July 10, 2013
Oh Hi! Yeah, I got your letter. It was close catching that flight. The gate was all boarded when we got to the there. The plane sat for about 25 minutes though.
The Mexico City MTC is awesome. The group I was in is the first group of Americans to come here, 150 strong. 2 weeks ago, 100 Hispanics arrived, and left last Monday. 212 Americans came in last night.
My companion is Elder Hamilton, from Provo, Utah. He could see the Provo MTC from his home, so he was really glad to come here. Elder Hamilton and I are the only two in our district who are not going back to the States. He had a job doing laundry for the Provo MTC, so that is convenient. I asked him what his hobbies were, and one of them was studying. He was not kidding. He studies hard and sets the bar pretty high for our district. He is going to Chile, Vina del Mar.
The campus is 90 acres, it is the most spacious MTC. The weather here is great, mid 70s most of the time. It is really pretty here, with tall palm trees all over the campus. The gardening here is extraordinary. Outside our dormitory, there are some bushes pruned to look like a deer. It even has antlers. It does not rain too often, but when it does it really pours. The food is great. It is mostly Mexican food, with Costco pizza or hamburgers every few days. There is a Kellogg breakfast cereal here that is chocolate frosted flakes with marshmallows. It is interesting.
I am learning Español faster than I thought I would. The enthusiasm for missionary work is incredible. This is truly the work of the Lord. Below is a letter I wrote while on the plane from Atlanta to Mexico City:
I left for my mission today. I am on flight DL345 from Atlanta, GA to Mexico City. There is a group of about 22 missionaries I met up with in SLC, all headed to the Mexico MTC. A few seconds ago, the plane left the skies of America, and headed out over the Gulf of Mexico. While waiting for takeoff, I was able to have a really good discussion about the church with the teenager sitting next to me. We started off with talking about where we were from, our hometown weather, sports, and high school, and so on. He asked me why I was going to Mexico and I told him that I was going to a missionary training center in Mexico City. He asked me some questions about what an MTC is, and I answered them as best I could. I then briefly explained my purpose as a missionary, saying it was to bring people to Christ. Then, I asked him what he knew about Mormons. He said he did not know anything about them, so I taught him about the restoration of the true church and the Book of Mormon, comparing it to the Bible he knew as a Catholic. I handed him a pass along card, explained mormon.org and how he could get more information. He seemed really happy about it all. The most amazing thing, I did not realize it until we were done talking, is that the words were put in my mouth in the very moment I needed to say them. It was a great testimony building experience. I hope you are all doing well.
July 13, 2013
Hola! This week has been amazing. I have learned how to say a prayer, bear my testimony, and teach a lesson on the Restoration, Plan of Salvation, and Life of Jesus Christ without notes. The gift of tongues is definitely real, and I am learning so much. If you asked me for directions or how to order something on a menu, or any other life skill in Spanish....I could carry on in Spanglish, but not Spanish quite yet. It´s coming, but at least I can bear my testimony!
My first Sunday here was cool. It was fast Sunday, which means missionaries go without food for 24 hours, and it wasn't as scary as I thought it would be. We had an MTC fireside, and listened to some amazing talks. I just sat like a sponge trying to absorb it and write it all down. Then we went to sacrament meeting, and the MTC president was there!
I am staying at the "real" MTC. There are about 4500 missionaries here, and roughly 1000 at the West Campus MTC. We actually never interact. They operate as 2 separate MTC's for class, sleep, and food. The only time we are in the same place is for Tuesday night devotionals.
My district has a total of 10 missionaries. 6 of us are going to Rosario, and the other 4 are scattered. I'm glad I'm in a district with a majority. We all get along and are very good friends. Someone has already started to plan a reunion barbecue actually! (:
You might be amused to know that out of the 6 elders in my district, 5 of them can't roll their "R's"....I still can't believe it. 5?!? What is this world coming to? Teachers here have said that it helps to put a pen on the top of your lip and make a kissing face so the pen doesn't fall and to teach your tongue to roll....but I have never tried it. Who knows.
On Wednesday I watched all of the new missionaries come in and it was crazy. They get them in here so fast, and rumor has it that last Wednesday was the peak number of missionaries for the summer. Is that true?
And crazy news. Two hermanas in my zone left for Argentina last week. They went directly to Argentina without a reassignment. I have learned that if your visa status says it will take more than a month, then they reassign you. If it says it will come in a week or two, then you extended to stay at the MTC. And a rare few get their visa right on time. I didn't even know that happened, but I'm glad to know its possible. If I stay on schedule I could be out of the MTC in a month....say what??
There are a lot more elders here than sisters, and it has everything to do with the age change. The MTC saw a surge in sister missionaries almost immediately, and now the surge in Elders is coming as high school graduations have come and gone. There are so many missionaries here you would flip. There are lines to almost everything, but somehow the MTC keeps up with everything. One thing I have learned here is that the church knows how to be organized. This place runs like a machine!
Every day before lunch our zone sings a hymn in Spanish, which is really cool. There are only 4 hermanas (the ones in my district) and everyone else (about 30) are elders. Its cool to hear songs like "Called to Serve" and "Battle Hymn of the Republic" (our favorites!) in Spanish. It also helps with learning Spanish. My companion and I also read a chapter in The Book of Mormon every day in Spanish, its long and arduous but the book is starting to make more sense in Spanish. Which is amazing!
The MTC food had been good. It keeps me nourished, and that's all I care about. The fruit here is guaranteed to be amazing (pineapple every meal!) and they pull strawberries out every once in a while. And if any dinner turns out to be gross, makes you feel sick....they have the best cereal bar in the world. So cereal is always the backup plan, and I'm staying healthy! I haven't gained or lost any weight so I will just keep trying to eat good.
In the morning, one of our teachers takes us on a walk around the MTC every 2 hours to stretch our legs and to take a break. While walking we all take our little notebooks, and we write down vocab words that we see around us in Spanish. Ha we look like we are all on a nature hike and trying to learn tree species or something...but we are really just trying to learn Spanish. Its way fun to go outside though, and one of the days it was raining so we got to walk in the rain and it smelled amazing!
The view of our classroom window is so great. It is on the 4th floor, so its high up. We can see the mountains, lots of trees, and through it all the Provo temple steeple peeps out and you can see angel Moroni and the temple. It's perfect!
I love you all more than the number of letters that come and go through the MTC,