We have such a good plan for this 2014 year in the mission and I am really glad that I have the full calendar year left in my mission! We have a 5-step plan and I feel that it is really inspired. A lot of the inspiration for this plan was a letter that President Hall received from Elder Ballard.
Sam, something that I would advise you to do with the time you have before you mission is treasure up doctrine. Aspire to become a scriptorian. I know it sounds really hard and unreachable, but there are small ways that you can start. If you haven't read all the way through the Book of Mormon quickly, I would do that. Like I'm sure you already know, I have a testimony of the Book of Mormon audio style. I think you should get a Book of Mormon that costs about $6 and follow along in that as you listen to it. If you listen to ~5 chapters a day (45 min), you will finish in less than 2 months :) Mark the scriptures up with anything that you like. You could even keep a couple of sticky notes with topics that you like and every time you find a really good scripture on that topic, you can write it down.
Topics could include things like (atonement, faith, repentance, BOM prophecies, conversion, commandments, family, "come unto me", "this is the gate", etc..)
I know that your love for the Book of Mormon will grow so much if you do this. I know you will love the stories that are contained in the Book of Mormon and you will have an idea of how everything fits together. I know that when you do this you will know that it was written by prophets and it contains true and pure doctrine. I know it will be a strength for you to have done this by the time you enter the MTC. I love you and I am so excited for you! I made a list of all my favorite scriptures to send to you, but then I realized that the thing that makes scriptures powerful is when we discover them. Don't worry, I'll still tell you lots of ones that I like and that are good ones to reference, but I want you to try this challenge of a new Book of Mormon, with the audio, in 2 months :)
There is a perfect scripture in Alma 32: 28 that I feel like describes how my love for the Book of Mormon has grown. In Spanish, it says that "empezara a hincharse en vuestro pecho; y al sentir esta sencion de crecimiento, empezareis a decir dentro de vosotros: debe ser que esta es una semilla Buena, o que la palabra es Buena, porque empieza a ensanchar mi alma; si, empieza a iluminar mi entendimiento; si, empieza a ser deliciosa para mi" and this is so true!!! I feel a big lot of love from God well up in my chest when I read in the scriptures and I feel it more now than I've ever felt it before.
I've been thinking about different ways that the spirit talks to us. The spirit is very gentle. The spirit works differently with different people too. We are able to develop spiritual sensitivity and understand the spirit in different ways. We aren't confined or limited to only certain ways of understanding promptings. One of my most dominant receptors to the Holy Ghost is that the gospel brings perfect clarity to me. There is something written by Descartes that says something like 'the idea that something in its entirety makes such perfect sense is sure evidence that it is pure truth' (that wasn't even paraphrased so don't quote it). I feel like Descartes's idea describes a way that we can feel the spirit even if people haven't recognized that that is a way of feeling him. There are a lot of things (especially other religions) that if you research deeply only make people feel more confused, but an in-depth research of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints leads to enlightenment and clarity. We had a lesson with an intellectual (and he is well enough educated that he is open to learning things and he very reasonably considers things) and when we told him about Joseph Smith he commented that that was a very powerful passage. He was delighted by how concise and clear our explanation of religion was. He is very excited to go online and look around and I am more excited for him to read conference talks because those are powerful! This happened to be a lesson in English, so it was very different, but I loved it too. I love when I see people astonished at the gospel. :)
Adrian is a champ and he blessed the sacrament on Sunday! He is such a good man! He is a real strength to this Rama. I think president Mendez is giving him a calling too as a secretary of something. I love it when callings are given to people! It grows people's testimonies so much and makes them feel needed.
I firmly believe that there is nothing that more greatly shows your conversion to the gospel than your church attendance.
I love you all! Thanks for being the best family in the world! I know God put us together because he knew we needed what each other had and he knew that we would make such deep friendships with each other.