Tuesday, August 31, 2010

August 26, 2010

Hola! How is everyone in the Lone Star State? It's crazy to think I've been here 2 weeks already; in some respects it feels like forever, in others like no time at all.

I've been hard at work learning to teach and learning Spanish. My Spanish is coming along well? Last Thursday my district decided to only speak Spanish everywhere; it freaked me out a little bit, because I didn't feel I knew enough to express myself, but its turned out OK. Unfortunately we don't speak it all the time, but it's a good to work towards. I have been praying to speak Spanish, and I've been enjoying it more, because of that, I think.

My teaching has greatly improved, as well. I've learned how to begin teaching, how to talk about the Apostasy, the importance of the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith. I've even memorized the First Vision in English and Spanish!

What else happened this week? What's fun is that I met two friends from EFY here! It's amazing that we recognized each other, since we haven't seen each other for 3 years or so.

Hey Sam! A super intense thing happened. I was out practicing contacts (telling random missionaries about the gospel in Spanish) when I "contacted" a certain Elder Stosich, who told me he lives in Idaho Falls. Amazingly, he is former President Gary Marshall's nephew! So crazy! I talked to him a bit about how i knew his uncle, our stay last year and everything. Wild, huh?

Whoa! I'm kind of tired. I've had lots of good meetings and lessons in class. One of my teachers, Bro. Toone, gave some amazing lessons and shared some great insights. He won't be here for about a week and a half, though, because he's getting married today!

Probably the pinnacle of the week so far was the Tuesday night devotional. We all waited outside the gym (where the meeting was to be held) for half an hour or more, but it was worth it: Elder Jeffrey Holland came to speak to us! How cool to hear an apostle in person! It was quite an eye-opener of a talk, very good. he was almost really forceful, but he made many good points and I wanted to try harder! I could write more about it later if you'd like.

Well everyone, I wish I had more to write about, but I'm feeling tired. I've had a great week at the MTC, had amazing experiences, and I'm looking forward to my next lesson or meeting. I'm even more excited to get out there in Mexico and teach people! I love you all a lot. Next week I'll try to write earlier so I'm not so tired. I love you, hope to hear from you all soon. I'll talk to you next week!


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Thursday August 19, 2010 - First Letter!

Excerpts from 8/19/2010 letter -
"HELLO! I'm so super excited to finally be able to write you all! So much has happened in the past week + one day that I expect this letter to be quite long. First things first, I just need to tell you all that I'm alright. I was not ready for the shock of the first day, here's a metaphor: I was dropped into the middle of an ice cold lake, floundering about, missing you guys & anxious and all sorts of bad. I couldn't even eat very much. HOWEVER, I have since escaped from that lake-y anxiousness and have warmed up by the fire. The MTC is wunderbahr (wonderful.) The Spirit is so strong and almost always present, my teachers are great and I'm learning so much.

Sheesh! So much to write! I live in the Dan Jones residence hall with my two companeros, Elder Chris Reed and Elder Leonard Snyder. Elder Reed is from Memphis TN, talks with his hands, and likes flip-flops (which we can't wear outside the dorm/residence hall, unfortunately.) He's kind of my build. Elder Snyder, however, is a beast, er, muscular guy! Born and raised in St. George (just off of Main Street) he's a 2-time football all-stater, wrestler of similar renown, though he lost a football scholarship with a bad knee injury. he's pretty funny, has a girlfriend, and did roofing and insulation before his mission. Both of my companions have been a great help, as they have had more experience than I with teaching and Spanish which I am grateful for.

I have also seen pretty much ALL of the MTC Katy clan! Mike Johnson I saw the first day I was here (he just left for St. George Spanish) and I saw him a few times after that along with his brother Matt, who still has a few weeks to go. I didn't, however, find Chris Frame for the longest time until a chance and joyful meeting at gym last Thursday. He's got about a week left.

Spanish is coming along quite well. Though this may sound odd outside of the MTC, I believe the gift of tongues is all throughout this place! I can pray, meet someone, talk a little about our message, and share a testimony, all in Spanish. It's still somewhat basic, but I'm really impressed how far I've come in only one week! Another neat consequence of being here is that alot of my German is coming back! I haven't used it since CRHS junior year but now I have words and phrases coming to mind. Really neat.

Its kind of hard sometimes to walk the hallways and see pictures of people all over the world, or read other missionaries nametags and read Mandarin, Japanese, German, Greek, Russian, Dutch and I kind of wish I was there. However, the Lord called me to Mexico for a reason, and to go there, I need to learn Spanish. I'm liking it and am excited.

By the way, I love being in Utah! The mountains are awesome and the temperature is just right. I'm trying to adjust t the dryness - its not too bad. My nose is stuffed up/running right now but I don't think its a cold.

We are quite busy. Every hour from 6:30am to 10:30pm is fulled (and planned to be that way!) with personal study, class, and meals and gym. Personal study is kind of tough, as I have to take my own initiative on what to study and how. There is a weekly task assignment we do each week called TRC, where we have to communicate in Spanish and teach lessons by role play (there's a TON of role play in the MTC) so can study for that.

Thanks so much for your letters. They're a real source of strength to me! I'm really grateful too for my photo albums. I'm grateful for all the love I have, especially for all of you. Please tell my grandparents and relatives I love them and appreciate their notes greatly. I'm already excited for my next letter!

I wish I could write more by my hand has had enough. Love you again, and God be with you!


Friday, August 20, 2010

Oliver's Mission

Well this is the first installment. Oliver entered the Missionary Training Center (or "MTC") on the campus of Brigham Young University in Provo,
Utah on August 11, 2010, to study Spanish and get missionary training. He'll be there for 9 weeks before leaving to Monterrey, Mexico, where he'll serve until August 2012.

Oliver has a "day off" once a week (also known as Prep Day or "P-day") when he does laundry, exercises, etc., and writes us back home. Missionaries aren't able to telephone home (except on Christmas and Mother's Day each year) so letters or email is the only way to communicate. And, even though email is available to missionaries in the MTC, Oli prefers to write good old fashioned letters. So, in order for his friends and family to keep up on what he's up to, we're setting up this blog. Each week (or thereabouts) we'll add excerpts from his letters and post any photos he sends along.

We're anxiously awaiting Oli's first official communique, expected any day. Stay tuned!