4 June 2014
Hola Mama y Papa!
I got to celebrate my birthday 33,007 feet above the earth at 550 mph!!! I am 19! I only have 5 minutes at the MTC just to let you know I am here and I am safe. So I have not read emails yet and these keyboards are weird so I cannot say much now. I love you so much!
Marina came and found me at the airport. She gave me a box of chocolates and let us board the plane before EVERYONE else along with some unaccompanied minors. I could relate to them. "I am flying! By myself! I am going on an adventure!"
My compañera is Hermana Resek, the other sister at the airport. The MTC is going to be really fun spiritual boot camp.
I love you. Mwah mwah mwah mwah farewell until next time I can write!
10 June 2014
My dear family,
Oi! Tudo bem?
No, that's not my mission language. I'm learning Portuguese from my companion! Hermana Resek and I were never officially companions, but we are roommates and we were together the first day. We have two other roommates who have been here for four weeks already, Hermana Mota and Hermana Dos Santos. They are both from Brazil and speak Portuguese. When they organized districts, they made Hermana Mota my companion and Hermana Dos Santos the companion of Hermana Resek. We are forced to speak Spanish all of the time because it's our only common language. If I slip into English, my companion doesn't understand me! When we are tired of Spanish we teach each other English and Portuguese. She likes to say "So dead!" when she sees someone without a companion. I don't know where she learned that phrase because it isn't one I taught her. :)
First of all, thank you for the birthday candles and all of the quotes in my luggage! I love you! I use the quotes as bookmarks in my journal and scriptures and I love finding them everywhere. I took a picture with my birthday candles, which I will try to send if I have time. Also, we are only allowed to take pictures on Pday so I don't have as many as I would like yet.
On the plane the missionaries sung to me in English, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, and Chinese. Elder Diaz also had someone announce my birthday as we were landing in Spanish.
As we were landing, there was a beautiful tangerine sunrise over blue grey clouds. It was hard to get any sleep on the plane because I couldn't find a comfortable position. They gave us a blanket, earplugs, and an eye mask, which I kept pulling off to check the progress of our trip on the screen in front of me. It had a world map with a tiny animation of a plane following a dotted line to South America and you could zoom in and out to see what we were flying over even though it was dark outside. It was fun to see which countries we were flying over and how long it took.
The twelve of us on the plane took three taxis to the CCM. It is right next to the temple and the building we are in has temple patrons on the second floor. We are on the third. We met President Doll, the CCM president, and his wife. They gave us our name tags and sent us to our rooms to unpack. We were told to unpack only the things we needed for the CCM quickly and store our suitcases in a closet down the hall. They had sheets ready for us and we made our beds. Mine is on the top bunk and it's hard to make in the mornings.
The first day we had a lot of class with memorization of the missionary purpose, the first vision scripture, D&C 4 and other scriptures. Claire Forste hint: Start memorizing in English and Spanish now, it will help you so much.
You know what? Spanish isn't as hard as I thought. Everything I do is in Spanish and I am understanding more than I ever knew I could. The gift of tongues doesn't mean my grammar is perfect, but I know the gift of tongues is real because I don't feel stressed and I am learning fast. None of my teachers speak English (either that or they are faking). My district has four companionships, eight people. Six elders and me and my companion. One elder is from Texas and is fluent in Spanish and English. My companion and his companion are from Brazil and speak Portuguese. Two are from Argentina, one from Peru, and one from Nicaragua. EVERYTHING is in Spanish for me. Sometimes I get lost in class. No one makes fun of me (because we're missionaries) but I know the blank look I have because I saw it every day at the Provo MTC when I tried to communicate with people learning English. I know what I look like and sound like to them and I am grateful for their patience, kindness, and encouragement.
Everything is different here. All of the toilets flush differently. Some have something you push on the side, or pull on the top. Hermana Doll's favorite is the toilet with two buttons, one for a big flush and one for a little flush.
On Thursday we ate lunch with Sisters from Peru and Bolivia. We talked about animals where we live and it turned into a game of Pictionary and translating so everyone could understand words for bear, snake, rat, deer, and frog. Ian would have loved drawing animals on napkins during lunch here. Ian, one Sister missionary told us about a person who sat on what he thought was a log, but it was actually a huge snake.
The English speakers are teaching our district leader, Elder De Lima to say phrases in English. I taught him to say, I am a missionary and I have a message for you. Others taught him to sing, “I believe I can fly, I believe I can touch the sky," which delighted Hermana Doll. Others taught him to say, "Just chillin'”. And, "It's okay, I believe you."
When everyone sings, I notice that they slide to different notes. "We thank thee oh God for a prooooo(slide to the next note before the next syllable even starts)oooooophet."
In my district I am asked to choose hymns and lead music. It's accapella because we don't have a piano in the room. Our district leader volunteered me to sing a solo for family night.
When I was leading the music in our district I noticed Elder Chumbe, from Peru, trying to copy me like Ian copies Brother Brady in primary. During our break I taught him and others how to direct music. It turned into a mini music theory lesson in broken Spanish. High notes are higher on the page. Rhythm. Four four time. Basic things only I don't know the terms in Spanish. I felt like it was a Sound of Music moment and I made sure Elder Chumbe got to lead the hymn today.
My Brazilian roommates always ask me to sing. They love Enchanted, which they have seen translated, and after they heard me sing a song from it they make me sing it for other missionaries, teachers, everyone. They think it's so funny because I have red hair like the actress and I can sing it in English.
We go to the park to exercise after personal study and breakfast. I love the park. It's beautiful. We ran the first day but most of the Hermanas don't like to so we taught them to play freeze tag after. There were people all over the park raking leaves off the paths and beautifying it. And there were fat pigeons hanging out in the piles of raked up leaves. The leaves are turning different colors and it feels like October or November in Utah. It really isn't too cold outside but our classrooms don't seem to have the heating that our living space does, so I take my coat with me.
Sometimes they play kickball but we haven't yet. My companion says she doesn't understand it. She said, in Spanish, "I've been here for four weeks and I don't understand how to play kickball, but I have faith that one day I will."
This is not the Provo MTC, where the President is a celebrity. It is so so so small. The President and his wife live in the room next to mine, eat meals with us, know our names, and help with everything.
Happy happy sweet sixteen to Adria! I thought about you the whole day and miss you so much! I hope it was wonderful!
Julia, I love the empty sea :) It's kind of like school but I learn more than I did every day in college and have a tight group of friends like high school. Only when we study, it isn't for a test or a grade or to impress the teacher. We are studying for our salvation and someone else's too.
Kiera, they have honeydew juice at breakfast! It's a nasty shade of green but it tastes so good. They have yellow juice and red juice too but I haven't figured out what flavors they are and I'm not as fond of the red one.
For sacrament meeting, everyone is told to prepare a talk and then random people are chosen. I didn't have to speak but I had the opportunity to prepare for and write a talk in Spanish. And people are more attentive that way, too.
We are going to the temple on Thursday. Many, three in my district of eight, are going to the temple for the first time because their families live too far away to go to the temple with them. My companion asked me if there is a temple near my house... Is there? I told her there is a place where you can see three.
I sang Redeemer of Israel for family night and Hermana Resek accompanied. Our lesson was teaching English to those who don't speak it.
Hermana Resek and I taught some elders the sevens game where you pound of the table. We shouldn't have because they love it and it's becoming annoying.
Lauren visited yesterday! It was so wonderful to see her and meet her companion. She brought me vitamin C, stickers, a notebook, a pen, and lots of fun things. My favorite is a missionary daily planner which she made a cover for and wrote Chilenismos in with advice for me.
I love you! Sorry for typos. Correct them for me if you post on my blog. They weren't lying about the keyboards. I don't know if I will have a pday next week because I will be going to my mission and might miss it in between but I want you to know that I think about you every day! I don't have time to read everything yet so sorry if I can't respond. Forward what you can to Claire Forste for me.
Lots of love!