Semana 8: I am sitting next to a future MLB player

Howdy y’all!

It’s been a good week. I’m learning so much everyday, just getting into the groove of being a full-time representative of the Lord. It’s a ton of work, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

One experience I would love to share is about a lesson with our most promising investigator, his name is Angel. He has met with the missionaries before, but we picked him back up like the second day of me being here. He has a really strong knowledge of the Bible, and I can tell that his faith has been developing as we have been teaching him. Anyways, this past Friday we had a lesson with him about the Restoration. Everything was going great, the Spirit was really strong, but then his roommate woke up and started talking with him about the Book of Mormon and all that. Just about how it doesn’t matter what church you believe in, it matters more that you only believe in God. At first we had no clue what to do, but then I just started talking with this guy. We talked about tons of stuff, and I understood him perfectly. I cleared up what we believe and that we only are teaching Angel the doctrine, and that he has to accept it to really grow in faith. By the end of the lesson, we had Angel on date to be baptized and it was just a really satisfying experience. I just want you all to know that I have a testimony that the Spirit will put words in the mouths of the Lord’s servants, and this experience just demonstrated this so strongly.

I like saving stories for when people ask me individually, but I guess that I should explain the title of this email.

So when I got to the MTC, there was this former ZL that had just left the day before who was like a legend. His name is Elder Hansen, and I guess he is like this baseball superstar. He was supposedly like just one of the coolest guys, he got a contract to play in the MLB but decided to serve a mission instead. Anyways, I took the bed that he had when he was at the MTC. Boom the first night I’m here so like 2 weeks ago, I go up to him and say “Hey dude I slept in your bed in the MTC” and since then we have been homies. Anyways he’s sitting next to me emailing right now which is pretty cool. Such a good guy.

Anyways, this church is true, love you all! Have a great week!

-Elder Saunders

Crappy picture of me biking in the rain

Here is a pic and link to a cool story from President Guthrie and Elder Hansen:

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Here you have a pretty unique lineage of missionary service & baseball talent: I was drafted in 1997 in the 15th round by the NY Mets but eventually decided to serve a 2 year mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Spain, Bilbao). 5 years later I began my professional career as a 1st Round Pick by Cleveland in 2002. I pitched my last game on April 8, 2017 & I'm currently serving another mission for The Church of Jesus Christ with my family living in Houston. I met Taylor Cole (@tayjcole) 10 years ago at church in Las Vegas when a mutual friend connected us. As a high school standout pitcher (Bishop Gorman) he was selected in the 26th round by the LA Dodgers in the 2007 draft but elected to attend College of S. Nevada. Following his freshman season he was drafted again in the 31st round by the Diamondbacks but elected to serve a 2 year mission instead (Toronto, Canada). Following his mission he pitched at BYU & signed after being drafted in the 29th round in 2011 by the Toronto Blue Jays of all teams. He currently pitches for the LAA Angels. Elder Brett Hansen (pictures on right) and I met via phone last August as he was entering his senior year of high school. We discussed baseball, life, and missionary work with our faith. Following a spectacular senior season in Pleasanton, CA he made his intentions to serve a mission known to all 30 teams yet the SF Giants still selected him in the 38th round. After being drafted he spoke via telephone with Taylor after their fathers had a chance encounter at a baseball tournament. Taylor shared some of his personal thoughts & experiences which were impactful on Elder Hansen. Elder Hansen was offered a contract that would have awaited him while serving 2 years as a missionary but he chose his scholarship to Vanderbilt instead. He will continue his baseball career when he returns in July of 2020. As for now he is crushing the bike w/his companion while speaking Spanish in the streets of Houston! Neither of us knew we would be missionaries when we first spoke on the phone 1 year ago, but now we serve together. We recognize this as God's hand in our lives. #TenderMercies #GodsArmy

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Semana 5: The Alamo

Howdy y’all!

The MTC has been quite the experience. It feels like I’ve been here forever, but also that it’s been no time at all. This week has been especially uplifting for me, I’ve been able to see the Lord’s hand in my life sooo much.

Our room is called the Alamo because we are all either going to Texas, Mexico, or Salt Lake City (yeah, that last one is a bit of a stretch). Elders Pershing and Beus leave on Monday so we are all pretty sad about that. They’re both going to the Mexico Veracruz missions, and I know that they’ll do great. We’ve all been able to get really close and it has been a humbling experience to have so many role models around me as I begin this journey.

On the topic of humility, that has been the Christlike attribute my District has been working on this week. Now, you’re probably thinking like “Wow that must have been really hard for Elder Saunders” and it WAS. But as I studied and worked on becoming more like the Savior, He has truly made my weaknesses strengths. Here in the CCM, I’ve been able to do things that I know I otherwise couldn’t without the Lord’s help. Like memorize 2,500 Spanish words and 500 phrases in 5 weeks. Or 9 scriptures. Or about 20 grammar topics. Like, PEOPLE, I still sometimes forget my name tag walking out in the morning. I definitely know that this isn’t me doing all this work. But I’m putting in all the work I can, knowing that He will make it worth it.

Welp, I only have one week left here. To all of those still in school, stay in school. To any of you not, don’t be a fool. That… is what’s cool.

I have no clue, I just started rhyming while writing that, sorry.

Anyways, I want to leave you all with my testimony that Christ is the redeemer, He is why I’m here, and I’m grateful that he trusts me enough to wear His name on my chest every day. A scripture I memorized in Spanish this week was Moises (Moses) 1:39, I testify that God wants us to return to Him. Through our trials, we can do so.

Love y’all. Thanks for the support.

– Elder Saunders

Photos

Semana 4: La Iglesia

Hey everyone! Had a great week this week, don’t have too much time so I’ll keep this short.

It’s been an amazingly spiritual week. On Tuesday, Elder Christofferson came and spoke to us about the name of the church. It was a really cool message and I testify that if we use the correct name of the church, the Lord will be well pleased.

Another thing is that I was able to gain insight into a lot of questions about the Gospel that I previously didn’t understand. Especially on Wednesday, I was hit by an overwhelming feeling of purpose. I know that this work that I am doing is true. I’m so grateful for it!

Another cool thing that happened Wednesday was that I was able to host (welcome) Elder Lazerson! That was such a cool experience, I’m so proud of him for making it out here and I know he’ll have a great time here and in Mexico.

Sorry, like I said I don’t have tons of time. But I just want to let each of you know that I know without a shadow of a doubt that this church is true! The Lord has blessed me with so much strength these past few weeks, I’m pumped to get out to Houston. Love you all!

Elder Saunders

Here are some pics:

The one and only Elder Lewis.

The awesome Elder Eaquinto. He is off to Columbia, South Carolina and is going to rock it.

My awesome companion Elder McCaann.

Semana 3: Los Cambios

Howdy y’all! Wow this week went by fast. Once you get adjusted to the schedule, stuff starts flying by sooo quick. It’s been a roller coaster of a week.

On Monday, one of the Elders in our district went home. It came as a huge shock, and it was pretty difficult for all of us. But he’ll be coming back out in 6 months, so I know he’ll do great. With this change, our companionship got shifted around a bit. I used to be in a trio, but now it’s just me and Elder McCann. He’s such a fun dude, and he’s starting to get really good at Spanish.

Tuesday, we had a devotional with Elder Kearon of the Presidency of the Seventy. He is straight up hilarious, plus he has an English accent which made it all the more better.

Wednesdays are weird because we get new missionaries. Our zone didn’t get any this week, but Elder McCann and I DID have our second visit with our TRC person of interest Andrea. It was a good experience, and the Spirit was way strong. But it was nothing compared to

THURSDAY. What a great day. We had another appointment with Andrea. So for our TRC’s, they’re only in Spanish. Luckily I speak Spanish already so it’s not incredibly difficult or awkward. But man it was just so amazing on Thursday. We taught the Restoration, Elder McCann went ham compared to what he normally does. Then I recited the First Vision in perfect Spanish. It was super cool.

Friday. Lol it was literally yesterday and I can’t remember what we did. Sometimes that’s just how days are here.

Soo yeah it’s been a good week. Email me, I love hearing from friends and family.

Anyways thank you all, love you guys. Just want let you know that I have a testimony of this Gospel and of its greatness. El profeta Jose Smith restauro el sacerdocio y a traves del Libro de Mormon podemos sentir el Espiritu Santo. Estoy agradecido por la oportunidad para venir y ensenar la verdad a las personas de Houston.

Love you all.

Elder Saunders

Semana 2: El Don de Lenguas

Hey y’all! It’s been a great week! I’ve been able to really start getting good at Español. I love my district, they’re all super fun. We’ve been able to learn a lot this past week and a half. It’s been a really spiritual and amazing experience.

Something awesome that happened this past week was that one of the sisters in my district asked for a blessing of comfort so one of the elders Elder Merkley gave her a blessing and the spirit was so strong. We all knew that this is where we were supposed to be.

As we were practicing the Spanish Basic Core that we are supposed to learn the first 10 days at the MTC, we had to do a mock lesson with one of our teachers. Usually how this goes is that I have to say most of the stuff, then my companions like only say a couple lines because they’re not super confident with the language yet. But this lesson was way different. We all were speaking so well and the spirit was amazing. It was so cool to see the gift of tounges, el don de lenguas. I’ve memorized the First Vision, the Missionary Purpose, the Baptismal Invitation, and Moroni 10:4-5 all in Spanish! I’m amazed how much the holy spirit has helped me in progressing. I testify that as you work hard to achieve the goals you set, you will receive His help. This has been KEY this past week for me. Through all the trials I’ve faced, He is always there to help me reach my full potential.

My first role-play teaching appointment called a TRC is on Monday. We’re hoping it goes great, I’m excited to meet our person of interest. Also for any of you missionaries learning languages, SYL makes all the difference. You’ll know what I mean once you get in to the MTC. Don’t think you’re too cool or know enough of your language to speak in English. Even if you’re fluent, you can always improve so that you can communicate clearly. Also, be OBEDIENT. Seriously, you won’t believe how much trouble some people have with this. It’s really unfortunate. Have fun, but more importantly have the spirit.

For anyone that wants to send me packages, I still have 4 weeks to endure and they literally make the week sooo much better. My MTC mailbox address is

Elder Carson David Saunders

SEP10  TX-HOUS

2005 N 900 E Unit 236

Provo UT 84602

Also, feel free to email me at any time throughout the week. Although I will receive and read your emails I can’t respond until my P-Day which is Saturday from 6 am to 6 pm. Thank you all for the support and love and prayers. I love you all, I know this is where I’m supposed to be.

Elder Saunders

Picture below from left to right:

Yo, Elder Johnson, Elder McCann, Elder Gibbons our District Leader, and Elder Burgoyne.

Semana 1: The Penguins of Madagascar

Hola!

I entered the MTC (CCM en Spanish) on Wednesday. It was a crazy experience, but eventually things settled down and I was able to meet my companions Elder Johnson y Elder McCann (that’s right, a trio of Elders in the MTC. It’s dope). Both of them are so great, they love the Gospel and I’m excited for what the next 5.5 weeks have in store for todos de nosotros. If you didn’t know, I LOVE Spanish. I know a decent amount, but I just love the people and how it sounds. It has so far been pretty easy to get everything down, and I’m just getting started! I’m honestly pumped to see how it all turns out by the end of my 6 weeks here.

Elder Johnson is from Riverton, Utah. He’s coming to Houston South with me which is exciting. He’s a real chill dude and he is a really hard worker. We agree on a lot of things which really helps our dynamic.

Elder McCann is from Spanish Fork, Utah. He’s super outgoing and he also works really hard to get the language down. He’s super cool and is pretty funny too. He’s supposed to be at the Mexico MTC because he is going to the Mexico Pueblo North mission, but his VISA is delayed. I’ve been praying that they can get it figured out because I want him to be able to go where he was assigned, without having to get reassigned somewhere.

Mis companeros y yo somos the Penguins of Madgascar. McCann is Skipper, our fearless leader. Johnson is Rico, the one that is the spirit of the team. And I’m Private, the small and strange one. Not too sure why, but one of the guys in our district called me Private and then it all started from there. Our Zone Leader literally calls us by our penguin names.

Our district is also pretty awesome. We are all hard at work learning the language and how to preach the Gospel. I attached a bunch of pics below.

I love this Gospel, I love this work, I know it is true! As missionaries, we invite others to come unto Christ. I invite you all unto Christ. Evaluate how you can better invite the Spirit into your life. One thing I tried to do this summer was listen to General Conference talks instead of loud music in the car. That’s something that helped me feel a lot more spiritual. Whatever it is, I promise that if you commit to it, the Lord will grant you blessings. Thank you all for the prayers of support, I can feel them. So far it’s been easy, but I know that times will get difficult.

Love you all!!

– Elder Saunders

Pics

1- The view from my classroom.

We’re on the top (6th) floor of T4, one of the new buildings!

2- Some of the elders in the district. From left to right, it’s Elder McCann, Elder Richins, Elder Merkley, me, and Elder Johnson.

3- With my best friends Elder Spencer (headed to New Jersey) and Elder Harris (headed to Calgary Canada)

4- Another one with Elder Harris

5- Elder McCann after realizing he got the wrong hot pocket from the vending machine

6- Also Elder McCann falling out of his chair after saying repentance wrong in Spanish. For the 500th time. (but he’s got it down now!)

The Journey Starts

Hey guys. Just wanted to let you know I’m all good in the MTC. I’m super pumped! Everyone seems so weird but nothing in my life has felt so right. I saw Elder Spencer walking in, and talked to him for a second. I’m in a trio, with Elder Johnson and Elder Mcann, Elder Johnson is coming with me to Houston South Spanish. Elder Mcann is going to Mexico but his VISA hasn’t come through yet. It looks like my P-Day is Saturday so you’ll hear from me then. Love y’all!

Elder Saunders