Just a little note to report on the first day at the MTC. When I arrived, I was escorted around by a sister who was getting ready to go to Singapore. I got an ID card photo taken, got my nametag, took my bags to my room, etc. Then I met with my district, did some orientation videos, and met my companion. Her name is Hermana Frandsen, and so far I like her a lot. She is from Provo - you can practically see her house from the MTC (and you can see the place where she used to work.) We room with the two other sisters in our district, Hermanas Dalley and Brewster. Hermana Frandsen is headed to Conception with me. Her mana Dalley is going to the Chile Osorno mission (with the penguins,) and Hermana Brewster leaves in three weeks for the MTC in Guatemala and then she'll go on to Nicaragua. I love them all, and though I'm sure once we get more settled in we'll find things out about one another that might cause disagreements, we have all been so grateful to be blessed with wonderful companeras and roommates. One of the last things we did today was to participate in a "Teaching Experience." Large groups of missionaries met together in a room that had a staged living room area. The instructor would give us a little background information on the "investigator" we'd be meeting, and then some more-seasoned sisters would demonstrate a door approach and the beginning of a first meeting. Then the instructor would pause and ask how we thought we could invite the "investigator" to come to Christ, and he would open it up for us to try to teach My favorite "investigator" was named Arnold. He was an older man, kind of a recluse, a photographer and a nature lover. He had just lost his wife and was very lonely and downtrodden. He loves the Bible and knows it well and has a great love for the Savior, but is a bit cynical because of the hypocrisy of the world. I was blessed to have the opportunity to share my testimony of eternal families with him, and he seemed to be receptive to the idea and especially excited about seeing his wife again. It was a cool experience. Anyway, I have too much to say and too little time to do so, so I will leave you now. My P-day is Tuesday, so look for an email then!
Needless to say, I could hardly wait to open my email to see if she had written again, but I had to go to a rehearsal. As I was driving to rehearsal, I opened my email on my phone and found that she had written, but I didn't have time to read it before the rehearsal began. I read bits and pieces of it during the few short breaks that we had, but didn't get to finish reading it until after 10 this evening. Here is what she had to say in her email:
Tuesdays are my P-days in the MTC, so be looking for my emails every Tuesday! Some really important items of business before I start to tell you about my week (just in case I run out of time at the end - only 30 minutes for email, aaah!). First of all, PLEASE WRITE TO ME!!!!! I accept DearElder (free to you and delivered to me daily from dearelder.com), handwritten letters, and packages of all sizes. It is truth that mail is like "paper gold" around here, and it is REALLY MOTIVATING and makes me feel SO LOVED! (Kudos to Mom Cannon, AnnMarie, Anna, and Megan for being the first to send me letters, you guys rock and I really appreciated it! - *ahem* Notice no letters from mi familia... *ahem*) My compañera even got one letter from a friend that was only a few sentences long, because he wanted her to get more mail than her companion. So if that's all you do then do it! :) I love you!
Okay, so first week at the MTC. Pretty rough. I don't love the MTC yet - not convinced that I ever really will, despite the many assurances about it that I received. But I do love my compañera, Hermana Frandsen. She is from Provo and lives only about three blocks from here. Her family attends church in the chapel just across the street from the MTC and today on our walk back from the temple (LOVE the Provo temple, by the way, it's so beautiful!) we saw her 16-year-old brother out training for Cross Country. Anyway, she is awesome and we love each other, and she is headed to Concepcion with me so we are both excited to maybe have someone to travel with, as well as a friendly face in country if we ever get the chance to work together again. We room with the two other Hermanas in our district, Hermanas Dalley and Brewster. Hermana Dalley is headed to Chile as well, but to the Osorno mission, down south with the penguins. Hermana Brewster leaves us for the Guadalajara MTC in tres semanas (dos semanas now) and then she goes on to Nicauragua. I love all my district sisters and there have been no roommate-oriented disagreements thus far, which is a blessing. We all go to bed on time and get up on time and we're quiet and clean and it makes it pretty easy to get along.
On Thursday we met our branch presidency and although one of the counselors, President Bradford, is very strict and stern (and a little scary), the other counselor and his wife (President and Sister Davis) are clearly ecstatic to be working with the missionaries and President Bradley and his wife are so loving and kind and clearly in tune with the Spirit. They called me to be the coordinating sister over all the Hermanas in our branch, which basically means that I am responsible for welcoming any newcomers, reporting to the branch presidency on the status of the sisters in the branch at Branch Council each Sunday, and making sure each Hermana is doing well, feeling happy, obeying the mission rules, working hard, and having all their needs met. And letting President Bradley know if there are any problems. I am supposed to make nightly visits to all my branch sisters in their residence hall, but as myself and my roommates are currently the only Hermanas in our branch, I don't have a whole lot to coordinate. It also makes it really hard for me to be out of the loop. Sister Davis told us that our branch traditionally is devoid of sisters, so I don't know that it is likely that I will ever have more than just the four of us to watch over, but I pray every day to better serve my sisters and to know how to best fulfill my calling.
Spanish is difficult. Not because I can't learn it, but because by Friday we were teaching lessons to a progressive investigator (AKA our teacher, Hermana Call, acting the role of Nellie, an investigator she taught on her mission to AZ) all in Spanish, and those lessons take place nearly every day of the week. It is so frustrating sometimes to try to convey your knowledge and testimony to someone when you don't have the skills to do so. It makes us sometimes yearn to be speaking English, because we are really just ready to go out there and teach and we won't be able to do that for soooooooo long. But our last lesson we taught without a pre-written script. Mind you, it did not go very well. But I am understanding more and more of what Nellie says to us in each lesson and that is encouraging. I just pray that we can learn to teach by the Spirit (in Spanish), because that will be the only way that Nellie can come to learn that what we are (attempting) to teach her is true.
I am almost out of time! Remind me to tell you about how Hermana Frandsen and I were comparing a mission to the Plan of Salvation, and if you want to send me addresses, pictures, or anything, please send them in the mail because I have SO MUCH MORE TIME to read them that way.
I love you and miss you all. WRITE TO ME!!!!
P.S. Mama, I need some more sweaters. If you could please send my bright blue v-neck cardigan, my purple crewneck sequined cardigan, my pink 3/4 sleeve with the rosettes, and any other cute ones I'd really appreciate it. Along with my dark brown skinny snakeskin belt if it ever got found.... I have more but I'll write it by hand. Goodbye I love and miss you!