Hola Familia y Amigos!!!
Okay, not going to lie, it's hard for me to write to you all in English right now. We've been speaking Spanish A TON!!! It's only my first week here, but already I have learned and grown (in language, in teaching ability, and in spirit). We have class for at least 6 hours every day were we speak only in Spanish. Then we have an hour of personal study, a hour of companion study, and a hour (or two) of personal language study. We are very busy! But I love it. We get at least an hour for gym every day, and I have fun running on the elliptical while reading my scriptures, or playing volleyball with the native spanish speakers who would much rather turn it into soccer, or playing the most crazy games of four square that I have ever seen. There is so much to write to you! Where do I even begin!?!
My companion is the darling Hermana Sprenz. I love her dearly. We get along well and laugh all the time. She keeps me on my toes by giving beautiful insights for our learning and lessons, and she has really supported me through the challenges we've already gone through. I'm very very grateful to have her. We share an apartment with Hna. Foster and Hna. Mickelsen. They're great! All of us laugh together. Foster and Sprenz are both going to Bahia Blanca with me, and Mickelsen is heading to Buenos Aires West. There's a giant Argentine flag in our kitchen- I love it. We live on the West Campus of the MTC, meaning we live in dorm-like housing (it was once family housing) and walk across the street to more dorms that were turned into classrooms. Our desks fill the little living rooms, but we have fridges! And there's a spot for every companionship to study away from each other. It's great to be able to walk so much to the apartment or to the classes (that's not sarcasm, people. I like it.). It's nice too, cause all the missionaries on West Side (as Hermana Sprenz and I call it) speak Spanish!! The air is filled with calls of "Hola!!!" "Como esta?!" "Bueno, bueno!" "Buenas Suerte!" "Bien, y Ustedes?" And then the level of Spanish that follows differs according to the ability of those conversing. They tell us to use HSI- to use what we know. Speak the language as much as possible and try to say something in Spanish before English. It's exhausting, but I can see how much it's helping us.
Today we went up to main campus to print off our emails so we can write to you what we don't have time to email. It surprised me that everyone was so quiet! And it was extremely difficult not to say "Hola! Como estan Elderes?" etc when I passed someone on the side walk (every 5 feet). I guess the Spanish speakers are just a lot crazier and lively.... It's definitely a blessing to have so many people around me to help me with the language! And the culture here rocks. Don't get me wrong, I love the people on Main Campus! It's just different ;) I was able to see Elder James Andrus, Sister Ashley Eyring, Elder Parker Wilson, Sister Aubrey Black, Sister Katy Dunbar, Elder Nate Campbell, and so many more! It was delightful. I saw most of them at a devotional that we got to go to(here, let me write about it in it's own paragraph, it deserves it)
We got to listen and learn from the pianist Josh Wright for ournight devotional! It was like a dream come true. Due to the number of people in one space, we're not allowed to listen to our ipods (with speakers) in our dorms or anywhere. It was super sad for me to learn of that, but exact obedience! So, as you can imagine, hearing Chopin and Debussy other classical music as well as his own compositions. He shared lovely advice on missions with us as well. One of my favorite things that he said was: "When your alarm goes off, when you're having a hard time, when you're having a good time, ask yourself: How much do you love the lord? To be alone is a choice, you can have the Lord with you always, so let us cheerfully do all things. You might not like your mission in a particular moment, but chose to love it." He shared a great many wonderful things. I'm so grateful for the spirit that music can bring. I don't know what I would do if I didn't have it in my life. I don't know what I would do if we didn't get to sing tons of hymns in spanish all day long!
People always tell you that a mission is hard, but people rarely explain how hard the MTC can be (if that tells you anything about how hard the mission field must be... sheesh!). We newbies have been told time and time again that if we can make it to, we can make it in the MTC. And well, we made it to ! And beyond! , I will have been here a week. It feels as though I have been here a year. They say that the days travel like weeks and the weeks travel like days. There have been many challenges, and my mind soon tires from all the translating and Spanish speaking. I have to think too that feeling the spirit so much can exhaust you too- I mean, it fills you with energy, but dang, no wonder the people in the scriptures who saw angels or visions often passed out afterwards! I love it, and the spirit here is remarkable. We taught our first "investigator" , the third day we were here. And we taught him in Spanish... oof! It was difficult! We've taught him once more since then, and although it went really well, I've got a long way to go before I'm ready to teach. I have gained a testimony of the Gift of Tongues. We pray to have it every day. We were able to teach our investigator lots last time, even without being to communicate well! We taught him how to pray, we talked about the coming about of the Book of Mormon, and the Restoration, and how God is the father of our spirits. We have books that help a lot to aid us in translation. My sweet companion has a hard time speaking in the lessons. I need to give her more of a chance to speak, cause that's the only way we can learn. She is too kind to give me the opportunity to practice my Spanish with her so often. Sheesh, I have a really hard time speaking in the lessons too, but we are learning much and to think that we still have 5 weeks to go! It fills us with great comfort. We have already come a long way, and I am speaking better than I ever have before.
We had our entire testimony meeting in Spanish- woah. That was awesome. It was hard to understand the native Spanish speakers. They're only here for 2 weeks cause they've got the language down pact. They give us much encouragement and support. We love to eat in the cafeteria together and the other Hermanas even had them be "member friends" in one of their meetings with our investigator. It's great :) I love the relationships that have grown here. I absolutely love my district! We have a blast. We know each other well, and we trust each other. The spirit dwells with us often, and I learn so much from each of them. they are powerhouses and I'm grateful that I get to spend my time in the MTC with such great people. My companion is a fantastic artist, and has drawn little characters of us all, and we laugh and joke at the multitude of inside jokes we already have. My teachers are wonderful!!! They have so much confidence in us and share scriptures and encouragement that fill my heart. I'm so grateful for them. They keep us laughing and working hard.
There is so much I could write about! I love it here, even though the first few days were roller coasters.
OOH!! The 4th of July was delightful!!! We had our normal classes but all wore patriotic colors and sang patriotic hymns and shared patriotic scriptures. We got to go to a special devotional at night and listen to AMAZING music (fiddlers and everything!) all provided by missionaries and our leaders. And we watched 17 Miracles after the devotional! That was cool. We were told after the movie that "Sister Carrie Underwood" had concluded singing (bahaha). So we were allowed outside to watch fireworks and eat ice cream!!! Talk about a great day! It was so much fun!!! I loved it. We could see the fireworks extremely well. We stayed up till likethat night... oh man, I was exhausted... But it was great! I'm so grateful that we got to do that!
Well, I'm so deeply sorry that I didn't get a chance to write very many of you individually. Next week I might get a chance to do that more since I won't have to fill you in on as much. There is still so much that I could have written! You know me (blah blah blah).
I'm so grateful to be able to share the glad message of the Restored Gospel with the world. It's been such a blessing to learn more about myself and Christ and to draw closer to Him. I know that my Redeemer Lives. I know that prayers are answered. I know that Joseph Smith was a prophet, and that the Book of Mormon is evidence of the returned gospel of Christ. I'm so grateful for the spirit- I wouldn't be where I am or who I am without it. God lives and speaks.
Love you all dearly! Please send my your addresses so that if I have time, I can write you individually! If you want to, you can email me, and I'll send responses any way I can :) I'm praying for you and hope you are all well. Have a wonderful week! and read Preach my Gospel- I know that that book is inspired to help us all. :)
This is Katie's mom. Katie has tried to teach me how to manager her blog while she is serving, but I'm afraid this is all new to me. Any suggestions are greatly appreciated.