E-mail, March 9, 2015:
I can’t believe it’s already been 6 days since I’ve been out! Time goes by so fast, even in the MTC! The MTC in Mexico is called El Centro de Capacitación, or CCM for short. I love it here, and I don’t want to leave . . . but I want nothing more than to leave for Nampa! It simply calls to me.
My flight to Mexico went pretty well, although there weren’t ANY other missionaries that I could find. I slept the whole time and barely woke up to fill out my visa form. As soon as I went through Customs and collected my bags, I waited 10 minutes looking for someone with a giant sign that said my name. But there wasn’t anyone. I eventually found a tiny little Mexican man with a clipboard that said “MTC” on it. I was really worried that they forgot about me. Dad, nobody tried to steal my luggage, thank goodness! I didn’t have to use my elbows and big girl voice to scare people away. The little Mexican man seemed to have a speech impediment and I couldn’t understand any of his Spanish. He then ushered me into this sketchy white van driven by another sketchy man who also couldn’t speak English.
We were on our way to the CCM when the first little man received a call to go back to the airport to pick up another missionary, I think. We waited for another 3 HOURS for I don’t know what, but I was completely exhausted and starving at 9:00 PM when I was dropped off at the main MTC building by the second sketchy man. And wouldn’t you know it -- there wasn’t anybody at the reception desk to greet me! Then, I was hustled to a different building where someone who was working that desk muttered to me in broken English to write a quick email home, hence my very short email to you guys.
I was given my packet of room keys, maps, my Spanish scriptures, my official white bible (missionary handbook) and yes, my name tag! I looked at it and said to myself that I had finally arrived! I put that sucker on my left shoulder and didn’t stop smiling till I feel asleep. After I went through a short video orientation, I was driven in a golf cart to my casa, a small green casa, number 22. I was met by my companions, Hermana Christensen and Hermana Nicholes! They are both blonde and the sweetest sister missionaries! HC is from Austin and spent 2 semesters at BYU; HN is from Utah and is slightly older than both HC and I. We share the casa with 4 other sisters, all with totally different backgrounds, but all here for the same purpose.
The next morning was filled with meetings and orientations, and I remember the first song we sang was "Called to Serve," en Español. HC, HN and I finally got to meet the rest of our district -- another pair of Hermanas and 2 pairs of Elders, they are such goofballs! Again, all of us are completely different people but united for the same purpose. The best part of that day was when we got to observe a practice lesson to a volunteer investigator given by some more experienced missionaries. When the lesson ended, the floor was opened up to us to ask questions to the investigator, named Carlos. We all asked questions and shared spiritual experiences. The Spirit was so strong. When we finished, Carlos was asked if he would like to have the missionaries come to visit him again in his own house and he accepted on the condition of his family also being present!! This happened during the evening, and earlier I was struggling to just keep my eyes open. But after meeting Carlos and talking to him, I remembered exactly why I was there -- to help people come unto Christ. It was a great experience. I felt part of our Heavenly Father's love for Carlos and the ultimate joy of his future lessons. I wrote in my journal that night that if I brought only 1 person to the gospel of Christ throughout my entire mission, I would consider it a success.
The next day, our district started our Spanish and doctrinal classes. Our maestros are all native Spanish speakers from Mexico, which really helps when learning Spanish. We were told that in 3 short hours we were going to meet our first volunteer investigator, Obdulio. He is a college student and his dad is a violent alcoholic, but he really loves the rest of his family. HC, HN and I decided to teach him about the Plan of Salvation and review El Libro de Mormón. We were all given time to prepare our own lessons as companions and I instantly became the walking-talking-sister-translator, which isn’t saying much because I don’t know how to speak as well as I understand. Just before we were about to teach as a trio, one of the male teachers shared 1 Corinthians 14:19 with me and it gave me a lot of hope and comfort at the time. Our lesson with Obdulio went well because at the end I bore my testimony in Inglés and the Spirit was so strong!
The next day our district was given 45 minutes of gym time. We played volleyball and it was so much fun! Of course, it was guys against girls and the hermanas won every game. I think we have played together every day since. We all get along great and are always laughing. Our lesson with Obdulio wasn’t as productive as we hoped because he didn’t come prepared having read some of the Libro de Mormón like we asked him to, so he didn’t have much to say. It was a bit frustrating! It’s hard to know what he wants or thinks when he doesn’t follow through with commitments. I have high expectations, and it was disappointing. That night I came to know many things: I have been blessed with patience for my companions to teach with them; the Spirit knows no language barriers; the Lord swiftly answers the prayers of a missionary; and that if the Spirit isn’t present among the companions, then the lesson will not be as productive.
The next day was Sunday and it was the best! Our district met with our branch president and we were given intro interviews, and all of our other meetings like Sacrament meeting, Relief Society and District Meeting were all great! This Sunday was special because the rest of our small area would be leaving the MTC the next morning for the field! It’s weird that they have so much more experience but are the same age as us and that we will be in their position in 5 short weeks! Our district is really going to miss them because they were the ones who took all of us under their wing and showed us the ropes. The funniest thing that happened that Sunday was our chastity lesson for all the new missionaries. Our 2nd counselor to the mission president gave the lesson it and he was so perfectly awkward, it went well! Sunday ended with a video about some early investigators of the church, I think it was called How Rare a Possession, it was very good.
Yesterday was the best day I’ve had thus far. As we prepared for our lesson with Obdulio, our companionship was asked to stay behind with our maestra, Hermana Alonso, for individual interviews. When it was my turn, she wanted me to share what was on my mind. I told her that I am grateful to be able to help mis compañeras study Spanish and that I’m grateful that I can understand spoken and written Spanish with pretty good accuracy, but I struggle inside myself and am frustrated at not being able to speak grammatically correct. Hermana Alonso told me that not only am I a well-prepared missionary, but that I’m also one of the most fluent in our district. She counseled me to have faith and to exercise patience because the gift of tongues does not always come as quickly as we want. I am so grateful for Hermana Alonso. She’s a small yet very intimidating woman -- she’s hard on the outside and soft on the inside. I know she’s this way so that we can be better, and I love her for it.
Afterwards, HC, HN, and I hurried to our lesson with Obdulio. We spent 30 minutes getting to know him better. During the next 30 minutes we talked to him about having faith and becoming a true follower of Christ. We then recommitted him to be baptized within a date of no less than 3 weeks!! It was glorious!! All of the other missionary companions weren’t really able to get a baptism commitment except for us! It was the best day by far! That night ended with a fun game of signs played with our area. It’s kind of like monkey in the middle, but with hand signs.
So far, learning Spanish has not been too difficult for me. I have pretty good comprehension but my speaking is weak. Trying to read and comprehend the scriptures is the only thing that makes my brain hurt at the end of each exhausting day. I call my bed Zion, because it is so glorious, ha-ha! My Preparation Day is Tuesday -- sorry for the confusion of thinking it was the same day as Hermana Mohr’s. Yes, I see Hermana Mohr all the time during meals in the comedor! I’m so glad I’m used to Mexican food. I think all the meals are great, but not for the other hermanas because they don’t have tough stomachs. It’s normal in the CCM to have upset stomachs, except for me! Hooray for vitamins!
There’s an elder in our area from Idaho Falls who knows Jason Palfreyman! He told me that Jason and the other elders over in Idaho apparently saved up their money for a long time to buy a remote controlled car. I didn’t doubt this story for a minute -- it sounded funny and just like something Jason would do!
I met the Mission president and his wife. They are native Mexicans and they are the cutest couple on campus! The CCM is so gorgeous. It’s a lot nicer than I expected! I love it here, the weather is great and it almost feels like I’m on vacation and at school at the same time. All the buildings are named after the profetas and it totes feels like I’m back at BYU. We are allowed to speak English if we can’t speak Spanish, but Spanish is always preferred! Dad, listening to these newbies pronounce Spanish would make your ears hurt, no joke, but everyone is trying so hard. I am composing a list of all sorts of advice for Elijah and Liam, but it won’t be complete until I come back home. Mom, I’m going to help you speak Spanish when I come home, worry not your pretty little head! I miss watching Gilmore Girls with you too, I cry at night sometimes. Keep encouraging Elijah to attend mission prep; it will definitely prepare him for the MTC/mission field. All computers here have only Spanish keyboards, that’s why my emails are void of much punctuation, so feel free to edit this before it goes on the blog.
I miss you guys so much that is hurts. I talk about y’all all the time to my comps and my district. I keep you in my every prayer. Have a safe and great Spring Break. Know that I love all you all very much. Look at 3 Nephi starting with chapter 11, its powerful and probably my favorite scripture story right now.
xoxo With all my love,