I can't believe I have officially been here for a week! I kind of had a rough start, but things are beginning to get better. Turns out, when they assign you a time to arrive at the MTC, they actually expect you to be here. Weird concept. Well, when I arrived at the MTC around 2:00ish (even though I was supposed to have been here at 12:30) my class had already left. They have a schedule that they follow very strictly here, so I was by myself. I think that this opportunity was a heaven send though, I was by myself at the MTC (which never happens) until about 5:30. AWESOME! And then after all of the orientations and such, a teacher saw me by myself and took me to the front desk when I explained my situation. I was perfectly happy, but she was very concerned that I didn't have a companion. At this time everyone was at dinner, so my zone leaders picked me up, and we ate dinner and hung out for a while until everyone came back to the residence.
For those of you that were wondering, the dork dot, or "welcome dot" as they refer to it here, is still alive and well! As we arrived we each received our name tag complete with a bright orange sticker. Everyone said hello in their respective languages and welcomed us to the MTC. I absolutely LOVE attention, but not this kind of attention. We were the noobs. The dork dot does come with some benefits though, like people holding the door open for you ;) When you are new to the MTC, you are by no means capable of opening the door by yourself, so everyone does it for you! That was nice.
I have truly been shocked at how seemingly few people are here. I was expecting that it was going to be overflowing with missionaries, but there is hardly anyone here! My companion and I have a room to ourselves, so we both get to sleep on the bottom bunk. Our district is super tiny also, we have 5 elders, and 6 sisters. In our branch, we have 2 districts, so in total we have 9 elders and 12 sisters in our sacrament meeting. Kind of crazy!
The classes here are great! They are long, but they are full of really great lessons for us. We are a "chosen district" participating in an MTC pilot program, so our training is different then anyone elses. We began teaching our second day at the MTC, and the other missionaries don't begin teaching until their second week here. Instead of having one teacher like the others, we have 4. Brother Lee Hale, Brother Jake Reis, Sister De Artin, and Brother Daryl (Cough Cough... Something) I can't remember haha! It's great though, because of this pilot program, the MTC experience is apparently a lot more enjoyable. We don't really know the difference, but I like it!
The other day I saw Sister Nelson, and I have seen a lot of people that I know from different conferences and from high school. It's pretty great!
The cafeteria food is quite gross, and some people go through the lines here multiple times. Even for breakfast. Crazy! During orientation, they told us that some people have gained up to 40 pounds while in the MTC. That's disgusting! They serve doughnuts for breakfast, and some people in our district eat 4+ in one sitting! I just have oatmeal, because it's about the only thing for breakfast that I have found to be edible. Luckily, I will be out of the MTC in soon time, and will be able to make my own food! Some people here go crazy over the vending machines though. We get $6 a week for supplies and vending, and one guy spent that and then $68 of his own money buying snacks and sodas. It's like they have been set free from their parents, and they are doing everything they have been taught not to do. Weirdos haha!
On Sunday Night, we had probably the best devotional I have ever heard. It was from Mary Ellen Edmunds, an LDS author. She was hilarious! It was great being able to hear from her, and to be uplifted and amused by her message.
On Tuesday Night, we heard from Elder and Sister Nash from the 70. He was good, but the most powerful part were the hymns we sang. I have been praying to know that missionary work really is for me, and when we sang "Called To Serve" in the devotional, my prayer was answered, and I felt the spirit really strongly. I don't know why I was chosen to freeze my butt off in Minnesota, but I know now that it is where I am needed to serve.
My companion is from Utah and served a 3 month trial mission in Salt Lake City, Utah. He is great at playing basketball during our gym time, and has taught me some interesting lessons.
I have been drinking Fresca everyday, Steve would be impressed. They only have caffeine free diet coke here because it is a "BYU campus". I also have the diet coke that I packed, and some that I found in my suitcase, and Sandra was SO nice to send me diet coke and a bunch of granola bars and what not.
Thank you all so much for your love and support! I couldn't have done this without you. I am excited to see what the future holds, and where I will be serving in the Minnesota Minneapolis Mission (MMM). Until then, I wish you all the best! This is my only Preparation Day in the MTC, so I am not sure when I will be emailing next. Thanks again!
Elder Kyle William Andrews