Thursday, September 25, 2014

2014-9-23 First (and Last) Email from the MTC! AKA, Viva Las Vegas!

!Hola a todos!  Forgive my occasional lack of correct Spanish punctuation... I don't know how to make the MTC keyboards do what I want. Upside down punctuation won't actually be upside down right now, and accents will follow their letter.  But anyway...

I know it's been almost a full week since I've entered the MTC, but this is my first P-day, so I haven't had a chance to email until now.  I sent a quick letter last week (our branch president allowed it), so hopefully that arrived. Now, for the news... Yes, this will be my last P-day in the MTC if everything goes according to plan--I'm set to leave early (very early) on Monday morning, hopefully to arrive in Veracruz that night!  I'm really excited, although I don't know if I feel ready to teach.  Although I had a great experience on the plane back from Vegas.  Oh, yeah, I didn't mention that.  I took a day trip to Vegas yesterday.  No big deal.  Hit the slot machines at the airport, played some rounds of poker.  You know, missionary stuff. Actually, I went with a small group to the Mexican Consulate there, and got my visa!  Granted, it took about two minutes, and the other eighteen hours were spent either in travel or just waiting, but they needed an appearance in person, so...but I got it!  And although yes, I was joking about the gambling calm down, Mom), there honestly were slot machines in the airport. A LOT of them.  No joke. 

And, on the plane back, I say next to this really nice lady who asked me about my nametag, which led to a long conversation (the whole flight, actually) about missions, religion, education, and the Bible.  It was really great!  She asked a lot of great questions, and I had the opportunity to talk about some of the things that I believed in, some perspectives that I had as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and some of our views about the Bible and the nature of God.  I left her with a pass-along card and encouraged her to check out the Book of Mormon sometime.  I don't know if she will or not, but it was really great talking to her, and it made me a lot more confident in--no, that's not it exactly...a lot more conscious of my calling as a missionary.  I could feel it as I was was different than anything else I'd felt before.  Like authority, I guess, would be the best description I can come up with.  A in, I could feel my calling, that I had been called to do exactly this, to teach and invite others to come unto Christ.  It was a really great experience.

OK, on to the nitty-gritty!   I'm actually in the west campus, formerly part of Wyview Apartments, so I need to take a bus whenever I need to travel to the main campus.  We're all Spanish-speaking here, so I can call out a "Buenos Di'as" without having to worry about getting a weird look back, like we might on the main campus.  My companion's name is Elder Brown, and he's really great.  My whole district is, actually.  There are six e'lderes and four hermanas, and only Elder Brown, Elder Rasmussen, and I didn't learn to speak Spanish growing up.  To help you understand that, the rest are Elders Martinez, Sandoval, and Nun~ez (I can't do n~ either.  I guess I'll have to wait until I get to Mexico.  Funnily enough, it looks like the machine that does the nametags couldn't either--it looks like the tilde was chiseled on by hand), and Sisters Ramos, Jua'rez, Ojeda, and Gutie'rrez.  Yeah. So
we aren't actually given any time to study the language, just personal and companion study, and everything, both teaching and being taught, is in Spanish.  But it's actually really great!  Speaking with fluency is the only problem, and it's coming.  I just take a little longer to formulate what I'm trying to say to teach effectively and legibly than most of the others (again, see the listed last names).  The food is good, the teachers are great, and practically everyone's a missionary, so there's a lot of politeness and smiles going around. 

My District

I actually really love my district (my class--we're organized into districts by class, so my district is comprised of the people I see for twelve-something hours each day--nine of those in the classroom, some days--so we get to know each other pretty well).  Two of the elders are going to Honduras, two of the sisters are going to Mexico City North, and the rest of us are going all over Mexico, the states, and Central America.  Elder Martinez is from Texas, and he loves this hot sauce called Cholula that happens to be stocked by the MTC cafeteria.  He LOVES it.  As a district, we go through literally about a bottle a day, and not everyone else uses it, or uses that much.  The joke was made that it he kept it up, when we next played soccer he'd be sweating Cholula.  He's also the "class clown."  One time, when he and his companion were leaving the classroom to go down the hall to one of the bedrooms that was functioning as our "investigator's house" (our classrooms are actually the living rooms of various apartments in the Raintree apartment complex), he yells back to us, "!Llene la tina, se vas a bautizar!" (Fill up the bathtub, she's getting baptized!) This was their first meeting with her, before they'd even met.  That kind of gives you an example of his personality.  Elder Brown's a great companion, and we have a lot of fun.  He took four years of Spanish in high school, and he works really hard to be led by the Spirit, so we get along well.  He's also very humble, and wants to be the best missionary that he can be.  

Yup.  That's us.

Today we went to the temple, and it was great!  We spent a while afterwards outside, and it was beautiful.  All right, I'm running out of time, so I have to go now.  !Los quiero mucho!
Quick note:  Would you mind emailing me Elder Bednar's Christmas devotional titled, "The Character of Christ" ?  We watched it at the main campus on Sunday, and it was really great.   

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