Thursday, October 29, 2015

Week 2!

Hey Mom!  This week has been intense!  They work us hard here, which is good, I'm glad I have people to push me!  We have been really focusing on teaching lately.  When I got to the MTC I thought it would mostly be language classes, but that isn't the case.  We focus on teaching skills and studying the gospel a lot more than spanish.  I'm starting to feel kind of stressed, because I don't feel like I'm improving very fast...  I still have a ton to learn!  But I'm definitely getting better, bit by bit.  I just need to have faith that God is watching out for me, and no matter what happens, he will be there.

We had a devotional on Sunday where we watched a video of one of Elder Bednar's talks.  It was such an amazing talk!!  He talked about the characteristic of Christ, and how we should all try to emulate it.  The characteristic of Christ is turning outwards when the natural man would turn inwards.  Turning outwards is focusing on others and on their needs; focusing inwards means focusing on yourself.  Whenever something bad happened to Jesus, he focused on others.  When something bad happens to us, we tend to want attention, or we fuss, or we shut down, or we have terribly negative thoughts.  I want to try my best to turn outwards as much as I can, because that's what being a missionary is really all about.  I highly suggest watching this talk!  It applies to everyone, not just missionaries.  I don't know what the name of the talk is, but it was given by elder bednar in the provo MTC on Christmas, 2011.

Our district is really fun!  Elder Orrock is really funny, he can always make everyone laugh.  Elder Donkin is super weird, he always says the most bizarre things, it makes me laugh.  Elder Gonzales is really cool, he is pretty quiet and spiritual, and he rocks at basketball and soccer.  Elder Gunnell is great, he is our district leader!  He is funny, and really spiritual as well.  Hermana Reynosa is great, she is very headstrong and sassy.  Hermana Hollingshead is really nice and spiritual.  She's also kind of random sometimes.  Elder Henrie is my companion, and he's great.  He rants about random things in the funniest way, so our district loves to tease him about his pet peeves.  Its fun to work with him, because we both bring totally different talents, so we make up for each others weaknesses.  We make a good team. 

I love my district, and we're really close.  Sometimes I think we're a little too close, however, cause we get distracted talking to each other sometimes when we should be studying.  I'm really trying my best to be diligent and I'm trying my best to study even when everyone else is talking, but its really hard.  We study a ton every day, so a half an hour break to talk can seem harmless.  However, I know how important it is for me to be exactly obedient, so I am striving to improve my focus.

I didn't really get to talk about this last week, because I ran out of time.  Last week when me and Elder Henrie walked into our dorm we discovered that our roommates were both Mexican, and they didn't speak english.  It was really really difficult to live with people that we couldn't really communicate with.  However, as time has gone by, it has become a blessing to live with Hispanic people.  A couple days ago we tried to talk to them for the first time.  It was a struggle, and we didn't understand most of what they said, but it was a good experience.  They weren't mad.  They understood that spanish wasn't our first language.  They were really kind to us.  A couple days ago they left the MTC and we got entirely new Hispanic people that didn't speak any english!  We are trying to get to know these new Elders, and we are trying to push ourselves to speak more spanish.

The other day we had an activity called TRC.  I have no idea what it stands for, but basically what we do is we teach someone who isn't pretending to be an investigator.  They are being their real self.  It was really hard, but it was really cool.  It was the first time I gave an actually lesson, not a practice one.  We were teaching a lady who is already a member, but she had some troubles with her family, because her dad doesn't come to church.  We couldn't say exactly what we wanted to say, since it was in spanish, but we did teach with the spirit, so I think it worked out pretty well.  She gave us great feedback as well, so it was overall a success!

Today we got to go to the Mexico city temple!!!  It is so cool!  So beautiful!  It was an amazing experience!  I missed the temple, even though it has only been about 2 weeks, haha...  I felt the spirit very powerfully.  The celestial room is gorgeous, I wish you could see it!  The workers all speak spanish though, so it is a challenge, but a good challenge!  I can't wait until we get to go again.

Thats about it for this week!  Thank you for your prayers, I love you all so much!
The Temple!!!
One of my old roommates

This is our classroom

​The tienda (store)   We hang out here quite a bit when we have some free time.  There are a ton of fun Mexican snacks.  There are chips where there is one chip in the bag that is really spicy, and the rest are just mild.  The spicy chip turns your toungue blue so you can prove that you got the spicy one, haha.  Our district likes to buy a bag and pass it around to see who gets the spicy one.  It's way fun!

Thursday, October 22, 2015

MTC week one!

Well, here I am!  I am a missionary of the church of jesus christ of latter day saints!  I am so excited to be here!  I have loved getting to know the culture here better, I can tell that I am going to love serving in mexico!

So I'll start from the beginning.  I went through security in the salt lake airport without any troubles.  I walked over to the other missionaries and introduced myself.  I could tell that I would love to get to know each of them.  We got on the plane, and I sat by a very nice family, named the Parkinsons.  We talked throughout the flight and I was touched by their kindness.  We landed in Los Angeles and we had a 2 hour layover.  We got on the next plane, flew for several hours, then arrived at the mexico city airport.  It was crazy to walk out of that plane into an entirely different culture!  Everybody spoke spanish, so it was kind of hard to get out of customs and all that.  A mission worker flagged us down and took us to a bus.

Driving in mexico city is insane!!  It is basically a free for all.  There is honking all the time, and people just kind of do what they want.  I think they were the worst drivers I have ever seen!  It was really fun to drive through the city though, because we got a quick peek at the culture here in mexico.  It is very poor, there are a lot of homeless people everywhere.  It really humbled me and made me grateful for all of my many blessings.

We arrived at the MTC, and they took us in to eat in the comedor, which means cafeteria in english.  The comodor is interesting.  Every meal, breakfast, lunch, and dinner, they serve mexican food.  Most of the time I am okay with that, but mexican food for breakfast?  I'll have to get used to that...  The food is alright, they have to prepare a ton of it, so I guess it isn't as good as real mexican food.  But they feed me plenty, and thats what matters most, right?  Haha...

After that, I met my first companion!  His name is Elder Henrie, and he's a cool guy.  Elder Henrie played baseball in high school, and he really likes sports. He lived in pleasant grove. He is very competitive!  He gets really funny when he is losing in a game, ha...  He has a twin, but they are not identical.  Elder Henrie really wants to do his best, and really wants to be a good missionary.  He works hard.  I'm really glad I have a companion who is able to work hard like Elder Henrie.  He is also a funny guy, and we get along, even though we are very different.  I like music and more subdued activities, while he likes sports and competition, haha.  Its really cool that we can get along well despite our differences.  (Justin is his first name)

We went to bed, and woke up the next morning at 6:30.  We met one of our teachers, Hermano Palmer.  He is awesome!  He is a mexican guy who is tiny!  He is probably about 5 feet tall, but he can walk so fast!  My district is dumbfounded every time he takes us somewhere, because despite his tiny legs, he leaves all of us in the dust!  He mostly just speaks to us in spanish, so it was really hard at the beginning.  But he is actually a great teacher, and he pushes us to do our very best.  

We are in class pretty much all the time.  In the morning we usually have an hour of personal study time, about an hour of language study with the teacher, an hour of another lesson or teaching practice, and another hour of class time.  Then we have some more study time, and then an hour for lunch.  After that, we have an hour to work on spanish by ourselves, and another hour to practice spanish on the computers.  Then, we have gym time for 45 minutes or so.  Then we have a daily planning session, more study time, dinner, then companion study.  Finally, we give a lesson to someone pretending to be an investigator.  After that, we have some more study time, and we head to bed.  That is what a typical day looks like here!

Learning spanish has been difficult.  When we got here I felt overloaded with things I needed to learn.  We had to teach a lesson to someone on the second day in spanish, so the first couple days were rough.  Plus, people just speak spanish to us all the time, so we were lost for the first little while.  However, I have been improving a lot.  I now feel comfortable saying prayers in spanish, bearing my testimony in spanish, and talking about basic gospel principles in spanish.  True, it takes me a while to think about which words to say, but I am learning!  I am grateful to heavenly father for helping me, because I know that I could not have learned as much as I have without his help.  I hope to keep improving every day.  I know that by small and simple things, great things are brought to pass.  If I do my part and learn a little bit of spanish every day, I know that heavenly father will help make up for my weaknesses.

Gym time is an adventure.  You see, I'm a band and music person.  It has been years since I played any sports.  When we have gym time, we play sports.  We play basketball, ultimate frisbee, run, and all sorts of other active things.  Lets just say that I struggle a little bit, haha...  I'm pretty terrible.  But, amazingly, I still have a blast.  True, I'm totally out of shape, and terrible at sports, but I have fun.  I love the opportunity to do something I don't usually do.  The missionaries I play with are patient and don't get mad when I drop the ball.  Literally.

Teaching an investigator in spanish is hard!!  It is very frustrating when you know exactly what to say to help your investigator, but you don't know how to say it.  The first couple days were especially rough.  We had to read everything off of a piece of paper, so we didn't even know what we were saying all the time, let alone what the investigator was saying.  But I have a funny story about that.  Elder henrie and I came in the second day and started teaching.  We tried to say "We have another message for you!" He looked at us strangely.  He said, ''mesaje?"  Turns out we used the wrong word.  Mensaje means message.  Mesaje means massage.  We told him that we had another massage for him.

But we have been getting better.  Every lesson we give improves.  We both are starting to understand spanish, and are able to at least somewhat speak it.  I'm so grateful for God's help, for I know I would not be where I am without him.

Let me talk about the mexican people for a little bit.  Mexican people are very friendly, and very touchy at times.  They give you hugs and pat your back even if they don't know you.  Its a little weird, but I like it.  Also, they love fireworks.  They shoot off fireworks in mexico city like nothing else.  All day, every day, it doesn't matter if it is in the middle of the day or the middle of the night.  And the mexican fireworks are loud.  They sound just like cannons.  It is definitely odd, but people will be people I guess!

I don't have a ton of time, but let me just say that I love my district.  We have had some testimony meetings together where the spirit was incredibly strong.  In my district
I love you all a ton.  Thank you for your messages Mom and Dad, it was very nice to hear from you again.  I'm out of time, they only give us one hour to email every week.  But I know that God lives and that as you turn your heart unto him, he showers you with blessings.  I know that he gives us trials for a reason.  I know that with God's help we can do all things that he asks of us. (1 nephi 17 verses 50 and 51)  
Me and Elder H
La Tienda (Store)
​My district   From left to right: Me, Elder Henrie, Hermana Hollingstead, Hermana Reynosa, Elder Gunell, Elder Gonzales, Elder Donkin, and Elder Orrock.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

He Arrived Safe and Sound!

Hey Mom!  They are letting me write a quick email just to let you know that I made it here safely!  My missionary experience so far has been great!  I love it here in Mexico city, it is a very unique place.  I just got to the MTC a few hours ago, so I don´t know a ton about it, but from what I have seen so far it is an amazing place!  Everyone is really kind and patient, thank goodness, ha...  I´ll be sure to write you more on P-day, which will be on next Thursday, so a week from tomorrow.  Love you!