I've made it through my first week here at the MTC. All is well and I'm doing great. So much has happened and it has been a little crazy. But I'll start from the beginning.
I left Houston on Monday in the afternoon, bid my mother and sisters goodbye at the airport (my younger brothers had left for scout camp the previous Saturday) and got on a plane to Utah. The flight was uneventful. I arrived in Salt Lake that evening around 7:30 and was picked up by my aunt Janet and uncle Bart. I stayed with them Monday night. While I was there it was so nice to get to sit and talk with them as well as my grandma, uncle Allen, and aunt Marlene. I very much enjoyed that time with my extended family. The next day we were able to go to the Salt Lake temple in the middle of the day. It was a great experience. That afternoon I got my stuff together and went to David and Karee. It is always great to spend time with their family, especially the younger cousins. They showed me their impressive garden in their backyard. Everything there was great and I was glad to have that time with my family before I was to report the following day.
Later that evening they drove me into Provo where I met up with Blake Scoresby. He served his mission in Houston and just got home a couple of months earlier. While he was in Houston I got to spend some time going out and working with him. It was good to see him again and talk.
As a quick side note, I have only 30 minutes a week to email, so I'll pick up the pace a little now and get to the MTC parts.
So I arrived at the MTC around 11:30 last Wednesday. I must say, the first couple of days were so long. After the second day I could not believe it had been only a day and a half. So the first day we got moving quickly. I met my companion, Elder Payne from northern Utah and my roommates, Elder Fortney and Elder Mills. All of us are headed to Guadalajara, so it was neat to be in the same room and start getting to know each other.
Everything moved along, though slowly, and we made it to Tuesday night. That night we had a meeting with the Branch Presidency, the men called to be our ecclesiastical leaders while we are in the MTC. They make sure we are doing all right and serve in a similar role as bishop and his counselors. That evening they interviewed each of us to see how we are doing. After the interviews they came back in and made some assignments. Each companionship has a junior companion and a senior companion. I was assigned as junior companion. Then they extended the call for me to serve as the district leader. As district leader I would be responsible for the 10 Elders in our district. I had to make sure we followed the schedule, made and stuck with goals, and look out for the needs of each missionary. It was a humbling call. And over the next couple of days I would grow and learn a lot as I tried to help not just myself, but 9 other 19 year old young men adjust to a lifestyle and schedule that is incredibly demanding.
Regarding the schedule. Each morning begins at 6:30 (my companion and I always get up at 6 to get more done) and goes until 10:30. Each minute is scheduled. We are either in class, studying in the classroom, eating, exercising, or teaching for 16 hours each day. It has been a bit of an adjustment, even with the rigorous schedule I am used to.
Okay, so with just a few minutes left I've got to get going here.
When I arrived I was in the beginning level Spanish class. Most of the Elders there knew little or no Spanish. It was a little stressful to be there and know that I could understand and speak better than the others because I was anxious to learn and wasn't really. But after about 4 days I was settled in a little and had become a big help to the district. I was able to answer questions and help with phrasing and pronunciation. But then, I was called down by some leadership and asked to move districts. They spoke with me on Saturday and set up an appointment to speak with someone else the following Monday. So the weekend was interesting knowing I might not be in the district for much longer.
So Monday came and sure enough, they asked me to move. I am now in the advanced district. What that means is that instead of being here in the MTC for 9 weeks, I am here for only 3. So by now, I have only a week and a half left to go. It is crazy! I have a lot to learn, but my Spanish is coming along nicely. I can understand well and have been able to teach quite a bit. At this point I need to focus on the different tenses and expanding my vocabulary. It is going well and I make a conscious effort to stay positive and happy. That has served me well.
The food here is great. It is as much as you can eat, so I try to find a good balance. We exercise for an hour each day, and that is a huge blessing.
Ah, about the leaving in a week and a half. If my VISA doesn't come through in time, I may be temporarily assigned to a mission in the states until it comes through.
When I was first moved into the advanced district, I was in a trio with Elder Baker and Elder Jarvis. Elder Jarvis is also going to Guadalajara. So I've been really lucky to meet a few folks heading to the same mission. Just yesterday someone else was moved up to the advanced district, so my new companion is Elder Rasmussen. We seem very similar and I think we are going to get along very well.
Well I'm out of time, but let me make a few final comments.
I would love to hear from all of you! Anyone thinking of sending anything, I'll tell you honestly, more than anything I would just love to get a letter telling me how you are doing and how things are for you. Since I can't write very much in these short 30 minutes, I will be able to hand write responses to the letters I receive.
My time is up. I have more to share, but I'll await your letters and questions and I look forward to telling you more about all that is going on here. I know this is a rather general overview of everything that has happened.
Know that I am well and very happy. It is crazy and hard, no doubt, but I am growing and learning a lot.