The first week at the Missionary Training Center has been great! Because of the influx of missionaries, they have an "MTC WEST" for all Spanish-speaking missions. I put that in quotations because it's actually the Wyview apartments for our living quarters and the Raintree apartments for our classrooms. BUT it's really awesome! Because everyone here speaks (or is learning) Spanish and so you instantly have that bond. We also have a lot more time to walk around than the main campus which I enjoy. And there are so few people here that it's less overwhelming and you get to know people much better. We can take a bus over to the main campus when we need to, and I've enjoyed that because I get to see all my friends from BYU who are in the MTC but aren't going Spanish-speaking!
So my district is super small! Just 4 hermanas. And the only other new district in our zone/branch is 5 people. Apparently that's like a record for smallest entry in our zone or something. But the zone is for missionaries on the advanced course, so it changes every week! People only stay for two weeks and then they're out of here! I'm the only white girl in my district, which has been excellent for learning Spanish (all four of us grew up in the states, so we speak English perfectly--there's no language barrier between us) but it is also frustrating since my Spanish was learned in a high school classroom and hasn't been used in over a year and they're Spanish is more natural than breathing. The good news is that I understand a LOT more than I thought I would. The bad news is that I can't speak nearly as much as I can understand haha. But I have already had plenty of instances where I say things I didn't even know I'd learned or I'm thinking really hard about something I can say to an investigator and how to form the sentences and conjugations and all of a sudden an new idea comes into my mind and I know what to say. I feel like I'm getting little party favor-sized portions of the gift of tongues every day. It's amazing.
Do you want to know the hardest part of being at the MTC for me? My wardrobe. Ha! Seriously, though. I am a tad jealous of all the girls who have beautiful cardigans and lovely skirts and pretty accessories. My clothes are perfect for the DR, but they are seriously lacking when it comes to the runway that the MTC apparently is for sister missionaries! Luckily I have companions going stateside who have great clothes to share! It's been super fun to try on a million outfits every morning--sounds very un-missionary-like right? But it's just us being girls! We love our clothes! Honestly, I'm perfectly content being granola for a year and a half. For those who don't know, granola is a term for those who are hippies, but the kind of hippies who hike the Appalachian trail and eat things like...granola. Get the picture? That is my wardrobe. Example: today I am wearing Jesus sandals, khaki capris, a plaid button up shirt, and a camelback. Granola. Mis compañeras are in skinny jeans and floral shirts and ballet flats hahaha. BUT I DIG IT! The hippy that I truly am on the inside finally gets to be freeeeeeee :D But I will probably cry tears of joy when I get to wear all of my pretty shoes and dresses and earrings again.
So almost everyone in my Zone/Branch is Latino. I love it! I love them! They're all the best people in the world! And I've only known them for 6 days!
Mi compañera is from West Jordan but was born in Lima, Peru. She's the absolute sweetest and we mesh so well together. I don't think I could've asked for a better companion to start off my mission! She's short--GET THIS! I am the tallest person in my district!!!!! I mean they're all Latina so I guess my genetics predisposed me for that one, but still!--and she has long long black hair that goes to her waist and shines live raven feathers. We are always on the same wavelength and often say the exact same thing at the exact same time!
Sorry, this is becoming a novel. I hope you're getting a feel for my MTC experience! Let me get to some cool stuff:
Our Sunday devotional was given by the Perrys, as in Janice Kapp Perry, as in, the woman responsible for every awesome church song ever. Pretty sure she wrote the entire Children's Songbook. Just so you know, they're about 80 years old. Brother Perry talked first and he was just about the cutest grandpa ever. Then Janice talked and she was a hoot! The best part was easily when she told us the story of how she met her husband. They were in several music classes together at BYU and apparently before playing a clarinet for an exam one day, he was sitting a few seats down from her as she used her mouth to moisten up her reed real good. He was staring at her and so she turned and asked "what?" and he said, "I was just thinking that those lips were made for something better than playing clarinet." The crowd errupted into applause and laughter. He stands up from a few feet behind her and walks right up at the podium, as if to accept the applause I guess, and then grabs her face in both hands and smooches her right on the mouth in front of all of us! We all went WILD. There was hooting and hollering and more applause. It was the best!
INTERESTING THING I LEARNED:
So our branch presidency is great. Brother Nilsson is basically like Elder Holland or Elder Mckonkie--super straight forward and powerful. He's a football coach, so imagine that type of personality giving you a spiritual thought. It's like a pep talk but 1000x more scary/incredible/profound. SO what I learned from him this week goes along with the Elder Oaks talk about Good, Better, Best. Here's how it goes. If you are a good missionary, you are trying. There's nothing wrong with trying--trying is good! But that's about all. So naturally the next step up would be trying and also succeeding, right? So Brother Nilsson says that a better missionary has exact obedience. At first I was like, "how can there be a best now?" but then he made a very valid point: you can be exactly obedient to all the rules, but still not be a very good missionary. So the best missionary you can be happens when you are living in what he calls "the culture of righteousness" which he says is where we get power. So now you are obedient AND you have power. And I thought that was a really great lesson! Why be good or better than good, when I could be striving for BEST?
Can you believe that this time next week I will be on an airplane to the Dominican Republic!? Wish me luck!