I don't even know where to start! I haven't even been here a full week but SO much has happened!!!!!
My companion is Hermana Olivas. She's from Provo (literally 5 minutes away from the MTC) and her parents are both from Mexico so she's been speaking Spanish her whole life! She's really laid back but she loves the gospel and has been so patient with me as I butcher the Spanish language.
My ZONE is made up of me, Hermana Olivas and 7 other elders. 2 of them are from LA, 1 from Texas, 1 from Virginia, 1 from Salt Lake, 1 from Spokane, and one from ECUADOR! The one from Ecuador is also going to Tucson with Hermana Olivas and I but the others are going to Mexico, Tallahassee and a couple are ever staying here in Provo! Like Hermana Olivas most of them have parents from Spanish speaking countries and have been speaking Spanish/ attending Spanish church services their whole life. Only me and one other elder learned Spanish in school and you can definitely tell ;) But they've all been so nice and welcoming and patient with both of us.
My DISTRICT is made up of our zone and another one (also in the advanced Spanish program). They have about 5 or 6 elders and 3 hermanas. We share a room with the 3 hermanas and they are fuuuuuuuuuuny. 2 are from Florida and my goodness gracious they are the funniest, nicest people ever. I have absolutely loved hanging out with the"Spanish crowd" and being a part of their culture. They are so full of love and energy and passion and it's absolutely intoxicating.
We wake up between 5:30 and 6:15 every morning and got to bed around 10:45. During the day we do chores, study, pray, play volleyball in the gym, study, listen to talks, study, watch videos, study, practice teaching "investigators" (aka our teachers) and did I mention study? ;)
The hardest thing so far has definitely been the language! The first day I had no idea what to expect......and it was definitely a shock, linguistically but I prayed and prayed and prayed and prayed for help with the language and I can understand about 93% now :) But the hardest part about the language hasn't been understanding it. It's definitely trying to find a balance between teaching with my heart and my head. It's been SO hard to teach the "investigator" lessons with my heart, listening to the spirit when the whole time I'm just trying to make sure I have all the grammar correct. My first full day here I was like "I'm just gonna focus on the language and then I'll be able to follow the promptings of the spirit and be better able to communicate with others." That night I had an interview with our branch president. He's a football coach and he definitely sounds like one. Very direct. Aggressive. But very very wise. Anyways, he told me "STOP TRYING TO LEARN THE LANGUAGE. The language isn't what changes lives. No one ever converted to the church because a missionary had perfect Spanish. They become members of the church because of what they feel." Needless to say, I've changed my focus a little bit :)
I have been the recipient of so many tender mercies here :) My favorite of which was a few days ago. I was feeling a little bummed about a lesson we had taught. I had tried to ask the investigator some clarifying questions but he couldn't understand me and the whole confusion just drove the spirit away :( So we were getting dinner and I was waiting in line. It was pizza night and I was looking for some Hawaiian pizza and I couldn't see any :''''( But as soon as I got to the front of the line, the lady put out THE most glorious Hawaiian pizza I have ever seen :) AND THEN! I looked to the right and there was some Tapioca Pudding :'D I know it's small but I know Heavenly Father was looking out for me :)
Hermana Olivas and I leave here on Monday at 3:35 am
(woooooooooohoooooooooooo!!!!) and then we'll be off to Tucson :)
Estoy aprendido mucho y me encanta este evangelio restaurado. Tengo un testimonio en el poder del sacerdocio de dios y en poder del espiritu santo. Dios nos ama. Y tiene un plan. Un plan de felicidad. Y estoy agredicio para la oportunidad para participar en este plan.
If I can figure it out, I'll send pictures when I go do laundry later today :)
Se amo :)