Hello from Provo, Utah!!!
So, I know the subject line was a huge piece of news, but just to keep you reading I'm going to go in chronological order of how my week has happened.
I got here at the Missionary Training Center (MTC) last Wednesday in the afternoon. Because of the massive influx of missionaries they had to make a new part of the MTC here. It's called MTC west and, you guessed it, it's about 5 minutes west of the main MTC campus. It's almost like being at a completely different MTC. We only go to main campus for crazy spiritual things like Devotionals or alterations or immunizations. ;) You decide which one would be the most spiritual. Now that seems like an obvious question (the devotional, which we have every Sunday and Tuesday night), but I kid you not everyone here is about as friendly as our dog Fritz at home. They are all so willing to help you, hug you (I REALLY LOVE that aspect. Except the men. They give enthusiastic handshakes), give you spiritual insights, etc. Especially our teachers. They are truly people called of God.
Anyway! So, I got here and was placed with two companions, one of which is from New Zealand!! (talk about a treat to listen to!) I was put in an intermediate Spanish class but saying the people in my class were intermediate would be like saying that fire is delicious. No fue la verdad! I was finding it very hard to be humble because almost none of them knew well...anything. My teacher, who is one of the most enthusiastic people on this earth (like the Spanish version of Billy Mays) noticed that and asked me if I would like to interview with somebody to move up to avanzado. The interview ended up being a conversation and apparently my Spanish was sufficient because here I am in advanced! Two of the people in my class, or district, are native Spanish speakers so sometimes I feel a bit behind. But the Lord truly works miracles. Before coming to the MTC, I was a bit shy about talking in Spanish to others because I was afraid of their judgments or whatever. (it seems rather juvenile) But being put into that beginner class made me feel like I was Ms. Fluent von Nativa. That is to say, it seriously boosted my confidence. That with the combination of the Holy Spirit here has made it so that I have not had much trouble getting into the habit of speaking Spanish on a regular basis. It's been one of the most obvious blessings since I've been here. Now, I'm not saying that I can whip off into sentences of perfection and my verb conjugation is about as smooth as a jog in a swamp. But I feel good about it! And for the first time, I'm enjoying sinking my teeth into Spanish. And for me, that's enough. Teaching in Spanish is a whole different story. And some of the Gospel words just do not come to my mind like I want them to. It'll probably be a whole different story once I actually get down to Bolivia. I'm exceedingly jazzed to find out though!
So, with being moved up to advanced, I now depart for Bolivia next Monday the 13th instead of staying here for six weeks until February 12th. Did I all just hear you collectively take in your breath? Because I sure did!!! I'll be on my plane to Bolivia by this time next week! I am very glad because at this point my Spanish is at a 'sink or swim' kind of stage. Just throw me in the water Lord! I have been taught the basics of swimming and I'm sick of analyzing how to swim from the dock.
My companion is from Las Vegas and her mother is from Ecuador. She and I get along well enough and we've had some absolutely hilarious moments so I'm content. She is better at Spanish than me, but it's great to be slapped with humility on something I thought I was top notch at.
I have gained such a testimony of the necessity of not being able to communicate on a daily, convenient basis with my friends and family. I am mentally exhausted EVERY NIGHT! The thinking, the planning, the frantic work to channel the Spirit takes all of my possible brain power. I just can't explain it in words how hard I am working to prepare myself to teach people, figuring out how to teach them in Spanish, planning my teaching, praying, praying, more praying but this time in Spanish, and loving others. Loving other people is the most necessary thing that I will learn on my mission.
So, on Sunday it was Fast Sunday, which meant that we abstained from eating two meals in order to point our thoughts toward Heavenly Father. It's a matter of putting our spiritual needs over our temporal needs. Dinner that night was one of the funniest things I think I have ever seen! We were like a pack of ravenous wolves flooding the cafeteria. Cookies were piled five high on the trays and people had about four helpings of chicken on their plates and they were tearing into the food like hyenas. I wish I had captured it on video. On Sunday night we were also able to watch a movie and I went to one about a pioneer and her journey with the Saints in the early days of the church. It was called "Legacy." Anyway, there were a number of kissing scenes and I got some severe flash backs to Human Growth and Development Unit in 4th grade because some of the noises the 10 year old boys made then when we first learned about the female reproductive system were about the same as the noises the Elders made during those kissing scenes. We're all in such a missionary mindset!
The first few days at the MTC were really rough, I cannot lie. I did not get sufficient amounts of sleep two nights in a row because I had to move districts, which also meant switching companions (the person that I stay with 24/7. We are together to lift each other up and strengthen each other in our testimonies), which also meant switching apartments again. I was like a wandering nomad. I fantasized so much about naps on those first few days that I'm pretty such I conjured a bed with that amount of brain desire. For me, sleep is the first key to my happiness. I am dead serious. Additionally, I was just really getting bogged down with the language those first few days. Also, the newness and novelty of being a missionary had worn off and I felt like I didn't have anything to look forward to. But on Sunday, a breakthrough happened. One of my teachers had an interview with me and he told me that I would never be able to do this by myself. The Spirit of the Lord was the thing that I needed most because I, Hermana Maxwell, am just absolutely unable to do the tall tasks the Lord has asked if I do not completely rely on Him. I realized that I had been so focused on myself, getting myself out of my slump, trying to be the best I could be, going above and beyond the call of duty because I'm a bit of a perfectionist, that I was shutting myself off from relying on the Lord. I wish I could give you all my spiritual experience through email, but I cannot. So I'm just going to have to ask you all to read your scriptures and pray to the Lord for his Spirit and guidance. It feels phenomenal. I have been nearly on Cloud 9 ever since.
I went to the Temple this morning for the second time. It is unbelievable how much love and insight the Lord has in store for us if we are only willing to open up to Him. I feel like an overflowing jug of milk right now with the Lord's blessings!
We also were able to go to main campus today because it is our day off, or Preparation Day (p-day). This is the one day a week that we get to do normal people activities such as laundry and emailing. Or, if you're a missionary, you go to the Temple! Anyway, so we were at main campus and I'm pretty such I looked like a starstruck tourist. I caused almost two near accidents in the cafeteria because I was gawking like nobody's business. It's like a spiritual Disneyworld. I have heard so many stories about the main campus that I just want to peek and explore every single classroom!!!
This is also what happens every time we go outside:
Me: "Oh my gosh Hermana F! (my companion)
Her: "You leave something behind?"
Me: "No! THOSE MOUNTAINS!! THEY'RE DROP DEAD GORGEOUS!"
Her (she's from Vegas so they're old news to her): "I'm getting a deja vu. Actually about 10 deja vu's because you say that every time we go outside."
Everyone should live far away from mountains so they can appreciate them EVERY SINGLE DAY! They're just plain majestic.
There are so many more things that I'd love to say but that I don't have time to! I'd just like to close with a scripture that I read in Romans this week. It's Romans 8:35; 37-39
"Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?"
Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall e able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
These verses are so beautiful, so hopeful, so powerful, and so relevant. I know that I can make it through these difficult times, these new challenges, these new circumstances, because God has declared it. NOTHING can separate me from His love. Only my own selfish thinking could persuade me otherwise. It is now time to use that love to uplift others.
Being a missionary is nothing like I thought it would be. It's not unicorns and rainbows. It's not full time throttling Spiritual experiences. It's not depression and restriction beyond belief. It's a mix of all of those things in small amounts (especially the unicorns part ;) ), but mostly it's becoming aware of how much God needs me now to bring His children love and the truth. Because there are TONS that are wallowing in sadness. So here I am Lord! Use me!
Thank you all for the letters and love! I will try valiantly to write you back. For anyone who wants to write me (and don't feel pressured to, it's only a suggestion) I will only be here in the US for a bit less than a week more so time is running short before postage will take about a month. Also, using dearelder.com is very fast and convenient but will only be EXTREMELY helpful while I'm here in Utah. When I'm down in Bolivia it will just be normal amounts of handy.
So much love to all of you!!!! I hope you can feel the heat waves of good thoughts and feelings being sent to you all the way from Utah! And hugs!! Muchos abrazos!!!