Friday, July 12, 2013

Here's to not throwing up!

To all family and friends,

Steve was able to go out to Utah and drop Sydney off at the MTC on Weds July 10th.  They were able to go to the temple and take pictures beforehand.  Thanks to our friend, Kristi for being the photographer.  You're the best! Steve said he gave her a hug and asked if she was ready.  She replied, " I was born ready"  and bounded into the MTC.   We were a little stunned to receive a letter so soon but, it sounds like she is doing great!  

Family and Friends!
I made it to the MTC! It's so crazy here, but I love it. I thought I would be so nervous the day I came in, but I was seriously fine. Just really excited, actually. I DIDN'T EVEN THROW UP. A rousing (sp?) success on all accounts. I also now know why no one talks about what happens right after one enters the MTC. It's because everything happens SO FAST. Basically a host or hostess (a missionary who has been in the MTC for a long time) picks you up and the curb and helps you with your bags. My hostess was Sister B.... She's going to Taiwan and SHE'S KOREAN. It was so awesome to have the first person I met in the MTC be Korean. She was super nice, but it seriously felt like we were running from place to place, picking up my badge and books and finding my room. Then, straight after we dropped my stuff off, she took me to my class where I slowly met the rest of my district as they trickled in one by one. The whole time our teacher, Forsyth Songsengnim (teacher) was teaching us the alphabet. But I already knew the alphabet so I kind of became the hesitant Hermione Granger of the class. No one else in my district knew the alphabet yet and at first I was like, "Really, guys? That should of been Preparing to Serve a Mission in Korea: Step One." But now it's really cool because I get to help the rest of my district learn the alphabet so we can all be awesome Korean-speaking missionaries together!
The MTC is such a cool place. It's weird to be in a place as familiar as Provo, but still feel like I'm in a completely different country. Every one walking around in companionships is a strange sight. It's like Noah's Ark, only on a bigger scale and with people.
My companion's name is Sister P..... She's from Harryman, Utah,(I'm sure Syd means Herriman, ha ha) but it's really cool because she grew up on the east coast in New York! Also she spent a college semester in Japan, so we're pretty much twins. We get along very well. Seriously, by the end of the first day, I felt like I had known her for years. I guess being with a someone 24/7 will do that to you. There are also two others sisters in our district, Sister H and Sister K. They're both from Hawai'i and actually were childhood friends, until Sister H moved to Utah with her family. But now they get to be companions and are best friends all over again. It's adorable. Also, it's like mine and Soeur Johnson's missions are mixing together! Again!
The boys in our district are super cool too. There are six of them, which makes ten of us in all. Two of our elders--Elder A and Elder B--have become our special favorites, our little brothers/buddies of the MTC. Elder B is half-Korean, but knows not a word of the language. The first day, he looked a little shell-shocked. Elder A is...adorable. He's like a wee babe. My companion and I just want to take care of him and be his...moms. :) Anyway, the rest of the first day is kind of a blur. We went to some sort of orientation and then we had our first teaching experience that night. It wasn't scary though because it was in English and as a group of like forty people. It's kind of hard to explain, but it was good.
The next day--yesterday--we met with our district and had our personal scripture study. Then we went to breakfast and came back to our district. We were supposed to have another sort of orientation. I think it was just supposed to be for our district and the other Korean district that came into the MTC the day before, but allegedly the man who was supposed to teach us...quit. Or something. Anyway, we were pretty much on our own for the whole first half of the day. We just kind of hung out in our classroom and helped each other learn the alphabet. It was a good time.
Later in the afternoon, we had Korean class. Forsyth Songsengnim was back to teach us and it was super nice to have someone to give us some sort of direction. We learned how to say a prayer and bear a short testimony in Korean. Just the bear minimum, really, like, "Dear Heavenly Father. I'm thankful for my family. I'm thankful for my companion. Please bless my family. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen." Anyway, I hope what little we do know goes far because we're teaching our first pretend investigator tomorrow. In Korean. So that's terrifying. However, at the same time I know it will be all right, because as long as we have the Spirit with us, we'll be fine. Our district had a cool experience yesterday while we were practicing our prayers. We had just learned what to say and had had a little time to practice and then our teacher and our little district knelt in a circle in the middle of our classroom to say a prayer. One of the elders was the unlucky soul to get called on to give the prayer and as he stumbled through, blatantly butchering the Korean language, I could still feel the Spirit. I knew that Heavenly Father was pleased with our little group of missionaries as we earnestly tried to learn our language so that we could spread His gospel and proclaim his word, even if our Korean wasn't very good yet.
I think my favorite thing about being a missionary thus far is how much my love for complete strangers has increased. My companion and I haven't even known each other a week, but already I love her as though I've known her my whole life. Her example has already taught me so much and strengthened my testimony. The love I have for all the other missionaries in my district, and here in the MTC even, has increased. I just want to run around, yelling, "Saranghe-yo!" to everyone I meet. I know that this increased capacity to love is a gift that the Lord gives to us. This is truly a Gospel of love and the message we share as missionaries all centers around the idea that we have a Heavenly Father and a Savior, Jesus Christ who love us more than we can ever imagine. I feel that love here in the MTC and I feel it working through me as I encounter the many, many people here.
I love you all!
Sister Arvanitas (Nitas Chameh! I shortened my name because it's too long and sounds cuter this way. Also, chameh means "sister.")

Me: Really? How was it?
Grandpa Arvanitas: ..........I'll never eat kimchi again.

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