¡Hola! ¿Como estan? I can´t believe we´re almost done with the MTC!! It feels like we just got here a week ago! I am so excited, but a little terrified to go somewhere where they legitimately only speak Spanish. You´d be surprised how much English we speak here at the CCM. But compared to where I was when I got here, I´m pretty impressed with myself. I can actually have a real conversation in Spanish now. The more gospel related, the better, because I don´t know any actual everyday words, but I can officially teach lessons in Spanish and have the investigator actually understand what I´m saying, even though my grammar is awful. It´s pretty wonderful.
So life here is basically the same every week. Eat, sleep, go to class, teach investigators, play volleyball, and be with hilarious people 16 hours a day. Though this last weekend was a tad bit different. It was Independence Day for Mexico!! So on Saturday night we had an awesome show/party thing! They put a stage in the gym and had dancers come and perform traditional Mexican dances and a couple singers singing songs (that all the Latino Elders were singing along with, so I assume they were popular songs. But honestly understanding people speaking Spanish and understanding people singing Spanish is a completely different skill). It was awesome. Then Sunday night the President of Mexico did some sort of nationwide ¨grita¨ (don´t know if that´s how it´s spelled) and basically said great things about Mexico (I assume) and after every phrase everyone would yell ¨¡Viva!¨ It was fun I enjoyed it. Oh and people set off fireworks here all the time whenever they are happy. Usually they do it during the day because they mostly just like the sound, so we don´t get to see them. But last weekend, there were fireworks goin off all times of the day and night, so we got to watch some fireworks! I love it here! I love the city and the people and the culture! I´m actually a little sad to be leaving it all in a week, but I know that I´ll fall in love with Paraguay just as much, probably more. I just can´t wait to go!
So I think my district is a bit nerdy.. We quote Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, and Star Wars ALL. THE. TIME. Like seriously. We quote lots of movies, but those ones come up the most. Oh I forgot to tell you! So the Elder with the fanny pack. He has a storm trooper alarm clock that he often carries in his fanny pack.
Also, I think my fear of spiders has gotten worse here. And by the way, they either love me and want to be around me, or hate me and decide to haunt me. So far, I have found 4 spiders near me, as well as... a spider on my notebook in my backpack, a spider on my Book of Mormon, a spider in the shower with me (and it was like swimming towards me in the water on the floor and was the creepiest thing I´ve ever seen), and a spider on my towel- right when I was about to use it. Needless to say, I can never use that towel again and have consequently given it to Hermana Thacker. So thanks for sending me that other towel. Though I really like that towel so I may steal it back and just wash it 15 times before I use it again. We´ll see.
Alright, to a more spiritual note.. This week was amazing.
In Relief Society on Sunday, Hermana Pratt (CCM President Pratt´s wife always teaches Relief Society) referred to some General Authority´s talk that he gave in some mission in Spain many years ago (I know, real specific of me, lo siento). Anyway, he talked about how home was like a ¨Garden of Eden¨ for us, and going to the MTC was like being ¨thrust out into the dark and dreary world.¨ and by the end of the MTC stay, the MTC was the ¨Garden of Eden¨ and going into the field was the ¨dark and dreary world.¨ Then the first transfer was like being ¨thrust into the dark and dreary world,¨ etc, etc, past our missions into the rest of our lives. I definitely understand the ¨Garden of Eden¨ feeling right now. I´m comfortable and have learned so much and gotten so used to being here, and leaving to another country with another companion, teaching real investigators and doing completely different stuff, while still not speaking Spanish very well, is kind of intimidating. But the point is.. Adam and Eve had to leave the Garden of Eden because they had progressed as far as they could there. The only way to continue to learn and progress was to leave the Garden of Eden and enter the ´dark and dreary world.´ And that´s how our lives are. We hit a point where we can´t progress further without a change, without a trial. So yes, life is hard, and as soon as you get comfortable, something new pops up to surprise you, but that´s the point. We have so much potential and we can become so great, but not in our ¨Garden of Eden¨´s. And then, referring to 1 Nephi when Lehi takes his family out into the wilderness (or the ¨dark and dreary world¨), we can choose to either be like Laman and Lemuel, who murmured, lacked faith, and chose not to turn to the Lord; or we can be like Nephi and Sam, who knew they were children of God, and that by exercising faith and turning to the Lord they could learn and progress so much and they became amazing men who served God and others, and who were true followers of Jesus Christ. I know that trials, even though they are really hard sometimes, give us the opportunity to learn and grow so much and become so much stronger and so much closer to God and more like Christ- if we will have faith, and turn to the Lord. He will help us through it, and make us stronger and better because of it.
Also, our devotional on Sunday was Elder Holland again!! Seriously, as soon as they showed the computer screen over the projector and we saw that it was going to be another Elder Holland talk, there was a fairly loud-ish ¨yes!¨ that sounded through the auditorium. That makes 4 Elder Holland devotionals (not live of course) since we´ve been here, out of 10 total devotionals. I had already watched this one before I left on my mission, but it was great to watch it again. It´s the one where he talks about Christ coming to the apostoles (forgot how to spell that in English..) after he was resurrected and how he found them back on their boats in Galilee with their nets fishing, because they didn´t know what to do with him gone. I don´t know what its called but it´s amazing, so if you can find it, read it! It´s so powerful! Basically it says how, when Christ asked them, and us missionaries, and everyone really, to follow him and to ¨feed his sheep¨, it was forever. This work is so important and we must follow him forever. When you decide to follow Christ, don´t ever go back to your ¨nets¨ or fall away. He says it so much better than I can, so find it and watch him say it because it´s great.
We´re making progress with our investigators!! I don´t have much time to talk about it, but I just had to mention them. I think Angel is really starting to understand how the gospel can bless his life and really starting to want to learn more about the scriptures and about eternal life and eternal families. And I think Jonathan is really starting to understand that he is a child of God and that God loves him so much and he can be forgiven and live happily. There´s so much I could say about them, but I´ll just be satisfied with that for now. Amazing things can happen and people´s lives can be so blessed when you teach with the Spirit and with love. I can´t wait to get out into the field!
The elders here at the CCM (like a lot of them throughout the entire MTC) got together one night and had a major tie swap (it´s actually happened a couple times in the last couple weeks). Some elder took a picture and somehow the MTC President saw it and apparently they were breaking curfew rules and the president didn´t really approve of this tie swap. So when he was reminding us about obedience he had the picture in the slideshow and was like ¨what you should NOT do with your hour of personal time before bedtime is THIS...¨ and showed the picture and everyone started laughing. It was hilarious. Maybe you had to be there. But it was seriously hilarious.
Well time´s up! But I love you all and I love getting emails and letters from you! I´m so excited and loving it here, but ready to get out into the field and get to work! I can´t believe how time is flying by. I love the quotes and scriptures I get from you, keep sending them! Hope everything is going well!
Con todo mi amor,
1. I mentioned a couple weeks ago how an elder in my district broke the ¨C¨ on the CCM sign. Well here´s proof.
2. Me and Hermana Mills with most of our original district that we were only with for about 6 hours that first day.. But we´ve stayed friends and see each other a lot still so it´s fun. Oh, and a random guy photobombing in front of us making a super weird face.
3. Me and my district in front of the Mexico City temple for the last time.
4. One more picture, because this is just so wonderfully my district.