Wednesday, September 25, 2013

MTC, Week 3

Happy birthday Conner! I can't believe I've been gone for 3 weeks! I feel like I just got here, but at the same time I feel like there has never been anywhere but here. P days are really nice cause we get to get away from the MTC for a little bit. The routine is enough to drive you crazy. We have different teachers at the MTC that play the role of different investigators. We knock on their door and every second we're with them is like we're teaching a real investigator. In French. It's been a really good experience. This week my teacher, Frère Taki told me that he considered me fluent in French. That was a real confidence booster. It seems like no matter how much we learn here though, we won't know the language until we're in the field. We've been getting to the point where as a district we will communicate with each other in French whenever possible. It's really cool when you can have a conversation in a different language. It's also really cool when we get to talk to the native French speakers and we can understand each other. The next batch of missionaries came last Friday. We have the biggest group of missionaries that the Ghana MTC has had so far. Every single bed is full. They said that they're almost done building a new MTC by the temple though. It will be finished in January. It is supposed to be able to hold a couple hundred. The Lord is hastening His work. In response to all of your questions, yes I am keeping a very good journal. The MTC president said that the best way to send packages is through DHL. The customs officers won't touch it because DHL will hold them accountable. However, it takes a few weeks to get here, so I won't be able to receive anything while in the MTC. Letters don't have an issue getting here. Yes we are very well fed. It's probably going to take the rest of my mission to lose the weight that I'm gaining here.... At first I couldn't finish a single meal, and I was stuffed all day long. But after eating like that for 3 weeks, I can finish the plate and be hungry in a couple hours haha We had an interesting meal this last week. They call it stock fish. But they dont fillet their fish. They clean it, descale it, chop it into chunks and cook it. I'm not sure how much I liked it... This last week has been a good one though. A lot of the frustrations of the first couple weeks are starting to resolve themselves. There are still some cultural barriers, and I still have a hard time understanding my companion sometimes, but it's improving. We're starting to enjoy our experience here more. We are all really excited to get into the field though. It feels like its forever away. Have a great week!
Love, Elder VanAusdal

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

MTC, Week 2

Hey everyone! Well a ton of things have happened in the last little while so I'll just start from the beginning I guess. The language learning is going really good. I have the most experience out of the 8 people in the program. My companion never learned any french... We are role playing teaching investigators. We have 4 different investigators and we teach 1 or 2 lessons a day in French. It's really cool. The language has been coming to me in a way that it never did in high school. I know that it is the Lord blessing me with the gift of tongues.
My companion and I are very different. I like to be very punctual. He doesn't. He has a really hard time following all the rules. He's getting better though. We've talked a lot about exact obedience like they have been teaching us. As we get closer to that, the Spirit has been with us more abundantly and we make incredible progress. He's really a good guy though. He's 22 and from Ghana. He's had a rough past. Both his parents died as well as his twin brother and older brother. He has been living with his bishop/godfather for the last few years. He's really humble. He has taught me a lot about African culture. All the dos and don'ts. Which there are a lot of.... They have a very different culture.
I haven't really experienced any rain yet. It has only rained during the night. But I have definitely felt the heat. We are on a very strict schedule. We are in our classroom most of the day. But everyday at 3:40 we go outside and play "football." Which is soccer. We had an American vs. African game. We won. We thought that was pretty cool haha. I'm starting to get used to everything now. I'm learning lots of new things. Like when Africans shake hands with their friends they snap fingers with each other when they let go. I'm starting to get the hang of it haha.
The group of missionaries we came here with all left this morning. The 8 in my district are the only ones in the MTC til the new batch comes on Friday. Then in two weeks, they'll leave too. But we get to leave with the group after that haha. I'm definitely ready to leave the MTC and get out into the field. The days are starting to go by really fast. The food is good. We eat rice, chicken, salad, and tomato sauce almost every meal. Yesterday we had rice balls in peanut soup. That was really good. And for breakfast we have huge muffins, bread, oatmeal, rice pudding, eggs, etc... Lots of it too.
I gave my very first Priesthood blessing yesterday! We were up helping with laundry (one of our duties since we're like the head district) when our teacher came up and grabbed me and Elder Sagers. Our companions were busy so he just asked the two of us if we had our consecrated oil with us. We did. One of the sisters in our district hadn't been feeling well. I still don't know what was wrong... But Elder Sagers anointed her with oil, and I gave the blessing part. It was by far the most spiritual experience I've had while I've been gone. Elder Sagers said he felt it really strong too, and he's done them before. I don't hardly even remember what I said. The words just came to me. It must have worked though because the Spirit was overwhelming all of us, and she seems much better today. It was a really amazing experience.
Well, I'm sure there's a million and a half things that I could say, but that's all I've got for now. I'm going to try and get MTC group pictures and District pictures from other people, so I can send them when I get them. Have a good week!
Elder VanAusdal

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

MTC, Week 1

September 8, 2013

Hey! I've been gone almost a week now! It seems like forever and no time at all the same time. I guess I'll start from the beginning. The flights were good. I was by myself most of the time. Thunderstorms delayed some of my flights. I ate at Cafe Rio in SLC! Then I met up with 22 other missionaries in NYC going to the Ghana MTC! Most of them are serving in Ghana. I'm the only one going to my mission but there are some people from the DRC at the MTC. Classes started as soon as we got oriented. French is going really good. We are all at different levels so it's difficult sometimes... My companion is Elder Anomah. He's 22 and he's from Ghana. In my district there are 3 of us from the states. The other 2 are from Nigeria. There is close to 80 people here. 22 Americans, 2 Australians, 1 Tahitian, and the rest are from Ghana, Nigeria, DRC, Madagascar and South Africa. It has taken a lot of getting used to being called elder, having a companion, and everything else that missionary work entails. The food is good. It also takes some getting used to. Lots of rice, beans, chicken, salad, bread, and spaghetti. The roads here are crazy! We stuffed 18 of us in a van to come to the MTC. The drivers are crazy! All through downtown, there are people with baskets on their heads trying to sell stuff. We stuck a Book of Mormon out the window and they all came begging for one! We didn't even have enough for them! I spent the whole plane ride to Africa talking to a lady that had a lot of questions about the Gospel. That was really cool. We are learning French focused on teaching Gospel principles. We have already practiced teaching lessons twice in French. It's a really cool experience. It's a little difficult at times because of the cultural differences between everyone here. The natives are used to never sleeping, so we never make it to bed on time. And we're late to everything. But that's ok. Everyone else is leaving next Wednesday, while us French speakers are going to be around for the next 2 groups of people. We are only the second group of missionaries to take the language learning course. We got to go to the temple today! Their temple is big! It was a really cool experience. Wednesdays are going to be our p days while we're at the MTC. I'm really excited to get out into the field. I've been pretty homesick, but I think I'm going to be ok. It was great to be able to finally email you guys! Everyone else emailed the day we got here, but my van was late, and no one told us about it... I've probably forgot a lot of what I was going to say, but I'll have to tell you next time! Talk to you next week!\
Love, Elder VanAusdal