has deep personal significance to me and recent events that have contributed to my growth as a missionary.

Just kidding–I included it because I don’t have anything else to write about. This week was even less eventful than last, at least until yesterday. I’ll tell you what happened, but first enjoy the following images:

Unnatural seated pose. Notice that we rearranged the classroom again.

​Our mirror has a built-in mustache.

​Elder Heaps in the act of donning his jacket as Elder Jensen studies diligently in the background.

​My pocket notebook where I write down pinyin and English that I don’t know so I can memorize it.

​Elders Heaps, Jensen, and Vaughn sitting in the classroom.

Yesterday was our first fast Sunday in the MTC. Since we ate neither breakfast nor lunch, we spent the first three hours of our day in personal study instead. I read through the gospel of John and was studying some other scriptures when our branch president, President Woodfield, knocked on our classroom door and asked me to come out into the hall. He asked me if I would be willing to be the new district leader, and I said yes. I’m the new mailman!

At 10:00 AM, we went to a mission conference. All 2,000 of the missionaries piled into the auditorium, and the conference was broadcast to the West Campus as well. I think the MTC presidency knows that the missionaries can’t do much more than laze around catatonic while fasting, so they schedule the two-hour conference to coincide with fast Sunday.

I was relaxing and taking notes for about an hour and fifteen minutes as the presidents and their wives spoke. Then, President Nally stood up. He said he was going to call two missionaries forward to bear their testimonies. I wasn’t worried, since I had a 99.9% chance of not being picked. The first sister was from Taiwan, and was going to serve at Temple Square. She closed her testimony and walked off of the stand relieved. President Nally stood back up and opened his mouth to speak.

Before the words even left his mouth, I knew what he was going to say.

"Is there an Elder David Elliott here?"

I stood up in the bleachers, numb. 2,000 heads turned to face me. My district cheered "Jiayou!" (good luck). My legs carried me down and across the floor as thousands of missionaries stared at me and the big screens on the wall switched to a wide-angle view to show me walking towards the stand. With much effort, I molded my features into a horrid death mask of a smile.

President Nally called me up onto the stand and asked me to share a brief testimony. He stepped away from the pulpit, and I stumbled a few steps forward. My visage appeared on all of the big screens, and I was glad I had just barely had a haircut, shaved, and was wearing a decent tie.

I fumbled with the microphone to try to bring it up to the level of my mouth. I was shaking like a hypothermia victim. It wouldn’t stay in place, so I finally hunched over awkwardly to speak into it. I looked out into the huge crowd, then I started speaking.

My testimony was not the most eloquent, as I was concentrating more on firmly gripping the pulpit so as to avoid violently shaking myself to the floor than I was on fishing exactly the right words from my mind. However, it went very well. I spoke slowly and clearly. I did not stutter or say "um" or any other filler word once. My testimony was simple, but I covered everything I felt I needed to. I bore my testimony of God and Jesus Christ, the restored gospel, and missionary work. I closed in the name of Jesus Christ and walked off of the stand.

Afterwards, many missionaries complimented me on my testimony. My zone was really proud to have been represented in the conference. As I was speaking, Elder Heaps kept telling the sisters next to him, "that’s my companion!" Even though I was nervous, I think it was a good experience for me to share my testimony with everyone. I’d better get used to it.

Now, for some more pictures:

Myself walking around the Provo Temple.

Elder Heaps and our district’s sisters walking in front of me.

Elder Heaps coaxed me into a snafu.

​Our room with us in it.

I’m doing fine in the MTC, but I’m looking forward to the day when I roll my cyan-tagged suitcases to the shuttle stop and leave behind these uniform buildings of dun-colored brick. I still have five more weeks to go, but at the rate time has been passing so far, they’re going to seem to be gone almost instantly. Bye!

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