Sunday, September 29, 2013
made it to paraguay! 32 hours of traveling killed me though. we've just been doing training and stuff today, and i meet my companion tomorrow. i was able to talk to a few people in the airports, and on the planes and stuff, in both english and spanish, which was cool. don't have much time, but just wanted to say hi.
me and elders tate and bowman at the temple, cus the three of us are gonna be companions for about an hour on monday morning, after elder davis leaves but before i leave.
the guys from my district and some of the guys from 11D
Only 4 more days! My plane leaves at 8:08 on monday morning, so I'll probably be leaving the MTC at around 4 am. I'm so stoked to get out of here, and actually do stuff. We went to the temple today, and afterwards, we walked out and saw some missionaries we didn't recognize, which was odd, as all the missionaries that went today were in my zone, and I can at least recognize all of them. After a few seconds of thought, we realized that they weren't in the MTC, and were just missionaries assigned to Mexico City. After we realized that, somebody said, 'Oh, they're real missionaries.' While I think it's a bit funny that we make a distinction, it does feel as though it is legitimate, and I can't wait to be a real missionary.
This week was pretty sweet. On Monday was the Mexican independence day, so on Saturday we all went to the auditorium for an hour or two and watched a bunch of Mexican dances and then on Sunday night, we watched the 'grito', which is where the Mexican president goes out on the balcony in the main square in Mexico City and yells '¡Viva Mexico!' and a ton of other stuff and then everybody watching yells '¡Viva!' and its broadcasted on tv and stuff. It was a pretty cool experience. After the grito, they told us to go right back to our dorms so that we didn't die, cus apparently a ton of people shoot guns in the air, and the bullets gotta come back down eventually.
We taught Pamela again this week, and had an awesome lesson. We brought her a pack of cookies, and basically taught Alma 32 except comparing the word to cookies instead of a seed. I feel like we really got to her, and she understood what we were trying to teach, which at the beginning seemed like it would be quite difficult, but it went awesomely. We're done teaching Luis, since everyone had committed him to baptism, and now we're teaching Julio. I haven't actually taught him yet, but from what the people who have taught him said, he's pretty tough.
I spoke twice on sunday. I was initially told I was speaking in district meeting, and then also ended up speaking in sacrament meeting. The clock is wrong in the room where we had district meeting, so the other speakers took longer than they were supposed to on accident, so all I had time to do was share the story at the end of Acts 8, about the eunech, and bore my testimony. When sacrament meeting came around, President Jewell realized he had made a mistake, and that Elder Bowman was supposed to speak when he had not been informed earlier. Because he hadn't been informed earlier, he had not brought his talk to sacrament meeting, and wasn't prepared to speak. I volunteered to take his place, as I still had at least five minutes of material I could speak on, and it went pretty well, I think. In sacrament meeting I talked about Alma 32 and also shared the story in Mark 9:23-24. It was actually pretty funny that it happened that way, cus as we were walking to priesthood meeting (which is first) President Jewell was joking about having me speak twice, and giving two completely different talks. When it actually happened that way, I thought it was humorous.
On tuesday, we had a devotional from Elder de Hoyos, who is in the area presidency. I had a hard time paying attention, but the district devotional review we had was awesome. District leader Davis had me lead the discussion, cus I was in his chair, and he said he couldn't lead without his chair, so I did. I always prefer the district reviews over the actual devotionals, cus I often don't pay attention very well, but then in the review, I can pay attention fine cus I'm participating, and everyone brings up all the best points, so it's like I didn't miss anything. I probably shared around half of Matthew 10 at various points during the review. It's the chapter where Christ is instructing his apostles, and it's awesome cus it's amazingly applicable to missionary work.
trivia question of the week: where is Joseph Smith mentioned in the bible?
Sunday, September 22, 2013
the MTC installed a swimming pool!
getting in touch with my artistic side
sign on campus that i thought was funny
the food here just keeps getting better and better; we've had those taquitos a few times in the past week, and everything else is improving too. on topmof that, Mexican independence day is this weekend, so the comedor's been really festive all week, and there's been mexican candy out every day. i feel like everything's just now picking up, as the MTC has only been in service for a couple months. some guys that were leaving last week told us that the food had been consistently horrible when they got here, and now it's only horrible about once a week or so, so i'm definitely glad i got here when i did. i still can't wait to leave though. one day when i was showering i wrote a parody of part of that world from little mermaid in my head. here's what i got so far:
I want to be where the investigators are,
I want to see, want to see them learning.
Walking around in those -what do you call them?- street clothes!
up where they learn,
up where we teach,
up where we invite others to come unto Christ (you gotta sing that part really fast)
I want to be,
out of the MTC,
part of that woooooorld
but really, the next two weeks could not go fast enough. two of the elders in my district, Elder Peñate and Elder Loertscher, got three extra days tacked onto the end of their time at the mtc, cus there's a GA touring their mission, and their mission president wants to be there when they arrive, so they leave three days late. i guess i'm better off than them, but i still can't wait til i'm out of here. We're done teaching 'Esmerelda', one of our 'investigators', and we've started teaching a new one, 'Pamela'. it was all i could do to not bust up laughing during the lesson, cus of some of the things she said, like how she had met with the elders before but only because she thought they were cute, and then she was embarrassed and never let them in again. all she cares about are friends and money, so it's a bit tough to teach her. i suppose it'll be a good experience though.
every sunday, we watch an old mtc devotional, and some mormon movie. it's funny watching movies in an auditorium full of missionaries, cus whenever somebody kisses or anything romantic happens or is said, everyone makes a huge deal about it. the devotional we watched this week was awesome too, it was one that elder holland gave in January. after the video we said our goodbyes to district 11D, cus they left this week. their class was across the hall from ours, and they were mostly super cool. i'll send a pic of them in a different email, cus this one doesn't have anymore room.
one day in the past week, i don't remember which one, hermana haws was sick so she had her boss come teach us. his name is hermano brodegard (no idea if that's spelt right or not) and he's super chill. he told us about cortez who conquered the new world, and how he burnt his boats when he arrived to motivate his men. he was generally a horrible man, but we can learn a lesson in determination from him. we decided to 'burn our english boats' and speak only spanish. it sorta fizzled after the first day, but we have as a district been speaking spanish more than we had been before, so it was good. another day hermano flores was out of town, and he had hermano silva come teach us. we had teacher led TALL (technology assisted language learning) and the first thing he did was take Elder Peñate's name badge as a disguise and walk through every single tall lab to make sure that everyone was doing tall, and not other stuff. it was pretty funny.
the devotional yesterday was given by the area seventy, who spoke in spanish and then was translated by my branch president. he said that he had realized he needed to go on his mission when he was 23, but was leaving behind a girlfriend. she decided to go on a mission too, and got called to the same mission he did. they ended up not seeing each other once during their whole missions. they did, however, return home on the same day, and on the same plane. he continued with more coincidences. they were married in the same temple, had the same children, and even lived in the same house. it was pretty funny. he then mentioned that we all must have the gift of tongues, because everyone was laughing when he spoke, and before it was translated.
this week has been pretty sweet. we're done teaching our first 'investigator' and now he's one of our teachers, and he's awesome. we're now teaching both of our teachers as 'investigators' and it's an awesome experience. you'd think it'd be boring or not really effective because they're just pretending, but that's not the case at all, when i was teaching 'esmerelda' on monday i felt the spirit and God's love for her so strongly. i think it helps that they pretend to be actual people, either one of their friends or someone they taught on their mission, cus it just makes it a bit more real. we teach 'luis' for the first time today, and i'm a bit worried, cus the two companionships that taught him on monday said that he was super tough this time around. after the first two groups tried to teach him, we had class with him, and he taught us how to connect with the investigators better, and that we need to make sure that they feel our love and the spirit before we teach them anything, so hopefully we'll be able to utilize that knowledge to get through to him. our district was in charge of a musical number during sacrament meeting, and we did a quartet of 'Soy un hijo de Dios', and i sang the bass. when we were practicing, i could never find my note when i came in, so when we actually did it, i was super nervous and sang really weakly the whole time, even though i had been in tune for most of the song. it's a pretty awesome experience being here though; if i ever have any doubts or any struggles, they've always been addressed within a day or two by a devotional or something, which has been building my testimony immensely. it's like, i was worried about becoming somebody else on the mission, and not really being the me that i loved to be before when i got back, and then we happen to watch a devotional by elder holland from two years ago that addresses it directly. i also wish that i had known more about everything before i came out here, that i had spent more time studying and learning, cus now that i'm immersed in missionary life, all i want to do is learn all the cool stuff in d&c and pearl of great price and the bible and other auxiliary works, but i can't, cus i have to devote my study time to learning the lessons, and learning how to teach the investigators better and stuff, and it's kinda hard. i still love it here, but i'm also getting a bit tired of it, and just want to be in paraguay already. if i was fluent, i would already be out in the field, but i still have 4 weeks left. i feel like people who are already at an intermediate level when they come in should just be here for 4 weeks, instead of 6, cus then i'd at least be halfway done here. but oh well, i guess this is just the way that it is. i can't send any pictures right now, cus i forgot to bring my cord with me, but i may send some later today.
Sunday, September 1, 2013
don't use dear elder, i heard they take like three weeks to get here cus they print them at the provo mtc, then send them to the mexico city mtc. just use email for now, and you can write me letters when i get to paraguay if you want. i don't think i can get packages here, but i'm pretty sure if you just send them to the mission home in paraguay (which you already have the address for) i'll be able to get them just fine when i get there. please send me a copy of my PB, i don't know how to print stuff out here. i did get a little bit of sleep on the plane, and i slept during the devotional that night, which is a shame, as i heard later that it was really good. i have met the CCM (MTC in spanish) president (it's pratt, not platt), and spoken to him briefly on a couple of occasions. i gave the opening prayer in spanish in a meeting for all the new missionaries which he was conducting, and he eats in the comedor on sundays. my branch president is an awesome guy as well, his name is Elder Jewell. he was born in mexico and speaks mostly spanish to us, but he's fluent in english as well. most of the food here is awesome. for breakfast i usually just have cereal cus me and my companion usually get there late. for lunch they always give us meat and then we can grab tortillas and beans and rice and salsa and make super legit mexican tacos. dinner is usually pretty good too. both elders and sisters live in the houses, and only elders live in the dorms. i'm in one of the dorm buildings. my companion, elder Tate, is awesome. he's from utah and is going to the houston south mission. i think usually they try to pair you with people going to the same mission, but since we're in the intermediate class, there's not much option to do that. in class, our teacher speaks almost exclusively in spanish, and i understand most of it, which is sweet. i think a lot of the mtc employees speak a little bit of english, but they're typically much more comfortable with spanish. all the elders/hermanas in my district either have at least 3 years of spanish in school or they spoke spanish at home, so we try to communicate in spanish a lot. my teacher is from highland, and actually knows austin and rachel. her name is hermana haws. in class, we study spanish a little bit, but mostly we just study the gospel and how to teach and when we study spanish, we just study like church specific stuff and apply it to our work. on sunday we watched an mtc devotional that elder bednar gave last year, and when his wife was speaking she talked about service, and said that we as missionaries are ''taking spiritual casseroles to the world'', which i thought was funny and wanted to share. we also had an awesome devotional from the area president, elder johnson, yesterday which was really sweet. he talked about how this is the Lord's mission, not ours, and we need to act like it, and how we need to practice what we preach completely, for example, if we're going to teach someone about God and then ask them to pray to know if the things we taught are true, then we need to have done the same, and ask in our prayers whether the principles are true or not. at first it seemed to me like it would display a lack of faith, as i've known they are true, but when he explained it it made a ton of sense and is such a powerful principle. my companion and i have been teaching an 'investigator' (an employee of the CCM) and it's awesome, i don't know that i'm ready yet but i can't wait to get to paraguay and start teaching for real. i've seen two girls that were in my classes in BYU, and a girl that was living in nanjing at the same time i was there, and went to the same branch. i've attached a picture of my district, a couple pictures of me and my companion, a picture of me and elder peñate (he's in my district, he's a super friendly guy and always has a huge grin on his face), and a picture of the hill behind the CCM cus it's a sweet view cus all the houses are different colors. we're only allowed to take pictures on p-day so i don't have a ton, but hopefully that will do. we get to go to the temple every other p-day and my district got to go today. we did everything in spanish, which was a bit difficult, but it was still a good experience. the architecture there is sweet, as far as my understanding goes, it was built to resemble a mayan temple. it has sweet designs on the outside, you might be able to see them in my pictures but i'm not sure. the elder i taught with on the plane isn't in my district, cus he's in a begginer class, but i have seen him a few times and he's going to the same mission as me, so i'm sure we'll be seeing more of each other. everyone has to write a 5 minute talk every week, and then the branch president tells us who's going to speak at the beginning of sacrament meeting, which is pretty cool, cus then everyone will have five talks already prepared when they're on the mission. they also are supposed to be in spanish. there is often quite a bit of english thrown in, as my district is the only intermediate district in the branch. also, i discovered that i get home from my mission on the 28th of June, 2015. i think it's cus of the way transfers work. each transfer is 6 weeks long, and 6 doesn't go evenly into 104 (2 years), so my mission will only be 102 weeks. for native speaking missions, they're only in the mtc for two weeks, so then 6x+2 goes into 104 evenly, but since i'm here for 6 weeks, it's different. also, all my short sleeve shirts are huge. the neck fits, but the sleeves are too wide and the body is too wide and too long. it's not a huge deal, and i'm not sure if i'll be able to buy shirts that fit better in paraguay or not, but if not, it'd be swell if you could send me some. they also gave me a filtered waterbottle, which is guaranteed for two years, so i guess i didn't really need the other one. a couple of the pairs of socks that i brought from home rubbed the skin off my feet in a couple places, but i think i only brought two or three pairs like that, so i should be fine with socks. i think i covered everything i wanted to, so here you go.
i made it! On the plane, me and another elder taught a lady on the plane. I sat down across the aisle from her, and she asked me if we were students or what, cus there were a ton of other missionaries, and i told her who we were and what we were doing, then another elder sat down next to her, and asked her if she wanted to hear about our church, and she said sure. we talked to her about a ton of stuff, and i had my scriptures out and showed her a few relevant scriptures. She talked about how she was dissatisfied with catholicism and seemed really interested in mormonism. we ended up giving her a pass-along card, and getting her email. when we got to Mexico City, I realized I was one of two of the missionaries that knew spanish, out of about 40, so I had to interpret everything for everybody, from the mtc people who were waiting for us. this is supposed to be quick, so I gotta go.