I’m on the MTC (Missionary Training Center) West campus, which is a little weird, but I like that it is less hectic and cramped than the main campus. Since there has been such an influx in missionaries recently, they had to open a new campus to accommodate us all. Our classrooms are all in apartments and our living spaces are across the street. One of the biggest things they worry about is missionaries looking both ways to cross the street between the two haha. Our cafeteria and mail room are trailers, kind of like the Vista High math buildings. Our “gym” is just the parking lot, so we play a lot of basketball, run around the apartment complex, play volleyball, or other things. I think they plan on doing a lot of construction to accommodate the ever-increasing number of missionaries.
I have two companions, Sora Merkley from Vernal, Utah and Sora O’Brien from Everson, Washington. They are both so sweet and really easy to get along with. Sora O’Brien is very dramatic — she says she never did theater, but I think she would do well in musicals. Sora Merkley is quieter but when she laughs, she LAUGHS. It’s been great getting to work with both of them and I like the smaller class size we get. We are the ONLY people in our district and the only missionaries going to Romania. I’m sister training leader, which is basically like being district leader except I’m a sister haha. We are in the same branch as all the missionaries going to Italy, both Milan and Rome. There are 7 elders and 6 other sisters. Some of the elders are really really funny, but when they do stuff like put food in their drinks and think it’s funny, I’m reminded how they all just graduated high school and I probably would have found that stuff funny when I was 18 too. We room in an apartment with two of the sisters, Sorella Price and Sorella Clyde. They are both so funny and I love the friendships we are already forming. The only thing I don’t like about the living arrangements: 5 sisters, ONE bathroom. Who thought that would be a good idea??? It’s taken a bit of time to get into a routine, and sometimes we still end up really rushed in the morning, but I think we’re getting the hang of it.
I also met a missionary going to Pittsburgh who lived in Romania for 3 years! When I asked where he lived before that, turns out he lived in Encinitas for 12 years before that! Crazy!! We talked a lot about what Romania is like and he gave lots of advice and then we reminisced about how great southern California is. It’s always fun to meet people who know what home is like.
For church on Sundays, all the elders and sisters going to Romania and Italy meet together. We are all required to write short talks on a given topic (faith, repentance, etc.) and two of us are cold-called the day of…scary, but it helps us get prepared. I’m also the chorister — all those years in orchestra and band paying off!
We hit the ground running on day 1 with our teachers (Sora Wilson, Fratele Boynton, Fratele Vizante, and Fratele Frandsen) speaking only Romanian. I feel like I can pretty well understand what they say, it’s the speaking that gets frustrating. It’s like being in drill at Dartmouth all over again except this time I have ZERO knowledge going in. They also tend to focus more on just learning the vocabulary than learning the grammar — we have only learned to conjugate like THREE verbs. I guess I like learning the foundations before jumping right in, but I’ll work with what I’m given. I feel like I have a pretty strong ability to say simple sentences about religious things…but not much beyond that.
Fratele Frandsen has been play-acting as an investigator this week, “Andrei”, and we teach him twice a day. We prepare all these well-crafted sentences and then he asks us some question we did NOT prepare for and we all scramble with our dictionaries, trying to explain outer-darkness and kingdoms of glory when we only studied sentences about the Word of Wisdom. It’s extremely frustrating but it’s amazing what the Lord can do to help you find the words you want to say. I’m sure I sound like a complete foreigner “Satan…body…no. Satan…not…choose…God’s plan.” but I know that if I try, the Spirit will be able to communicate those things I do not have the ability to say yet. “Andrei” committed to baptism…but I’m not sure if Fratele Frandsen is just going easy on us and trying to boost our morale haha. I’d try to write more Romanian for you here, but I’m on an American keyboard so I’m not sure if it’s possible.
I miss you all very much and I love you even more. I’m glad I came on this mission — it’s been amazing to see how the Lord has helped me every single day. I know that not only do I need to have faith in the doctrines of the Church, I need to have the faith that I can speak Romanian (eventually…), that I was called to be a missionary, that all of you are doing well and will be blessed too while I’m away. D&C 90:11 has been a comforting scripture when I wonder what the heck I’m doing learning Romanian for 10 hours a day…each person will be blessed to have the opportunity to hear the Gospel in their own language, and the Romanian people are no exception.
Write me if you have the time! I miss you! 🙂