(Glen and Barbara were on vacation this week)
I guess you are probably on the plane ride home by now. Time passes very oddly here in the MTC. I find it hard to believe that you've already been in Hawaii for 2 weeks. Each day seems to take forever, especially Thursdays and Saturdays. On those days we have personal study, breakfast, additional study, classroom instruction (which usually includes teaching our progressing investigators), lunch, more additional study or language study, classroom study again, dinner, volleyball, more additional study, and then an hour of personal time at night. By the time you go to bed you feel like you've been up for 2 days. But then the week somehow flies by.
I am very sad you didn't get to see any actual lava. If we ever go as a family, I will make sure that we see some. That would be my main goal for the trip. Is the big island much different from the smaller ones? Are there things you liked about the big island that you couldn't do elsewhere, or vice versa? I'm writing much earlier than normal today, because the temple is closed for Labor Day. Our P-Day today is going to be 3 hours longer as a result, so my district and I are doing laundry 6 hours early right now.
It's weird to think of being late to class, honestly. The way things go here, I don't know how we would be late or what would happen. I think our teachers would be a bit more than annoyed. Our version of celestial duties is service project every Friday. All the elders and sisters have 90 minutes a week (for us on Friday) where they get assigned to work under one of the residence or classroom building custodians. They give us jobs, so we basically keep all the buildings clean. Vacuuming, window cleaning, trash collection, bathroom cleaning, etc. It's not fun exactly, but it's also not too hard and I enjoy it.
Our teacher situation has been very weird lately. Sister Chang, who was from Taiwan and served in Hong Kong and was awesome, left 2 weeks ago because she's taking too many physics classes at BYU right now to maintain teaching at the MTC, so we only see her at TRC on Saturday (tell me if you know what that it). Sister Cook is still with us. She served in Hong Kong and is a really good singer and a great teacher. Gwok hingdei (brother Gwok) was our first investigator, and became a teacher for us after about a week and a half, but he got switched to the other Cantonese district on Saturday, which we were all upset about. He was a really cool guy, born in Hong Kong, back about a year from his mission, very funny. We had still been teaching his investigator persona, A-Sum, so when he left he said A-Sum died tragically. Our new teacher is going to be Fong Hingdei, who speaks 7 languages. He's not as funny, but he's a very good teacher.
Elder Goates left this morning, just so you know. Don't really have anything to add.
The kids haven't emailed me yet, which leads me to believe that they all hate me.
We've had really cool skies at the MTC, basically every day since I got here. It hasn't been really sunny recently, lots of clouds and cool sunsets. Every time we go to the exercise field I see awesome skies of red and orange clouds, without fail. Our district plays Beach Volleyball every gym time we get, and we're actually improving a bit. I'm not very good at it still, but it's very fun. We play against the other Cantonese district, who we are pretty close with.
I liked the Bear Grylls thing. "At night, the temperature can drop to a frigid 63 degrees Fahrenheit, so I don't really need shelter. Lava flows here can roast a man in his skin, but to be honest I have no chance of being hit by one. The lack of deadly animals or environmental pressure can lull you into a false sense of security, so I always take time each night to look at a picture of my family and remind myself why I actually need to leave. If I can find one of the resorts or hotels scattered across the island, I just might be able to find a way out of this hellish island paradise."
I'll try to send pictures next week, but you know me. I don't like taking pictures and I don't really care for sending them back. I haven't really needed anything yet. Every week when people leave a pile of stuff, food, candy, shirts, medical stuff, lint rollers, pants, detergent, baking soda, ramen noodles, etc, gets left on the ironing board outside our room. I feel like I'll be leaving a lot of stuff here. Speaking of ironing boards, I haven't even had to iron a shirt yet. The wrinkle free ones are working too well. Also, my companion,s a little OCD and fairly independent. I have been thinking of how I could serve him, but beyond bugging him by SYLing to him all the time (his Cantonese is mediocre) I don't know how. Still, we're doing better. We had a couple good lessons recently. Oh, we've had two apostles come speak to us already. Elder Scott and Elder Anderson.
Miss you, not too homesick but I do wish I could relax sometimes. I finished Jesus the Christ, so I don't have as much to read for relaxation anymore. See you in 2 years.
I had to go switch laundry into dryers. I was actually kind of nervous about the laundry when I came here. The first P-Day I wasn't sure exactly how to do any of it, and none of the guys in my district knew, so I had a bad feeling we'd look like idiots in front of everyone in the laundry room. It is a pretty weird place. It's really hot in the day (which is one reason why it's nice to do it now), it gets really busy, and it's chaotic. That first day, none of the other guys wanted to put the liquid soap on the clothes, because they weren't sure if it would ruin them. I ended up having to do it for them, even though I didn't know for sure. I figured, it's just soap, worst case scenario our clothes get soapy. Also every washer has a little sticker reminding the Elders to put the soap on top of the clothes, which I find kind of pathetic and funny.
We found out this Sunday that our district will be moved to the West Campus at Rain Tree for the last week or two. I'm not sure exactly when, but I'll tell you when I know. So you'll get the scoop on how both parts of the MTC are.
Matthew sent me a Dear Elder 2 weeks ago, and I forgot to respond, so could you send this to him?
I think that you actually don't need to prepare at all. That's what I've learned from the MTC. Don't prepare at all, because they'll do it for you. Stop reading your scriptures, and maybe skip church once or twice, so that you'll have a more dramatic transition and will gain a good story once you're here.
Actually, the main thing you can do to prepare is just read Book of Mormon, go to the Temple, etc. Nothing unusual. Honestly, I don't think I could have prepared for the language or the teaching skills, so don't worry too much about it. It really does take an actual teacher to help you learn it.
Sorry, had to leave again. Continuing.
Reading PMG Preach My Gospel) is helpful, but not really the chapters about planning and scheduling. They're good, but I remember reading them before leaving and getting nothing out of them. They focus a lot on the needs of the investigator, how can the gospel help them. Read Chapter 3 repeatedly and think about that. If you had to identify the most basic reason why they need the gospel and how it could help them, what would it be. Do that for every lesson. If the answer seems obvious, it probably is, and your teacher will just ask you why or how, so get more basic. Also practice thinking of things in the most basic sense. Only what will help them, how to say something meaningful in the shortest time possible. Don't stress about it, though.