Dad, Thanks for the letters you sent me through "Dear Elder." I love to read them everyday, you guys are such a strength to me. I love you all so much.
I had no idea the MTC would bring this many ups and downs. The first few days were so hard. I was homesick, my companion was homesick, and we were both lost when it came to Croatian, but we were so blessed to have our neighbors (who are also in our zone), Sister Lefler and Sister Riddle. They just took us under their wings and told us they were in the same place when they first got here, and they made us feel so much better. That, combined with your letters and some humbling and prayer, I have just felt the weight of homesickness being lifted off of my shoulders.
I now LOVE the MTC.
THE MTC: MY NEW DAY-TO-DAY LIFE
First of all, my zone is absolutely amazing. We have the left half of the top floor of building 9M, and we all hang out every day for every meal, and every gym time and everything in between. There are people in my zone going to Croatia, Slovenia, Bulgaria and the Czech Republic (although there is an Elder named Elder Frahm who is going to England, Czech speaking). They are all SO funny. Elder Dyer and Elder Brown are the two Elders who are also going to the Adriatic North Mission, but Brown is going to Slovenia, so he isn't learning Croatian with us. Sister Lefler (the neighbor) and Elder Dyer and his companion Elder Gelhaus are all going to Croatia though, so it will be fun to see them all again. There is also an Elder Prochaska, who is from Switzerland. He is so funny and so charming with his accent. He always has Swiss Chocolate that he hands out to us. He's great - he's from a little town outside of Zurich called Winterhurst.
Second thing. Oh my gosh, my teachers are also amazing. Sestra Jolley (see photo in the blog post beneath) is so sweet and so patient with us. Brother Hansen is also the absolute best. He has all of these fun activities for me and my companion to do so we are active all class time and have a good time learning. He came back from Croatia about a year ago, and he has a way-adorable wife, and he is great. He is good at teaching about missionary work, which he tells us so kindly about in English, no Croatian. He makes class so enjoyable - it is my favorite part of the day.
So I went to sing in the MTC choir! That was fun. Brother Egget is the choir director, and Caroline is totally right about him. He is so cool and spiritual about what he does. (I cry, like every time we sing) We sang "Precious Savior, Dear Redeemer," and it was absolutely amazing. We started singing a'capella in one verse and you could see the entire audience life their heads like, "oh…right…well, let's listen to this." It was awesome.
My companion, Sister Kropushek is from Saratoga Springs, UT. She is really athletic, and fun. We both love green beans, and we get along just fine. One of her grandfathers is from Croatia, and spoke it as a boy, but she never learned the language. So now she is learning it with us.
Also, my favorite part of the day is studying the language. When we have language study time or additional study time, I whip out those flash cards like nobody's business. It is so fun to memorize stuff!
My schedule is this: Eat. Go to class. Eat. Go to class. Eat. Go to Class. Not even kidding…They make you eat like every four hours. We eat dinner at 4 p.m., and then somehow we make it through the rest of the day. The food is ok, but it is sometimes bland, and could use some salt.
BEING CONVERTED TO HIM.
This past Sunday (January 19) was incredible. I didn't know you could feel like you were drowning in the Spirit, but that's what it felt like. First of all, we had an amazing Relief Society meeting with Sister Rosemary Wixom (The church's General Primary President) and then we had an amazing Sacrament Meeting, and then we had choir, which was overwhelmingly good. And then we had a devotional with Sheri Dew. (I know, RIGHT!) And then it was Sunday film time which was a Christmas devotional given by Elder David Bednar a few years ago, that they replay on Sundays. It was absolutely incredible. I wept, and wept and wept, especially because it had been building all day. He talks about how important it is to not only have a testimony of Christ, but to be converted to him. We all have testimonies, that's why we are here, and that is why our investigators will join the church. But we all need to be converted to Jesus Christ, and to become like Him, because that is our overall purpose. He talks about how the character of Christ is to reach out to people when you are down, or are going through trials, instead of pulling into yourself and saying, "Woe is me, help me." Christ, through all the things He went through, reached out to people every day to heal them and help them. Elder Bednar told a story about a woman who called him and said, "There are 3 girls who have been seriously injured, one of them is dead, but we need you to identify the other two girls." He could hear on the line, when a nurse walked up to the woman on the phone and said, "We've identified the deceased. She's your daughter" and without even blinking she turned back to the phone and said, "We need to call the other mothers right away and tell them what happened, and make sure they're OK." In the very instant she found out her daughter died, she reached out to others to make sure they were OK. That is the Character of Christ, and as missionaries we will be going through so much trial and tribulation that we can't start to pull into the natural man, and say "woe is me." We have to reach out to others and strengthen them first, and as we continue to do this, and to study Christ and the person he was, and try to emulate him, then we will be converted. It is a life-long process, but it is worth it.
Coming on a mission - this is the absolute best decision of my life. I am so much stronger from just a week of being here, and I am so happy to be here. I'm excited to loose myself in this work and this language, to learn about these people and how to care for them. I have made friends here and I love them, and I am loving class, and there are incredible spiritual experiences here every day.
I love you all.