June 18, 2014

HELLO OUTSIDE WORLD!!! (WEEK 1)

You gotta have a missionary selfie haha :)
I feel like I have been gone forever!!!! I miss all you family and friends sooo much.  One important question:  Who did Andi send home on the "Bachelorette" this week? hahahha.  I'm so happy I can finally write home!! Here at the Missionary Training Center, Wednesdays are our "prep" days to do laundry, take a break, and email for an hour.  So I will try and cover everything in this short time that I have!!  I'd like to make some shout outs to the Mattinglys, Favros, Aunt Kathy, Katie Barrus, and Brooke Wills for sending me packages and letters this week!!!! Mom/Dad--pleaseeee tell the Favros and Mattinglys that I loved the treats!  Getting mail definitely lifts my spirits.  I appreciate all the wonderful emails I recieved too!!  People here in the computer lab were in awe at how many emails I recieved this first week- to say I feel blessed and loved is an understatement!!  I have the biggest smile on my face right now haha.  Because I only get an hour to email, it might be easier to send me letters instead (you can type up a letter, print it, and snail mail it to me)--I can write letters any day!  OK...now for this week's overview:

AFTER WEDNESDAY DROP OFF:  After that brutal curbside drop off last wednesday, I was led directly inside and recieved about 12 lbs of spanish study materials.  Here at the Provo MTC, they have got the system DOWN.  I was led through many assembly lines, and before I knew it, I had my missionary tag on.  and guess what- IT'S MAGNETIC!  hahaha you gotta find things here to get really excited about.  All of the spanish speaking missionaries are over on west campus- BYU has allocated some student housing and transformed it into an MTC extension.  We live in Wyview housing and have classes at Raintree.  There's probably about 300 spanish speakers here and 1200 on main campus- it's cool being in my own little spanish world haha.  I have 2 companions- I'm in a trio- Hermana Wood (from Utah going to Guadalajara Mexico) and Hermana Grenfell (From Kentucky going to Madrid Spain)  Mom/dad--hermana wood was the girl who took our picture on wednesday at the temple haha!!  They are both really nice girls, but not gunna lie- it is suchh an adjustment having to be with them ALL THE TIME.  I miss my alone time for sure.  
My two companions

P-TOWN LIFE:  It's so weird being back here in provo!!  I have seen SO many BYU friends here which brings so much comfort.  Some friends I've seen include:  Braydon Whitmarsh, keena horton, spencer bradham, brian brown, alima cannon, eric mika, tim nixon, jacob elieson, dan pettingil, jake curtis, jacob farnsworth, lindsey walker, hanna zenger, ashlyn howes, camille nuttal....oh man the list goes on!!  My district (group of missionaries I have all my classes with) consists of 4 elders and 5 sisters--with missions to san antonio texas, madrid, and all different missions to mexico.  I have many names here at the MTC too hahaha:  I am referred to has "cali chica" "hermana reeeeeches", "hermana rica" and "hermana mucho dinero"...they find my last name amusing I guess.
Gotta uphold my "Cali girl" reputation haha
My district

DAILY SCHEDULE:  to give you an idea of what an MTC missionary's life looks like:
6:30 am wake up
7:30 breakfast
8-11:30 personal study, companionship study, language study
11:45- gym time
12:45- lunch
1:30-5:30 language study
5:45 dinner
6-9:30 language study
9:30-10:30 personal study
BEDTIME

super exciting right?! yes.  my brain is fried at the end of the day.

ESPAÑOL:  my teacher is Hermana Cabello, and she is from Peru and served a mission in New Mexico.  She is a very sweet lady but a tough cookie.  I'm in the intermediate spanish class- shout out to Profe Acosta and Senora Schmitz- and from the very first day she has spoken to us in STRAIGHT spanish.  We are expected to speak in Spanglish all day long here haha it is CRAZY how much I am learning.  My mind just overflows with info everyday.  IT's safe to say that this first week was so difficult- having to speak and listen to spanish all day long can be frustrating and stressful- but at the same time, never before have I felt this happiness and sense of purpose.  I wouldn't want to be doing anything else.  My second day here I had to give my first 30 minute lesson in spanish to a fake investigator- yes it was frightening.  It went ok though!  I can understand pretty much all the spanish that is spoken to me, but getting the words out is a lot harder.  I've taught 4 30 minute lessons this week on the topics of prayer, God's love for us, Christ's atonement, Restoration of this church, and the importance of baptism.  It's hard enough to do that in english!

FOOD:  the food here is a step DOWN from the cannon center at BYU--meaning it is straight up nasty haha so any snacks and treats are GREATLY appreciated (cough cough...mom please send me some mamariches cookies)  and they don't have caffeinated drinks here, so it is painful having to separate from my one true love:  diet coke.

MTC STATS:  On main campus, 45 percent are sister missionaries and over here at west campus 55 percent are sisters.  It's amazing how much the dynamics have changed since the age dropped for girls!  #girlpower  It really is surreal being surrounded my so many missionaries all learning different languages.  The FBI has come to the MTC numerous times in the past wanting to know HOW we learn these languages so fast.  Wanna know the way we do it?  It's because Heavenly Father is seriously blessing us with so many blessings haha it may sound corny but it is true!!  It's amazing being surrounded by so many 19-21 year olds all here for one specific purpose:  to learn how to bring people unto Christ and to restore faith in their lives.  There's no test grades to keep us motivated- it's all because of our faith in this gospel and how we know it to be true.

TODAY:  On P day, we have a service assignment from 6:15 am- 7:30 am.....cleaning bathrooms.  WOOHOOOOO.  Then we get to go to the temple around 9 am.  We got to take a walk out in the "real world" and go get some real food like jamba juice, burgers, and sandwiches.  A high light of my day today was having a nice, cold, refreshing diet coke.  Words cannot express how badly I needed that haha!!!  The new missionaries also came in today so we are no longer the "newbies"- yay!!
Praise the heavens for getting diet coke on Pdays
#selfysunday

CHURCHY/ SPIRITUAL STUFF:  The spirit on this campus is unreal.  You are just filled with so much happiness!  Every week we have sunday night and tuesday night devotionals with well-known speakers.  Sunday night we had Sheri Dew (a well-known LDS woman) and she was amazing!!  Some of her memorable quotes include:  "YOU choose:  You can serve your mission on your own OR with the help from God"  "The savior rarely moves the mountains in front of you, but he helps you climb them"  "Learning the voice of the spirit is like learning a new language"  "You need to KNOW Jesus Christ- you can't serve him if you don't know him"  "Discipleship= loving God more than anything else, having a change of heart, and knowing that exact obedience brings miracles"

An apostle (Elder Ballard) came and spoke to all of us missionaries on sunday night.  I had the chance to sing in the missionary choir, and it was such a powerful experience!  The whole room could feel the tangible spirit that was there, and I was just filled with peace.  Some memorable quotes from him include "Today's headlines will be history's footnotes, but the gospel of jesus christ will always be good news"  "the church and the fullness of this gospel are reaching more parts of the world today, being taught in more languages today, and we are sending out more missionaries today then ever before"  "when the apostles speak in unison, it is the voice of the Lord" "this is not a church run by man, it is a church run by Christ"  "Be not ashamed of what you stand for"  "I bless you individually with peace in your hearts"  "We pray for you always"
Tuesday Devotional

Having this devotional last night brought me SO much peace and comfort.  I'm not gunna lie and say that everything is so great and easy going.  Sometimes I just wanna curl up in a ball and cry and drink my diet coke.  This week has been so hard, but hearing and feeling those words from Elder Bednar instilled so much motivation and confidence and peace in me.  I know I can do this, and I feel so blessed to be a missionary!

It's actually quite crazy how I havn't really missed social media or "worldly stuff" that much!! I'm serious!! I'm so busy here that I have not felt like I am having withdrawals.  Recieving all your emails and letters this week put the BIGGEST smile on my face.  On last shout out to mamariches--the Branch president pulled me aside after our big branch meeting and told me:  "You just have a light about you that lights up a whole room"--and my answer to that was..."I got it from my mom ;) )

My mini testimony in spanish:

Yo sé que Jesucristo es my salvador y redentor.  Yo sé que Dios nos ama y que nosotros somos sus hijos.  Yo sé que Dios escucha todas oraciones, y cuando seguimos los mandamientos, nosotros recibimos muchas bendiciones. Yo sé que la expiación de jesucristo tiene el poder a cambiar vidas.

I gotta teach a lesson in spanish, so wish me luck!  Thank you SO SO  SO SO SO much for keeping me in your prayers and thoughts!  I definitely need it!

Only 5 more weeks left here in the "EMPTY SEA" haha ;)

con amor,
hermana riches 
:)


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