Wednesday, February 24, 2010

MTC Week 5

Whew, what to say, what to say?!? This Saturday will be my halfway day!!!1!!11~ It really doesn't feel like I've been here that long. I can't even remember what my first-day impressions of my teachers and companion and district were, it just feels like I've known them forever. Maybe I knew them in the pre-existence... ("that's not doctrine!": our new favorite catchphrase). The Old Hungarians are leaving Monday, and we're going to be as old as they were when we came in. Wow... These next 40-something days will go by faster than I can comprehend!

The Lord is helping out with the language so much I'm afraid He might have me mixed up with Moses or, like, someone who fasts 24/7. I'd been learning at a steady pace, thinking it was a normal pace, then WHAM! Everything started making super-sense! I think I've discovered how I learn best, and everything is coming more naturally. We're not teaching in English anymore, it's all Albanian, and I think that with the Spirit helping, I'll be OK! I'm far from fluent, of course, but I can almost express whatever I want to now. We're just working on actually speaking; we know most of the grammar principles. I'm getting more and more excited every day!

Until next time!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

MTC Week 4

And again, another 7-day cycle has come to an end. Really, there's not much to say. Life in the MTC goes on much as usual: Studying the Gospel and filling our wells with knowledge makes time glide by. The language is coming along swiftly and surely. We taught again only in Albanian and found out our "investigator" wasn't comfortable praying because he'd been raised in the Catholic church and only knew memorized prayer, so there's another concern uncovered. And in 2 weeks we'll be teaching all our practice lessons in Albanian; no English. I'm really not that worried about it though.

More and more I find myself not being nervous or scared in situations that would normally be a cheek-clenching experience. I know it's because I'm focusing more on what the Spirit wants, and I'm not worried about what I'm going to say. Especially when we teach in Albanian: When I just listen to the other person and not think about if my grammar is correct or if I'm inflecting the word right, I can get the message across much, much better. We're promised that if we prepare well, we won't have to worry, even if the lesson doesn't go according to plan. The investigator could have a totally unrelated set of concerns that we didn't anticipate, but if we'd prepared prayerfully and carefully beforehand, the Spirit just guides us along and everything goes extremely well. I know I can't expect every experience to be all joyful and uplifting, but when I'm on the Lord's side I know I'll be helped. It's great!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

MTC Week 3

Ok, cool, another week gone. Days go by very fast in this strange, warped region of spacetime. The spirit is strong every day, and the firesides and devotionals on Sunday and Tuesday are always great. The language is coming along great; we taught our second "lesson" in only Albanian, and it went much, much better than last time. We could communicate enough to find out the investigator did believe in God, but thought he wouldn't talk to such insignificant creatures as us. We ran out of time before we could explain and testify that God does love us and he does guide us.

We're learning a lot of cool cultural stuff about Albania, too, like when someone gets a haircut, people will smack them on the back of the head and say "Sh├źndet!" which means "Good health!". And a big shout-out to my awesome-sauce cousin Heather, who graces us with her presence every once in a while with her cow-orker Paul (a little inside reference for my nerd friends, there).

Another story: I think the Lord is helping me in many strange and wonderful ways. Usually, I am very distrurbed by vomit. Today at breakfast, a poor elder couldn't keep his breakfast down, if you know what I mean. It was yellow. And spongy. Like the cornbread he ate. And he was trying to catch it. I would normally be totally grossed out, but I was fine! Yeah, the Lord works in mysterious ways...

Well, until next time!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

MTC Week 2

Ah, it's hard to believe another week has passed. Well, less like 'passed' and more like 'launched past my head at Mach 4'. But it's been great; the language is coming along famously, we can almost have normal conversations with each other. Normal conversations in Albanian, I mean. Our English conversations are anything but 'normal'. We taught an 'investigator' in only Albanian for the first time the other night, it was of course a disaster, but it was a good learning disaster because we communicated much better after we said the prayer. The food is still good, I'm enjoying all of it (especially the leftover table).

Interesting story: Earlier in the week we went to the computer lab to use a program that helps you learn the language by having you talk into a headset so you can compare your pronunciation with a native speaker and learn more vocabulary and phrases outside of class. Because of the seasonal and H1N1 flus and other various sicknesses, there is a ban on handshaking, (not scrictly enforced; they don't have handshake police that will excommunicate you if they catch you spreading germs or anything, we're just strongly discouraged from contacting each other), and there are hand sanitizer dispensers around the buildings and disinfecting wipes in the computer labs. I took one of said wipes to sterilize my keyboard, mouse and headset, but another wipe came along for the ride. I ripped off the straggler and tried to close the lid, but the lid wouldn't close. I stuffed the half-exposed wipe back in, but my finger got stuck. This was one of those holes with 4 razor-flaps. If I tried to take my finger out it would cut me like a machete cuts a twinkie. This was the first day we decided to only speak Albanian for half an hour. I could only say "Gisht! Obobo!" ("Finger! Oh-no!"). I eventually ran back to the classroom and used a pen to pry the flaps away. I got away with just a small scrape; I think someone upstairs was looking out for my finger. Of course everyone else just laughed at me, but in retrospect, I would have, too.

God bless us, everyone!