I can't describe how quickly the time has flown. It was four years ago this morning that I first entered the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah--the first of many unforgettable experiences that would fill the two years I would eventually serve where the Lord had called me.
As I look back on the four years that have passed since then, I am amazed at everything that has happened in my life, and how very much has changed. With everyone I've met and grown close to, everywhere I've been, and everything I've done and become, I could very well write volumes. Perhaps another time, soon, I may dedicate a blog post to reflecting on where the path of life has taken me so far.
But tonight I just want to take a moment and remember the MTC, and what it taught me. Never have I had another experience quite like it.
In a very real sense, the MTC was like a spiritual "boot camp." Every day was strictly regimented; every single hour had a specific purpose. We were trained in a foreign language and how to teach the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Morning, day, and night were devoted to the study of scriptures and the betterment of ourselves and our relationships. And just as much emphasis was placed on feeding our spirits as there was on feeding and caring for our bodies; so we ate very well and exercised every day, too. There were also regular opportunities for service in the cleaning and maintenance of the MTC buildings and grounds. Really, I can't even paint a detailed enough picture to show what it was like... but everything we did there built character and testimony. The Spirit of the Lord was there in great abundance. It was very much the Lord's University, or His own little city upon the earth. The closest thing I can relate it to is actually living in the temple.
I loved it.
I won't take too much time tonight, because it is late and I am very tired. So, I'm just going to say this quickly, and you can think about it. These are things I experienced in the MTC that strengthened me and that I want to remain in my life: daily, diligent scripture study; strict obedience to high Gospel standards; adherence to a schedule that facilitates the study and application of truth; opportunities to grow through service; fine-tuning the spirit by caring for the body; the frequent bearing of testimony; practice in the Spanish language; regular temple attendance; appreciation and respect for the counsel of wise leaders; and the promotion of a healthy, balanced life by keeping oneself productive physically, spiritually, socially, and intellectually. Through all of these things I have found true happiness, and I would invite you to try any of them.
One last thought:
Jeffrey R. Holland gave an excellent talk last night on living righteously in the 21st century. What struck me the most in his remarks was near the end, when he mentioned how when the Savior comes again, he wants to be caught living the Gospel. I just love the way he put that, and it's what I want, too. When Christ returns, we're all going to be in the middle of things. He's not going to politely wait for us to finish what we're doing. So, I want to make sure He finds me living the Gospel.
Want to be happy? That's how it's going to happen. I guarantee it.