Dear Mom and Dad,
Thanks again for all your letters! They are incredibly comforting to read. To answer some of your questions--I get mail every single day of the week (except Sunday), but I only read/answer mail on preparation day. I am adjusting very well to the sleep schedule, which I think makes my roommates jealous--maybe after a year of BYU I can sleep through anything, be it uncomfortable beds and early sleep schedules or roommates killing zombies in the next room over?
I think I've decided I'm going to send back one of my memory cards before I leave the MTC, so you can not only have pictures from my stay here, but a video recording of my district singing "Secreta Oración" (Secret Prayer). We've been singing it several times a day since we got here, and it sounds pretty awesome now.
So, I decided for this letter I would do a little "Life at the MTC" segment, just for fun. It will, of course, be in completely random order, because I'm awful at organizing my thoughts in any sort of logical sequence.
First off--the Elders. My companion, Elder Lucero, is fantastic. I hope I've mentioned that already.. We get along really well, and work like champs together. The other Elders in my district are Elder Brose, who started a few businesses before leaving on his mission; Elder Mehr, who played hockey for BYU; Elder Defiguredo (no I didn't spell that right), who wants to either run a private defense company or go into prosthetics; Elder Eriksonn, who might have been a hipster before coming here (he owns 60+ pairs of shoes anyway); Elder Wardrop, who swam a 50 free, 25.00, at age 17 without every swimming before (just for perspective, at that same age, after several years of swimming, I was at a 27.50); Elder Marvin, who gave us all a really fantastic beginners course in basic farming; Elder Stringham, who can do both back and front flips while wearing missionary clothing; and Elder Wilson, who I like even though he went to USU.
While at the MTC, I have run into a bunch of people from school (mom and dad, these names might not mean much to you, but I knew all of them at school). Elder Busby, Elder Danielson (who was in my zone), Elder Gillis, Elder Wheeler (just got here yesterday), and Elder Frewerda.
Our schedule goes about like this. We wake up at 6 oclock (easier to get a shower if you are up before everybody else), and start studying by 7. We have a 30-min breakfast break, a 45-min lunch break, and 45 minutes for dinner. Other than those 2 hours, from 7 in the morning until 9:30 at night, we are either in class, teaching an investigator (in spanish), studying the language, studying the gospel, studying the gospel in the language, or singing Secreta Oración. Oh, we also get 40 minutes of gym, which lately we've been using to play football. And by football I mean soccer. I'm pretty terrible at it, but one of these days my foot is actually going to connect with the ball the first time I go to kick it.
Mealtimes are a blast. The MTC cafeteria has such a deleciously awful variety of food, my companion has gained 10lb since coming (being me, I have probably put on about half a pound). Extra entertainment comes from trying to slip plastic spoons into each other's pockets without them noticing, teasing Elder Brose about a Hermana who looks "like Princess Leia," and wondering at what the orange juice is going to do to our digestive systems.
I was told before I came to the MTC that tie trading is a big deal here. It is, but either I'm not very good at it or none of my ties are that cool, because I've only traded one. Elder Mehr went trading last night, starting with one tie, and ended up with 6! However, I still have many weeks left here, and I am still hoping to garnish my collection with a few corbatas.
One of my favorite traditions in our zone is "Hasta Ver." Hasta Ver the spanish translation of "God be With You Til We Meet Again." Every time a district in our zone is about to leave, the entire zone packs into one room (some 40-50 elders in a room meant for 4. It gets pretty sweaty), sings "Hasta Ver" (first three verses at the top of our lungs, the last oen reverently and quietly), and then listens as each Elder in the district bears his testimony. We have had a district leave both Sundays I have been here so far--it is such an amazing experience! Three Elders in our district are leaving for the Guatamala City MTC next week (Elders Brose, Mehr, and Defiguredo are going to El Salvador, and need to learn the Mayan-influenced Spanish they will teach at the Guatamala MTC), so we will have another Hasta Ver this Sunday.
Being here is so amazing. I am surrounded by guys--excuse me, Elders--who have decided to give two years of their lives to serve the Lord. The spirit is here in everything we do. The gift of tongues is real--I am awed by how much Spanish I already know (I would write some of this letter in Spanish, but I only have 30 minutes and I'm rather slow with it still), and how fast I am learning. The spirit guides what we teach and what we say, even when we are teaching one of our Maestros or each other. We are doing the Lord's work--someone mentioned last week that, every day, roughly half of the members of the church are praying for us. I wouldn't want to be anywhere else.
Amor y Oración,
Elder Jason Ray