Thursday, March 26, 2015

Hello from the MTC! (Week 4)


Despite having no apostles at our devotionals this week (sorry dad) it was a really great week. The language is coming a lot better, I am hovering around 20-25 words per day which is pretty good because we are also learning a ton of grammatical concepts every day. The grammar has become the hardest part at this point because it is so different from English grammar on a conceptual level. It seems like every time I get comfortable with something we learn something else that makes everything 5 times harder.

The language is coming better though, I can tell that we are starting to learn at a very accelerated pace. I think after my 4 weeks here my polski is probably better than the french I had after 3 years of high school.

Tell Grandma and Grandpa a huge thank you from me for the fudge, that made my day. I wasn't sure who it was from until today though because the package had no information on it at all. I figured it was from someone I was related to but I didn't know who.

Mom asked about the food, it's pretty good I guess. It's all you can eat but usually it's not a question of how much I can eat but rather than how much I am willing to eat because it's not the best tasting food in the world, but who can blame them? The MTC has to feed so many missionaries you can't expect a 5 star meal every day.

We had a really cool discussion with our teacher Brat Smalley yesterday, we were talking about the Plan of Salvation and we started talking a lot about how it can bless people's lives so much. It's wonderful to think that an idea like eternal families which seems so simple to me can be so fundamentally different from how another person may have been taught.

So crazy thing happened last night, I dreamed about speaking polish. I was reciting vocab and scriptures that I had memorized! I guess the full immersion thing is starting to get to me.

Dowiedzenia moja rodzina!

-Starszy Everett

PS. Dad, I haven't taken the picture of the MTC map thing because I never have my camera with me while I'm in 1M. The only time I'm ever there is to eat and we aren't supposed to have cameras in the cafeteria. I can't go take one now because you need to be in proselyting attire to go into that building but I'll try and take one either later today or sometime this week.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Week 3!

Well, for some reason today I am not sure what I want to write about... I guess I will start out by saying that this week has been amazing like always, very spiritual, and much learning has been done.

Yesterday we had a really cool lesson in class, our teacher who normally would have taught had a violin recital in SLC (she is a violin performance major at BYU) so we had a substitute teacher! His name was Brother Mills, he is normally a Slovenian teacher so his classroom is right next to ours, but he came to teach us. It was cool because the lesson was in English for the most part, he bore really powerful testimony to us about the power of our calling. Somebody commented something along the lines of "Well, you know all this stuff way better than we do" talking about lesson 3 I think. He responded basically telling us that despite him being an rm, that he would trust us to teach about the gospel over him any day. He reminded us that we were called by God to go out and teach His children, and to help them return to Him. It was a really cool reminder to me that the Lord really trusts me right now and I need to do everything I can to be a great missionary.

Another cool experience we had was our teacher Brat Smalley showed us some pictures from his mission and told us a couple mission stories. It was really cool seeing some of the pictures of places like Warsaw and Łódż because it just made me want to get there and start to really serve the Lord. He told us about a bunch of cool places in Warsaw that we need to go to (he served about half his mission in Warsaw). One place that I'm pretty pumped for is a tie shop that some guy owns who for some reason really likes Mormon Missionaries so he sells his $70-80 handmade ties to missionaries at wholesale which is about $10. He said it's a big thing for missionaries to buy tons of these ties. 

Mom, you've asked me about my teachers teaching in Polish a couple times so I'll kinda explain how class works I guess. We usually show up to class and since the blocks are 3 hours long the teacher will have our Rozkład (schedule) split up into 3 different sections. Usually we do about an hour of TALL (a computer thing that helps us learn vocab), and hour of language instruction (usually a grammar lesson), then an hour of them teaching a section out of Preach My Gospel. We don't have set aside Culture classes but the teachers will sometimes take time to show us pictures on Facebook and tell us stories. Pretty much everything we do is in Polish, generally we just guess what they are saying through charades/context clues.The only time they really say anything in English is to explain hard grammar principles, or to tell really long mission stories that would take to long for us to translate.

Speaking of hard grammar principles, I really wish that I would have paid more attention in Junior High English classes. In Polish rather than word order denoting direct objects, indirect objects, possession, subjects, and other stuff. Word endings do that (cases), it would be a lot easier to learn Polish grammar if I could look at a sentence in English and immediately know what part of the sentence every word is. It was funny because we actually spent a couple hours one day getting an English grammar lesson because pretty nobody understands English Grammar.

Thank you so much for the package, it made me so happy to get the little yellow slip that means you have a package.

I'm running kinda dry on things to say but if I think of something later I'll send another email!

Love you guys!

-Starszy Everett

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Hello Family!!! (Week 2)

So this week went really really well. The language is getting a bit easier to learn and the Spirit is still strong.

Elder Mulder Studying
So you guys asked me about apostles coming to speak to us, this week we had Elder Cook come speak to us. It was really powerful, he talked a little bit about how missionaries are assigned and said that while they are thinking about where people should go they consider a couple things: which mission president they feel the missionary will learn the most from, the people that the lord needs them to teach, and the language that the church needs them to learn. It was interesting how he talked about the language because he talked about it in the future like that even if I don't necessarily need to learn Polish now, in the future the church may need a polish speaker. Speaking of which we got new elders going to Turkey yesterday, they are in our zone, their mission is really cool because Turkey only allows 12 elders at a time (no sisters) and its a non proselyting mission. But what makes it crazy is that the mission hasn't been open long enough for there to be RM's to teach the missionaries (I think there are 4 RM's one of which lives in Provo so he is the only one who can teach here). So anyways, we were talking to one of our teachers and we asked if he served in turkey, he told us he actually served in Russia, that confused us quite a bit because they don't speak Turkish in Russia. He told us that one day he got a feeling that the Lord wanted him to take Turkish classes at BYU, so he did that and got to the point that he can teach the Elders in the MTC. Super cool, its actually a miracle that they found 3 people who can speak Turkish in Provo at all.
Brat Jensen

Brat Jensen in the depths of despair
Dad, you wanted to hear about the missionaries in my district so here goes:

Elder Christian Little, he's from Sandy and went to BYU for a semester before his mission

Elder Theodore Mulder who was working / going to UVU studying aviation science (he's really really smart, he's DL right now)

Elder Nathan Garrison, I think mom has been talking to his mom so you probably know a bit about him... He's from Boise Idaho and went to Boise State before his mission.

Elder Paul McPherson, hes the oldest elder in our district at 20. He went to high school in Thailand and has been studying at BYU-I.

Elder Jacob Klein, he's the only one straight out of high school... kinda... he graduated early then went a semester at LDS Business College. He just turned 18 and would be a senior right now if he didn't graduate early.

My teachers are great, their names are Brat (Brother) Jensen, Brat Smalley, and Siostre (Sister) Barth. They are all really good teachers and and good at explaining difficult concepts (like cases) to us. Speaking of which we learned our first case yesterday, its the nominative case that words normally are in the dictionary as, its used whenever a noun is the subject of a sentence. Basically you just leave nouns as you find them in the dictionary then case adjectives to match the nouns. Really fun stuff...

One of our teachers, Siostra Barth
For our Tuesday night devotional, which was broadcasted to all the MTCs we sang Praise to the Man. It was super cool because the director(cant remember his name but you can look it up) explained the circumstances that W.W. Phelps wrote it under. Basically W.W. Phelps turned his back on the leadership of the church after having a disagreement with Joseph and the Brethren and went to a judge and delivered a damning testimony basically calling Joseph a murderer and conspirator (he later admitted to making up the whole thing). The result was that the testimony was a huge part in landing Joseph in Carthage Jail. Long story short Phelps wrote to Joseph years later begging to be let back into the church after feeling the coldness of not having the spirit with him and Joseph invited to come back with the Saints in full fellowship. After Joseph was martyred in Liberty Jail (where Phelps was with him) He wrote the hymn to commemorate the loss of Joseph. Anyway, now when I hear/hum that hymn I get chills.

So I'm running out of time right now but I love you guys!

Keep sending dear elders ( and letters! I love them.

-Starszy Everett

P.S.  One more thing...we were told about the first Turkish elders who got transferred from Bulgarian to turkey (languages are not similar Bulgarian is Slavic, Turkish is something else entirely) they made a mission goal (between the 4 of them) to memorize 100 new words every day, which they did. They were all fluent by the time they went home a year later. Crazy, hopefully i can get that good at memorizing vocab.