Another week has gone by here at the MTC and I can definitely tell that time has started to go by faster. Once you get used to the schedule and routine, the days blend together. I feel like I was writing you just yesterday when it was last week -- probably because I do the same thing everyday.
There are a couple of highlights this past week that I wanted to share though. I was recently called as the District Leader which is pretty cool. The responsibility requires me to go to extra meetings, direct our district meetings, be in charge of the district goals and our ability to complete them, etc. It's not that bad but it takes me away from time that I would normally have to study the scriptures or Spanish. When I get out into the [mission] field, I want to be the best missionary I can be and help others come unto to Christ. Some of the issues I've had to deal with are missionaries who aren't working hard enough or meeting their goals. Another issue we're having is the three sister missionaries who aren't getting to bed on time or respecting quiet time. I'm supposed to make sure that they fix that somehow, even though they don't even live in my hall . . . because they're girls. I am going to make the most out of it though and learn how to become a better leader.
Another highlight of this week is I've been selected to sing in the MTC Missionary Choir during the Priesthood Session of General Conference! It's comprised of about 350 missionaries who will travel up to the Conference Center in Salt Lake City on October 3 to sing. We had our first practice this morning, and we will be practicing every day for the next two weeks to try and memorize our songs and our parts. I'm in the bass section, and I saw Nate in the baritone section. I'm so glad to have this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to help invite the Spirit into thousands of Priesthood meetings around the world through song. You should look for me and Nate when we sing. If you don't happen to see us, that's fine, just know that we are there.
Another important part about this past week is that as a district, we've set higher goals with regard to the amount of Spanish we speak. My Spanish is coming along quite nicely and I'm learning a lot. However, when I talk to Nate it seems like he is a beast at Spanish. I think I would be closer to his level if I was in the intermediate class, but I'm doing fine. One thing we learn not to do while on a mission is compare ourselves to other missionaries. That's kind of hard for me to do because I always look up at the best speaker in our district (Elder Duke) and want to be like him with regard to his Spanish and work ethic. I think my Spanish will be just fine after a couple months out in the field. I can read a lot of Spanish and I have been translating the Book of Mormon from Spanish to English. The way I do it is to take the Spanish pocket-size version of the Book of Mormon and write down all of the meanings to the words I don't know above the Spanish word. Then I go to the nicer leather-bound version of the Book of Mormon and read through it without the definitions. Its pretty effective, though somewhat time consuming. I started in Helaman so that I can get to when Christ comes in 3rd Nephi.
Another big change about this week is that we started to teach the lessons only in Spanish. Everybody in the intermediate level have been teaching lessons in Spanish since their second week. Some people got a call to assess their Spanish abilities before they came to the MTC. I wish I had gotten that phone call, but whatever. Anyway, we are practicing walking into our classroom in our respective companion-ships and teaching investigators according to their needs. Our teachers create investigator personalities from people they know. We all take it very seriously because if we say something wrong and offend them or something, they'll throw us out and we'll have to start over with a new investigator. So far I've done pretty well and have gotten better at thinking of Spanish on the spot during the lesson to be able to teach well. At the rate I'm going, I should be okay out in the field but I'm sure my attitude will probably change after the first couple days of getting doors slammed in my face and people laughing at my Spanish. However, I'll be in America so I shouldn't be that embarrassed since they'll see I'm making an effort to speak their language in my country. Another thing I've gotten better at is being more familiar with the scriptures and having the ability to remember principles taught in certain verses. That way I can pull them out during a lesson to answer the questions of an investigator.
I only have a minute left so I better wrap up. I haven't received the package yet but I'll let you know. I miss you all!!
Love - Mike