Hello everyone!!!!! I've been at the MTC for like a whole week now and it seriously feels like a month!! The days go by soooooo fast but they also go by soooooo slow!!!! I feel like I'm a completely different person than when I first came here. I mean, yeah I've only been here for like 6 1/2 days, but with 5 hours of teaching practice, 7 hours of classes, 8 hours of eating, 5 minutes of free time, and 58 hours of personal and companionship study time A DAY, we're bound to be different people haha :) Yesterday we had a self-defense class teaching us how to knife fight because they said that at least one missionary gets shanked a week in NY!!!! Tomorrow we're going to learn how to deflect an approaching knife thrust from the front and side.... hahaha just kidding mommy!! :) The most violent thing that happens here is someone doesn't say sorry when they bump into you in the hall...
My companion's name is Elder Schneider and he's pretty cool (he's sitting right next to me so I can't tell you about all of the horrible things that he does to me...) haha just kidding but seriously, we get along really well and are both super sarcastic with each other and make fun of each other but it's all in good fun. We're constantly just laughing about the stupidest things for like 5 minutes straight. He's also going to the New York, New York North mission!!! I, at least, think that we work really well together when we teach. When we work together, the Spirit really helps us out. When one of us runs out of questions or things to say, the other picks up the slack and finishes off his thought to make it amazing. The only problem with him that I have is that he likes to talk and talk and talk and doesn't really let me, or sometimes even the investigator, say something when he or she should so it's kind of frustrating sometimes but other than that we're already really close and becoming good friends. The other Elders in my district are:
Elder Smart-He's really nice and funny but he really reminds me of Cameron...haha he's super into drama and choir and theatre so...yeah. Haha but no he's really cool and he's our district leader. Me and him get along pretty well just because he's pretty funny and we both get each other's sense of humor. He's going to Charlotte, North Carolina.
Elder Ibarra-He's Elder Smart's companion and he's really cool. We're all kind of similar in personalities and sense of humor so we have a lot of fun. He has like THE deepest voice I've ever heard but he's like this super skinny white kid that's pretty tall so I was like totally caught off guard when he said something to me for the first time haha. He's going to Charlotte, North Carolina.
Elder Lambert-He's probably the most interesting person in our district. He's a kid that's like into the Special Forces and says things like "roger" and "copy that" ahahaha...he's also going to Charlotte.
Elder Neuerberg-He's like the COMPLETE opposite of Elder Lambert but they're companions and they get along really well...he's like this super buff running back and had the chance to go to college to play football but decided to go on a mission instead. He's really quiet but he's really funny. He's going to the New York, New York North mission too!
All in all we all get along really well and it's hard for us to get to bed on time because we're laughing so hard about random things haha I don't know the Sisters very well in our district but they are: Sister Lambert, Sister Jorgenson, Sister Russell, and Sister Wieburg. They are all super nice and friendly.
The biggest thing that I've learned so far is how to let the Spirit work through me. That is HUGE here. In our classes, we were given an "investigator" that's really our teacher but they are all trained to be really good actors that are good at being real. My investigator is Audrey (aka one of my teachers Sister Holt) who is a 61 year old lady that had three kids that are all moved out. Her husband spends lots of time in Guatemala because he owns this coffee plantation down there. She's been going to church for about 2 years but for one reason or the other hasn't committed to anything. She really just goes because of some of the members that she's friends with. She actually "came up to us" in church supposedly so she is interested in hearing more. It's hard to teach the lessons sometimes just because we are both fully aware that we are talking to our teacher...but it's amazing. We start teaching and suddenly we start saying things that I don't think I would have ever been able to come up with on my own. Nothing like super revelatory or anything, but we're able to connect principles of the Gospel together in a way that is easy to understand but so powerful.
The first lesson went really well and we were both taken back by how much the Spirit takes over when teaching. When we first started out we would put together a set lesson plan on what we would say, when we would say it, and how we would say it. It worked really well, but we've both realized that the more we just study the scriptures and learn as much as we can about the general subject we want to tell her about, the more room the Spirit has to work with. We taught her her 4th lesson yesterday and we didn't even have a single note to work with. We have goals we want her to accomplish and assignments we want her to do by the next time we come, but after all of the small talk and the "so how did praying last night go" and stuff, we just start talking and things start to flow. Two days ago we taught her about the Restoration and I seriously almost started crying when I read Joseph Smith's First Vision. The Spirit was so strong and my companion said that he could feel it too afterwards. So I guess I'm just amazed at how much my Heavenly Father wants me to learn this stuff because I never would have thought that I would look forward to having to pretend to teach someone because the Spirit is so strong. She has a hard time praying and feeling like someone is actually listening to her and wanting to communicate with her, but she is very open to the Gospel. We've even gotten her to commit to be baptized on the 20th of July!!!!
Another big thing in class that I never thought I would have to do is role play. We do SO much role play here. The teacher will begin the lesson and talk to us about a skill that we should learn, and then he/she will give us a situation that we could be presented in and then we have to "teach" our companions who are pretending to be the fake investigator. For example, yesterday I had to teach Elder Schneider, who was pretending to be this investigator that was having a problem keeping commitments, so we had to stress to them the importance of why we are giving them that commitment and why they need to follow through with it.
The scariest thing, by far, though, that I've had to do was teach this guy named Aaron Molesi, who I can't remember if I told you about him, but he was the guy on my first day during that teaching experience thing. He was the one that we, as a class, had to get him to know that God loves him. He is SUCH a good actor and he can like cry on the spot so as we tried to let him know that Heavenly Father loves him, he like got all upset because his character's dad had died like two weeks ago. His dad had never said that he loved him in his entire life, but he eventually developed cancer and right before he died he lined all of his kids up and told them that he loved them. It was really hard because didn't understand how God could still love him and take away his dad right as he was getting to develop a good relationship with him. So that by far was the scariest thing we had to do.
Elder Schneider and I had to do this thing called TRC, which stands for something that I don't remember, where we went to this empty classroom and had to knock on the door like it was a house, and try and get this Aaron guy to let us in. Of course we had to pretend like we didn't know him so we had to do a bunch of getting to know him questions and he seemed like SO apprehensive. But after a while we were able to get him to open up and talk to us a little bit about his family and especially dad. He like started bawling and I almost started tearing up too! It was okay and he agreed to let us come again tomorrow so I'm pretty stoked about that!
But yeah the food is great!! And there is soooooooo much of it!!! Like I seriously eat like two big dinners each and every meal. I probably need to stop because I can feel my body start to get used to eating that much...like I'll eat this huge meal and then two hours later I'm like starving and ready to eat again! Too much information alert!!! but...the first few days the fatty, protein rich food was like really tearing me up hahahaha When I first came here, one of the "sister zone leaders" told us to take it easy because this food gives you like major gas and diarrhea...but of course I didn't listen. I just ate, and ate, and ate, and ate...and two nights ago it really hit me...like I was sitting in class and all of a sudden I felt like I was going to puke...so I grabbed Elder Schneider and ran to the bathroom to throw up but I couldn't. My stomach hurt SO bad...like I seriously thought that my appendix had burst of something because I couldn't even move. I tried to walk to class but I had to just stand there in the hallway for like 10 minutes because it hurt to walk. After a while the pain went down and my teacher came out to check on me. He told me that it wasn't my appendix and that it was most likely just the food that I just ate not settling right and giving me gas...he told me to go to my residence hall and lie down. It really helped but it took like 10 minutes to walk to our dorm because Elder Schneider kept making me laugh which absolutely killed so we had to stop like 5 times hahaha so yeah....needless to say I'm eating a little lighter....it was SO funny though because it was just weird that I was like immobilized by...gas. So we told everyone that I was suffering from crippling gas and then Elder Smart shared a scripture with us that made us laugh for, I kid you not, like 10 minutes straight. It's very relevant for my situation...It's in Jeremiah 4:19-21
19 ¶My bowels, my bowels! I am pained at my very heart; my heart maketh a noise in me; I cannot hold my peace, because thou hast heard, O my soul, the sound of the trumpet, the alarm of war.
20 Destruction upon destruction is cried; for the whole land is spoiled: suddenly are my tents spoiled, and my curtains in a moment.
21 How long shall I see the standard, and hear the sound of the trumpet?
21 How long shall I see the standard, and hear the sound of the trumpet?
Hahahahahahahaha so yeah.....it was pretty funny.
So, back to somethinga a little more important and a lot more spiritual...the most spiritual thing that's happened to me so far, was Sunday night when we had a fireside and one of the MTC presidency who is leaving to be the president of the Sao Paolo, Brazil MTC spoke. He gave THE best talk I have ever heard. Ever. It was Brother Robert Swenson...idk if you can look it up but if you can you should because I don't think I've ever hear a talk that made me want to get out into the field so badly. Afterwards we went and watched a devotional where they showed Elder Bednar's talk from the Christmas Devotional two years ago and that one I KNOW you can see which you HAVE to watch. It's called the Character of Christ and it's...life changing. Like really.
The weirdest, most confusing, most terrifying, and most unexpected thing that has happened so far actually happened my second night here when our branch presidency came and had a meeting with our zone to get to know us more. Afterwards the president had an interview with me and my companion individually. He then asked if we would be the next ZONE LEADERS!!!!! I couldn't believe it...the old zone leaders were leaving for their mission in the next few days so they had to have someone to replace them so they assigned us!! Tonight we have to greet the new missionaries and show them around and orientate them on what's going on haha So yeah, I'm pretty nervous just because I just got here and now I have to show the new, new missionaries how to do everything haha :)
Well, I gotta get going because we've been on a little too long but I just wanna tell everyone that I LOVE YOU!!!! I really miss everyone but I know that this is where I'm supposed to be. It's weird and I never thought I'd say this but I think that after another week of this, I'm going to be ready to go out into the field!! Sorry I couldn't email everyone individually but I really do love you all...yes even you Derek ;) haha
Your little missionary,