I wish I wasn't kidding. But the language is actually coming along well. I've been grasping it slowly but surely. Yesterday my companion and I taught our third lesson in Russian to our first "investigator," Anya. I've been saying short, simple prayers in Russian and can pretty much create my own sentences as long as I have a verb conjugation and declination chart handy. For those of you who don't know much about Russian, they not only conjugate their werbs, but their nouns and adjectives are "declined," or changed to fit the meaning of the sentence based on what role they play. It's weird. Don't worry abou it. But I have AWESOME teachers who help me in every way possible... in Russian of course. My Russian cursive is getting TONS better, and it's hard to not write in Russian/English. But I must say, my English handwriting has improve drastically. Haha I'm forgetting how to speak properly in English sometimes, so forgive any awkward phrasing... I'm pretty sure it's all downhill from here. And it's only been a week. Crazy, right? I'm sure everyone back home is probably way too busy with their lives to even notice the time passing, but I'm telling you, last Wednesday through Saturday were the LONGEST DAYS OF MY LIFE. No big deal.
Despite that, this week has made up for lost time. It's already hump day. And yes, my p-days are on Wednesdays, just so everyone knows.
I LOVE my district, even though I'm the oldest and most of them are 19. My companion is 20, Sister Roy, so I guess it's nice to have someone a littler closer to my age. But really, we're all the same here in the MTC. I can't tell a difference in maturity level, something I was honestly concerned about. We're all really focused on being the best we can, and helping each other to get there. For those of you who aren't familiar with the organization of the mission field, each mission is lead by a mission president. He has several zones, which have Zone leaders (more experienced missionaries that the mission president calls to those positions). For the sisters, we have sister training leaders that serve pretty much the same purpose. Then within each zone there are a certain number of districts, each with its own district leader. My zone only has two districts. The elder called to be our disctrict leader (Elder Wixom) is pretty much amazing. I'm humbled by how much faith and how determined these boys (men?) are. I'm not sure how I should see them yet haha. I kind of feel like mama bear sometimes. But I love them to death. It's split half and half in my district. 3 sister companionships, and 3 elder companionships. The Sisters are awesome, too. I room with them and we have way too much fun at night. I feel like I'm in high school again sometimes. (or at EFY, for those of you who feel me) No but they inspire me, too.
This past week has been a HUGE humbling experience, just realizing how much the next 18 months of my life is going to change me for the better and how much of a difference I'm going to make in peoples lives, and how much responsibility I have for that influence. If I don't work as hard as I can, and be the best missionary I can be, there are people who will miss out on life changing experiences. Sometimes the pressure is a little overwhelming, but then I stop and remember that I need to give all of that over to the Lord, and only worry about what I can do right now, today. And today, it's p-day. And I'm going to write letters, and do my hair for the first time all week haha.
Really, though. Family and friends, don't forget the Lord in your life. Don't forget what He's done for you, and how you can use that to you advantage as you strive to be better every day. It's not all on us, it's a teamwork effort. That's one thing that having a companion has helped me to see. As independent as I've been for the past four years, that's not what life is about. It's not just me I have to worry about. And how selfish of me to assume that. We are all here for each other, and when you feel like you have no one, you still have Christ.
We were especially blessed with the opportunity this past week to be taught directly by one of the seventy general authorities Sunday morning. The Russians (this is how I will always refer to us Russian speaking missionaries), always get up early to sing Russian hymns at 7 and then go on to our other church meetings. however, this past week we've had all of the new mission presidents for the BAZILLION new missions that have opened here at the MTC, and have been blessed with the presence of the prophet, Thomas S Monson, and his two counselors, as well as all but two of the apostles. The Spirit has been so strong. They're all leaving within the next 24 hours and it's so crazy how tangible that is. But anyway, Elder Bennet of the seventy and his wife randomly dropped in on our singing session in the morning (I guess he's a good friend of our Branch President, President Harrison). He gave us a lot of good advice about our purpose as missionaries (to invite others to Christ, to help them receive the restored gospel through faith, repentance, baptism, receiving the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end) and how we can use that to inspire our work and study as we prepare to enter the mission field. The Elders had to leave at 8 for their church meeting, so the sisters stayed behind and Elder Bennet offered to hold a question and answer session with us, so that we could ask him things that may be bothering us or that we need advice on. I was able to ask him a question of my own, and the answer I received will strengthen me throughout the rest of my mission. He was very inspired. I love the MTC.
Some funny things that have happened:
So the first night I noticed that I still had my missionary tag on before I jumped into bed so I was joking with the sisters in my district about how funny it would be if we slept with our missionary badges on. Guess who wore hers to bed? Yep. Sister McDiarmid. The next morning I woke up and I definitely had my tag on. I'm already one of "those" missionaries. You may think I'm crazy, but there is a STRIKING difference when I do and don't have my badge on. It doesn't just bear my name, it bears the name of Jesus Christ, and the weight and resposibility of being one of His ministers on Earth. It's extremely powerful, and something I'm still trying to adjust to.
Also, I have already had nights where I'm pretty sure I dreamed in Russian. Not only that, but I woke up in the middle of the night and one of the sisters ( I won't point fingers) was SLEEP TALKING in Russian. We've had some good laughs about that. The same sister keeps saying she wishes she would fall asleep while teaching lessons becase apparently that's the only time she can draw upon the language.
Last night we had a devtional with Janice Kapp Perry, she's an LDS artist and is really big for writing church songs and such. But anyway, her husband was there with her and she was talking about how they met. She was playing the flute or something at the time and said his pick up line was "Those lips look like they would be put to better use doing something else!" Mind you, this was said in front of 7500 missionaries. We all cracked up, and then her husband got up from his chair and headed for the podium, we all figured he was going to try to salvage some sense of dignity by defending himself with his side of the story... but he just grabbed his wife's face and laid one on her. Mind you, this is like the cutest old couple I've ever seen in my life. I wanted to adopt them as my grandparents. Here's the best part. He not only did it once, but TWICE. Haha, it was the best devotional ever. Sister Perry was careful to remind us not to get too distracted thinking about that kind of thing. No offense, Sister Perry, but old people kissing isn't the sort of thing that really gets me going. Funny stuff, though.
This is FAR too long and I have less than eight minutes left to write, so I'll end here for now! I'd love to hear from you guys if you ever get the chance! anything you feel inspired to tell me or something funny you think of. I'm just an e-mail away! Love you all!