Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Week 2 MTC - Semaña dos

Week two, wow it really does feel like it is flying by. I've learned more, grown more, but still go to the exact same place every minute of every day. Which I don't really mind haha. Last week we went to the Provo temple after emails. It was really great, and it is crazy how well people treat the missionaries. One of the workers we were talking to said straight up that in his opinion Reynosa was the best place we could be. Not that I believe there is a best mission haha but I am so excited for that area I really am. Tuesday Elder Ballard gave the devotional. My district wanted to sing in the choir for the tuesday devotional. So we got on a bus to main campus(We spanish speakers live 5 minutes away from the MTC) 3 hours early. We had to sprint to get in line for the chance to sing(they only let 150 people in. Luckily we got in and got to practice Joesph's First Prayer, and got to sing for the devotional. It was really cool. The best news came on Friday however. My visa went through!! And, I only have to take the train down to SL this morning instead of flying to Vegas like some other people I have talked to. Myself and another elder are going together. It is a huge relief, it sucks everyone else in the district still has to wait and worry though. Class is not 4 hours a day with a teacher and two investigators. Brother Johnston and Pliler. They are both really amazing people, and fantastic at acting as investigators. 

My companion ships out today to the Guatemala MTC. Which means I have to move to a different room for a week, only to move to main campus the 8th. Lame. My new companion is Elder Tilton. He is a cool guy, kinda crazy though haha. I am still keeping up with my studies, and readings. I get all your letters so I want to thank you for them. It is cool to be able to read during the week. Spanish is getting better, although it is not even a medium speed process. I enjoy it though it is fun to me. Brother Pliler, who was our investigator for the first week, is four months off his mission. The guy is minoring in jazz music of something, he plays the piano ridiculously. And he is studying to be a neurosurgeon, and he is a total bro with us. He has this CTR ring that looks super worn and gold it just looks sweet. One of our elder's mother sent all of our district new Spanish ctr rings. So I decided I'm going to wear mine until it looks like his. I gotta take some pictures of them, and more things. I just am in a rush this tuesday. 

Let me now try to describe my district...
Elder Fillmore-my companion leaving today. He is the best possible roommate, clean and on time always. But he says some real stupid things sometimes. And by stupid I mean it makes no sense
Elder Tilton-He loves basketball and sports. Sometimes it seems as if that's all he cares about haha. I kid he is a smart guy, and from Laredo, literally half a mile from the border and he worked checking trains on the border so he has crazy information and stories.
Elder Matheny- From Georgia with a southern accent that is great. Really good at golf. Small huy but hilarious. Probably the only one that I can just chill with and joke with
Elder Brenamen-ohhhhh elder brenamen. He is the Canadian and we remind him of that alot. He has national pride yessir. He is fairly loud and loves to be right.

Elder Shipp-The tall guy if you have seen the group pic. He is so awesome. He is from Oakland and  he's a convert. He is just hilarious some of the stuff he says.

Elder Eskaran- He is a native hawiaan which I don't think I have ever met really. He is the nicest guy you'll ever meet, and he really, really loves his family

Elder Smith-Yeah two smiths in the district can get confusing, but he is a cool guy. He is smart, and from Park City. 

And elder Baker- Our district leader, he is from a town of like population 20 in Wyoming. He is, well..he's yolked. He bailed hay and the guy is buff.
That's the elders, and I wouldn't be in any other district. 

I love hearing from everyone and I hope everyone is doing great!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

MTC Provo - First Week Of My Mission

What a week. I am overwhelmed with so many different emotions and things to write I hope that I can get everything that I want to down.
So my arrival was at 1:30. Mom and I went to some Mexican place for lunch that served missionaries for free on the day that they report. I then was dropped off curbside and immediately was escorted through different rooms to receive my books, name tags, and language stuff. I was on the bus headed to west campus within 15 minutes. At the Provo MTC there is a main campus, and a west campus, west campus is a short bus ride to wyview housing where all the Spanish speaking missionaries reside. I was told to drop my bags in my room and then was immediately taken to my classroom. I met my companion(elder Fillmore) and my teacher brother Johnston. My teacher is amazing, he really cares about us as missionaries. He is really passionate and teaches Spanish really well. He rarely speaks English though, which is fun. In the evening we participated in a role-playing exercise. Now that was the first day, how about the average day...
Wake up at 6:30. Get ready and be at class at 7:00(about a five minute walk from our rooms). Study for 45 minutes on your own until breakfast at 7:45. Eat until 8:15 and return to class for 3 hours of studying items of your choice, with a mock investigator lesson thrown somewhere in there for about 20 minutes. at 11:15, it is daily planning time/more study until 12:30 for lunch. I usually choose to get a sack lunch(a lunch where you pick from pre-packaged foods) so that I can eat after gym time. Gym time(including preparation time before and after) is from 1:00-2:45. Class(this being the only three hour period where we get a lecture from our teacher) goes until 5:45 at which point we eat dinner and then return to class at 6:15 and do PCI(Personal(1 hour) Companion, and Language study) until 9:30 when we return to our rooms and shower/write in our journals and such. Quiet time at 10:15, lights out at 10:30. Repeat.
I'll go a little more in depth now, Waking up is not NEARLY as hard as i expected it to be. I wake up and have energy practically all day. Right now in the first 3 hours of the 9 hour class day, we teach this guy named Raul, who literally only "knows" and speaks Spanish. So communication was nearly impossible at the beginning but now we.re getting the hang of it. My companion and I usually prepare our lesson beforehand and I study Spanish for the rest of the time. The west campus food isn't like incredible. But some people make it sound worse than it. It is set up like the canon center and I actually enjoy eating with my district. Oh my district! So much to tell haha they are a crazy bunch. I might not have pictures this week because we cannot figure out how to upload them:/ but I'll have them next week for sure. There is nine people(one trio) in my district and another district that is fluent in Spanish in our zone. We are all pretty close in the district. I mean there is just some characters in here I'm telling ya. They probably mess around a bit too much haha. I remember thinking before the MTC "oh high school Spanish won't help me i forgot all that." N.o. I remember quite a bit about conjugation and a lot of verbs. Not so much vocabulary. But with my limited knowledge, I still have most of my district coming to me for questions when the teacher isn't here, even though I am seriously one tiny, tiny step above clueless haha. I feel like I have learned so much in just 6 days as far as the language. I honestly feel like I am already experiencing my first taste of the gift of tongues, or in Spanish el don de lenguas. We have focused a lot on church and missionary words and phrases. I can remember a lot of stuff, the challenge for me is to be able to create sentences and say them immediately when responding. I can almost always understand what my teacher says, I just have to respond so, so slowly haha. But I believe that it will come with time. Anyways my district has really good guys, all with strong testimonies. I feel very blessed. 

The MTC is unlike any place I have ever been. The spirit is just unbelievably strong here. Everywhere I go I just feel happy. Not to say it is not hard work because it is. But I really honestly love it here. Like a lot haha. Learning new things everyday, being surrounded by kind people and the Spirit, and everything is structured for us time-wise. It is just awesome I can't think of a better way to say it. I am so excited for the weeks to come and eventually the flight to Mexico. It feels so far in the future kind of like the weeks leading up to my mission. 
Gym time is alright, we have these large inflatable igloo-type things that have basketball, volleyball courts, and some weight-room-type stuff. It is always nice to be able to run around after so much sitting and studying.
During PCI, I do my 5*5*5 challenge, which is our branch president challenging us to read 5 chapters of the BOM, 5 pages in PMG, and 5 pages in the missionary handbook daily. In our time here, that would complete those first two and the handbook is something they really stress.
Speaking of which, the rules are huge. Nobody ever exaggerated when talking about how serious the MTC is about its rules. Some of the most difficult to keep are as follows: Don't call fellow missionaries "bros" "man" "dude" or when referring to a group "you guys." Or their first name. That is SO hard to do haha. Awake at 6:30(that snooze button is still tempting haha). Always be sitting or standing while studying. And always have your top button buttoned and tie uptight. There are more of course but those I break most frequently haha.
I have so many stories from just a week here. I can't even imagine what this week will bring. I just want you all to know how much I love you and hope you are doing well. To my family I miss you guys but I am so excited about the work that I am doing currently. I appreciate all your letters and prayers so much. I can't wait to here how you all are doing.
Mucho amor,
Elder Smith