Hey Friends and Family!!
We finally got a letter from Tim and thought that we would send it on to you. We sure were glad to hear from him! You can see by the letter why we are so proud of him and how important going on a mission was to him. We love you all and will forward more as we get them.
Danny and Tracy
Sorry it's taken so long for you guys to hear from me. We only get to email/write on our P-days (Thursdays) and we didn't get one last week.
Wow, where to even begin! First of all, thank you soooo so much for all the Dear Elders you're sending. I really love them and they help me out a lot. Please keep sending them, I love getting mail. I leave for Paraguay on November 2. I'm released on September 6, 2011. Start counting down!
The first day here was so insane. I checked in, verified my information, and got my packet (my room key, fancy shmancy nametag, etc). Then we dropped my stuff off in my room and went to my classroom. We will have the same classroom with the same 2 teachers and same 12 missionaries with me the whole time I'm here. The 12 of us are called a "district", and we're district E in branch 50 (doesn't mean anything, it's just for organizational purposes). We have 4 awesome Sister missionaries in our district, which apparently is uncommon. In the classroom, I met my companion, Elder Short.
He is a great Elder (we call everyone Elder/Sister here, they told us that the "guys" and "dudes" are all back home dating our girlfriends hahah). He's from Toledo, Ohio, and we're getting along great! Then we went to orientation where the MTC presidency talked to us and we got aquainted.
Thursday morning when we had class like usual, we opened with a prayer and our teacher said "Well I hope you all enjoyed that prayer, because it's the last one any of you will be saying in English for the next 2 years". I'm
sorry, I don't think I heard you correctly, can you repeat that? I could have sworn you said we will be praying in Spanish by tonight...How crazy, right?! As crazy as that sounds, by that night and ever since then we have all been saying our prayers in Spanish. That's about the rate at which we have been learning Spanish. Last Sunday was fast Sunday, and from the time I got here until then, I was already able to bear my testimony in Spanish in sacrament meeting (which is here in the MTC). The Spirit is so strong here, we are all truly blessed with the gift on tongues in every way possible.
I really love it here, but I'm so busy! We're up at 6:30 every morning, have to be in class by 7, have a good 3 hours of class each day, and at LEAST 3 hours of study time every day. Holy smokes. But I'm doing alright, the Lord takes care of His missionaries. Tuesdays are busy days for us. We have a workshop called the TRC (Training Resource Center) every Tuesday. Members in the area volunteer to come in and be trained to act as investigators, and we go contact them (in Spanish) and teach them Lesson 1 (not yet in Spanish). Each time the scenario is different - for example, this week we acted like we were contacting people in a park and went to their house to teach them later, and the volunteers are all given back stories and specific doubts to express and things, so it's like really being in the mission field. It's incredibly helpful. And then at night, we have devotional where either members of the Quorum of the 12 come and talk to us, or some other well-known person. This week was President Hinckley's son, Richard Hinckley, and his wife. What a marvelous experience! They are so smart and such spiritual people, it was a treat to hear from them.
The lessons we're learning to teach are definitely NOT memorizing doctrines and reciting talking points to investigators. The first lesson is about the Restoration and the Joseph Smith story. But we are taught to make it very personal to the invesigators. We ask them questions, we find out about their lives so we can better tend to their needs and answer their questions, we learn techniques on how to address certain questions, and so much more.
It's so in-depth, it's ridiculous. Much more than I thought it would be, but I like it much better this way. It helps us to really get to know our investigators and connect with their lives, so we truly will love them and want to help them which is probably the number 1 rule of missionary work. Love the people you teach.
On Sunday, I was assigned to be district leader! Assigned, not called, because we already have callings - a missionary. But it is an excellent opportunity to serve the 12 missionaries in my district! I meet with the branch presidency once a week, who are all so nice. I get specific information and the district comes to me if they have any questions, I'm the first resource (besides the Lord, of course) for resolving disputes between companions, and things like that. I really love it, except it's hard when
you have to tell somebody to stay on task or something, because I love my district so much it's hard to be the bad guy. (Now I know what it feels like to be a dad! or...kinda. haha).
Man, there is so much to tell! I just love it here in the MTC and am learning a ridiculous amount. Today we're doing laundry and get to kinda relax and hang out a bit, which is a nice break. And we get to go to the temple today, which I am WAY excited for. I've been dying to go. We go every Thursday at 2:30.
Well I only have 2 minutes left, so I gotta go. We get half an hour to email so everybody gets a turn. But just know that I'm doing quite well, loving it here, learning so much, and enjoying the presence of the Spirit as strongly as it is here. Can't wait to get out in the field, and I'll write you guys next week! Keep the letters coming, please please please, I love hearing from everybody. I love you all and can't wait to see you again!
P.S. Please don't forget to forward this to everyone, including Katie :]