Wednesday, July 13, 2011

First Email from the MTC


Thanks for all the letters, I felt rich walking back from the mailbox with four in one day. Not gonna lie, my district was a little jealous.

I love the MTC so far! The spirit here is so strong, it makes all the challenges feel like nothing at all. Finnish is as difficult as everyone told me it would be, but I'm amazed by our progress in just the first week. All it takes is hard work and blessings from the Spirit of God. We are by no means experts (or even close) but we can pray and bear testimony. What else does a missionary need? It actually helps our teaching that we can't speak very well yet. For one thing, it forces us to keep our discussions simple. The gospel really is simple truths, why do we need complex sentences to explain it? It also helps keep us humble, which invites the spirit to take over and teach for us.

My district is small, only 5 of us, four elders and one sister. My companion's name is Vanhin Hoggard, and he's awesome. In personality, he is my exact opposite. But we share a great desire to learn and to teach. We spend most of our free time teaching each other Finnish. He's incredibly intelligent, and I love the deep discussions we get into.

The other members of my district are Vanhin Nicoll and Vanhin Bishop. Vanhin Bishop and I are becoming really good friends, mostly, if you can believe this, because we quote movie lines back and forth. Reminds me of dinner at home. Sisar Shreeve, our solo sister, is a saint for putting up with hours of study sessions with four nineteen year old boys. She's from Alaska and I'm so impressed with her for coming on a mission. I'm impressed with all the sisters here for their sacrifice.

I'm the one who has the responsibility to check the mail. Everyone knows roughly when I go to check it too, so they always get really excited around lunch time. I promised my teachers that I wouldn't hand it out in class, though, so we all have to wait till 9:30 at night to open it. Delayed gratification anyone? My teachers are Veli Mock and Sisar Beckwith, and they are incredible. I admire their patience and diligence so much. Vanhin Hoggard asks "Kuinka sanotaan....?" like every three minutes, so they put up with a lot. Kuinka sanotaan means "how do you say.....?" It actually got him into trouble one our first day, when he asked "kuinka sanotaan how?" and Veli Mock just gave him a weird look.

A couple other fun language stories from this week:

Vanhin Nicoll was sitting at lunch the other day and one of the older Finns (the district ahead of us) asked him a question in English. He kept responding: "Mita?" (What?), until finally someone informed him that it was English, not Finnish. He was so embarrassed. Poor guy. It happened to him again in our room last night.

The word for "he saw" is nakii, and the word for hot dog is naki. During one of our lessons with our investigator, Vanhin Hoggard tried to say that Joseph smith saw the Father and the Son, but instead wound up saying Joseph Smith hot dog. ha.

I'm loving the opportunity to teach this investigator. Even though it's fake, the Spirit isn't. What a great feeling.

The Top Ten Things I've learned in the MTC so far:
10. "the top bunk [stinks]" - my zone leader
9. You can actually drink the orange juice
8. Flashcards are an inspired method of memorization.
7. We learn the gospel line upon line, and learning a language works much the same way.
6. If you want to learn to speak a language, you have to practice actually speaking it.
5. If you don't ask a question, you will never receive your answer.
4. We over complicate the gospel far too often. Study Christ's simple doctrine and you will come closer to him.
3. We in this church are in the business of developing people, not the business of simply running a good organization.
2. We are here to invite people to come unto Christ. That is the purpose of every missionary in the world, the purpose of every missionary that has ever lived, and the purpose Christ himself declared when he said, "come follow me"
1. Open your mouth and it shall be filled.

I love you all, I appreciate your support and your prayers. Know they are heard and felt.


Elder Hansen

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