Tuesday, September 17, 2013

E-mail from Fourth Week at Mexico City MTC

Hola familia,
Everything is going pretty well in Mexico!  Sorry the internet was down all morning, and just got back up an hour ago.  I feel like this may be a common occurrence here in Latin America... anyways yes my suitcase is great for me so don't worry about it.  It will work just fine thanks.  And the temple was really good.  It's all in Spanish of course, but I understand most of it because so many of the words are just repeated over and over.  But it is really good practice and it was so cool to sit with my district, all my good buddies, in the temple.  I love my district and I am so sad we aren't all serving together forever.  The MTC president's wife calls it the "garden of eden" pattern.  That you leave your home where you are all comfortable and happy, and are thrust into the lone and dreary wilderness of the MTC.  Then as you finally figure your way around the MTC and have become good friends with your district and are happy there, you are thrust into the lone and dreary wilderness of the mission field.  And then over and over again this pattern happens with transfers.  And I was like geez... this is not such an easy way of life.  I couldn't put up with this for always.  But we do, and it is necessary for us to grow and become better and experience true joy. 
That's cool you got to go to that interview thing with missionaries.  Missionaries are just the greatest.  It's just a fact.  The days are super long... but it's still really great.  Pdays are the most awesome things ever.  Today all morning we just went to breakfast and then took a nap for 2 hours.  It was so wonderful.  and after I'm done writing you I'm going to go play soccer with my district.  whooooo!!!!
Oh and this week was super cool because we got to celebrate Mexican Independence Day.  We actually had a party at the MTC.  I was so shocked.  Saturday night we had a big cultural night where all these dancers from different parts of Mexico came and performed, and then some girl who is apparently a singer here... It was so cool!  I was like almost wishing Mexico was my mission.  We got to learn the Mexican national anthem and everything.  It's a pretty good one.  Look it up on youtube.  You could hear people partying outside the MTC walls all weekend.  Like the national anthem was blasted nonstop every day, but we love it because it is MUSIC.  They even had pyrotechnics in the show.  Wow.  We of course couldn't dance or anything but we just sat there and cheered and sang.  Oh.. it was so nice to let loose.  The missionary life it an uptight one.  I just need one dance party... that is all I want.  On Sunday we got to watch the Grito on the big screen in the gym.  It was even at 11 at night and they let us stay up to watch it.  Whoa.  So shocking.  Usually we go home at 930 and have to be in bed no later than 1030.  Yes, but the Grito was on actual independence day, and it is kind of like watching the ball drop in times square on New Years in the US.  There's a massive crowd, and the president of Mexico comes out at 11 and rings a bell and waves the flag of Mexico and then everyone shouts VIVA like 20 times as he does this.  It was very fun.  You could probably look it up on Youtube as well. 
The Mexican missionaries here are so much fun.  They are so funny and so nice.  Elder Martinez is our favorite, and he has already left since they only stay for 2 weeks here.  He would speak in Spanish but in an American accent to make fun of us.  Ha ha ha it was too funny.  I wish I could record it for you.  Also, some of them know a little bit of English from school, so there's one Mexican elder here who with his companion share a room with two of our elders so they've become good friends.  And this Mexican missionary quotes the latest batman movie all the time.  Like he'll say in English in his Mexican accent, "What will break first?  Your spirit or your body?" or the other one "You think the darkness is your ally?  I was born in the dark"  ha ha ha ha  it is so so funny.  And some of them even know about Nacho Libre, and they like think it is funny too and they will quote it for us ha ha ha.  I wish you could hear it.  Mexico is the greatest.
No one else in my district goes to BYU... And I will never be so starved for entertainment that I will ask you to buy me a mormontab CD, so you just keep on waiting for that one.  The Stanford kid is so, so funny.  Like he isn't trying to be, he just speaks with such a calculating, proper voice it is hilarious.  He is so, so smart I can't even handle it.  We are all great friends in our district.  It really is like a new family.  I probably will cry when we have to all go our seperate ways. 
I never got sick, I have been able to stay healthy, healthy, healthy.  I am so pleased of course.  I am so happy for Hunter in football!  That is great! I'd love to see the article when it comes out about him.  The fact that he and Brennan were photographers for homecoming is too funny.  I laughed for like 10 minutes.  They even took it to the girls houses and everything?  Wow.  Ava is too funny.  She is so bold ha ha. 
I'm glad to hear everything is well!  I'm so happy for all of you, and I think of you and pray for you every day.  I love you so, so much!  I am learning so much every day.  I don't know that I'll ever feel fully prepared to be a missionary.  But I can't wait to get started!  Love you
Hermana Johnson

Sunday, September 15, 2013

E-mail from Third Week at Mexico City MTC
Hola Family!
First of all, I am very jealous that Dad got to go to San Francisco again without me... but I am looking forward to the postcard!  I finally got mail this week!  I got a letter from mom and one from Sister Mindy Wong.  And then the Hays sent me a huge package of all my favorite treats!  That was so, so nice of them, I can't say thank you enough!  Please let them know I got it and I was so thrilled... and so were my companions ha ha.  Getting mail is the greatest. Oh yeah, but from now on start using my Honduras address because it will never get to me otherwise.  I'm so surprised I'm already halfway done with the MTC.  I mean I'm learning a lot and practicing companionship life, but it is just flying by.  I hope the whole mission is like this.  As in, if it is flying by, that means you are having a good time. 
I am actually super pumped for general conference... it just occurred to me yesterday that that would be during my first week there.  I get to go hang out with my district and just eat goodies all day and hang out watching conference.  What could be better? I did get my new suitcase and it is smaller but I really have discovered I can't do a bigger one.  You get absolutely no help with your luggage ever.  You have to drag it around everywhere all by yourself.  I had to take those two giant ones all over the Mexcio City airport which is massive and then across the entire MTC campus twice because they switched my casa when my third companion joined us.  So... I am happy to have a smaller one... though I'm still figuring out how to pack everything.  All will work out better though, trust me.  Especially when I have to drag everything down the dirt roads of Honduras and on some crazy chicken bus.  yep
My health has been fine... which is shocking because everyone at the MTC this past week has been getting like the flu or something.  Hermana Gardner got sick and stayed home 6 whole days.  Hermana Barnes got sick too one day, so all I could do was sit by myself in the casa.  It was the longest most awful boring day of my life.  But they say at the MTC now, of course not in the field, but here you are allowed to go to class by yourself if your companion is ill... so whatev. 
Tell Alec congrats for me!  That's so exciting!  Mexico really is the greatest, and the fastest way to learn Spanish.  Congrats to Hunter in football!  I hope he is not crying too much that I am gone still.  Oh... that warms my heart to know I am so loved though.  Tell him I support his decision to not go to the dance.  I wish I hadn't done dances actually.  It's way more fun just to chill out with friends those nights, so have fun with Goodsell little buddy. 
I am thrilled to have my pillow.  I sleep like a rock.  We are so, so tired every day... I have never fallen asleep faster in my life.  Although at night here it is like shockingly loud.  Mexico City is crazy noisy.  All night long there are live bands and cars and fireworks and roosters.  Chispas. 
Let me tell you a little bit more about my district... there are ten of us including myself.  Surprisingly only 3 are actually going to Latin America, and the rest are serving US Spanish speaking missions.
Hermana Jones I adore.  She is from Utah and going to Minnesota.  She is so, so funny, she would be like a dream to have as a companion.  I have a great time with her.  Her companion is Hermana Bukoskie from Nebraska who converted to the church when she was17 because she had a Mormon friend who invited her to talk with the missionaries.  Her testimony is so strong and she is great at teaching because she understands exactly how it is to be an investigator.
Elder Sievers is from Orem, Utah and his companion Elder Lillywhite is from Layton.  They are so funny.  They will be serving in Gilbert, Arizona with Hermana Bukoskie.  I would totally hang out with them in real life.  Elder Sievers is 20... he just didn't feel ready to go when he was younger I guess.  Elder Lillywhite just turned 18 the week before he got here.  They are both like super musical too.  Elder Sievers can play just about anything on the harmonica and Elder Lillywhite kills at piano, so one night we just went and sang hymns together as a district as they both played and it was so, so nice.  Sometimes we take breaks from studying to do these types of things because we can't stand being in the same room all day every day.  But that's only like once a week so we are still being productive, no worries.  That is about as much fun as missionaries can have.  Yes... I have turned into one of those obnoxious churchy people who when they are upset or need a break, they sing a hymn.  Because I am a missionary and have no other options...  ha ha ha
Elder Rhead is from Ogden, he'll be going to El Salvador.  He is so darling.  He just finished the Book of Mormon for the first time like last week, so I do worry for him.... he's a bit too innocent I fear.  Elder Bryan is so, so funny.  He is a genius.  He is going to Stanford.  Yes he got in to Stanford.  I am so jealous.  His Dad also went there... so he had a strategy there, but really he is brilliant. He got a 36 on his ACT and has read our Spanish English dictionary all the way through like 3 times at least.  He will be serving in Denver, Colorado.  The third companion in their elder trio is Elder Smith who is our district leader.  He is from Texas.  He is going to Minnesota with Hermana Jones.
Overall I love my district and we have so much fun.  Later this week is Mexican Independence day so I am so, so pumped.  We get to have a party that night... though I have no idea what we will be doing as party is not really part of the missionary vocabulary... I'll let you know.  That'll probably be the loudest night yet. It's gonna be good.  They've already started decorating campus.
My favorite thought this week was on prayer.  Thomas S. Monson said of our prayers to our Heavenly Father, "He who hears the fall of a sparrow, surely hears the pleas of our hearts."  I pray like a ridiculous amount of times every day.  And there are some things we get asked to pray for in every prayer we say, like the gift of tongues.  I usually am praying for patience and love for everyone.  Everyone learns in different ways and at different speeds.  I must find the positive in everyone I meet... that is to be Christlike as He sees the best in us and that is how He can love us so, so much.  That is why He is always listening.  I know he hears my prayers and is protecting me and helping me learn each and every day.
I love you and will write to you again real soon!  Adios
Hermana Johnson
E-mail from Second Week at Mexico City MTC

Hola Family!
Yes, this MTC is the greatest MTC and Pdays are my favorite days because I just get to relax for a little while.  That's not very righteous of me.  ha ha  I also think Sundays are great, as it is the one time our teachers speak English, and I get to learn to strengthen my own testimony in the things I will be teaching. 
Here at the MTC we have la tienda where you can buy anything you may need as a missionary.  and if they don't have it you can order it, so like I asked them to buy me a new suitcase and I'll go pick it up later today.  I just hope it's big enough, yikes. 
Slowly the food here becomes more and more American.  Although everything has some sort of Mexicana twist to it.  For example, one day there was alfredo pasta and I was so, so excited, and then it tasted so sweet and I couldn't figure it out.  Well here they put pineapple in their alfredo apparently, and it was still good, I was just so surprised.  The food really is pretty good though even though it can seem really odd.  I love trying it all.  :) 
I shall watch for Sister Dillman for Jann.  Elder Harding's friend was nice, I just felt really bad for her because her call was changed like 3 times.  First she was called English to Oregon, then it got switched to Spanish, then it got switched to Kansas in Spanish, and the date was moved back like 3 times.  Apparently this same thing happened to a group of 10 sisters.  They said Dallin H. Oakes personally called them on the telephone to switch their calls to Kansas and apologize.  They just had to many missionaries in the same area and couldn't take care of them all.  That would have sucked so horribly.
I'm so excited Hunter is doing so well in football!  Whooooo little brother!  You natural born athlete!  I'm so excited to get your letters!  None have gotten to me yet though.  We found out it takes about 3 weeks for mail to get here.  One elder in my district just got a letter from his mom yesterday which she wrote 5 days before he ever left.  So yeah, 3 weeks. 
The weather here is prime!  It is 70 degrees most of the time.  During the day it can get up to 80s.  And it rains really hard every single day, just for like half hour to an hour.  Usually around dinnertime.  I love it!  I hope Honduras can be like this in the wintertime. 
My typical day... I get up at 6:30 and have to be to class by 7 so I only have like 15 or 20 minutes to get all ready.  Then we have personal study where we study the scriptures or whatever until 7:45.  Then breakfast (oh and fun fact.  On Fast Sunday we learned fast is ayuno, and breakfast is desayunar, so even in Spanish desayunar literally means to break the fast like in English. weird)  Then we go have Spanish class from our teachers from Mexico until lunch at 12:15.  Then an American lady who served her mission in Chile teaches us more Spanish.  Then we teach pretend investigadors, and study as companions.  Then dinner.  More personal and companion study and practicing Spanish in a computer lab.  Then personal and companionship planning at 9 and we get to go home at 9:30 where we then finally get to shower or do whatever we need to before bed which is at 10:30 at the latest.  Though we try to go to bed as early as possible usually by 10.  We are so exhausted every single day.  That's why Pdays are so awesome. You just chill around, and every other week we get to go to the temple, so it's just a really peaceful, still learning by the spirit, kind of day. 
Oh and sorry, every morning after breakfast we get to have 45 minutes of exercise and, of course, we take turns choosing what to do as companions.  One of my companions likes to hard core work out in the gym, while Hermana Barnes and me like to go play volleyball or soccer or something fun.  Today we have a volleyball game against another district because it is Pday and we can do whatever we want.  Whoooooo!  Oh and everyone wears basketball shorts... boys and girls.  They told us the day we got here that was great, and I was like gee thanks for letting us in on that one.  But oh well, it's great now.  I'm so glad I brought some.  There's laundry machines here so all is well.  I will do that later today. 
The only thing I need is my camera cord that plugs into the computer so I can download pictures for you.  ha ha I'm so dumb I'm just so used to laptops where you can just shove your SD card in that I didn't even bother thinking about a cord.  lo siento.  I'll borrow someone else's cord next week hopefully. 
I hope Molly and Hunter are enjoying school.  Tell Dad not too work to hard.  and happy birthday to Mom!  I sent you a birthday card, so hopefully it gets there someday... I love you very much!  My favorite thing I learned this week was in a devotional by D. Todd Christofferson.  Devotionals are every Tuesday and Sunday, just old ones from Provo, because apostles don't come out to other MTCs all that often.  He talked about how we leave on our missions deeply indebted to the Lord for all he has done for us, and then feel that by serving a mission we are in a way paying Him back.  I always thought that made sense, but then Elder Christofferson said that was wrong.  We come home even more deeply indebted because Christ has allowed us the privilege of wearing His name on our chests and allowed to stand side by side with Him and His apostles in bringing the gospel to the world.  He allows us to do that most sacred thing. It is as if He is allowing us to carry the fine china and crystal of His kingdom as He allows us imperfect beings to hold that which is most precious.  I thought that was so well put.  I hope to carry that which is most sacred with honor and that I can please God by loving and teaching His other children. 
Love you all very, very much!  I'll talk to you again real soon!

Sunday, September 1, 2013

E-mail after First Week at Mexico City MTC

Dear Family,
Thank you so much for your e-mails and all the updates!  I am sorry I haven't figured out how to upload pictures on these computers yet, but I'll make sure to do so next week.  I'm so excited Hunter got to play football!!!! whoooooo!  congrats little brother.  Also thank you for crying for me.  I mean I'm sorry you're sad we're not together, and so am I, but it makes me feel so loved :)  Don't worry I'm not struggling with homesickness or anything.  I'm glad dad was able to get some news with the mission president.  That's very assuring.  Oh and I should let you know my Pdays here at the MTC (CCM in espaƱol) are Tuesdays, and I will try to write in the morning around 8.30 my time... our little secret.  Sorry this is a Spanish keyboard so my writing is kind of jumbled since I am still learning how to use it. 
The CCM is so great!  The teachers here are angels, and the whole gift of tongues thing really is real.  Like I remember so much from high school Spanish and more, that if you had tried to quiz me on when I received my call, I would've never remembered in a thousand years.  Not that I'm fluent, but learning comes much easier nowadays.  I love my district.  They are so kind and fun... it seems like I've been here much longer than a week... The saying here though is that the days seem like weeks and the weeks seem like days.  And it's true!  We go to class all day long.  Like by noon I start counting down when I can go back to sleep. 
The food here is almost all Mexican, but they leave out cereal every single meal for the picky American eaters.  Really though all the food has been good.  They had the best tamales ever here.  Some people in my district have never had tamales before, so they tried to eat the big leaf they wrap the tamale in.  Ha ha ha, silly Americans.  But like once or twice a week there are popsicles and those are so good!  And for some reason they never ever melt... or just take forever.  You can leave it on your plate while you eat your whole lunch and its still like it just came out of the freezer.  We get so excited for things like popsicles.  ha ha ha, it makes me realize just how blessed I am in the US.  Missionaries don't have a lot, so we just get so excited about the littlest things.   
I am in a trio companionship.  They aren't super common here, but lo que sea.  I like it because we have more to talk about or it's just nice to get to know more people.  They are nice girls, one from California, Sister Gardner, and one from Utah, Sister Barnes.  
No packages allowed here, except for emergencies.  I found out because their post office is like 2 hours away in a dangerous part of town, so they don't go much.  They are trying to get a new mail system down.  When I get to Honduras though you can send me a package... I would love some peppermint tea and peanutbutter por favor.  Only my first day has been hard... because I totally got sick and barfed at the Mexico City airport.  I was so embarrassed.  Then my wheels broke off of one of my suitcases... I'm not sure how so I'm trying to figure that out.  At worst, they always sell luggage at airports so I could switch out there, and then that night the mosquitos ate me.  Yep, so day one I was like, maybe I can't do this after all.  But every day gets better and better and I really am enjoying myself and meeting so many nice people.  Most people hate their first or second week, so I'm lucky I've only had one bad day so far.  ha ha ha, I hope you aren't too worried now.  Really the CCM is prime and I'd much rather be here than Provo.  All the Mexican missionaries come here too, so we get to practice a lot with natives. 
I love you all very much.  And if you do get sad enough to listen to a korean song, my favorite would be 1000 years by shinee, look up the live performance on youtube.  I guess because the words to the song mean... I don't know how to tell you I love you, but all I can say is if I had a thousand years I'd always spend it by your side.  Great right?  Well I love you all very, very much!  I will talk to you again in a week!  All my love,
Hermana Johnson