Monday, July 30, 2012

Learning Lots at the MTC

Hi Family!
I LOVE ALL THOSE PICTURES OF YOU WITH THE CROATIAN GIRLS!!!!!! Seriously that's so awesome that you got to have them stay with you! Make sure you get their contact info for me so we can look them up when we get over there! Tell me all about their stay: Who are they, did you go to the Dance festival? Did you share some about the gospel with them? Tell me all about it!!!! That's so cool that they gave you all those gifts from Croatia too, including the Croatia map! Tender mercies. :)
Well, this week has been another great one! Sestra Compare and I are getting deeper into the language and learning a lot! I've been getting frustrated still because I don't know very much about English grammar to start with and trying to learn it in Croatian in very difficult for me. On the other hand Sestra Compare really gets grammar so she's excelling there. I am working hard to not compare myself to her, but just be glad for the progress that I'm making! One good thing is that I'm really good at memorizing words and what they mean. Together we're doing really well. She helps me with sentence arrangements and I put the correct words in. haha
 I'm loving being here. I'm getting used to the lifestyle and realizing that as much as I was trying to leave everything behind and go on my mission, things still follow you sometimes to the MTC. 
 Its nice being here and feeling like I know more missionaries here! When you have the same lunchtime and you see them at gym, you start to know people. Its sad to think that I will see most of them come and go, but at least we have friends here! haha
Sestra Compare and I have been really living by the schedule. In our very first meeting with our branch presidency Brother Hendersen said, " Obedience brings blessings. Exact obedience brings miracles!" This is something we really have seen the fruits of as we do what's right. It's fun being a missionary when you know that you are doing everything you can to get his blessings! One of these blessings is really being able to feel the spirit as we pray. We try to pray together often, pray for things that are really on our minds (no matter how lame we think they are) and not be afraid to pause and think during our prayers. I know that Heavenly Father answers our prayers and that we can recieve answers to them through the Holy Ghost! I'm really getting a crash-course in the fundamental principles in the gospel and I love it!
Another thing that has really has blessed me is singing hymns! Adam Larsen suggested that when I get frustrated to sing hymns and it really has helped. We sing in Croatian and the beginning of every class and it helps me understand better becasue I understand music better than I understand sentence order, etc. It's also nice to sing becuase we aren't allowed to play music here. They didn't want to have problems so to avoid the problem all together we're not allowed to listen to it! Whenever we sing as a whole MTC (at firesides, at devotional, etc.) it is SO powerful. All that pent up energy goes to the best use possible and I'm pretty sure the spirit is about to blow the roof off the auditorium. I'm thankful for the Hymns and the power they bring!
 I've been feeling so blessed to get so much mail. THANK YOU FOR EVERYTHING! Sestra Compare and I used the Olympics package and its up on our wall, we LOVE IT! We set goals and look at them every day. We also named the mascots their real names and they're also named after our teachers too! 
 Anyway, I love you guys. I love this gospel and I know its true. I know that we can each strive to be a little better every day and thats all the Lord wants! He loves us and He wants us to be happy! I know the Atonement is real and that it wasn't just for our sins.
Sestra Giles.
Note from Mom: A few days ago a friend told me that she had seen on facebook that there was a group of dancers coming here from Croatia and that they needed families to host them, starting last Saturday.   I quickly volunteered.  We have two darling women from Croatia staying with us this week. They have been so amazing!  They don't know much about the church, but we have been sharing a lot with them.  They have been so interested in what McKenzie is doing  (going on a mission) and have been asking a lot of questions.  They really want to meet her.  They told us to be sure that she finds them in Croatia!  We will definitely make sure of that.  One of them said, "Do think it could be a coincidence that your daughter is going to be a missionary in Croatia and that we came to US and are staying with you?"  I said, "Absolutely not!  There has to have been some help from the Lord:)"  Just another tender mercy from the Lord:)

Monday, July 23, 2012

Bok! Volim te! (Hi! I love you!)

Well Hellllllllllllloooooooooooooo!
I seriously cannot believe I'm doing this right now! My first email home, AH! I don't even know where to start........haha
Well, first off. The MTC is everything that people said it would be: crazy, fun, spiritual, frustrating, exciting, exhauting, tearful, fearful and great! There have already been ups and downs, but it's teaching me to trust in the Lord and I am starting to understand how this is all going to work for me! The food here is just like what I was eating at EFY, so I'm kind of already used to it! Sestra Compare and I are just realizing how much we're going to need to pace ourselves because we feel like we are eating all the time. Not good. We have gym time almost every day and we're making sure we get a good sweat in, don't worry Mom. :)
Second, I LOVE SESTRA COMPARE! Thank you for sending the pictures in the package, especially the one of her and I. I love it! I am so grateful everyday that we are companions. We are very close already and I think we're just going to get closer from here! She is from Vermont and was studying International Relations at BYU. She's SUPER smart and has been studying French for the past 8 years. It's funny because in Croatian you are supposed to roll your R's, but in French you say them in your throat which sounds just like the Croatian H. When we talk to each other I get confused because I can't figure out the spelling of the word she is saying, because she is using the wrong pronunciation. hahaha We laugh a lot! None of her family are members and I'm just blown away that she is here serving the Lord. She's such an example to me!
Third: Croatian. Well, I almost jumped out of my window the other day because of this subject, but don't worry, it's okay. hahaha The language is FACINATING! It makes a lot of sense becuase each letter in the alphabet makes the same sound all the time, no matter where it comes in the word. I'm struggling mostly with retaining words and being able to speak them correctly. I can speak, but I have to think about it for a LONG time before I say it. I can tell this is going to be a big challenge for me here at the MTC, but I'm going to work my hardest and put my burdens on the Lord and speak Croatian! Oh, one smalllllllll detail..........................WE'RE LEARNING SERBIAN TOO! The mission president just put Sisters in Serbia the Wednesday we came in and wants us to be prepared! The nice thing is the Serbian is pretty much the same language as Croatian, but uses the Cyrillic (sp?) alphabet like Russian. We're mostly focusing on Croatian until we can speak a little bit better, but then we'll start spending more time in Serbian. I can't believe Serbia is open to Sisters! It's amazing that our mission is just opening right up and we'll be there to help the people feel the joy of the gospel for the first time in years! I can't wait!
Fourth: Our District and class. Coming into the MTC I had heard so many stories about funny things that happen in class, the Elders in your district are crazy, yaddah yaddah. Well, mine is a little different. Sestra Compare and I are the only people learning Croatian in the whole MTC, therefore we have our own class! It's just the two of us with our two teachers. hahaha We've been a little intimidated up to this point because there's no room for goofing off and we have to answer every question! At the same time, we're lucky becuase it's kind of like personal tutoring. We're still learning the best ways for us to study and learn the language in our free time, but we'll get it soon enough! We have two other Elders that are going to our same mission, but they are speaking Slovene and are in their own class as well. The four of us make up our district! They're nice guys. One is a two-year convert from Texas, Elder Benson. He and I actually Facebooked a little before we got here. The other Elder is from Olympus high school (ABBY) and is named Elder Burdette.
Fifth: Spiritual stuff. To be honest, the first few days I didn't feel like I had a good scripture study because I was so overwhelmed with the language. We had 7 hours of class in a day, pounding our brains with grammar and vocab that I wasn't sure if I was going on a mission or working for the CIA! In the past few days, there have definitely been some definite times where I felt the spirit.
The first was when we taught our first investigator, Maja. We had to teach her in Croatian and it was on Friday. Yeah, two days after we got here! We had pretty much written a script down and read it to her, but then forgot to study how to make another appointment! The end of the lesson turned into charades with us trying to depict that we wanted to come back as soon as she had time to see us. Ugh. what a mess! Today we're teaching her again, so I'll let you know how it goes!
Wow, time is going fast!
Mom, thank you for the package. It was so nice to have mail! Also, I got a bunch of letters my second day here from DearElder which was SO AWESOME!!!!! I feel so loved. I was struggling pretty badly in day after that and reading all those letters again definitely helped me through!
There is an Elder in our Zone that doesn't get much mail, his name is Elder Yee. I'll find out his address and mail it to you! He's a convert and after he was on his mission for a week, his parents disowned him and told him never to come back. He's another big example to me. What a trooper!
Hvala for writing! I LOVE YOU ALL!!!!!!!!!!!!! Thanks for the thoughts, prayer and letters.
You're the best!
Sestra Giles
P.S: I'm trying to attach pictures, but I can't figure it out! Sorry. :( I'll try to get some to you soon!) Love you!!!!!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

First Letter /Two Languages

Here is a an update from McKenzie in the MTC:

Hello! Sestra Giles here:) I'm writing the only letter I'm allowed to write when it's not P-day! Our mission president instructed us to let you know that we're here and that we're alive!!! haha.  I am both of these things.

The MTC is good, but yesterday was pretty hard!  We had an exhaustingly long day and we didn't really know what was going on. Luckily I have Sestra Compare. Without her, I don't know if I would have made it through yesterday! We're super close already and I'm so glad she's my companion.

When we got into our classroom yesterday our teachers would only speak Croatian. We were totally guessing/playing charades to try to figure out what they were saying. As we started learning the alphabet our teacher started writing this strange alphabet on the board and then explained that (drum roll please)......we will be learning SERBIAN as well as Croatian! Apparently President Rowe just put sisters in Serbia yesterday, so we're being prepared to serve there as well! Serbian is written in the syrillic alphabet so we're learning 2 alphabets. Needless to say, we're overwhelmed. haha.  Also we are the ONLY croatian-speakers in the whole MTC so we are the only ones in our class, and there are only 4 of us in our district! We're feeling a little lonely, but it's kind of like getting tutored. :) I know things will get better!  I can definitely feel the spirit here!  I love you and miss you!

Sestra Giles

Note from Mom:  Brother and Sister Henderson from our ward called yesterday to say that McKenzie is in their ward at the MTC.  YAY!!! They said she has a beautiful smile on her face and is radiating the light of the gospel.  They also said that there are two Elders in their district who are going to Slovenia (speaking Slovenian)

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The final hours...

McKenzie entered the MTC today! Here are a few pictures :)

Miracle #1: We fit it all in!

 Here's where I'm going!

 Sibling love :)

 Family love :)

Parent love :)

 Almost there!

Miracle #2: Found my companion? She's going to Croatia!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Speaking in Church tomorrow

McKenzie will be speaking in church tomorrow at 9:00am at the Mount Mahogany Stake Center, 1548 N. 900 W., Pleasant Grove, Utah:)