Moms note: I will not be able to add any pictures to Matthew's blog until he leaves the MTC. Upon arriving in Guatemala they take all of the missionaries' cameras. I guess for safety reasons.
I can't believe my first week of the MTC is already over!! Time is seriously warped down here! It’s insane how much I have already learned and how you can change in only one week’s time! The plane ride down to Guatemala was quite the trip, the layover in LA was pretty rough and flying through the night ... definitely not the best idea ever, but alas I made it here safe and sound!
The CCM (MTC) is in the middle of the city and so there are big fences around the entire thing and body guards by the gate. Almost every major store has at least a few guys out front with shotguns, watching the area. Crazy stuff! The actual CCM is really nice, everything is remodeled and new. The food is pretty good, Most days it’s just a variety of Latino food mixed in with normal American food. There has probably only been like two meals so far that I have had to stomach down. (Not eating all your food is like literally a sin) The schedule for each day goes a little bit like this.... wake up at exactly 6:30, shower, eat breakfast, personal study for an hour, language study for an hour. We then get taught by our teachers, Hermano Bonilla or Hermana Bruno, both of which are extremely great. We then have lunch, followed by a grammar lesson, then usually using TALL a computer Spanish learning program. We then have sports, which generally is basketball with my district. Except for one day when we played Futbal! It technically got banned by the President but for some reason we went outside one day and all the Latinos were playing, so we joined in and boy was that AWESOME! They are such kind and fun loving people, its just great! Eventually a guy came and told us we probably shouldn’t play because its against the rules, which we didn't know at the time but now we do! Sad day :( I guess the Nortes, (North Americans), kept kicking the Latinos and hurting them too badly... we Nortes just need to practice the worlds greatest game more I suppose!! After sports we have dinner, followed by teaching our investigator, who is one of our teachers. The very first time you teach, two days after you get here you teach in only Spanish, it’s insane!! You have zero idea what to say but you just rely on the Spirit and go with it! Our lessons have improved a lot ever since! After teaching we get refreshments, usually cookies and milk, so that we have a chance to talk to the Latinos. Pretty much every meal you are required to go sit with the Latinos so that you can work on your Spanish. Sometimes it’s awesome, usually it’s just embarrassing! haha We then plan as a companionship and go to bed, promptly at 10:30! Every single day you are dead tired but that just means you are giving it your all! That’s about it for the schedule...
Some of the best experiences so far have been...
- We pray soooo much, it’s crazy. You think missionaries are always exaggerating about the amount of times they pray? They aren’t! Prayer is such an amazing gift from God and so we try to use it constantly down here in the CCM.
- We listened to a talk on Sunday, which, by the way, the first week here you have to prepare a talk in all Spanish for Sacrament meeting. But anyway we were listening to a talk given to the MTC in Provo by Elder Scott and it was such a blessing to me. He talked about God answering our prayers and how sometimes we get a strong answer, sometimes we get a stupor of thought if what we are asking for is wrong, and SOMETIMES we have to ACT in FAITH and we will get our answer later in life. Sounds kinda familiar eh? Probably because this was something I really struggled with and talked about a lot during my farewell talk!! Neat stuff!
- Another cool experience was last night my district, who are totally awesome, got together to discuss our weekly Spanish goals and stuff. My expectation for the meeting was that it would be five minutes, and we would mess around for the rest of the time we had. I couldn't have been more wrong. We discussed our goals but then starting talking about being here and it just slowly turned into this testimony meeting that I was totally bawling over. I had been praying to be able to feel the Spirit stronger at the CCM and boy did I get an answer! Elder Hale from Draper and Elder Laing from Provo gave the best testimonies ever! Laing talked about how we were all stressing so much about our Spanish, when we really should be striving to learn more about the gospel each day. It was just what I needed to hear because I was stressing a ton about my Spanish and letting it consume my personal study time. Not good. We study the gospel our entire lives and still don't fully understand it, while Spanish is something one can practically master within a year of being here!
- We also watched a sick video from Elder Holland, the gospel guru himself, and he taught that as a missionary, all we want is for our investigators to read the scriptures more fervently, pray with more conviction, study with more purpose, love others with more Christ like love, etc. ... but, instead of converting others, we must convert ourselves first, by doing everything we want our investigators do first. It really struck home with me and made me realize that all of the basic principles of the gospel I could do with more purpose, more love and more conviction. I need to convert myself fully first.
- Last cool experience, when you first get here, you get told about a million rules, and to be honest, a lot of them seem pretty dumb from the beginning, but eventually you learn that it’s through obedience that you are able to learn and grow more here in the CCM. Elder Laing shared a quote last night in our "testimony meeting" that said: Obedience brings blessings. Exact obedience brings miracles. Awesome stuff. I am now trying to be exactly obedient in everything I do here. It’s vital for us to grow as much as we can in the short 6 weeks we are here.
Sooo, taking one from my sister’s book, my challenge for all you loved ones at home, find something you do each day and do it with exact obedience, like for example, get on both knees on the floor by your bed each night for prayer. Not in your bed, not laying down, not half kneeling. Just do it with exact obedience and I promise you will be blessed for it.
That is about it for the week, I love you all and I pray for you each night!