Sunday, March 3, 2013

Of the Pheonix (Week 1, MTC)

They say that as a missionary, you go through four phrases constantly: the honeymoon phase, the hostile phase, the grin and bear it phase, and the endure to the end phase. I think I went through all four in the first 48 hours of my mission. Some moments are really good, really happy, really fulfilling, really hopeful. And others are discouraging and exhausting and terrifying. (I'm learning that the latter are directly proportional to how tired I am.) So I'm being patient with myself and taking it all in. Before I left, my thesis chair said, "Carolyn, you enjoy every second of your mission. Don't spend any time thinking, 'This isn't what I thought my mission would be...' Just love every.single.second." And so far, that's how I've felt.

So here's a few notes from the inside:

Well my bed is an iron bunk bed with a single wool blanket and bleach smelling sheets. I sit in a tiny classroom all day, side by side with ten other missionaries, trying to learn this French thing. We sit all morning, get up and go to lunch, sit all afternoon (with some gym time), go to dinner, then sit some more. And by sit I mean frantically and energetically and wonderfully study our little brains out. I'll look at my schedule every morning and see that the next 3 hours are scheduled for study time, and little fireworks of joy go off inside. I couldn't be happier to be spending every day totally engrossed in this beautiful gospel and this beautiful language.

Every day, we teach lessons about the Gospel to a pretend investigator--Nicolas. We teach him in all French. This is a struggle. Just kidding, it isn't a struggle, it's IMPOSSIBLE! Ha, none of us speak French except for Nicolas, which means what my lessons usually sound like are something like: I know that to pray you will gave God a response. This response it is the most important. Do this thing. Do you want to?" A couple nights ago I was teaching him about faith, and I asked him to read what I thought was the verse in Alma 32 about how faith is like a seed that needs nourishment. He read it, and then I start explaining how faith is like a seed that you can nourish and it will grow to be bigger, until you have a surety of the things your believe in. He looked really confused. Afterwards, I looked up the verse I had him read, but this time in English. Definitely the wrong verse. It was all about how "your ground is barren, and no seeds will grow in it, so you know the seed is bad." Uhmmmmm....

I've seen tonnnnns of my past students here. I think the count is 9. Awesome moment: when they see me, recognize me, smile like "oh hey!" then realize how they know me. This happens the most with the kids I taught in high school. So glad to see so many of them here in this good place doing these good things. And on the subject of me being infinity years old than all these kids, the big gossip now is how old I am. Typical reaction: "Twenty-six?! HOLY CRAPPP!!!" 19 year old boys...not a ton of tact. :) Last week, I was just a-eatin my dinner when I hear, "Sister Carter!" and look up to see the table full of boys in front of me all turned around, eyes full of curious wonder, and one of them goes, "You're 26 huh! Tell these missionaries you're 26! They don't believe me!" So I told them like a BOSS. Hahaha, at first I was like, "Blehhhh stop asking me how old I am." Now I'm like, "Dang right I'm 26. And I have a Masters. And I am awesome." (K, I actually don't say any of that, but I do think being older is kinda the best.)

That I'll lose my personality. Anyone else feel this way when you're thrown into a situation so far beyond your capacities? I feel myself at times almost clinging to what I once knew of myself. The second I started this mission, I felt the cords tying me to what I once was completely severed, which was incredibly liberating--that moment when you realize you're a pheonix and you can be born new! But then I remembered that I kinda liked what I once was, and that to be a pheonix means to send your old self up in flames. This letting go might be hard and scary, this burning. But I pray it will be a more true-to-me me that emerges.

Yesterday me and some other missionaries went to San Francisco to get our visas. Afterwards, we were walking around Pier 39, looking for some lunch, when a man came up and said he wanted to go to our church, but didn't know where to find it. And then he said he wanted to know more about our church. Then he invited us to join him for lunch so we could all talk about the gospel and our beliefs with him. Then he asked for a Book of Mormon. (Uhmm was that real liiiife?! Will that ever happen again on my mission? No, probably not. It was incredible.) At lunch, I had this weird moment where I thought, "Man, we've got to get him in touch with the missionaries! They'll be able to answer all of his questions!" And then I realized it: WE ARE THE REAL MISSIONARIES. Our teacher keeps telling us that God sends prepared people to prepared missionaries. Here's to preparing myself!

1 comment:

  1. I don't know if you'll get these comments of not BUT A) totally felt the loss of personality but it ended up working out

    and B) I was always SOO jealous of the groups that got to go to San Fran to get visas!