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Thursday, April 5, 2012

April 5, 2012--MTC Week 5

Hello from the planet of the MTC!

So, I'm going to answer the few questions that I found in your letters first. 
1)  How did Elder Turner and I run up the walls?  -->  We're studs.  Also, as you know, the Spirit quickens the inner man.  In all seriousness though, I may have to keep that secret to myself for now.  It's a trade secret :p
2)  How often do we get to sing Called to Serve?  -->  We sing it as the opening hymn to every Tuesday night fireside with the whole MTC.  Unfortunately, never in Spanish.  I love it in English too of course, but it only has two verses...  I'm counting on singing it a ton in the field in Spanish!
3)  As you correctly deduced, I did not get to sing in conference choir :( we missed the week of the MTC choir that they handed out the surveys to see who would sing.  I am, however singing this week, and we're singing "Precious Savior, Dear Redeemer" for our special Easter Sacrament Meeting (we're going to have 3 General Authorities here!!!), and it might just be my new favorite hymn.
4)  Adam asked me about how our learning curriculum here at the MTC works.  We have two three hour blocks of class on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday, and one on Tuesday and Thursday.  The classes are a mix of learning Spanish, learning principles of teaching, and teaching our progressing "investigators", and are generally all in Spanish (I'm not sure if the beginner classes are like that too, but since we're intermediate, our teachers rarely speak English).  We have two different teachers:  Hermano Wood served in Houston South, and Hermano Barnard served in Colombia, Bogota North.  Both of them go to BYU, and are incredible teachers.  I have a set of books that we use (extras) that I'm going to send home when I get around to it.  With three more boys to serve missions, it's pretty likely that at least one of Adam, Jared, or Jacob will be speaking Spanish (55% of the MTC here are beginner Spanish-speakers--that doesn't even include the intermediate or advanced missionaries OR the MTC's in Central/South America).
5)  The hermana who was in a few of the earlier pictures is Hermana Allen.  She was in our district for the first few days, and then was discovered to speak Spanish almost fluently and was moved to an advanced district.  Now she's in the field.

So!!  To be pretty honest I'm getting pretty worn out of being at the MTC.  But, life as a missionary is still awesome.  I'm positive that I've never been as attended to by the Spirit as I have been this last month.  The best thing I have to report this week is that after conference, I felt an overwhelming theme for me was sacrifice.  So, I decided to sacrifice one thing that's making my mission easier than it should be:  English.  Since Sunday, I've been speaking probably about 90% Spanish.  Needless to say, it's coming along more quickly.  And it's really helped me in other ways too.  Since it takes a lot more effort for me to figure out how to say something in Spanish, it's helped me realize that a lot of what I say really isn't necessary (haha).  So, it's kind of a filter for me.  Something that's really important to have as missionaries is what we call quiet dignity.  As we represent the Savior, our actions and words have to be as close as we can get them to His.  So, with Spanish filtering lots of unnecessary (I don't know if I spelled that right... :p in Spanish, it's spelled exactly how it sounds) comments, I feel like I've developed a lot of quiet dignity and temperance of speech.

Other great news is I know 5 elders in my gym time who have been here 9 weeks or less who got their visas to Mexico!  That makes me pretty hopeful.  We'll see if the same thing happens for my district. 

Lastly, yesterday had been kind of a rough day (like I said, Spanish takes a lot more effort for me to speak, and I've been pretty mentally exhausted all week).  Wednesday is always a fun day though because it's the day before p-day and we get to run around all day saying:  "Bienvenidos al CCM!!"  to all of our new friends with orange dots.  So in my residence hall, the elders next to my room had left a couple weeks ago, and I saw that the door was open with new elders moving in.  So I popped my head in to see who our new neighbors were, and I saw Elder Alema Dominguez putting his suitcases down!  That definitely brightened my day.  It was awesome to really get to talk to him (and in Spanish!!) for a while last night.  His classroom is just down the hall from mine, and he's in my branch/zone.

So, overall, the MTC is still not my favorite place in the world.  It's definitely "the best experience of my life that I never want to do again".  But, with the tender mercies of the Lord being so evident and abundant here, and watching myself grow (both linguistically and spiritually), it's definitely bearable :) I just can't wait to get into the field!!! 

Anyway, I've got to go.  I love and miss you all!  Sorry if I forgot to answer any questions... I always do :p we just don't have enough time.

Con amor,
Elder Nickerl

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