Hola mi familia!! How are you all doing?? I've been so busy I haven't had a lot of time to think about you, but I love you a lot and it's been great reading about your adventures all week.
My companian is Hermana McCracken, and she is the best! We are already having such a great time. She is from Springville, and she is going to Washington D.C. South, Spanish Speaking. She's 22, so a little bit of an age gap, but we're getting along really well and every day our lessons are improving and we're figuring out how to better be companions. And we get to have a lot of fun at the same time. Since we're both Hermana M, we call ourselves "Hermana's M squared" and someday we'll get t-shirts and laugh about it.
My district is amazing! We have four elders, and seven hermanas! And our zone has 18 hermanas and 17 elders. Way to represent! The sister are going everywhere from the Dominican Republic, to Paraguay, to Mexico, to Kansas, and three of the elder are going to Argentina. We're already getting along really well, and we have so much fun together. The other day, during gym time, one of our hermanas accidently threw a basketball that hit the fire alarm and it went off and we all had to evacuate and we were stuck in the cold without our jackets or keys, and the fire department had to come, but it was hilarious, we were all laughing, and tried to play volleyball with snowballs while we were waiting, so it was all good. Our district is having trouble being on time to meetings, and as you all know being late plus stress is not a good combination for me, but Hermana McCraken is helping me to have patience with the elders, because we all have strengths and weaknesess, and we're all growing and getting better all the time, and maybe one day we'll be on time to something, haha.
The basic schedule for life at the MTC is waking up at 6:30, then meeting your district for prayer in your classroom at 7:00 before daily planning then heading to breakfast. Then we have three hours of class/investigator teaching, an hour of study, lunch, another three hours of study, dinner, class from 6:00-9:00, then back to your dorms to get ready for bed and lights out by 10:30. It's crazy, and so much work, but we find ways to have fun and take breaks so we don't hurt ourselves from trying to hard to focus.
Immediately after I got dropped on Wednesdasy, they dropped my stuff off in my room, and then straight to class. You only ever have class in one classroom, and that becomes your home base, all your study stuff and notes and books live there because you spend more time in your classroom than in your actual room. We immediately began speaking Spanish. On the first day we were able to pray, the second day we were able to bear our testimonies, and on Saturday we started teaching our first "investigator." We have had 4 lessons with him so far, everyday except Sunday. And the entire thirty minutes is in Spanish. We all had mini panic attacks when we found out we would have to teach in Spanish on our third day, but the gift of tongues is real! My companion and I are able to say things and understand things that we have no idea what they are outside of the classroom. It's really difficult not to get frustrated with yourself, because sometimes I have the exact words I want to say in English, but I have no idea how to say them. This week has been really humbling though, because we've all been realizing the most important part of missionary work is inviting the Spirit and letting the Holy Ghost teach the investigator. Our Spanish is terrible, but as long as we focus on Jesus Christ and sincerely bearing our testimonies, somehow, sometimes our message gets across. It's absolutely incredible. It's so hard, and it gets stressful, but it's amazing.
We got to sing in the MTC choir on Sunday and yesterday for the MTC devotional, and Elder M. Russell Ballard came and spoke to us, so it was a really cool experience. We sang "Lead Kindly Light," which turns out is actually a perfect missionary song. Go read the words if you don't remember them, because it is 100% what missionary work is about. We talk the backstory of the lyricist, John Henry Newman, and how he was a Catholic Priest I think, and was faced with a lot of doubt, and got frustrated his path wouldn't take him where he wanted it to, but he wrote this poem on a boat trip back to England, and they were stuck in the water because of heavy fog for several days, and the poem is about him coming to realize he had to choose to let God completely guide it path. It's really cool.
I also learned that Valentine's day is the third best day to be a missionary, after Christmas and Easter, because we get to share the greatest message of love in the entire world: You can be with the people you love most in the entire world forever!! So Happy Valentines Day everyone!!
One of my favorite parts about being a missionary so far is that we pray at least 20 times a day if not more. You pray when you get up, you pray when you leave the dorm, you pray when you get to class, you pray when you leave class, you pray at the beginning of every study session, you pray all the time, and we say all our prayers in Spanish. For now, a lot of them are very repetitive, because we have very limited vocabulary, but everyday we get a little more comfortable, and our district is growing a little more everyday. It's amazing!!
One of the hardest things, is you don't refer to people as "guys" anymore. It's way more difficult than you think it would be. Other missionaries are always "elders" or "hermanas." We're working on it as a district, but hopefully it's gets better.
We got to go to the temple this morning!! It really helped recharge all of us. I did the work for Anna De Haan, and I was really happy I brought my own family names. And Sundays are so great! For sacrament meeting, everyone has to prepare a talk in Spanish on the topic for the week, then at the beginning of the meeting you find out who is going to speak that day when they announce it. So that part is a little stressful, but they have assured us they usually don't pick new missionaries for at least two weeks...usually.
I'm only using half my email time right now, so I'll be able to get back on later today, so feel free to send me any questions or anything and I'll try to respond. And I'll think I'll have some more pictures to send later too. Thank you for the packages and the pictures and everything, I love it all!! This seriously is the happiest place on earth and I am so happy to be a missionary!!