Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Cabin Fever

Hi Family, Friends, and Fan Club! *grin*
As you can probably guess from the title of my letter, things at the MTC have been crazy this week. The biggest news being that I've now got less than a month left before I leave for Arizona!!! My month mark was on Friday, and then my 1 month left at the MTC mark was on Saturday. I'm getting pretty excited to head out, and starting to really get antsy. I think we all are. It's especially hard on the Elders spending all day in the class room. So, after being here one month I thought I would share a list of a few things I've learned after a month at the MTC:
1. Letters are like manna from heaven. Seriously. You all would not believe just how awesome it is to get letters, it can make any day better.
2. Always test your salad dressing before you put it on your salad. They have some pretty nasty ones here.
3. The eggs at breakfast wouldn't be able to tell a chicken from a giraffe.
4. Personal scripture study time after gym time looks a whole lot like nap time if you aren't careful.
5. Studying the scriptures out in the sun on the grass seems like a good idea at first... but may not actually be such a good idea.
6. It's not good enough to pray to feel the Spirit, or to pray to speak your language unless you are doing everything you can to make it happen.
7. Only you can control your attitude.
8. Missions are 99.5% attitude and .5% what actually happens.
9. The gift of tongues is real, I can speak way more Spanish now, and far more fluently than I have every been able to before in my life. It is so cool!
10. This is God's work.
This first month has really been a roller coaster, but I feel like I have learned so much and I am really enjoying life here. We're working really really hard, and I feel like I'm finally starting to see progress. Week five, from what I had been warned is a rough week, because you feel like you've been in the MTC forever, and you still feel like you have forever left. Luckily now it's really starting to feel like the downward slope and I'm getting pretty excited to leave.
I have some time, and my immediate family didn't ask a whole lot of questions, so I thought I would answer one from my Grandma and Grandpa Okeson that I thought would make for an interesting addition to the letter. They wrote and told me about a series of events where their schedule didn't turn out as planned, but it ended up being for the best. Then they asked me if I've seen that so far in my mission.
The easy answer is, yes, every day. It seems like things at the MTC are made up of so many little things that just happen to line up perfectly but may not have been exactly as you first thought they ought to turn out. The biggest example being getting transferred at the very beginning of my time here. It was really a pain to have to move rooms, and districts, and trying to get to know a new companion after already starting to settle in to my first district and get used to my first companion. But, it really has turned out for the best. I've really grown to care about all the Elders in my District and I just have enjoyed serving with them so much. The real blessing has been my companion. I really feel so blessed to be serving with her and to get to work with her for the next month. I feel like I am learning so much from her every day and that we're really starting to work well together as a companionship. It's pretty cool. I've also been blessed because one of my MTC teachers had to deal with a lot of problems from migraines on her mission, and she has been so good to talk to and work with. It's really been such a blessing to me.
Now for some thoughts on learning another language. I've reached that odd spot where I don't really know what is happening anymore in English or in Spanish. When I try and speak in English, Spanish comes out, and when I'm aiming to only use Spanish I hear English instead, and then the rest of the time I can't think of the words I want in either language. It's pretty comical. Hna Cannon and I spend a lot of time each day looking at each other going "I don't know what I want to say in any language". Our teachers tell us it's a good thing, but I sure feel ridiculous when I don't know how to communicate anymore in Spanish or in English. I'm making progress though, we have started eating meals with the native speakers, and I feel like I can keep up with the conversations, although I'm still a little slow to reply. Some countries are easier to understand than others. The Elder from Panama is still completely impossible to understand because he drops syllables and cuts things out like crazy. Hna Cannon does way better understanding him than me because she lived in Puerto Rico for 6 years and they speak the craziest Spanish of all, so after that nothing is difficult.
I have 6 more minutes... I feel like I don't have much to tell you all, because so much of our days run together here. Oooh, for Relief Society this week they had Susan W. Tanner come speak. That was pretty awesome, and I really enjoyed hearing her. That and Dani came and surprised me again which was also awesome. We also had a really really good fireside on Sunday night, the highlight of which was when one of the sisters who was speaking got up and did a day at the MTC in song. It was hilarious. I wish I could have recorded it or something. It was so funny.
Also, I've gotten questions from multiple people, so I thought I would just answer this in a note that goes to everyone. My favorite things to get in care packages are snack foods. I love getting anything, but I'm working hard to stay extra healthy on my mission, so things like nuts, dried fruit, gold fish and things like that are extra appreciated. Of course letters are the best and so really I am just happy to get any letters. Those really do make my day.
I love and miss you all. Thanks for all the prayers in my behalf, I'm feeling way better this week.
Hna Okeson

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