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.

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