Yesterday was Wednesday, as I'm sure some of you know, or as we Malagasies call it, Alarobia, and Wednesdays mean more missionaries coming into the MTC! This was my third new missionary Wednesday here, including my first day, and it's always fun to see the new missionaries. Everybody greets them and welcomes them to the MTC, and it's funny to see them wondering how everybody knows that they're new. Then they figure it out and take the orange sticker off of their name tag. The whole "welcome to the MTC" thing is kind of a joke here. Whenever someone makes a mistake like swiping their card the wrong way, or forgetting a tie, or getting lost, everyone jumps on them and shouts "Welcome to the MTC, Elder!" I think it's hilarious.
The gym opened on Tuesday night! We got to go to the devotional there and sing in the choir, but even more importantly, we can play basketball now! I say that's more important because we can actually fit all of the missionaries in the Marriott Center, but in 19M, the building with the gym and auditorium, we can only fit the missionaries in our campus, and not the Spanish speaking missionaries in the west campus or the missionaries in wyview and raintree. Plus, as uncomfortable as Marriott Center seating is, the chairs in 19M are WAY worse!
The language is still improving. I can talk teach most of the lessons fairly decently now without any words or phrases written down. We teach both our teachers, or their alter egos Solofo and Rakoto, just about every day. So we spend a about an hour teaching each day, and the rest of the time we are preparing lessons, studying Malagasy or scriptures; or learning from our teachers. We spend 11 hours in our classroom, I think I said that last time, but 11 hours!!! And in our classroom we only speak Malagasy, so it's pretty crazy, especially when our teachers are teaching us amin'ny fiteny Malagasy.
In other exciting news I was called as a Zone Leader on Sunday. So that's pretty neat. I was super bummed that no new missionaries came into our zone this Wednesday, because the ZL's get to give them a tour and do an orientation thing and get to meet them all. Right now our zone/branch is just us Malagasies, about 12 Indonesian missionaries, and about six Malaysians. We have four sisters in our zone total, but one of them is crazy baller at basketball, and she's a sister training leader too! Our zone is ridiculously good at sports, and our district is the best. We are undefeated in soccer so far. We came in halfway through a game and the score was 4-1 for the other team, and we came back and won 5-4. I've scored a couple times now, and if it weren't for the kids that are actually good at soccer, I would feel pretty good at soccer.
Back to the basketball, our first day was yesterday and I got a fat lip... but I won, and so far Elder Pinson and I are undefeated in series against our district and zone. The most you can play is 3 on 3, which is lame, and no dunking is allowed, which is also lame, but somehow I manage... There is a list of records on the side of the gym, and apparently one elder juggled a soccer ball for more than 4000 touches. The vertical jump record is 36 inches, so Brandan, I'm expecting you to beat that when you get here!
I lost my camera sd card after last Thursday, so I think I'll buy a new on at the bookstore soon. I'm pretty bummed because that had all my Havasupai pictures on it too. So that's why there aren't any pictures this week.
Also, I have been feeling pretty unloved because I have gotten ONE letter so far, and it was from Sister Wright in our ward. I would like some more mail... Not to guilt trip anyone or anything, but Elder Covey, one of my roomates, and I are the only ones who haven't gotten more than one letter. He also got one from a family in his ward, so we're even right now. My mailing address is this:
(I don't have it on me right now, but I'll go get it and send it today.)
Also there is this great thing called DearElder... And it's free... And it's essentially an email that I can read any day, not just on Thursdays, so it would actually probably have a faster response time than email. Did I mention that I haven't gotten any mail?
I'm figuring that you've probably caught on to what I'm getting at, so I'll lay off now, but just remember that I got a package of candy from Elder Schroedter's mom who lives in Texas, and not anything from my own family 15 minutes away... I think a term for me sending emails home should be that I get stuff while I'm in the MTC. Mivazivazy aho--I'm kidding around, but it would be nice. :)
But you may have noticed the "Aug 18" on my address, that is my departure date. So unfortunately, I won't get to hang out with the new Malagasies. And that's not all the bad news for the new Malagasies, Brandan included, Brother Bingham and Brother Aldous, two of our teachers are leaving after our group, so you will just have Brother Sell and some new teachers. Which is a real bummer because Rahalahy Bingham and Rahalahy Aldous are super cool and experienced.
Mom, you mentioned Sister Higginson, and I have seen her here 3 times! Two have been at meals, and then I saw her at the devotional when the choir was singing, and she saw me too, and then I talked to her the other two times.
Did you know that there is no Malagasy version of Called to Serve?! We're all pretty mad about it.
James, you said that you didn't like the MTC, and lots of the English speaking elders have been saying that it seems like forever, but I am loving it! I'm jealous of the elders who get to stay for 9 weeks and 12 weeks because I want to get the language and my teaching skills a lot better before I leave.
Lots of love,
Elder Rasmussen the Younger