This last week has been absolutely wonderful! I have loved it so so so much! It's been so crazy too, they have such high expectations for us missionaries but it's been amazing.
Our first day the let us take it easy since for most of us it felt like we had been on a plane for 100 years. Seriously though it was the longest day of my life. Until day two of the MTC. There was so much love when we got to the MTC it is such a wonderful place to be. You can just feel the spirit and Christ's love radiating from everyone here.
Everyday has been pretty much the same, lots of classes and lots of German. Also, everyone here just cries their eyes out and I really don't understand. So. many. tears. Everyone is overwhelmed by the transition and I'm only overwhelmed by everyones emotions. I keep getting asked how my adjustment to the change is but nothing really feels different. Yes, we have 16 hour days that are hard and that we are learning new languages, yes I am thousands of miles away from home, and yes I am away from my family. But I feel like this hasn't been a huge transition, I don't know. Everyone is taking it way harder than I am, and maybe I'll get to that point too, but for now I am great. The MTC President & his wife said that their goal is for every missionary to gain at least 10-15 pounds while in the mtc. That shouldn't be too hard considering the fact that I ate 2 pounds of sour watermelons within the first two days (not a joke they were gone by Friday morning) and now I don't have any. I'm not sure what to do with myself. All of the food here has been really interesting... not that it's bad, but it's not good either...and I can't stop eating. They do have croissants in the mornings sometimes that are INCREDIBLE.
It's crazy to think that back in November Sister Hunter and I were talking about being companions and talking about being on missions...and now we're companions and on missions!! I absolutely love Sister Hunter, we get along so great and we just have so much fun all of the time. I have become especially grateful for Sister Hunter and the friendship that we continually establish because it has made this 1000 times easier... All of the missionaries here are so loving and happy to be here. It's a wonderful atmosphere. It's crazy how much you can get to know someone after just a few days here.
This has been the best place to be because EVERYONE has accents. It's so hard not to mimic all of the different accents. It actually became such a habit that one of the sisters from Finland asked where in Sweden I was from (European accent + Swedish last name= swedish me?) It's just so fun to listen to everyone talk, I could just sit here and listen to them all day. Our teachers all have the best accents and I get distracted by their accents way to easily.
German learning....they spoke so much German that at the beginning that it pretty much just all went over my head and I was kind of freaking out. But it's gotten to the point where I can usually understand some of what they are saying. Sometimes they switch from German to English and we don't notice and we get so excited to finally understand some of what they are saying.. That feeling goes away once we realize it was in English and we should have understood all of it. It's such a cool experience learning a language though. We actually have to ask permission to speak in English, which is funny because nobody can remember the phrase of how to ask. (Darf ich Englisch sprechen?). EVERY TIME we want to say something in English we are supposed to ask. It's really helpful, but also we don't speak Deutsch so it's like every 5 minutes that we have to ask...
This probably won't sound like me to you guys but probably one of my favorite parts of the day (aside from snack time at night) is physical exercise time. It's crazy how much I really do love it. I guess it's probably the sitting in desks for 13 hours a day and not getting outside or doing much. One of the teachers here actually asked what sports I did before this because he thought I was so athletic. I laughed so hard. When I told him I never played sports and I hate exercise he was genuinely confused. But hey, I love it now...ish.
As for spiritual stuff.. EVERYTHING is spiritual. But I'll just share one of the experiences and thoughts that I have had since coming here.
In the last email I wrote I talked about the lady on the flight from Atlanta to Manchester. She kept asking questions about the mission like "So you get to go home whenever you want and see your family?" and I was like "no, we get to skype them twice a year though." and she was like "You can't go see them?? You can call them every night though right?" and I was like "no... We can skype them twice a year on the approved dates though, and we can email them once a week." and she was like "you can't call them?? You email them?? Can't you text them whenever?" and I again said, "no.. We can email them once a week, we don't have phones or anything to text with." and then she was like "don't you love your family? You're going to be away from them for 18 months and you're totally okay with that?" And thats where the "WHAT AM I DOING??" thoughts came from. But I tried to explain that I knew this was the true church and it's what I need to do, I love my family and I will see them again, but this is what I needed to do for now. And then I mildly freaked out about what I was doing with the next 18 months of my life. Sunday we had the best sacrament meeting ever. Every talk was on eternal families and marriage. THAT is why I am here, that is why I am away from my family, that is why I am trying to learn a language that I have never in my life wanted to learn. I KNOW that I can be with my family for an eternity. I KNOW that. 18 months is not that long when you think about eternity. So many people do not know about this gospel, they don't know that they can be with their families forever, they think this life is all they have. How sad is that? I want to share this glorious message and bring families together. I am so grateful for this knowledge and this privilege to serve.
All of the missionaries that were here when we got here left for their missions today, except the 3 that are here learning Greek.. So there are 17 missionaries here now. IT'S SO COOL. I miss everyone who left because I really do love them so much and felt so close to them, but it's so cool that they are now on their way to where they need to be. Also it's basically just the people that I knew from back home + the few I met at the airport that are here and we are just a happy family here. We have more missionaries coming tomorrow but there is only 25 coming so it'll still be a small group for the rest of our stay here.
Being here with all of the Europeans kind of makes us Americans feel pathetic. Everyone speaks at least 3 languages. We are all struggling to learn a second, and we really aren't very good at our first... But I guess that's how it is in like every country except America.
Enjoy the most awkward picture with my wonderful newly found second cousin Elder Richardson who told me I looked like his grandma and was so embarrassed he went to the teachers for guidance on how to fix it and then never heard the end of it, and probably won't for the rest of our Alpenlaniche missions. poor kid. The other Elder is one of the ones Sister Hunter and I were friends with at home, Elder Pickard. He left this morning with Elder Walton (who wasn't around to take a picture with us) for the Alpenlandische mission, so we'll see them again in a few weeks. crazy.
Hopefully I figure out better organization and form for my future emails so they make more sense and are a little less rant-ish but we'll see if that happens.
By the way, I can read my emails as I get them, or at least whenever I feel like checking my email. So keep sending all your fun emails. I have loved hearing from you all. I'm sorry if I don't respond, I really do love you all, I just don't have a lot of time to write. I hope all is going good in your lives, I pray for you daily.
Remember who y'all are, make good choices, and love one another.
(not Schwester, because I am not a nun, even though sometimes I may feel like one.)