Wednesday, July 28, 2010

MTC & Mission Arrival

Me with Elder Browning, some elder, Sister Clark (one of my teachers)

Elders Browning, Stilson, Katoa, Cornelius and me on the day I left the MTC.

Me with my mission President and his wife and the other elders that came with me.

Elder Jackson and Josh in our apartment


I'm here!!!!!
Sorry I didn't get to email last week. I left the MTC last Tuesday and our P-days were on Wednesday, so I didn't get a chance to get online before I left. And then P-days are on Tuesday here, so yeah, it's cool.
So I left the MTC last Tuesday morning, and got to Oklahoma City early that afternoon. President Taylor and his wife and the Assistants to the President met us there. We went to Pres. Taylors house and had interviews and some training from the Assistants. Then we had dinner (Yum! I don't remember what it was, but it was good!) and went tracting a little bit. The first time tracting, I felt like I was back in Chattanooga, TN selling pest control. Thankfully, I have a little bit more passion for the gospel then bug killing :P So that was fun and dandy and then we went back to the mission home and talked about our experiences and had a little testimony meeting.
One of the Elders that came with me is Elder Anjain. He's from the Marshall Islands and his first experience in America was going to the MTC. There's a community of Marshallese (?) people in northern Oklahoma (Enid, OK), so I think that's one reason he was sent here. Anyway, he speaks English as a second language and isn't very comfortable and fluent with conversations yet (at least not with people he doesn't know). When we were sharing our experiences about tracting, he let out his frustrations and said something to the effects of, "In the Book of Mormon, it says..." I can't remember what he said after that, but it was a very powerful testimony by itself. "In the Book of Mormon, it says (blank), and so that's how it is." He's one of my heroes. He taught me that, when looking at life and the gospel, it's actually very simple and laid out right in front of us. "The Book of Mormon says it, so that's how it is." He's a really good guy and I hope we keep in contact after the mission even if we never serve as companions.
The next day (last Wednesday) we went to the local chapel where all of the missionaries who are getting transfered meet up. I'm in the Lawton zone, so we're the southwest region of the mission. It includes Wichita Falls, TX and all that down there and then Lawton and a good distance around it in all directions. We got to Lawton and I met my companion/trainer, Elder Jackson. He's from Manti, UT and he's been out just over a year. He's a hard worker, so we get along well :)
So my first area is in Lawton, Oklahoma! It's the home of Fort Sill! Ft Sill is where a lot/most (if not all) of the artillery schools and training go on for all of the branches of service. We can hear the artillery shooting off in the distance. The first time I heard it I was in our apartment. I was walking and then stopped and turned to the direction the sound came from. Haha Elder Jackson was like, "Oh yeah, they shoot artillery everyday." It was just suprising to hear that sound again. Hahaha :P
We're assigned to the Lawton 2nd Ward, Lawton Stake. Our area has needed some work though, so we've been tracting a lot. We're finding people and teaching them right on their doorstep and setting up appointments, so it's working! Maybe not the most effective finding technique, but tracting is actually pretty fun. Teaching people half of a lesson (or a whole one!) in 5 minutes on their door step is exciting! Haha, yeah, this stuff is cool :)
I'm the only military person in the mission right now (as far as missionaries go). Whenever I meet a missionary, they're like, "You're the Marine, right?" and then they follow-up with a bunch of random questions that span from the general "what's Afghanistan like?" to "so are you like the Marines in Halo?" Yeah, it's... spiffy. But it's helped as we're out tracting or just talking with members. We got an appointment with one guy because I told him I'm a Marine and I asked him about what he does in the Army and we just talked a while. So that's that.
It's been hot and humid, so that's dandy. It's been around 95-ish? I think it MIGHT have been over 100 for part of the other day. I dunno, it's hot and humid and I'm sweaty the whole time, so it's all good :) Living in Tennessee before this has helped. And it's not as bad as stagnant 110 degrees in Afghanistan, so I'm up and kicking and trying to be as effective as possible as quickly as possible (even while stumbling over some words sometimes :P.
The apartment is actually a 4 man apartment, but there's only us two in there, so it's one of the bigger ones in the mission, I'm told. It was... less than clean when I got there, but we bought a bunch of cleaning supplies and now they know what a "field day" is like (for those of you who don't know, a field day in the Marine Corps basically consists of ripping your entire living quarters out and cleaning every little nook and cranny as clean as it can get). So maybe it wasn't a true field day, but it's definitely a lot cleaner now!
OH! Did I tell you I get to bike?!?! The car in our area was in an accident last transfer, so it's out for the count for a while. Anyway, I love my bike :) I had to fine tune it a little when I first got it set up from the Assistants (luckily, they know how to put bikes together). So we bike everywhere we go and it makes us hot and sweaty and it's SO FUN! We're going to go to the local bike shop today to get some stuff. Elder Jackson's left crank arm (the thing the pedal attaches to) broke off again (for the third time), so we're gonna get that fixed because really, our bikes are VERY important to everything we do out here. So yeah, I'll probably pick up a tool here and there and have a nice collection when I get home :)
OK, this is a long email.
We've been teaching a guy a lot lately. His name is Josh. He was in the Marines (he's only in his mid-20s) so we can talk our lingo and know what's going on and we can relate to each other well (he was deployed three times). Anyway, he's a less-active member who is trying to get his life in order so we've been teaching him. I told him that the Book of Mormon is the most important book on the earth right now and by praying and reading it, he can find every answer to every question he has about his life in it. So he started reading. And we started praising God more! He's a really good guy who's been through A LOT, so it's good to see he's making the effort to change.
Yeah, this email is a long one, eh?
Thanks for all of your prayers and love and support!!! I love all of you!!!! Write to me and I promise I'll write back! Ok, have a good day. BYE!

Peace Love,
Elder Woolley :)

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Another Week in the MTC


MTC life is still fun and dandy. I feel better and better everyday and I'm learning a lot! (Especially about patience :P. Elder Oaks' daughter played at the Sunday fireside (she plays violin very well). Elder Oaks was there and me and my comp went outside by where he was parked and waved goodbye to him as he drove off. That was pretty cool :)

MTC life really isn't that bad. I'm not falling asleep all of the time (thanks to going through a billion classes in the Marines) and working hard all day isn't a problem (not to be "look at me", but it's frustrating sometimes to work with people that don't know how to work hard.) That's life! I'm still having a lot of fun and really excited to actually get to Oklahoma!!! I LOVE AMERICA!!! I'm SO glad I'm not leaving America for another couple of years. Yeah, not for me. The Lord knows what He's doing when He sent me a couple states away!

Only 2 minutes left! [On the computer]

Note for everyone who wants to serve a mission or is thinking about serving a mission or is thinking about NOT serving a mission.


I have never been so blessed and so happy and had such hard times but growing times in my whole life!!!!!! Marine buddies, you think Afghanistan was an adventure and learning experience, YOU NEED TO GO ON A MISSION!!!!!! And so should anyone else that has the opportunity!!!!! That's my main thought this week :) The Church is true. All that good stuff. Gotta go! I love all of you very very very much!!!!!

Elder Woolley!! :)


First Week in the MTC

Hello Family and everyone!

This past week has been GREAT! When I showed up, I was feeling okay about everything and was okay with the idea of working with people 2-3 years younger than me, but I was still in "Marine mode." With every passing day and every passing hour, though, I feel happier and happier and just GREAT! It's been really nice being able to talk about and study the gospel and the scriptures all day every day. It's really the only thing that could bring joy back into my life, and it's only getting better!

We had a patriotic fireside on Saturday. It was all about America (think of that! :P ) and how our forefathers were divinely inspired. It even talked about the 50 eminent men appearing in the St George temple, requesting that the work for them be completed. After the fireside we DID get to watch the fireworks. All of us stood in the parking lot at the south end of the MTC campus and watched them. Surprisingly, it was a great view! Missionaries would start singing patriotic songs/hymns and then everyone would join in. It was really an unforgettable experience.

I'm okay with being the only one going to Oklahoma City in my zone, I suppose. I've been doing all of my "adjusting into missionary life" with these Elders though, so I'll definitely miss them and remember them. I can't wait to get to Oklahoma!!! Rednecks! Tornadoes! Bison!!!! I'm really really excited :) It's where America is still America, you know?!

Another note, I'm amazed at how people survive here for 8-15 weeks. Sara is Wonder Woman for being able to survive it! Okay, maybe "survive" is too strong a word, but it's kind of like training in the Marine Corps. Marines are okay (and actually like) getting deployed and stuff (at least I do :P ) but training is always the worst part of a deployment. Not that it's bad here, because it's not, but I think I'll only be able to handle 3 weeks of the MTC. Anyway, the MTC is still cool! I'm excited for Oklahoma though!!!

I've been getting happier and happier as I pray for charity and study the scriptures more and more. It really is the only thing that could cure my "not so happy" state before I got in here :P but hallelujah for the gospel of Jesus Christ and for the Atonement!!!! I know it's the ONLY way to true happiness!!! I love this gospel!!!

Thanks for sending the packages and random stuff. I've already used the super glue numerous times and the scissors too. And I love having my shirts with the little cartoons on them :)

One minute left!!! All I have to say is that this is THE BEST THING I'VE EVER DONE IN/WITH MY LIFE!!!!!!!!!!!!! HANDS DOWN!!!!!!!!!

Gotta go. I LOVE YOU!!!!!!

Elder Woolley

(Note: This is being posted a week late...sorry) :)

Saturday, July 3, 2010

The First Letter Home

I'm here at the MTC now! Everything is going well and I'm being more sociable than I thought I'd be. I'm getting more and more excited about being here and going on a mission with each passing hour! My companion's name is Elder Browning. He's from Shelly, Idaho. He's a cool guy; down to earth and genuinely nice and kind.

My district has 8 Elders and my zone has about 30-35 Elders (maybe a couple of Sisters). Everyone in my district (the ones I always go to class with) are going to Minnesota and Georgia. I am the sole Oklahoma Oklahoma City missionary here. Wicked awesome! :p Oh well, it'll still be cool! =)

I need to go to bed now. I love you all!

Elder Woolley

[On the outside of the envelope]

PS. I'm in a district of 10, not 8!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

He's Official

Elder Philip J. Woolley entered the Missionary Training Center in Provo, UT on Wednesday, June 30, 2010 at 1:45 p.m. He will be serving in the Oklahoma Oklahoma City Mission
(hereafter to be abbreviated as OKC).


Last solo shot before being assigned to different companions over the next 2 years. What a handsome Elder!