Last Friday, we moved. It was P-day, but we spent a great deal of time packing our belongings up and vacuuming the room. Probably the most fulfilling vacuuming experience I’ve ever had. There was a clearly visible layer of dust in every corner of the room. I even found a Cracker Jack prize and three earrings. After that, I dragged my 40 pound bag all the way to the other end of the MTC. It was worth it though because 17M was beautiful. We had a window that actually opened and it smelled like a hotel instead of a gym. We even had an elevator to use to move luggage on every floor. The explanation as to why this description was written in past tense will be explained later.
The best part of the MTC would have to be the people. From the sassy to the sweet, we’ve got every personality type, but we all work together. We share strengths and weaknesses and laugh enough to make the difficult moments worth it. As the Sister Training Leader, I had the opportunity to interview my Zone Sisters on Saturday. They lovingly refer to me as the “Mama Hawk” and have been dubbed my “hawklings”. As I spoke with them, I knew that God loves them. I love them. They’re sweet, diligent, and obedient. Each has their own strengths. Some pick up their language quickly, others love unconditionally. They’re all here, working as hard as they can to prepare themselves for the field. We share similar fears and frustrations, and all of us frequently express gratitude for the help we receive from each other, our teachers and God. I know I could not have picked up the Fijian language as quickly as I did (although I’m still not perfect) without the Lord’s help. Each sister also expressed love for me, and said they were impressed by my diligence. A few even said that they look up to me. Only because I’ve received a great deal of strength beyond my own that I use to lead, laugh, love and serve.
In other news, the latest round of elders are very, very young. The age change is clearly visible in our zone, and one of the elders had his 18th birthday this week. Despite the fact that they’re fresh out of high school and show some symptoms of it, they flick pennies at each other and look for opportunities to walk out of class as often as they can, I know they can become great missionaries.
I love speaking Fijian. I don’t really know what I’m saying, but I enjoy it anyway. Sometimes, missionaries in Fiji are tempted to speak English whenever they can. I’m in the MTC, and I want to speak Fijian whenever I can. I’m still a bit shy about it, but Fijian is a great language. There’s a bunch of useful words, and the way words were once pieced together is usually obvious. English is a conglomeration of so many different languages, and roots are sometimes hard to place unless you happen to speak Latin, French, and German. Fijian words break down pretty easily. It’s very fluid and allows for self-expression through style. It’s also really fun to speak Fijian in normal MTC activities because no one knows what I’m saying.
For those of you who didn’t know, the new mission presidents are all at the MTC this week. With the new mission presidents come general authorities. My hawklings have been trying to cook up nefarious plots in order to sneak their way into the main building and catch a glimpse of the Prophet, President Uchtdorf, or any of the twelve. One sister (who will remain unnamed) lost her ID card (without my permission) and is currently hoping that she gets called to the front desk to pick it up. The Samoan sisters accidently locked themselves out of the room at 10:15 in the night and had to run up to the front desk to get a replacement key. Six sisters went to pick it up. So far, no one has been successful in their endeavors, but they’ve made a valiant effort during their pajama-clad shenanigans.
Yesterday ended up being a little disappointing. We went to the bookstore to pick up phone cards because missionaries are allowed to phone home for an hour in the airport. However, they ran out of cards last week. The cashier told me that sad truth and my face visibly fell. He responded with a flippant “that’s life” and went back to sorting his quarters. I’d say that the most disconcerting part of MTC life would have to be interacting with civilians/non-missionaries. For the missionaries, the MTC is all we have. We define ourselves by the small, simple things that happen here because there isn’t much else. The employees don’t always get that. They get to leave, go home, unwind. I guess it’s just practice for the mission field. Missionaries adopt a permanent smile. We’re (ideally) completely selfless. Our existences are simply composed of love, charity, and giving. It’s hard, but hopefully the people we serve appreciate it. The only thing I know for sure is that the Lord appreciates it.
And, finally, the reason for the past-tense description: I’m no longer in glorious 17M. There was a bat, actually two bats, in one room of 17M. They evacuated the whole building in about four hours. Hundreds of sisters lugged around suitcases, scurrying to 5M and 3M, the assigned safe-havens. 5M was formerly a building for the elders and to me it stinketh. That’s okay though, because I leave on Monday (Hip, hip Hooray!!) Sister Emch created a new missionary pact as a result of the mass exodus yesterday, “If you find a bat in your room, don’t tell anyone. Dispose of said bat quickly and quietly and move on with your life.” We laughed a long time about that one.
Au Lomani Kemuni!