Hola mi familia y amigos!!!!!
I just want all of you to know that while I am here in the CCM I can only send emails once a week, on my P-day. Please don't think I don´t want to write, I can, just once a week. Every single day I wish I could write, and write, and write all of you!! My P-day here is every , so that is when you will hear from me!!!
Where to begin describing the CCM. My instructor Hermano Gallegos only speaks in Spanish to my class (rarely English), so it forces all of us to work hard, listen intently, and constantly pull out our dictionaries! Beau, the idea of having my own vocabulary/phrases notebook is so helpful!! Thanks so much Kelli for giving it to me, I use it so often! I can testify that the gift of tongues is so real, even in just this first week. I am speaking more Spanish and knowing a little bit more every day! It´s crazy what our minds are capable of. Before coming to the CCM, my Spanish was just some vocabulary and a few phrases. Since I´ve been here, my mind is retaining more and more, little by little, and the Spirit has brought to my remembrance of things I thought I had forgotten. An hermano in my service activity (from Mexico) yesterday told us that if we just learn one word a day, remember it always, and keep practicing phrases and sentences, then we will be bilingual in no time. That was so comforting for me to hear that. He also is very funny and told us this joke: ¨If you want to speak like a businessman, go to America. If you want to speak of love, go to France. But if you want to speak to God, go to Mexico!¨ Hehe, I really enjoyed that! I also just met an hermana from Nicaragua about my age, and my Spanish will have a bit of a lisp, hehe. How fun!
Every instructor and teacher that I have has taught me so much and gives me confidence. :) Every day has new challenges of learning, and then teaching. One of the most challenging experiences right now, is teaching to our actor investigator, Yared. Since she is from here, we don´t speak very much English, or none at all when we´re with her. I´m telling you, it´s difficult, but every time we go and see her, I have a bit more confidence, and a bit more understanding of the language. Crazy right? It´s only been a week! :) I have so much faith in my Heavenly Father to help and guide me through this. I constantly remind myself: never compare; you are doing your best; you´re loved; stay positive; smile even when it hurts; always speak kindly; be patient. The other night Hermana Seigfried (from Santa Fe, Texas) that rooms with my companion and I, let me read comfort from the Spirit that she had felt and written down. As I read I wept and felt like those words were for me too. It goes like this:
You are not your flaws, you are your potential. Have an eternal perspective.
You are a choice spirit.
Speak to me. I want to hear from you.
You don´t need to know right now.
It´s difficult, because I know you can do it. Be encouraged by that.
Reading these words have been comforting me so much, and I love the diversity of people and personalities I have in my district. Even though Hermana Seigfried and Hermana Bush (from New Orleans, Mississippi) are not in my district, I´m so grateful that Hermana Udall and I get to room with them. They build me up and have so much to share of their testimony and of their life. Everyone is incredible and has a great capacity of talent. Our elders know how to have fun, and are always making me smile or laugh. They help lighten up the filled schedule we have. Elder Woodland (the curly haired blonde in the photo) reminds me so much of Dylan. He has so much excitement and care to give to everyone! He jokes a lot and is so friendly! All of the elders feel like brothers to me. :) the hermanas in my group are incredibly hard workers and have so much to give. I feel like I have connected with Hermana Grow (red head with me) so much, and she is always smiling. I tell her ¡Que linda! and ¡Te amo mucho! all the time, so she has been saying it to me back! She is a sweetheart and we are actually both called to the exact mission! Maybe further down the mission she might be my companion, that would be awesome! In the beginning I was having a hard time with my companion, since our personalities are entirely opposite, but it doesn´t matter. She has done so many things in her life and knows so much about everything! :) She is so intelligent and is so lively! Her livliness reminds me of you Mom! :) When we were clashing and trying to get used to being around each other, I wrote in my journal all of the qualities that I love about her. Since then, there haven´t been any problems, and we work harder together more, every day! Yay!
When I speak and write in my notebook or journal, I use a lot of Spanglish. Hahahaha. I feel that is the only way I can learn it, and my teacher encourages us to all the time. He says, ¨Ingles, no!¨ He´s a lot of fun and makes learning so much fun. Yesterday when we were learning how to ask questions using the ¨to be¨ verb estar, we played hot potato. We gathered around in a circle, while someone went out of the circle and said something like this: ¨Papa se quema, se quema se papa...¨ While they would say this, we would throw the marker around from person to person, until the person stopped the tongue twister. Whoever had the marker had to ask someone else in the circle a question in Spanish, and the other had to reply back in Spanish. Hahaha, it was a lot of fun!! In class we learn about phrases, specifically the ones we use when we talk about the gospel. I know how to pray in Spanish now! Woooooohoooo! I also have our missionary purpose memorized in Spanish too. It goes like this: ¨Invitar a las personas a venir a Cristo al ayudarlas a que reciban, El Evangelio restaurado mediante le fe en Jesucristo y Su la expiación. El arrepentimiento, el bautismal, las personas del don del Espírtitu Santo y el perservar hasta el fin.¨
I also have almost all of the invitation to be baptized memorized, and I have to memorize several scriptures from the restoration by , plus I have to start preparing my talk for today. Our branch president Presidente Jewell gives us the subject for our talk, and then we have a week to prepare it all in Spanish. When comes, he will randomly call speakers to speak, right before the meeting, or during it. So, you don´t know if you´re going to speak until that day. Wow! But I´m not stressed though, because I know I can do it! I also have been working on writing and saying my testimony in Spanish too. Everything is coming along great! As Hermana Garcia says (from my district), ¨Every day is a rollercoaster!¨ It sure is! Each day has its rewards and frustration, but I feel so grateful to be here! I realize that I have to have the best attitude the moment I wake up, or the day won´t feel as satisfying. :)
My schedule consists of: personal and companion scripture study; ¨language lessons¨ (from ¨Better off Dead¨) for several hours; spiritual lessons of how to teach; devotionals; meetings as a district and branch; learning how to improve; and inbetween all of that, eating and trying to get someplace on time! I´ve been able to use my musical talents since I´ve been here, and it was so nice to tickle the ivories again! I played for sacrament meeting , and sang with the CCM choir yesterday in our devotional. All hymns (himnos) are sung in Spanish, and we sang ¨Redeemer of Israel¨. It´s incredible how much the spirit is felt when we sing, even though we don´t understand all of it. :)
We have had two spectacular, historical devotionals this week. was the dedication of the Mexico MTC, and Dallin H. Oaks came to dedicate it. He taught me so much, and smiled at us all. Hermana Udall noticed, as well as many others, that as he and his wife entered the room for the devotional, while we were singing hymns, he began to cry because of the strong spirit he felt. We don´t have to understand the language well to feel the Spirit, the Spirit sends peace and love to us anyways. :) The other unique devotional we had (my favorite) was yesterday. Director of the International MTCs, Kelen Miller, spoke to us. Did you know that there are fourteen MTCs all over the world, and that many of them are going to double in size? Provo MTC is one of them that´s going to expand. Wow!!! Also, the Mexico MTC/CCM is the largest MTC in the world. SO cool! Kelen Miller talked to us about the transformation of missionaries. He showed us before and after pictures of missionaries who have or are serving now. In a few of the pictures, their was a huge change in their countenance after just a couple weeks in the mission field. It was so neat to see and hear about them. Kelen Miller explained our transformation like this: we are a block of wood that needs to be sanded, but we don´t need to focus on the center. When we work on the edges, the middle takes care of itself. Isn´t that incredible? I have never thought about our transformations like that. He told us that we need to look outward, serve more, take Christ by the hand and he will take care of the rest. We are all imperfect, but through Him and the Holy Ghost conversion happens. It´s happening to me, and I know conversion will happen for others in Nicaragua. Whether they will be converted (come unto Christ) now or later, I don´t know. But what I do know is that through faith and humility, Heavenly Father will use the law of compensation, and I cannot even express adequately how much that comforts my soul.
The Mexican food here is good, but Cruz, your food is a million times better! Because the meals for all of these missionaries are on a tight schedule, the food doesn´t get as much love. I don´t even mind though, I feel lucky to eat delicious food! It´s very interesting the way they make our traditional American dishes. Hehe, all of the hermanas were so excited the other day when we got to eat hamburgers and crazy good curly fries! Mm!! I love everything about this place. The people are so kind, loving, and patient, especially with the language. Even the Latino and Latina missionaries are understanding, since quite a few of them are learning English! Haha, yesterday during gym, Hermana Grow and I played soccer with the Latina missionaries, and oh my goodness are they so much fun! They laugh and tease and make the most entertaining expressions! All of them are so happy and close to each other, it´s incredible and enjoyable to see. :) The two Latina missionaries (in the photo) that are beside me are Hermana Ramirez (left) and Hermana Calles (right). They have come almost every night to our room and help us learn more phrases and words. Plus, they´re so much fun so we get to just visit with them too! They said we are very funny gringo missionaries. Hahaha, the other night when they came, I was telling them that Daniel´s parents are from Mexico, but instead of saying parents (papás) I said ¨papas¨ which is potatoes. Hahahaha, they laughed and kept repeating what I said. It was really funny! :D I´m getting better at laughing at myself, and they´re really nice when we mess up. Hahaha, so, sorry Daniel for calling your parents potatoes. I´m sure there will be many funny mess-ups in the future. :)
I´ve missed you all every day, but when came, that´s when I felt this overwhelming feeling of love and gratitude for all of you, and those who are supporting me so much!! Whenever there has been a problem, I´ve wanted to write or call you up and just tell you how the day is going. Every moment I am thinking of each of you and wondering how everything is going, and hoping that you are happy and safe. This distance has made me feel so much more thankfulness for all of the love each of you have shown in my life, and there were times I took that for granted. I am sorry, and I want to show each of you all the time that how much love and gratitude I feel for you. I pray for you every night and morning and I cannot wait to learn more and be even more immersed in my mission. :) I cannot wait to call or skype with you this Mother´s Day. All of the letters sent to me are cherished, so please, don´t stop writing and write as much as you want! I love hearing about it all, so don´t feel like messages have to be brief. :)
I love you, hasta luego!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!! Until . :)