Thursday, April 10, 2014

First Letter from the MTC

Anywho, the past week has been a rollercoaster. Monday and Tuesday were great. Rexburg was just what I needed. Thanks to everyone for all the advice. I miss you all already.
Wednesday was an interesting day. Caitie and I stayed up on Tuesday night to talk and eat cookie dough ice cream, which only lasted about 30 minutes until we both fell asleep. The next morning, Grandma Cannon took us out to the Original Pancake House, but I couldn't eat anything. It was so great to see them, though. THEN Caitie and I started driving down to Provo, me making last minute calls to everyone the whole time. I ended up leaving about 20 voicemails. Once we got to Provo, we did some alst minute shopping with Ryan Bartlett, and I got to spend my last 15 minutes in a Forever 21. I almost cried. Just kidding. But seriously.
After all the shopping, Caitie and I drove to the temple parking lot and repacked all my stuff. I started feeling really shakey and nervous, especially seeing all the other elders saying goodbye to their families. So, Caitie an dI sat down and said our last goodbyes, then she dropped me off at the curb. Once I was on the curb, I felt great. I don't want to sound cliche, but being on the MTC grounds just felt right. My host for the afternoon was Sister McNelly, who I knew from my freshman year at Idaho. Crazy, right?!
I got my badge, which is in full Russian, then headed to our classroom for our first class. And SURPRISE! Elder Astle and Sister Moffatt, the two people I met beforehand who are also going to Samara, are in my district. Sister Moffatt's actually my companion. So, I can say that my companion and I are already Facebook friends. And Elder Astle is sooo great. It's like having a little piece of Southern California here with me. He told me that Lars said "hi," AND that he read him the super personal message that I wrote him before I left. So, thanks, Lars. Stupid Lars. Stupid, great Lars.
Anywho, our district is perfect. I love them all so much. We're SO close already, and I can't imagine leaving them all in October. We have three missionaries going to Kiev, but the rest are going to Samara, which is awesome. Brother Lamoreaux, part of our stake presidency, said that we were the most united district he's ever seen. No one knows how much he's said that before, though. We do everything together. Actually, ALL the Russian-speaking misionaries do everything together. We eat together in our own section of the cafeteria called the "iron curtain," we do gym together, study together, we ALWAYS speak in Russian to each other on campus, we pray together, we sing together every Saturday night. Everyone knows everyone. It's crazy. Everyone knows who the Eatern European missionaries are.
Speaking of Russian. Holy crap. Remember that letter President Sartori wrote, asking me to help my district with speaking the language? Well, that's definitely the case. I got to teach my district to pray in Russian a couple days ago, and all Russian questions are directed to me and Sister Moffatt, who also took Russian at BYU-Idaho. Sister Moffatt also thinks I've become the mother of the district. Who would've guessed THAT would every happen? (Cough CAITIE Cough). I love it, though. It keeps me sane. If I weren't able to help anyone, I would feel so useless.
So, all the advice everyone gave was true. You really have to embrace this place. It's SO weird, but it's weird in all the right ways. Everyone here is SO happy. All the time. And they're so nice. To EVERYONE. ALL the time. And they love helping people, and learning about the gospel, and being obedient, and teaching others. It's great. Weird, but great. And the whole "make it to Sunday" thing? 100% true. The first few days were full of "holy crap, a year and a half?" type of thoughts. I thought a lot about what I really wanted to accomplish here, and whether or not I was up to the task. We actually had an Elder go home after the first day, which kind of knocked everyone into their place, I think. It was really, really sad. But, we have great teachers and great leaders who say the right things at all the right times. The other day, I was having a hard time feeling motivated to teach our (fake) investigator, or fiding the motivation to teach ANY Russian for that matter, and he told me to picture someone back home who I would want to tell all this too. I immediately thought of about 10 different people and ever since then, the teaching's come a lot easier. we're teaching whole lessons in Russian, by the way. Crazy.
Then on Sunday we had a fireside that focused on the hymn, "Come, Come, Ye Saints." I was a mess the whole time. He made us sing it 3 different times, and each time I just kept picturing Isaac at his farewell, singing it at the pulpit, and I would lose it. It completely changed how I viewed being here, though. The Russian missions have been told time and time again that we really are doing pioneer work. A couple of authorities have said that Russian missions will soon be like Brazil missiona are now-just baptism everywhere. And we all get to be a part of that. It's pretty cool.
Also, I hear that JEF WON THE BACHELORETTE! Sister Moffatt read it in one of her letters, and we started going NUTS. We were hugging each other and jumping up and down. It was perfect. Also, THANKS TO ALL YOU WHO WERE SUPPOSED TO TELL ME WHO WON!
And, I've heard that Dark Knight Rises is very good. We're not really allowed to talke about it all that much, but I hear good things. Feel free to give me details :)

Anyway, I'm running out of time, but I love you all. And I miss you all terribly.

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