This is Aly's first email home.
Hello my dearest mother! I only have about 20 minutes to write this because I spent like 10 minutes of my alotted 30 trying to figure out my username and password, which I forgot. Nice one.
This is kind of crazy. Before dropping me off at the MTC, Brittany and Victoria took me to the nearest frozen yogurt place--sigh, the last time in 18 months--and the girl that was working there overheard that I was going on a mission. She asked me where and said that her friend was reporting the same day to the exact same mission. "Look for a Sister Pence!" she said. So, sure enough, I was sitting in my district classroom, and Sister Pence walks in, and she is my companion.
Sister Pence is from Iowa. She's blonde and tall, has short hair, and we are totally on the same page with everything. We are both dedicated servants of the Lord and have a desire to be obedient in all things. We also make each other laugh a lot, which I think is important. I do my Mexican accent for her, and talk to her in that Victoriaaaaaaaaaa voice, and it feels like we've known each other for years. We are joined at the hip.
My first day here was craaaaazyyyyyy. Think of how the temple is, but much more face-paced. I had no idea what was going on or where I was supposed to go or do, and people were speaking to me in Tagalog, and I'd just stare at them like a deer in the headlights. The best way I could describe it is it felt like I was in a tornado? Thursday wasn't as bad though. Honestly, I haven't even had time to think about it. I'm just in here on complete faith, doing what I'm told to do. And people say things slow down after the first week. They've already started to.
My classes are great. We study Tagalog and Preach My Gospel every day for like 4 and 5 hours at a time. There is no time here at the MTC--like...no concept of time. I feel like I am eating every hour, when its really every 3-4 hours. But eating is really the only breaks we get. My teachers are fun, and they make sure everyone is on the same page with everything. They'll stop a lesson to ask if we're feeling overwhelmed.
My district is made up of 6 companionships. All Elders except for us Sisters. I love 'em. Sometimes I'll be sitting in class and I'll think, "Wow, these Elders are really great and spiritual and only 19 and I love missionaries." Then I think, "Hey, I'm a missionary." And I have to look down at my nametag to double check. So, I'll think the Elders are really great and spiritual in class, then other times outside of class, I'll overhear conversations about aliens and fighting tigers, and I am reassured that they are indeed 18 and 19 year olds. It's kinna funny. My comp and I laugh about it a lot.
Last week we were all challenged as a district to make 20 contacts in one day--basically that just means we talk to other companionships around the MTC, in Tagalog. We learned intro phrases like "Where are you from? I'm from...." Taga saan ka? and "What is your name?" Ano ang pangalan po ninyo? and "Where are you going on your mission?" Saan ka magmimission? Well, Sister Pence and I decided we weren't really challenged by the 20 contacts, so we up'ed it to 40. And we did it! With encouragment from each of us, we talked to as many people as we could find. Needless to say the Elders in our district were kind of floored. :) It's neat though. You'll walk around and a companionship will stop you and just start bearing their testimony in Cambodian or Russion, and you have no idea what they are saying, but the Spirit is absolutely there.
So far I know how to introduce myself in Tagalog, say my prayers in Tagalog, and bear my testimony in Tagalog. I can only speak simply, but I can do it. "Alam ko na Tagapaglitas si Jesucristo. Alam ko na totoo ang ebanghelyo, at alam ko na mahalaga ang aklat ni mormon. Sa pangalan ni Jesucristo, Amen." The language is going well. But actually teaching Preach My Gospel is tough. Especially because I am trying to focus on the moment in my lessons and on what the investigators are feeling. And there is no way to know where a lesson might lead. Preparing for that is TOUGH. But I will learn. It will come. I know it will.