It's finally my first p-day!!!! And let me tell you, it was most definitely needed... I don't have tons of email time, so I'll just jump right into all of my crazy adventures and stories.
The MTC is amazing! However, it is also very difficult. I can honestly say that this is one of the hardest things I've ever done in my life... Everyone told me that before I came, but I guess I didn't really believe them, because it is way harder than I was expecting. Or at least the first few days were. It's not near as bad now that I've been here for over a week!
So after you guys dropped me off, I got my name tag, which was really cool. It might not seem like a huge thing, but it was a super cool experience for me. We then met our teachers. They only spoke in Spanish to us, so after only about 2 hours I already had to draw on every ounce of Spanish knowledge that I possessed. On day two, I noticed one of the main differences between a missionary life and my old life. A missionary's life is super busy! I mean, I thought I had busy days back at home, but now that I'm here, it seems like my busiest day there was pretty relaxing. Every single minute, from 6:30 to 10:30, is scheduled. At first it was super overwhelming, but now I actually enjoy being able to look in my planner and know exactly what will be going on every minute of every day. Anyways, we were super busy the first few days learning how things worked and relearning everything I ever knew about Spanish at the same time. On day three (Friday) we taught our first investigator. Me and Elder Maughan thought we were all ready to go, but when we got in to the investigators home, we found out that we were nowhere near prepared... Teaching in English isn't too bad, but when you have to teach to an investigator who only speaks Spanish, it can get pretty nerve wracking. We started off our lesson by trying to get to know her, but we ran out of questions to ask her after about a minute, so we jumped right into our lesson. We blew through the material super-fast, and then every question that we asked really didn't matter because we couldn't understand what she was saying anyways. Pretty soon, we were just sitting in awkward silence trying to come up with things to say. We had just learned earlier that day how to pray and bear testimony in Spanish, so that's what we did. Except I could only bear testimony of like 4 things, so I ended up bearing testimony over and over again of the same thing. Needless to say, our 30 minute lesson only lasted 10... Since then though, things have been much better. It's amazing to me how much we have already learned. I have now taught lessons, and the last few have gone really well. It was really amazing when we were able to get her to pray. We had to teach her, and I'm amazed she understood our Spanish, but it ended up working really well. We also had one lesson where we prepared a great lesson plan, but when we got in to teach it, the Spirit completely took us in a different direction. We taught for 30 minutes on a topic that we hadn't even prepared on, and it was the best lesson we've had. It's amazing to me how the spirit can guide us if we are ready and receptive to its promptings. But of course, not every experience in my teaching has been perfect... We had one lesson where we asked the investigator what she knew about prayer. She said that in her church they memorized prayer and recited them. She then asked if we did that in our church. I was super excited to answer, but I guess I didn't really understand her question, because I blurted out "Si"! My companion realized my mistake and shouted out NOOO!, and I was able to realize what I had said and try and correct it. So yes, I have already told someone that we memorize and recite our prayers... Another great experience happened when we first told our investigator about the first vision. We had been talking to her about how her prayers can be answered, and then after the first vision she said "Well, I don't think God is going to appear to me if I pray..." We hadn't been expecting that response at all, so I just sat there trying to piece together some Spanish to answer, but I couldn't think of anything, so I just said "Es un milagro!" Which I think means "It's a miracle!" That response to her question got a few laughs...
The west campus of the MTC is amazing! Our rooms are really nice. We have apartments with two rooms, and each companionship gets its own room. The food is really good, and right now they're in the process of building a new cafeteria. One of the downsides though is that most of the missionaries are up at main campus, so I haven't been able to see very many of my friends who are here. I do see Elder Rawle pretty often though which is super cool!
So my companion is awesome! His name is Elder Maughan, and he is seriously the best companion I could have asked for. My district is also super amazing!
During gym time I have regressed to playing games that I played during 5th grade. We actually have started calling gym time "recess" simply because that's what it feels like. I have become a pretty decent 4-square player, though compared to the Finnish missionaries I played against I'm not really all that great at all. I have also been playing volleyball, and I tried my hand at basketball yesterday. I actually help organize a game for those Elders that can't play basketball to save their lives, like me. It ended up being a pretty interesting experience...
Oh, thank you so much for the packages! It's always great to be able to open them up and get all that great stuff! Also, I would suggest that you use dearelder.com to send me letters. I don't have tons of email time, but I can read the letters all week... Also, dearelder is free and gets here the same day! So yeah, just something to think about!
Another thought: time flies here, but it also drags on and on and on.... The first few days seemed to take forever, but now it seems like each day is gone before I can even realize what happened. And I've only been here a week, but it seems like I've been living here forever...
Seriously though, I love it here! The spirit is super strong, and it just amazes me how much we are learning! I mean, I have already talked to someone in Spanish for a full half hour about then gospel! Granted, it was extremely broken Spanish that was probably all in one tense, but it was Spanish nonetheless, and if they didn't understand, at least the pretended to... But seriously, there is no were else I'd rather be. I know more than ever now that this is where the Lord wants me, and I know that if I do my part and work hard; he will use me to bless his children. I'm excited to keep learning, and I can't wait till the lesson I teach and the things I say in Spanish actually make sense!
Well, I really can't think of much more to say right now, and my time is running out, so I'll start wrapping this up. I just want you to know how much I love you and miss you. I can honestly say I wouldn't be where I am right now without the love and support that you have given me over the years. And Dad, HAPPY FATHER DAY! Sorry that's late, but I couldn't communicate with the outside world until right now... But I do just want you to know how great an example you've been to me and how much I appreciate all the help you've given me over the years.
Anyways, I'll try to write soon, and if I'm not able to, I'll talk to you next Thursday!
P.S. I do have a few pictures, but I forgot to take my flash drive to the computer lab, so I'll try and send them later today.
P.P.S. I don't know if you guys have heard about the worldwide training/missionary/super top secret broadcast from the Marriott center on Sunday, but I'm super excited about it. Rumor here is that there's going to be some amazing announcement made...