Thursday, July 17, 2014

Week 1 - New in the MTC

Manahoana fianakaviako!  Hello my family!

So you may have realized at this point that p days are on Thursdays. You may also have realized that our first Thursday was not a p day, but if you didn't figure that out, it's all good because I just told you. So the MTC is pretty swell... It's probably one of my favorite things ever!

Yes, the food is good. Some of the elders have compared it to Jeremiah 4:19-20 but I really enjoy it. Here is a sample meal: 2 small pizzas, a bowl of pineapple, BYU Creamery ice cream, an ice cream sandwich, a small salad, three cups of chocolate milk and a cup of juice from some kind of fruit or combinations of fruits. They also have soda, but I've managed to keep myself away from that so far, although I might start getting used to Coke because it kills parasites... so it might come in handy. The food changes every day, but so far it has all been pretty delicious,some of the dishes run a little bit dry, but most of them are fantastic.

Speaking of parasites, we picked up our anti-malaria pills yesterday and some of the pills are pretty interesting. The one we are on is called doxycycline, or something like that, some possible side effects include phototoxicity, which means that you essentially are allergic to sunlight and you get really painful burns from walking across the street; and you also have to stay upright for an hour after you swallow it, because if you lay down it could come back up into your throat and dissolve there, and burn your esophagus really badly, but that's nothing compared to the other one! 20% of the people who take it have really strange, vivid dreams; and other side effects include hallucinations, depression, and psychotic behavior! Some of the elders in my district have been saying that they want to take that one because it's essentially church endorsed LSD. They're joking of course, but it's some pretty crazy stuff!

Speaking of my district, the Malagasy district is the largest in the MTC and the second largest group of Malagasies ever. There are 13 of us. The largest group of Malagasies ever was 15, but they were separated into two districts. Our district is super close and we all felt like we knew each other as soon as we met, which is pretty cool when you consider that missionaries are foreordained... But I love them a bunch! We demolish everyone else pretty hardcore in soccer because we have three really good soccer players, including a pacific islander named Elder T. who is learning English. and everyone else is pretty athletic. Speaking of athleticism, we were doing vertical wall pushups in our room, and I got the second most with 6, so that's exciting.

My companion is Elder A. from Tuscon, Arizona. He is also our district leader, which means that I am pretty much the executive secretary: it's my job to make sure he's on schedule; but I am the senior companion, so I feel like the power behind the throne sometime... (That was a joke) He's a stud. He's really smart and he loves learning the language, so we get along pretty well. He's like 6'3" so he's like the fourth shortest in our district. Fourth... I'm the tallest, but a bunch of the other guys are right around his height, our shortest guy is Elder R., and we are a TALL district. With the height and the general whiteness (except for Elder T. and Elder P.) we will stick out a ton in Madagascar!

On to some very sad news. The gym is closed, so we can only play soccer or go to the little secondary gym or play kickball or volleyball... not basketball. When the gym opens in a week, our district is prepared to hand it to all the other Elders!

Malagasy is coming along pretty well. In fact, I am loving it a ton! About 1/3 of my conversation is in Malagasy, and I am having a blast! We've been teaching our investigator, "Rakoto Jean," since the second day in the MTC, only in Malagasy! The first day was super rough! He's really nice, and our teachers Ralahy (brother) S. and Ralahy A. told us he was a real investigator. We had our doubts, and yesterday while Elders P. and C. were teaching him, his white MTC teacher name tag fell out of his pocket! Elder C. said that his name started with a b, and I'd talked to a return missionary working at our devotional at the Marriott Center last night (because the auditorium in the MTC is closed with the gym) and he asked about a Brother B. After we decided that's who he must be, we were in class and he walks in, proudly wearing his nametag!!! This may not sound so cool but we were all so excited! He's going to be teaching us the rest of the time with our other two teachers! If you haven't quite caught on yet, THIS WAS A HUGE DEAL FOR ALL OF US!!!!!!! We were all just grinning when we walked to our residence hall.

Speaking of classroom and residence hall, our residence hall is in the opposite side of the MTC from our classroom, and our rooms are on the top floor, and so is our classroom so we walk a LOT. And to make matters better, the cafeteria is in another corner, so we spend lots of our day walking in the heat, which by itself is pretty good mission prep too.

I'm sorry if there aren't any pictures this week, the computers we're on can't upload them from my camera, so if they don't come, that means I wasn't able to get to one that could. But the pictures will come soon. The views from the MTC are super pretty, and my district is a bunch of strikingly handsome young men, so they'll be worth the wait.

Before I'm done, I'll just give a brief overview of an average day. We wake up at 6:30, but sometimes we get up before that, then have breakfast at 7:15, after that we head over to our classroom, where we spend about 11 hours usually. At 11:35 is lunch, and dinner is at 4:50. Sometime during the day we have gym time for fifty minutes with ten minutes before to get ready and half an hour after to clean up and take a shower, but remember that it takes about five minutes to get from the field to our residence, so we are pretty short for time. At 9:30 we leave our classroom and go to our residence, where we get ready for bed. At 10:15 is quiet time, and lights off is at 10:30. We have no free time, but I like the schedule a lot. After one thing, we have to leave right away to get to our next thing. Even during meals we barely have enough time to eat all of our food. We have devotionals at the Marriott center on Tuesdays and Sundays, it's fun to walk over with all the other 2000+ missionaries, 600 of which came in when I did. We also have choir practice after dinner on Tuesdays and Sundays, and we perform on Sundays, our whole district goes to those and it's a lot of fun. Our whole district does everything together, we are all super happy that we didn't get split up, they split up groups at 14 and they were thinking about splitting us up. Also, we get mail everyday, so if you guys would like to send some real mail, maybe even packages of goodies while I'm in Provo and that's actually affordable, please do! Elder C. and I are the only ones who haven't gotten anything. You can try DearElder, because there are lots of those coming in and I think it's super cheap.


Ok, we can't see the pictures in the browser until after we send it, and we can only send like 15mb at a time.  This is our classroom with some of our district.

 This is the view from the building that my classroom is in, there's the windows and some chairs there so we study there sometimes.

Our district going to the temple for our Sunday temple walk.

This picture is my district.

 Elder A. and me at the temple.

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