The first day here is like drinking from a fire hydrant; you may get some water with some effert, but you're going to miss most of it. After being dropped off, my escort showed me to my room. I received a room key and an ID card that is an electronic key to all the buildings. Once my luggage was in my room I was sent to class immediately. There were only two people in the classroom: Elder Schumacher, who is my companion, and Hermana Schumacher, the maestro. (They aren't related) Slowly, all the elders arrived one by one and met their companions. That first lesson was given entirely in Spanish, as was the next one and the one after that. Hermana Schumacher's teaching style would be described as excited and compassionate. At the end of the second day, we found out that she was not our teacher, but only a substitute. The next day we were taught by Hermana Warburton. He taught by speaking first in Spanish, then in English. He also shared stories and told jokes. It was funny to hear him introduce himself because he would always say his name with an American accent, even though he was speaking Spanish. Hermano Warburton only taught us one day because he too was a substitute. Finally we met our maestro, Hermano Walker. He has an excited and joyous attitude and he is a great teacher. As part of our learning, we teach investigators who only speak Spanish and our first appointment was Friday, just two days into the MTC. Elder Schumacker and I walked into our first teaching appointment knowing it wasn't going to be the greatest lesson ever, but we did our best. The lesson consisted mostly of simple phrases like, "Dios es nuestros amarosa Padre Celestial." and lots of smiling, and just saying, "si" after everything our investigator, whose name is Sebastian, said. We closed our lesson with a prayer in Spanish as best we could and left with an appointment the next day. Unfortunately, the lesson with Sebastian that next day didn't go as well as the first. Sebastian asked a lot of questions we couldn't answer either because we couldn't understand him or because we didn't know the words we wanted to say in Spanish. We left that lesson feeling a little down trodden, but with a desire to be ready for the next lesson. As we prepared our lesson we memorized key phrases and prepared scriptures to share. We also wanted to try something we hadn't in the previous two lessons: to Testify of simple, yet powerful, truths. Elder Schumacher was a little nervous and desired that we should pray before knocking on Sebastian's door. At the conclusion of the prayer we both received the same impression: a feeling of being assured that seemed to say, "Do not worry, I am here with you." The lesson that followed was our best one. We understood his questions and were able to give him answers. And as we each shared testimony the Spirit filled the room and it was clear Sebastian felt it. We learned a very important lesson from that experience: the most powerful witness you can share is testimony. It invites the Spirit into the room and allows the investigator to be taught by the Spirit, who is the true teacher and converter anyway.
Besides having twelve hours of Spanish class every day, the day also consists of about one to two hours of personal study time, thirty minutes to an hour of companionship study and lesson preparation, breakfast, lunch, dinner, and an hour of gym time.
For every meal, there are about three to five different options. The dinner on Wednesdays are supposed to be the best meal of the week because that is when the new missionaries arrive. The night I arrived we had chicken cordon Blue (not as good as mom's) and the second Wednesday we had steak and potatoes. There's always something good to eat and I have a salad with either lunch or dinner every day.
For our gym time, we play foursquare of volleyball. If our gym time is in the morning, we play soccer at the field across the street. The cool thing about the field is that it is at the bottom of the hill from the Temple.
Once a week, we go to the temple to do our endowment session at seven in the morning, so we have to be up at six. On Tuesday mornings, we do service at six forty-five in the morning. That service is usually just cleaning and maintaining the MTC. On Sunday, we have an hour to go to the Temple and walk around the grounds.
In my district, there are eight people (a district is all the people in a classroom, usually eight to twelve) They are: Elders Blaylock, Kuetel, Schumacher, Allen, Odum, Casper, and Wakeham. There are four people in my room: Elder Schumacher, Blaylock and Kuetel. Elder Schumacher is our district leader, but I am the senior companion so we're both in charge of each other.
Elder Casper is quiet and doesn't say much, but when he does he definitely contributes to the conversation. He's really into basketball, so if we want him to jump into a conversation then we just say LeBron is a good basketball player and then Elder Casper will inform everyone why LeBron isn't a good player.
Elder Wakeham is also quiet, but is coming out of his shell. He lived in Morgan and knows Brayden, so that was fun to talk to him about. He is a good guy and it's always enjoyable to talk to him. Everyone likes to give him hugs because he says he doesn't like them, but we all know he does.
Elder Blaylock is interesting because he just converted to the Church for just over one and a half years and is twenty-one years old. He is excited to do the work and loves the Gospel.
Elder Kuettel is funny and I get along well with him. If he had an official catch phrase it would be, "just hug it out." He always has his own opinion, but he also respects everyone else's opinion. He is also humble and is a pleasure to be around.
Elder Allen always has a unique way of looking at things. He is an animated talker, using his hands quite a bit to help express his ideas. He has a great love for everyone around him and watches out to make sure everyone is taken care of.
Elder Odum and I fit together like two puzzle pieces. We do all kinds of things together, like sing "Think of Me" from Phantom of the Opera in the shower. Funny enough, he lived in Idaho Falls and went to Hillcrest, so it's fun to compare schools. He also used to live in Virginia; I don't remember where, but it was about three hours away from Richmond.
Elder Schumacher, my companion, has a strong testimony and truly loves the church. He's a bit of a body builder, so during gym time he runs laps and lifts weights. He is a little more serious than the rest of us, but we love him none the less.
Obviously I can't adequately describe them all, but they're all good men and needless to say, they all love me and think I'm the funniest person ever.
My Spanish is coming along well enough. Day to day it seems like I don't learn much, but looking back to where I was on Wednesday it is a lot. I even thought of a clever play on words: Hay es un leccion en cada elleccion. Which means, there is a lesson in every choice. It's a play on words because the word 'lesson' is in the word 'choice'.
On our MTC card, they give us $6 a week to get pens and notebooks as needed. That money is also used for the washer/dryer and laundry soap. There are some things I can't get though.
I could use soccer shoes, but they can't have cleats. Possibly an Argentinian Soccer jersey, maybe on that says Burt on the back.
Books we're allowed to have: Jesus the Christ, True to the Faith, Our Heritage, Our Search for Happiness, The miracle of Forgiveness. I don't have any of these