Dear Mom, Dad and family,
Hello from the MTC! Wow this week has been CRAZY! My brain hurts soooo much!!! I never thought it would be this intense! I've heard the first couple days here are always the hardest mostly cause everything is new and foreign to you. And let me tell you, Russian is veryyyyy foreign to me. Haha but I love it! This language is challenging me so much but through the Lord, I know I can rise to the challenge. He definitely has to help me though, cause it is hard. My district has twelve guys in it (more than you had dad) and it sure gets hot in the classroom with 13 people crammed into a little space. I've really come to love each of them even though it's only been five days. My companion is Elder Zamora. His parents are from Guatemala but he's from Ann Arbor, Michigan. We're already great friends and I can't wait to get to know him more. He's semi fluent in Spanish so he likes to speak in it every once in a while. It's interesting how languages have similarities with certain words. "Gospel" in both Spanish and in Russian are so close it’s uncanny. Four of the elders in the district are going to Vlad (short for Vladivostok). Elder Winkler is one of them, and he's from Germany. We talked for a little bit the first day and found out that he met Elder Killpack (Spencer's cousin, who is serving in the Berlin, Germany mission) in the Freiburg temple the day he went for the first time! How small the world really is! He has studied Russian for 5 years in school so he's definitely got the upper hand on the rest of us.
I really love it here. The spirit is so strong and I sure have learned a lot. It's certainly been an adjustment to strive to follow all the rules and be with a companion alllllll the time. Thankfully, Elder Zamora and I really get along. Tuesday is our pday so we get to go to the temple in the morning. I love it there.:)
I got to see Sister Metro (a friend who used to live in Florida) on Sunday! I think it was Sunday. Anyways, she was super excited to see me and really wishing she could get off to Switzerland. Her French was sounding pretty darn good. Church on Sunday was very different since half the branch we're in is new and the other half are Elders and Sisters that have been here for six weeks. They hafta speak Russian now so I couldn't really understand much of anything that was said when the missionaries gave talks. But like Pres. Monson said, we all can understand the language of the Spirit. It's kind of nerve wracking to go to sacrament meeting because the branch president doesn't say who's speaking until we get there. So we hafta have something prepared before we come otherwise we hafta wing it. Thankfully, we only hafta do it in English for now. The rest of the ward also sings in Russian which sounds soooo cool! Can’t wait to start doing that.
Sorry this email is all over the place. We only have 30 minutes to write so I'm trying to get down everything I can think of. There's a scripture in the Doctrine & Covenants that really has hit home now that I'm here in the MTC. It's D&C 31:3 "Lift up your heart and rejoice, for the hour of your mission is come; and your tongue shall be loosed, and you shall declare glad tidings of great joy unto this generation." Also look up Isaiah 28:11. As I've been struggling over the language (and I mean strugglingggggg) I know that as I work harder, the Lord will bless me to speak when he needs me to speak to the Russian people.
I sang in the choir on Sunday and the director reminded all of us so much of Brian Regan! I'm hoping that I get the chance to sing in General Conference if there is an MTC choir, so I'll let you know if that happens. I miss you all. A lot. It's hard sometimes to keep the emotions in check because I do really miss each of you, but I know this is the work that the Lord would have me do. I love being here even though it's the most difficult thing I have ever done. Love you all so much! Hopefully my letters will get better in the coming weeks. Til next Tuesday!