I Heard The Bells on Christmas Day

Dear Family, Friends, Loved Ones (You're all my Loved Ones),

This week has been an amazing week in the MTC. I promise you all that when you develop an attitude of gratitude in your life, even for the bad things, it will work miracles in your life. There's a stigma here at the MTC of missionaries who call this place "jail", or they complain about the food, or they say that the field will be so much better, and my companions and I specifically decided that this week, we were gonna change that culture here at the MTC, and we started to express our gratitude for everything. And you know the miracle that happened? We actually DID start to see the good in everything, and we now express whole-hearted gratitude for everything we have. The MTC in all reality does so much for us, and we are so grateful for it. I challenge you all this week to find the positive in everything, and to become grateful for everything in life, because it will change you, and I promise you will be happier from it. I practice this by ending my journaling with 5 things I'm grateful for each night, and I testify that it has worked miracles in me and in those around me.

Last night, our devotional speaker was Lynn G. Robbins from the Seventy, and I enjoyed his talk probably the most out of any other speaker I've heard at the MTC, and only for the reason that the Spirit taught me SO much from what he said.
I'll share three things I loved from his talk. 
One of them was that he spoke about how we should be grateful for the hard days, because when we have hard days and we still continue to focus on the Lord, we are blessed to be numbered among those who suffer as Christ did, and we also gain strength from our Heavenly Father, and we become better every time we do that.
The second aspect I'll share is how he gave an analogy that gave me a fresh perspective on the gospel. He said, when we pray, and we seek answers, just like a loving parent who wants His children to learn, He doesn't want to give us all the answers, because that wouldn't help us at all. Rather, He guides us along, helping us come to a conclusion for ourselves, therefore strengthening our abilities to solve the problem, and strengthening our knowledge of the Gospel. If He just gave us the answers, we would never have that AHA moment that clicks in our brains, and the things we learned would be more of just fact from God rather than things we actually searched out and gained testimony of through our searches.
The last thing I'll share from his devotional was how he spoke of how we should know the why to what we're doing in our faith. When we don't have a "why" for what we're doing, we have no less motivation, and without a purpose behind our actions, they become half-hearted much quicker, and it becomes harder to persevere. He related this concept to being stranded at sea. When we see an island, we have motivation and we can row for hours because we know where we're going. The Island is the "why". When we don't see an island, we quickly become demotivated, and stop rowing, because we don't know where or why we're rowing, and we don't know if our rowing will ever come to fruition.
I challenge you this week all to find your why, and to let it motivate all your actions, so that your heart can be in all you do, and you can become more in tune and closer to the Lord, and everything you do for Him and in His name.

This week, the BYU Men's Chorus came to sing for us for a devotional on Sunday, and some of them bore their testimonies about their missions. I love the testimony of music. My new favorite Hymn for this week is the title of this email, "I Heard The Bells on Christmas Day". I hope you all can take some time to sing it this week and hear the wonderful message in the lyrics and the tune.

I also auditioned to sing in a devotional this week, which was a great experience :D

This past Sunday, my companions and I watched the talk by Jeffrey R. Holland titled, "Missions are Forever", and it hit me so hard. In it, Elder Holland talks about giving everything we have in our missions, and how it all relates even to life after missions, and it truly pierced me. The next morning, I woke up with a resolve to obey every single rule, to follow my daily planner, and to keep a prayer in my heart and study diligently. I saw such a change come over my closeness to the Holy Spirit, and my ability to feel it's promptings. For anyone right now who is struggling following some principle of the Gospel...

A) I promise you all the answers are in the scriptures. The scriptures, ESPECIALLY The Book of Mormon, are our greatest tools in conversion. They are literally the words of God, and I testify of that. You will find your "why" in the scriptures. But that's only half of it. After that...

B) You must live it to gain a testimony of it (Ether 12:6). I realized this week that having faith, or having that seed that Alma talks about in the Book of Mormon, really is just a willingness to put what God and Jesus Christ say to the test, and to see if it changes your life, and to believe that it will change your life. Very simple, very easy. 

I challenge you all to find something this week that you want to strengthen your testimony on, and then to go search the scriptures for the answer, and to live the answer. I promise you if you just do that (mingled with prayer along the way of course XD), and you believe it can change your life, you will gain your testimonies. I promise you that in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Liebe Gruesse, 

      Elder Peck

P.S. I answered as many people as I could today who individually emailed me. If you didn't receive an answer back yet, don't you fret, and don't you frown. I will respond. :D and I have also read all your emails, even if I haven't responded yet, and I am so grateful for all of you who have emailed me and/or sent me Dear Elders. You are all so amazing. Letters and emails are one of the saving graces of being a missionary. 

Pictures...

1) Me and the three Elders in my district modeling some bench shots
2) Our whole zone when we visited the temple this past Sunday
3) Elder Cheung, my companion, and I modeling the stairs, a missionary's best friend
4) Us Elders all trying on face masks. We are all desparate for flawless skin ;)
5) Another model bench shot
6) I MET TWO OTHER PECK'S HERE AT THE MTC! We have a common ancestor at Martin Horton Peck :D although we come from different wives from Martin Horton Peck.
Elders modeling on the bench

Temple trip

On the way to class

Wearing face masks

More modeling on the bench
Elder Peck found two other sister Peck, at the MTC
 

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