C'fare jam? Majmun? (This is my new favorite phrase to say)
Well, usually I write down quick notes about things that happen during the week that I want to tell you but I forgot them this week...so you will just get whatever is on the top of my mind!
First of all our weekly schedule changed which is why this letter is on Thursday instead of Wednesday. There are some good and bad things about our schedule. I actually like having my preparation day on Thursdays instead. But the down side to our new schedule is that breakfast is now at 6:45 which gives us only 15mins to get ready (no more showers in the morning...) which bumps up all our meal so we eat lunch at 11:20 and dinner at 4:20 (which seems ridiculously early to me but since all my other meals are early I'm usually hungry by then). We also have gym in the middle of the day, so that is usually when I take my showers. Which is weird. Showers in the morning are my favorite. In China I took showers in the evening because it was so hot and humid I never felt like I was dry if I took them in the morning. But this whole taking them in the middle of the day is...interesting. I can't wait to be out in the field where the schedule is a little more normal. I feel like this new one is a little scattered. ALSO they might be moving us to rain tree in a few weeks. I guess they are turning it into an extension of the MTC with all the new missionaries coming, especially since its summer now so all those who are out of high school will be coming in soon. There has already been a huge increase with BYU being over and all those peeps coming in. It is such an exciting time to be a missionary, I love it!
The language is still coming slowly and is probably what I struggle with the most. Every day is a roller coaster, someday are super great and I feel like I'm progressing. And some days I feel like I don't understand anything. But I love that every time it is hard and every time it is frustrating, God finds some way or someone to help me. My days are filled with tender mercies and I feel extremely grateful for that. It doesn't mean that I have suddenly gotten way good at the language but it gives me the strength to go from day to day or moment to moment. I have never been stretched too much in my life; physically, mentally, and spiritually. But it hurts so good. I remember at the beginning of basketball season we would always have intense physical workouts and I would feel so sore and it would hurt. But it would hurt in a good way because you knew you were getting stronger. That’s how it feels, my mind and soul are being exercised in ways they have never been exercised (or at least not for awhile) and it hurts so good. One my favorite Hungarian friends Maxfield Nover (Sister Maxfield is SO funny) was in consecration week last week (you don't speak any English for a week) and I was going to choir with her and her companion so I was waiting from them to finish studying before we left and she gave me a letter to read that one of her missionary friends sent her. It was like the best pep talk ever and I really needed it that day (just another tender mercy of many). One of the lines from the letter was like "Mission = a stretching mechanism from the soul" and it is so true! There was so many golden nuggets in that thing but another one I super liked was "people don't care how well you can congregate a verb they care if they can feel your love and the Savior's love". My grammar is somewhat lacking (to put it lightly) and it IS something that I want to improve (so people can understand me) but more important than that I want to be able to bring the spirit and let them know I love them. I truly am so excited to meet these Albanian people. Our native teacher Motra Iftiu is so wonderful and I just can't wait to be there! (But at the same time I can wait a few more weeks-I need a better handle on this crazy language)
Also, we taught in English this week for the first time ever (as a missionary) and it was a humbling experience. Before I thought I would be *such* a great teacher if only I could speak in English since I had gone to teaching appointments with missionaries a bunch growing up. But no, even when you DO know the language you still NEED to rely on the spirit. We also learned a lot as a companionship and how we can teach together more unified. But it was such a learning/growing experience. One of my favorite lessons we have had here was learning to teach with the spirit. I love how even when we are role playing and "pretending" you can still totally feel the spirit. I love this place.
The field has opened up this week so it had been nice to be outside playing volleyball, I want to play soccer next time. The hard part is we have it right after lunch or dinner and lets be honest, who feels like running around right after they've eaten? Not this kid. But I'm getting more and more used to it I guess. I also played 4 square for the first time yesterday. Before I came on my mission I remember lot of people telling me how intense it is and one of my friends even got hurt playing. But I guess it depends on who is in the MTC at the time because most days it doesn’t seem like anyone is playing and when they do its not that intense. But it was still fun. The saddest part about the MTC (and especially with the field open now) is that you can't play ultimate Frisbee (sad day) you can still throw a Frisbee around but you can't play the game. I will just have to bring it to the people of Albania!
I love the weather here! Spring time is my favorite! I love being able to go outside for personal study and sit in the sun. It is magical. Also a much needed break from the classroom that we live in. I'm glad I wasn't here for winter where I would spend even more time in that place. It’s funny; when we first got here we got a nice classroom with a window and comfy seats and nice desks. After a few days they moved us out to fix the AC and we were put in this closet room with no window and tiny little desks that slanted so everything fell off your desk. We have been there for a couple weeks but last Saturday we moved back into our beloved old classroom and we appreciate it so much more now.
When I first got here most of the trees only had little buds on them and were just starting to grow but now there are blossoms and leaves all around. It’s like we are all growing here together (the trees and us missionaries). I took a picture of the tree outside our window the day we left our classroom. I had wanted to take pictures of it throughout our stay here but then we were moved. When we came back it was amazing to see the progress the tree had made while we weren't able to observe it. I feel like that’s how I am with the language. My progress has been so slow that sometimes I don't feel like I am learning and progressing. But when I compare myself to where I was when I first got here, its amazing how much I really have learned and grown. I will call the parable of the tree outside our classroom window.
Oh, today is my birthday too! It doesn't feel like my birthday but I suspect birthdays on a mission are just like that. I've given this year-and-a-half to the Lord. This is His time and this life right now is no longer about me (but I do still love letters! And I am SO grateful for birthday wishes and letters I've gotten thus far). The Lords demands a lot with this time we've given Him (remember all that stretching stuff) but despite how hard this is, I wouldn't have it any other way. I want to be as useful of an instrument as I can to the Lord and if that means learning Albanian, then by golly I’m gonna do it!
I just want you all to know that I love you so much! And I KNOW the Lord loves you too. As a missionary (so far-not that I'm seasoned or anything) but I have been able to see a smart part of that love that He has for His children. I can' wait to help share that with the Albanians. As a missionary we focus a lot on our investigators but you know what, we also are our own investigators. Everything that we are asking our investigators to do we should be doing as well. Everything we are asking them to pray about and find out for themselves we should be doing too. So I encourage you to (dare I say, commit to?) remember that as you are reading your scriptures and saying your prayers, ask again about the truthfulness of those things. I promise that your testimony of those things will be strengthened as you do that. The church is true. God love you. I love you. Have a great week!
Peace and blessings,
P.S. The BYU Men's chorus came to the MTC a couple weeks ago, it was great! If anyone sees my good friend Cameron McCready tell him he did a fantastic job!