Texas McAllen Mission Attn: Elder Brett Mecham 200 West La Vista Ave. McAllen, TX 78501
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
What a wonderful week. Thank you all for the packages/letters/DearElders! It sure makes this email experience much much easier. I was able to read everyone's emails over and over and cherish every single word. Before, I could only skim over the emails because I needed time to respond. DearElder is amazing. Do you know if it works for when I am in Mexico too? I hope so.
So it honestly feels like I was just barely writing a letter to ya'll. I can't believe that it's been a week already. Yet, at the same time, I feel like I've done so much since I last gave you an update. Because I forgot what I've said to everyone in separate letters, I might be repeating a bit, so bear with me.
First off, Thanksgiving was amazing. We had our Thanksgiving dinner at noon and it was awesome. It was a packed house though! The line was going out the door. It was fun because our entire district sat together, as usual, and after eating some delicious turkey, potatoes, stuffing, and green beans, we all went around in a circle and said what we were thankful for. And just for the record, my district is AMAZING. I really can't describe how awesome each person is. Just last night, we were all hanging out in our room and we were all saying how lucky we were that our district is as awesome as it is. Every single person contributes to the group in their own special way. If one person wasn't there, it would feel empty. Last week, Elder Assante and Elder Stoddard left for the Peru MTC and it's been really weird without them. They were such awesome elders. Did I mention the advice that Elder Stoddard gave to me? It's probably the best advice I've ever gotten. I wasn't feeling too good last week (headaches and runny nose) and he asked me how I was doing and I was like, "Uh, my head kinda hurts and I'm sorta dizzy." And he looked at me for a moment and then said distinctively, "Well, just stop it." It was awesome. He was totally right. I just had to stop it. I literally started feeling better after he said that. Don't get me wrong though, Elder Stoddard is such a great and funny guy, and that's totally his humor. He always has the straightest face, so it's sometimes difficult to know when he's joking or being serious. So he told me he was kidding but I told him that it was still the best advice ever. Man, I'm going to miss him. Elder Assante too. He was pretty serious the first week he was here but he totally opened up once he got used to all of our weirdness, and he was such a goofball too. He always told the funniest, and sometime embarrassing, stories. It was great.
I wish I had time to talk about everyone in my district, but as always, there is that red, pestering, blinking timer in the upper right hand corner of the screen telling me how much time I have left. I have 16:21 left. I must continue...
There was no TRC this week because of the Holiday, so instead, we taught a lesson to a different district. We are doing that more and more now and it is totally awesome. It is really making us more comfortable with teaching the lessons. We started off just reading the sentences we had prepared in our lesson plans but now we can just have the title of the different principles in each lesson and just use that to know what to teach. Oh, and Hermano Painter (one of our teachers) had this brilliant idea of teaching progressive investigators. Let me explain.
Each of us thought of one person that we know that we want to act as, and pretend that they are investigators. (I chose Ivan from school) Then, we have the opportunity to teach them. For example, my companion and I both will act as our investigators while two other missionaries will teach us. Then we switch, and we are the missionaries and they are the actors. It is AWESOME, because we are able to see how our investigators are progressing and what kind of things we need to do better. For example, we taught our second lesson yesterday to Jess and Karen (those are the names of the people Elder Miller and Elder Froelich are representing) and we asked how their Book of Mormon reading was going, and it turns out we forgot to give them copies of the Book of Mormon! Ahh. We felt pretty dumb. And in the first lesson, we forgot to ask them their names! We just started talking about their interests/hobbies/work/school and then got straight into the lesson! So even though we made these brainless mistakes, I feel like they are helping us to know what we need to improve on. Also, this last lesson, we were going to teach about the Plan of Salvation but we realized they still had a lot of questions about the last lesson and so we spent the 30 minutes answering their questions and talking more about the Book of Mormon. We didn't even follow our original plan at all. It was cool because it was really all on the spot, just like it's going to be in Mexico. Hermano Painter is really proud of his idea to do this progressive investigator thing and we all love it too. We are always looking forward to doing them.
I'm not feeling sick anymore so that's good. I always feel totally refreshed and ready for the day when I wake up. The food is still good. Gym is awesome. I play volleyball every single day. I'm obsessed. I wish I could play some soccer, but oh well. I bet I'll have a chance in Mexico. Elder Holland spoke on Thanksgiving for the Devotional and he did such a wonderful job. I love hearing from the Apostles. Today will probably be an Elder from the Seventy, but I'll still cross my fingers.
I have barely over a minute left. I must hurry!
Anyway, thanks again for the letters! I love hearing updates. Just know that I am doing tremendous here, and I am praying for all of you.
So, I was anxiously anticipating a DearElder all week and I received nada. Which means, one of a few things could have happened.
1) For some reason, an MTC worker thought it would be funny to not deliver my letters to me.
2) It was a crazy week for you and you didn't have time to write.
3) You accidentally sent the letter to Mexico instead of the Provo MTC so there is now a letter waiting for me hundreds of miles away.
But, no matter the reason, it's all good! I'll keep waiting.
Anyway, it was another crazy/tough/awesome/long/short/eventful week! One day, Hermano Painter was speaking during class and it was sort of weird but for some reason, everything just made total sense, and I had this overwhelming feeling that the language is going to come to me. Obviously I am still a ways a way from that point, even though my Spanish has improved incredibly (almost to the point where I can say a prayer in either Spanish or English without making too much of a difference), but I just knew that it was all going to come to me eventually. When I am concentrating, I can understand about 80-90% of what my teachers are saying. It was just really neat because it was a little overwhelming the first few weeks. By the way, remember when that person from the MTC called me to evaluate my Spanish abilities? Well, I got assigned to the intermediate level (There is beginner, intermediate, and advanced). And the intermedaite and advanced are all in the same building, which has been pretty helpful being able to listen to them. Also, our branch is only intermediate and advanced so Sacrament meeting and priesthood are all in spanish. It's been great.
TRC was pretty exciting. I described it already but it's once a week, every friday afternoon, and it's where we go teach "investigadors" and then get evaluated to see where we are at. Technically, these last two weeks, we were allowed to give our lesson in English and just do our introductions in Spanish, but our entire district decided to do it all in Spanish. And it was awesome. These last weeks experience was pretty exciting.
So we got started with our lesson and it was all going pretty good and then my companion sort of side tracked (like usual) and then got us in a sort of sticky situation. Anyway, it came down to our investigator asking this question: "So, the pope is the prophet and receives revelation?"
This is where I interjected and said, "Hold the phone...let me handle this!" (That's not exactly what I said but it was pretty close...and in Spanish of course)
Anway, I told her that I would like to start from the beginning. I then talked to her about the pattern of dispensations and how prophets are called of God and have the authority of the Priesthood. But, when the people disobey and do not listen to the teachings of the prophet, the Lord takes the authority of the priesthood from the earth. I talked to her about Jesus' purpose during his minisitry and how when he was rejected and crucified, and the apostles were all killed, the authority was once again taken from the Earth. And then our investigator said, "Oh, so that's why there was a need for a restoration!" And then I finished the lesson.
It was really cool because once we got in the sticky situation, my first thought was, ugh, I really don't want to be here right now. We have 25 more minutes to teach but I just want it to end. BUT, then I thought, alright Brett, don't worry about your Spanish. Just teach her what you know. And then I was able to teach her everything and it all made sense. It was really awesome. And even though my companion sort of got me into the mess, he did a real good job at the end. So overall, it was an awesome TRC experience. We are teaching Lesson 2 this friday. I can't wait.
So, other than that, it's mostly just been the same old stuff. Lots of work. Lots of studying. But I am enjoying it. I am getting a little sick but hopefully it doesn't get too bad. Just a runny nose and a headache. Elder Seamons went to the Doc today and was told he can't talk/sing/hum for 3 days because he has some sort of virus and lost his voice. Elder Wallace has been sick since the day he got here. But we've all maintained good attitudes. We're all excited for tonight, to see who is speaking at the devotional. Thomas S. Monson?? That'd be cool!
Mom, thanks for the care package! Loved everything! The PJ's fit great. Did you get my letter though about the two pairs of shorts and the shirt that I wanted? Don't worry about it if you didn't. Also, I am sending a letter with some pictures of my companion and I, and my district.
Steph, thanks for the letter! Hopefully Bart gets used to you! He flares his gills out of love, I'm sure.
Mal, hopefully you get your skymiles. I definitely entered your number in.
Dad, Thanks for the letter last week! by the way, once the photo machines are working again, I will print off more pictures of my companion and district and send them to you!
Love you all! I can't wait to hear from you! If you can, use DearElder, and send it to MTC Provo. Thanks!
Preparation day's are always pretty intense. So much to do, so little time, and 2000 other missionaries trying to do it all as well. phew. Anyway, I we all just got back from a joyous time doing laundry, and now we just got here to the classroom to send some emails to out family before dinner. Right after the dinner is the General Authority devotional which I CAN'T wait for. Last week was Elder Bednar and it was such a good talk. Hopefully it's another apostle. That'd be awesome.
This past week was a pretty crazy one. I guess they all will, so I better get used to it. First off, I had some companion issues. He's sitting right next to me as I type this so I better be careful. But before I go into the details, just know that my companion and I are best of friends and love each other to death. Anyway, this past week we were preparing our first lesson to teach at the TRC, which is where volunteers come in and act as investigators. It's about a 30 minute lesson and all in Spanish, which is why I wanted to make sure we were totally prepared. But, my companion tends to lose focus really easily (I can definitely sense some signs of Attention Deficit Disorder) and it was driving me crazy. I'd be planning stuff and he wouldn't really help. He'd just copy down what I had. And, he usually copied it down wrong or forgot something. And then when we would practice teaching, he would always stray from our plan and get talking about other stuff. And note that this is in Spanish so once we get off topic, it's sort of hard to get back on because we're talking in Spanish. But, I had a really good interview with my teacher and he said that while we all have the same goal is missionaries, we all have different ways of getting there and we all have different roles as companions. He encouraged me to have patience with him so that's what I am trying to do.
And now that I told you how he drove me crazy for about 2 days, I gotta tell you about how awesome he has been the other 13. He's the nicest guy, and also the funniest guy. He loves youtube videos so he is always reciting funny lines. From movies as well. He also knows every single disney song so on Thursday, during our service project, we were cleaning the showers while singing disney songs. It was pretty awesome. And he always has a story to tell. You could just ask him to tell you a story and he'll have something right away. He's such a genuine guy. He always refills my drink at dinner, holds the door open for anybody, and waves to the couple missionaries, and says hi to every teacher, whether it's a spanish teacher or tiawanese. I'm so glad he's my companion, even though he drives me bonkers when he gets lazy or loses focus. I think we both have strengths where the other has a weakness.
Ahhhh I only have 3 minutes left to send this email.
The MTC has been awesome. Classes are now 100% in Spanish, and I have been improving soooo much! The meals are good. It hasn't been hard getting up at 6:15 every morning nor has it been hard going to bed at 10:30. I am loving every minute of it. My companion and roommates are awesome. I just ordered some pictures that I took on my camera and I should be able to send them next week. Then you'll be able to see my district and my companion. I can't wait for you "to meet them".
Anyway, I gotta run. Sorry I wasn't able to respond to any of the things in my email.
Ahhh I can finally write! I don't have very long though but I'll try and be as detailed as I can! I love it here! It has been the hardest but best week ever. My companion is named Elder Dickson and he is an absolute riot. Wow we are having so much fun as companions. I can't wait to tell you some stories about him. We share a room with Elder Wallace and Elder Seamons and they are both really cool as well. We have all been getting along real well and been having an absolulte blast! We took some pictures today but I'll try to send them next week. We went to the temple today and that was really neat to go as a district, as well as a couple other districts. The temple was great, but so was the walk there. It's nice to be sort of outside the main MTC area and get some "fresh air". Classes have been pretty intense. They basically started within minutes of arriving. Last week it was about 50% in Spanish and the other half in english but starting yesterday, it is now 100% Spanish! ahhh. But, it was really cool to see how much I actually understood! Even though there were many words or even short phrases I didn't understand right away, I essentially understood nearly everything. It was really neat. Also, one of my teachers said something really cool. He said that the main focus for us is to learn about the Gospel, understand the lessons, and work on the skills necessary to teach, rather than focusing on learning Spanish, and if we do that, the language will come. And I've totally noticed that. I can already pray, bear my testimony, and say so many other things in Spanish. And, our entire district has been really good at SPL, where we try to speak our language first and if we can't get our point across, then we use English. It's crazy how after just one week, I have seen a considerable improvement. I'm excited to see what it will be like in a few more. Some scary news though. Both Brazil and Mexico are being really difficult about visas. Most people going there are staying here at the MTC for an extra two or three weeks, and if they don't come by then, they are being reassigned to someone in the states. Just the other day, Elder Dickson and I were studying outside at a table and we started talking to four elders at the adjacent table and they were all supposed to go to Brazil, but instead they were going to Montana, Arkansas, and Georgia (I think those were the states). So, by the looks of it, I'll at least be staying in the MTC for 12 weeks. But I'll make sure and update you if I find anything else out. I still have 8 more weeks here regardless. The missionaries back home were right when they said "just make it to Sunday". Because the first few days were absolutely insane; a combination of being overwhelmed and excited/nervous I guess. We were in the classroom for soooo long each day and the nights seemed to go by in seconds, it actually like on Saturday, that we had never actually gone to sleep but that it had been one really long day. phew. But Sunday was really uplifiting and I was able to catch up today since it's P-day. And dinner is in 5 minutes and then we are going straight to a fireside where we are going to get to hear from a general authority. I can't wait. Sorry if my email is sort of a mess. I've been typing without really thinking because I've been sort of rushed. anyway, love ya tons! and it was so great to get that long email from you. Crazy Buddy. And I hope everything goes well with Laura. Tell her I wish her the best! Tell Stephanie I say hi and that I miss her already! Con amor, Elder Brett