Kyle, Jake, Russell and Joey (and whoever else may be reading this):
I am going to be honest with you guys, because you are my best friends and my brothers and I don't want you to feel as I have during my CCM (MTC in Spanish) experience. This is the hardest thing that I have done. Not physically, but mentally and spiritually. Let me explain to you what it is like here on a physical level:
We wake up at 6:30 and get ready, eat breakfast, then personal study of an hour, then progressing investigator, where were get to teach our investigator for 20 to 40 minutes all in Spanish from one of the Preach My Gospel lessons or what we feel inspired to teach. We ask questions, we respond as best as we understood and try to listen to the spirit to know what and how we can help.
Afterwards it is Spanish class for 3 hours where we sit and practice and learn. However all the explaining and teaching from our teachers is done in Spanish. No English. If you don't understand something, you can ask and hopefully they will understand your question enough to explain it and hopefully you understand Spanish enough to comprehend what they are saying. If not, you have a huge text book that has all the Spanish rules and you can look in there and try to make sense of what it going on.
Then there is lunch, more language study, 1 hour for gym, planning for the next day, teaching again, dinner, Spanish until 9:00, then time to write in your journal and get ready for bed at 10:30.
You are also supposed to find time to memorize 30 scriptures in Spanish, 400 core words and phrases, the Preach My Gospel discussion points in Spanish, what you are going to teach your investigators and mark your Spanish scriptures for when you get in a lesson and think of a great scripture to share. Otherwise you won't be able to find it because it isn't marked and you can't read el Libro de Mormon (not a fun experience).
There will probably be problems in your district because you are with the same 6 people for 18 hours a day in the same class room...
I tell you this not to scare you or make you feel pity for me. I tell you this because I want you to be better prepared than I am. NOW is the time to prepare. I regret not reading Preach My Gospel before I came out here because now there is no time to read it and they expect us to know it pretty well. I regret not re-memorizing the 100 scripture masteries, because for me, if I could remember them in English, then it is a lot easier to memorize them in Spanish. READ PREACH MY GOSPEL BEFORE YOUR MISSION. KNOW YOUR 100 SCRIPTURES AND DONT FORGET THEM!
What I am struggling the most with is time. Learn now how to manage your time. Learn now how to be patient with yourself. Learn now that every minute counts. Always be doing something worthwhile.
Also, there is an elder in my district who is having an extremely hard time letting go of his old life. From what I've gathered and heard from him, he was the type to repent right before his mission. Not good. At first he was all gung ho, but as the days became harder and longer, he has fizzled out. I've seen him struggle to the point of tears. He doesn't know why he is here. He doesn't know the scriptures, and he is almost to the point of done trying. It is really sad. And it is really annoying because during personal study and planning, I suffer because he has a big personality and doesn't want to work. Everyone in my district, especially his companion is hurting because he can't focus and doesn't want to.
Figure out now why you're going on a mission. If you are going because you feel you are expected to, that is not enough. If you are going because that's just what you do, that is not enough. YOU NEED TO KNOW WHY YOU ARE GOING!
It is difficult to be with the same person 24/7 especially when your personalities are very different. Start making friends with people that are really different from you. Learn to love them. Learn about them. If anything, come to appreciate them as a son or daughter of God. Don't not like anyone.
Work in the temple if you can before you go. Mission prep is great, but working for 6 hours non-stop in the temple without someone telling you where you need to be all the time was great training. Here, no one tells us what to do. we are given a 6-week schedule and are trusted to follow it. During Spanish class we have teachers, but for personal study and the language class after lunch we are all on our own. It is easy to goof-off or say, "I've already worked hard today, I'm going to take a break." Breaks are needed, but that shouldn't keep you from performing your best.
Learn to be diligent. Learn to be patient with others, yourself, and God. Learn to fail and be comfortable making mistakes.
Yesterday during a lesson I thought I said, "When I was a girl" in Spanish, but I really said, "When I had a daughter." Hahaha...the investigator looked at me all weird.
It's a rough experience. Sometimes I question why I am here and if I'll be able to handle it. When those thoughts come, I immediately fall to my knees. There is great strength in prayer. I testify of that.
I am still trying to learn how to lose myself in this work. I've started to recognize that I cannot do this. There is no way that I can learn Spanish in 6 weeks. There is no way that I can stand the others in my district after being with them 18/7 or 24/7. I cannot do it alone. But with the Lord I can. He knows what it is like. He know exactly what I am feeling because He experienced it first hand for me, to know how to best succor me. The quicker you learn to let go of your pride and put your life into God's hands, the happier you will be through your trials and bad days.
This work is hard. It is demanding. It is relentless. But, my beloved friends and brothers, it is so worth it! These have been the best 3 weeks of my life.
I love you with all my heart. I pray for you every night. Keep the faith.
Hurrah for Israel!!