The Countdown Begins

 The front of our shirts with our district motto: "Labor and struggle and do all you can!”

The front of our shirts with our district motto: "Labor and struggle and do all you can!”

I'm taking off soon!

This coming week will be my last week here at the MTC, and this will be one of the last emails that I send from Utah. Thank you all for all of the great messages, packages, and spiritual thoughts that you've sent my way throughout the last month! It's officially been 31 days since I started my mission, and it's incredible to me that it's gone by this fast already.

We received our travel plans yesterday. Elder Moore and I will be on the same flight going nonstop from Salt Lake to Newark on October 1st. We check out of the MTC at 4:45 AM which is going to be a struggle, but we're honestly so excited I'm sure I won't sleep much anyway.

This week has been really bittersweet, and a lot more hectic as Zone Leaders than last week. On Monday, one of the Sisters in our zone disappeared. Her entire district, campus security, and everyone were looking for her for a few hours. Eventually they found out that she'd been really sick and had run off to a bathroom because she was super nauseous, but for the first part of the day everyone thought she'd just bailed from the MTC completely. We gave her a blessing that night which was great. We've given a lot of blessings this week. One on Monday, two on Tuesday, two on Thursday, and another last night, Friday. Six blessings in five days. I honestly can't wait to do more.

There was more excitement Tuesday with a devotional talk by Elder Neil L. Andersen and it was really cool to feel the atmosphere in the devotional hall while he was there. After his talk, he went around the room shaking hands and people started just spontaneously singing hymns until the whole room was doing it together which was pretty incredible. One of the Sisters in our district is apparently close friends with his family, so he took her and her companion out to dinner before the devotional with the rest of his family and then had her read all the quotes during his talk. Jealous.

Wednesday was pretty crazy. We had our last teaching practice (TRC) for the rest of our MTC stay. That night we got to welcome the new missionaries coming into our zone. We had 27 come in this week. That's more than double the normal amount of missionaries that we usually get, so trying to round everyone up and make sure everyone is taken care of was a bit more of a challenge. We're trying our best to get to know all of them, and I think by today we've really gotten closer to most of them, which makes it really rough to have to tell them that this is going to be our last week with them. We're also really close with our district. Wednesday Elder Batista's parents sent us customized t-shirts with a logo for our district that has our district motto on the front, and then some word or phrase on the back that have to do with something we did or our personality. I'll include a picture and an explanation of each at the end.

Thursday was a hardcore language day for me. I feel like things are really clicking in Spanish. I've still got a few things to work on grammar rules wise, but mostly I'm just focusing on expanding vocabulary now which is cool. One of the Elders I made friends with here gave me a Russian for Missionaries book before he left because he didn't want it, so now whenever I get frustrated with Spanish and need a break, I just try to learn Russian for a little bit which feels like banging my head against a wall over and over, and then Spanish becomes much easier. That night one of the Sisters in our district approached us and asked us for a blessing of healing prior to an operation that she's having on Monday, which will partially determine whether she'll be able to stay here at the MTC. Usually Elder Moore does the actually blessing part, but that night I felt really impressed to give it myself so I called an audible right before we were going to start. It worked out really well, and she and I were both in tears about half way through. 

Friday was the day when we all realized as a district that our journey together is coming to an end very soon. Like I mentioned before, we received our travel itinerary which really hammered home the fact that we'll all be going to very different places and won't see each other for another year and 10 or 11 months. We've all come to feel like we're our own little family just trying to take things day by day here. I realized that while it was really hard to leave Salt Lake and my real family and come down to the MTC, it felt more like a summer camp or something because I was never really that far away from home. However, now that I'm heading off to Jersey, I'm not only going to have to leave behind my real family, but also this second family that I've come to love so much, and really truly be away from home. I've really grown to love the MTC and my assignment here.

To sum this week up in sentence: I'm as sad to leave the MTC as I am excited to go out to the field; and I'm really excited to go out to the field.

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Funny Spanish error of the week, courtesy of Elder Miner:

What he meant to say: "La muerte espiritual" (Spiritual death)

What he tried to say: "El muerte espiritual"

What he actually said: "Almuerzo espiritual" (Spiritual lunch)

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Our district's shirts. From back left to back right:

Elder Rollins: "Solo Espanol" - Elder Rollins has been great at trying to speak only Spanish during our day in order to train for the field. 

Elder Palmer: "Sack" - During one of our classes, Elder Palmer did a "getting to know someone" roleplay with our teacher as a demonstration. The idea was that our teacher would ask him questions about himself and demonstrate how to connect with people and develop interpersonal skills. When the teacher asked Elder Palmer what he had for breakfast, Elder Palmer replied with just "Sack." (Meaning the sack breakfasts and sack lunches you can get here.) There was a silent beat before everyone burst out laughing.

Elder Batista: "Super Bien" - Elder Batista's catchphrase pretty much since he got here has been "Super Bien" and he uses it in place of "Awesome" or "Cool" all the time. It's caught on in our district too.

Elder Miner: "Representantes" - Elder Miner, as our District Leader, likes to make sure that our district is always conducting ourselves properly by reminding ourselves that, as missionaries, we are representatives of Jesus Christ. Whenever we get too rambunctious or the conversation starts to go in the wrong direction, you can count on hearing "Elders, somos representantes," from Elder Miner.

Elder Moore: "You've Got Mail" - Elder Moore gets a lot of mail. Like, a lot. Whenever we check the mail there's usually one or two package slips for Elder Moore from someone from his town in Idaho Falls. 

Me: "Yit" - For the first couple weeks of class, the phrase "How do you say ___?" = "Cómo se dice ____" was on the board of our classroom. Around the beginning of the second week, I filled it in to say "How do you say 'yeet'?" = "Cómo se dice 'yít'?" which became a really popular term very quickly in our district afterwards.


Front left to front right:

Hermana Von Feldt: "Trabajar-ed" - Hermana Von Feldt has been pretty good at trying to integrate the Spanish she does know even when she doesn't know how to say a full sentence in Spanish which many times results in fun English-Spanish combinations like "We trabajar-ed really hard today!" (trabajar means "to work"). 

Hermana Memory: "Bad Memory" - Hermana Memory and Hermana Quick both wanted to clarify that their names shouldn't necessarily set expectations.

Hermana Jaramillo: "Un Jaramillo"- Hermana Jaramillo has the hardest name to pronounce for most people in our district. Like Hermana Von Feldt, she also likes to mix Spanish and English, usually by saying "un ____" like "Can I have un cookie?"

 An amazing hair day I felt I had to capture.

An amazing hair day I felt I had to capture.