Saturday, July 12, 2014

First letter from the MTC (Missionary Training Center - Provo, UT)

Family and Friends,

        I finally have some free time to check my email while I'm waiting for my laundry.  These last few days have been the most stressful of my life.  But they have also been the most rewarding.  After I was rushed through the doors, they gave me my name badge, ID card, and a huge yellow bag of books for learning Tagalog. Then you walk into a classroom where they speak nothing but Tagalog.  We went through an orientation with all 680 new missionaries that had gotten there that day.  It really is amazing how many people work at the MTC.  
        I learned on Thursday that I would be teaching my first investigator on Friday after only six or seven hours with the new language.  I completely thought that she would be an actor who could speak English and would help us along if we got stuck.  It was the most nerve-racking experience of my life.  I realized when I walked in that Joane was not an actor and didn't speak a word of English.  She had been in the US for about a week.  We had her read some scriptures and asked her how her family was doing.  We think that her mom and grandma are inactive and she takes care of her younger siblings on her own.  I honestly had no idea what she was saying 99 percent of the time.  She kept asking a question about a tanong (question) and diyos (god).  I had a prompting to ask her to write it down, then i pointed at it and said bukas (tomorrow) and she got the biggest smile on her face. I later learned that she was 18 and it was a little weird teaching someone my own age.  We spent half an hour translating her question and I was so worried that we had completely failed.  Then I figured out what the question said.  It said, " If I have a question, can I ask God?"  I got the biggest smile on my face and my teacher started shouting opo! and mabuti!  Which mean yes! and good!  We teach her every day for the next two weeks and I am so excited to tell her about prayer, the Holy Ghost, and show her how to pray.
        My companion's name is Elder Erickson and I think I actually got put with the one person in the MTC who is quieter than me.  I have slowly gotten to know him and we have gotten a lot closer after our first discussion together.  He struggles with the language, but he prays a lot and I know the Spirit will help him with the "koloob ng mga wika" (the gift of tongues).  That is currently my favorite thing to pray for in Tagalog.  We did learn how to pray in Tagalog and it is so much fun to pray in another language.  I have discovered how tiring it is to feel the Spirit this much.  I now realize that working on the tree farm is much easier than working with the Spirit all day long in a different language.  But it is much more rewarding.  I heard one quote that I have been trying to take to heart.  It says "Little growth occurs in a comfort zone, and there is little comfort in a growth zone."  I have definitely been out of my comfort zone all week, but I have grown so much.  High school seems like nothing now.  I feel like my head is going to explode after every language lesson, but I am more happy than I have ever been in my life.  There are three other hapas in my district and one full Filipino.  His name is Elder De Dios and he really is a male version of one of my aunties.  Which is not a bad thing at all. It actually makes me feel a little at home.  I would love to get some world cup updates and it would be awesome if you could send me a few of my soccer jerseys.  Thanks for everything! Hello to all the cousins and all of my friends.  Thank you for all of your support and prayers.  It really does help a lot to know that the whole church is praying for us.  I have to go change my laundry now. You will hear from me again next week!

                                                                                      - Elder English 

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