It's been an absolutely amazing first week at the Provo Missionary Training Center! I can't believe I've only been here 6 days; it feels like I've been here a month. I enjoyed the few days in Utah from to I was able to spend finishing my mission quilt with Aunt Lorraine and going to all Elizabeth's classes at BYU because she was my "companion". That was fun to experience 2 days in the life of a BYU student! She kept telling everyone she was "babysitting a missionary" haha.
MTC life is so crazy! I'm living on the new West Campus, which was previously Wyview apartments, and we have to cross the street all the time to get to the RainTree apartments where we have our classes and meals and bookstore and mailroom. Every day we receive mail at lunch and at dinner, so everyone is always hoping to receive letters! Our days are so packed with studying, class, devotionals, meetings, training and coaching and "progressive investigator" or PI appointments, where my companions and I go into a living room set-up and teach an investigator who is acting. It really stressed me out at first but I'm getting much more comfortable with it. I'm loving wearing church clothes every day and pinning my little nametag on (the magnetic ones are the coolest) and just focusing on studying the gospel and how to meet the needs of our investigators.
I've already had a lot of challenges to overcome, the hardest of which has been my companionship--or rather, Tri-panionship. Sister Holt, from Georgia and Sister Perez from Washington are my companions because the other Sister in our district didn't show up for her mission. So the three of us have had to work together and try to all teach without walking all over each other during lessons with the PI's and it's been the hardest thing I've ever tried to do. Thankfully these lessons aren't with real investigators, so when we totally confused the guy in our first lesson I was just glad we didn't ruin his chance at salvation. The tripanionship thing still is pretty rocky but I've learned to turn to prayer and to the scriptures, as well as the Sister Training Leaders, for guidance and support.
I'm so busy all the time but I do keep you in my heart and think about my parents, grandparents, little sisters and brother, and friends often. I was so afraid of the MTC the night before I left that I made my stomach upset, but after experiencing a week of it I know that anyone can do it, just not on their own. You have to rely on the Lord to help you or you'll give up and go home. Yesterday I was having the worst day with companion drama because one of my companions didn't want to even try to practice our lesson or even talk about what we were going to say, and I just felt discouraged and stressed because I know we can't have the Spirit there without tripanionship unity. Plus, we were just about to start that night a new PI in the TRC building, with a legit actor/actress who might or might not be a nonmember! But right when we were about to go teach that first lesson, the Branch President's wife came to visit us and Sister Perez, who has been having homesickness and been questioning why she's here as well as many other issues, talked to her instead of coming with Sister Holt and I on the appointment.
I have never appreciated more than now, the fact that we only usually have ONE companion, because everything just flowed so easily and the investigator spoke a lot so we understood her needs, and I felt the Spirit so strong in our lesson. At one point I felt like I should talk to her about how there are thousands of missionaries out serving just like us, to share this exciting news that the priesthood authority of God is here again on the earth and we just want to share it with everyone! When I did, she started smiling and said, "Wow you sound so excited about this!" and I honestly couldn't stop smiling the whole lesson because it WAS exciting and together Sister Holt and I were able to do everything we have been learning the past 5 days. When we left we were SO happy we had to keep from jumping up and down with excitement and just pure JOY in the work. Never have I been more sure, and more happy, of my decision to serve a mission. This is exactly where I want to be and exactly what I want to be doing and I'm learning to love every moment of it--the difficult moments and the beautiful moments alike.
My district has 4 Elders and 3 Sisters and we are all going to the Utah Salt Lake City Mission! Our zone has another district and they just have 6 Elders, 2 of which are going to my mission as well. These boys may only be 18, but their testimonies are strong and so is their faith and they know they are on the Lord's errand. I'm so impressed with all the missionaries here and their attitudes of faith. When we take walks around the campus we'll say "Hi Elders' and we'll hear back "Hola Hermanas" or some other jibberish that could be Finnish, Tagolog, or who knows what. The food is good but I'm trying really hard not to take in more calories than I'm burning, especially with the ice cream and fudge bars always available to us at every meal, and the Creamery ice cream at the Wyview creamery where we go to get things we need and do our laundry. We also have breakfast at , which means I'm getting up every morning at to take a shower and get ready for the day. That'll be nice to "sleep in" when I get to Salt Lake City next week! We are taking the Frontrunner train the 22nd so I'm not sure if I'll have time to email next week.
I hope you all are doing well and thank you for the letters I've already received from Sister Evans, Elizabeth of course, and Zella! Missionaries LIVE for letters. Our District Leader checks the mail twice a day and everyone just hopes and crosses their fingers that one of the letters in his hands is for them. I've probably received more mail than everyone in my district so far, thanks to Elizabeth and her dear-eldering me. Unfortunately I can't receive mail every day when I go to the real mission field next week, so this is the last and only week I have left to receive your letter the day you write it on Dear Elder.
I was able to see Sister Holbrook, who is from Chicago and serving in Salt Lake with me, and when we had the same schedules. It was great to catch up with her! My tripanionship and her companionship are both Sister Training Leaders for our mini-Branches. Also I saw Sister Kelsey Howard, from Las Vegas who I met up at BYU Idaho last fall and haven't seen since then! It was so exciting to see another person I knew and she was pretty excited too. She actually yellled out "Ashley!!" and then put her hands over her mouth like 'oops I said her first name" and it was pretty funny. I hope I can see her again and get a picture with her before she goes to the Philippines. I also saw Elizabeth's old roommate Hannin (still don't know her last name) and I yelled her name out too and she was totally caught off guard but she hugged me and it was just neat to see someone I knew.
Before I go, I just wanted to thank Grandma Pam for the black and white skirt, it's so comfortable and cute! I'm loving my new scriptures and just marking away during my Personal Study time. That's my ultimate favorite time of the day--just complete silence for at least an hour where I can do my own searching and scripture marking and there is just complete peace with no distractions at all. I've always loved learning, but learning about missionary work and how to do it is the most I've ever learned spiritually in such a short time. Tonight I'm singing in the choir for our night devotional, which is going to be broadcasted to every MTC there is! And there is a general authority speaking, so I get the best seats! I'm so excited to feel the Spirit and sing and go to the Main MTC Campus this time.
I also went to the Provo temple this morning with my Zone and we had a wonderful time of course. We took a bunch of pictures so I was hoping to attach them on this email. So far our computers have been rejecting our cameras so I might have to wait to send them until next week or the week after. I love you all and hope everything is going well with you. Write me! :)
P.S. I saved my red "dork dot" just so you know Dad. :)