Hi family and friends!
I can't believe we only have 13 days left! Well, at the same time, I feel like I have been here forever and ever and ever. I'm really excited to go! I have loved it here but sometimes there are moments where Soeur Johnson and I just look out the window at the outside world and say, "wow, I kind of feel like a bird in a cage right now." i'm excited to be out in the world again. Last night we were walking back into another block of class after dinner and there was a random elder behind us who started singing, "I can't take this any longer, thought that I was stronger...I hate this part right here." Dani and Hez have probably figured out that was a tribute to the PUssycat Dolls "I hate this part right here." I think he was having a moment of not wanting to go study at the same desk for another three hour block moment. I thought it was hilarious. Anyways, it really is amazing here though, promise.
Mom asked what a typical day is like. Well, we have a different schedule every day of the week but typically:
6:30-7:00 get up and get ready
7:00-8:00 personal study
9:00-12:00 class (mixture of PMG studying with our teachers, reading BOM in french, teaching our investigators, preparing our lessons to teach with our investigators)
Then we have gym for an hour, more personal study, about an hour and a half of personal language study, TALL (computer program for language study) and another three hour block of class with our other teacher. We also have workshops focused on "Our purpose" from PMG on Saturday nights and then devotionals on Tuesdays and Sunday nights. Then we have 9:30-10:30 to get ready for bed, write in journals, etc. I think the hardest part of the MTC for a lot of people is just the routine of sitting in the same desk in the same room for about 10 hours (probably less than that) every day and making sure that you're directing your personal study time to make the best use of it all the time. That's at least what I find the most challenging.
Mom also asked about our instructors: AMAZING. We have Frere Larimer who is a RM from Quebec and then Soeur Welch who is an RM from Brussels. I especially love Soeur Welch. She started working at the MTC right when she got home and ended up marrying one of the other french teachers here at the MTC so they both work here now. They just did an internship both of them in Paris last summer. Anyways, she's awesome because she is always down to business as far as just being super effective, giving us tons of opportunities to teach and discuss, etc. and tells us the coolest mission stories that she had. She is always giving us feedback and ways we can improve. She's at BYU right now and is almost done with school, she's going to be a high school french teacher. Tomorrow for class she's having us really focus on how to ask good questions (that's something that would be super good to work on in mission prep. mom and dad :) ). she said the difference between helping an investigator come to Christ and not connecting with them most of the times is being able to ask good questinos and to listen. So, you go to a scripture and then she said, "I'm going to make you go to heaven, ask an inspired question. Then listen." That's something we've been trying to work on a lot lately. Asking good questions is a lot more difficult than I thought and can have a huge impact I'm realizing more and more if you carefully select them. Frere Larimer is awesome too, he's engaged to a Vietnamese girl right now and is always super nice and encouraging. We have great teachers.
The other day Soeru Welch and Soeur Mortenson (another of the teachers) came into our class to role play a Plan of Salvation lesson for us. They did it in 15 minutes and did it so well. Everything was so concise, their french was amazing, and they shared two scriptures, and answered the investigators questions and everything. Right after that demonstration S. Johnson and I had to go and teach our lesson. We started walking to go teach and S. Johnson started crying. She just got super overwhelmed with everything we're supposed to do and know and teach to our investigators and french and knowing scriptures etc. And because we're leaving so soon to go be missionaries. There's definitely moments when you can feel overwhelmed. That's for sure. S. Redford had a similar experience right before she left for Madagascar and was trying to teach about prophets in french and just started crying and felt like she didn't know any french whatsoever at that moment. I have definitely had moments like that too (I haven't cried *yet*) but it's incredible to think that we can be effective missionaries and teach people not lessons that are memorized in another language. I honestly think it's incredible and have been thinking of the scripture in 1 Nephi 3:7 that God won't ask us to do anything that we can't do.
Also, our branch presidency is absolutely incredible. Dad, I'm sure you know Brother Mangum is in our presidency. Because every time I talk to him I tell him to tell you hi. But tell him that we all think he is amazing. He provides so much insight and encouragement to all of us all the time. I just had an interview with him on Sunday. He talked about how important it is to not get trunky and that if I will really work hard that french will grow exponentially and also in the gospel over the next two weeks. That is a struggle sometimes to stay really motivated and to really dig in and continue to work hard after 8 weeks of studying in the same place. Our coordinating sister made a really good point the other day. She said that this last week has been hard for her because the longer we are here in the MTC the more we start focusing on ourselves, on the things we can't do, on our weaknesses, on what we miss, on ourselves in general. Once we're in the mission field it really becomes all about the people you are there to serve and you are able to not just focus on yourself anymore. I love that thought and think that's really true as well.
We got 10 new sisters in our zone last week. Soeur Waldron greeted the first three on Tuesday and they all spoke fluent french. Soeur Waldron went up and said, "Est-ce que vous avez besoin de quelque chose?" (do you need anything?) and then she asked them where they were from in french and they went off on this huge thing and she didn't even have any idea what they said. She came back into our room and was telling us how embarassed she felt (she went into fetal position) haha but she was laughing about it. I thought it was so hilarious. and I'm just imaginging myself getting to france and the first french person talking to me and I just say, "je ne comprends pas" over and over and over. and then go into fetal position. haha jk or at least I hope I'm jk. :)
Oh anyways, so those new sisters got put in another zone and I think they're leaving early. But 7 other American sisters came in. I was talking to them the other day and said, "how are the elders? do they focus?" they said, "Yes, sometimes they get sidetracked talking about scriptures that aren't relevant though." I started laughing and said, "well, at least they're sidetracked on scriptures. Our elders are wild." then, 5 minutes later e. Burgess (my district) went running down the hall as batman (crafted out of garbage bags) and making weird noises. Typical day in our district. The new sister poked her head out the door and said, "oh, I see what you're saying now."
Elder Zwick came and spoke at Devotional on Sunday! He did an awesome job. On prayer and how when we stop praying we are putting our confidence in ourselves. Also, we just got back from the temple (our second to last time). I LOVE it more and more every time I go and realize what a huge blessing it is to have one so close! Go as often as you can!
Last thing, OLy boys are amazing. I.E. Elder Spencer Simpson. They work hard and they have fun. He was telling me all this stuff they're doing in their danish district. Oh my gosh, they're amazing, and his danish is sounding great and he is just such a good example to me of how to study and they have so much fun too. Danielle really had the best friends last year! (send him cookies! :) ) I told him you were going to. :) Love you all so so so much! and hope everything is going well!