Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The MTC is like cross country...

A gif for you, Mariel.  To symbolize Sydni's letter and my feelings about finally getting that first email.

So Happy!

And the rest are Sydni's words:

Short version:
+I love the MTC.
+..but it IS, in fact, hard
+.but the good kind of hard.. like cross country
+I have the best companion and district around
+I leave for L.A. next Monday!
+I don't know if I can send pictures :/ but I have a bunch for you next week/in two weeks!
+So there was this one embarrassing time I cried in front of my entire district of eight elders and my teachers...

I have the worst timing in the world. I came into the MTC on Wednesday, and my P-day wasn't until the following Tuesday... AND THAT WILL BE MY ONLY P-DAY IN THE MTC. Next Monday, the 21st, at 0730 Utah time I will be on a plane to LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA. I don't know if I will get a P-day until the following week. If you don't hear from me for two weeks, don't worry. (But leaving on the 21st means... ONLY ELEVEN DAYS IN THE MTC. That is how one MTCs.) 

 Anyway, I'll actually tell you things about my MTC life now...  

My MTC life is kind of life cross country..
Outside of cross country, I tell people "I love cross country!"
..then immediately when I start to run, the first thought I have is "and why am I doing this again?
When I first joined cross country and hadn't had much running experience, I struggled big time to adjust. EVERY practice was hard. I felt out of breath every run. My legs hurt. My abs hurt. I was sore afterward. Sometimes I was straight up miserable.
I kept running and conditioning and working, and pretty soon (after lots of miserable runs) running got easier for me.
Running got easier, but it was still always a mental and physical challenge each run.
Some runs were harder than others
Many days I was still guilty of thinking "Why am I doing this again..?" at the beginning of a run.
Yet I loved running, and I still love running.
I love the challenge of it. It's hard, but I love how it makes me feel. I even love the weekly races in cross country where I was challenged to run my best/hardest for three miles once a week. The races were THE WORST , but I felt so proud of myself afterward.
Cross country was hard, but I LOVED it, partially because it was hard.
It's not a perfect metaphor, but it's how I feel about my MTC experience.

My companion is Hermana Pulido. She was born in Mexico but has lived in the States since she was a kid. She's an AWESOME first companion. Basically we are best friends. We have some very high quality inside jokes! We've have shared amazing, terrible, scary, wonderful... you can throw in lots of adjectives here experiences together. I am so happy I am here with her right now. She has taught me a lot and I am so happy/lucky to start out with a sweet and strong and funny companion.

Hermana Pulido and I are the only sisters in our district, and one of three sister companionship in the whole zone. (Zone = 3 districts, about 30 missionaries) We joke that we're always en un mar do Elderes.. because we are..

My district is THE BEST. We're a super diverse group, coming from a bunch of different countries and going to a bunch of different places on our missions. Eight elders, two sisters. We range from ages 18 to 24. Everyone has such strong testimonies, and is so amazing in their own way. The other night we used our personal study time to pray and study as a district. We ended with a devotional and everyone had such strong, sweet words about the gospel. Mormon or not Mormon, something that causes ten young people not not only to serve each other and the Lord for two years, but makes them WANT to leave their families and their comfort zones HAS to be amazing.

I know that our leaders are called of God. The second night the branch presidents called a district leader, and I was like "Hmm. Cool. Interesting." To me he didn't seem like the obvious leader, but he wasn't a surprising choice either. He is an AMAZING leader to our district. I love my district. We have a lot of good spiritual moments and a lot of fun times. Also, there are a bunch of different accents in Spanish & it's the best. 

I am in the advanced Spanish district/zone, which means all Spanish, all the time. Most times I love it. I adore Spanish and Latino cultures. Sometimes, though, it feels like my head may explode. Especially those days we have ten hours of classes.

Once a group of us missionaries were waiting for the others in our zone at a meeting. Three-fourths of the missionaries from my zone were there. The zone leader asked us how many of us were born in other countries. Half of us raised our hands. Then he asked who were second generation -- whose parents were born in other countries. The other half raised our hands. Then he asked who has always been American.. me.. just me.. #siemprelagringa

HA. I HAVE THE BEST THING IN THE WORLD TO TELL YOU. One of the presidents of a part of the MTC whose name I forget told our branch that we're "Latingas". LOVE IT. Identity crisis solved. Soy una Latinga.

Our second day here we met our branch president. (Our zone is also our branch -- all these confusing missionary terms, I know.) We had interviews with him and one of the first things he told me is that sometimes it's discouraging to be surrounded by people whose native language is Spanish. He said not to worry about Spanish and that nobody was ever converted because a missionary spoke perfect Spanish. THANK YOU. It was exactly what I needed to hear. I will remember this lesson, too: Sometimes we just need to hear that we're good enough.

Hermana Pulido and I had a very neat experience on our third day here. Before that day we had been doing everything we were supposed to, but we didn't feel much different than before. On our third day here we had in total ten hours of class. (NOT an exaggeration.) The last three hours of the day was ours to plan and to study. That was hard. It took a lot of will power to continue to study when we were tired, physically and mentally. But we studied and planned lessons for two hours.. then we changed our plans and for the last hour we had 30 minutes of personal study and 30 minutes of studying together (=companionship study in missionary speak). I read Ether Chapter 12, which is an absolutely inspiring  chapter on faith. Through that chapter I learned that we have to have faith before we can see miracles.. but through that faith, we can do anything that the Lord also wants us to do. ANYTHING. I think sometimes I put down my own limitations.. I can only listen to so much Spanish before my head explodes.. other examples that I can't think of at that moment.. but through faith I can do ANYTHING. I need to have faith in that and I should not be scared to keep working on my faith. It was a cool moment for me when I realized that I needed to get better to be a better missionary. Hermana Pulido came out of her personal study with different words, but the same reasoning: we both wanted, and knew a concrete way, to be better missionaries personally. We then talked about and came up with constructive ways that we could be better as a companionship. It was an amazing spiritual experience.

Sooo... that one time Hermana Pulido and I started bawling in front of our disrict and teacher on our fourth day in the MTC...

I'll tell the short version.

Hermana Pulido and I did a door approach. "Daniela," our investigator, totally shut us down, and wouldn't let us teach her. This is our second lesson we have ever taught. We try again, but no dice. Whatever. I thought it was a lesson on rejection.

Then the teacher calls us out in class, saying "I'm not normally supposed to give feedback, but..." and proceeds to tell us everything we did wrong. Hermana Pulido and I are good at receiving feedback and we have received a lot of feedback.. but this went a little past constructive and it hurt our feelings to be called out in front of everyone. So then the teacher says this one time she will let us try again..

We go to do the door approach.. it's the last thing I want to do.. we were about to pray when Hermana Puldio noticed I was upset. She started being nice to me, and when people are nice to me when I'm about to cry.. I immediately start crying. 

So I am crying. In the middle of our classroom hallway. In front of my companion, who is trying to comfort me. With the eight elders in our district peeking their head around the corner to see how the third door approach attempt goes.

THEN. Hermana Pulido starts crying, too. And we're both crying and we can't stop crying and this is a terrible situation..

Our teacher opens the door, lets us in (at least we got in the door this time... :p) and we talk. She apologizes a lot. We tell her it isn't this one event that makes us upset, but it's the straw that broke the camel's back.

[After this Hermana Pulido and I joke that we'll just cry when we can't get into a door ... JUST KIDDING !]

It was an awkward situation.

So that is the story of that one time Hermana Pulido and I started crying in front of our whole district and teacher on our fourth day in the MTC.

I have had SO MANY wonderful learning experiences, mostly good... some difficult. I LOVE it here. I love my companion and my district and my teachers and my life. I am so happy I made the choice to serve a mission. This is exactly where I need to be right now.

One more experience. Saturday Hermana Pulido and I had a pretty bad day. It was very hard. We went to church the next day. The monitors to the main CCM were broken (we're in the Wyview campus, with only the Spanish speaking missionaries) so we did a musical testimony meeting. Sisters would go up and share their short testimony about a song and then we would sing it. The spirit was SO STRONG and that meeting was exactly what we needed. A sister shared her testimony about hymn 124 "Be Still My Soul" and said this is a song of change / transition phases. Hermana Pulido and I cried like babies again, haha. God loves me and I am so happy and this will be an amazing experience.



  1. I know you can't read this Sydni...but it still made me so happy to read this and know you are being challenged and living so fully. Thank you Sydni's mom for posting!!

  2. I laughed, I cried, I loved the GIF.


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