-This is Sister Calero's first of many letters home! Hope you enjoy her experiences, and make your testimony grow just as much as hers!
Ahhhhhhh!!!! I have been dying to talk to all of you! My Preparation Days (we aren't alowed to call them P-days) are on tuesdays! But I have some awesome news, I can receive mail any night I just cant reply until my preparation day. Also, I think I will be leaving next Tuesday the 18, which is crazy because I totally just got here... I don't know much about that yet but I was called into the Travel office to talk to them and they said they would get back to me shortly. I will let you know as soon as I can.
There are SO many things I want to share with all of you but so little time. We are only allowed to email for 60 minutes but I have printed off your emails and will be reading and replying next Prep day. I probly won be here but we will figure something out.
So first things first, the first day at the MTC! I am so sorry I had to leave you mom, dad, and Tina crying at the door I felt so bad but there was no way that I even had time to get emotional, I didn't even cry!! We got led inside and dropped things off at our room. I wish so bad I could send you pictures but I havent quite figured out how to do that and I don't have much time. I think I will send a memory card home with the pictures I have so far. Our schedule here is ABSOLUTELY INSANE. We have to get up extra early (5;30) to get ready because our breakfast is at 6:30 in the morning. After that we head straight to class and we are not allowed to return until 9:30 at night.
our day looks a little like this:
5:30 wake up, 6:30 breakfast, class instruction from 7:00-10:00, personal study time from 10-11, more class from 11:45 to 2:45, additional study time 2:45-4, DINNER at 4, gym (can be anytime but we are assigned to a certain time per day- during the day for about an hour and 10 minutes), more study time from 7:15-9:30. Each day varies but they all look pretty similar.
We have two blocks of classes throught the day, my two teachers are Brother Wilkes and Sister Casares, I love them both so much. I get so lucky with teachers! By the second day they were both playing the roles of investigators (Jordan and Marcela) and we had to get to know them, teach them and invite them to baptism within the firstmeeting! the first couple days were crazy, we had district meetings, we met our branch presidents and their wives, toured campus and got TONS of insturction.. Since we only have 2 classes a day for a few hours, the rest of the study times we are responsible for learning on our own. We spend a lot of time head first in Preach My Gospel and reading other manuals. We are fed so much information everyday, it sometimes gets stressful but its not too bad.
I really love my district. I was definitely blessed with people who work hard and love this gospel. My companion's name is Hermana Sanchez, she is from McAllen Texas and is serving in California San Fernando mission. She is a sweetheart and reminds me a TON of Tina. Its kind of funny. Hermana Russell (from california but her mom is from Argentina) is serving in Argentina Mendoza and her companion is cute little Hermana Mejia (from Utah, going to Argentina Neuquen). The elders in our district crack me up. Our District Leader is Elder Rangel, he is definitely the one with the biggest sense of humor, he is always cracking jokes but he is a wonderful leader. He is from Utah but parents are from mexico, we have a Perucho in our district, his companinon! Elder Verano grew up here but is from Peru. Then we have Elder Villanueva and his companion Elder Bustamante, and Elder Brown and Elder Munos. My companion, Elder munos and elder villanueva are converts! They have such huge testimonies and they work so hard, I will have to tell you more about them sometime. Like I said, I love this district. since we spend a lot of time on our own in the classroom--yes the same room all day long-- we have gotten to know each other really well. While other districts are roaming the halls or singing or kind of being loud we are all dedicated and focused on our work. We know why we are here and we are anxious to learn. It already seems like we don't have enough hours in the day for all that they teach us and make us read.... I absolutely love it here!
The food here is like school food but definitely better. We have like 3 different choices per day not to mention tons of salad and tons of fruit choices. I have been trying really hard to keep my meals balanced but for some reason I always finish what is on my plate! it is the weirdest thing! I don't ever feel full until I start walking to class, then I regret everything I scarffed down! haha. My favorite was steak the first day and spaghetti yesterday, they were really good. For breakfast I've had hashbrowns twice... they are my weakness. I think I have definitely gained a couple pounds.... But studying just drains you, food is the best way to refuel.
Out of all the days, Sunday was my absolute favorite. You would think that since it's the sabbath it would be easy and relaxing but it definitely wasnt. We had devotionals, Music and the spoken word, Relief society, and sacrament all scattered throught the day. To be honest, it didn't even feel like Sunday... EVERY day feels like Sunday!! At the end of the day we were required to watch a devotional from December 2011 by Elder Bednar. It was one of the most inspiring talks I have ever heard. It was called the Character of Christ, I cried the whole time. It reminds us of the chaacters that we should emulate that christ showed every day. I have tons of notes and a huge journal entry talking about it so that can be for another time. I only have 27 minutes left.... dang it!
I guess I can tell you about the most traumatizing day since ive been here... TRCs. This is a program in which the church brings in "investigators" for us to teach. They are given to us as referals from other misssionaries. We know few details and are just supposed to go in and teach. My companion and I felt pretty good about it, we planed to teach the restoration and I was super excited that she was from Venezuela because that meant we had something to relate to to start a conversation... well it did. We only have 20 minutes to give the lesson, and Ivelisse (our investigator) took 15 minutes of it talking to us aboutOUR families and school. She took completele control of the appointment, it was so frustrating. By the time we began teaching what we had planned we only had 5 minutes. We began talking about the apostacy and as soon as she heard that the BOM is a record of when christ came to the Americas she asked us why here and not anywhere else.... We were so thrown off, I tried to explain that christ visited "other sheep" but that wasn't enough. the only think I thought to do was to bare my testimony. I told her, "to be honest, I have no idea why he came here and not anywhere else, but i DO know that we have record of it and you canknow for yourself if this is true by reading it and praying about it". She cut us off at the sound of Joseph Smith's name and told us to leave. It was SO heart breaking for me. I held it in pretty good but then we talked to hermana Russell and Mejia and they had the perfect answer! I imidiately broke down crying in the middle of the lunch line, it was so embarassing. I was so mad that I didn't know the answer to it and that I couldnt be like these wonderful Hermanas. I was so sad the rest of the day but It got even more hard when I rememberred that we were supposed to teach Marcela later that day... I didn't want to pray, I didn't want to eventeach. I wasn;'t ready. We told Sister Casesres about what happened and she asured me that I had done the right thing. That no matter if I had the best possible answer in the scriptures, the Ivellisse was trying to throw me off, to argue with me. she was not prepared to ask for herself. She said that bearing testimonies bring the Spirit and ultimately THAT is what teaches people. I felt a little better and was willing to practice the lesson we were to share with Marcela. Marcela has 4 daughter and is divorced, she sees her daughters once a month but really misses them. She had been having a hard time lately. We spend every waking moment praying for our investigators, we treat them as real as anyone else. We pray for them, and think of them daily. My companion and I were impressed to share with her the first chapter of the BOM, the heading or introduction talks about Lehi Sariah and their 4 sons. It was incredible. We shared our family pictures and gave her a book of mormon asking her to read that story of that family. Their successess, their trials, and most of all, learn of their faith in God. She was so receptive of what we were teaching, it was a testimony to us that we were working by the Holy Ghost. I had a prompting to ask her to be baptized but ignored it and asked her to say the closing prayer instead.... later we found out that Sister Casares was absoloutly ready to say yes to baptisim! it was so frustraiting! But at the same time, we have one more meeting. If we can bring in the spirit like we did yesterday we can commit her to baptism for a later date.
Being here has been life-changing. Everything we do is centered on christ, His atonement and the love we have for others. It is incredible to knock on a door and upon seeing the person you automatically feel SO much love for them. this is an inspired place and I am absolutely ecstatic to be here. I can't get enough, I wish there were more hours in a day.
I love you all, and I miss you guys but I have been praying for you daily. I hope you can feel my prayers, I can most definitely feel yours. Thank you for all you've done. I had the wonderful oportunity to go to the temple today, our district spent time in the celestial room just thinking and praying. There was so much love, respect, and admiration in my heart for my companion and my district. We are all here for the same reason and I could not love it more.
This week I urge you to pick an attribute of Christ and apply it daily. Use His saving atonement and begin again. I testify that blessings will pour from heaven from EXACT obedience.
Love and miss you,
-These are some pictures of Hermana Calero's first week in the MTC. They were e-mailed to us from another sister in the MTC. Sister Mejia: Thank You!!-