Tuesday, September 30, 2014

First letter home from the MTC - Doing Great!

I miss you guys a ton!!! I have really enjoyed your letters/dear elders/krispy kremes this last week! I don't know what you've gotten from me but if I remember correctly I have sent two different letters home, so hopefully you have gotten them! As I said in one of them, it is very hard to remember what I have written in those letters so I will try and not repeat things, but sorry in advance if I do.

So we have had quite the last 8 days, but one thing our branch president pointed out is that we will never have to go this long without contacting home again!!! So that is awesome to think about! and I am already over 1% done with my mission!!! Bleh I feel like I have so much to tell you all so there will probably be no rhyme or reason to the way that it plays out but I just need to tell you guys everything!!!! So I know what day I am leaving the MTC and my expected arrival date at home already! I am scheduled to leave the MTC on October 27, 2014 and then my estimated date of completion for my mission is August 31, 2016! So I will probably be asking to come home one transfer early but that is thinking quite a bit ahead!

I love my district and my zone they are such an incredible group of guys and we are already pretty close! My companion is Elder Jones from Roseville, California, and he is six foot eight! He is the only other missionary in my zone going to Mexico City South as well! Which is awesome! And...he can be very hard to deal with sometimes, he is obsessed with writing in his journal, he has written over 50 pages this week....and that is good and all but he stays up past lights out every night and spends all of his personal study time in his journal, he also makes us late for everything because he writes in it until every single other person in our district has gotten ready and then he stops and gets ready and so we have all gotten pretty frustrated with him at some point, but from the conversations I have had with him he seems to be having a pretty hard time with being away from home, and that is kind of his escape and so I don't know how to address it because I feel like he kind of needs it! To sum up, watch Madagascar as a family and he is the giraffe one hundred percent haha I think his name is Melvin. I actually am in a trio companionship as of yesterday too. We are in the advanced Spanish class here and a guy from Camas, Washington transferred up to our class, his name is Elder Peterson and he is 6 foot 6 so I feel very small all the time. But he is pretty homesick too and it doesn't help that he had to leave his district right after they got to be friends that would be absolutely awful, I feel for him, but he ran track/xc and played bball so I am sure that we will get along! The next two companions in our district are Elder Moose and Elder Cottle. Elder Cottle is from Sheerwod, Oregon right outside of Portland and he also ran track/xc and was a big time soccer player apparently, he is awesome and knows the scriptures inside and out! He reminds me of Jake Therrien from back home. His companion is Elder Moose who is from some place that no one has heard from in Iowa, and he reminds me of Cole Pennock, he is different and really funny and has all these random really insightful comments that leave you just kind of like, "what?" The other companionship is Elder Carachure and Elder Hernandez. They are the two in our district that speak Spanish as a second language. Elder Carachure is from Palm Springs and Las Vegas and is really fun to be around, a really loving soul. Reminds me a lot of Cameron Carbone or Nick Vikari from back home. Elder Hernandez is the jokester of the group, he really got us out of our shells at the beginning and helped us bond as a district, he a combination of Andrew Corbett as well as Jaden Mongauzy. To keep things short let's just say he took a very long path to get to the MTC but he is the very first missionary every out of the Cayman Islands which is really cool, and he is the only elder in our district who is not serving somewhere in Mexico, he is serving Tuscon spanish speaking! Finally we have a hermana, Hermana Wells who is from Denver and is serving in Panama.

Our branch president is one of the coolest guys that I have ever met, his name is President Doman and he looks and acts exactly like Jeffery R. Holland, every time he speaks he demands the attention of the room, and everytime that he bears his testimony, the entire room is on the verge of tears, he is such a powerful speaker! And we have already hit it off, its been incredible! He called me to be our district leader and then he called me in the other day and told me how proud he was of the work that I've done so far and that he wishes he could call you guys because he views me as his son and that he is so proud of me and wants to share that with you guys. He said I was the person he has seen make the fastest transition from teenager in a tie to missionary. So that was really nice to hear from him, I just cannot express how spiritually in tune and just powerful he is!

So, Spanish has been quite the experience, I am definitely the worst in our class! They all know so much Spanish and I am like whaaaa? But there are sometimes where I don't even know what hits me and suddenly I am carrying on a whole conversation in Spanish, or when we were teaching our investigator the plan of Salvation and we hadn't planned on getting to the three degrees of glory but then he asked a question about it and I was able to tell him alll about it, it is an incredible thing, but I can understand like 95% of things, I just can't really speak it that well yet, but I guess that's what the next five weeks are for! Our maestro is Hermano Castro and he reminds me of Hansen Millett, a genuinely funny guy who just kind of loves everything!

Let's see what else has gone on....Well originally we were in what is called West Campus which used to be BYU housing and it was so nice, it was like an apartment and we had so much room, and our class was in another apartment building and it was only Spanish speaking missionaries down there, but on the first day I was like this is nothing like what Dad described to me....but then we found out that they were liquidating that, and moving all of the missionaries from there up to main campus over the next few months, and guess which branch was first? Haha it is much worse up here, we like to say we just moved down a kingdom. Instead of 2 there are now 6 per room, its public bathrooms instead of private and we are in a small cramped classroom, but the food is so much better up here! We have had steak twice and there are so many different options! i wouldn't be surprised if I put on 15 or 20 pounds by the end of my time here. And mom, to answer your question I have been trying to avoid the soda as much as possible because they have these minute maid drink machines so i have been getting grape juice, raspberry lemonade, orange guave passionfruit, and strawberry orange banana but sometimes it is very hard not to get a coke or some root beer so I give in a lot too. And then on sunday we had pot roast with carrots potatoes and onions with chocolate chess pie for dessert. That was the best meal ever, it reminded me so much of home and I miss you guys so much and love you as well! The very first night I prayed fervently after writing a very depressed letter to you guys and since then I can still tell that I am very sad but that the spirit is there to comfort me, and I actually did send that letter only after I got dad's letter that he felt the same way, because the second day I wrote another happier one because I didn't want you guys to know how sad I was, but thanks Dad, now I don't feel so alone.

Our first devotional speaker on Tuesday was Elder M. Russell Ballard! He got up there and "talked like a grandpa would speak to his grandkids" he had nothing prepared, just shared what was on his mind and it was incredible! Pretty much it all boiled down to, "Suck it up, get over yourself, this is the Lord's time not yours, so get up and get going!" Such a powerful speaker. And speaking of powerful speakers, I got selected to be in the MTC choir for priesthood session so look for me up there, apparently our district is musical because Jones, me, Moose, Cottle and Peterson all got selected, and I was very very surprised that I did!

So, from the very second day we were thrust into teaching 40 minute lessons to an "investigator" (we can see his garments haha) in Spanish, that was quite the experience. There were definitely ups and downs and it feels so weird to teach someone and I just hate it sometimes, because I know what we have prepared and then he asks a question and I am like I can answer that in English but not in Spanish and ugh! But on our third lesson we asked him if he would pray about the things and be baptized and he said that he would which was an incredible experience even if he is a member haha!

I don't know why none of my letters have gotten there, I sent them on Thurday afternoon and Saturday morning I think! I hope they come soon! Just so you know, our p day will permanently be Thursday's while I am here, and we got to go to the temple today as a district which was incredible and I was able to enjoy it so much more!I have learned a lot about love this last week and how that is the most important thing for a missionary, that if you love then everything else will come. Love your companion, love your investigators, love the people around you, love the savior, love the gospel, everything is secondary to love. A loving missionary is what the Lord asks for me to be! 

Please tell me a lot about what is going on at home! I miss you and love you all so very much! I get 60 minutes to write emails on p days but I can read them for as long as I want so tell me a lot! Give me jake and max's emails por favor! I can't upload any pictures at the MTC because it is blocked :/ on these computers! But I will try and get them to you soon! Now to respond to what you all have said! I really wish I could get a picture to you too mom! I can't believe they moved Elder Pulini! That is so rough, he was such an awesome missionary!! Hahahaha Jake couldn't even start eating in 5 minutes! And that is so sad about Nauni, I am going to put her on the prayer roll next thursday when we go to the temple! Those deer pictures were cool mom and I loved the one of Jake, we really haven't done anything fun because we barely have any free time, but none of it is boring so it is all kind of fun! During gym time we play basketball and soccer as a zone and that's really fun though! Dad, I want to be watching football so bad, please send me updates about scores and good players and such, and top 25 rankings haha we saw a bunch of Virginia fans the other night! That hike sounds fun! Haha we run sometimes in the middle of class with our maestro which is pretty cool but the thin air and being out of shape makes it hard! We attended the early morning session, it was so cool! The Hosannah shout was awesome and so was the singing of the Spirit of God at the very end, there was barely a dry eye in the place! Thanks for all of the advice Dad, and please distribute this email as well as get me the email adresses of those people! Sister Doman says almost the same thing as you, she says work harder than anyone else, love love love everyone just wants to be loved, and have a blast within the rules, reminded me of what you say! Thanks again for bringing back my notebook and pen, I use it so much I am afraid it will run out of ink!! As soon as I can upload pictures I can also download those pictures, thanks! I do not need the water bottle or hard copy of the ordinances anymore because they gave us a water bottle and a purifying water bottle here (still send the light) and the ordinances are int he white bible! Thanks mom so much for the Krispy Kreme, your the district's favorite mom now! Such a nice gift from home! I love you all so much, and hopefully my letters get home at some point!!! I miss you like crazy, just remember it's going to fly by! You are in my prayers every single night!

-Elder Stout