March 18, 2013

First Email!

Dear Mom and Everyone,
So they changed the email rules to be that you could email everyone except for opposite gender people within your own mission, but I think I'd generally prefer to only email immediate family on a regular basis due to time constraints. I'm basically just telling you this so that if you hear of me emailing random people, you don't think I'm sinning or anything :P
It's great to hear from everyone, it sounds like you did a lot of fun stuff and many amusing things have happened even in my short absence. It reminds me of what Mom said once about how she came back to visit after being married for a few years, and her younger siblings had these traditions that they'd "always" done that Mom had never done. It made me laugh.
So far, the MTC has been THE BEST PLACE IN THE WORLD. My district is really amazing. I know everyone probably says stuff like that about their district, but it's generally agreed upon by all of us and by my teachers that we really lucked out. My companion is Sister Thompson from Lacombe, Alberta, and she's awesome. She's really sweet and sensitive to everyone, and we work well together and we're already best friends. The other sisters in my district are Sister Pizzey from Edmonton and Sister Keeler from Raymond, and Sister Sanberg from Cranbrook and Sister Lee from Las Vegas. We're all going to Halifax, and we seriously get along perfectly, even though there's six of us in a room meant for only four people. Our residence very obviously used to be an elders' residence, judging by the bathrooms and the dress codes posted on the walls.
The Elders in my district are Elder Hanson, Elder Peterson, Elder Mathews, Elder Chapman, Elder Irvin, and Elder Spackman (from Nevada, not related to Pres. Spackman). They're going to San Fernando and Ventura.
So Elder Trollip, Elder Andrew Jensen, and the sister Pres. Spackman set apart right after me were all on the plane with me. I was pretty jealous of Elder Trollip because he ended up sitting next to a Quebecoise lady who didn't speak English super well, but he placed an English book of Mormon with her and gave her a number to call for a French one. I was pretty disappointed that my French Book of Mormon was in my checked bag, but I was able to have a basic conversation with her, which I totally loved. Then when I got to the MTC, another sister noticed my Canadian flag on my backpack. She had just gotten to the MTC too, and she was Quebecoise and had a SUPER thick French accent, so we had a conversation in French and it really seemed to perk her up. And then last night we met some elders who are going Halifax French-speaking - I think there's only two or three French-speaking Halifax elders in the MTC right now - and we had a conversation in French too! So I've found it interesting how much I've had opportunities to practice that fall into my lap even though I'm speaking English.
We're learning so much at the MTC, it's totally crazy how fast we've learned! I've had so many amazing experiences to be taught by the Spirit, but there's one in particular I'd like to share. In Zone Teaching, we were practicing teaching, and after our first try, the Elder we were teaching said that we did a good job of bringing the Spirit and being clear, but that we didn't really connect with him personally. That was the problem most people had, so the teacher said that they'd give a demonstration and then we'd try again. That was really the only time I felt overwhelmed or terrified, because I've always, always felt like I'm terrible at connecting with people, and I was totally sure that I would try again and just completely fail. But I knew it was something I needed to work on, so I decided to try my best anyways. I said a quick prayer to be able to be taught by the Spirit during the demonstration, and I wrote down a few things I noticed and tried to apply them when we tried again, and Sister Thompson and I totally nailed it. The Spirit was so strong and I can tell we really made a difference in this Elder's life, even though it was just a practice lesson. It really showed what it says in Ether 12:27 about our weaknesses being made into strengths if we're humble, and I'm just super grateful for it. Especially because it's continued to make our other practice lessons go amazingly awesome.
So some more mundane stuff - I'm loving gym time, which I wasn't entirely expecting. Sister Keeler and I played basketball against Sister Thompson and Sister Pizzey (who's really good), and it was probably the most enjoyable basketball game I've ever had. It made me glad I at least tried in gym class so I didn't feel like I had no idea what I was doing. And then another time, Sister Thompson and I went to the Fitness Centre instead and they had a rowing machine! It made me remember how much I love rowing. Sister Thompson is studying recreational therapy and she also knows some really great stretches to do.
The MTC food is basically what I expected it would be, since I ate at the Cannon Center a few times at BYU. I can totally see how people would gain tons of weight here - every morning I walk in and it's like "Donuts! Biscuits and gravy! Etc!" and I'm like "Ooooooh, yum..." and then I'm like "Wait..." Haha.
One thing I'm really enjoying here is that this is the first thing that's stretched me to my full capacity. As I strive to do my best in all areas, my intellectual capacities have also become much more apparent than I usually make them, both as I try my best and as the Spirit brings all things to my remembrance. The cool thing is, instead of my district being annoyed or intimidated by it like people usually are, they all totally love it! Everyone just wants to learn so much that my random knowledge of both Church and secular things is something they really appreciate. I'm really enjoying being surrounded for the first time entirely by people who see my strengths as a good thing, and like I can be myself and do my best and have that be entirely a good thing without any drawbacks of annoying people or anything like that.
So yeah, so far I'm totally loving the MTC! I've taken lots of pictures, but I forgot my camera in my room so I'll send them all on next week.
Sister Jaclyn Olson

Sister Olson & Elder Trollip

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