Hello my family,
It's hard to believe I've been here for three weeks already. It feels like it's been much longer because we have done so much and yet it also feels like I was a new Elder with that lovely orange sticker on my nametag just yesterday. The last two weeks, I've been freaking out because there's a timer at the top of my screen telling me how much time I have left and if I don't finish and send my email in time, it won't get sent until next week. So much happens here that I want to make sure I get it all down.
Mom and Dad, thanks for the package. I desperately needed my sweatshirt because it's freezing when I go to get a sack breakfast in the morning or on my way to gym. Walking in the snow in a t-shirt and shorts is not so much fun, but I am having all the fun here! The language is so hard. I struggle every day, but I can tell the Lord is helping me get better each day and remember concepts that I couldn't seem to get down on previous days.
To the Hunt family, tell them thank you so much for the box of cinnamon rolls they sent me a couple weeks ago! They were DELICIOUS!!! Let them know I'm sorry I didn't write to them sooner.
So the MTC is a wonderful place. It's also a place where you are destined to gain weight. It's inevitable. Create a menu with 5 or 6 different items and tell me it's all-you-can-eat and I'm bound to gain some weight. Haha! Despite running everyday and working out during gym time, I've still managed to gain about 10 pounds. You'll probably be able to tell a little in the pictures I send home, which I can send pictures by the way. I'll try to do that today. I can load my pictures on a CD and send it home. So hopefully you'll all get some soon.
On Sunday, I said the opening prayer for sacrament meeting. Since I haven't been here six weeks yet, I don't have to do things in Russian all the time yet, but I really wanted to. So I started my prayer in Russian and eventually, I totally blanked and had to switch to English. And then I finished in Russian. It's amazing how much we've learned so far and it's also amazing how little we know. You start to feel confident and then you realize, Wow, I hardly know how to really communicate. I met a missionary the other night that is going to the Netherlands and it made me think of Dad. I've often wondered what it would have been like to be you, Dad, to be here after only having been a member of this church for a year. I'm grateful for all that you and Mom have taught me over the years and for how you raised me.
Each week, we go to the TRC and have to do a language task for 15 minutes where we only speak Russian. It's usually introducing yourself and getting to know the person. The volunteers are people that go to BYU or UVU that served in Russia. After the language task, we practice teaching them in English. During last week’s language task, Elder Zamora and I were talking to a native Russian girl, and I couldn't understand ANYTHING! She was going so stinking fast! And it's also difficult because in Russian, when you ask a question, the intonation in your voice is different than it is in English. In Russian, your voice rises and falls over the word that you are asking about. So if I asked "Do you like cheese?" and I wanted to know if they 'liked' it, my voice would rise and fall over like. They could then answer yes or 'no I hate cheese.' If I was asking about liking 'cheese' than it would rise and fall over cheese. They could then answer "yes" or "no I like apples". I hope that makes sense. So anyways, when a Russian is speaking, you have to pay attention to which word they rise and fall on cause otherwise it just sounds like a statement. They don't rise up on the end of the question like we do in English. So I couldn't understand anything she was saying or asking, and I couldn't tell if I was supposed to respond to a question or ask her one.
Anyhow, I hope this letter hasn't been lame. I'm sorry if I'm not sharing really great or important stuff. I'll try to write down more things that I want to share with you all. Feel free to ask me more questions so I can know what to tell you all. :) I love you all so much and think about and pray for each of you each day.
Love, CTAPENWNHA BYW (pronounced star-ay-she-na) Bush :) (p.s. Turn the N's around and put a dash across the top of the first one. Then it'll be Russian.)