Wednesday, October 15, 2008

First Week

From Elder Matthew Courtright, dated October 13, 2008 (edited for punctuation, capitalization, and sacred or personal third-person content)

Hello Sister Freeman!

If you haven't assumed as such yet, this is Matt, or Elder Courtright, as I have been called lately. This has been one crazy week since I left Houston 1 week and 2 days ago. Uh, I got to Salt Lake at 3:30 on Friday afternoon and [a couple newly affianced] picked me up. Awkward! I have never had such a desire to scream and explode. We picked up Bro. Steward at the Church offices and drove home.

Saturday was [General] Conference. so we just watched that and that's it. Sunday, [a brother and sister and their respective fiances] and [the female fiance's] brother and I went to the Sunday morning session of Conference at the Conference Center. We had the most amazing seats. We sat on the floor 50 feet from the prophet. If I had sniffed hard enough, I could have smelled him. It was amazing. We also saw [Elder Groberg] (or however you spell it), the missionary from the movie The Other Side of Heaven. He's old now, as you might assume, but I saw him.

Then Monday and Tuesday happened. And Wednesday, Sis. Steward and Daina brought me to the MTC. I met my companion, Elder ----, who, outside of being super weird, is a great man. He is really passionate about this work. He encourages me to do things I wouldn't normally do because I am too prideful. My other 2 roommates are Elder Hiatt and Elder Albino. Elder Albino is from Hawaii, so we are learning lots of Hawaiian words, and Elder Hiatt is from N. Carolina.

We met the rest of our district Wednesday night. Only 3 out of the 12 people in our district are from Utah, 0 from Idaho. Pretty amazing huh? We have a really close, spiritual district. We bonded closely within 2 days. Unfortunately, 7 of us are going to Denver, 3 to Washington, D.C. and 2 to New Zealand. It's gonna be a really hard day when they split us up.

Uhh, what else? The lessons have been amazingly spiritual. I remember everyone telling me that, but I never would have imagined the magnitude of it. It's incredible. I love it. I have learned more in 1 week and felt the Spirit more than I did probably the entire time I was home this summer.

Today we went to the temple and that was a really good experience. I [participated in a prayer] and the lady [next to me] was bawling throughout the entire prayer. I felt such a love for her and when we were in the Celestial Room, I was impressed to thank her for her faith and testimony. I dunno why, but I was. Also, turns out in the MTC rules, elders aren't supposed to [participate because] it's holding a lady's hand. I plead ignorance this time.

I have been super lucky here because I forgot some things at the Stewards' house, but Hannah has brought them to me. If you think of it, ask Sis. Lyon for a Houston Temple Recommend holder. I asked Hannah to call her, but I forgot. My box number is 120 in case Daina didn't give that to you. It's great having friends work at the MTC.

Also, I think I am the only one in my district who hasn't been homesick. I don't think I can be since I have already lived away from home for so long. I am the 3rd oldest, and older than most of the missionaries here. It's weird cause I graduated a whole year before them.

Well, time is almost out. Just so you know, THE GOSPEL IS STILL TRUE! I WOULD KNOW! Send my love out :)

--Elder Courtright

Monday, October 13, 2008

The End of One Chapter, the Beginning of Another

Editor's note:

Dear Reader: This week marks the end of an eight-year saga for the Freeman family, that of experiencing the joy of a son's missionary service. It has been nearly four years since we have not had a son serving a full-time mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Words cannot express the great joy and rejoicing I take in the decisions my sons have made to serve the Lord in preaching His Gospel, and I know that service will bless them their entire lives.

The change this will bring about in the lives of the Freeman family will be a significant one. However, I am not removing my eight-year-old 'missionary mom' tag from my key chain just yet. Since the loss of correspondence from my sons leaves a vacancy in this blot, I have recruited a young man in our ward who himself is a convert to the Church. Matt Courtright was baptized when he was about 16 years old (if I understand correctly), and is the only member of the Church in his family. I have watched him grow and mature in the gospel over the past four years and know he will make an outstanding missionary.

Elder Courtright, called to serve in the Colorado Denver North Mission, has graciously agreed to be my surrogate missionary son and I hope I can be of some support to him while he takes these two years to serve the Lord. While he is not in the Tarbet-Neves family and unknown to any but the Freeman branch of it, he is definitely in our ward family, and his contributions, like this blog itself, will continue to share faith-building experiences and hopefully instill in members of the Church a greater zeal for missionary work.


Penny Freeman