Today is my last p-day at the MTC! We leave for Ohio bright and early Tuesday morning – the most important point about that being that I will have a new mailing address (see address on the right). I am so, so, so grateful for the mail I’ve received this last week, thank you all so much. I will respond to everyone, but it might take me awhile – I’m behind and never seem to have enough time to write. (Note: DearElder.com still works even when I’m not in the MTC, they print and deliver letters, but not same-day and it isn’t free – costs the same as a regular stamp would).
Anyway, since this is the last time I’ll write from here, here are some reflections on the MTC…
There is almost nothing about this place that I shouldn’t be hating….9 hours of classes (taught by 21 year-olds) every day, waking up at 6:30am, sleeping on a bunk bed in a cinderblock basement room with three teenage girls, sharing what is essentially a locker room bathroom with 40 other teenage girls, cafeteria-style food, no alone time whatsoever, no phone, no computer…I could go on and on. Anyone who knows me at all knows how unlikely it is that I could even tolerate one of those things for a few days, let alone 2.5 weeks, and yet none of it has bothered me at all. The only explanation I can come up with is that I’m being blessed – maybe I’ve been given some kind of spiritual rose-colored glasses, I’m not sure, but I know that the way I’ve felt about being in this place makes absolutely no sense. Seriously, the only two complaints I can even come up with, and I’ve tried, are the mail rules (see previous letter) and the fact that the chairs here are unbelievably uncomfortable, though even that has lessened because now we’re into Visitor Center Training in a different room with nice chairs. It’s possible that having a purpose and feeling good about that purpose makes this all very doable. Kind of like Psalms 25:1 – the Lord is my light, in an unconsciously and unexpectedly sustaining way. I was reading this week and came across a verse that is along the same lines, but much less comforting…Proverbs 28:25 – He that puts his trust in the Lord shall be made fat. I definitely haven’t gone hungry here and am hoping that a little more walking around in Ohio will help make that verse strictly metaphorical.
Not only has the MTC been surprisingly okay, but so have the people. I just really like an unusually high percentage of the people I’ve met. Normally I’d say about 10% of those I meet make it into the ‘like’ category before several weeks of acquaintance, but I haven’t known most people here for that long and I really, really like at least…50% of them, and I even like the other 50% (well maybe 48%), but in a more distant, probably-don’t-feel-the-need-to-keep-in-touch-kind-of-way.Shocked doesn’t begin to describe how I feel about this – especially given the varying backgrounds and ages of these people and how much time I spend with them. For example, Sis. Talbot (my companion) is from a tiny, tiny town near Bryce Canyon (Tropic) where there are 7 stop signs and 3 yield signs, and only two stoplights in the whole county (yes she knows the count). She was a Miss Utah competitor and is 19. In what universe would I find myself spending every waking minute with someone like this, and being grateful for every one of those minutes? Part of that is that she is extraordinarily mature, very smart, funny, and caring. She is an incredibly person, has dealt with a lot, and is dedicated to being good at this missionary thing. I love her – not in a compassionate/sympathetic kind of way, but in that I respect and admire her, and she has become very important to me. My capacity to love has increased since I’ve come here, and once again, the only explanation I can come up with is that the Lord is in this. I’m a little worried about the transition to Ohio, but I suppose the Lord will be in that too. It will be hard to leave the people I’ve met here though – as a friend of mine likes to say, ‘God is a great adhesive for souls.’
Other MTC stuff…we don’t get as much time in front of the mirror as we probably need. The whole ‘Look good, feel good, baptize’ motto might have to be modified to ‘Sleep more, look good enough…’
One missionary requirement which no one told me about was the whole smiling thing. Every time we do roleplay teaching exercises we evaluate each other and give ‘constructive’ feedback. Last week I was paired with an Elder I had never met to do bus contacting practice (something that takes less than two minutes between the two of us) and in the eval his suggestion was that I ‘get that smile a little bigger’ and he demonstrated by lifting the corners of his mouth with his fingers. Even in my blessed and more loving state…this comment did not go over well. And I’ve had to explain, repeatedly, that my face just looks like this in repose. I’m not grumpy or angry, I just have that ‘resting face’ issue. Apparently I need to practice my warm and friendly face.
We started Visitor’s Center Training this week, which includes doing online teaching – phone, chat, and email. That is a part of what VC sisters do just about every day and I cannot being to describe how excited I am about this. The feel of the keyboard under my fingers, the tapping of the keys, the glow of the screen…I was born for this! I was so giddy that Sister Gren wanted to take a picture.
Anyway, I have to wrap up, but I have a few MTC quotes to share first…some classics this week:
- "Sometimes Sister West’s melancholy benefits us." -An Elder in my district who is extremely positive and doesn’t always appreciated my sense of humor. Also not sure he knows what melancholy means exactly.
- "You remind me of my mom." Another Elder in my district. Thank you?
- Speaking of getting married when we all get home, an Elder in my district looked at me and said, "You better get crackin…unless you don’t want to have kids." Awesome.
- "I read that you still regenerate pretty well up till about age 25, and then after that you’re slowly dying every die. Is that how you feel?" -An Elder in my zone.
- Talking about the definition of ‘liberally’ in James 1:5, a sister said, "Oh, like liberals…how they give away money?"
- "Boys and girls do their laundry in front of each other? That’s terrible." A sister who arrived Wednesday doing her laundry for the first time today.
- "He has the same sex-attraction." A woman talking about a man in a Mormon message video.
- "You played an old grandma really well – I don’t know where you get this stuff." – A sister in our VC class, after I had pretended to be a 70 year-old investigator and made a comment about the rain not being so bad because it made things nice and green. Clearly an old grandma comment.
- "Isn’t the University of Utah the church’s rival?" Uh….this elicited a long lecture from me about how ‘the church’ doesn’t have a rival becuase they don’t have sports teams. BYU is not the church, more apostles attended the U, etc. The Elder initially tried to argue, but gave up pretty quickly – it felt good to win. There’s not enough of that here.
- "I need some law of chastity in my life." -when we began practicing how to teach this, not my favorite lesson to teach that’s for sure.
Thanks again for all the prayers and letters – keep them coming! And I would LOVE Christmas cards from those of you who send those, that would be a nice way to decorate whatever living quarters I’ll be in I’m sure.
Not sure when my p-day will be in Ohio, I think the Visitor’s Center sisters may have different p-days to accommodate the shifts, but who knows.
No photos again this week…sorry, picked a bad computer again. Hopefully this won’t be a problem in Ohio and my next post will include a flood of Provo temple selfies (that’s basically all we have), oh and the classic map picture.