Another week has come and gone in what seems to have been the blink of an eye.
I'm not sure who sent me packages - but I just found out I have two waiting which is MUCHO appreciated because this week I have received a total of 3 dear elder messages - two of them from my Mom and one from my dear friend Adrienne. The rest of you have some catching up to do :)
We got a new teacher this week because Hermano Wood ditched us to teach workshops apparently. Not even the workshops that we get to go to. Needless to say, he's heartbroken about having left our amazing district, but he did come by and visit yesterday. We miss him! He's so cheesey and makes lots of sound effects when he's trying to act out a word so that it will stick in our brains more. He NEVER just gave us a word - he made us work for it. Usually we had to look it up and then he might help us find it. It was really good for us and we miss that.
Our new teacher is Hermano VanVleit and he's super nice, but he babies us a little. He translates what he's saying a lot. He's gotten better as this last week has gone by at not translating everything, but he still does it a lot. It kind of gives a disadvantage - we don't have to work to understand and the only way we're going to get better is if we work. The thing I do really like about him is that he has SO much enthusiasm and is very specific about what he expects from us. Also, he's really good at sticking to a schedule which helps us have more learning opportunities. He introduced a fun concept - verb ball. He got us two plastic toy balls (the kind from the big bin at walmart where you have to pull back the strechy chords to get a ball out - the kind of ball that used to get me in trouble when I would go to the grocery store with my mom). Anyway, we wrote down as many common verbs as we could think of all over the ball. Then we throw the ball at someone, they say the first verb that they see and the person who threw the ball gets to choose a tense that they have to conjugate the verb in. For example "Preterit Usted form" which is actually past 3rd person singular. It's actually pretty fun and it's a good way for us to use our time productively when we're kind of shooting the breeze and not doing anything useful.
I am SO excited for General Conference tomorrow and Sunday!!! At the MTC it means that our classes are cancled and we just get to go to general conference, eat, and study! I'm really excited to do some learning for myself (I'll still keep my investigators in mind - but I need to do some learning for myself once in a while and this will be a good opportunity to do that). Also, we get to catch the Relief Society meeting - they'll rebroadcast it for us during the preisthood session. I've heard lots of really good things about it from the wives of our branch presidency. I'm excited to hear President Uchtdorf speak!
With one of our investigators we've had some really good experiences this last week. Last Friday we found out why he wasn't getting any answers to his prayers - he reads the Book of Mormon and then gets busy drinking with his neighbors and then tries to pray. Shockingly enough, he hasn't been feeling the Spirit very much. We were SO glad that this came up. We had been planning to talk about the priesthood and a couple other things when he brought the Word of Wisdom and so we had to COMPLETELY shift gears - we didn't talk about ANYTHING that we had planned, but it went really well and we all felt the Spirit really strong which is what this whole teaching thing is all about. So, the next time we met him, he had gone and gotten drunk with his buddies again. We were devastated, but we stuck with it and really helped him to see how not drinking can really help him and bless the lives of him and his family. When we met with him yesterday he had been sober since the last time we had met! We were SOOOO Excited!!! He said he feels really good when he prays - "mas mejor" or much better. Hopefully that means good things to come.
While I was doing TALL (our computer-led language study thing...kind of like Rosetta Stone I guess) a few days ago, I was watching a couple of Mormon Messages and one came up that was based on a talk by Dallin H. Oaks called "Giving Thanks in All Things." The video was just a video of random people on the streets of New York telling what they are thankful for. I felt the Spirit so strong when I watched that video! It made me realize that I have more that I can be grateful for. I shouldn't take anything for granted like I do sometimes. I haven't had a chance to read the whole talk yet, but the video is worth finding and watching.
I had my first honest to goodness study session this last week. It was actually on Wednesday. We had about 30 minutes before our language study time and my companions and I were going to study in our classroom. They ended up reading in Spanish out loud (a popular thing to do apparently) and I decided to really try to find some scriptures that might help my investigators. I was looking for scriptures about faith and about how keeping the commandments would bring blessings. It seems like most of the time when I'm studying in our classroom I get next to nothing done. Mostly because I have such a difficult time focusing with so many external stimuli - the elders having companionship study, Elder Cottam telling a story or everyone getting involved in a really "deep" gospel discussion that seems to just go in circles. But I said a very fervent prayer that I would be able to focus and try hard to find some scriptures that can help me understand to help my investigators better. Well, soon the class was full of people reading out loud in Spanish, clearing their throats a million times, and making small talk, but I was absorbed in my study. It felt SO good! I learned a lot and have been able to apply it. Yay for small victories!
One day this week, I forget which, I woke up reciting to myself "My Missionary Purpose" in Spanish! It was kind of amusing - I'd memorized it the day before and apparently It was on my mind as I was sleeping.
Elder Gardner is gone! I got to see him on Sunday night before he had to leave at 3:00 in the morning on Monday. He was so excited to go and it's been really good to see him around the MTC, but I know he has a lot of work to do out in the field. Also, I saw Elder Watkins (Levi) and he left for the Dominican Republic on Wednesday after I saw him on Tuesday. So exciting! All these people leaving to go to the work! Sadly, the other Hermanas in our room are leaving as well! They leave a week from Monday!! I don't know what we will do without them.
Well, I guess I only have time for a couple funny stories to leave off on. We were teaching in the TRC (volunteers come and let us practice a spiritual message with them). While we were in the waiting room, Hermana McGrath asked Hermano Barrio something about a vocab word. Hermano Barrio goes up to the board and proceeds to copy the arabic symbols that somebody obviously had put up as they were teaching something before. He just kept writing symbols and as we were laughing he went on for a while, turned to us and said, "yep, that's it - Esfuerza" We all laughed SO hard!!
Last story - and the best. Hno Van Vleit was trying to remember our names and Elder Cottam said that he could just remember Cotton with an m. Hno VanVleit thought he heard Bottom. So Elder Cottam just said, "Yeah, you can just remember cotton-bottom" It was pretty funny :)
I love you all!!!