Thursday, June 18, 2015

Maren is so excited about the South Africa MTC that she can't stop writing...

In front of the Johannesburg Temple

Manahoana!!!!! (Hello in Malagasy)
Family and friends what's up??? Okay so my P-day is Thursday here in the MTC, but I'm flying out Tuesday morning for Zambia!!! I'm not sure what time, but the MTC president's wife keeps emphasizing that it's gonna be really really early... not sure what that means because we already wake up at 6:30, so does it get earlier than that? I guess so. but I'm actually doing really good with waking up at 6:30!!
Okay I'm gonna give a quick synopsis and a little more details about traveling here for those of you who aren't my immediate family and didn't hear the scoop. Okay so I left SLC Tuesday morning to fly to Atlanta. Turns out there were these crazy huge thunderstorms in Atlanta so instead of circling around it forever, we landed in Alabama and had to wait a couple hours there.  I sat next to this super nice old man who let me borrow his phone on the plane to call my mom. He overheard me say that I was starving to my mom, so when I hung up the phone he tried to give me money to buy some food. He was adorable, and then every time they would come around with snacks, he would grab some extra for me. It was pretty awesome, when he heard I was a missionary he told me that the work would be more fun if I kept some whiskey in my purse, and to never start swearing because "damn it's hard to stop" hahaha so we got along pretty great. then... they started letting airplanes land in Atlanta, but they made us wait an extra hour until we could take off because there were so many planes trying to land.... When we got to Atlanta we looked at the connections board, and our flight (me and an elder who is coming to the Johannesburg mission... his name is Elder Morrill) to Johannesburg had departed 20 minutes ago. Wow.... the Thueson luck is pretty great right??
There were 6 other Elders who had just finished training at the MTC and they were on their way to Panama, and their flight had left them as well. So we called the church and started making arrangements. It took a loooooonnnggg time to figure out when our flight was scheduled, so we were waiting around and we started talking to this couple. They were strong Catholics from Ohio (go buckeyes) and we asked them what they knew about our church and all they knew was that we were super service oriented. The cute little elders straight out of the MTC gave them a pass along card, but they weren't too interested in the church... but that man LOVED telling stories... i'm pretty sure he talked for like an hour. but he did tell me something that was really nice. he said, "There is just something about you, you're just very enthusiastic, and people will love to listen to you... you just have this light." now I know what you're thinking.... this happens to every mormon ever and everyone has been told that, but growing up in Bountiful, Utah everyone has that LDS "light" so it was just nice to hear in the middle of all the chaos that was happening.
So we found out that our flight wasn't leaving until Thursday night, so all of us missionaries got a cab to go to a hotel. Let me give you a quick rundown on the situation.... 6 elders out of the MTC, one elder on his way to the MTC, and me. It was interesting. but they were all the nicest guys... but let's just say they  felt so so awkward at first. But I broke them in and started talking about normal things like movies, and getting to know them and then we all became like best friends. In the Missionary Handbook on page 33 it talks about how you're not supposed to flirt with the opposite sex, so whenever i would spend too much time talking to one of the elders... the rest of them would hold up their handbook and just yell "page 33 page 33..." yep... they're the worst. They were just kidding of course, but it made for a good laugh.
Thursday we got to go to the Atlanta temple as we were waiting around, which was really cool. It was tiny!! Then we got on our plane and safely arrived in Johannesburg. Thueson luck came in again when i got a middle seat in a completely full flight. but I made it work:)
Now..... I can FINALLY tell you a little about the MTC! There are 17 missionaries here total.... so compared to the thousands at the MTC it's tiny. But I really like it small, I know every single Elder by name and we all know each other really well!! So I got here and got my name tag.... (literally the best moment ever... I love that thing) and I met my companions. Sister Bingham (who I knew at BYU... she is the best best best) and then Sister Owuso-Afryie! She is from Ghana and she is 19! We're the only sisters here at the moment and we're all going to the Zambia mission. (oh and by the way.... Sister Bingham, Elder Morrill, and I are the only Americans, and i love that)
My District/The other missionaries: My district is us 3 sisters, and then Elder Thusi (Tusi) and Elder Mpiakhe (sounds like teriyaki) they're going to the Johannesburg mission and then Elder Tame and Elder Essilfie (sounds like "a selfie" no joke) He speaks english... but I probably only understand like 20% of the wordy as that come out of his mouth. and Elder Tema and Elder Essilfie are coming to Zambia with us! The rest of the elders here are so hilarious. They are always smiling or laughing about something, and they are so laid back. oh... and THEY ALL HAVE GIRLFRIENDS BACK HOME. Every single one of them.... it's hilarious to talk to them about it. and they all are planning on getting married and most of them have only been dating the person like 1 month! wowza. Like one elder (elder Tema) just walked in and told me that he is talking to his "wifey to be" Another funny story about him... we were sitting in class the other day and the teacher asked what the difference between stressed and distressed was, and the first thing he said was... "AMERICANS????" Hahaha you probably won't laugh, but i thought it was hilarious. And then another story, every night when I'm saying goodnight to the Elders I always say.. "Love you, but in a missionary way" and Elder Tema responded last night saying, "love you, but maybe more than a missionary." he kills me.  

Teachers: I have the best teachers ever. Sister Ramakwhoe and Brother Kubekah (my favorite) Brother Kubekah makes me laugh like every 5 minutes... he has only been a member for 4 YEARS. and he knows the scriptures wayyyyyy better than I do. He served in Zimbabwe. I wish I could tell you how amazing he is.... literally like my idol. He speaks 9 languages. OH MY GOODNESS PEOPLE IN MY LANGUAGE SPEAK CLICK. Sis. Bingham and I have tried sooooo hard to learn it and it is really hard. Everyone here can speak like 3 languages at least, and us americans just sit here like "uhhhhhhh we speak english" yeah it's pretty great. Elder Desouza will always dance with me, so that's fun. And then Elder Diogo is soooooo flexible. He can do a heel stretch, so we're gonna get a picture:)
Companions: Sister Bingham and I are like the same person. seriously. except she is cooler than me. But i've just learned to accept that hahaa, every night we have to stop each other from talking so much or we never have time to write in our journal and we end up going to bed late because we talk so much. Sister Owuso-Afriyie is from Ghana and she is just this tiny little cute person. She speaks soooooo quiet, I literally have to focus so hard on what she is saying to comprehend everything. But i'm pretty sure I scare our "investigators" when we're teaching lessons because she'll talk in her small cute little voice, and then I come in with the loud obnoxious voice talking about who knows what. it's pretty great... it's a good contrast haha. But she knows SO much about the gospel... i'm pretty sure she could teach the whole lesson by herself.
It's so weird to always have to be with your companion... it's a hard adjustment for me. I can't just run to my room and get my journal, or a pen or something... all 3 of us have to go. But it's a rule and I'm being obedient. 

Food: The food isn't the best... but it's not awful. the best way I can describe it is that it's wannabe American food... but executed in an African way. We had fish sticks for breakfast one time... that's all I have to say. We get snack time every night though, and they have peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and they have quickly become my favorite food. I crave them. 

SundaySunday was such a great day. Our alarm didn't go off BUT MISSION MIRACLE NUMERO UNO..... Sister Owuso-Afriyie just woke up on her own. church is true. and then we had sacrament, and we have two elders who came in knowing absolutely NO english. One from Tonga and one from Madagascar. And they blessed the Sacrament in English after being here only 3 days. Yep... it was amazing. made me cry. Then after the 3 meetings we got some personal time... and guess what that means? NAP TIME BABY. Sister Bingham and I were stoked but Sister Owuso-Afriyie did her laundry like the good person that she is. 
The president's wife gave us all candy bars.... I GOT A SNICKERS BAR. 

Monday: We were doing this stress management activity and so we had to go outside and race different districts. It was great.
Tuesday... I forgot to write in my journal so I can't really remember what happened besides that our teacher gave us an oreo and it was a tender mercy.
Wednesday: THE BEST DAY EVER. first off... in our fake lesson with our fake investigator. We committed him to baptism... and we were so stoked. hahaha like I was dancing around. so that was a fun glimpse into what it is really like. Then the area 70 gave us a devotional which was cool! Then... we got to go to the Johannesburg temple! 6 of the Elders hadn't been endowed before and one of them had never even stepped foot in a temple before.... Seriously I have been so lucky to always have a temple close. the Johannesburg temple is tiny... and sitting in the celestial room and watching the Elders who hadn't been endowed before come in, was something I think I will always remember. Sister Bingham and I got pretty emotional.... I guess African's don't cry or something because no one else cries ever.
And then we had a devotional from President and Sister Collins, and it was on exact obedience. (classic) but it's always a good reminder... especially for safety reasons. Then we got to watch the devotional that Elder Holland gave to the Provo MTC a couple weeks ago... side note. Remember that guy I kissed on the kiss cam at the BYU football game... well he gave the opening prayer and I accidentally yelled "I've kissed him!!" yep.... good thing the president wasn't in the room hahahaa. but on a more serious note... Elder Holland is the man. Learned a lot and hopefully I can apply what he said to my mission.
And then we got red velvet cupcakes because it was one of the Elder's birthdays... seriously could the day have gotten any better?
FUN FACTS: (I promise this email will be over soon) So my OCD has kicked in, and with my new scriptures I've been able to color code them to go with each missionary lesson. WAHOOO.
I wake up every single night like 3-5 times because I think i'm gonna be late for a lesson with an investigator (so if you can't tell... our teachers have really emphasized the importance of being on time) Like it will be 2 in the morning and I'll look at my watch and I don't even process it and just start getting out of bed. it's weird.
Oh, so you know how I call everyone babe? yep.... I have definitely called the elders babe a couple times. It's been hard to explain that one.
Instead of saying darn it... the Africans say "eish!!" and it's slowly rubbing off on me.
If you ever come on your mission to Africa... LEARN THE BIBLE. Wow, do these people know their bible backward and forwards... seriously they know every story and every verse and every chapter. and I don't even know the books in order.... Definitely should have taken seminary more seriously. 

Sorry that this was the longest email ever... if you made it through the whole thing. Congrats. I really just wish I could bring you all here so that you could feel of the special spirit that is here and have you meet all the amazing people that I've met. My emails will probably get shorter when I get out into the field, but we had some time today so hopefully this answered all of your questions.
Sadly, we aren't able to upload pictures to the MTC computers:( but I will send you some when I get into the field.... I'm not sure when I'll be able to email you next, because we'll miss the p-day next week!!
Ngiyakuthanda (I love you in Zulu)

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