Monday, July 16, 2012

July 7, 2012  "HELLO!!!!!"

I'm in the MTC!! It's been a rough transition, but it has been very good. So first off, I'm sorry if my letters sound weird. It's just hard to transition from English to Spanish and vice versa, so I probably phrase things weirdly. Sorry! But the MTC is great. We went to class first after I dropped my things off in my room. I got the bottom bunk. After my childhood years of sleeping on the top, I finally have the bottom! I met mi companera in my class, her name is Hermana Hansen. She looks exactly like Ginger off of Gilligan's Island. Look it up. She went to beauty school and she's from Gilbert, Arizona. She's great. So I'm going to list off the people in my district and you can use this for future reference when I talk about them!

Elder Boyd is from Alberta, Canada. He took four years of German and he landed a Spanish mission.

Elder Lewis is from California. He's super quiet.

Elder Brown is from Kansas. That's all we say about him. Just Kansas.

Elder Ricks is from Gilbert, Arizona. He's our district leader and he is very focused on his mission and getting the language down while teaching with the guidance of the spirit.

Elder Eyester is from York, Pennsylvannia. He's a convert to the church and he's the only member of the church in his family. He took 5 years of Spanish.

Elder Rothlisberger is from Arizona. He just has one of those faces. He reminds me of somebody I know, but I can't think of who. So I told him to not be weirded out if I just stare at him. I'm trying to figure out who he reminds me of.

Hermana Kimes is from Georgia! She Has THE best accent. So I'm going to have a Southern accent in 3 weeks. She's going to Lima, Peru and she leaves for the Peru MTC (if her visa comes). Hermana Hansen and I are praying the visa doesn't come. We just want her to stay :) She was actually roomates with Whitney Bird at BYU-I and she is also an English teaching major.

Hermana Obrigawitch is from Oceanside, California. She's an English major and she is our Relief Society coordinator. She is also going to Lima, Peru and she will leave with Hermana Kimes if the visas come through. It's going to be lonely without those two :(

All of the Elders are going to Salt Lake City with me. I'm the only Hermana Espanol.

So our maestro (Hermano Johnson) is pretty hard on us. He spoke English to us for the first time at 9 last night. It blew my mind! I was so used to listening to him and having to translate it back in my mind that it was just weird! We have had to play catch up since our district came in on a Thursday. So he taught us for an hour and he said that we were actually supposed to have taken 3 hours for it. It's rough. It's hard to not get discouraged because I feel like I have to speak perfect Spanish. But Hermano Johnson explained that our main goal isn't to learn Spanish. It's to teach by the Spirit. Spanish is just a tool that we use in order to teach. Our investigators and members will be patient with us and strive to understand what we are saying, so I'm trying to get past the fact that I'm not a perfect native speaker after 2 days of classes. We are teaching an "investigator" today (he's really a volunteer at the MTC) his name is Pedro. So Hermana Hansen and I have to prepare a lesson on an overview of the Plan of Salvation that meets the needs of Pedro and the struggles he is facing. So we will introduce ourselves, get to know him, ask him questions, explain to him our purpose as missionaries, pray with him, and then teach about the plan and answer any questions he has. So we get to speak in Spanish for 20 minutes today. It will be great. Hermano Johnson said we couldn't speak English at all, and one of the elders said, "but he's been in America for 7 years!" it was funny. We were also doing role play with Hermano Johnson, two elders were introducing themselves and getting to know Hermano Johnson the "investigator". They didn't say they were missionaries until the very end. So they said "we are missionaries of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints" and Hermano Johnson was just like, "Ok" and then they said "hasta luego!" It was hilarious. The elders said they just wanted to leave the investigator wanting more. Our first Preparation day is only a half day, the rest of today will be spent studying, planning our lesson, and sitting in class. We usually have 6 hours of classes a day, 2 3-hour blocks. It's rough. Yesterday we had a four-hour class.

I walked outside in my chacos. I told myself that I wouldn't do it, but I wore them when I was getting ready and I forgot to change them! So we walked outside, I looked at my feet, and then Hermana Hansen and I had to go back to our residence.

It's been the hardest 2 days so far, but I'm just trying to make it to Sunday. Everyone says it gets better after Sunday. Each Sunday we have to write a talk in Spanish and the branch presidency picks two people to speak. They're going easy on us this week, so they said they wouldn't pick our district until next week. The hardest times for me are at night when I'm reflecting on the day. I just get so frustrated with myself and I get overwhelmed with everything I have to accomplish within the next 18 months. It seems like it's so far away, especially since the first 2 days have felt like 2 weeks. But I know that I am here for a reason and that this mission isn't about me anymore. I need to get past my shyness, lack of confidence in speaking the language, and frustrations so that I can be what my Heavenly Father needs me to be. I'm so very grateful for this opportunity that I have to be here and to be learning these things. It's definitely pushing me to be a better person.

Mi testimonio en Espanol:

Yo se que Jesucristo es el salvador y yo se que dios es nuestro padre celestial. Yo se Jose Smith es un profeta y yo se que El Libro de Mormon es verdadero. Yo se que Presidente Monson es un profeta y yo se la iglesia de Jesucristo es verdadera. I love you all!!

Hermana Bragg
July 13, 2012 "The MTC is like a spiritual-spanish whiplash"

The subject of my message is brought to you by Hermana Kimes. Just imagine her saying that in a slow southern drawl.

This week has had it's ups and downs, but I'm grateful that we only get one day a week to write letters. That way I won't be so fixated on all of the hard times and struggles!! It's also nice to always have someone else with you at all hours of the day, that way I won't start crying randomly. Because I don't cry in front of other people :) So I suck it up and move on!

We taught our investigator, Pedro, everyday for the last week. Hermana Hansen and I were stuggling with anxiety and trying to say the exact right thing in perfect, grammatically correct Spanish. So the first two times we taught, we pretty much wrote down everything that we wanted to say in Spanish. It was a huge challenge to have to teach somebody for 20-30 minutes in a language you haven't even been studying for a week! It was also hard when Pedro would ask questions. It was a good testimony builder though, because we would have to translate our thoughts on the fly! So as the week progressed I was able to read my Spanish Preach My Gospel manual, translate it into English into my notes, and then translate it on the fly in our lessons with Pedro. I realized that I need to rely on the vocabulary that I know and not worry so much about being grammatically correct. I needed to ask my Heavenly Father for help and rely on the teaching power of the Holy Ghost in our lessons. It worked! Because yesterday Pedro committed to being baptized! Hermana Hansen and I were so happy, we couldn't stop laughing! we were like, "ok . . . now what do we say to him??" it was funny :) We were the only companionship in our district of 5 companionships to have set a solid baptism date for Pedro. The Hermanas are awesome.

A quote that Dallin H. Oaks said is that "we do not preach and teach in order to bring people into the church or to increase the membership of the church. We do not preach and teach just to persuade people to live better lives . . . we invite all to come unto Christ by repentance and baptism and confirmation in order to open the doors of the celestial kingdom to the sons and daughters of God. No one else can do this."

It's not all about the number of baptisms we get. It's not about the numbers, it's about the people.

However, Hermana Hansen told Pedro that if he had fish he wouldn't make it to the celestial kingdom. Pescado = fish, Pecado = Sin. They're just so similar!! I was trying so hard not to laugh. I told her once we got out of the lesson :)

Something that grosses me out is when some hermanas walk into the bathrooms and showers without shoes or flip flops on. Ugh.

We haven't had any general authorities come to our devotionals yet, but all of the devotionals have been so great!!

i'm so grateful for the letters!! It really does brighten my day and motivate me to be a better missionary and to work hard. Brother Weiss sent me my first Dear Elder! By the way, dear elder is a great way to write me. Better than emailing because I ALWAYS run out of time on the computer! Then I can't fix my spelling errors! :) I also got one from Mariah, she's such a sweetheart. She told me that she spent a week preparing a Young Women's lesson, only to find out she was on the wrong lesson during Sunday School!! Haha!! Mom, you're cards are the best :) I got one today and it almost made me cry. Too bad I don't cry in front of people. I also got one from Jay (I wish he could've just hand delivered it), DeAnn Hull, and Suzanna Stoddard! They pretty much told me to not be so hard on myself! Then I got a super long letter from Sarah with drawings and side notes all over it! It was the best. She said she wanted to train an owl to deliver letters to me :) Ashley sent me an email, I almost cried when she said that Wanda (from the nursing home) says hi :) She also told me to not wear my chacos. HA! Yeah right. I'll Spend my wedding day in Chacos and be buried in Chacos. Sabrah, my freshmen friend from high school, sent me a letter. She's such a great person! And Jentry . . . I loved her hobby lobby apartment story. You'll have to ask her about it. JED!! My brother from work!! He got his mission call to Tacoma!! He reports to the MTC on September 5th, the day I get out of here!! And the sister missionaries from Washington, Sister Crandall and Sister Ellingson, sent me a letter! It even had the color of Sister crandall's nail polish that day, she drew a little flower using that color :)

I can't believe Sarah and Dad went horseback riding in Logan. weird. P.S. this shift button isn't too great. don't judge my typing.

One of the elders drew a picture of Hermana Hansen yesterday. it looked like a picture of sasquatch. The shading on her upper lip took him about an hour :)

i got a "map picture!" I wish I could send it, but I don't want to run out of time :)

We cleaned the bathrooms yesterday. It was great. The boys also cleaned their bathrooms for their service and they said they had gnats in the shower. Great.

We got a package for all of the hermanas in our district . . . it was homemade cookies. I shouldn't say who sent them :)

The food is good, I live off of wraps. I get one for lunch and dinner and all of the elders laugh at me.

I lost 3 pounds!!

I'm just trying to think of things to add . . . but most of the funny times are only funny because you had to be there. So I'll spare you :)

I love you all!! I hope Randi, Kenzie Anderson, and Jenn Weiss all had good birthdays. You should hack into my facebook and write on their walls for me. JK :)

I know that this church is true and I'm so greatful for the knowledge that i have of it! I just want everyone to know about it! This church is true, why else would I be slaving over Spanish just to teach it!? Love it :)

Love you!!

Hermana Bragg