Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Feb 26, 2013 District Leader in the MTC--Wk 4

The letter might be a little short today because my time is pretty limited. I spent a good deal of my email time today sending you guys those pictures and it looks like it worked so that's good I suppose.

 I tried to look at the stuff Mom sent me but for some reason I could only see a rather strange video of Joseph and Benjamin talking about pi and the pythagorean theorem. I'm not sure what that was all about but it was funny. My companion appreciated it too.

 We're finishing our fourth week here at the MTC, and I really do like it here. One unfortunate thing: We had to move another bunk bed into our room this week. I guess it's six to a room now! We are continuing to learn a great deal about the language (7 hours of language study per day will do that for you) and about how to express what we know to be true in words and ideas that the people of Cambodia will understand.

 One of my many favorite parts of the week is the time we have to role play with our teacher and teach about the gospel of Christ in Khmae. It's so awesome to be able to say what we want to say and teach and understand what he says when we ask him questions. I know in my head that I'll be completely unprepared language wise once I hit the field no matter how much I learn here in the MTC, but it's hard not to look back and think about the progress that we have made in the past several weeks.

 In other news, I was called to be a district leader on Sunday. Here in the MTC district leaders do a lot less than they would out in the field. What seems to be my most important job right now, or at least the one everyone appreciates me for, is that I am the one responsible for getting the mail every day. The MTC is a great testimony builder. Everyone here is so focused on what they want to accomplish that it is just inspiring. I have gained a deeper knowledge of simple truths and my testimony, particularly that of Christ's atoning sacrifice, has grown immensely. Thanks for writing me so often. I really don't think y'all understand how great it is to get mail when we're so cut off from everything else in the world. I'm sorry if I don't always write back, my time is extremely limited here in the MTC, but I'm trying! Love y'all! 

This painting of a Cambodian Temple called Ankor Thom hangs in our room.

Feb 21, 2013 "One Eternal Round"

Another week has gone by. I'd like to say that it has flown by, but here at the MTC time is a funny thing. Do y'all know the phrase "one eternal round"? It's something like that. Everything is so fast and so mind-numbingly slow at the same time, kind of weird. One thing that I can testify of is the power of the spirit here. Surrounded by people who want nothing more than to strengthen their testimonies, work hard, and learn, we do just that. They say the military and various others have studied what we do here to see what it is we do exactly here that helps us learn languages so quickly. I've always been told, "it's the spirit" and that was the obvious and final answer, but it has a great deal to do with the fact that everyone here wants so badly to learn! Even our days off aren't really days off, because what else is there to do than learn the language and study the scriptures?

 Today we went to the temple way early in the morning and then came back and slept for another hour. Because of the surge of missionaries we plan our day around what everyone else is likely not to be doing. The MTC is working over capacity and every Wednesday it grows by several hundred. Our dorms are being prepared to put another set of bunk bed closet things in each room. They don't really fit but what else can they do? All of the sisters dorms are tripled up. There's some talk of converting nearby BYU apartments to MTC housing but it's all speculation. The best plan right now is to take advantage of all the foreign MTCs.

Adam's MTC District in front of the Provo Temple

I'm enjoying my time in the MTC choir. There are about 600 of us... Though the median talent is mediocre, there are some pretty awesome singers here and the very last chord is usually pretty awesome. We cut off and the notes just ring forever. We don't know if we will be singing in General Conference at this point but I sure hope so! Actually, here in my district we're not even sure whether or not we'll be here come General Conference. We have conflicting information from our different schedules. The computer and print stuff is all on a 12 week schedule (its really 11 weeks, I don't know why they call it 12) but our teachers are teaching us on a 9 week schedule because that's what it says on their information. We probably won't know until they give us a travel itinerary randomly. I can't decide which would be better actually. If we leave early our General Conference experience will be wildly different but we will also be there for Cambodian New Year. The celebration of the new year in Cambodia is like a week long even that is something like Christmas, Valentines Day, the 4th of July, New Years and every one's birthday party all wrapped into one. Cool stuff.

 The language continues to be really really hard--no surprises there I suppose--and a great deal of my admittedly limited free time is spent trying to memorize characters. I've been working on sub consonants the past two days. There are 32 of them and they are kind of randomly shaped and located (sub consonants are in specific places around major consonants, if you put one in the wrong place it messes up the whole syllable which I imagine could become quite confusing) and I kind of hate them right now.

 I think I really should have an outline before I start writing these emails because I feel like I'm just vomiting words onto the screen. Whatever I think of, I say. I sent y'all a letter that should be arriving soon that might have more information. Between writing to my immediate family, friends, grandparents, my journal and anyone who writes me, I forget what I say to individual people. On that note, I'm out of time! Thank you for writing! Love y'all.
Elder Vore ran into his good friend from BYU, Hannah  (Sister Casper) on his way to the temple.

Feb 13, 2013 The MTC is an Amazing Place! Wk2

Week two is over and gone and so much has happened it's impossible to tell you everything! But at the same time, everything that has happened is all the same for me so sometimes I don't know exactly what to put in things like letters and emails.

 I'm still learning the language, still studying the gospel tons, still have the same companion... One thing that is certainly new, we have started learning Cambodian script and it's wildly difficult. 33 consonants, 32 sub consonants, 25 vowels and 14 independent vowels in addition to all the numbers I have to learn and things like their punctuation and also these things called didactic marks which look like ' ^ " ~and stuff like that but acct like vowels. For sure the language is hard and only going to get harder, but I'm going places! All of my prayers are in Khmae and yesterday we taught a 15 minute lesson to a role play investigator! Crazy stuff.

I was practicing writing several subconsonants on the board and it ended up looking pretty cool.

 I'm really glad to have the companion I have. He's really easy going and has a very self deprecating sense of humor. He's actually kind of become the mascot of sorts in our district because he's so very likable. Also, he's only received one letter, maybe y'all could write him just a little something? Also, thank you so much for the letters! It's the best thing ever here at the MTC! I'm sure Dad understands and maybe Mom a little but you kiddos won't until you get here. Seriously, best feeling in the world.

Elder Vore with his companion, Elder Khem

 You'd think that being around so much gospel centered stuff all the time would get tiring, but the more I'm around it the more I get excited about things like devotionals and speaking assignments and such. On Sunday we watched a talk given by Elder Bednar that was an hour and fifteen minutes long and I loved every second of it! I spent the entire rest of the evening in such high spirits because I couldn't stop thinking about how great his talk was. The MTC is an amazing place, but I can certainly see why some people don't exactly thrive here.

 One of my roommates is having a really hard time. He's generally immature in a lot of ways that are unsuited to living by himself, away from his parents, or in the MTC like: he stays up about 45 minutes after lights out, talking; he can't get up in the mornings; he doesn't want to do his laundry; he doesn't take the medicine for his thyroid that he needs unless we remind him and other such things. I can see that it will be hard to live with some people. I don't know how his companion does it really.

Every night now at 9:45 I gather anyone who is around and we sing three or four hymns. Usually there is at least one other guy who can read music so we usually sing in 3-part harmony and it has really become one of my favorite parts of the day. So far the actual MTC choir is pretty disappointing. The music is easy, a lot of people there only kind of want to be there, and of all the people that really want to be there, not a huge portion are very good. Still, the choir probably has between 200 and 400 depending on the day, so the sound is pretty big, and worth singing in anyway just because it's different than everything else I do. I don't know yet if we are singing in conference but it sure would be cool!

 Today is P-day so we went to the temple at 6:30 in order to avoid the rush of missionaries. P-day is, oddly enough, not actually very relaxing in the MTC. I like having the change, but we don't get much done, we don't get to rest very much (doing things like laundry, temple, service and writing) and we don't go to the gym. The gym is pretty fun here. I get to play a lot of basketball at least. There's also an MTC record board here with extensive records like pushups, situps, mile times, 3-point shots in a row, and soccer juggles. The juggling record is 960 and I'm going after it but I only get one try a day so that's kind of lame. So far my best is 407... Oh well, I have a lot of time to get that one.

 Our district has divied up the board and are looking to break about a third of the records. Something to keep us busy for the next few months. We have the latest exit time in the MTC right now, meaning that everyone coming after us is all the way down to 9 weeks. Well, my time is up. I don't know how organized this email is, but hopefully y'all got a little picture of my life here. Love you guys!

Feb 5, 2013 My First Week in the MTC

     There's a saying here at the MTC that goes something like this: English language speaking missionaries come to learn the gospel; Spanish language speaking missionaries come to learn the language; and Asian language speaking missionaries come to learn humility. There's some truth to that statement. After I was directed to my room I was taken to my classroom where the first lesson was already in progress. I walked into the classroom and was greeted immediately by jabbering in Khmae. Through hand signals, repetition, and an occasional written word on the board, I attempted to speak the language for several hours and the teacher never spoke a word of English.

 It's now been six days and "lookruu Merril" has not had a single word of English pass through his lips while in our presence. It's difficult, occasionally laughable, and at times almost unbearably frustrating, but there is no one here who can say that it's not effective. I've learned more in just the past few days about Khmae than in a full year and a half of Spanish. We started with learning a latinized version of the script to start so we can learn the pronunciations. This means that I can't even read my nametag... Despite the limitations, we are speaking and learning constantly.

 Almost all words in Khmae have about twice as many syllables as their English counterparts. For example, to say "I am a missionary" I would say "Khnom kuucia neak psoopsaaysaasnaa". Also, don't even try to pronounce that. You're doing it wrong. One thing I've learned about our pronounciation is that it's always wrong. It's very hard, but my vocabulary is over 200 at this point and while that is laughably small, it's enough to get my point across. One thing that we can definitely do though, is understand the language. I think our teacher is dumbing it down for us, but when he's speaking and even when he's speaking quickly, we can understand a considerable amount.

     Enough about the language. There are 13 total missionaries in my district going to Cambodia. My companion's name is Elder Khem. He's Cambodian by race, and his parents are both native speakers who escaped the killing fields in the '70s, but he doesn't speak almost any of the language himself other than things like please, thank you, water, bathroom and other simple ideas. He can count though, so I'm jealous. Three of the 13 are sister missionaries. They always seems to be ahead of us in everything, can't quite figure it out. I'm running out of computer time now so I'm going to start going into less detail and just summarizing. There are four in my room. One of them is going home due to a health problem with his thyroid.

 We are in the same room for 9 to 12 hours a day, studying the scriptures and speaking the language. I never thought I would love so much to study the scriptures!! The MTC is such a spiritually powerful place and I'm glad for it.

Our Cambodian classroom with Elder Khem--hours & hours of studying!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Jan 30, 2013 Saying Goodbye for 2 Years

One last stop to the BYU campus to say goodbye to Adam's roommate, Alex and other friends.

Wednesday January 30, 2013
We have spent 2 days in SLC visiting Grandma & Grandpa Honey who are here serving a mission at The Family History Center.  Mom and Adam  have enjoyed some quality time together in this very snowy place.  Finally the day has arrived and it's time to drive to Provo to drop Adam off at the Missionary Training Center.

Adam with Grandpa--Elder Martin and Grandma--Sister Martin (Full time missionaries)

Mom and Adam in front of the Provo Temple right before entering the MTC.

Adam standing in front of The Missionary Training Center in  Provo, UT where he will be spending the next 9 weeks studying and learning a whole bunch.

Saying goodbye at the curb was quick.

Mom gets one last hug and only sheds a few tears.  

Goodbye son, we'll see you in 2 years!

Jan 25-27, 2013 Preparing to Leave

The week before Adam and Mom leave for Utah is very busy!  Packing, saying goodbyes, speaking assignments in church, attending the Lubbock temple, a missionary haircut, a surprise goodbye party with friends, and finally being set apart as a full time missionary.

                                                            Goodbye Family!

Cousins, Braddock and Hudson 

Adam with his Great Grandpa, Papa Fanning

Lauron will miss her big brother.
Cousins, Kate and Isaiah


Mom gives Adam his last haircut for 2 years

January 25, 2013 Adam receives his endowment in the Lubbock Texas Temple

The temple experience was wonderful for all of us.  We were joined by many family members.

Out to dinner with Grandma and Grandpa Vore after the temple session.

Chris and Adam are looking alike in this picture at the end of a wonderful evening.

January 26, 2013 Surprise Party!

Adam had no idea his friends were planning this goodbye party the night before he was set apart as a missionary.  Matthew and Sandra got the party together.

January 27, 2013  Adam is set apart as a missionary

All the siblings together before church on Adam's last Sunday and he will be speaking.  
Elder Vore is set apart by President Zant

Grandpa and Grandma Vore with their first missionary grandson

Jan 20, 2013 Family Farewell

Adam came home for about a month and a half between finishing his first semester at BYU and leaving for his mission.  It was filled with lots of activities and things to do before leaving.  He worked as much as possible, went out with the missionaries, had temple and mission prep classes, and made time for family and friends.
We had a goodbye family dinner with Cambodian cuisine a few days before leaving for the MTC. 
Pappa Fanning wrote a special poem for the occasion.
  • My life is just about to change.
  • It's time for me to go
  • To serve the children of my God.
  • I'm ready, This I Know.
  • The Helmet of salvation is
  • Now resting on my head.
  • The shield of faith is on my arm,
  • And by His work I'm led.
  • My feet are shod with gospel peace.
  • His Truth is 'round me twined.
  • His sword I hold here in my hand,
  • All fear I leave behind.
  • God's armor will protect me as
  • I stand against the foe.
  • The adversary's fiery darts
  • Will never lay me low.
  • I'll Triumph over wickedness, 
  • And Satan's evil way
  • Christ's gospel light will from me shine,
  • To brighten every day.
  • When my enlistment days are o'er,
  • I'll come back here to you,
  • And God's great blessings we will see
  • In everything we do.
  • Hal Fanning

Our home was full of love with cousins, grandparents, and other extended family wishing Adam farewell.