Wow, my first week and a half at the MTC has already come and gone! As you might have guessed, my schedule has kept me INCREDIBLY busy. No worries, though. Once again, we each only get 30 min to type a message, so I will try to give as much information as possible. Each of the next paragraphs will be devoted to something cool at the MTC.
First off, thanks for all of the letters! Old-school mail and "dearelder" messages serve as my only source of communication with the outside world, and I really like to hear what's going on with family and friends. Thanks again! I'll write you back on my P-day, which will always be on Friday, by the way. I can only send messages on P-day, so if you dont hear from me for a long time it's because I had to wait until Friday before messaging you back. :)
Alright, so I guess one of the most interesting things about the MTC is the campus layout and building interiors. To be honest, it feels like a really, really, really old verison of BYU. I swear that my Dad probably used the same desk, bed, and shower as the other missionaries do today haha. Our dorms defintely meet the basic living criteria, though. So it's all good.
Hmmm, speaking of BYU, the food here is extremely similar to the meals served at the Cannon Center--but with a slight difference. I don't know how to describe it, so you'll have to serve a mission if you want more details :). No matter what, the food here will taste better than my typical meal of ramon noodles down in Argentina!
Okay, my next topic will be devotionals and firesides here at the MTC. Not only are they a nice break from our 10 hours of daily spanish/gospel study, butthey are incredibly inspirational and uplifting. All of the speakers give great talks, ecouraging everyone--senior, sister, and elder missionaries--to serve with honor and dedicaiton to the Lord. In a way, these firesides/devotionals feel similar to the devotionals given at BYU, but these are even better. Also, whenever we sing "Called to Serve" as one of the opening or closing hymns, it has incredible power.
Okay, I only have a little bit of time left (don't worry, i'll try to type a bunch next week too), so my last topic will be Spanish class. Our district, which consists of 10 elders going to either the Domincan Republic or to Argentina, felt a little overwhelmed at first. I don't think the MTC handbook could have put it better when it said, "You should feel stretched, but not overwhelmed, as a missionary for the Lord." I'm not going to lie, it has been tough, but so rewarding at the same time. My companion and I have already taught a handful of discussions in complete spanish, and the last one went for over 30 minutes! Our grammar is broken a lot of the time, but we can still convey our message. We can testify from the heart, even if it's not in perfect spanish. Our listening comprehension has come along nicely too. Without exaggerating, I can probably understand around 60 percent or so of what our teachers say now. They try to use simpler vocab and speak slowly, which helps a lot. This past week, our teachers finally started to talk to us in English. We found out yesterday that the teachers will speak spanish about 3/4 of the time from here on out. I think that's a good balance. It forces us to try to comprehend the language, but whenever an explanation about grammar or something like that is needed, the teacher will tell us in English to make sure we understand the fundamental concepts of the language. Each day, all of the spanish elders spend one to two hours on a computer program called "TALL." Basically, it's like an LDS-focused verion of Rosetta Stone. We are all learning fast, but it's definitely a work in progress. Okay, I only have seconds left on my timer and have to go.
Thanks again for all of the letters and support!
Elder Rory Jones