Sep 3, 2011

First Letter

Here is our first letter from Kate:

So, I guess I'll just tell you the whole story of what's been going down since Wednesday. You dropped me off and those two very nice elders that took my suitcases for me guided me to a sister who was my "host" for a half an hour or so. I got to through a bunch of lines to get my ID card, get a bunch of orientation stuff and receive all my Espanol study materials. We got a TON of stuff - we got 4 Spanish books, a very nice set of large spanish scriptures, and a couple other random things. Then we went to meet our district! I LOVE them already! Upon meeting my district I found out that I have two companions! So, I'm in a threesome. I've heard some dreadful stories about being in a threesome, but my companions, Hermana McGrath and Hermana Hildenbrand are WONDERFUL!!! I absolutely adore them! I feel like we really balance each other out. Hermana Hildenbrand has lots of really good comments and personal stories that relate to gospel principles, Hermana McGrath picks up Spanish vocabulary like nobody's business (it helps that she had 3 years in High School) and I am pretty good at Spanish grammar (considering my very limited experience). Our teacher, Hermano Wood, started speaking to us in very fast spanish as soon as we walked in. It was like being in Spanish 1010 all over again, except for the fact that Hermano Wood was much more willing to draw pictures and help us understand words. He finally started speaking a little bit of English half way through our first class and now when he's trying to explain something effectively he speaks in English.
We got lost SO many times on the first day! But now we really know our way around. It helped that we finally had a tour on Thursday evening. Our Zone seems really cool! I've only met our zone leaders (as of four days ago - they're awesome!) and a few other elders and the Hermanas in our room are also in our zone. I LOVE our roommates! They're so spiritual and have such wonderful enthusiasm and sunshine about them all the time. Hermana Hart is the coordinating sister (kind of like our branch relief society president) and always has such wonderful encouraging words for us.
The first night we were allowed our first teaching experience! Luckily it was all in English and it was with all the brand new missionaries (there were SO many new missionaries that got here on Wednesday - it's crazy to think that the MTC has so many new missionaries each week!) but we had three investigators come in the room at different times and we watched a couple of seasoned companions (all of eight weeks in the MTC) teach them. Then we got a chance to be asked questions at random by the investigator and teach if we felt so inclined. Needless to say, I was rather quiet. I discussed with my companions some really interesting things during the experience. The spirit was really strong there and it was amazing to me that so many brand new missionaries were so prepared to teach already.
This is starting to feel a little scattered - sorry! I don't know how Courtney keeps her emails home so organized and well thought out :)
Our first full day was spent learning a lot about our purpose as missionaries. I hadn't really stopped to think much about our purpose, but I realized on that first day that our purpose isn't to look cool - we're not trying to impress people with our great knowledge. Our purpose is to relate the gospel to each precious individual that we teach. Que es MUY IMPORTANTE!!!
We met our branch president on that first full day in the evening - President Studdert is our branch president and he is an amazing person! People in our branch (and even some in others) joke that he was one of the three Nephites because he's just so great. Everyone in our district got a chance to have a personal interview with him and he was so kind. He even knows where Maeser is! He knew just what to say to calm my fears about learning Espanol :) I left with so much hope and encouragement!
Yesterday did not start off as encouraging. We were faced with the prospect of teaching our first real investigator! We taught Hermano Hector Bello last night. In class we were able to learn a few things about his situation and then we had to go teach him like he was a real investigator (of course, he isn't, but really supposed to think that he is). We spent all of our personal, companion, and language study yesterday preparing for our meeting with Hector. Of the three sets of companions in our district, I think ours went the best, but it was only because we had prepared so much and we had Hermana McGrath's innate ability to improv the Espanol. As soon as he started asking questions, all Spanish vocabulary flew out of my brain. It turned out really well and we learned a lot about what we need to do better next time.
Elder Pitcher and Elder Cottam had some HILARIOUS stories to tell about their first lesson. Elder Cottam said some really funny things. They only taught for 5 or 10 minutes and then spent 45 minutes being quizzed by Hector because they didn't know what to say in order to be able to leave! :) Hector asked them if they ate dog and they both replied with a resounding "Si!" but then realized what he asked and said no. Then Elder Cottam piped up and said "Gato!" which is cat. He basically said he didn't eat dog, he ate cat :) He also said he had been here "tres Dios" which, for any of you who know spanish, is not "three days" We were laughing SOOO hard!!! It was very needed :)
Today is a half p-day but next week we start our regular schedule and our p-days will be on Fridays. I'll probably still get to write emails about this time though.
I really appreciate the letters, cards, and the dearelders too :) (please send me more! They're free and they get delivered same day or next day when you write them.)
Familia - you are the best! I love you SOOOO much!! I hope you know that I am happy and VERY busy.
I would love more than anything to keep writing, but I must go.
So, Hasta Luego!
Mucho amor!
Hermana Palmer

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