The Beginning of the End of the Beginning (End of the Prologue; now for Chapter One…)

Konnichiwa, minna san! How are you doing in your various locations? I am doing quite well here in Provo, UT. The time is rapidly counting down to my departure for Nihon (Japan). About four days left…how time flies! It seems like I was just entering the MTC. I can imagine that if time has gone by so swiftly here, then it will certainly speed away once I’m in Nihon. Our group is flying to Nihon via Seattle, WA, so I will not be very far from Grandma and Grandpa Koetitz for a few short hours!

We did have one unfortunate thing happen this week. Andersen shimai had to go home because of medical issues. 😦 We were all sad to see her go; she added such great strength to our district and zone! Andersen shimai was a superb missionary here in the MTC. She will be missed, but she will be a great benefit wherever she serves. One of the greatest lessons I have learned in the MTC is that the Lord gives us weaknesses so that we will rely on His strength. He may not necessarily remove our weaknesses (and often does not), but if we rely on Him then our weaknesses will not hold us back from our full potential. I think that is what God meant when he said, "I give men weaknesses that they may become strong."

Mark J. Lusvardi (Director of Public Projects, Missionary Department) spoke in Sunday’s fireside. It was great! Lusvardi kyodai (Brother) taught about aircraft carriers and Olive Garden (the restaurant). I will explain in a moment. First, Lusvardi shimai (Sister) told a jodan (joke) about Noah’s ark:

After many days on the ark the animals were overcome with boredom. So, the lion and the giraffe organized a football game. During the first half the giraffe’s team thrashed the lion’s. However, at the beginning of the second half the rhinoceros was charging down the field when the centipede stopped him with a spectacular tackle. Afterward the lion approached the centipede.

"Great tackle!" the lion said, "but where were you for the first half?"

"I was lacing up my shoes," the centipede responded.

Lusvardi shimai’s counsel for us was to not be caught lacing up our shoes in the first half. The Lord needs missionaries now, not half-way through their missions. The same thing applies to life in general. If we do not get into the "game" until halfway through our lives then we will not see the success that we could have, nor will we obtain our full potential. Therefore, now is the time to get into the game. Do not wait.

Lusvardi kyodai recently had the opportunity to sail on the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (I think) on the last leg of its journey from Honolulu to San Francisco. Throughout his talk he displayed videos he had taken of the aircraft carrier, the refueling process, and of various aircraft taking off and landing, and he made many comparisons to our lives as missionaries. We as missionaries are like the F-16s (the jet fighters) on the aircraft carrier, and every so often the ship has to receive millions of gallons of fuel for the aircraft (not for the ship; it is nuclear-powered). Our daily personal and companion study serve to refuel us, and without these important activities each day we will not have the fuel required to leave the deck, much less to carry out our mission. Daily refueling is vital to our missions.

Another important aspect of missionary work is the teachers and leaders with whom we work. Just like the various parts of the aircraft carrier that make it possible for aircraft to lift off from an extremely short runway, our teachers and leaders provide the "jump-start" that we need to lift-off into our missions (and lives) effectively. Without both our own effort and help from others it would be impossible to successfully lift off.

Perhaps the most dangerous part of flying is the landing, especially on an aircraft carrier. When landing on an aircraft carrier there are four wires located at the back of the carrier (where the aircraft land) and each aircraft is equipped with a hook that attaches to a cable which allows the aircraft to slow quite suddenly. The ideal target is for a pilot to hit the third wire, or even the second, but never the fourth nor the first (as those two are the first and last, so the one is too close to the rear of the ship and the other presents an almost-missed wire, which could potentially be disastrous). In application to our lives, it is always important to have a backup plan so that when something goes wrong you do not crash and burn. Also, when the pilots land they come in at full burner, so that if they happen to miss the wires they can safely take off from the deck and try again. As a missionary, when I reach the end of my mission I must come in at full burner; if I do not, and I miss the target, then I may fail.

Regarding the flight itself, in the past (back when this was allowed) Lusvardi kyodai had the opportunity to join the pilots in the cabin of a Boeing 777. At one point during the flight the pilot displayed what would happen if he took the plane one mile off course. He did so and the plane soon corrected itself and came back on course. However, the pilot showed Lusvardi kyodai a calculation of how much fuel that one-mile deviation cost (it was a lot). In our own lives we must continually strive to remain on course, because if we stray even just a little bit it can be very costly. However, if we do stray then we have the atonement of Jesus Christ, which provides the opportunity to repent and return to the course. If you do go off course, do not wait return. Immediately correct yourself and return.

I do not have much more time, so unfortunately I will not be able to tell you what Lusvardi kyodai taught about Olive Garden (it was good; it was about an amazing hostess named Julia). Nor do I have time to talk about this past Tuesday’s devotional (which was my last Tuesday devotional in the MTC; it was also very good) in which Elder Bradley D. Foster (of the Seventy) spoke. One thing that he reminded us of is that, as missionaries, we have "two years to serve and the rest of eternity to think about it," which I have heard many times before, but it is always nice to have a reminder. He taught about the Universe, the Creation, and prayer (which at first glance may seem unrelated, but then you read the books of Moses and Abraham and realize that they are very related.

Anyway, I am out of time! Thank you everybody for your thoughts and prayers. I am grateful for the opportunity to be a senkyoshi (missionary), and I know that this is the work of the Lord. I am excited to share this truth with the Nihonjin (Japanese people). The atonement of Jesus Christ changes lives, and it will improve your life if you allow it to. It has changed and improved my own life in more ways than I can possibly count or realize. I know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. He lives and this is His work, in which He is actively engaged.

I love you all! Have a wonderful day, a superb week, and a subarashi year!

Love,

Tyler Madsen choro

p.s. Yes, mom, we actually did have something green on St. Patrick’s day! We had sugar cookies with green frosting. It was nice. Thank you for the card. I love you!

p.p.s. Kimball, I also did not realize you were teaching debate (or is it a club or just part of another class?).

p.p.p.s. Madsen choro (Elder Madsen, meaning Kyle), sounds like a fun earthquake experience! Hopefully you will in Brazil for the next California quake (but all according to the Lord’s will). I guess I will see what fun I have in Nihon!

Ai shite masu!!! My next letter will be from Nihon! Yay!!!!!!!

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