September 14, 2013
Kamsuta from the MTC! This place is literally insane! It's so wonderful to be here and I have met so many amazing people and learned so much in just the last few days that I've been here. The Spirit is so strong here and everywhere you go everyone smiles at you. It's almost like being back at BYU in that regard :)
Kasama ko! (my companion) is Sister Brown from Northern Utah. She has this awesome firery red hair. She and I are only one day apart- she had her birthday last Friday! She worked at Chic-fil-a and went to SLCC, but is going to transfer to the U after her mission...more about that later haha. She's a really sweet sister and keeps us all laughing with her happiness and contagious laughter!
The other sisters in my district are Sister Roberts and Sister Fronk. We share a room with them and do practically everything together! Sister Roberts says she feels like our mom becuase she's 23. She's from Southern Idaho and is a firefighter, a physical therapy assistant and a runner. She's run half marathons before which is really cool. Sister Fronk spent last year at BYU and she is the sweetest little Sister. She is super smart and picks up the Tagalog super fast. I know I can learn a lot from her incredible work ethic! The most awesome thing is that all four of us sisters are going to URDANETA together :) which means we'll travel together and be able to see each other for the next year and a half out in the field! YAYAYY!!! There are four elders and four sisters (including me) in our district.
The MTC mission president asked us not to use slang words like "you guys" to show that we are set apart from the world and are representatives of Christ. Since this has been a problem for everyone in our district, I decide we would have a contest between elders and sisters. Anytime anyone says "you guys" they get a tally mark under their team on the board. Right now the elders are losing sooo badly. Whichever team loses has to use their MTC card to buy each member of the other team $2 worth of stuff at the MTC bookstore. HA!
So, Tagalog. I CANNOT believe the amount of Tagalog I've learned in the last 3 days! We know how to pray, bear a simple testimony, and incorporate scriptures into lessons all in Tagalog. Our amazing teacher, Brother Calder is so great!! Everyday he tells us over and over again that we can do this and we can!! The very first day, not even a half hour after I arrived at the MTC, we went to our classroom for the first time and Brother Calder and Brother Langer were in there and the ONLY SPOKE TAGALOG to us. NO ENGLISH. So that was interesting. We figured out how to use a mixture of gestures and pointing at the notes on the board and TV screen to figure out what they were saying to us. After the first day Brother Calder uses some English to communicate with us, but usually only speaks Tagalog. It's amazing how much it helps us learn! He's recently returned from serving his mission in the Philippines so he has a lot of great stories and advice for us.
We have class everyday for 3 or 6 hours and then 3 hours of study (personal, language, and companion), so we spend SO much time in our little classroom. Sometimes it's really hard to focus because we all just want to talk, so a lot of times Sister Brown and I end up going outside or in the hallway so we can get our studying done.
Sister Young and I are destined to be together I guess. On the first day we had a welcome meeting where the MTC Presidency talked to us. I turned around during the opening hymn, Called to Serve, and guess who was sitting right behind me!! Sister Young!! It was sooo amazing to be there together among the 415 new missionaries that came in. Guess what else?? Her residence area (rez for short) is on the SAME EXACT FLOOR as mine! So she literally lives down the hall from me! It was really funny because we didn't figure that out until this morning when she came into the bathroom and we both freaked out a little bit. It's super weird because her room is one of the only ones on our floor that isn't learning Tagalog, but I'm really excited to be seeing her for the next couple weeks.
EXCITING NEWS! Our zone (28 missionaries) is getting transferred to West Campus!! So in two weeks we'll be in either Wyview or Raintree apartments!! At first I was a little bummed, but now I am getting sooo excited. It's going to be really fun to be living in apartment-style buildings, which will be more similar to what we'll do out in the mission. I've also heard that West has better food and a little more freedom, so I think it will be really fun! It just means that in 2 weeks I have to pack up all my stuff and move again, but I guess I need to get used to that to as we'll be moving every few months on the mission :)
Speaking of my zone, they are so awesome! There are EIGHTEEN sisters and only ten elders in our zone and we eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner at the same table every day, so we're getting to know each other super well. Our Sister Training Leaders have been here for 5 and a half weeks, so they leave on Monday for the Philippines!! We are so excited for them, but we're going to miss them a lot. They were so helpful in getting us acquainted with all the MTC procedures and answering all our questions!
Yesterday in class we were talking about the gift of tongues and what the requirements are to receive the gift of tongues. I've been learning SO much this week that the gift of tongues (kaloob mga wika) is NOT a free gift. We have to work, and labor and struggle and do ALL we can to learn the language in order to receive the gift of tongues. Our zone leaders told us on the first night, "Work as if it all depends on you, and get on your knees and pray as if it all depends on Heavenly Father". The language will come as I diligently study all day, everyday and then pour out my heart in prayer and fasting to the Lord. Alam ng toloo kaloob mga wika! I know the gift of tongues is a true gift!
Oh! on Thursday (our SECOND day here), we were informed by dear Brother Calder that we would be teaching our first lesson to an investigator, Jeffrey IN TAGALOG on Friday. Wow, that was very overwhelming to hear! Sister Brown and I prayed a lot for strength and to be able to use what very little Tagalog we know to teach this man about families and that God is our loving Heavenly Father. We prepared brief testimonies on each topic to share with him. The lesson was very frustrating and difficult for me, not because of Jeffrey, but because of my inability to communicate with him the things that were in my heart and that I know to be true. We could understand him enough to know that he wanted to know more and wanted to hear more of our message, but we couldn't answer any of our questions. We were both about to cry coming out of the lesson because it was so sad not being able to share with him the things that were in our hearts. It just really renewed my desire to learn Tagalog so I can help people like Jeffrey when I get to the Philippines. Although it has been a very frustrating and overwhelming past few days, I know that this is where I need to be and that Heavenly Father answers prayers. I have said more prayers, both on my knees and aloud in the past few days than I have before. On the first day, President Nally told us that this is the happiest place on earth :) I just might have to agree with him! The Spirit here is soo strong!
I love you all so much and love being here!!
-Sister Gustafson :)
PS- I couldn't figure out how to upload pictures this week, but I will next week hopefully :)