Hi Family and Friends!
First off, I want to thank you again for another great week of letters and support. Yesterday you all blew the rest of the Elders in my district out of the water with 1 card, 1 package, and 10, that's right, 10 pages of dearelder letters. It was pretty awesome. The package from Anne was quite fun and my whole district had a great time reading the laffy taffy jokes together before our afternoon class.
Second, I thought I would share the first, and what sadly for you won't be the last, nerdy missionary joke I've picked up here. Someone told it at a Large Group Meeting last friday, and I'll write it in Spanish, because it's funnier that way, and then I'll provide a translation... ready? Cual es la differencia entre una perra y una novia de un missionario? (what is the difference between a pear and a missionaries girlfriend.)Una, es perra, y otra no esperra. (One is a pear, and the other doesn't wait... see I told you it's better in Spanish... just humor me.)
Next up I thought I would share an interesting experience, this week as we were waiting for a fireside Sunday night I got contacted by none other than an Elder Swendsen! Nothing like running into family in the MTC! It was fun to see him, and hopefully I'll get to run into him a few more times before he leaves for the MTC down in Lima.
Also, I thought I would continue for you the epic of what happens when you report to the MTC from a foreign country. I recieved a note telling me that I had to report for a dentist appointment here in the MTC. I thought it was funny, but since most of my dentist appointments consist in the dentist telling me I have pretty teeth, I thought I'd oblige, because what did I have to loose. I showed up at the clinic at the same time as a bunch of missionaries from Russia and from Mexico. I got to practice my Spanish with the Mexican Elders, which was fun as I tried to explain to them what my family is doing in Suzhou China. Eventually it was my turn to go for the appointment and I walked into a room where a dentist who probably knew Moses proceeded to ask me in incredibly broken Spanish
"Sabes que es un dentista"
"Quierro ver tus dientes"
"Okay, I've never had a cavity in my life"
"Tu hables ingles muy bueno"
"Yeah, like it was my first language, actually I'm American"
"Where did you get your dental work done"
"here in Provo"
"you can go"
It was fairly comical and my companion and I left laughing and congratulating ourselves on escaping a class lesson on how to conjugate verbs in the preterite.
Speaking of Spanish. Yesterday was day one of 100% speak your language. So now we are trying to speak Spanish all the time. It's going fairly well, and I can already see the difference, although I'm hoping that soon the whole district will be completely on board because it's hard to make it work when not everyone is willing to really work and try to only speak Spanish. That said, we as a district are really starting to buckle down. I think it was a combination of making it to week 3 and having a Elder transfer out. I think either would have helped, but the two together really made a difference. It was a rough go of it with that particular Elder, and while we all wanted to help him, he didn't want to be helped, he's now transferred to the District he thought he would be happier in and is still miserable. I talked to him some in the lunch room on Sunday and just felt bad for him, hopefully he figures things out soon or I don't know that he'll last much longer.
Saturday night we had a rather interesting event. As I was getting ready for bed the fire alarm went off. Next thing I knew all the Hna's in the building were being herded out and we got to wait outside while they sent people in to see what had happened. Turns out some Sister really really really burnt a bag of popcorn. Bad enough to explain the layer of smoke on the floor below us. Gross. Actually, it felt kind of nice to sit outside on the grass in my pajamas while our building was "burning down." I certainly took my time going back in, I was enjoy sitting out in the night air so much it was hard to go back in the building.
Now to actually tell you a little about conference weekend. It really is a very special experience here at the MTC. One of my teachers told us that it would be General Conference on steroids. She wasn't joking. I absolutely loved it, and got so much from the talks. It was interesting because I could swear that half the speakers had been hanging outside of our districts classroom taking notes on what they thought each of us needed to hear. We've been working with a practice investigator who really struggles with the concept of Faith, and Hna Cannon and I decided that that was what we were going to focus on for a few days, and low and behold there were so many good talks about faith. It was really cool. For those who were wondering, none of the Elders in my district sang in the Priesthood session. Technically that's probably my fault, since I managed to share the cold that I got with everyone in my district. Everyone by Hna Cannon, go think on that one. Clearly she has an immune system of steel.
For those lucky enough to be traipsing Japan right now, I was glad to get your letters, it sounds like you are having a really good time. I can't wait to hear from you about the whole trip and for you to send me pictures. *hint hint*
Elder Okeson, congrats on the baptisms. I cheered out loud for you when I read that. Also, today at lunch the elders gave me your letter! I was so excited to get it. I'm actually in the process of writing you one, and hopefully I'll get it out soon, although I think I'm going to send it to your mission home because I'm a little worried about where to send it and I know if I send it to your mission home then you'll get it some time. That said, Mom if you have a better idea get on dear elder and send me a note so I know exactly where to send his letter. If I don't get anything by tomorrow at dinner I'll probably just post the letter and call it good.
Things here are really going so well. I feel like I am settling in here and really starting to get things figured out. It's interesting because there are some really rough moments each day, but by the time I go to bed I'm always happy and glad to be here. We are learning so much and the language is going well. I actually feel more comfortable now teaching in Spanish than in English. Mostly because then I have to keep things simple and I can't over explain myself. I also just am really getting to like the language. I only read in Spanish now for anything (besides letters that is, and those any language is good).
I really can't believe that I've almost been here a month, it's flying by. Our Elders are finally maturing and so we can get things done with them, and we are really making progress. Most of what I learned from studying Spanish in school is completely back, and now I feel like I am actually more comfortable with a lot of things now than I ever was in high school.
Take care everyone and have a wonderful week. Keep sending the letters, they make my day and I've been doing my best to try and write back when you send them.
Lots of love,