Thursday, March 17, 2011

Sundays, speaking in the park, and a straightener!

(Which is how you say hello in Spanish!)

I'm excited for the shoes! Yay! (and we think that the mission home forwards mail to the MTC if the Missionaries are still there) Hna. Soderquist has the same pair of shoes, and her shoes are starting to do the same thing, and she says that she does unbuckle her shoes every night. I'll keep an eye on the new pair.

I have a few pictures to send you, just not sure when it will happen...It was sad to say goodbye to the other district of Elders who leave this morning. (Elder Cooper's district) As of right now, our district is just the four of us (Hna Soderquist, Elder Forsythe, and Elder Wilkinson) and nine Italian missionaries. There are four Italian sisters, so at least we aren't alone on our side of the hall! We should be getting a new district of American Missionaries this week, but haven't heard anything yet.

We also met the senior sisters that you saw on the blog []
We met them in Provo when we went to meet with the consul. They are serving in the young adult center, and just left for the Canary Islands! They think they will come back to Madrid in August, and we are excited to get to work with them.

Today our temple session was in Portugese, (That was the language with the most people).
When we were in the chapel, they took a poll of what language everyone spoke and then proceeded with the one that had the most votes. So we got to wear the translator headsets!

Sundays are great! We have lots of study time and district meetings. We have R.S. upstairs in the President's Apartment (there aren't ever too many sisters). We have our own little branch here, but they will bring in other people to come speak to us. Our first week we had a couple tell us about their conversion story, and last week one of the couples serving in the temple came and spoke to us. Pres. Earl does a fireside with us every week, and we have another fireside at night. It is usually people from the area. We have heard conversion stories, and last week a brother and sister (both returned missionaries) came and spoke to us. After dinner on Sunday, we have music time! All the missionaries learn how to lead music, which is kinda fun, and then we sing!

We won't watch the YW session of conference, and I think we watch our sessions a little out of order, but I'm sure that we will have study time during Priesthood (we haven't heard anything different yet).

When we left Provo, they said that they send mail to foreign missionaries back to the sender, with a copy of the new address. So we don't think that Sarah's postcard will get forwarded. If it came right after we left though, Hna. Greer might have held on to it and bring it with her when she comes.

I'm glad to hear that Ryan had such a good time at youth conference. It is kinda funny to think that he would want to take notes during the dating panel. Be sure that Ryan knows that I need some awesomeness in my life, and I would love it if he could help me out!

We have been hearing about the earthquake in Japan. Hna. Soderquist has twin brothers who are serving in the Philipines, so she was really worried about them. But we are glad to hear that they are ok. But sad about Japan.

So last week in the park, I had a Portugese companion. She spoke some English and some Spanish, so we could mostly communicate with each other But that means that I did most of the talking. And I did great! It was my best park week yet. It was really good, and built a lot of confidence, especially with the language. As a whole, the park wasn't as successful as it had been before, but it was my best week! (This does not mean that I enjoy the park, but that I know that I can handle it now!)

I am really glad that we have three more weeks of learning. We are going to start to really practice our Spanish with each other, at least that is the plan.

Sounds like everyone is busy, including Gramma and Grampa. Glad to hear that everyone is doing great!

Last week I bought a straightener! I have done my hair straight everyday since. I even woke up early to fix it this morning. The elders were glad to know that my straightener worked. They couldn't believe that I would spend 60 euros on one. But I love it! Worth every penny!
I can't think of anything I need that you could send, but treats are always great!
Love you lots!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

On Companions, Languages, and MTC Life...

I am having a great time here! It is a little weird to think that I am halfway done with my MTC time.
Glad to hear everyone is doing great!

This week I have two companions. Hna. Wilson came on Friday. She studied Spanish in school though, so she is really only here to get all her paperwork done. She leaves on Tuesday, and is going to the Madrid Mission. She is from Sacramento. Hna. Soderquist is still my companion. We decided it was a good thing we were in a trio in Provo, because we have very different personalities. Hna. Greer did a great job of balancing us out. Now we get along great though.

We have study time in the morning, class, lunch, class, gym, dinner, study and practices, and after that we have snack time!!! We have the same teacher every morning and a different one every afternoon. In Provo, our teachers worked class time around their schedules, so everyday was different. Each day is mostly the same here though, so that´s good.

The food is good for the most part. We haven´t had anything super weird yet, but I think the cafeteria here tries to make the Spanish version of American food. I think we might eat some different things in the field though.

Practicing in the Park is so interesting. The park is huge and everybody comes, even the tourists, so we meet people from all over the place. The natives speak really fast though, and I have a difficult time understanding what they are saying if I'm not super focused on trying to understand. I can usually say what I want, when the time is right, but walking up and talking to random people is so outside my comfort zone. But I do learn a lot when we go to the park.

The missionaries here are great! They are so much fun. I love my district. It is just six of us right now, but in a few days we will be back down to four after Hna. Wilson and Elder Ashworth leave. The whole district is going to Madrid, except for Hna. Soderquist, and I am excited to get to work with them. Elder Forsythe also joined our district this week, and he will be staying around until we leave. Elder Forsythe is from Texas. He and Elder Wilkinson were actually companions in Provo, but Elder Wilkinson is from England so he didn't have to wait for a visa.
We have to practice with the other districts at night, so we get to practice with missionaries who know more Spanish than we do, which is good.

Next week is the time to switch out districts. We are supposed to get a new district from Provo, but we don't know when they'll get here. The district that got here before we did leaves on Thursday, and the district of Portugese missionaries leave on Tuesday. We love the Portugese sisters. They are so fun, and we really are just getting to the point where we can understand their personalities. If we listen really hard we can understand what they are saying, and they understand our Spanish better than our English. There were two missionaries who came on Wed, but they are leaving for Malaga on Thurs. with the other district.

There is a missionary staying here because he broke his foot. He is serving in Madrid, and Pres. Watkins (Madrid Mission President) took advantage of the MTC to give him some time to heal. He has so much to share with us about how we can be good missionaries. He really does want us to be the best missionaries we can. It is great to be able to learn from someone who is in the field.

We are learning a lot. I really enjoy learning Spanish. I personally feel that the teaching will come as we learn the Spanish, but it really works the other way. The Spanish comes as we practice teaching.

The temple is so cool. It is really just a few feet away. And our stairwell has the coolest view. We go first thing on Thursday morning. The MTC does a session together, so both times I've gone it has been in English. Everything is printed in like five languages at the temple! Spanish, Portugese, French, Italian, and English. And many of the temple workers are Senior Missionaries! They live in the same building we do, on the floor just below the MTC. There is also a hostel on the floor below that is for people who have to come from far away to go to the temple. The first floor has the hostel office, a distribution center, and employment center, and possibly something else, I don't really remember.

The MTC is the top three floors of the building. We have a floor of classrooms, the floor where we sleep, and the floor where we eat. We actually live on the same floor the Elders do, but there is a wall dividing the two areas. We have to walk up separate staircases when we go to meals so we aren't walking near the other residences. The Senior Missionaries stay at the end of our hall, but they have actual apartments, we just have really fancy dorm rooms. The Senior Missionaries aren't usually here too long, just long enough to get their paperwork done.

I am so excited to hear about Grandma and Grandpa and their mission papers. I am so excited for them! It sounds like the temple missionaries are getting to close to leaving, in just a few months. Maybe they'll get called to serve in the Temple!!!

I promise I'll get some pictures out soon, I just don't know when I will get around to it!!!

Pres. Watkins had a meeting with Pres. Earl (Spain MTC President) yesterday, so I got to meet my mission president. He said that the sisters here are excellent missionaries. He also said that missionaries get up at 7 and go to bed at 11, and that after conference they get up at 7:30 and go to bed at 11:30! The Spaniards stay up really late, so we have to adjust our schedule to meet their needs.

Yesterday we took some "candid" photos. The First Presidency asked for some pictures of the MTC, and they wanted them to look like we were doing something. We were mostly posing to make it appear like we were actually learning, but the camera was just too intrusive. We think that the pictures will be used in the Ensign, but maybe they will be shown in General Conference.
Love you lots!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

First week in the Spain MTC

Well, it is pretty great to be here in Spain. I am really enjoying it here. We do all our practices in Spanish, so I feel like my Spanish is starting to get better.

The temple is really right next door, and we have an amazing view from our staircase. It is so gorgeous. We got to attend a session this morning, but because there are a lot of missionaries here this week, we did an English session. But it was really gorgeous.

We had to travel downtown to meet with someone about our paperwok. I´m not entirely sure what I signed, but I think that it is something that will let me stay in the country. (This from our daughter who wants to go to law school - ha!)

The temple grounds are mostly on the outskirts of the city, so we haven´t got the chance to really see all of Madrid yet. We are planning on going downtown after lunch, but I don´t really know what we are going to do.

The days here aren´t nearly as long as in Provo. In Provo, every minute of every day is scheuled, but here we have some free time, especially after meals and on Sundays. It is usually just 15 20 minutes while we are waiting for the next activity to start.

Going to the park wasn´t as bad as I thought it was going to be, especially since we had Hna. Bustamente with us, our native companion. We did all of the introductions and stuff, but she was able to pick up when we had used up all our spanish. But her visa came through, so she flew off to L.A.

This week we are getting a new companion, at least for a week, and she studied Spanish in college, so is pretty fluent. We are hoping she´ll be able to help us out this week. We don´t think she´ll be here very long because she already knows the language.

Every missionary going to Spain spends at least a week here. There is quite a bit of paperwork to take care of, so they like to keep everyone here to make sure all the paperwork is correct. Most of the elders that flew to Spain with us will be leaving tomorrow.

We took some pictures with the President and all the missionaries at the MTC. I´m not entirely sure how you´ll get the pictures, but I think you´ll get an email, or they will send them to me and I will email them to you.

The early rising hasn´t been as bad here as it was in Provo. I think the jet lag sort of took care of that. They let us go to bed at 7 on Friday after we got here to help us adjust to the time change, but now everything is pretty good.

It just started snowing outside...We asked the lawyer we met with earlier if it is unseasonaly cold right now, and he told us that it is freezing. It is pretty cold, but if this cold is not the normal cold, I think that I will be alright in the winter.

We are getting to a point where we can sort of communicate with the Portugese missionaries. They are going to Portugal and Cape Verde, and are all native Portugese speakers. We are supposed to be getting a district of missionaries from Italy in a few weeks. I didn´t realize that native Europeans came to the Madrid MTC if they were going to their native countries...rumors are that native Russian speakers are going to start coming here rather than Provo.

We play a lot of soccer here, it is how we have been spending our gym time. Apparently I´m not as bad as I thought. They have basketball courts all over the place, and all of them can be used as soccer fields. Occasionally the locals will come play with us.

Pres. Earl still can´t believe that Randy Webb is my grandfather, everytime it comes up he comments about how Grampa must have been about 12 when he got married. It´s funny to think that Grampa could travel half way across the world and still run into someone that he knows...

Well, I think that is about it for now.
Love, Amber