Monday, July 28, 2014


Hey all, I made it! 

Right now I am in the state of Tlaxcala. Not exactly sure where, but it is awesome here. There is also a lot of Spanish as well. It´s good though. 

So my last few days in the MTC were really good. I am honestly having a tough time remembering what happened. It feels like forever ago that I was there with my old companeros. I do remember that it was really spiritual and kind of strange that we knew that we were going to be leaving. One thing that was awesome was our exit interview with President Doman. I don´t know if i have talked much about him but he is awesome! I truly believe that he is the best branch president at the MTC right now. But he gave me a send off prayer-blessing that I could compare to my patriarchal blessing. It really was an imspired moment.

Greeting at the Puebla Airport
Traveling to Puebla felt kind of strange. We were actually in a big group of 14 missionaries traveling together. When we finally got to Puebla our mission pres. was waiting for us at the airport. Pres. Christiansen is awesome! He is definitely a down to earth, very spiritual man. I am glad that I have him as a mission president. So we then put all of our bags into a members truck and split up and drove to the mission home. It was pretty fun, a bunch of us crammed into the backseat of this tiny truck and sped down the road. Drivers in Mexico are crazy! Everyone drives very aggressively and doesn´t really pay attention to all of the rules. It´s actually alright though, because everyone is very alert when they drive here.

So we spent the night at the misson home which is a very nice home in a very rich neighborhood in Puebla. The next morning we had our orientation which was very good and got me excited for the mission! Later that day we went to cambios (exchanges) where about a half to a third of the mission gathers in Puebla for exchanges. There I was separated from Elder Wilkey and Elder Dixon and got my new companion Elder Delgado. Elder Delgado is a good elder, he is from Equador and enjoys futbol. He has been in the mission field for 10 months and is a good teacher. It tough communicating with him because I don´t know much Spanish and he doesn´t know almost any English. It is good though because I have to practice my Spanish.

View from our apartment
So from cambios we took a bus for an hour to Tlaxcala. We are in the Atempan ward and I really like this area. The members are great here! Many of them have really strong testimonies and all are very nice. The people in general are very friendly which makes contacting much easier. It doesn´t feel like that big of deal to stop someone in the street and just talk. The area I am in is pretty compact, there are a lot of houses and small stores. The weather is pretty much perfect, though it does get a little cold in the mornings. It also rains almost every day which I actually like.

The food here is also very good! Every day except for p-day we eat la comida with the members. So here the big meal is called La comida and is usually had at around 2 or 3. It is actually very good, because we eat a lot, then just work until we go home. I have had some really delicious food here! A lot of beans, some rice and chicken. But I am definitely not going hungry here!

Elder Delgado and Elder Hartvigsen
The actual missionary work is good! It is however very frustrating to not be able to communicate very well. There have been many times where someone has asked me something and I had no idea what they said! Its really tough when you want to share and show people that you care when you can´t speak or even understand most of the time. My Spanish is improving though, slowly. My district leader told me that at about 3 months I will understand everything and at 6 I will start to be fluent. It seems like forever, but as long as I keep at it everything will be OK. I have definitely had to rely more fully on the Lord. 

I actually had an amazing experience this morning during study. In an email a few weeks ago I told of how I was frustrated that I had never really had that strong powerful witness of the Book of Mormon, but this morning I got it! I know for sure, that the Book of Mormon is true! It wasn´t really a epiphany but just more a confirmation. So I would implore you that if you haven´t recieved that revelation, to do it! If I can recieve this answer so can anyone! It really strengthened my testimony, and helped in a lesson that we taught earlier today.

Anyway, I love all of you guys and hope that you are doing well. The church is true!

-Elder Hartvigsen

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

I made it!


Hey, just emailing to let you know that I'm in Puebla safe and sound. It is seriously one of the most beautiful places I've ever seen. Flying in was definitely awesome. 

I get my new companion today. Anyways, I'm fine and I'll email you more next week! 

 - Elder Hartvigsen

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

La Ultima Semana en la CCM

Hey everyone, como esta? My week was good, honestly it didn't feel like a whole lot happened. Well, I guess we did a lot of things, but it went by really fast. In five days from now I will be in Puebla! I can't believe how fast the time has gone by, and can't believe that I won't be speaking any English once I get down there. Scary! I know that if I trust in the Lord however, I will be fine. Doesn't make it any less intimidating though.

Destination Puebla!
So this week we got that new district of 10 new elders. That was really interesting being around them, and welcoming them as a Zone Leader. The first day you could tell that they were really stressed and kind of scared. They are doing better now, but they are an interesting group. There is a good variety of types of people in that group with interesting sets of companions. I think it is so awesome how you learn so much just by who your companion is. I've learned a lot from my companions, even if it has sometimes been patience.

The devotionals this week were good but not very out of the ordinary. We hear from Richard Heaton, who is the executive director of something at the MTC, and L Edward Brown who was a former general authority and was temple president of the Mt. Timpanogas temple. They were both very spiritual and very simple talks. They were honestly good for us as we are leaving because it is reminder to focus on the simple things. They taught about Charity, and the name of Christ. Charity is something that I have been trying to constantly have and work on, because I want to have that when I go into the mission field and be able to have that pure love of Christ for people. For us to really feel the spirit when we are teaching them, we need to have that pure love for them first. If we don't have charity for people, then we cannot really have the spirit with us. Brown talked a lot about how we do everything in our church through Jesus Christ, and in his name. He challenged us to really emulate Christ in what we say and do, because we are literally representatives of him right now. He also talked much about prayer and vain repetition. It really drove it home for me how bad it is to just say that basic prayer that we don't think about for a meal, or for sunday school then seal it in the name of our perfect and loving savior that died for us. We should put thought into our prayers! That is something that I have been working on since.

Yeah, It has just been a pretty surreal week, I've been doing a lot of reflecting on what I've learned. If I had to really boil it down, it would be that everything we do points to the savior. Our missionary purpose is to "Invitar a las personas a venir a cristo" or invite others to come unto Christ. As we go out into the field we need to be the best examples of him that we can, and in everything we do invite others to come unto him so that they can feel his love, repent, and eventually return to him. I have grown a lot here spiritually and definately come closer to Christ myself. I am so excited to go out and actually help people come unto him, and make that great and wonderful change in their lives. I am so grateful for him and his gospel. I know that even when times are tough he will help us through our trials, and help us grow through them.

I can't wait to get out there and share what I have with other people, and share this spirit and this gospel with them. I also can't wait to get into Mexico and experience their culture. Puebla is going to be awesome! Well I know Jesus loves you guys, and so do I!

Con amor,
Elder Hartvigsen

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Two Weeks More

Time flies when you’re serving the Lord! Even though the MTC can be pretty monotonous, time seems like it just keeps speeding up. I feel like I was just emailing a couple of days ago. This week was a very good week, and also an interesting one. The District in head of us left to their missions in Mexico so we have been missing them. Except for the Elder who had surgery to correct his Hernia has to wait an extra week to recover completely so he is hanging around here with us. That means that our Trio is split up. We will revert back to our Trio next week though after he leaves. I'm sad that he missed his departure date, but I'm also glad to enjoy his company and to learn from his Spanish. We've taught a few lessons with all four of us and his Spanish is super good. He just has a gift of picking it up. So we have been learning a lot this week.

We are actually very up to date on the World Cup, usually the cafeteria posts the scores next to the menu. We also taught one of our teachers during a role play during the game. During our lesson with him he checked the score and got really excited. Our “Investigator” pays attention to the World Cup!

Elder Hartvigsen w/companions watching Stadium of Fire

The 4th of July was fun. We were allowed to stay up "late" and watch the Stadium of Fire Fireworks which were pretty cool. The MTC had our own 4th of July program with some musical numbers then a very patriotic talk. We also watched the movie 17 Miracles which was pretty good. The movie critic in me wanted to rip into it, but the stories were good, and it reminded me how much the Pioneers suffered to arrive here, especially the ones that came with handcarts.

We've also had amazing devotionals as always, with Josh Wright on Sunday and Neil L Anderson on Tuesday. I really enjoyed Sunday’s with Josh Wright, who is a pianist that is very talented. He played 4 pieces for us and he plays beautifully. He played a Chopin that I really liked, it took me back to my piano days with Sister Reed. She would have really enjoyed his playing, he was technically good, but he also played with much feeling. He shared some stories about his mission in Rapid City, South Dakota that were really good. Sunday Devotionals are always different because they have things that stray from a straight up talk, but it is always so spiritual. I love how music can influence us so powerfully, and invite the spirit so quickly and universally.  [Note from Louise/Sam’s Mom - Josh Wright is on this season of America’s Got Talent. He went through to the next round this week.]

Neil L Anderson's talk was probably one of the best that I have heard live here at the MTC. Not because of the normal reasons either. The spirit was there but it wasn't super powerful. He talked about the Holy Ghost and just gave us so much inspired information about it. He wasn't the most charismatic speaker but I learned so much from him and more so from the spirit. He talked about how we need to be still when we listen to the spirit, and how often times we learn more reflecting on talks or study then we do in the actual study or talk. I definitely know this to be true. After every Tuesday night devotional we meet as a district and with a member of the Branch Presidency and their wives and discuss the talk and what we learned and felt. The talks are great, but I always learn so much more discussing the talks and hearing other peoples testimonies of what they felt and heard.

Something else that Elder Anderson said also really struck me, and it was that we shouldn't be afraid when answers don't come right away or aren't super powerful paradigm shifting experiences. I have definitely gained a testimony of that this week.

So I had started to read the Book of Mormon again when I received my call but I didn't quite finish it before I entered the MTC. This has been maybe the first or second time actually reading it cover to cover by myself continuously in a few months. Since we always hear stories of how people read the BoM and then prayed and had this life changing all powerful spiritual revelation that it was true, I decided to go for that because it sounded awesome and I've never really had that experience with the BoM. So on this last Fast Sunday I fasted and timed my reading so I could finish the BoM during my fast and pray about it. When I prayed about it I felt the Spirit, but I didn't exactly feel that sure knowledge that it seems is in many talks. It kind of bugged me but I just kept going and trusted in the Lord.

I realize now that I already have a strong testimony of the BoM, and that I didn't need that powerful experience. One of the wives of a member of the Branch presidency shared a story that really kind of summed up what I've been feeling. The story was about college age guy who investigated the church. He said that after a while of meeting with the missionaries and his home teachers he had really good feelings about the church and had felt the spirit, but wanted that great spiritual awakening to make sure. So he prayed and read for days and days but that powerful testimony never really came. He said one day he had a moment of clarity where he felt the Spirit testify to him that he already knew that it was true. He described it as: "It's as if I was standing in a rain storm and being drenched. I could hear the thunder and see the lightning and was standing in puddles of water. I could feel the spray of the rain and wind but was still yelling to God; 'Is it raining? I need to know!" That sums up my testimony. I may have not had that life changing experience that many people have had, but I have learned the gospel and recieved that testimony line by line, little by little. There may be times in my mission that I have that strong testimony, but I still have a strong testimony right now.

Anyways, I love you all, and hope that you are all doing well. Hope you had a fun 4th of July because I had a great one!

-Elder Hartvigsen

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Zone of the Afflicted

Hey everyone! 

It has been a week full of crazy happenings here at the MTC. It seems that our whole zone is having medical issues. I'm fine, and my companions are fine however. So on Saturday Elder Garnet was having abdominal pains and went to the Hospital. Turns out that he had apendicitis and his appendix was about to rupture. So that was crazy. Also Elder Skalla figured out he had a Hernia so he had surgery yesterday to correct that. He will probably have to wait another couple weeks to leave though, so they will most likely put him in my trio! That will be great, because Elder Skalla is a great missionary and knows a ton of Spanish so he will definately help us out. I don't know if I mentioned it last email, but also 3 out of the 4 hermanas in our district went to the nurse for various reasons. There is also an elder in the district just below us,  that just had his wisdom teeth out and got an infection in one of the dry sockets or something. We also have a few missionaries that have colds. Basically we are all dying haha. We were saying the other day that Satan must really not want us out in the mission field because he is trying really hard on us. But everyone is alive and still working so it's all good.

I also was made a Zone Leader with Elder Dixon on Sunday. So we will probably be the zone leaders for the next couple of weeks until President Doman passes it off to the next District behind us. I also was able to give my first priesthood blessing to Elder Skalla on monday for his Surgery. It was a very cool experience that I am glad I had. It was cool to speak with the spirit and promise him health and the ability to serve his mission. I am also glad I had the chance to give a blessing here, in the MTC in English before I went out into the field. It was scary enough giving a blessing in English, it will be a real treat to have to give one in Spanish.

Elder Hartvigsen (right) and companion studying in their bedroom

This week has also been crazy with lessons. Right now we have 4 investigators that we are teaching and it is tough preparing for and giving all those lessons in Spanish. It is also really good practice because it's what we will actually be doing out in the field. We also had a very kind of funny and scary experience with our "investigator" Miguel. We were trying to talk to him about being married to his girlfriend who he lives with and has a daughter with because he doesn't think that having a marriage certificate would change anything. So while we were talking about it Elder Dixon asks him to turn to the ten commandments in exodus and reads "thou shalt not commit adultery." Then he straight up asked him why he wasn't keeping the commandments in kind of a provoking way. Me and Elder Wilkey just kind of went wide eyed and looked at each other for the moment of silence right after he said it. Then Miguel started yelling at us in spanish really fast for a minute or two, and none of understood really any of it except for that he was upset. Then after a moment of silence again, Elder Dixon asks if he could repeat it but slower because we didn't understand! So then Miguel yelled at us again faster. We kind of just looked at each other, then I bore my testimony about families and the Book of Mormon which really brought the spirit back then said a prayer and left. It was a crazy lesson. Later Hermano Sallisbury (who was the teacher acting as Miguel, who was a real investigator he taught) told us that the real Miguel would have thrown us out. Good times.

So yesterday on Tuesday Elder Wilkey and I with a couple of the Hermanas went to the Mexican Consulate in Salt Lake. In order to get our visas we needed to make an appearance at a consulate so they could take our pictures and get our fingerprints. Sometimes they will also ask you some questions but they didn't question us because we went with a pretty big group. Elder Dixon went to the Las Vegas one today, so he is there as I am typing this. But the strange thing is that the Consulate is really close to our neighborhood. I don't know if you knew this, but the Mexican Consulate is literally just south of the Spring Mobile Ballpark on Main Street. So I could have walked home in like a few minutes and said hey to you guys! It was pretty strange being in our neighborhood as a missionary. Pretty weird. But yeah, they just threw us on frontrunner and trax to get there so I was on the train for a long time.

We also have had some really good devotionals this past week as always. Stephen B Allen, the head of the Missionary Dept. spoke to us Sunday, and Lowell M Snow, a former seventy spoke Tuesday night. Allen's talk was really entertaining. He used to work on those PSA commercials that the church did like in the 80s or something. They were super cheesy, but he related them to missonary work very well. Snow's talk was also great, he talked about how we need to be truly converted to the Lord and give ourselves completely to him. He said we need to find that thing that is keeping us from giving our whole selves to the Savior and get rid of that thing and totally become an instrument in his hands. It really impacted me and challenged me to come even closer to the Savior. The best part about Tuesday night devotionals is that afterwards we all go back to the class and just discuss it with the Branch Presidency. This week we met with Pres. Doman and his wife, our district and the older district. The spirit there was so strong, everyone bore great testimonies about missionary work and how we need to give ourselves completely and continually work on ourselves to become the best missionaries we can be. The Older District is also leaving this Monday, so Presidnent Doman also talked a lot to us, and told us and them how proud he was, and what a transformation he has seen. I don't know if I have talked about Pres. Doman much, but he is a truly inspired man. He really emanates the Savior's love for all of us, and you can tell he really cares about every single one of us. He also has a great understanding of the Gospel, and everytime he speaks he carries the spirit with him very strongly. I truly believe that we have the best Branch President in the MTC. 

Mexico Puebla North Missionaries at Provo Temple

So today for our P Day our district also had a chance to clean the temple. And by clean the temple I mean that the Sisters actually got to clean chandeliers which is awesome, but Elder Wilkey and I sat at the front and back entrance for 3 and a half hours and made sure any contractors that came in had current Temple recommends. It was actually pretty funny, when we got their the head of security gave us both legit like deputy badges with the Angel Moroni on them! So we were pretty legit security people. It was good though, I read a lot of the Ensign, and some of Jesus the Christ. There were also some other Missionaries there that we talked to that are going to Russia. Spanish is hard, and I feel like it's taking forever for me to get it, but everytime I see missionaries going to Russia, or Latvia, or speaking Korean it really humbles me. Spanish isn't that bad.

Well, I love all of you guys. The Church is true! Jesus loves you! Bye!

-Elder Hartvigsen