Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Week 4 in the MTC - No GA Sightings, but an Investigator in the Referral Center

Its week 4 folks. Wow. Although it has been quite some time. It feels like i just got here.

The MTC is like a spiritual time warp that one can not explain. The days are like weeks while the weeks are like days. Quite the conundrum.

So I think we'll start this one off with a joke. Emphasis on the word joke.
Q- What is the difference between the MTC and Prison? A- In prison you're allowed phone calls and visitors. I'm just joking, although on the rare occasion that I walk to the temple or go to the field for gym I find myself in a sense of amazement looking at civilization and cars and the few people walking by who aren't missionaries. But regardless, the MTC has been an awesome experience and I have learned so much.

Last week, everyone of the 12 apostles and the whole first presidentcy were present for the Mission President seminar. Although I had high hopes, I was not actually able to see an apostle or prophet of god in person. Due to the crazy flu scare going on, they were kept separated from us the whole time, as opposed to the typical procedure of them actually mingling with us and coming into different classrooms to teach.Because we were seperated from the apostles and prophet the cafeteria was cut in half. Now, originally the cafeteria was crowded, but after they cut it in half, the line to get in was days long. I felt like I was in line for one of my events. (He worked as an events promoter, before entering the MTC.) People were trying to sneak in, it was crazy.

I did, however, watch a devotional given by Elder Holland given at the MTC via Broadcast in the Cafeteria because the gym was too packed. He spoke on the necessity of teaching with the Spirit.

Some great things that I took away from that talk were the following. 1) The Spirit literally connects us with the God Head. When we sincerly feel the Spirit, the veil between Earth and Heaven is thinned and we are almost in the presence of GOD. 2) The Spirit converts people because when the Spirit tesitfies of Truth. It's just as if Jesus Christ and our Heavenly Father were there with you testifying.

This week we focused on teaching the 2nd lesson in English because next week our weekly task is to teach it in Russian.

Ohhhh I cant belive that I almost forgot this. Guess what . . . Alright Ill tell you. Im teaching an investigator. Now, I know your probably like what the heck? No he doesn't. I'm not lieing. His name is Randell. He lives in Lauderdale, Florida. I've taught him about the restoration and commited him to read the Book of Mormon and to attend church. In the MTC, you spend an hour a week in the Referral Center, either calling people to follow up on the literature they requested from the Church or answering inbound calls of people asking for literature. Randell called in and asked for the Bible. I asked him if he would like to have it hand delivered by two of our representatives, so they could share a message of happiness, but he said he would rather just go to church and check it out for himself.

As a smile came over my face, I began to share my testimoy of the Restoration and the prophet Joseph Smith. And asked and commited him to read the Book of Mormon 3rd Nephi chapter 11. I expressed to him that although I had a testimony of the Book of Mormon, for him to find out for himself whether it was a true book of God he had to sincerely pray and ask for himself to know. Although I don't think he understood fully what I thought prayer to be, he did commit to read the Book and think about how he feels. I told him I would call him back the following Monday and see how it went. On Monday, I think I will share with him my testimony of prayer.

As for the physical part of the MTC. We are now doing over a hundred situps and pushups a day. And I typically play soccer outside at the field. Surprisingly, I scored 2 goals.

I really want to thank the people who have been writing me. I love recieving mail. Your positive thoughts and warmness are felt through each envelope I open and definately help me keep a positive attitude.

I want you all to know that God is our loving Heavenly Father, who loves you and is always willing to listen to you no matter what is going on in your life.

I also know that if you have any question about life or anything God will answer your prayers as long as you have the faith that he will answer them.

I love you all !

your Missionary,

Elder Curran

I cant send pictures via email until I get to Russia, but I sent some physical ones you should be getting soon.

If there is anyone who you think would like to read this please fwd it to them

Friday, June 26, 2009

Answers to Questions (handwritten letter dated June 16)

Dear Mom,

As you can tell, I have been emailing you and a bunch of other people once a week as an update to what has been going on. I literally only have 30 minutes to type and the computer shuts off. So, I only have time to email one email and type the addresses. As for personal letters, I have written you including this one and will continue to write you in response to your dearelder.com questions.

I don't know how long it (a letter) takes to get to Turkmenistan, but I hope not too long.

My companion's name is Elder Olson and that misionary whose mother you met is in a separate district.

Here are the names of the elders in my district:

Elder Probst - Utah - Rostov Mission
Elder Apsley - Utah - Rostov Mission
Elder Olson - California - Rostov Mission
Elder Spjyt - California - Vladivostok Mission
Elder Velazquez - California - Vladivostok Mission
Elder Williams - Utah - Vladivostok Mission
Elder Wiseman - Utah - Rostov Mission
Elder Benson - California - Rostov Mission
Elder Kempton (District Leader) - Arizona - Rostov Mission

I have gym every day, except for Sunday and P-day (on Tuesday).

We aren't learning too much about culture, but are focused more on prayer, testimony, contacting, and the first lesson. I'm eating a wide variety of food. It is different every day. Oh also we are learning grammar. They gave us a purple card that has all the rules for the six cases and it is very helpful.

I'm glad Nana was finally able to be buried.

If you talk to Happy again, will you please have him write me?

I'm glad you made it safely back to Turkmenistan., and I'm sorry about the garden (It fried in the Central Asian heat).

I don't have time to open e-mails. I only have 30 minutes. So, if you send pictures, just mail them to me.

The Church is true, and you were right that the Book of Mormon can bring immense happiness.


Your son,

Elder Curran

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Week 3 in the MTC

Its Week 3 and lets go ahead and start out with Whats HOT and what's NOT.

P DAY (ooohhh sweet pday)
- Sunday Night Yoga
- Watching the Testaments on Sunday Evenings and listening to 2000 elders giggle at the same time when the kissing scene comes on.
- Procyliting to LDS Missionaries on the MTC grounds
- Refferal Center

- Random Weather, going from being sunny enough to tan then running from giant hail, and then being dreanched from rain on the way home from the temple all within 8 minutes.
- Other Elders peeing in the shower across from you as you shower {Gross, guys!}
- Unlimited Food, Limited GYM

Some foreshadowing for next week's events - This week is Mission President Seminar Week. Which means that all the new Mission Presidents going out to their respective missions, including my own, and most of the Apostles and the Prophet will all be on the MTC campus all week! Stay tuned till next week to hear if I get to run into any of them!

This week one of my two Russian teachers BRAT (Brother in Russian) Bradford, who served in Ukraine. told us how in ancient Russian times Russians who were exiled from Russia were sent to the (Krai) which means edge in Russia. Krai was the territory of Ukraine and was similar to Australia for Britian. Anyway, in Russian, there is one way to say in a country and in a peice of land. Since Krai was considered an edge in Russian Language when you say in Ukraine you say it the way you would for a peice of land. Since Ukraine has become its own country, there is this huge argument of how to say in Ukraine. And since we have a native Ukranian living on our floor, my companion and I decided to say it the way as if it was a peice of land and he blew up! lol. Furthermore we created a huge argument between him and his companion who is a Native Russian. Sorry if that was way boring, it really was much more entertaining than I explained it, and if you were there, I'm sure you would have thought it was hilarious.

Ok, so this week we were able to go to the Referral Center and take inbound calls from people who are intrested in the church and want different types of literature or movies for free. Just a little bit of knowledge -- the Referral Center is actually considered a mission for some missionaries, who are disabled and is actually one of the highest baptizing missions. Anyway, I was able to take an inbound call and share my testimony with a lady about how God is our Heavenly Father and how we have the restored gospel of Jesus Christ on the earth today. I felt a wonderful sprit as I was able to do this and overall it wa a very pleasent experience.

Yesterday, we were commited to SYL which is speak your language. For a day. No english and only Russian. Because most of these elders have only been exposed to Russian for a few weeks, some stuggled more than others. Elder Valazquez, who is already funny, made me laugh as well as the entire district as he would yell out random phases that number one were irrelavent and 2 were incorrect, grammatically. Some of his favorite phases were: " How many DOG? " " "Bird Flu" " Don't, he to bless" and my favorite "Nightmare Food."

As far as working out everyday, my workout group, which consists of 3 elders from my district and 4 from other districts, is going strong. We have worked out every night for 17 days consistently with the exception of Sundays, where Elder Olson leads us in some stretches. Also, we now have a District song, Nearer My God to Thee, that we one time sang 6 times in a row. We start and finish each class with a song and prayer.

Finally I want to leave with you my testimony of Obedience. Although I have gained this testimony later than I would have liked, I know that by strict obediance to the counsil of our leaders in general and of the Prophets and Apostles, and in turn God, we can gain blessings beyond our understanding. I challenge each of you reading this to live with strict obediance and to pray to your Heavenly Father to thank him for every blessing you have recieved in your life! I love you and so does God, our Heavenly Father, and he wants to see you again someday!

Thank you for all your letters, Everyone who has written me via either US mail or Dear elder has recieved a response.


Elder Curran

PS. please fwd this to anyone you think would like to read it

Monday, June 22, 2009

Thanks! (second handwritten letter dated June 9)

Dear Mom,

I have no idea when you're gonna get this, but you have probably already received an e-mail from me. The first day was incredibly hard, but I am grateful that you wrote me. Did you honestly write me a latter a week or more before I got in? LOL. Why?

Anyway, I wanted to thank you for coming out and helping me prepare and get ready before the MTC. I'm sure there are many elders here that didn't have these same privileges I had, and I wanted you to know that I was grateful. Very grateful. I'm glad you were able to to be there when I took out my endowments. It was a very special experience.

How is Turkmenistan?

I'm sure you have written me three times via e-mail by now, but I'm sure you like receiving handwritten letters as well. Just so you know my companion is Elder Olson. He is from Orange County, California, and I actually spoke with him on Facebook, because a mutual friend who knew about both of our mission calls introduced us.

I'm learning lots of Russian. It's coming back very quickly. I can pray, bear my testimony, and contact someone on the street. Only the first week.

Ya znaiyu chto u nas Nebescneiy Otets. On lyubit nas. Yevo plan prinasit schaste!
(I know that we have a Heavenly Father. He loves us. His plan brings happiness!)

I love you and so does our Heavenly Father.


Stareyshina Curran

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Week 2 - MTC

First Off I want to thank all of you that sent me emails. The bad news is that I wasn't able to read them. Let me explain. At the MTC we are given litterally 30 min to use Email. In order to type an indepth report of what happened this week I need the full 30 minutes just to type the email.

I do want to hear from you though please simply copy and paste the email that you originally sent me and send it through DearElder.com. It will be like sending and email for you and it will be like reciving a physical letter for me and I will be able to recieve it the same day! I will write you back a handwritten letter. The emails are simply to update you on what is going on through out the mission.

Please write me any questions or personal comments via Dearelder.com and I will write you back via US mail.
My adress is
Elder James Curran
Rostov na Danu mission
Provo MTC
Box 148
2005 N 900 E
Provo UT 84604.

Sweet, now that we have gotten that out of the way. Lets go over the What's HOT and What's not at the MTC.

What's Hot
- Swine Flu Jokes
- Home made swine flu T shirts
- T shirts representative of your mission call
- Building towers of paper cups during meal times
- Dearelder.com contests to see who gets the most letters in a week and day

What's NOT

- Quarentine (5 day isolation for swine flu/ flu victims)
- Meetings about district members who are currently in Quarentine
- "Tamiflu" the pill we take to prevent us from entering Quarentine

You are prbably curious why quarentine is soooo not HOT? Good Question. Because it is litterally like LORD of the FLIES in there. No supervision. No rules. Every man for himself. Food is slim and people use letters and food to barter. Gangs have been formed and battles have been fought. I know most of you think this is come kind of Joke, but no it is not. Elder Valasquez was sent in and reported. His account has been confirmed by several other witnesses and yes Quarentine is not hot. Because of these rumors noone is reporting thier sickness and therefore spreading disease throughout the MTC. EVERYone is sick! Seriously it's gross.

Ok onto other matters. Elder Bednar came and spoke at our devotional last Tuesday and gave a wonderful talk about the Holy Ghost. I will pass on his words. if you ever question whether your actions are prompted by yourself or the Holy Ghost . . . quit worrying about it! If you are being good, obeying the commandments, and honoring your covenants, you will always be guided by the Holy Ghost whether you know it or not. Don't wait for a special feeling just act!

K.Russian . . .As most of you know, I already knew Russian b4 coming here. Even though that is true, the other elders and I were all on the same page when it comes to gospel terms. As of now, we can Pray, Testify and teach the first lesson in Russian. In only 2 weeks. 2 weeks ago these elders didnt even know the alphabet in Russian. Brothers and Sisters the Holy Ghost will help you in everything that you stuggle with as long as you are doing everything you can to overcome your weakness! I can testify of that!

Last Wed I contacted a person in Russian. Successful, and we taught the whole first lesson in English with our Companions. It was SOOOO tight. A very spiritual experiance to say the least. Something that was not so tight was when we, as a district, were in the Refferal center and the only person that picked up was a strict Prebaterian and chewed me out about there only being one Book of Scripture, THE BIBLE. I still was able to share my testimony of the truthfulness of the BOM and we went our seperate ways.

In church each week they give us topics to prepare talks on, and each week the bishop picks two unlucky souls to come us and give them. I was lucky this week. It wasn't me. But we are here for 10 more weeks. . . . Ill let you know what happens.

Some notes. P DAy is litterally a holiday. We sing about it. We are grateful for it in our prayers and it is just sweet. . . .Also I would like you to know that I am currently writing a musical that I hope to produce when I return in 2011 called, "MTC, the musical." Several songs are currently in the works such as "PDAY, such a a special day" and "ITS TEMPLE TIME."

I hope you enjoyed this week's update. Please remember to write me via DEARELDER.com and not through email. please ;)

I love you all, and I want you to know that the Gospel of Jesus Christ will bring you so much JOY! I would like to commit all of you to pray to your Heavenly Father, who loves you so much, to feel the spirit in your lives each day.

I love you so much.Elder Curran

P.S. please fwd this to anyone who you think would enjoy it!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Hello! from Elder Curran

So it has only been 6 days and so much has happened. . . first off the 2nd day there, the first day of classes I seriously almost came home. It was probably the longest and most miserable day of my life. We were in class for 16 hrs straight. Also I was not ready to wake up at 6:00 and was incredibly tired. Although I would never live that day over again I am so glad it happened because it woke me up to Mission Life and has helped me to appreciate the rest of my experiance thus far at the MTC.

My district, the 5 companionships that always meet together, is so diverse. Although most come from Utah or California, they each have their distinct personality trait that sets them apart. My Companion Elder Olson is SOOOOOO amazing. If if were not for him I would probably have gone insane. He is extremly down to earth and we actually were friends on Facebook b4. We had a mutual friend that knew both of our mission calls and we had a chance to talk via facebook chat before we came. Little to my surprise he was my companion, and I am truly grateful.

My good friend Sean Kemp who just got married told me about "treasure maps" that are left here throughout the MTC and left for Elders to find little left behind treasure. Sean actually found such a map and found 50 dollars in quarters. I told this story to my district and now we all are on a constant search for maps and treasure. Also I have convinced the entire zone that I graduated witha Talking Goat that recieved radioactive DNA manipulation in Chernobyl Ukraine and graduated with me in Uzbekistan. I think I'll tell them I was joking in a couple days.
Interesting Fact: some of the trees smell like cream soda and caramel apples. NO JOKE. Just like them.

There is a certain Elder, Elder Spjut (SPYUT) that looks and acts just like Dwight Schrute from "The Office" and we have all nicknamed him Dwight Spjut.

As for Russian, I am learning at a pace I have never imagined. Even though I knew quite a bit b4 I know so many new things. As of now, I can successfully pray, teach, and contact somone in Russian. WOW! I can't believe it. It's such a testimony of the power of the Spirit to see my companion and several other elders learn the same things in such a short amount of time when 7 days ago they didn't even know one letter in the alphabet. The Spirit in the MTC is incredibly strong. I have a theory that it's because everyone is contantly testifying here. Everytime a statement is said that is true the Spirit's job is to confirm it with that powerful feeling. Because of this powerful feeling, aka the Holy Ghost, I know that I have a Heavenly Father that loves me and has a plan for me. I am so grateful that we have a true and living Prophet to help guide us along with the spirit to make correct decisions!

On a less spiritual note I am working out every night with my companion, so I do not get fat because I eat more that a racehorse in this place. It's almost ridiculous. I should probably cut back.

VERY IMPORTANT : PLEASE WRITE ME FREQUENTLY !!!!! Letters are like gold and diamonds in this place. They are the highlight on my day and bring a smile to my face. I promise if you write me I will write you back ! My address is on my Facebook page. Also please tell anyone who knows me or is my friends or just some random guy you meet that wants to write me to use DEARELDER.com I get your letters the same day most of the time. I can only write emails on P day and I only get 30 min. So if you write me on Dearelder Ill write you a hand written letter back !!!!! SO tell every one the gospel (good word) of dearelder.com(I have already sent some of you written letters)the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ IS TRUE! and GOD lives. Communicate with him frequently. He loves to hear from you!


Elder Curran.

PS fwd this to anyone who would like to read it!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Entering the MTC

On June 3, 2009, Elder Curran entered the MTC to begin his full-time mission. Unfortunately, due to a swine flu outbreak at the MTC, there were no traditional pin-on-the-nametag photos. As he grabbed his luggage and entered the building, he seemed really happy. We heard from other families that there were quite a few missionaries entering on their way to Russia, including those heading off to Rostov.
(Handwritten Letter, dated June 3 -- It takes two weeks for letters from the MTC to reach Turkmenistan.)
Dear Mom,
I am writing this letter the first night of the MTC, but I am sending it later, because I forgot the address. I'm going to write you an e-mail on P-day and then wait until the next P-day to receive it, unless you send it to me via mail and DearElder.com.
Today, we did orientation and I got some shots we both overlooked. The fee is included in this letter. {It wasn't.} We met with our districts. I was assigned senior companion, but that means nothing, because after six weeks we switch and my companion becomes the senior companion.
The day was long, but everyone says that if you make it until Saturday, it goes downhill. Tomorrow, we start classes, and I guess Russian/religion training. I'm excited to figure out how to get around everywhere cause I have no idea where we are half the time.
My companion is Elder Olsen. He is from California. He is way cool. I saw the Rexburg elder in a zone meeting. He said he recognized me, but I've never seen him before.
Well, I hope all is well.
Elder Curran