My Dear Dear Dear Dear Family!!
Hello! I'm writing to you from my last P-Day in the MTC!!!! Here's the thing . . . we don't actually know where we're being reassigned yet. We know for sure we will be reassigned and sent to a stateside mission sometime this week, but we don't know yet when or where. I will be finding out later today, which means I get to call home tonight or tomorrow, for about 5 minutes, to tell you where I'm going and give you a brief I love you (and tell you something in Spanish, so you can hear that I have been learning!). I'm not sure what time I'll be permitted to call, but just a heads up. I'll try calling Mom's cell if I don't get the home phone (i'm sorry Dad, I don't have yours memorized. I know it starts with a 801-9 . . .). But even if I get the answering machine, at least I get to talk to you on mother's day next month, right? :) I'm not bummed at all about the reassignment. I know I'll get to Argentina eventually, and until then I have the privilege of serving a mini mission in another area. I cannot wait to start sharing the gospel and exercise all that I've learned.
Another item of Business: I had my last HEP shot this week with Twinrix. I had to pay 100$ of my cash for it to be fully immunized, and the receipt with the insurance info is on it's way to you in the mail (tomorrow) to get reimbursed by the insurance company. I will probably take 100$ out of the ATM with my debit to make up for my emergency cash fund, so don't be alarmed if you see that change on my bank account.
This week has been an awesome mail week. Mom, seriously, you are the best ever. I cannot thank you enough! Thank you for the lotion, the smell goods, and the Banana Bread. I must say, I was a little more to myself with that one . . . I ate a whole loaf by myself, and then shared the other with the Hermanas. I never knew how much I truly truly loved your nana bread til this week! Good golly miss Molly, it is delicious. And the letters, oh the letters! Thank you, my dear brothers and Casey and Josh and Kylie for your creative notes and recounts of the Color festival. Sounds like a blast! I'm glad you could go to the temple and do work for the dead. I'm proud of you, keep Temple attendance up! Also, many thanks to Ted & Kelli fam for their lovely package with Missionary survival stuff (stickers, tide pen, cookies, an incredible banner with my name on it, stickers, & more) and Sweet Aunt Katie for the Grandma B. Scarves and letters. Thank you to everyone else for your letters, love, prayers, and support!
Wasn't Conference AMAZING this past weekend? I felt like a giddy schoolgirl. It was like Christmas for we missionaries! Some tender mercies--seeing my sweet roommate Sarah singing beautifully in the BYU Choir, Afternoon Saturday Session. So wonderful! Also, we watched a rebroadcast of the YW general broadcast, and I was so excited to see so many beautiful lovely young faces from my home ward and stake!
I was uplifted and astounded by the many inspired talks and beautiful messages offered. Some great one liners I took from conference:
"Nothing is going to surprise us more than returning to our Father in Heaven and how well we already know him." -Cristoffel Golden
I loved this because our endeavor to do good and right and fight for what is true is not forgotten. We are striving to be more like God everyday, and through that process, we know him better than we think we do.
"A child who sings is a happy child." -Elder Enrique Falabella (also by him was the line, 'in order to contend, you need two people, and I will never be one of them. It reminded me of when mom says you need to to tangle. It's true!)
Music is so important in the home! Especially the hymns, but Boston, Eagles, Disney music . . . good wholesome music has uplifted me throughout my life. Thank you, loving parents, for encouraging me in every musical aspect--my endeavors in guitar and voice and piano, especially.
"It is your soul I am buying for you." -Elder D. Todd Cristofferson (quoting Les Miserables. Shout out to Kylie and Casey!)
Remember that Christ has bought our souls. Don't take that ransom for granted.
My favorite talks from the whole conference were probably Elder Holland, Elder Bednar, and Rosemary M. Wixom. Sister Wixom offered such a neat and particular talk about children and fueled my joy and passion for teaching children. I will certainly consult her talk in future days in my classroom and in my home as a mother.
Some other events--Tuesday we took a trip to SLC to visit the Argentine Consulate. At 7:30 am, we found ourselves crammed on a bus (like a schoolbus) and bustling out of Provo. It was strange to leave the MTC premises and travel a highway I know like the back of my hand. Passing UVU i thought of you, AJ, studying at UCAS. Keep up the good work, bud! I also looked fondly off of the American Fork exit. I love you all :) Once arriving in the Salt lake, we were dropped off by the Church office building and walked to the Joseph Smith Memorial building to meet with the Argentine Consulate. We met in a grand assembly room with broad windows and fancy wood fixtures. There were about 120 or so Argentine-going visa waiting missionaries there, from all over Utah, Boise Idaho, and of course the MTC. The Consulate spoke to us for about an hour, answered a few cultural questions, and then briefly met with each of us individually. We had our fingerprint sheets there and signed our names. Beleive it our not, this process took about 4.5 hours. We entertained ourselves with quizzing each other on Spanish sentences, particularly difficult verb tenses like conditional and subjunctive. I wrote in my journal some. Hermana Telfer and i ventured to the large windows and sat in the broad-silled window frame while we read and talked some (see pictures). Once we were finally done, we went downstairs and enjoyed our favorite part of the trip--the Nauvoo Cafe! We were ecstatic to eat something different than MTC Cafeteria food. Sandwiches never tasted so good, I tell ya. Hermana Alicea and Elder Martin had never seen the Salt Lake Temple in person before, so of course we stopped to take pictures in front of it. It was a diverting, different kind of day for us in the mission field.
As far as the visas go, we really don't know how long it will take. Visiting with the consulate was a crucial step in the process. We will receive our visas anywhere between 2 weeks and 3 months. We'll see :) But I'm not worried. All things in their time (D&C 64:32, one of my favorites).
It's been a pleasure to learn in one small class of people all day, the first time since elementary school. Our district has become very close and we really enjoy learning together--each missionary helps buoy up the next missionary. I'm going to miss them dearly! All day every day with the same 9 people is a neat thing to experience. Fast, lasting friendships. Especially because we are all united in the missionary effort! One of our favorite activities of late has invovled our imaginations! WAHOO! We have taken our desks and chairs in the classroom and transformed them to be an airport, a park, or a bus. Then, half our class pretends to be investigators, and the other half practices being missionaries approaching these investigators. These simulations are to practice contacting in public areas, and remind me a little of my college drama class I took last winter. It's not only a lot of fun, but quite a spiritual experience. I've acted as a single mom with 3 kids just striving to get by, a 9 year old little girl playing hopscotch, a college student traveling to Costa Rica, an atheist grandma librarian, and a 13 year old girl struggling to find friends. In each case, (completely in spanish), the missionaries in my district were able to tailor their message to the needs of the investigator. Always it was centered on Jesus Christ, and always their approach was gentle and understanding. They didn't try to force-feed the book of mormon or coerce my investigator into coming to church. Theirs was a labor of love, peace, goodwill, just as the Savior would have done.
I realize I've never truly told you what a day in the MTC is like. Before I sign off, let me tell you the best way that I can :)
6:30 am: Arise and Prepare. I share the same bedroom with the other 4 sisters in my district. I have the top bunk of a bunkbed, which is a fulfillment of a life-long dream of mine. Seriously, it's awesome! We have wardrobe-style closets connected to shared desks for each companionship. Our bathrooms are in the hallway, they are public restrooms with public showers (and curtains for modesty, of course). Singing in the showers is my favorite thing, everyone harmonizes. Sometimes if I stop singing, other sisters ask me from across the bathroom to please keep going, and sometimes request hymns. I couldn't ask for a kinder compliment :)
7:20 am: Breakfast! We eat at the cafeteria. It is practically identical to the Cannon Center--same food and everything. Memories of Freshman year at BYU as a salad girl. It's good and healthful, but nothing near as good as mom's food, let me tell ya. The bagels, salad wraps, and BYU ice cream is the best part of eating here. I've discovered a new culinary love--granola with peanut butter and honey, spread on bananas and apples. Pure joy!
7:50 am: Classtime! Hermano Magallanes in the Morning. We always begin with a prayer, hymn in spanish, and reciting our purpose and the first vision--all in Spanish. We practice grammar, learn spanish terms, have gospel discussions in Spanish, teach our teacher as an acting investigator (Alberto) in Spanish, read from the Book of Mormon in Spanish, and sometimes watch video clips of how to teach . . . in English. Hermano Magallanes told us we have the best classroom in the whole MTC, and he's right. It is about 3 times the size of the normal classrooms, has two large beautiful windows where I can gaze out at Timpanogos, a red painted wall (the best color, right?), desks we can write on with dry erase marker . . . it's pretty neat. And it's right across the hall from the bathrooms. We have it made.
10:50 am: Personal Study. This is my favorite time, my time to feast from the scriptures and spend time with God.
12:00 pm: LUNCH! We get mail after we finish eating, and sometimes go to a practice room and play the piano and sing! Hermana Alicea is a fantastic pianist.
12:45 pm: Companionship Study. Also my favorite time, because I have the privilege of having Hermanas Alicea and Telfer all to myself to glean their wisdom!
2:00 pm: Classtime! This time with Hermano Ballard. The same concepts as with Hermano Magallanes, except oftimes we get to study outside, HALLELUJAH!
5:00 pm. Cena. oops, I mean dinner!
5:45 pm: TALL lab. We go to a computer lab and work on a computer program called TALL (tech assisted language learning) to improve our Spanish.
7:05 pm: GYM TIME! I get to run the track and play volleyball with my district. It's awesome! I have never loved volleyball so much.
8:25 pm: Daily planning and additional Study
9:30 pm: Return to apartment, get ready for bed.
10:30 pm: BEDTIME!
Alright, sorry for this super long email. I'd best be on my way, just know that i love you and I'll talk to you soon. You're in my thoughts and prayers all the time, and I love to hear from you. Corey, hang in there bud with your pulled teeth! Goodness, that looks like it hurt. And boys, your eggs pictures and coffin pictures made me laugh and laugh. Love you love you love you.
"Si mi amais, guardad mis mandamientos."