Thursday, May 21, 2009

4 Ordained, Elder Ogden, and blessing others through the Priesthood - 2 weeks to go at the Madrid MTC

It's always so good to hear from you! :) Just a quick little thing that I thought you guys back home might find amusing: I've formed a men's quartet here at the CCM consisting of me, Elder Ames, Elder Brian and Elder Ketchum. We've been having a blast! Last Sunday, we sang "Brightly Beams our Father's Mercy" in Spanish for sacrament meeting. Elder Ketchum sang the melody (he sings really well; he has a rich, operatic voice), I sang the bass line, Elder Ames sang the tenor line, and Elder Brian took the way-up-high descant line and did a great job with it. It went so well that we soon found the CCM personnel were asking us to sing it for all kinds of other meetings! Hermano Arjona asked us to sing a song about Jesus Christ for his Doctrine Devotional on Wednesday, so we picked "I Need Thee Every Hour" in Spanish. We can only really sing songs that have men's arrangements, but when we do, it sounds quite good. I feel so blessed to have been put in the same place as this talented bunch of Elders!

I forgot to mention last time: thanks for the news bytes. It's good to know kind of what's going on. That's great that we are making interfaith bonds. That's where it's at! Just this week, actually, they hosted some high level dignitaries from the Spanish government on Temple Plaza here in Madrid in order to celebrate the 40th year anniversary. They got tours of the temple grounds, the stake center, and then the CCM. We were all waiting in the Sala Grande (our main meeting room) and singing hymns when they came in. The dignitaries said a few words to us in Spanish, telling us how happy they were to be hosting us in their country and how blessed they feel to have religious freedom, and then they had our quartet get up and sing "Brillan Rayos de Clemencia" (Brightly Beams our Father's Mercy). The members who were also part of the tour said that it was the highlight for them, and we can only hope that the dignitaries were able to feel the Spirit as well.

More big news: I SAW ELDER JONATHAN OGDEN!!!!!!! Right after I got out of the temple this morning, Elder MacArthur told me to wait because someone wanted to meet me. Then, out of the Stake Center came a beaming Elder Ogden! We ran up and hugged each other and I have to admit I must have sounded like quite an idiot because I was at such a loss for words! We mostly just stood there smiling and tried to have a short conversation before he had to go into his meeting. He gets out of his meeting at 5, at which point I plan to head out and meet him again, and maybe say something useful this time! :) I feel so blessed.

Today has been an awesome day all around. Elder Langston got his ties dry-cleaned, Elder Ogden, emails from my family and also FAJITAS for lunch! They're delicious! I smother mine in guacamole. Yeah, I know, that may surprise some of you because I'm normally not a huge guac fan but I've really gained an appreciation for it here! The only part about today that wasn't great was the fact that Burger King was closed. Elder Langston and I found it last time we went to the mall and also got some coupons for it. We were planning on actually buying some American-style burgers today, but they were closed! At lunchtime! This country is pretty crazy sometimes. We were just excited to eat some charbroiled 100% beef burgers because honestly, the burgers they sometimes feed us in the comedor aren't that great. They're half beef, half ham, but because no one likes them, all the elders call them "Cat Burgers" as a joke. It's always fun to actually convince the newcoming elders that they are, in fact, made of cat flesh.

So, yesterday I had a neat experience. One of the elders here who is normally a pretty fun-loving guy who likes to talk and joke with me, but yesterday he wasn't being quite so outgoing. During the devotional he passed me a note asking if Elder Ames and I would give him a priesthood blessing. I agreed and let Elder Ames know. I knew he'd been having some trouble with homesickness lately and I could tell he was having a tough time. So in between classes, the three of us went upstairs and pulled up a chair and he sat down. I quickly checked the white handbook just to make sure I knew what to do and then we put our hands on his head and gave him a blessing of comfort and counsel. I was the one who did the speaking, but I know that the blessing came from the Lord. The words just came out and I think I said something that he needed to hear because he was crying afterwards. He thanked us for the blessing and I felt really glad that I had the priesthood and was able to literally bless others with it. It was a great experience!

Oh, by the way, I just remembered the name we decided to give our little singing group: 4 Ordained. Pretty sweet, huh? :) Elder MacArthur jokingly said he was going to form a quartet of his own so that we could have a "battle of the men's quartets." His quartet will consist of him, Elder Langston (my companion), our Italian native elder going to Italy named Elder Magnifesto, and Carlos Santana. I tell them that it's ON, but only as soon as Santana makes it here.

I've got two weeks left in the MTC!!! Jitters! I'm trying to work the hardest I can to be ready, but more and more I feel like there's nothing that can fully prepare me for the real mission field. I just really hope that I get an awesome trainer, which I'm sure I will.

I ran out of my American deoderant. I went to Ahorra Mas to buy some more, but they don't have any like we do here. The only kind they have is blue, wet, and it smells like alcohol. In fact, it mainly consists of alcohol, which works well, but I'm worried about possible side effects of having my skin constantly exposed to it. I finally know what it means in the Word of Wisdom when it talks about strong drinks being for the "cleaning of the body." We'll just see what happens, I guess! [Note from Elder Knorr's family - don't worry, we're sending some this week in a care package.]

I'm so proud of Megan! It sounds like she's really taking school seriously, which will get her a lot of places in life. Plus, I imagine that she feels pretty good about her accomplishments. About the dance studio, I've seen Megan bust a pretty slick move before so I have confidence that she can be a great dancer. :) Megan, if you read this, just remember "my" dance move. Thinking about it now? Good. You're welcome for making your day. :)

My second companion, Elder Arnold, was a lacrosse player in high school and he loved it! From his descriptions of the sport, it sounds super fun, maybe even something that I'd be interested in playing when I get back. Of course, by that time Ethan will probably be amazing and will destroy me, but whatever! I hope he has a great time learning a new sport!

Well, I'd better get going now. I love you all very much and I'm very grateful to have you all as family and friends! Take care of yourselves and each other!

-Elder Knorr