Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Letter 6: Speaking Spanish and Shaving Legs

Hey Mom!
Yeah the weeks just seem to fly by sometimes! I miss you a ton as well! I cant even describe. Yes things are still going well and getting better which is a great thing. Jared left?? That's crazy, he is going to the Provo MTC right? Hahah 5 week down...99 to go. That's what missionaries around here joke about, they talk about it in terms of weeks haha. I'm ready to head out! But also super nervous to be teaching real people and having real experiences! It blows my mind to even think about. Also I have the feeling I'm going to get a straight up Latino companion and just be fulling immersed in the language. Which I might need considering the fact that today I went to the post office to send some letters (yes to you and the family) and the lady spoke SO fast that I didn't understand a single word she said. So, I just pointed on my letter to USA and then she said something else really fast and I said I didn't understand and thankfully there was a guy in line behind me who spoke English and Spanish and let me know that she was asking if I wanted regular or express. Naturally I picked regular and paid my 540 pesos. But I was completely blown away hahah ahhh, Chilean Spanish just makes me shake my head sometimes. But other than that I can communicate with the teachers pretty well in Spanish and other gringos and sometimes Latinos, it really just depends. My night teacher Hermana Alfaro had me stand up and translate what she was saying for like fifteen minutes and to my surprise I was able to translate for the most part! There are 3 other missionaries that have better Spanish than me in our district and they helped me out every now and then. But I felt so accomplished (then i went out to the post office and face palmed) hahah but really, I've learned to much and am super happy about it. 
Ill be leaving for ViƱa this Tuesday morning. I'm pretty sure ill be taking a bus and its about a hour and a half drive. I don't know what to expect but I'm excited for sure! Its funny how im getting so used to the MTC and its about to all change around again. I'm coming to realize this will be a regular thing with transfers. My nose bleeds have stopped for the most part. I drain like 6 water bottles a day and that seems to help. Although I have to use the bathroom ALL the time.
Okay its funny that you mention the Pritchards Halloween party because i was thinking about that this week and how you and dad would always dress up. I definitely want pictures! Dad as the mad hatter...totally fits ;). Bridger though, I feel the same way as you like noooooo! I don't want him to grow up yet! You can take me around trick or treating when I get home if you want. Kick it back to the old days. Haha but what are Nichole, Brock and Trevor doing?? My district is all going to buy Halloween candy and then back at Alcantara were going to do a mini trick or treat during personal time. So that'll be sweet.
This week has kinda just blurred together! But some of the highs were today being P-day and emailing you! Also I've been able to progress in Spanish a lot this week! Elder Asay and I have had some successful lessons! Although the other day our teacher was praising this one group of Elders about how well they did and how well they followed the spirit and I get pretty down because I feel like that's been a hard thing for my companion and I. I know I should be happy for them, and I am, Its just the frustrating part of why are we not doing that EVERY lesson you know? I'm sure it will take some time to adjust, I'm just impatient and maybe that's part of the reason its hard. On a separate note, I may or may not have shaved my legs.  But dont worry, everyone was doing it so that makes it okay right ;) haha. No but seriously, feels so smooth. Like 10 elders from alcantara decided it was leg shave night and I figured why not? We have new roommates across the bathroom, there is an Italian and a Peruvian! I made the Peruvian my best friend and he calls me Elder Awesome as well. Whenever we pass in the halls he says hola mi mejor amigo! which is hey my best friend! His name is Elder Incil and hes really funny and nice. The Italian draws incredibly well! Ill send some pictures.
Mom I love you so much and miss you like crazy! I wrote you and dad some letters so I hope they get there soon. But I seriously just miss being able to hug my mom. I love reading your emails and picturing you saying it. Today I bought this delicious McDonalds burger and thought about our time at Carrabas with Trevor where we started to say To Indulgences! Haha made me laugh when I thought about it. Let me know how Halloween goes and what your plans are for Thanksgiving! I want to hear all about it. I'm sure Bridger will have some stories with this being her first time out alone.
I pray for you and the family every single day! Be safe and know I love you all!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Letter 5: Good day, good week

Hello mom!
Well this week has flown by! As the weeks now seem to do. It's so hard for me to express and let you know all the things that have happened and how much I feel like I've grown in such a short amount of time. This past week has been a really good one. I've been learning a lot of doctrine as well as Spanish  (i know quite a bit of Spanish now) Or at least i feel like I do haha. Understanding it when people speak it is something totally different. I can understand when gringos speak or when lations speak slowing but the average Chilean I would have a hard time understanding haha. The schedule is still the same with classes all day with breaks for lunch and what not but its gotten so much easier because i'm used to it now. Sundays are nice because we have days just filled with devotionals and no classes. I cant say that I always 100 percent attentive, i may doze off every now and then (the mornings are the hardest!) but its great. I learn a lot and we have longer breaks where we can go out and walk around on the temple grounds. Yesterday was soo beautiful here! I couldn't believe it, it was literally what i'd call the perfect day. I wanted to just go lay on the grass and take a day long nap or something. That's too bad about the weather there, i know how much dad LOVES winter haha but it's staying in the high seventies here. Es muy bueno!
Hey so really quickly, here's something awesome that happened this week. So during lunch we'll play soccer sometimes out on the court they have. And one day me and my district were playing when I looked over and saw 3 little Chilean kids standing and watching. So I went over and asked them "Quieren jugar??" which is want to play?? And they all smiled and shook their heads yes, so they start playing and it was awesome! Anytime they took the ball they would say "en su cara!" in your face! or gracias! Hahah by the end of the game there were about 8 or so little Chileans playing. I loved it, I just felt so happy when we were playing futbol with them. It made me excited to get out in Vina! Also every few days one of my teachers Herm. ARAYA has us go outside and talk to people on the temple grounds. It's hard but so cool to be speaking with people in Spanish.

I want you to know how much your testimony has helped me grow and has helped me during some of the difficult days out here. I think one of the reasons that I can/have been able to dig deep is because of you and dad. I've learned so much from your examples and you've taught me how to think for myself and how to rely on the Lord. I'm so grateful for that. As I was reading your email just barely I just felt happy, and at peace. I miss you guys, but not in a way of mourning. It's more of a happiness because I know you're all safe and happy, and i'm out here doing what I should. It's a great feeling really. My companion and my district will talk about our families sometimes and about how great calling will be when the time comes. I love talking about you guys and about home! I also love hearing about others families and experiences. It's great hearing their stories and their experiences.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Letter 4: Mini squids in the rice?!

This is the email Mason emailed me (Nichole). So some of it  may not make sense. Haha

Well that ice cream sounds pretty dang good right about now! I miss my homeland American food sooo much! Let me tell you a little story about the food here, rice, beans, mashed taters, anndddd the end. Hah well as for interesting things, they put mariscos in their rice, gravies etc...they're these little squid like looking things and it made me wanna throw up. I took a few bites of rice and then this marisco (they're 2-3 inches long) fell out of my pile of rice and I about cried haha! It was at the point that I said to my companion "Nope, nope, not doing this today." and stopped eating my meal. Hahah but luckily they don't serve mariscos too often. The best thing they serve here (now keep in mind "best" is extremely relative!) Is this chicken patty thing, like that kind you'd get at a school lunch, we slice up our bread and put in on there with some ketchup and mustard and its probably the most american thing I've eaten since I've been here. Hahah, I get excited to eat because i'm hungry but then realize, oh man, not so excited anymore. Its cool though, today is p day and imma buy some dulces.
 It's only getting warmer here, which is nice. I have about 3 weeks left in the MTC and then it's off to Vina! Speaking of which an Elder told me that there are these HUGE spiders there, like and big as my hand stretched out. At first I didn't believe him so I asked the MTC teachers and they're like "Oh yeah, we have those." Like it was totally normal. APPARENTLY, you can hold and play with them...they're not aggressive towards humans. Some Chileans even keep them as pets. Also, sometimes people's cats will eat them, or the spiders will kill the cats...survival of the fittest I guess. (which means ill be surviving, obviously). I have yet to see any ants here..but maybe in Vina and less city-like places. OH! So the other morning my companion and I were jogging around the city and this stray dog just starts running with us, it was the cutest dog ever, and so friendly! It looked like German Shepard but just wayyy skinny. It would run like 100 feet ahead, stop, turn around, run back and then repeat. So when we got back to ALCANTARA we gave it some meat. It's super sad when we're out running or on p-day and see dogs just laying on the side-walks. Makes me want to take them home.
Anyway, thanks for your words of encouragment and your testimony, it helps so much and strengthens my own testimony.  I'm happy to hear you're doing good.I love you Nichole! You're the best sister in the whole world! (nacho libre). Have a scrumdidlyuptious week.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Letter 3: The temple is the place to be.

Well this week has been really good. It's mostly been the same thing everyday, of classes, eat, more classes, eat, class, then sleep. We get about 30 minutes of exercise in the mornings. Hey in regards to your package, If you could send my I-pod loaded with church music from our computer, that would be awesome! I think we have a little white portable speaker too.. down in Brock and Bridger's room. If you haven't sent that package already then that would be awesome! If not that's okay, someone was saying that we don't get packages or letters at the MTC and that they go straight to our mission home?? |But i don't think that's right because A guy got a package who was staying here, and someone got a letter. So I'm pretty sure it should get here! I look forward to it!
Conference was so amazing! I have never taken so many notes as I did. There was so much that I wanted to remember and it was almost like I wanted to slow it down so I could get everything. It made me happy to think of you all have the traditional Sunday morning crepes and watching conference together. I definitely missed that! But the message was the same here as it was there.
So last Thursday I went into the temple, and beforehand I was feeling pretty down. I kept on praying, praying to know this is where I need to be. As we went through, I felt a calming feeling, especially during the film, (which was the old one by the way, pretty interesting). They had us but on headphones for English. Anyway, the second I stepped into the celestial room tears came into my eyes. This feeling just overpowered me. I sat down and began to pray, I just opened my heart to the Lord, I told him how I was feeling, my worries, my concerns, how I missed the family, just everything, I had this sense of peace, this sense of everything will be okay. The tears streamed down my face, and I was so thankful to have felt the spirit. When I looked up only a few people were left in the room. Finally I was the last one and one of the temple workers came and gave me a tissue. More than anything I didn't want to leave that room, ever. It was so beautiful and so peaceful. I had to go though, and as I left I felt so much better. There have still been trying days and moments, but I can look back on that experience for strength and for help. One more experience I had was just yesterday. Me and Elder Asay had just taught Ariel our investigator and it hadn't gone so well, mainly because the lesson just hadn't had the spirit. We went back to the classroom and our district (9 people all together) were doing Book of Mormon study in a circle. During this time we pick apart verses line by line and spend a lot of time talking about it and really understanding. Well, we sat down and talked for a while and at the end my DL Elder Tinney asked me to pray. I hesitated slightly because I felt so down and just not good. But I agreed and bent forward in my chair and began to pray, I got out one line and couldn't talk anymore because I was on the verge of crying, The Spirit was with me, I felt this peace, this love, and just this amazing feeling, I tried to continue a few times but could not, eventually and finished the prayer through my tears. When I finished I look up and Elder Tinney was in tears too. Ahhh, what an amazing experience this was! For all the difficulties that there seem to be at times, it's these moments that really keep me going and make me want to be out here. I want to feel The Spirit and God's love for me all the time. But to do that I need to continue to build my relationship with God and with the Spirit. I'm coming to realize how inadequate I really am. The only way I'm going to do this is through God's help, through your support and through the Holy Ghost. I'm so grateful to you for praying for me. I can feel your prayers each day, they strengthen me and lift me up, I pray for you all every single day as well. I love you so much, more than I can describe.  Thank you for setting such an amazing example for me. You and Dad have been so supportive, so loving, and in my mind near perfect parents.
Well I'm learning more Spanish everyday! Yesterday for the night we had an only Spanish speaking teacher and I understood at least 50 percent of what she was saying. Of course she was speaking mas lento or slowly, unlike real Chileans hahah but it feels good to improve and know more. I'm going to send some pictures right now! i LOVE YOU GUYS! thanks for the pictures by the way, send some in the package that I can hang up! Have a great week!!


Santiago Temple

Mason and his companion

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Letter 2: MTC, real life.

Oh my gosh, it feels like it has been FOREVER since I've seen you or talked to you guys. I know it's only been a week, but let me tell you, some days it feels like i haven't seen my family in ages. I miss you guys more than I thought was even possible. I love you all so much! Well, im getting over my sickness, so that's really good. The MTC or CCM as they say in Spanish is about a 10-15 minute drive from where me and my district are staying. The place i'm staying is an old Sweden embassy now owned by the church on Al Cantara avenue. We drive back and forth every day to the MTC so we can go to classes. A typical days is

Wake up at 7.

Study for and hour.
exercise for a half hour.

Then go and get ready, then we leave for the MTC at about 9:50 and arrive around 10.

Then its classes until 9:30 at night, and let me tell you, I AM SO SICK OF MY CLASSROOM. Hahaha we stay in the same classroom every single day and this one has zero windows so its a little dull and repetitive. We break for lunch and dinner, okay so let me explain the food really quick. At Al Cantara, we just call the place we sleep at Al Cantara but that's the actual street name its on, we only eat breakfast there and its really good. We eat fresh bread, cereal with yogurt instead of milk, usually some apples, juice, and then cheese and like sandwich meat. OH and on the bread we spread this manjar, pronounced mahn-har, which is basically a less solid form of caramel and its pretty dang good. So breakfast, es muy bien. But then, there's lunch and dinner. There's a little cafeteria in the MTC and every meal is served with rice, beans, sometimes mashed potatoes, and then some sort of meat. It was really good at first, but then day after day...and rice, beans, etc...well, it all starts to taste the same! But overall, the food is decent and my teachers say "the cafeteria food is blehh" so I'm assuming real Chilean food will be better. Oh, by the way they have bread with every single meal, bread this their life down here, no jokes. A lot of kids at the MTC are starting to feel sick the doctor says its because so much starch and no fruits/veggies is make them lethargic, we have fruits and veggies here, they just choose not to eat them. So I've been trying to get fruits and that kind of food whenever i can!

Anyway, my companion is Elder Asay who is from Highland Utah and knows even less Spanish than me, so we're to gringos learning the language together. He's really great, he is very spiritual and also funny. He is pretty tall, like 6'4. We have some pretty good laughs! Good news: He gets my humor!! Kind of like Nichole does, but he's not as funny as, ill try to teach him hahah. My entire district is amazing. There are 9 of us all together, one companionship is a threesome. But we all get along super well and have a great time. Everyone in my district is going the the Santiago East mission except me, and Elder Tinney, who is from Riverton Utah. He is one of the happiest kids I've met, he also got called to be our district leader. He's a good guy and is a little different, it makes me laugh. He asked me to teach him how to punch, disarm a knife, etc..because he's never been in a fight and was worried hahah, so that was entertaining. (sorry if my thoughts are scatter brained, I have an hour to write everyone and I keep remembering different things, i promise my e mails will get better!) Also these keyboards are super weird! So its taking some getting used too.

Well i'm so so happy to hear from you mom. It helps me so much, with moral, and just to know you all are thinking about me. It has been a very difficult, rewarding, and challenging week. A mission is HARD. No one was joking when they said that. My Spanish is coming along okay...they don't actually teach us much Spanish here. We spend maybe an hour a day on it? And the rest is learning gospel stuff and studying for our fake investigators we have at the MTC. I've learned enough Spanish to know what people are saying or talking about usually, although, today was P day and real Chileans talk WAY faster! (my P day is every Wednesday and actually only for 3 hours out of the day). This is just for the MTC, it will change once i'm in Vina. Oh, i'm here for 5 and 1/2 weeks from when i started. so 4 1/2 now. I love learning and being taught at the MTC but ill be honest, sitting for 12 hours a day is driving me insanneee. The first 4 days or so I would have these really downner moments, where for an hour or two i would feel so depressed and so alone, to the point where I thought I couldn't do it. But I've been praying and I feel so much better. Hearing from you all also makes me feel 100x better as well. I know that you all are praying for me and I pray for you all DAILY. OH, really quickly, so the mission home president Elder Gilbert had to get open heart surgery 2 nights ago. A valve in his heart wasn't working and so they had to replace it, so by the time he's recovered ill be gone. But it was a really interesting experience, because I felt really close to him even though I had only been there several days. I'd had my interview with him and everything but it was just so neat to see how everyone in in the MTC and especially at Al Cantara came together and prayed for him. I love the missionaries here, the Latinos are probably some of the happiest and funniest people I know. One Latino Elder Roubles, thinks he's really funny and about a million times a day will says you es fefe! (which in English is like, you're a sissy) and its hilarious because hes this like 5 foot little guy who just says that to about everyone and speaks really fast. So, me and few other told him Boss meant fefe in English so now to all the gringos he says "you are boss" Haha. That actually doesn't sound that funny when I tell the story right now...but it is.Maybe i'm just going a little crazy. Hopefully I survive the next few weeks ;)

I love you all so much! I wish I could express adequately express how happy and grateful I am that you are my family. Especially being almost 5 thousand miles away I appreciate it all the more. I know its early on in my mission, but I can't wait to see you all again. I hope that everything is going well there, hope that Trevor does amazing with his Officer training, that's so awesome that he got sworn in. I love you all, miss you so much, and hope that you're doing well! If I don't have time to e-mail everyone please let them know I love them.Ill write again next week and I will send some pictures of Al Cantara, the temple, and my p day.  Oh by the way, I get to go to the temple tomorrow, I'm so excited for that.

P.s. Im going to MISS watching general conference with the family! Especially the delicious crepes that we make. I'll be thinking of you all. Have an amazing week!! I love you.