First Week in the MTC (Mission Training Center)


Saying goodbye for 18 months

Caro la mia famiglia,

Okay, so I just pulled an Emma move and accidentally deleted my email instead of saving it. Sono triste.  I wrote so much stuff and it was so good and I don’t have a lot of time to write!  Ah! please forgive the jumbledness of this letter.  Please write me letters through Dear Elder or just regular letters.  I only get to check my email once a week and I don’t have a lot of time to do it. And so I’ll attach pictures next week.

I will write a letter to the family later, so so sorry I don’t have a lot of time to write that much. But HAPPY BIRTHDAY DAD!!! I love you!
When we first arrived at the MTC, we were taken to our classroom where the teacher only spoke in Italian.  Luckily, I kinda know a lot of Italian already 🙂 Our teacher is Fratello Jeter.  He is amazing.  He said – “You all already know Italian! You have the gift of tongues! It’s the language of your spirit!” I hope so. I have such a strong testimony, I just have trouble saying it in Italian!
My companion is Sorella Carlock from New Jersey.  She is amazing and I have already learned so much from her.  She has a strong testimony of the gospel and testifies with conviction.
My district is amazing.  Two of them are converts, and all of them have made such sacrifices to be here.  I wish I had time to tell you all their stories. I will in the future though, I promise!
It was so funny, either the first or the second day (I can’t remember, the days all blur together here) we watch this video of a girl speaking in Italian.  She was speaking so fast.  I understood a lot of it but no one else in the district did.  After we watched the teacher said, “You’ll be teaching her tomorrow! in Italian!”  Everyone appropriately freaked out.
So, our second day, we taught our first investigator, Patrizia. All in Italian.  It went pretty well! W have taught her every day since.  I am finding that the knowledge that I gained in seminary, from my personal study, and religion classes at BYU, is so useful.  You can’t come to the MTC expecting to gain a testimony and learn all the doctrine.  You have to know the doctrine. NOW.  We bore simple testimonies about the Savior and His love for us.  We also gave her a Book of Mormon and challenged her to read it.  The Spirit was there, even though we were speaking broken Italian.  We couldn’t rely on ourselves to do the teaching. It was extremely humbling.  The Spirit does the teaching, we are merely the Lord’s mouthpieces.
As far as the food goes that everyone keeps asking me about – it’s good!  Really, I don’t mind it at all.  It’s just so hard to exert self-control. And the anziani (Italian for elders) think it’s HILARIOUS to put desserts on my plate and guilt me into eating the sweets.  Seriously, there’s always a new cookie or brownie appearing out of nowhere! And the thing is – I can’t hit them to get them to stop! (That’s considered flirting, my friends.) Except.  I accidentally hit someone today.  Since it’s Wednesday, all the new people come in to the MTC.  When you are new, you have an orange sticker on your name tag.  Well, I said welcome to an Elder, but he as soon as I said it, I could tell he was a fake and he just put the sticker on for fun.  He started laughing and then I hit him and then I gasped and apologized over and over again because I realized that wasn’t allowed.  It was pretty funny.
Running out of time, and I have learned so much this week that I want to share.
Quick experience:
Sorella Gross  (a sister in my district) had an allergic reaction to something and had to go to the ER a couple of nights ago.  She grew up on an Indian reservation, and so she has never taken medicine besides natural herbs.  When she took the medicine, she got even more sick.  Yesterday, she asked two of the anziani in our district, Anziano Baker and Anziano Petterbourg, to give her a blessing.  These boys (oops, I mean Elders – they’re 18 and 19) had never given a healing blessing before.  It was one of the sweetest things.  They gave her a simple but powerful blessing.  Afterwards, Anziano Baker told us he had never received a healing or Father’s blessing before, let alone given one.  Sorella Gross is feeling well again and the Spirit was so strong. It was amazing to see the faith of these Elders giving the blessing as well.
I only have a few minutes left, but here are some good quotes from the week:
We are all here because of a missionary. – Sister Miller (Branch president’s wife)
You are a missionary forever. – Chad Lewis
When you’re tired, think of that person who needs you and pray harder. – Chad Lewis
Reverence invites revelation. – President Hacking
Funny quotes:
Sorella Gross after attending 3 hours of class where the teacher only spoke Italian: “I feel l like I just took the ACT five times in a row my head hurts so much.”
Anziano Betchi is from Canada but born in Africa.  So he has a French accent, learning Italian, and communicating with us in English. he says “chocolate cookie” really funnily.
Pretty much everyone except me took Spanish before.  So they keep mixing up Spanish with Italian.  Anziano Valentine said, “Get thee hence, Spanish out of my head!”
All the funny things are pretty much inside jokes, but I hope you get a laugh out of them.
I’m out of time now! But I’ll send pictures next week.  I look forward to your letters.
Io so che Chiesa id Gesu Cristo Dei Santi Degli Ultimi Giorni e vero. Io so che Il Libro di Mormon e vera. I so che Gesu Cristo vive.
I love you all. The church is true. Jesus Christ is the Redeemer of the world. The Atonement is real. I promise. God answers prayers.
Vi voglio bene,
Sorella Emma Strong
Emma and her companion. (picture taken by Grandma Strong–works at the MTC)
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