Hello Families and friends,
This past week has been the hardest, craziest, most spiritual, and best week of my life.
These first couple days have been the longest days of my life. My first full day where (July 24) we immediately dove into Spanish. Our teacher mostly taught the lesson in Spanish. I was surprised to find out that I could understand about 2/3 of what he was saying even though I haven't taken Spanish for two years. I really do think I am being blessed by the Lord to understand Spanish really well even though I can't speak it very well yet. It's actually pretty funny because a Hispanic will say something to me in Spanish and I know almost exactly what they are saying to me, but I just don’t know how to respond. I definitely am grateful for this blessing, as it will help me to learn Spanish a lot faster. In a meeting on my first full day, we were told that our sacrament meetings would be only in Spanish and that all missionaries would be expected to write a 5 minute talk every week for sacrament meeting because our President would not announce who would be speaking in Sacrament until right after we partake of the sacrament. I don't know how I am suppose to give a five minute talk in Spanish when I can barely know Spanish but I know I will be blessed if I was called on. (I ended up not being called on to give a talk that was a relief) That whole first day we got to meet our whole district. There are 12 of us. 8 Elders and 4 Hermanas. I also got to meet my Companion, Elder McCall who is from Idaho Falls Idaho, as well as the other 4 guys who we will be sharing an apartment with. Two of the Elders are in our district whose names are Elder Stephens and Elder Seegmiller, and the other two Elders and native to Mexico and speak almost no English at all. They are all really chill guys and its really awesome talking to the Hispanic Elders is Spanish. The first night, President Gill, our district president, as well as his counselors interviewed all of the missionaries in our district. They then stepped outside for a few minutes to discuss who should be the District Leader. The moment they stepped out, I had a distinct impression that I was going to be the District Leader. I knew that wasn't my thought so at first I was confused and then realized it was the Holy Ghost. Sure enough President Gill came in and asked if he could speak with me. He brought me outside and said that he felt like I should be the District Leader. Of course I accepted the position as District Leader however being District Leader definitely has a lot more responsibly that I have to add to my busy day. Every day for the past week we have had to teach a practice investigator in Spanish. Basically we were given some background information on this person and then we had to come up with a lesson plan on what to teach here. After we created our lesson plan we then translated the whole thing in Spanish. For the first week we are allowed to read off our notes but soon we will have to have our lessons memorized. My companion Elder McCall and I have done a really good job. We are having our fourth lesson with her tonight and we are going to try to commit her to baptism. We are told there is a specific way to ask someone to be baptized and we cannot deviate from it. So we are suppose to memorize it in English and Spanish. I have it memorized in English and I almost have it memorized in Spanish.
The past couple of days have been really crazy in our district. There have been a lot of illnesses going around here in the CCM (they call the MTC that here) including some intestinal virus. Our district has been struck really hard with illnesses. 5 elders, including me have been really sick. The four elders have had some type of flu or something. I have been lucky compared to them as I have only had a really bad cold. It was actually really cool because the first night I got the cold, I was really, really sick and I could not sleep at all. The three American Elders who live in my Apartment gave me a blessing and I was able to fall asleep really quickly. Although I have not fully recovered, I am getting better every day. Another thing crazy thing in our district happened a couple of days ago. One Elder in a different apartment then where I am woke up during the middle of the night to go to the bathroom. However on his way to the bathroom he fainted and hit the floor really hard. He split his head open a little bit and started bleeding. His companion woke up to help him, but he was one of the Elders in our district who was really sick. On his way to help the Elder who hit his head, he felt really sick and then started throwing up a lot and then he fainted from getting dehydrated from throwing up. Both were sent to a hospital in Mexico City, but luckily both have recovered and both are back and are doing well. The last crazy thing that has happened to our district is that one of the hermanas, who has a disability where is gets really bad anxiety, decided that she wanted to leave her mission and go home because her anxiety got really bad. So now we are one person short in our district.
Speaking with the Spanish Elders in our apartment has been a really awesome experience. Even though we (The 4 English elders) aren’t fluent in Spanish yet we can still strike up a good conversation with them. Every night before we go to bed we talk for about a half hour with them to get to know them and practice the Spanish that we learn in class. The other three English elders still cant understand Spanish very well so after the Spanish Elders say something, I tell the other three English Elders what they are saying. Like I said, I definitely see the Lord's hand in blessing me with the gift to understand Spanish. Yesterday, we set up a time to play soccer on our P-Day with the Latino Elders and all of us are really excited to play. We joked back in forth with them about how they were going to be way better at soccer than us. Our game today with them was a lot of fun. The Spanish Elders that live with us brought with them a lot of other Latino Elders to play with us. I really wish I had brought tennis shoes with me though because I had to wear my snow/rain boots which made it hard to play but I did score a goal against them which was really awesome.
I miss everyone back at home and I really miss all of my family, but I know I am supposed to be here so that I can learn Spanish so that in 5 weeks, I will be able to go to Virginia and preach the gospel to the people there. Like I said, I miss everyone and I hope everyone is doing well.