Well, I have officially finished my first full week here at the MTC, and I've even gone a bit over. Since last week it has all calmed down quite a bit. We are now on a actual schedule, and our days are consistent. Our current schedule has us starting our first class at 8:30 and going till lunch at 11:30, studying till dinner at 5:30, and going to class after dinner at 6:15 until 9:15. However, during the middle of our study time we have an hour to exercise. It is really nice because it is literally in the middle of our study time, so we get to go play sand volleyball for an hour and break up the studying. Our district has discovered that sand volleyball is tons of fun, but the sand gets really hot really fast. I think that we may all have minor 1st degree burns on our feet every day after we finish playing. This week classes have gotten a lot better. We have picked up the pace a little bit more, and although I still have previous knowledge about our grammar points, we are learning a lot of new vocabulary. Knowing and understanding the grammar points has allowed me to study the vocabulary and other scriptures in Spanish that I would not have been able to had I been trying to study grammar as well. It has been nice to have time to focus on learning the gospel language and not feel super rushed as of yet. I know that a lot of the other Elders in my class are feeling a bit overwhelmed by the sheer amount of language rules that have been thrown at them in the past week. It has also been nice to be able to help them when they have questions and are in need of some help. I can help with some grammar structure, and when they have some question I can do my best to answer them. I'm not always successful, but where I fail Google Translate succeeds!! I'm still loving the language though. It is a beautiful language, and I have enjoyed hearing the rules explained by someone else. Some of them even are making tons more sense, and therefore are easier to remember. It has still been crazy to watch the people in my district grow in the language, and even myself as we have attended class. There is a program here called SYL (Speak Your Language), and as you watch the Elders who are actually trying to speak what they know and use the language that they can, they have grown immensely. They are learning things in less than a week that took me and kids in my classes weeks to remember, let alone utilize. I'm so impressed at how quickly they are learning the language, and how quickly they are finding mistakes in what they say, and are fixing them. It is truly amazing to see the difference between those that try and those that just don't seem to care. Those that don't care are still struggling and are learning a lot slower than those who are trying. Especially over the last week I have gained a testimony of the Gift of Tongues. The language is not just being handed to me or anyone really, but as we work to study the language and put a sincere effort into trying to learn the language, the Spirit helps us, and we are able to learn and remember things that we wouldn't otherwise. As a district we get to start a thing called TRC on Monday. Basically we get to meet and teach a real investigator who is a native Spanish speaker, and does not speak English. They will come here to the MTC to be taught, and we have 20 minutes in three different lessons next week to actually teach. I'm a bit nervous, because we really have just been told this is what we are doing, and it is our decision on what we want to do. We can teach any lesson that we want, and we are really in-charge of the whole thing. We may have one of our teachers sit in to help coach with the language, but they are not supposed to help at all with the lesson. Then we watch a recording of our teaching afterward, and analyze what we did and set goals to improve. It is just a bit scary to think that we are actually teaching investigators. One person asked if they were real during our training, and the response was, "Well, some of them are members, and some of them aren't, but everyone is telling their current situation. If they tell you they are struggling with the law of tithing, they are. This is authentic teaching experience, so don't take it lightly." That didn't help with the nervous feeling...Sundays are also kind of fun here. We are all given a topic and told to prepare a 2-3 minute talk in Spanish, and we have no idea who is speaking until after the sacrament when the conducting member of the branch presidency stands up and tells us. That is really nerve racking, especially for the first week. I don't know how the second Sunday will feel, but I can't imagine it will feel much better. However, it is kind of nice as well because it gives us all the opportunity to learn and study a topic for a week and learn all that we can. It will also give us some resources to fall back on as we get into the mission field. They also take FOREVER to write. I know that it is only 2-3 minutes, but trying to translate 1-2 pages of stuff into Spanish is a pain in the but, I guess it is really helpful. And on the bright side, most people there aren't trying hard enough to actually understand what is being said either! Just kidding, but really it is a bit hard to pay attention to a full hour long meeting in Spanish. It takes a lot of work, and by the time I'm done, I'm exhausted. It takes a lot more brain power than I anticipated. This week we also had two totally awesome devotionals. The first was on Sunday night and it was from the MTC President's son. His message was that we need to utilize the members, and stir the pot. He told several stories from his time as the ward mission leader in his ward in Florida, and in every story there was a member involved, and some kind of stirring the pot. For example in one of his stories he decided that he was going to bake cookies for less active members in his ward, but couldn't get into the gated communities in a vehicle, so he bought a few scooters, and him and the missionaries rode around on scooters in dress clothes and delivered cookies to the less active members in his ward. It was nontraditional, thus stirring the pot, and he was the member that was involved. The second was from a previous member of the 70. He came and had 10 tips to improve our missionary work, and they all started with Love... I thought that it was amazing how he tied everything back to loving the Savior, or loving the people, or the culture, or the scriptures. I kind of made me think that really is the key. To develop the Christ like love, and simply apply that love to everything that we do, and everything will turn out better in the end. This week has been a testimony building week. I have gained a stronger testimony of the Gift of Tongues, and seen it applied in the lives of me and those around me. I have gained a stronger testimony of the inspired teachings of the Lord in the Book of Mormon and the other standard works, and I have gained a stronger testimony of the gift of the Spirit. I know that as we study, listen and put effort into improving and progressing that we can. We were not sent to this life to accept the way that we are. We were sent here to improve and become better.
Love you all, Elder Wilson