Thursday, May 16, 2013

Week #1 (May 16, 2013)

This first week has been amazing. I have to admit, I was a little skeptical since I have received mixed responses to the MTC, but it has exceeded all my expectations.  It's like living in the temple 24/7 and learning and growing at top speed. That may not sound very fun, now that I say it out loud.... but trust me, I'm in Heaven.  Even though we have literally no free time, our study times are so full of goodness.  I don't know how else to describe it. Welearn so much about the language, but it's not like any of the Spanish classes I took, because the gospel is always involved. I have the best teacher in the MTC, (don 't tell Russ) because he is so in tune with the spirit and evenly mixes the gospel with the language. I am in a trio companionship to I have two companions, Sister Dixon and Sister Nielsen.  They are so cute and uplifting.  The Language is so much fun.  It's part spanish and english, but mostly new stuff. If I have a question, I just use a Spanish word and there's a small chance it will be right!

On our third day in the MTC, we taught a 20 minute lesson in Hiligaynon to an "investigor".  Marioneto.  Even though we know he's not a real investigator, we treat him like one in our studies, prayers, and lessons.  The spirit we felt in each of the five lessons was amazing. I never could have imagined the love you feel for someone when you put in that much thought and prayer and dedication towards someone's salvation.

The language is a lot of fun to figure out.  I think the guide books are awesome.  They are the best in the world, since Hiligaynon is technically not a written language.  The church wrote most of the materials that are available.  That means we only have chapter 3 in preach my gospel and the Book of Mormon.  But it helps us focus on the importance of the Book of Mormon.  Our teacher learned three dialects on his mission, in Ilo-Ilo, and even though he learned Tagolog in the MTC, none of the languages he used were Tagolog.  I'm so grateful for the growth of the church and MTC so that we are able to learn a language we will actually use, even though it will probably be different once we are out there.  Anyway, the language is not nearly fluent, but I already feel good about the progress we've made.

I was struggling with the memorization about two days in, and was getting a little discouraged, but then I realized my companions were just as flustered.  I realized all of a sudden, and it hit me like  a wall, I'd been thinking about myself.  I flipped my point of view and in my prayers, instead of praying for help with my language skills, I would pray for specific things my companions were struggling with and really focus on how I could help them.  As soon as I started doing this, their language skills started accelerating, as well as mine.  It became so (I'm not going to say easy). but fun, enjoyable, and fulfilling.

I was a little worried about how a trio companionship would work out, since people kept saying how it was harder etc. But I'm so grateful for it.  With three people we get more insight, inspiration, more people to remember more words(vocab) and lets face it, personality.  It's a great stepping stone to only having one companion all the time. 
Our district is really large. Not that I would know any different, but Elders and Sisters comment every time they pass our classroom because it's so packed. We have 13 missionaries, 7 Sisters, and 6 Elders.  We are the only district speaking Hiligaynon and we are all going to Bacolod except one sister companionship (Sister Foster and Sister Winward) are going to Ilo-Ilo.  The Bacolod mission is growing so fast!!!  Our district is so positive and uplifting.  I feel like even though we don't know each other very well yet, we all want to be close and help each other.  We have an Alder Templeton from New Zealand, Elder Manu from Tonga, and Elder Morgan from Australia.  The rest are from the U.S. and most from Utah.  I went to high school with Elder Schow and it's funny to see how many mutual friends we have, even though we didn't know each other.

It's so powerful to hear Elder Manu's testimony because even though he doesn't speak English very well, you can always feel the spirit when he speaks.  It reminds me of the importance of keeping the spirit with us always and keeping ourrelationsip to God close because our language and words are not going to convert, (especially with the level we're at right now), but but it's the Holy Ghost that will touch the hearts of our investigators.
We got to hear from Janice Kapp Perry for Relief Society and for the devotional we got to hear from Elder and Sister Russel M. Nelson.  It was a powerful week to say the least.  An APOSTLE OF THE LORD!

P.S. MOTHERS DAY! I'm sending you a personal letter mom! But we watched Music and the Spoken Word and the whole thing was on mothers.  I teared up as I thought of you and all you've done for out family.  You are so amazing, I don't even know how to word it.  Even the simple things.  A sister in my room ripped her shirt along the seam and was so sad she couldn't wear it anymore.  I was like, "sew it up." She didn't know how so I did it for her.  She was so amazed, I just kind of laughed because it was a skill I always took for granted.  I'm sure there are so many other things I don't even realize I know because of you. So thank you for all of your hard work!!

Lots of LOVE!!!
Sister Ashley Smoot

P.P.S.  Letters and Dear Elder are best so that I can spend more time responding and reading!! Thanks for all of the support! My mission has free Dear Elder!

Here are some pictures!

My companions (from left to right: Sister Nielsen, Sister Dixon, and me)

Cheesy district picture :)

A taste of language class...

District Temple Walk

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