I guess that technically speaking this is only week 1/2, but I already feel like I've been here for a month! And not even in a bad way. ;) Every day we get up at 6:30, (ouch), get ready, and are out the door by 7:10. We go to breakfast, which is nuts because there is a MAJOR buttload of sleepy, hungry Missionarios here, eat quickly, and head off to Spanish class. It's a tough, but efficient method of teaching here- total immersion. We walked into class on day 1, about 30 minutes after entering the MTC, and stared in awestruck horror as the teacher tried to explain our first lesson completely. in. spanish. We were lost, to say the least. Since then, it's gotten a bit better, and all of us agree that we can understand a lot more than we can speak. At least thanks to intonation, context clues, and the occasional familiar word, we are able to stumble along. We, the students, even wrote down our own group prayer on the board so that if we are ever called to give the opening, closing, or many in-between oracíones, we can just read that and hopefully be a little more successful than we would otherwise.The only time our teacher, Hermana Ruiz, speaks english is if there's a word that she's pretty sure we don't know.(for me, that's pretty much every word coming out of her mouth, but you know.... praying for the gift of tongues!)
There are 10 of us total (6 elders, 4 sisters) in our Spain district, and all but one of us are going to Barcelona, leaving for the CCM on the 28th. I think there are probably 20 of us all leaving together, but the rest of the missionaries are going to Malaga or Madrid and are in a different district. Us four sisters are getting along pretty well! I think that we are probably the most multilingual group out here. (maybe. this is the MTC after all, I guess.) Hermana Melterre is from Paris, France. Predictably, she's adorable. ;) She told us that her first name is Fannie, she's about 20 years old, and before coming to the MTC she was a "business woman". See?? Adorable. She's the one of the four of us who isn't going to Barcelona, she's going to Malaga instead. :( Sad Day!! I can already tell we're all going to miss her. Everyone around here immediately loves her and she's very eager to learn both Spanish and English. Hermana Lofgren is from Orem and she's just about ready to graduate from UVU majoring in illustration. Again, very adorable. ;) She, like me, loves Shakespeare and Charles Dickens, which promises some very deep and lengthy discussions to come in the near future. I haven't been able to see any of her artwork yet, but I'll keep you posted. My companion, Hermana Humbert, is from Frankfurt, Germany and is very quiet but very smart. She's 25 I think, and is about a foot and a half taller than me and about the width of a twig. (And, in case you didn't catch the pattern already, She's extremely adorable!;) Her English is coming a little bit slower, so it makes things more difficult for her in workshops or meetings where the leaders speak rapid-fire 'Murcan English. But she asks questions if she gets too confused, so I think she's doing OK. I got put as the Senior Companion for the duration of our stay in the Provo MTC, which is crazy to me because it sure seems like Hermana Humbert knows a lot better what she's doing. She's so solid! There's a quiet, peaceful spirit about her that I admire a lot. She has one older sister who served a mission in Washington DC, and her mom converted to the church when she was about 26 years old. I also have learned that her grandparents are hardcore Catholic, she had a rabbit named Hoppel when she was about 8 years old, and she's studying to become a social worker when she gets back to Germany.
The elders are....funny. :) We have one from London, England (who is well known throughout the MTC already and who is very aware of the effect his accent has on all Americans.) and one from North Pole, Alaska, (Too young to be Santa and too tall to be an elf, so I'm not sure what he does there. Maybe he's the I.T. guy. ) and the rest are from all over good ol' Utah. They're all pretty funny, and we've decided to all get matching, cheesy MTC T-shirts that are covered in flags and say something like "Spain Barcelona mission, 2k15". Ah, Mis Hermanos....
We had a really cool workshop yesterday, (or was it the day before...?) where we went to different rooms and spoke with investigators as though the 40+ of us were companions. There was much debate about whether or not they were really investigators, but regardless, there were many spiritual and informative lessons to be learned. The first investigator was named Jose and he spoke about how he wasn't really interested in religion. After a few fairly confusing and unsure attempts from a couple people to ask him questions and leave him with a message, he, very powerfully, asked us how there could be a God in a world where so much evil and pain and sadness happens. He told us about how hard his mother had worked to raise him, and how much she sacrificed for him, and how much she had meant to him, but had gotten very very sick the year before. He said he had prayed and prayed and prayed that she would recover but she ended up passing away, which is why he didn't believe in God anymore. There wasn't a dry eye in the room when he was through speaking, but in the very corner of the room an elder raised his hand and just bore a sweet, simple testimony about a similar experience that he had with his own mother. He said that she had gotten cancer when he was 12 years old and that, even though he knew that the loss was painful, he truly believed in the possibility of eternal families and that he knew that Jose's mother would be waiting for him with open arms at the end of his life. That's when Jose started crying, ha. He said that any church that could promise such things might be worth his time.
Later, we spoke with Jose's wife who expressed her confusion as to why any of us would come, and whether or not this was really our choice or if we were pressured into it. We didn't do so well answering her, but as she was asking that of a specific elder, she said something I don't think I can ever forget. She said "This is communication. I'm asking a genuine question, so you need to give me a genuine answer."
I love you all and misss you so much, but I know that I am supposed to be here!