Hola amigos y mi familia,
I've made it to my first, official P-day! Last week we had a "half P-day" (only 3 hours) just to get some laundry done, so today has been heaven. Our branch has "Temple Time" at 6:30, so we have to get up an hour earlier than usually. It's been great though. Joni Lawrence (my relief Society Pres. from the Single's Ward) was in our session this morning, so it was great to see her. I also got to stop by and say hi to Bishop Jensen. It has been a social day :) I also was able to enjoy a nap, which I have been greatly needing for the past week and a half. It was so nice!
So a little more about the MTC. Every hour of every day is scheduled, so as you can expect, it's fairly exhausting, though we are adjusting to our schedule. The first few days were extremely overwhelming, and now it just seems normal. Our district is very small, only 5 people, which we all enjoy. There are only 2 companionships. The Elders and my trio. Yep, I'm in a trio. I've heard bad things about trios, and I can see the difficultly in them, but I love my companions. They are so wonderful. We get along great and I feel very blessed to be with these 2 ladies. Hermana Carlson is from Idaho and will be serving in the Texas, Houston South mission, and Hermana Dudely is from Virginia, serving in the Salt Lake City West mission. Usually companionships go to the same areas, but everyone is my district is different because we are an unusual group. We are an intermediate district and our branch is a mix of intermediate and advanced. I just met our Branch President last night, as they have been out of town, but he seems pretty great. Hmm, what else. My mother requested I talk more about my schedule and daily life here at the MTC, but I'm not really sure what to talk about. We have things like Gym Time and Personal Study and Language Study and TALL Time (TALL is the computer language program we use) but it's all at different times everyday.
Our teacher was Hermano Walton, but because we are a strange district, things have been jumbled around a lot and now we have two teachers: Hermano Wheeler and Hermana Ayala. We all miss Hermano Walton, but Hermano Wheeler is great. Though the rest of my district quite likes Hermana Ayala, I am having a hard time warming up to her and her teaching style. Hopefully my attitude changes fairly soon, as I feel that it definitely takes the spirit away when I have negative feelings toward my teacher. I have been struggling a bit in class, as the other 4 missionaries in my district are fantastic at Spanish. I am actually pretty happy with myself and impressed with how well my Spanish is coming along, but the truth is, I never learned all the grammar and technicalities in school like they did. Things that are review for them are definitely new to me, so I feel a bit behind. I was having a pretty rough time with it, but after talking with my Branch President last night, I'm feeling a bit more optimistic. I do have to work harder than the others, but it doesn't mean I can't do it. I'm determined to work harder so I won't be pulling them back. I also plan to take advantage of the private tutoring they have available...though I'm still trying to figure out when I'm able to do that.
There are so many things we have to get done in our "spare time" that we don't have, it can definitely be overwhelming. Things like, memorize the first vision in Spanish, memorize the baptismal invitation in Spanish, write a talk (every week) in Spanish, as well as a mini-lesson in Spanish, and also have ready Spiritual thoughts in case you have to share at random. Ugh, it is a lot, but it is possible. How? I'm not sure yet, but I'm working on figuring that out.
We have actually been part of a pilot program, so our training has been different. Because of the new announcement, missionaries are going to be spending less time in the MTC starting January. In order to be prepared for this transition, they have been trying out different methods with different districts. Usually, missionaries are teaching the first lesson in their new language within 3 days of arriving at the MTC. We, too, were teaching the first lesson by Friday, but this time in English. Also, usually the missionaries start off with a "progressing investigator", so the next time they see that person, they teach the second, and third, and so on. We, however, went back the next day, to the same investigator, and taught the same lesson again, as if it was the first time. We did so five times. Oh, and it was all in English. Of course we were encouraged to use Spanish when we felt comfortable, but the goal was not Spanish, and in fact, they did not want it to be an obstacle to our teaching and for us teaching by the Spirit. They also filmed us every time, including our evaluations afterwards and our 5 min. follow-ups with the investigator the "next day" (but it was really like 2 minutes later). It has been really great...but now that we're done with that little project, we are back on regular schedule, I guess.
We have a progressing investigator and it's only in Spanish. Our teacher is actually our investigator this time, which I don't like. She teaches us how to teach (in all Spanish so I don't get it all) and then she goes into another room and we have to go knock on the door as if she's a real investigator. These experiences are supposed to be as real as possible so that we can have the experience, but it's really hard for me, knowing that she is my teacher, and as soon as we're done, we'll go back in the class with her and she'll tell us what we did wrong, what to do better, etc. I'm having a hard time with it, but I'm sure I'll adjust.
I only have a minute left (they're really strict on email time), but I love my district, I adore my companions, and my Zone Leaders are hilarious. It's been a little bit of an emotional rollercoaster, but I know I'm in the right place. I love my Savior so much, and I know He is mindful of me. This Gospel is real and this is the restored church. I'm coming to know that more and more each day. It's amazing the spirit that is felt here. It's impossible for one's testimony not to grow, for one to come closer to God.
I love you all. Write me. Use DearElder.com! It's easy and fast and free! Do it!