Saturday, December 31, 2011

December 25, 2011 - Christmas Day

We were given this opportunity to write to people on Christmas so I decided to talk about what happened today.

We had a talk from David A. Bednar for Christmas this morning and he talked on becoming truly converted to Jesus Christ and not to anything else.

A couple thoughts I wanted to share with you were these:

The biggest convert in the mission should be the missionary himself. This is not done by any concious effort on the part of the missionary to become converted, but with a concious effort to help everyone he is around to do the same.

It is important that when adversity arises that you know whether you are converted to the Church and to Jesus Christ or to something else . The comment that the church is not true, is false. The church is always true, but it may be that you are not true to the church.

It was a really good talk and like several others I wish that you were able to look them up, but sadly they don't realease the MTC talks at all.

One thing that I really wanted to share in my last E-mail was the full story of the Birth of the Savior that we don't typically hear. It was first expressed by our Branch President and then I took a study period to pull  out the scriptures and put them all together.

This is going to require a little bouncing around in the scriptures in order to sequence it but I thought it was cool when we did it in priesthood meeting.

Luke 1:5-56       About Elizabeth and Mary concieving children
Matt 1:18-25      Joseph told about Mary's child
Luke 1:57-80     John the Baptist born
Luke 2:1-7         Jesus born
Luke 2:8-20       Shepherds being told of the birth of the Savior
Luke 2:21-35     Simeon sees the child Jesus
Luke 2:36-38     Anna also sees the Child
Matt 2:7-12       Wise men come to see Jesus
Matt 2:13-23     Joseph moves around to save his son from death

Some interesting things to note about this story:
  • John the Baptist was born at this time in order to allow some of the things concerning Jesus to come to pass
  • Anna the widow lived to be around 120 years old before she saw the Savior
  • The gifts given by the wise men were symbolic of how greatly esteemed Christ was, but the were also most likely very practical because Joseph was required to move his family around for almost 2 years and the amount of worth of those presents probably allowed him to continue to afford to live.
  • By giving such great gifts through the wise men, King Harod allowed the family of Jesus to move around and avoid his attempts to kill the boy.
  • In verse 23 in Matt 2, there is stated the fulfillment of a prophesy. This prophesy is not found in any of the scriptures (either Bible or BoM) and helps to show that there is additional knowledge that we don't have in any form at this time.

I hope that you find this as interesting as I did and that you are able to read it on Christmas.

Love Your Boy,
Elder McCaskill

Sunday, December 25, 2011

December 23, 2011

<Insert from our previous emailWe've heard how warm the Chilean people are from various individuals so I'm sure you will experience lots of good-hearted people when you're there.>
I have only heard good things from people about Chile except from Elder Weeter but I think that he is just wrong. 
<Insert from our previous emailMaxine called a while ago - I had it on speaker and she had Dad almost falling off his chair laughing. Not that she was telling jokes, of course. It's just always a bit of an adventure talking to her. She always asks about you though and is so proud of her nephew!>
I am sure I would have loved to hear that conversation with maxine but alas...

I am so looking forward to getting to meet my Mission President and my trainer in two weeks. I just hope my trainer is good (obviously) but I think that the trainers are usually good so I am not too worried.

I have not been doing anymore nightly exercise because the elder I was doing it with gave up, but I have been playing volleyball almost everyday so I'm still getting exercise. I'll just wait till I'm in the field to do more.

I'm glad to hear that you got my letter and all my pictures cause I didn't want to have to deal with that. 

Yes, I have been back to the temple, in total since I got here I have done 3 sessions and I  really enjoyed them. Before this week I could go every week but the temple is closed for cleaning now, so I can't go anymore. 

Both of my teachers are gone now, Hermano Heap last week and Hermano Rapp left this last Monday. They both play the role of investigators every couple days for each companionship so its like you are teaching real people and they never talk about how its going. Its really interesting that you know these aren't real investigators and yet you still grow really attatched to them and want them to progress.We don't teach any non-members at all, but every week we do the TRC and during that you teach either 2 x 20 min lessons or a 40 min one (we are on 40 min now) to a member that volunteers to come in and its really cool. I think it will be a big adjustment in Chile, but not enormous.

Apparently all the international missionaries get to go to Temple Square to see theChristmas lights but Canada is not actually considered international (Super Lame).

Also we are doing a Christmas exchange here with our district and I made Elder Parker (my person) a fruit loop necklace and I think that he is going to love it. Also, my advent is nice as a supply of continual amount of candy.

Here are my travel plans straight from the sheet.
Salt Lake- Los Angeles       7:10am- 8:20am         Jan 2
Los Angeles- Lima Peru      11:50am- 11:25pm     Jan 2
Lima Peru- Santiago Chile   8:15am- 1:40pm        Jan 3
Santiago- ANTOFAGASTA  4:00pm- 5:55pm         Jan 3

Nothing but the most expensive flights for us missionaries (chiste (joke)). I have no way to be able to tell what times those are in Alberta so you will have to do that yourself as homework but I was thinking I would probably call around the middle of the layover in LA 8:20-11:50 am. That would probably be the easiest for me. And yes, I think that is about 33 hours of travel time with only 15 hours of flights...FUN : (

Till next week (my last letter in America)

JORDAN mccaskill

Saturday, December 17, 2011

December 16, 2011

It's probably nice for you doing a smaller Christmas this year and probably next. In that you are taking it easy it's a good time to really spend some time focusing on the family and the true reason for christmas this year. One thing you could do is look at watching the clips the First Presidency are realeasing about the birth, life and ministry of Christ. I'm not sure how many of them will be there for Christmas, but I know that at least up to his birth is out right now. I dont know the URL, but you can find them through <Insert ->

My life has generally been really boring this week and I dont have much to say - I'm ready to leave the MTC and get to the mission field. However, one of our teachers said goodbye this week because he is taking Christmas off and that was one of the aspects of leaving the MTC that I wasn't ready for - saying goodbye to some of the people that you have grown close to over the last 7 weeks. On the flip side, he was one of our progressing investigators here at the MTC and our last lesson went really well with him, so one of the last things that we will remember about him was good, plus we got his e-mail so we can send some stuff after the mission.

We got a letter from our Mission President last week and I hadn't found time to read it until today, but I was really impressed by what he had to say. I already think that he is gonna be a sweet guy to have running our mission and he has an attitude that I can really get behind and follow. I still have to read the letters from the AP's and the Mission President's wife, but the one from President Bruce really impressed me.

I really wish that I was out of the MTC now so that I could share something more than this pitiful letter I write every week because nothing new happens. Soon!

Love Jord

Oh BTW, tell grandma that she doesn't have to call me Elder McCaskill, she is my grandma.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

December 9, 2011

That is cool that you got the blog up and running. Now we won't lose the responses I give...EVER.

I am glad that the Ornamental Nativity went well because of all the work that people put into it. That is a really large number of people that turned out. Having 20 people interested in a DVD is pretty cool too, cause that's how I think now. I was telling the guys in my District a little bit about how big the Nativity was and they were all really impressed. <Insert - There were 1300+ nativities on display.>

We definitely did get to see the First Presidency Christmas Devotional this week and it was a really nice change from the usual Sunday talks... not that I don't like them, but it was a nice change.

I do feel like I am working hard, but I really feel like I need to work a lot harder. I have trouble focusing some of the time, but I have learned a ton in my time here already. I don't feel bad about what I've done so far, but I think that with about 4 weeks left I still have a lot more that I want to learn before I head out.

From one of my teachers we learned that it takes about 2 weeks for the mail to get to America from Chile so the mail is pretty reliable.

I got my package in the mail already and I have the Christmas tree set up in my room already and it feels a little more homey. Elder Weeter was really impressed with your ideas.

I haven't sent my memory card yet, but I have a letter I wrote for you as well as the description of the pictures. That will probably be good to go on Monday so expect it in not too long. I already bought a Spanish Hymn book and got it engraved cause anything you buy at the MTC gets free engraving, so why not. That should be ready by the end of the day today.

The weather here is getting a little cold, especially walking across the MTC in shorts on Mondays and Thursdays for 6:30 am gym time, but I love early gym so it doesn't bother me. Also I feel like I have been staying relatively active and that I have been eating really healthy. I am up to 157 lbs in this short time.

Our devotional on Tuesday was by Elder E Snow of the seventy and his wife. His wife talked about the temporal benefits of going on a mission and he talked about getting the members to focus on doing missionary work. Both were good but I had a hard time writing notes for his talk.

I have to tell you that I'm going nuts since after Thanksgiving. It makes me seem like a terrible person, especially being a missionary, but I am already sick of Christmas music cause we probably sing 2-3 Christmas songs a day.

Monday, December 5, 2011

December 2, 2011

I have to tell you what I have learned this week about the devotionals here. The talks given aren't officially approved by the first presedency so they don't ever get released, so Tad R Callister's talk won't get released   : (

Its going really well here, I'm pretty much entirely adjusted for the time being. I have really been loving gym lately. One of the guys from my district wants to get in better shape before he leaves so if he sticks with it that will be good for me as well. I am really trying to get into it more and I have been reading the Book of Mormon in English and Spanish and it has been really cool. Our lessons have been going really well and me and Elder Weeter are working together better now. We were talking to a teacher and he really stressed the importance of teaching the investigator and not the lessons, because as much as the lessons are amazingly well put together if they don't accept that they need it, it will never matter.

In only 4 weeks here I feel as though I have already gotten so much better at teaching, even in English and the Spanish is coming along really fast. We started trying to speak as much Spanish as we can possibly do this week and I am already seeing the benifits in both my speaking and in my understanding. It's amazing how fast it is coming to me even though I feel like I am struggling through it. Our lessons have always been only in Spanish and it has been amazing to see the difference in our lessons alone. I'm at the point now where I know enough to say roughly everything I need to.

Fried spiders sounds gross <Insert - reference to an experience by Elder Riley Bates who is on his mission in Madagascar. He ate them!>

I don't have time to e-mail anyone else, however if i have more time in the field I would like to be able to e-mail some other people.

That's cool that they extended the time on the Nativity. That's a great opportunity for people to come in and look around. Its too bad that they aren't doing it on Sundays because I think that would be an excellent time for people who aren't members to see the church services, despite it being a small distraction for a little while.

I wish I could help you with your computer issues but I can't, have fun!!! <Insert - referring to setting up the blog. I think I've got the basics now.>

As far as getting packages through the mail in Chile, everyone I have talked to says go to the store and buy big pictures of the virgin mary and stick them on the top of the box and then put pictures of crosses on the side and they get through untouched.

What was Spencer's reporting date again? <Insert - a friend of Jordan's (called to the Sophia, Bulgaria mission, leaving in February)>

I feel really bad cause I have 10 minutes left and nothing left to say so...

Si mi padre, leo la escrituras durante mi estudiar de personal. El Libro de Mormon is muy importante para nos a aprender y progressar. A treves el libro de mormon ensenamos muchas personas y vienamos muchos bautismos.

(That is as correct as I am able to do off the top of my head right now.)

November 25, 2011

You wanted to know about all my devotionals so far so I will give you the update - on mass. We get a Sunday and a Thursday devotional, the Thursday ones are always just members holding high level positions in the church. The Sunday ones are (have been) at least members of the 70.

My first Sunday we had a talk by William Attkins, who is a member of the Legal department and he gave a talk about religious freedom and how the church works at getting religious freedom into countries where there is none as well as how they see the hand of the Lord in those efforts. This talk was absolutely amazing. I really liked it.

Second Sunday was Richard R Heaton, who is the Director of the MTC. He isn't the MTC president, just the guy in charge of the logistics. He gave a talk on Tithing which was really interesting, apparently it was the second installment of one he had given 3 weeks earlier.

Third Sunday was President Harris who is the District President at the MTC and he was kinda boring so I had trouble staying awake since I was really tired.

Our first Thursday was Edwardo Gavarett of the 70 and the talk didnt really do anything for me so my notes and remembrance of the topic is rather poor.

Our second Thursday was Tad R. Callister of the 70 and he talked on the Great Apostasy, 10 reasons why it is known that it happened and why it is needed for it to be understood by investigators to better accept the need for the restoration. I could easily spend my half hour writing on this talk alone but I will find out if he realeased the talk and if he did you can look it up. I love Tad R. Callisters talks.

Our third Thursday was D Todd Christopherson of the Twelve. He gave a good talk on missionary work and how we are extensions of the Quorum of the 12, but nothing really stood out for me to say expressly.

Because it was Thanksgiving this week in America, we also got a talk from Russell M. Nelson of the Twelve  (2 Quorum of the 12 speakers in 3 days), and he gave a talk on Thanksgiving and giving thanks and the talk was really well given. You should try and find the song Hallelujah <Insert - Handel's Messiah> by the Mormon Tabernacle choir as he played it for us and it was really good.

On Thanksgiving we also had a service project putting together injury kits as well as a presnetation by the guy in charge of all church humanitarian projects (name escapes me) on the clean water, prenatal resusitation and the humanitarian relief in New Orleans. That was really interesting.

We finished off Thanksgiving day stuff with the movie 17 Miracles. Was really good.

Elder Paulson and Schindler left this week on Tuesday which was hard. The room is a lot more quiet without them, but we spent a long time talking way into the night on Monday. They are in Guatemala now and that is probably a little rough for them but I think they will do well.

The District says thanks for the donuts btw, they were really good.

Sorry if my spelling is a bit bad but there is an Australian girl talking behind me and I keep catching myself listening : )
Love you,

November 18, 2011

Its looking like my departure date to Chile is going to be on the 3rd of January (departures are on Tuesdays).

When I met Elder Kastendik we flew together from Edmonton till Seattle and then we met a guy from BC when we got there but we all sat seperate.

P-days here are pretty underwhelming, all there really is to do is laundry, go to the temple and catch up on sleep. Today though I spent three hours in the BYU hospital while Elder Weeter got 3 hours of bloodwork done. I'll let you know the outcome of that in my next letter.

The money that I have is definitely going to be enough. I get 6 bucks every week for w/e I want and I haven't spent more than that in a week.

That's nice to hear that Blaine's room is looking good and that you were able to get it done so quick.

The spanish is coming alot better now that I am getting into the swing of things.

I would give my condolances about getting smashed in the face <Insert - soccer>, but it is so totaly expected that I find myself just impressed at the severity <Insert - impressive black eye>.

I haven't worked out at all but we get gym time almost everyday and so I have just been using that time for some exercise. I have been playing volleyball and it is a lot of fun. When I started playing it was pretty bush league, but there is a guy here now who played competitively and so I have been playing on his team, he is cocky and calls me Canada but its a lot funner playing with him than not, so w/e.

The food here is alright but I am begining to like it less each day, however there is a wrap station that I go to almost every meal and it is always good so I'll make it.

Elder Paulson and Elder Shindler are leaving on Tuesday so I will be alone with Elder Weeters snoring after that, but that's not too bad. I hope we get two new guys in our room when another district comes in cause I think that would be cool. I am really glad I brought my Rubik's cube as it has made some boring times bearable.

For christmas I wouldn't mind getting another two short sleeve shirts and a new watch, the one you got me hasn't worked properly at all since I left. It stops working after about five minutes until you hit it on something and then runs for another 5 min. I thought about buying another one but I figure it is something you can actually get me that I need.

Also I'll tell you my district's names:
Me and Elder Weeter
Elder Shindler and Elder Paulson (roommates)
Elder Hamblin and Elder Christensen
Elder Wells and Elder Mikesell
Elder Parker and Elder Gillespie

Also remember that if you want me to get a Dear Elder in letter form by Rriday to be in my hand while I'm writing, then it has to be in before Thurday at noon, i still get the emails though.

Finally let me know if you want any specific pictures from the MTC so that I can get them for you.

It was really nice to hear from you again.


Sunday, December 4, 2011

November 11, 2011

Was glad to hear from you and the district got a kick out of "hello boy" at the beginning of the letter. Keep signing them funny if you want but don't call me Elder McCaskill I miss my first name already.

Elder Weeter is from West Jordan Utah. We should be going to Antofagasta together.I have already taken some pictures of people but I have been really busy and so it isn't very many yet. I'm starting to settle in now though so I should have more opportunities to do that, and I'll send the memory card home before I leave here. My schedule here is starting to become normal although I am missing the sleep.

Spencer's mission call (Insert - going to Sophia, Bulgaria in February 2012) is sweet and I bet he is pretty pumped for that. Tell Hoys not to be worried, as the teachers around here say "You aren't called to fail".

The Spanish is coming good but it is still really hard. I have started reading The book of Mormon and Predicad Me Evangelio (Preach my Gospel) in Espanol. They want you to try and speak your language as much as you can and i am finding that the hardest as I don't like saying things I don't know 100% but I need to get over that. My reading is coming along the quickest though and I have been reading le Libro de Mormon out loud to help my pronunciation. I had said that being here would be like school that you can't fail at, which is not very accurate. My week here has been harder than any year of school I have ever done. It's no wonder that people come back from their missions and are so successful if they really work hard during their missions because right now its like 13 hour days of studying.

I had forgot to mention that I met someone on my way down. Elder Kastendik from millwoods (I think the spelling is correct). That was really nice to have someone to talk to. Had my first real P-Day today and got to go to the temple and do an endowment which was a nice break from everything.

I hope you guys had a good week.

Also about e-mails, if you are sending something by e-mail, no matter how small, just send it through Dear Elder because it is so much nicer to get mail than an e-mail, at least for the next 8 weeks.

First Email - November 5, 2011

Hey mom and dad glad to hear from you.

The MTC is pretty ridiculous and there is so much to do that you really don't get any time for anything else. I wasn't able to send anything or call before I had to get to my room the first day as soon as I got there.

The accommodations are pretty good. I got my companion the day after I arrived, Elder Weeter, He's a good guy and I really like him as a first companion. He's really good at making me happy which is nice since it's kinda depressing your first few days. We are in a room of four with Elder Shindler (list jokes have been made by all our teachers) and Elder Paulsen. They are really good roommates and we all get along. Me and Elder Weeter, as well as 6 Guys in our district are going to Antofagasta in 9 weeks. Elder Shindler and Elder Paulsen are going to Guatamala MTC in 3 weeks, I already know I'll miss them when they leave.

Learning spanish is hard, really really hard. I have never spent so much time studying any one thing in my life and my brain hurts at the end of everyday. Yesterday we did a mock investigator excercise in complete spanish (2nd full day) and we have another one today. We did terrible, but it was good. We had two substitute teachers but we met our actual language teacher yesterday and he is really good. The first two days they use an immersion technique and so we spent 3 hours yesterday sitting in a classroom being talked to only in Spanish. I feel like I'm failing miserably at learning the language but then I remember its only been three days, it already feels like 2 years. The Elders around here say that days feel like weeks and weeks feel like days and its true. I was feeling super depressed the second morning during class about the language but I'm getting the hang of it quickly. The speaking will take a lot longer but the understanding is coming. They have a program called TALL "Technology Assisted Language Learning" and it helped a lot, and its only been an hour.

The schedule is so tight that you have no time for anything. I have been trying to do everything that I need to do but I have not managed to do that yet.

The food is pretty good here, way better than EFY, and you actually get full meals. I've been trying to eat the same amount as I did at home but it's hard.

About sending letters. The best thing I would say to do is to send them through Dear Elder while I'm at the MTC. If you get them in before noon on Thursday I will have them before my P-Day and I'll be able to think about what I want to say. My P-Day is friday starting next week so that's when you will get an e-mail. If I'm at the MTC then Dear Elder is free and so just get them to print the letter out and have it delivered. Reading a letter is more relaxing than reading an e-mail and I only have half an hour on the computer every week for e-mail, so reading cuts into that. So yeah just get it printed and delivered.

I dont think I'll worry about sending mail while I'm here as I have enough to do.

It was great hearing from you have a great week, I would attempt some Spanish but I would probably butcher it.