Wow! I can't believe that I've already been here for half a month! It has gone by so incredibly fast! The days are long but the weeks are short! I really love being here and I almost don't want to leave. But I know that when I get to Russia I'll feel that way even more!
So I have so much to type and so little time!
Me and my companion have already taught about 5 or 6 lessons in Russian-crazy! We've used notes of course but it's really amazing how much progress we've been able to make with our fantastic teachers and with the Lord's help.
Our "investigator" Zoya agreed to be baptized and during one lesson she asked about what she needed to wear and I was able to look up her answer because I knew where to find it and to answer her in very stilted, poorly pronounced Russian.
It turns out our investigator Zoya is actually our third teacher Sister Alletta! What they do here is use teachers or rm's or native speakers to come be "investigators" and we get to teach them. Our first one was Zoya and she was so sweet and interested and the perfect investigator!
We just got our new "investigator" Kostya this week and taught him for the first time, and they've now increased the level of realism and difficulty. He's a Russian who's a BYU student and not particularly interested in the gospel but more in the history of Mormons. He's agreed to a second lesson so we can talk to him about the restoration and I'm excited to see how he's going to change as he learns more and more about the gospel of Jesus Christ!
So the past week has had it's ups and downs but for the most past has been wonderful! I LOVE learning the langugage! Our teachers make it so much fun and always tell us crazy stories from their missions. Our one teacher reads a passage from his mission journal and told us how he and his companion would pick a day and name it, for example "weird-walk Wednesday". Then they would walk weird all day and the people in the street would notice them and come up to them and talk to them! Another teacher told us about this delicacy in Russia called "holladyets" which apparently is gellatinized pig meat and fat-EWWW!!! He said that one time he and his companion were visiting a woman and his companion decided to be a jerk and told her that our teacher LOVED her holladyets and was starving so she gave him a HUGE portion of it which he had to eat so as not to offend her and then gave him seconds! Apparently on his mission he didn't have a good time with the food but said that that's not usually the norm.
We've already learned past tense, verb conjugations, and how to talk about our families so now we have a much broader use of the language and can learn how to apply our knowledge for teaching our investigators!
We had a fun class this week talking about stress management at the MTC and our teacher told us to go outside and run around the building two times and we were all like....okay...and we went out and did it which was hilarious and ridiculous at the same time but his point was to try to convey how stressful a mission can be whether physically, pschologically, emotionally, spiritually, etc.
We went to this workshop where we watched this really powerful clip from a talk by Elder Holland who told us that on our missions we would have to push ourselves out of our comfort zones to the edge of what we are accustomed to. I've realized that I want to take full time of this time in the MTC to prepare me in every way possible so that I can be an effective missionary out in the field and become what the Lord wants me to become.
We were so lucky when Elder Christofferson came to speak last night at the Tuesday devotional! It was so amazing to realize that we were in the presence of an apostle of the Lord! He talked to us about charity and the importance of developing Christ-like love for the people we will be teaching and serving. He told us that charity never fails and that this pure love is a gift, an endowment that we have the right to receive, especially as missionaries and representatives of Jesus Christ!
He spoke to us candidly, and asked us questions from verses of scriptures as we identified the roles of the members of the Godhead. He told us that he loved us and that as missionaries we stand shoulder to shoulder with apostles of the Lord, which was sooooo humbling!
I've really been able to make a lot of progress in learning the language but I still know very little. I've been praying REALLY hard to the Lord to have faith that I can learn this language and that I will be able to teach with the Spirit and develop Christ-like charity for the people.
I LOVE my companion and my district sooo much! I really don't think they could be any more perfect! I feel so honored to be able to be here with them, learning this language, and learning how to better teach the gospel and invite others to come unto Christ.
I've had a couple of emotional meltdowns on days where I've felt discourage or stressed or a lack of confidence and I've really had to rely on the Lord. Since I've been here, I haven't been able to bottle up my emotions like I'm accustomed to. My companion has been so wonderful and supportive-she is so Christlike and sees only the good in people! I'm truly blessed to have her as my companion, especially on days where I start to doubt that I can do this. My branch president has also been so supportive and I've been told many times that the Lord is preparing people especially for us to go and teach the gospel!
My branch president told me he knew that I was supposed to be here and that I would be an excellent missionary and that my teachers had told him that I was doing really well. So I feel like I can go forward with confidence in my mission and I'm soooo excited to go to Russia and learn about the people and their culture and learn to love them!
Well I love all of you! I would love to hear from all of you and would LOVE to get letters!
Love you all!