Friday, August 5, 2016

Mwen rele Elder Stevenson. Mwen soti Kaliforni.

After I got off the plane (it was a pretty small jet, CRJ200 to be exact) I got my carry on from the valet because it wouldn't fit in the overhead bin. Then I had to walk across the entire airport to get to baggage claim. It was a lot of walking to do after sitting in the plane for an hour and a half. I met Pappy and Aunty [Lauralee] and Noah at baggage claim and they helped me get my bags. We drove by McDonalds to get breakfast and then went to the U of U bid sale for Pappy to look around. After that we drove around for a while, and we drove around the new Provo City Center temple. It's pretty cool, there's an underground parking structure and you walk out of a gazebo to get onto the grounds. We didn't go, though, we just drove around outside it. Then we went to Golden Corral for lunch and I ran into Elder ... Campbell, a friend I met at EFY last year! He was just getting ready to leave because his report time was 12:45. I've already run into him once in the cafeteria since I've been here. I tried a little bit of everything at GC, and I felt so full. After lunch we drove to the MTC. We pulled into the circle and there was a host missionary that helped me get my bags. I said goodbye to Pappy, Aunty and Noah and was whisked away. The host brought me to several of the buildings around campus where I would go to pick up my tags, meal card, room key, ministerial certificate, language materials, schedule for the day and campus map. 

We dropped my bags off in my residence and went to my classroom. I was the last one to arrive pretty much and I was super sweaty from running around. The teacher said that he was from Haiti and started talking to me in Creole. I picked up what I could and tried answering his questions but I was so tired I just kinda sat there and threw out some French words. Then he laughed and said he was messing with me and had me go to the computer lab to watch a gym orientation video. He's a really cool guy, his name is Fre Augustin (Brother, there's an accent grave on the e but I can't figure out how to do it on this computer. Also there's no right clicking apparently so bear with any spelling mistakes.) More about him later. 

There are 9 of us in the Haitian Creole class, 8 of us all arrived together. The odd man out is Elder Blood, he's been here for 6 weeks already and is going to Fort Lauderdale, but the transfer schedule there changed so he was delayed a week. He leaves on Tuesday and he's our District leader for the time being. He's an interesting fellow, reminds me of myself actually. He's pretty knowledgeable about the language and everything about the MTC so he's a great resource. He's actually pretty stoked to have some other Elders in his district now, before he was a district of 1 doing everything on his own. He sleeps in my residence with me and my companion and another companionship (that makes 5 of us, still got those math skills). My companion is Elder ...King. He's from Bountiful Utah. He's pretty much the exact opposite of me, very outgoing, sports guy, likes to speak his mind. He's nice though, he was a convert at 16... It will take some time for him to adjust to mission life but he's done very well so far. We're getting together well so far. The other companionship is Elder Duffin and Elder Firth. I forget where they're from, but the four of us do pretty much everything together. We click pretty well (Elder Duffin is a lot like me, we get along very well. You can even see a resemblance I think) The rest of our first day was spent going to an orientation meeting with the MTC Presidency (there were over 800 missionaries taken in that day, one of their biggest groups ever and they had to split the meeting into two rooms) We sang a lot of hymns while we waited for him to get to our room. He told us about how the MTC works and our call as missionaries. Then we went to dinner (at like 4:15, it was early but if felt so much later. We had fried chicken with gravy and mashed potatoes. And yes, I had chocolate milk and it was amazing.) After dinner we went to a meeting called People and Purpose where a group of missionaries all went into a room to meet an investigator (either real or fake, but it's so hard to tell) and we asked them questions and basically taught them. After that (i think, the days are already starting to blend together) we went back to our residencies and got unpacked and ready for bed. I wrote in my journal as much as I could. We went to sleep at 10:30.

So that was Day 1. I woke up yesterday at 6:30 and went to the classroom for personal study. Then we went to breakfast and had really good breakfast burritos. I saw (Elder Stout) in the cafeteria but didn't get to talk to him. After that we went back to class and Fre Augustin said the prayer in perfect English! Turns out he's not actually from Haiti and was born and raised here in Provo. Surprise! He totally got us. His whole family is Haitian though, so he's really good at impersonating them. We had some language study and learned very basic phrases. (Mwen rele Elder Stevenson, mwen soti Kaliforni, that sort of stuff). After that we had another People and Purpose lesson when we watched videos from the New York Times about people talking about their lives and discussed how we would teach them. Then we had lunch (navajo tacos. Basically indian fry bread. super yummy.) And then we had several hours to do PCL basically (personal, companion, and language study.) The whole district was all in the classroom and we chatted for a while, which was pretty fun. After that dinner was chicken and mashed potatoes, pretty good but the chicken was messy and didn't sit well with some people. I was fine though. After dinner we met with our branch again (we're branch 14, the Haitian district is 14-C. There are 8 languages in our branch, all mostly island languages including ASL. Our branch president is President Willes (pronounced willis) and he loves us. He made sure we knew that he loved us. He's really nice, older man, and gave a great lesson on being exactly obedient. He sent us to our rooms a little early because we were all so tired, and I definitely went to bed right at 10:30.

This morning our room woke up at 6 to get ready and to get our sack breakfast right at 6:30 so there wouldn't be a long line. I ate an apple, a bowl of fruit loops (generic brand), a cinnamon donut and a bottle of cookies and cream milk. The milk was a little much, I don't think I'll be doing that again. Anyway Elder King and I went to the weight room to work out, we lifted some free weights and I used a rowing machine (exactly like ours at home. Maybe an older model.) Then we started our emails (this is my second sitting writing this, I have a lot to write today, I don't expect all my letters to be this lengthy but I've only been here a few days so I can go into pretty good detail.) Then we went to our assigned gym time, I ran around the indoor track and used an eliptical machine and some weight lifting machines. I met Elder Stout again and we had some time to talk. He says he leaves on Tuesday and is excited to go. His companion is 6'8" and a funny guy. He's a little sick so he couldn't do too much running around today. That was basically it, he wished me luck and said he hoped I had a good MTC experience and we shook hands. And then I came back to email just now.

So that's everything I can think to say, I'll answer questions as much as I can but I'm not sure if I'll be able to get back on today, I've spent a good amount of time typing all this. I'm attaching all the pictures I've taken so far (which is about 8, whoops, not much time for being a tourist). Overall I'm loving the MTC and am excited to see how far I can progress in the next 6 weeks (with all this exercise I might even lose weight. Probably not though, that chocolate milk will be the death of me.) I love you all, hope you are having a good time, and can't wait to hear back from you soon!

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