Wednesday, July 10, 2013

First Letters

July 3, 2013

Dear Family,
The flight to Salt Lake was fast, the flight to Atlanta was a good tour of the country, and the flight to Mexico I and 5 others almost missed.   In Salt Lake, I met up with about 20 missionaries, but 6 of us got separated from the main group in the Atlanta airport.  Whoops.  I made it here safe and sound.  Customs was a lot easier than what I expected.  The MTC is ALL Spanish.  I have been told to have a talk ready every sunday, in Spanish.  They pick at random who has to give a talk.  It is a very big campus, with a big tall wall, with barbed wire on top.  I am assuming this is a dangerous city, hence the MTC guard station.  The fligh into Mexico City was cool.  It is a huge city, I couldnt see the end of it from out of an airplane.  The apartments are nice.  On the bus ride from the airport to the MTC they served empanadas. I hope the rest of the food is that good.  I am having a great time here in Mexico. 
 -Elder Withers 

Jluy 6, 2013

Dear Family, 
I arrived at the MTC safe and sound.  My plane landed around 7:30, and at the SLC airpot I met up with two others Elders from Boise also going to the MTC.  One of them is also going to Argentina Rosario, which is awesome.  The shuttle picked us up, drove us to the MTC, and then tons of nice volunteers and people snatched us up and took us all over campus.  I now have an official tag in Spanish with my name on it....right next to the Savior's.  The first day was crazy.  I met my district, and we are all just best friends now.  I went to lots of classes and firesides, and got to experience the MTC food.....which isn't bad.  It isn't world class, but if you stay away from the chunks of meat and the questionable beans, it's just fine.
When I entered the MTC I was told that a total of 841 missionaries, including me, entered that day.   The record for the Provo MTC is over 900.  But before the age change, people said that an average Wednesday saw roughly 350-400 missionaries....which seems so few now!  The work is definitely moving in a forward direction.  The one thing that seems to be slowing the work in Argentina is the consulate.  Argentina has one guy who does all of the interviews for visas.  He has been on vacation for a month now and no one knows when he is suppose to get back.  Everyone says he is coming back soon, but its all uncertain.  Praying that he hurries.  Yesterday my companion and I watched a district open up their reassignment calls...crazy to think I might be there soon. 
So my companion is Hermana Haynes, the same girl I had met through Facebook from Rupert Idaho.  She is so awesome and I am so glad we are companions.  We have so much fun.  We sleep in the newest, nicest, biggest, and most air conditioned building.  I am so grateful.  My host just kept telling me how lucky I was, and I didn't really know why until I saw the other buildings.  Such a blessing.  There are six Hermanas in my room, which equals 18 pieces of luggage, but the obstacle course is a fun adventure in the morning. 
So my district is great.  There are 10 missionaries total, and 6 of us are going to Rosario.  My companion and I, as well as 4 elders.  The other 4 missionaries are going to Oregon, LA, Paraguay, and Chile. 
On the 4th of July we went to classes and seminars as usual, but then in the evening their was an MTC fireside.  We sang patriotic hymns for about half an hour and then watched 17 miracles.  After the movie, we went outside to watch the Stadium of Fire fireworks (which were awesome) and we were handed a magnum ice cream bar.  It was such a cool day.  Also for dinner they served us turkey, mashed potatoes with gravy, and pumpkin pie.........little confused but at least they attempted to celebrate a holiday right?
So my P-days will be on Saturday, and I will get to email either in the morning or early afternoon.  The Provo Temple closed July 1st for its yearly deep cleaning and isn't opening again until August 12....I pretty much missed it but if I stay another week while waiting for a reassignment I might get to go at least once.  So because there is no temple time, it just turns into more personal time. 
Yesterday we taught our first investigator (Luis) in all Spanish.   He is actually our teacher, but we also get experience teaching him first.  He doesn't break character and the Spanish language barrier is sometimes frustrating, but we are learning and doing the best we can.  I have already learned more Spanish than I have ever known.  Actually in the first class, our teacher covered all of high school Spanish in about an hour. 
Our zone has a retirement home schedule and we eat dinner at 4:10  SO EARLY.  We try to eat a little extra then so that by 9:00 we aren't famished. 
Sorry I wasn't able to get you a letter when I got here....I knew the Minnesota PO Box, but I couldn't for the life of me remember the zip code.  There was no mail on Wednesday because our district hadn't received the padlock code to get the mail yet, and then it was the 4th of the July and all of the mail people were off celebrating America, and so I didn't get anything until Thursday.  Ha all of the Elders were wagering fruit snacks, mints, and whatever to see who had the first letter.  We couldn't get our mail but we could see one in there on the first day.  I saw that my first letter was post marked for June I WON.   I didn't take any of their junk, but I am maintaining bragging rights.  Thanks for the letter and the package.  They are awesome, and now I have the address's.  You can also use  Our district is allowed to pick up the mail at 11:10 and 4:10 (lunch and dinner) so if you get a letter sent before then I should get it.
I love the MTC.  Everyone told me it would be hard....but its a different kind of hard.  Its a satisfying, intellectually challenging, and most spiritually strengthening kind of hard that makes this place awesome.  I hope all is well with everyone and that you had fun at reunion. 
Thanks for all of your love and support.  I love you all more than the number of meals served here at the MTC. 
Hermana Withers

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