Monday, May 31, 2010

Dear Family,

I am having a great time this week as well. Yesterday (Monday) our class started on el Desafío Máximo (the Ultimate Challenge). Our teachers, Brother Ammons and Sister Smith, thought that we were advanced enough to speak only Español, all the time. So, they gave us the Ultimate Challenge, to speak Spanish 100% of the time (including at meals, during gym, on P-days, and in our residence halls), until we leave the MTC. And the Desafío Máximo started yesterday at wake up time. It has been hard, but it is definitely going to be worth it. Sister Smith told us that we are either going to have to go through this (speaking only Spanish all the time) now, or when we get out into the mission field, and it is better to go through it now, definitely. We are only allowed to write letters and read scriptures/Preach my Gospel and church stuff in English. Of course, we have had some hilarious mistakes. For instance, in class, one of the Elders in my district was talking about the Savior's love, and Elder Grover said that "él tiene armas abiertas" (trying to say, "He has open arms"). Unfortunately, armas in Spanish doesn't mean "arms" (which is brazos), but actually means "weapons." We had quite a good time laughing about that mistake. Also, in Spanish, embarazada doesn't mean "embarassed"; it means "pregnant." I read a story once about a sister missionary accidentally saying that she is embarazada. But it is getting a lot easier. My companion and I have already taught several lessons completely in Spanish, and we are getting really good. The last two were only ten minute lessons, but they were completely improvised--we didn't know what we were going to teach until ten minutes before. I have actually started translating things in English while I'm reading them into Spanish in my head, without thinking about it.
Yesterday it snowed! It wasn't flurries or a little snow, either. It snowed from wake-up time until about lunch time. There was snow actually accumulating on the ground. They had to shovel some of the sidewalks, and a big tree next to another residence hall fell over around 8 or 9 from the weight of all the snow, combined with the wet ground (it had been raining the day before). Today, it is just a normal spring/summer day. Yesterday, the 24th of May, we had a snowstorm. It was really weird.
I was going to send you some attached pictures of me and my companion and my district, but the computer for missionary email won't let me upload them. So I will just have to have them printed and mail them to you. I found out a couple days ago that all the missionaries in my district going to Argentina were required to bring sleeping bags--so I have been feeling grateful that I am going to a stateside mission, and will not be camping out at all during my mission. I did manage to find several elders in the beginning Spanish class who are going to my mission, and I even found a sister in the same class building as me who is going to the Carlsbad California mission.
Last week's General Authority devotional was with Elder Christensen of the Seventy, about the Book of Mormon (it was all about focusing on using el Libro de Mormón when you are teaching investigators). On Sunday night, for our MTC fireside, Brother Allan (the managing director of the Church Missionary Department) came and spoke to us. He was completely hilarious. He told us to be the best missionaries we can, so that when we look back at our two years on the flight home, we can say that "I have no regrets." He said it would go by in the blink of an eye (which seems far away, but these last two weeks have literally flown by). After the fireside, we had our weekly Church Movie Night (it is hilarious how excited the missionaries get for Church Movie Night on Sunday nights after firesides--it's almost like being able to relax). Tonight we have another General Authority devotional. I'm hoping for an Apostle, or President Monson.
I have gotten so used to wearing missionary clothes that wearing jeans and a t-shirt on P-day feels like a special treat. I actually feel normal when I am wearing white shirts (and even though I don't like how short-sleeved white shirts look very much, I have become especially fond of their practicality).
Well, to wrap up, I wanted to share a great quote that my teacher (Brother Ammons) told us during class. He said that right before he entered his mission in Madrid, Spain, Elder Bednar had come to his mission, and one of the things that Elder Bednar said was (talking about priesthood blessings and stuff like that) "Require mucha fe ser senado, pero require más fe no ser senado"--translated, "It takes a lot of faith to be healed, but it takes more faith to not be healed."
Well, I don't have any more time to write, so I will talk to you next week!


Elder Gibbons

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