|Me and my two companions Sister Rosser and Sister Banham|
Before I came here to the MTC I have to say life (compared to this emotional roller coaster) was fun, but this is the most amazing fun I have ever had in my life. Don't get me wrong the language is hard and its emotional here but I have not only grown as a person but created such amazing relationships with my kasamahan, my district, and my Zone that I know I will keep in touch with them for the rest of my life. We laugh over everything. Because when you are bored and there is nothing to do but study the language and study the gospel anything is funny. Like the other day my hair was covering my name badge and so someone came up and was speaking in Tagalog and I could tell the gyst of what he was saying. I though he said 'what is your name?" but what he said was "Oh sister Eldredge! Where are you from?" So I- ever so confidently- flung my hair over my shoulder to show off my name tag and said "My name is Sister Eldredge!" Everyone busted up laughing and I have to say I hav not laughed that hard in a long time. Yes it was awfully embarrassing and every now and then my mga kasama will flip their hair over their shoulders dramatically and we will all laugh.
So my first week here at the MTC (Missionary Training Center) has been absolutely crazy. From day one we started learning the language and the teachers speak only Tagalog... no english. So there is a lot of "I think you said this" and miming as well as them writing things like totoo= true on the board. So there are groups called Districts which - at least here at the MTC are basically your classmates- and then the Zone. The Zone consists of everyone learning your language. So for people going to France and speaking french there may be several zones that make up everyone who is learning that language and at least three times as many districts. For me there are about three or four zones in my district and that consists of everyone learning Tagalog. So its not the biggest group.
Joe talked about how there were only 28 missionaries in his MTC in NZ and I think I saw 100 missionaries arriving with me the first day. It's crazy big here. I will be spending 6 weeks here at the Provo MTC and then 5 days to a week in the MTC in Manila, Philippines. So out of the 540 days that I get out of a mission I will spend about 40-50 of them in an MTC. So once I get out I've got to hit the ground running so I can make the most of my time with the people of Laoag!!
Happy Birthday to Lilly Mayhew and Jacqueline Gilmore! I miss you both more than I can express. And Congratulations to Maddison Mayhew on her baptism last week! I wish I had been there to give you the biggest hug ever! I know the lord will bless and guide you and the Espiritu Santo will never lead you wrong. Be sure to listen carefully to how you feel now that you have the kaloob ng espiritu santo (the gift of the holy ghost) and your life will be blessed.
So for all you worry warts: In the Philippines the mission homes have their water go through THREE filters before we get it. Not to mention that on my first day they gave me a water bottle that filters water as you drink it. So I've got that and I've got the LifeStraw that dad gave me. So I will be OK! hahah
And for those who want to there is a thing called Dear Elder where you can send me letters here in the MTC and I will get them THAT day! That way I can write you back and I will have more time to contemplate what I want to say to you so you won't get the crappy emails I've been writing so far that basically consist of "thank you so much for writing, im sorry I can't say much" Y'all took the time to email me and I want to be sure that you dont get crappy emails like that but i am literally am running around trying to get time to write to everyone! Its such a blessing and I feel sooooooo loved!
The language is hard. Let me tell you that again; the language is HARD! But I am so blessed to not be going to a country where the characters are different like Taiwan or Korea. At least Tagalog sounds exactly how it is spelled. I dont think I have ever prayed so much in my life as I have this last week. We pray before we do everything and we pray after we do everything. It is good practice as I am now praying in a different language! Its hard because I cant just start talking to Heavenly Father like I used to, I've got to seriously think and congigate and all this fun grammar stuff I am not the best at. It has made my prayers all the more meaningful as I take the time to slow down and say what I am really feeling. I finally said a prayer almost full tagalog just yesterday and I truly felt the spirit. It is amazing the leaps and bounds in progress you can do when you give up your prideful ways (or I give up my prideful ways) and lean upon the Lord to help you learn.
My district has set the goal to read the entire book of mormon (aklat ni mormon) in the 6 weeks we are here. Its crazy and I have never read the BOM this fast. Aunt Sarah, you were totally right I just can't put it down. The BOM has become the MOST interesting and powerful book. Before I came here to the MTC I would feel good if I read one or two chapters daily but here its like six chapters a day is easy and its amazing. Oh and fun fact! My Zone will get to be a part of the dedication of the new Provo Temple! I cant wait for that! It will be AMAZING i'm sure.
One of the absolute best things about living in a building full of girls is shower time. We sing hymns or show tunes or songs from that animated movie by Dreamworks about Moses. Singing hymns with people who are singing them in a different language is the COOLEST thing ever.So I have been dying to watch the moses movie. I honestly can not remember what it is called...
Speaking of not being able to remember things! I spent a good fifteen minutes during lunch trying to remember the word 'honest engine.' For those that may not know my dad is an absolute tease. You never know if he is being honest or not so in order to find out you ask him 'honest engine' and if he replies in Honest Engine (not engine honest or any other variation) then he is being serious. I couldn't believe I forgot that!! There are just so many words that I have to remember and they almost all start with the letter 'p' or 'm' so I'm running out of brain space.
So I have the absolute best mga kasama ever. (In Tagalog to make things plural you put 'mga' -pronounced manga- in front of it.) Sister Rosser is from Santaquin Utah and Sister Banham is from Logan Utah. A large portion of our Zone consists of people from Kiribati (pronounced kitty-bus) and because some of them are still working on their visas to America they did not all come in the same day as the rest of my district. Just yesterday we got a new elder so he will have to catch up to the rest of us in the Tagalog language. It'll be harsh but I know he can do it.
Its so funny the little quirks and such that you never realize are unique to your family until you are glued to your mga kasama side. Like I'd say "Stop doing that bandi" from the Kid History youtube videos and my whole district would just stare at me like a grew an extra foot! hahahha
By the third day here at the MTC we were already teaching investigators. Now these investigators are people who volunteer to have the lessons taught to them. They are not real investigators but that does not make it any less daunting! Trying to speak Tagalog is hard, trying to teach someone the gospel by speaking taglish/ tagalog/ miming is even harder. Especially when your investigator speaks Tagalog fluently. In the first lesson Elder Maoingoa (maw-ing-oh-ah) was trying to say that God loves the investigator's family but accidentally said 'I love you.' The Investigator BUSTED up laughing and it wasn't until he explained to him what he had said did he realize.
If anyone wants to send a care package feel free to print out and mail pictures so I can brag about my awesome family and friends to my kasamahan and some fruit herbal tea would be such a blessing. I cant even begin to tell you. Here at the MTC lukewarm is considered hot and being able to microwave my own tea the other day (my Sister Leader gave me some Blueberry tea and it was an emotional time... hahaha) was an absolute basbabasan (blessing.)
If you are looking for a nice talk to listen to or watch I would suggest David A Bednar's talk "Christlike attributes" that was given at the Provo MTC. It changed my outlook on life and my outlook on my mission.
I love you all more than you know and I cant wait to hear from all of you!!