Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Goodbyes are over, time to say Hello!

Hello everyone!

Well, I made it through my first week at the MTC and my first week as a missionary! For the first few days all the missionaries who have been here FOREVER (3 or more weeks) tell all the newbies "If you make it ‘til Sunday you'll make it your whole mission! It all gets easier after Sunday." And boy is that true! For the first few days we changed "Sunday" to "Someday" because we felt like we'd been here our whole lives! But the MTC is great, so here we go!

SAY HELLO! to minha compinhera (my companion) Sister Jones! She's from Spanish Fork and headed to Boston, MA - Portuguese speaking! She's the only one with the mission call in the MTC at the moment, so we are companions. She's way fun, we get along great! Head's up, she can't take a normal picture to save her life, no matter what I threaten her with.

Companion Study
SAY HELLO! to my district! All the Elders are 18 with various levels of maturity ;-), all are super funny and adjusting to the rigors of missionary life. The picture I'm sending you is with all of us crying from the sun, so we'll try for a better one next week. :) Left to right: Elder Puartas, Elder Saxton, Elder Trickler, Elder Bennet, Elder Katipunan, and Elder Hilton. All the Elders are headed to the Portugal, Lisbon Mission. Then front row left to right is my companion Sister Jones, me, Sister Burke, and Sister Capener.

The District
Elder Katipunan is from the Philippines and so funny! We were sharing first impressions the other day and he said his first impression of my companion was that she was the "it" girl and his first impression of me was that I was "that one dwarf from Snow White, maybe Sneezy?" (WHAT? Haha.) And after every sarcastic comment he makes he goes, "Jokes!" It's totes hilarious.

SAY HELLO! to my roommates! Sister Capener and Sister Burke are in my room-- both were gals I knew before the mission. The other two are Sister Wright and Sister McFarlene, headed to Brazil, they're super sweet and adorable and we just love them!!

SAY OI! to the Portuguese language. The language is very nasally and it's coming slowly but surely!

You've all already said HELLO to my new address, but no worries! I got all your letters, "Dear Elders", and packages you sent with the old one. :) Thank you, thank you, thank you for the mail! It seriously makes my day. Everyone's support is seriously the #1 motivator/source of happiness in the MTC. We all share our mail with each other and it's helped us get to know each other a little better, and has helped these little Elders to open up. MAIL IS THE HIGHLIGHT OF THE DAY! You should all check out DearElder.com. Send me a knock-knock joke or something. Whatevs. We just love mail!

Alright, things that were easy to adjust to:
1. The FOOD!  Holy cow, I don't know what people were whining about, the food here is great! All kinds of fruit all the time! And wraps and salads and scones and all sorts of glorious things! The food is great!

Meal Time

2. Waking up at 6:30, I thought it would be hard, but it's not that bad - I actually have to get up at 6:15 so I have time to shower.

Things I've learned so far in the MTC:
1. It's not about YOU. Like, for real. There is no "you" time, no time to dry your hair or shave your legs or anything! The one thing I had the biggest problem with was having no time put my stuff away! I finally stole some time on Friday and could breathe easier after that. I'm doing really well with not worrying about other people's things! I have attached a picture or my desk and Sister Jones' desk - guess which side is mine? :)

Guess which side is mine?
2. It's up to YOU to make the MTC meaningful. In the MTC you have 10+ hours in your closet sized classroom.

A typical day in the MTC goes like this:
6:30-7:00 Prepare for the day
7:00-7:45 Personal Study (in our classroom)
7:45-8:15 Breakfast
8:15-12:15 Portuguese with Sister Smith (in our classroom)
12:15-1:15 Lunch
1:15-4:15 Personal Study, Companion Study, Language Study (in our classroom)
4:15-5:30 GYM TIME!!
5:30-6:00 Prep for dinner
6:00-6:30 Dinner
6:30-9:30 Teach Investigator/Plan for next day
10:15-10:30 Prayer/Journal
10:30 Goodnight!
So, as you can see there's 10+ hours in the classroom and only 4 of them are with a teacher. The rest of them are up to us - but do you think you can stick six 18-year old boys in a room and tell them to do personal study and "use their time wisely"? Yeah, no. It doesn't happen. Which is really frustrating but I've just decided to do my best to study in this room full of rowdy, stinky boys!Three things I would advise for the first week at the MTC:
1. Be flexible!
2. Work hard.
3. Don't be hard on yourself.

On Thursday night we taught our first investigator - in Portuguese! Ha! Talk about a joke. But by Tuesday night we were able to teach a whole lesson in Portuguese without notes and understand what we were saying! Granted the lesson was super short and very simple, "I love Jesus, you love Jesus, we all love Jesus!" But hey! Progress! And can I just say I am so happy I'm not learning a character language.

We got our first gym time on Friday, and after sitting for two days straight, gym time was GLORIOUS! It's my favorite part of the day. I mainly run while my companion and other district sisters walk.
Saturday and Sunday I was sick with a cold. Those were hard days. I was feeling really blah and starting to wonder what I was doing here (okay, okay first week is hard, you wonder that a lot, especially with so much wasted time), but then I watched Elder Bednar's talk "Characteristics of Christ" from Christmas at the MTC a few years ago and it was really good! He said "It's not about you." Well, duh, but then he went on to say that we all have a price to pay for our conversion, because it's not enough to just have a testimony. He said you can't rely on others for conversion, you personally have to be paying the price.

So are you paying the price to really know Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ?

What are you personally doing?

Because the number one convert on your mission should be you! But you achieve that by forgetting yourself. The world would have you turn inward, and this week that's what I wanted to do, but Christ never turned inward, he always turned outward towards others, and Christ was the perfect missionary.
I love you all! Have a fantastic week! Choose to be happy!

Sister Katherine Hanzel

Eternal Friendships Reunite - Cape Verde Sisters

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