Wow...I cannot believe that it's only been six days (more like 5.5 since the first one didn't count) since I got here to the MTC. In the beginning I was having a really hard time falling asleep at 10:30 (guess that's what I get for being a night owl :)) but now when I lay down it seems like I'm asleep before my head hits the pillow. It's amazing how many people I've seen here that I know. After you dropped me off at the curb, I was passed on to some sisters and it was a girl from my major going to Czec Republic! I turned the corner and I heard someone yell "Kristin...I mean, Herman Bowles!" and it was Craig! Super cool. There are lots of people from the stake here. The best part of the first day was getting my nametag. It is my favorite favorite favorite thing. I love snapping it on in the morning because it says who I am and reminds me of my purpose for the next 18 months.
So companions....how did I get so lucky?! I'm in a trio with Hermana Bell and Hermana Brown. Hermana Brown and I kind of recognized eachother right off because we figured out that we both lived in Lamprecht at BYU-I our first semester, right on top of eachother. We would have been in different wards because she was in 411 (?) and I was in 311 (?) but wouldn've run into eachother on the stairs. She's from Gilbert, Arizona and after her associates at BYU-I transferred to BYU to major in public health. She's really sweet and beautiful and is always laughing and smiling. Really positive and helpful. Hermana Bell is from Ogden and her family is the one that started Bell photography (you know, the school photographers). She goes to Utah State and is majoring in Dietetics. She's really sporty and knows a lot of Spanish which helps us a lot. All three of us get along really well and are excited because we'll transfer to the Lima MTC together in three weeks. Hermana Bell is going to the Trujillo Peru mission and Hermana Brown is going to the Guayaquil South Ecuador mission. Our whole district thinks it's funny that our last names all start with B so we are always referred to as "the Hermanas" or the "BBB." I love being part of Bell, Brown, and Bowles! It's neat because Hermana Bell and her brother came into the MTC on the same day and Herman Brown has a brother coming in three weeks. We're all out with siblings!
The district is 8 elders and 3 sisters (we're 3/6 sisters in our zone). 4 of the other elders are going to Oaxaca Mexico, one to New Jersey, and two to Washington state ( i know that doesn't add up to 8 but I can't remember who I forgot).
The hardest part about the MTC is that our district is part of the new pilot program of curriculum. In August they're introducing a new curriculum that helps missionaries teach people and not lessons. Not every newbie district has this program because all of the other missionaries we've talked to haven't had to do all that we have and a lot of our booklets say "draft" on the front. Basically here's the first four days in a nutshell:
Day 1, Wednesday: orientation overload. 550 in our entrance group--largest MTC presidency has seen.
Day 2, Thursday:first classes, learned to pray in Spanish
Day 3, Friday: had to talk with progressive investigator, Abraham, in Spanish (introduce, get to know him for five minutes)
Day 4, Saturday: teach Abraham in Spanish for 30 minutes!
Day 5, Sunday:rest...thank heavens.
Day 6, Mondayteach Abraham in Spanish for 30 minutes!
Just a reminder--it's been five years since I had Spanish! We have two teachers--one in the classroom and the other posing as our investigator, Abraham. When he told us we had to teach him (it took us a minute to understand what was going on because we don't know spanish), we all just kind of looked at Brother Mead like, "seriously?" We just got here! All he said was, "I know, isn't it great?" Oh yeah, and our teacher, Brother Mead only talks to us in Spanish, too. Like one of the Elders said, we all feel like we're stuck in this non-language black hole. I can barely think in English. The new program really focuses on teaching by the Spirit. I've never been so focused on being in tune with that in my life. We have to trust with all the faith we have that "our mouths will be filled" if we prepare because there is literally no other way that teaching Abraham will happen. We're learning how to not give rote presentations, but really listen to what the investigator needs. Tomorrow we hope to invite him to be baptized because yesterday he told us he'd stop smoking.
Funny Spanish mess-ups: so not knowing spanish means that there's bound to be a lot of mess ups. Our first lesson with Abraham Hermana Bell was talking about the First Vision and we didn't know the word for forest. I looked at Abraham, waved my hand like a tree and said, "como se dice mas arboles?" He kind of laughed and answered with a word that I still don't remember! Haha we cracked him! He normally is pure emotion-less which is all the more intimidating. Yesterday Herman Bell was talking about something with sin (pecado) but accidentally used the word for fish (pescado). Wow....one letter makes a difference. Right after that I was reading Verse 18 in the Word of Wisdom where it talks about marrow in the bones (huesos).. Well....it had been such a long day and we are all struggling with teaching in Spanish when we don't even know any and so I read it "medula en los huevos!" OH my gosh---so embarrassing. He started laughing and we didn't even clue in why until later in companionship study when we reread the section and I'd realized what I said.
Learning to pray in spanish has been the most humbling experience ever. Brother Mead taught us and then called on one of the Elders to give the closing prayer when we'd only learned the phrases five minutes ago...The minute he opened his mouth I started tearing up. (I know...I was one of THOSE sister missionaries). Anyway it was so tender praying together in this language we don't understand just pleading for the gift of tongues in Spanish. My companions and I love praying in Spanish together and have finally gotten to the point where we basically understand eachother. It brings a whole new meaning to pray and it shall be given in the hour you need it.