I hope your week has been absolutely fantastic! I've definitely learned a lot this week and I look forward to another week. It is crazy. In a week I will have already been gone for a month. When I think about it like that I'm like, "oh no! I only have 17 months left to complete everything I'm supposed to do!" But that is good. I love that I have the opportunity to serve becasue where else in the world do you get to completely fulfill the covenant of consecrating everything--my time, talents, and everything with which the Lord has blessed me or with which he may bless me? I love it. I plan to completely turn myself over to the Lord and trust in him completely. I learned about that this week and I'll get to talking about that thought more later in this letter.
First, though. I absolutely love that the spanish word for peanut butter is crema de cacahuate! An Elder in our district innocently asked how to say peanut butter in Spanish and when that was the answer we burst out laughing for about 5 minutes.
Another funny thing that happened this week was that the Elders in the district were practicing teaching a lesson in Spanish and one of them said (sorry I'm not going to take the time to add the accent or upside down question mark right now) "Se bautizara (future tense) en una mesa?" He meant to say in a month but he said on a table instead. I don't know if it is funny reading it now, but it was hilarious to us.
Also, random cool fact. David Archuleta was in my zone when he was at the MTC. He left about 3 weeks before I entered but it is cool to know that. They said he was actually kind of shy in a way but that the zone was really good about like protecting him so that he wasn't just the center of attention wherever he went.
Courtney, I have a quick thought that I want to give to you before I forget. I am so grateful for your letters because I can tell how very much you love me. I'm so sorry that my being gone is very hard for you. Know that I love you, though. It may not seem like it right now, but these next 17.25 months will seem to have flown by and I'll already be home and get to hang out with you again. I do want to give you a quick gift that will hopefully help a little bit. That gift is simply a scripture and it is one of my favorites. It is St. John 14:27. I love you and I have such great hopes for you! You're fantastic.
Let's see... the big thing that happened this week was that Hermana Asay got her visa, so on Tuesday morning she flew out to Peru. That meant that in our district we have 3 sisters (Hna Coleman, Hna Roades, and I) but in our dormitory we have 4 (also Hna Koerner). Hna Koerner is technically a solo sister because she is the only girl in her district but she is companions with Hna Roades whenever they are outside of the class (which isn't actually that much time in the day-- food, P-day, and gym etc). But because Hna Roades is in our district/class, she is with Hna Coleman and I when we teach. So I am kind of in a trio again and kind of in a normal 2 person companionship. It is a little hard on Hna Roades because she practically is our companion but she is supposed to be with Hna Koerner in all the free time stuff plus she misses Hna Asay a lot (we all do). It is very different having Hna Asay and Elder Meyer (went to Columbia) gone from our district. They were such great people but they did the first 3 weeks of MTC here and then are going to the MTC in their countries for the remaining 6 weeks. That means that our district has 6 people now and 2 companionships basically when we had 4 just last week. What that means is that last week we would teach practice investigators somewhere around every 1-2 days but now we teach at least 1 lesson a day and usually we teach 2 times. It is good though because we're getting A LOT of practice. Some lesssons are wonderful and some need a lot of help, but I am grateful for them and for the opportunity to practice so much.
I was thinking about my little tree that I was growing in my bedroom for a year before I left on my mission. When I gave it to Shaun and Sarah to plant it I learned an important lesson which is that before you can plant plants straight from a nursery-type environment, you need to put the plant through a period of acclimation or hardening. In the case of my tree, it didn't like being outside the first time and it lost basically all of its leaves. This is because it had never been exposed to the sun and the wind and all the other factors in the actual world nearly so intensely ever before. That is what we are like as missionaries. If they just threw us out in the world immediately, we'd fail and be crushed by the world. But we are blessed with this wonderful opportunity to be in the MTC (or CCM in spanish). The purpose of the MTC is to help us acclimate so that we are prepared to be planted out in our mission and we will be strong and ready to withstand whatever the world may throw at us. Of course there will be hard times of intense wind, rain, sun, et cetera. But we will be prepared for it. I also like that the Spirit is so strong here! It is like that extra nutrition given to us now that we can just soak up and enjoy while it is so abundantly available.
One talk we listened to in a video after the devotional last Sunday night was a talk by David A. Bednar that he gave last Christmas at the MTC and I learned so much from it!! I loved it and I really think having watched it changed my mission and maybe my life. But the talk was on the Characteristics of Christ and the biggest point was that in every moment where the natural man would have turned inward, Christ turned outward. The implications of that statement are very profound and I don't have time to explain it all right now, but I love that thought so much. It taught me that I should of course take care of myself, but that after that, I can forget myself and just completely love and completely serve everyone with my entire heart.
One story the family already pretty much knows about because evidently Ryan recorded it and put it on YouTube. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wzppKsiLOnY
But my brother works in the media department at the MTC and so he is in charge of the devotionals and things like that. So this pastSunday we had the second of two videos specifically meant for the new sisters in the field. Well we were going to this and I noticed something weird. The camera at the front was always pointed at me. I mean if someone in the audience stood up to answer a question the camera would turn to them to broadcast it, but the camera was always returning straight back to me. I knew something was up. And lo and behold when they got to the section on "How do you cope with stress" there was a rather lovely photo of me making a bloated cheeks face and Ryan had photoshopped smoke coming out of my ears. The cameras were on me because he was recording my reaction and that of my companion. I think I was mostly just chuckling, When me companion was like "Hermana! How did your picture get up there?" I was like "my brother!" I guess Ryan did warn me when he dropped me off at the MTC because he said that he hopes that I will love him no matter what. I was considering not sneaking him ice cream from the cafeteria any more, but he gave me a can of pringles so it kind of makes up for it a little bit (though Ryan, you still owe me big!!). Granted, on the can that loveley picture was there with the caption "I cope with pringles" (because the photo said "how do you cope with stress"). Oh boy, what am I going to do with you, Ryan?! Evidently I'll be famous at the MTC for "generations to come" with that lovely piece of art. Good to know I'm remembered wherever I go.
I think that is about all the time I have for now. I hope you're doing well! I hope Max is doing better. That would absolutely work having Ryan get me the bag and waterbottle etc! I may also have him give you back my camel back backpack thing because that might be difficult to ship. But thanks for all the letters and everything!! I love you and am grateful for you! Also feliz dia del padres, Dad!!
Talk to you later! and may the spirit be with you!
Hermana Whitney Whetten