I only have 27 minutes YIKES here we go. this keyboard sucks. dangit they keys stick so forgive me.
Dearest family friends and fans,
Well, the MTC is an experience. One week in and i'm starting to feel a little more comfortable with my surroundings. The first few days were very hectic and I got lost plenty of times, but after singing many renditions of "we're all in this together" from high school musical I began to calm down. This is the hardest thing I have ever done and this is still the easy part! It is rewarding though, no doubt about that.
My biggest fears at this point in the game are not knowing the material, and not being a good missionary. Those are the same fears I had before I came out here so hopefully I can quench some of that action before I leave. I'm in district C-21. My teachers are Brother Haslem and Sister Thomas. Bro Haslem looks like a young Corey Feldman, without being a weirdo. And Sis Thomas has eyebrows of death that she will not hesitate to raise at you if she thinks you are saying something stupid. They're both great though, really helping us make some good progress. There are 7 people in my district. Four elders and a sister all going to Fresno, CA. Elders Dutson and McLaren (or as we call them Baby Bednar and McLaryingitis) are companions, from Utah and Yuma Az. Elders Yandow (our district leader, who we call Ed J. Yandow) and Anderson (Anderson the Manderson) are from Georgia and Colorado Springs. Sister Bolliger from Austin Texas is awesome. Her companion is from Tonga and didn't speak English, so she got reassigned districts and now Sis Bolliger is in a tripanionship with me and Sister Speakman (AZ acquaintance. Not surprising we were comps huh?) I know Heavenly Father played such a huge role in the formation of our disctrict and our companionship. We have complementary personalities and spirits, and that has been a huge strength for us during this crazy week.
We also found the two elders who are going to Jamaica with us, Elder Roberts and Elder Hoffman. They're in a different district but they seem way cool and I'm looking forward to getting to know them better in the field. The food here is pretty decent; they feed us like its going out of style so it seems like every hour we get food shoved in our faces and its totally buffet style. I've never eaten so consistently before in my life, it has taken some time getting used to it. The first day we were here we didn't understand the system of trying out different showers to find one with hot water, and taking showers at night when the pipes weren't frozen; so we all took icy cold showers at 6am. That was totally ridiculous. Thank goodness I've learned my lesson. Waking up at 630 am is not easy - not at all. In fact my stomach kinda gets sick every morning. But I'm just pushing forward. It's 7:04 am right now, and I've been up for an hour -- doing laundry.
Our zone leaders just got switched. They were Elder Barrett and Elder Graham - but they took off with there district to Oregon. Now we have Elders Platt and something else. Elder Platt looks like he's 45 years old if he's a day. Stress wrinkles and all! Picture Martin Short, and you have Elder Platt. I've never laughed so hard in my life. Sis Bolliger and Sis Speakman keep me on my toes and say the most hilarious things -- it is nice to have the humor aiding the transition into missionary life. It has been icy frozen tundra since I got here. Glad I have that coat, it literally snowed everyday thus far except for today. Beautiful, but ridiculously cold. In the mornings, we try our best to shout "Feel the rhythm, feel they rhyme. Get on up - its mission time!" I'm getting really excited for Jamaica. I ordered a Jamaica shirt at the bookstore here - all the cool kids are wearing the shirts from the country they are serving in so I wanted to get on the bandwagon. We had a jumper day as we called it, where we wore our jumpers with pride as any good sister missionary does. And we accidentally switched out our linens on a day we weren't supposed to, so now none of us have sheets while we sleep until next monday. AWESOME!
I know this is really long so if you're still reading congratulations. Our residence hall is 4m, 3rd floor. Our classroom is 8m, 3rd floor. We've been climbing A LOT of steps. I have calves of steel. We've had chances to practice our street contacting with Brother Fereday who was absolutely amazing in demonstrating how to go about it. Any time we practice a skill or get instruction like that its called a TE - teaching experience. We also had one TA - teaching appointment, with these solid volunteer investigators who were an old married couple. It felt just like teaching a real investigator the first lesson. It went well, and I'm looking forward to our next chance to do it. The scenario we planned for they ended up switching on us, so we really went in blind to the "house" and just followed the Spirit. I also got my blood drawn for an HIV test for Jamaica. Thrilling.
I wanted to share a neat and scary experience I had my first night here. As a laid down trying to fall asleep on my bunk, I began to get a deep and dark feeling of claustrophobia. I've never felt that fear before in my life, but all of the sudden I became very aware of how small our room was, how small our beds were, how small the MTC was, and that I felt trapped, and needed to get out of here as soon as possible. When Joseph Smith talked about the unseen power siezing him in the sacred grove while he prayed, I never really understood that. I know I still don't, but I felt like this was my version of a dark power siezing me. It was scary - and alarming. But it left as soon as it came, and I know it was the adversary's attempt at scaring away a servant of the Lord.
Conference was amazing. I don't even have time to talk about that other than to say Scott's talk and Wilford Andersen's talks were BRILLIANT. I was challenged to ask questions and look for my answers in conference. I got every answer and then some! I have felt the Spirit so strong here and also felt so many hardships and difficulties. I've really been contemplating the atonement, my Savior, my salvation, and my purpose. I am here to invite others to come unto Christ. I am so aware of my weaknesses, but look forward to learning even more to rely on my Heavenly Father to get me through what trials may come.
This is the best decision I have ever made. Sister Jones, our orientation sister just left for her mission in New Zealand. The advice she gave us was advice she received from a Korean sister at temple square. "PUNCH THEM IN THE FACE! PUNCH THEM IN THE FACE WITH THE SPIRIT!" So that is what I'm going to do :) I know there are people God is preparing for me in Jamaica, who are ready for the gospel and looking for answers - whether they know it yet or not. I am striving to move forward with confidence.
I commit everyone who is reading this to HELP YOUR LOCAL MISSIONARIES. This work is hard and we cannot do it alone. Try to do something this week that will help them invite others to come unto Christ.
I also want to ask -- what can I do for you? Let me know and I will do my best to help - through prayer and whatever else.
Keep the prayers and letters coming. They are sincerely and deeply appreciated. I cannot check email but for one half hour on P Day and as you can tell I try to use most of that for writing. So utilize dearelder.com and write me dangit!
I love you all. Keep in touch. I am off to change my laundry.