Ya'ateh! ("Hello" in Navajo)
The happiest sound in the world was Elder Brae Beck's voice calling his mom at 4:52 a.m. this morning! He had to be at the airport at 3:00 to fly to Denver, then Durango, and then drive to Farmington. (A BIG day!) I am pleased to report that he had a wonderful experience at the MTC, but that he was elated to be embarking on his new adventure!
Here are a few facts: His companion was Elder Dean Sobczak (Sob-check) from Roseville, California. It is probably a good thing that Elder Sobczak had a fabulous companion, because his MTC experience was very challenging. He had an asthma attack the first week, he fell on the ice and broke his elbow the second week, and then got a mysterious infection in a tendon in his ankle the third week, which put him in a wheelchair with Elder Beck pushing him around everywhere. He will be delayed at the MTC for another 2-6 weeks while he recovers from all of his ailments. I think he needs our prayers!
Brae, Elder Beck, on the other hand, practiced patience in caring for his companion, and the whole experience likely took his mind off his own feet, which still bore deep wounds from having plantar's warts removed ten days before he left. His feet are healing well and he is wearing regular shoes now. He will be able to fulfill his duties once he arrives today.
He loved the food, said mealtimes were the highlight of the day because of the social interaction and break from intense study. We found it hilarious that he reminded us in every email that he was not getting fat! He loved receiving daily letters via dearelder.com. To all of you sweet young girls who sent him letters, many thanks from his mom! I will always remember who supported my son during this daunting experience! He said that the letters helped him conquer his discouragement and keep his chin up.
They had a devotional with the new MTC presidency the first Sunday he was there. President and Sister Nally had served as mission presidents in New Zealand and Australia. Sister Nally is an exceptionally talented musician, and her talk particularly touched Brae. She showed the painting "Lead Kindly Light" (which is Briana's favorite) and had her four daughters play her own arrangement of that hymn on violins as she accompanied them on the piano. Then, after President Nally's remarks, they played again, this time being joined by all of her little granddaughters playing another of Sister Nally's arrangements of "Love One Another". Brae said, "You have no idea how much I needed that devotional that night. I was really frustrated the first few days, but when I saw all of those little girls playing their violins I just had this overwhelming spiritual experience where I knew that I had been prepared for this mission, and that I would use every gift Heavenly Father has given me in his service. It was awesome!"
Sister Nally later heard him play the piano and sent him a beautiful letter counseling him to use his gifts in his missionary service. He was chosen to play "I Stand All Amazed" on the piano for the MTC conference which was held yesterday, the last Sunday he was there. All of the missionaries in the MTC were there, which is somewhere around the 5,000 mark right now. Before he played, he prayed that others would feel the Spirit and that they would feel his testimony expressed through his music. Afterwards, a sister missionary approached him and told him that she was really touched and that she "felt his testimony through his music". A little tender mercy occurred at home for me too. I played "I Stand All Amazed" for prelude in Relief Society, naturally because I was thinking of my son and the experience he was to have that day. When I sat down in sacrament meeting, I noticed that the sacrament hymn was "I Stand All Amazed". Heavenly Father really does know our needs and the desires of our hearts, and He grants us those little tender mercies to remind us of his love for us. Elder Beck and his family are noticing them constantly. I hope that all of you will too!
He also arranged two musical numbers for his districts to present at the conference, "Come Thou Fount" and the medley of "As Sisters in Zion" and "Army of Helaman". He was really psyched that he was able to mesh "Called to Serve" into both numbers. He wasn't able to really explain what he did musically in his letters, but he was singing to me on the phone this morning! Can I just say that it was fabulous?!! I love that boy!
He was excited that ten people from Burley High School were there, including himself, Luke Bloxham, Dakota Searle, Trent Winn, Alex Patterson, Dominic Shaw, Jordan Oman, Chase Taylor, Emily Alvarez, and Emily Silva. He saw everyone except Emily Silva. Maybe that was just as well, so that he could keep his mind on his work! Just kidding. I had to throw that in because Emily took him to Sadie's junior year! Josh Lind from Oakley is going to the same mission and was in the neighboring district. He was also excited when Dakota and Trent arrived and were in his zone. He saw McKay Webb from Declo as well. He really grew to love all of the elders in his district, and was blessed to get to know them quite well because he did a lot of splits with them when his companion was unable to participate.
The close of his last email from the MTC said, "I am ready to enter the field, but also scared. But it will be good. It will be nice to be teaching real people. Yesterday we had this whole thing about setting goals, and I was like, 'I'm going to do my best no matter what, so don't make me turn people into numbers!' You know what I mean? That is the only thing that sort of annoys me! It's like they tell you not to look at people as numbers, but then they want you to do it......Eh, I'll do what I know is right." Eh, so Brae! That is one thing I know about my Brae: He will do what he knows is right. He will do his best. He will love the people. I know that he will be blessed. I know that we are being blessed for his service.
I hope that you will keep those letters coming! I know that he will really appreciate them. The mission home address at the top of the blog is the best place to send them until we know where his first area will be. Brae's last words from the MTC: Keep the faith!