Sunday, July 27, 2014

MTC Week 4 Email


Our District with our teacher (he is wearing the sunglasses)
Family and Friends,

Saturdays are definitely one of the better days of the week!  We start off with a service project at 6:15, which today involved cleaning toilets, such fun!  Then we head off to the temple, which is always a good experience.  And then of course the whole emailing family and friends is pretty nice too!  The week went well, not too eventful, but it passed by quite quickly!  Sunday the director of 17 Miracles gave the devotional, which was nice to see some of the inside scoop on the movie and stories that didn't make it into the movie.  On Tuesday we had the opportunity to hear Elder Ellis speak, the former Stake President in northern Houston.  His 8 children all gave testimonies, as well as his wife, and his youngest daughter that is on a mission right now wrote a small testimony for us that he read as well.  It was a neat experience to hear different perspectives on missions, one that stuck out was that the mission is like a Bullet Train, it moves really quickly, and if you get off early you never get to your final destination and enjoy the experience.  The train moves with or without you, so might as well be on it and enjoy the ride.  This week we also gained a new investigator, by the name of Vanessa.  She was an atheist on Monday.  Now she's not.  It was a very good week as far as progressing Spanish, I was able to tell a story from what I thought was a very basic vocabulary, and by the end the investigator was in tears, so I have no doubt that the Holy Ghost and the Gift of Tongues were present in abundance.  
Pioneer Day we actually didn't do anything to celebrate, although we did here fireworks all night long. Yesterday was one of the Elders in our district's birthday, he got 7 packages!!  We had a cake and sang and although he said it wasn't the same as being with family, it was definitely a good day.  

Answers for the Fam:
I do not get much of a chance to play piano, they keep us pretty busy with the language and gospel learning. I've worn all my ties about the same amount, but probably the orange one from the cruise has been worn the most.  Speaking of ties, you can go ahead and just send all of them up, or at least a couple more in differing colors.  I have not seen a library.  We can eat wherever we want, and on P-days we can even go up to main campus and eat up there if we want, but I prefer the food here.  I have had the fry sauce at Burger Supreme, it is quite good, but I think it is their fries that makes the sauce so good, not the other way around.  My favorite class is with Hermano Avila, he's 22 and just got off his mission a year and a half ago, served in Miami.  My favorite thing about the MTC, that is a hard one.  I would have to say the people, friendships always make everything better and easier to deal with.  I have memorized a couple of scriptures in Spanish, my favorite and the most prominent of which being the First Vision.  

I'm glad Hayley had a great week at camp, her YCL emailed me and told me just how much she loved having Hayley and how much fun she was!  Hope everybody is doing well.

Love you all,

Elder Michael Mangum
**  Pictures aren't exactly my strong suit.  This was a neat one though.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

One Heart, One Mind, Tied Together

We all wore purple ties on Friday. It's a big deal to our teacher to become like Zion in our district, one heart and one mind, with one purpose, and we had this idea to help get to that goal.  

1 Corinthians 12:20, 27: “Now are they many members, yet but one body. … Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.”

Moses 7:18 And the Lord called his people Zion, because they were of one heart and one mind, and dwelt in righteousness; and there was no poor among them.

Pictures from the MTC

LaVell Edwards Stadium

Entering the Marriott Center for Devotionals

Fountain outside Provo Temple, overlooking Utah Valley

First Trip to Provo Temple

District Mirror Picture

Writing Home

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

MTC Week 3 Email

My District outside of the Provo Temple

Another week has flown by! I'm doing well, Spanish is coming along nicely, I can comfortably teach the first couple of lessons in Spanish. I'm glad everybody is enjoying the letters, I try to write everybody back. We went to the temple today as a zone, it was nice. Everything is going great, the devotionals this week have been at the Marriot Center. Elder Brown, a former General Authority and mission president in Korea spoke at one, and the Head of Administration at the Provo MTC spoke at the other. Quite a bit of emphasis on the importance of charity, and loving the people you teach, as well as the importance of the name of Christ that we carry on our nametags. They actually had us walk to the Marriott Center, which was nice coming back when it was dark and had cooled off, but walking over there in suits was not exactly my definition of fun.

As far as questions from the family are concerned: We do sing songs in Spanish, at the beginning of every classroom instruction time, but when we have devotionals we sing in English. My favorite flavor of BYU ice cream so far is Graham Canyon, tastes just like a really good graham cracker. I try to pray in Spanish, but I still do in English in my head sometimes. Dear Heavenly Father is "Querido Padre Celestial." There are lots of newer missionaries than me now, I'm considered a veteran. I have not yet played basketball with the future BYU basketball player yet, no, but I am interested in seeing how good he actually is. I actually still don't think I'm used to the altitude; my shot is a little flat whenever I try to play basketball. My skin is actually doing surprisingly well, not dried out like I would have expected. I have both practiced and performed with the MTC choir, we sang "Faith of Our Fathers." The choir director is actually one of the directors of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir! My favorite part of Preach My Gospel...that's a hard one! I definitely enjoy the "How to Teach" section, it is full of good insights to improve my teaching methods and skills.

I'm doing well, I don't think I really am in dire need of anything, although Bahama Bucks does sound extremely appetizing. Not sure how well that would ship though, unfortunately!

Give everybody my love. Michael

July 15th Letter

Mom and Dad,

The weekend was good.  Richard I. Heaton, administrative director of the MTC here in Provo, gave the devotional on Sunday.  It was focused on charity, and the important role it plays and the need for us as missionaries to pray for the gift of charity.

I had not heard about the the Stay family tragedy, that is terrible.  I will add them to my prayers.  Grammy and Grandaddy already were, but I'll put extra emphasis this week.  You would be hard pressed to think of somebody that I don't pray for by name, these nightly prayers are a solid 15 minutes long.  It is hard adjusting to being so far away and not being able to have a direct positive impact and influence.  I don't appreciate being incapable of helping friends and family at home.  Although I'm sure I'm helping indirectly, and once I get to Argentina maybe that feeling will go away. 

I'm glad you all enjoyed the pictures.  That sounds like an ... interesting ice cream flavor. On Wednesdays and Sundays we get little cartons of ice cream from the BYU Creamery. Some are better than others.

Thank you for that quote, it will give me something to think about.

Much Love, Michael

**The quote Michael was referring to was one I had sent him in a letter by President David O. McKay:

"There is one responsibility which no man can evade; that responsibility is his personal influence, a silent, subtle radiation...This radiation is tremendous. Every person who lives in this world wields an influence for good or for evil. It is not what he says alone; it is not alone what he does. It is what he is... Every man has an atmosphere which is affecting every other man. He cannot escape for one moment from this radiation of his character, this constant weakening or strengthening of others."

Tidbits from July 12th Letter

...My companion's back has been hurting, so we haven't been running as much.  So I've been sleeping more, can't complain there.  When we run, it's usually just between 15-20  minutes.

...Church is in a Sunday School room at Cougar Chapel. It's a church building literally in the parking lot of Lavell Edwards Stadium.  The next 3 devotionals will be in the Marriott Center.  I sing in the MTC Choir, so I'll get to say that I have "performed" in the Marriott Center.

**The Marriott Center is BYU's Basketball Arena, one of the largest on-campus basketball arenas in the United States.  In addition to basketball, the Marrriot Center is also used for weekly devotionals and forums, holding over 20,000 people.  Michael is a huge BYU fan and loves playing basketball more than just about anything. 

2013 Missionary Devotional in the Marriott Center

Other performers in the Marriott Center :)

Monday, July 14, 2014

Letters from Your Favorite Brother

Michael loves getting mail from friends and family.  I think we might be keeping the postal service in business for the next couple of years :)

Trevor, Jake & Hayley were all excited to receive a personal letter from Michael this week.  They have given permission to share a little of them:

Jake's Letter: 

I've learned stuff at the the MTC everyday.  How to pray in Spanish, how to take 2 minute showers, and how to go to bed at 10:30, which still seems super early!

Hayley's Letter:

Friday one of the missionaries got sick and we gave him a blessing.  I did the anointing, and the sick guy's companion gave the blessing.  It was pretty awesome.

Trevor's Letter: 

The MTC has been good so far, no crazy stories yet though.  It's hard having a companion sometimes.  But he's cool, really laid back and willing to do anything.  Everyone here is from tiny towns or like farms, I'm the only city boy.  So far so good.

Your favorite brother, Michael

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Week 2 Email

Dear Familia y Amigos,

This week was really good.  Had the opportunity to attend a fireside where Elder Neil L. Anderson of the Quorum of the 12 Apostles spoke on the importance of the Holy Ghost, how to feel it, how it feels, and how to invite it, as well as the differences it can make in our lives.  I also watched a pioneer movie, 17 Miracles, which was very touching and caused me to ponder long and hard on the suffering and trials that the early saints had to go through, and how much faith they had and how the Lord was watching over them always. We also watched a talk given by Elder Bednar at an MTC devotional on Christmas a few years ago, talking about the character of Christ and how important it is to focus on others rather than ourselves.  That was probably the highlight of the week, because during it he channeled his inner baptist preacher and really didn't mince any words when talking about what we should do and how we needed to improve.  Only our district is going to Argentina, the old zone leaders left for Mexico this past Sunday, and our new ones leave in a week and a half.  I started reading the Book of Mormon 2 days ago, and am already over halfway done with it.  I will be sure to pray for Luke on Wednesday,  I know how much he loves the dentist!  

For breakfast I eat whatever the cafeteria serves, usually some eggs and sausage, with either waffles or pancakes.  Eggs are not very good, they are dehydrated eggs and taste like I am chewing on plastic.  I douse them in Tabasco sauce to give them some sort of flavor.  I do have to do chores, people come by once a week to check and make sure our apartment is cleaning, and every Saturday we wake up at 6:15 and do "service" which involves cleaning other people's classrooms.  Class is held in the same room everyday, and it is actually the living room of an old apartment at the Raintree Complex.  I live at the Wyview Complex right across the street.  I play basketball or volleyball everyday, although one day I did play soccer.  I am in the classroom for 12 hours a day, either role playing teaching an investigator, studying, or working on the language and specific teaching skills.  I am quite happy, although I do miss the people at home a lot.  The most interesting class is definitely with Hermano Avila, we go over Spanish and then he asks if we have any questions on particular doctrine, and he is a fountain of knowledge, particularly pertaining to Joseph Smith.  The hardest thing I have had to do so far would probably be trying to stay awake for 12 hours in a classroom a day!  The funniest thing that has happened so far...I accidentally called one of the elders "homeboy" one time, and somebody wondered what that would be in Spanish.  There's not a word for it, so we made our own.  We say "casanino" which literally translate to home boy.  I go up to the Main Campus for devotionals and to print off emails so I can read them before replying, so I don't spend all my email time just reading and thinking of what to say.  I have 2 instructors currently,  Hermano Avila and Hermano Wilson.  Hermano Wilson was our first investigator, before we even knew that he would be our instructor.  His name was Giovanni, and it wasn't easy to teach him because we had only been here 2 days when we started our lessons with him!  It got better as time progressed, although I feel as though I dominated the conversation because my companion only took a year of Spanish, and that was 4 years ago.  We need to work on unity in teaching.  Sorry I didn't take any pictures this week,  I'll do better this next week.  I write back every to every letter I receive, so keep those handwritten notes coming!  It always brightens my day, when mail is handed out at 9pm and I have a big ole stack of letters with my name on them.

Love you all,

Elder Michael Mangum

Saturday, July 12, 2014

District & Companion Pictures

July 7, 2014 Letter

Dear Mom & Dad,

Let me know how long this takes to get to y'all.  I've gotten all of the letters you've mentioned, including Jake's and Rachel's.  Everyone in my district  is going to Argentina, 3 to Cordoba and 7 to Mendoza. 

...Fast Sunday was good but long.  Literally fasted for over 24 hours, dinner wasn't until 5 (it is 4:30 on normal days - super early). Fast Sunday was delicious - Chicken Cordon Bleu!  (one of Michael's favorite foods) Their mashed potatoes are awful. 

Haven't heard any apostles or 70 yet, the devotional on Sunday was given by a very talented pianist, Josh Wright.  Only issue I had was that he graduated from the U.  7 of the guys in my district are headed to BYU, so that's good, nobody going to Utah. 

Spanish is going well so far.  Somehow it come about that I am from the "barrio" (the hood).  Nobody else lives anywhere bigger than Pocatello.  That's 60,000.  Crazy how different everybody is, but we all get along for the most part. 

Don't throw too much of my stuff away! 
Much Love,

P.S.  I'm used to Sunday being a day off.  It wasn't.
P.S.S.  Need more stamps
P.S.S.S.  Happy 41st Mom!


Tweeted from Josh Wright after the devotional on July 6th:
"What a great experience performing at the Provo MTC for such outstanding young missionaries. "

Josh Wright Piano Video - beautiful!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

1st Letter Home

Dear Mom & Dad, 

All is well.  Just finished my first day at the MTC.  One of the longest days I've ever had, it never seemed to end.  Just kept going and going.  But it was fun.  I'm on the West Campus, my companion for the next 6 weeks is Elder Lawrence from Hurricane, UT.  He's headed to Mendoza, Argentina.  I'm in an apartment with 6 Elders, 3 of us going to Córdoba. The Zone leaders who have been here 5 weeks say all I have to do is make to Sunday, after that it's smooth sailing.


P.S.  Send more workout clothes.  The district all runs together in the morning, plus gym time later in the day.  P-day is Saturdays

The view - Y Mountain!
Home Sweet Home until August 12th

M's bed is on the right

10+ hours of classes each day

Monday, July 7, 2014

Preparation Day @ the MTC

Missionaries have 1 day a week that is a Preparation Day (referred to as p-day) that they use to take care of personal needs, such as laundry, cleaning, haircuts, write home, do service, and exercise. Missionaries at the MTC are also supposed to attend the Provo Temple on their p-day.

While Michael is in the MTC, his p-day is on Saturday.  We were excited to get his first email on Saturday, along with a few pictures he has taken.

Elder Mangum and Elder Lawrence

Hey guys!

I sent a letter out on Thursday, but I don't know how long it takes to get it. P-days are Saturdays, which works out well.  The temple is closed this week and next week, which gives us an additional 4 hours on P-day to do whatever.

Jake- I haven't had a Rice Krispy treat yet, but the food has been pretty good, and the deserts even better.  
Luke- No I have not seen the prophet yet, but I got to shake hands with a member of our branch presidency who claims to have shaken every prophets' hand since David O. Mckay.
Hayley-  No, I do not sleep on bunk beds.  One of the rooms in the apartment does have bunk beds, but not ours. 
Trevor- My companion is pretty cool.  He's from Hurricane, Utah.  6 of the 10 guys in my district are from Utah.  The others are from Idaho, Missouri, Nebraska, and me from Texas.
Dad-  Schedule is pretty packed. Three different class times per day, each about 3 and a half hours.  Lunch is at 11:30.  Dinner at 4:30.
Mom- We haven't said it yet. (? was 'Do you say Doctrine & Covenants 4 in English or Spanish?')

We got to have a special 4th of July program, and got to stay up until 11:30 to watch the firework show. The first few days have been long and hard, but a lot of fun.  I'm already progressing in Spanish, and have even begun to think a little in Spanish.  Our district may end up getting a trip to Vegas or Boise to get our visas while we're here, but we have no idea when that may happen. 
The guys (we aren't allowed to call them guys, just elders) are all really cool, but really different.  I'm the only city boy.  All of us just graduated high school, except for one Elder who spent a year at BYU.  Thanks so much for your support!


Freedom Festival Balloon Festival 

4th of July Fireworks

Thursday, July 3, 2014


1:15 pm.  The assigned drop-off time for Elder Mangum to report to the Missionary Training Center to officially begin his missionary service on July 2nd, a day that had never been far from our minds since Michael opened that big white envelope in March.  It was an exciting time as Michael stepped out of the car into this new phase of his life.  There was just time for a quick hug, a smile and a wave, and then Elder Mangum was off!

A little bit of information about the Missionary Training Center:

Each Wednesday several hundred missionaries enter the Provo MTC. The eager missionaries enter an exciting world of learning. The MTC curriculum consists of up to 12 weeks of studying doctrine, learning to teach the gospel of Jesus Christ effectively, and developing excellent communication skills. When missionaries are called to serve in foreign lands, their training also includes learning a new language. The Provo MTC is well known for its language teaching program. Approximately 50 languages are taught at the Provo MTC. The teaching staff is composed largely of former missionaries, who are well acquainted with missionary life...The Provo MTC is a beautiful campus designed to accommodate up to 4,000 missionaries. The facility includes a large gymnasium, cafeterias, a medical clinic, a bookstore, a mail center, laundry facilities, classrooms, and residence halls. A day at the MTC can involve many different activities, including visiting the cafeteria, enjoying some exercise in the gym, and engaging in personal study. Missionaries spend much of their time in classroom activities.  After weeks of training, missionaries leave prepared to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with people around the world

Watch a short video about some of the things Michael will be doing while in the MTC before leaving for Argentina on August 12th.

Saying Goodbye & Hello

After a fun breakfast together, we took Michael to the airport.  

After checking in, we had a little time for one last group picture before we began saying good-bye to our missionary.

Goodbyes are always the worst.  But after a few rounds of hugs, kisses and tears, Elder Mangum was on his way.

Prior to flying to Argentina, Michael will spend the next 6 weeks in a Missionary Training Center (MTC) in Provo, UT.  Lucky for us, Michael has a couple aunts, uncles and cousins who live in Utah and were super excited to pick him up at the airport and spoil him with big hellos and a fun dinner before he reported to the MTC the next day.

Setting Apart Elder Mangum

Monday evening Michael was set apart as a Missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints by President Hruska, the Houston South Stake President.  After meeting briefly alone with Michael, President Hruska met with us all together, giving us counsel and encouragement together as a family.  Before Michael was set apart as a missionary, we went around the room and everyone shared some thoughts with Michael. It was a tender time.  

Michael was then set apart by President Hruska as a full time missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, called to serve in the Argentina Cordoba Mission for the period of 24 months, speaking the language of Spanish.  He was then counseled and blessed with many gifts that will help him serve and love the people of Argentina. 

For More information on Setting Apart Missionaries, see :

Poem from Farewell Talk

On Sunday Michael spoke in both the Hermann Park and Maplewood 2nd congregations about missionary work and why he decided to serve a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints at this time in his life. 

Michael shared a poem that has helped him strengthen his desire to serve the Lord over the last few years.  Several people have asked for copies of it, so here it is:

After All We Can Do
By Elder Robbie Pierce,  2000

I’d been in that hole for a very long time –
In the dark and the damp, in the cold and the slime.
The shaft was above me; I could see it quite clear,
But there’s no way I ever could reach it from here.
Nor could I remember the world way up there,
So I lost all my hope and gave into despair.

I knew nothing but darkness, the floors, and the walls,
When from off in the distance I heard someone call,
“Get up! Get ready! There’s nothing the matter!
Take rocks and take sticks and build up a fine ladder.”
This had never occurred to me, had not crossed my mind,
So I started to stack all the stones I could find.

When I ran out of stones, the old sticks were my goal,
For some way or another I’d get out of that hole.
So I soon had a ladder that was really quite tall,
And I thought, “I’ll soon leave this place once and for all!”
Then I climbed up my ladder, it was no easy chore –
For from lifting those boulders my shoulders were sore.

So I worked and I climbed and at last had to stop,
For my ladder stopped short – some ten feet from the top.
I climbed back down the ladder and felt all around,
But there were no more boulders nor sticks to be found.
I went back to my ladder and started to cry.
I’d done all I could do; I gave my best try.

But in spite of my work, in this hole I must die,
And all I could do was to sit and think, “Why?”
Was my ladder too short? Or my hole much too deep?
Then from way up on high came a voice: “Do not weep.”
And then hope, love, and faith entered my chest,
As the voice said to me that I’d done my best.

He said, “Nothing’s the matter.  There’s reason to hope.
Just climb up your ladder; I’ll throw down my rope.
You have worked very hard, and your labor’s been rough,
But the ladder you’ve built is at last tall enough.”
I climbed up the ladder, then climbed up the cord.
When I stood at the top, there stood the Lord.

I’ve never been happier; my struggle was done.
I blinked in the brightness that came from the Son.
I fell to the ground; his feet did I kiss.
I cried, “What can I do to repay thee for this?”
He looked all around Him – there were holes in the ground.
They had people inside, and were seen all around.

There were thousands of holes that were damp, dark, and deep.
Then the Lord turned to me and He said, “Feed my sheep.”
Then He went on His way to help other lost souls.
And I got right to work, calling down to the holes,
“Get up!  Get ready! There’s nothing the matter!
Take rocks and take sticks and build up a find ladder!”

It now was my turn to spread the good word.
The most glorious message that man ever heard.
That there’s One who is willing to save one and all,
And we’ve got to be ready when He gives the call.
He’ll pull us all out of the hole that we’re in,
And save all our souls from death and from sin.

So do not lose faith; there is reason to hope:
Just build up your ladder; He’ll throw down His rope.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Mission Prep Dinner

Bishop Crawford, President Hruska, Elder Mangum and Brother Morton (Mission Prep teacher)

Every Sunday evening for the last 1 1/2 years, Michael has been attending a Missionary Preparation Class.  He has learned so much about becoming a missionary and the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Sunday was Michael's final Mission Prep activity.  As per tradition, Michael was sent off in style with an amazing steak dinner at the Morton's home for family and friends, followed by a short meeting where Bishop Crawford, Michael and President Hruska all spoke and bore their testimony of the Gospel.