Buenos Dias, mi familia!!
It is day4 here at the CCM (MTC en Espanol), and I do not even know where to begin. The MTC is amazing! Amazingly challenging and uplifting. Day one was like trying to catch a drink of water from a fire hydrant. We dropped off our bags in our room, and went immediately to our classroom, where we were fully immersed in the language. Our teacher is not aloud to speak English to us, so it was with some difficulty and a lot of help from fellow Elders that we received his instruction. After that we had a long meeting in a chapel for all the greenies (although my sticker was orange if I remember correctly). It was mostly an orientation-type thing, but the highlight for me was singing We'll Bring the World His Truth, replacing "we will be the Lord's missioanries" with "we are now the Lord's missionaries." It was a powerful realization of the reality of our new lives as representatives of Jesus Christ.
Remember Elder Michael Phelps? Yep, that's mi companero! He's all the way from Spanish Fork and has studied a year at BYU-I. He's really nice, easy to get along with, and he's really fired up about the language. I know after a lot of prayer and hard work, we're going to be a great companionship. We've certanily got a long way to go. The MTC kinda makes you realize just how much you can improve personally. Not a moment is wasted here, and I have a whole new appreciation for down time. Meal breaks are only 40 minutes and aside from getting ready in the morning and winding down at night, that is the extent of our free time. But you know me, I like to keep busy. I want to make every single moment count here. Oor Zone Leaders were talking about their personal goals to make their study time more effective by cutting their bathroom and water breaks shorter, and not stopping studying until the end of the block, not even five minutes before. It was really inspiring to understand that we are literally on the Lord's time, not ours, and every moment wasted is wasted on God's behalf. Our time is precious.
Anywayyy, back to the narrative. Thursday was even crazier, but still fun and exciting. I've run in to a ton of Elders here from before the mission, including Elder Stallings, Steffan, Coakwell, Farnsworth, and others. It's really great to see familiar faces here and see that we're all in this together, doing the Lord's work. Man...what to say... So much has been crammed into our brains in the past few days, it's difficult to organize my thoughts or make a lot of sense of everything. I've found going to sleep at night is very difficult. Even though I'm physically exhausted, my mind races while I lie in bed. We only have a limited amount of personal time at the end of the day, and I always spend it in a rush to finish up planning, journal writing, unpacking, etc. before lights out, with little time to really wind down. Added to that is the swirl of spanish words and phrases that floods my mind as I ponder, half of which I don't know the meaning. I find myself constantly trying to translate everything I read or write, and even now I have to restrain myself. It is a testament, however, of the amount of information we have learned in the past few days. I'm already completely accustomed to saying "Hola," "Gracias," "Esta bien" and other common phrases in my regular speech. I have a testiomony of the gift of tongues. We have prayed for it in our district and strived to learn as much as we can, and we have certainly been blessed. I'll tell you why.
Yesterday was my first run in with discouragement here. After less than days of Spanish training, we had our first lesson en Espanol with an investigator. His name is Cristian Nieva. He's from Buenos Aires, and has been living in Orem with his uncle for 3 months now. His family is Catholic, but Cristian isn't much of a believer (this is the story they give us, anyway. We're all conviced that every "investigator" is a member with a fabricated story. Still, we treat it as the real thing.) Our instructor (Hermano Ames) helped us prepare as much as we could, but it was ultimately left up to us to create our own lesson plan and memorize phrases we would need to be able to teach. Everyone in our district was scared to death. Right before meeting with Cristian, Elder Phelps and I prayed for the Spirit and the gift of tongues, as well as the strength of the Lord to have a successful lesson. Well, I wouldn't call it a success, but it certainly wasn't a failure. We understood about 70% of what he said, and were able to teach him about our Heavenly Father and prayer, and invited him pray. He declined, but we were still able to pray with him twice in the lesson. It was a remarkable experience. I couldn't believe how much I was able to understand and speak.
AHH!! I'm runnig out of time, so I'll have to cut this short. I could go on for hours. I got my first letter from Anna last night and picked a package from her this morning. I am utterly speechless. Thank you everyone who wrote advice to me. I haven't had a chance to read it yet, but I will write after I leaev the computer lab. I cannot thank you all enough. I know your words will be such a strength to me here, and I blessed by the Lord to know so many wonderful people that are such great examples to me. Anna, you have outdone yourself.
I'm out of time, but I want to end with a testimony. I know that this is the Lord's work. I am so grateful to be here, and I couldn't be more thrilled for what lies ahead. I know this gospel is true, and Christ lives. I love my heavenly father and I can't wait to fulfil my purpose invitar a las personas a venir a Cristo al ayudarlas a que reciban el Evangelio restaurado, mediante la fe en Jesucristo y Su expiacion, el arrepentimiento, el bautismo, el recepcion del don del Espiritu Santo, y el perseverar hasta el fin. Yo se Dios es nuestro Padre Celestial y Cristo es su hijo, el Salvador. En el nombre de Jesucristo. Amen.