Sunday, September 7, 2014

Summer Vacation at the MTC

I have survived my first week at the MTC, whoohoo! Last Wednesday was the day I got dropped off at the MTC. I don't know how I had the strength to walk away from my family for 18 months when they dropped me off, but somehow I did. I knew the minute I got set apart that I could do this. The whole day was just one big blur. Wednesday was the day that I was just on cloud nine. We had a lot of introductions and tours and as we walked around people kept repeating with a cheesy smile... "Welcome to the MTC" (We had stickers called dork dots on our name tags so people knew we were greenies). Then we went to class, ON THE FIRST DAY! My Polish teacher's name is Brother Tribe, but we have to call him Brat Tribe, which is Polish for Brother Tribe. He is a BYU student and served his mission in Poland a few years ago, he is pretty awesome because he has a really kind energetic personality and he is excellent in charades/ body language, which will make sense in the next sentence. When I walked into the room and greeted him with czeszcz (or however you spell that) which is pretty much the only Polish I knew, he replied back ALL IN POLISH. And everything the teachers ever say is in Polish. Come to find out later, with the mission age change the foreign language training and all teaching training here is done all in your new language... EVERYTHING! It is called SYL or speak your language. So we have never heard him speak any English and probably won’t until the very end if we are lucky!!! My district is pretty good at guessing what he is saying. Grammar lessons, history, and missionary training are the hardest to understand in Polish but as the week has progressed I can understand most of what he is saying. I have learned a ton though and hopefully can start to reply back with sentences soon. 
 There are way more Polish missionaries than I first thought. Two districts in fact, which makes for a total of 7 Polish sisters and 8 Polish brothers I believe in both districts. We are in a zone with the Bulgarians, Czechs, and Croatians with one solo Turkish missionary. I am in the one trio companionship which I love. My two companions are Siostra Slagowski and Siostra Woodward and we are the only ones in our residence room and district with four of the Elders, the other four Polish sisters are next door and are in the other district but we all get along just dandy. Both are from Utah but Sister Woodward is actually from Israel and is of a Jewish heritage. Hebrew is her first language and English her second, Polish is getting mixed in there somehow. She has so many interesting stories. Sister Slagowski is a ginger and she is seriously such a sweetheart, she just finished her second year at Utah State and she just makes me laugh so much. I love having a trio companionship because of the added friendship it brings, plus it helps in lessons when you can’t speak any Polish and you are trying to read off of your shabby Polish script so having two companions helps to kill time. Did I mention we taught a lesson all in Polish our second day here!!! To be honest the Polish language is a BEAST!!! Not gonna lie it is pretty difficult. You start to wonder if you are just plain dumb and know you are in trouble when you can’t even read the language. Italian and Spanish is a cinch compared to Polish because you can actually look at a word, read it, pronounce it, then memorize it. Not with Polish though! The alphabet is fairly similar (it would help if they would actually give us one, but they kind of just threw us into it and said figure it out), but there are a lot of accents and letter combinations that completely change how you would pronounce the word. So it is hard because I can barely read a sentence without having to stop and ask a question or sound something out and it has been a week. And let me tell you the Italian and Spanish missionaries are way more advanced than that in a week, so the Polish missionaries really do need those extra weeks here. It really is a beautiful language though and I can’t wait to learn it. I have seen the gift of tongues at work though and know that I can become fluent at this language before the half way mark of my mission; that is my goal. 
I really didn’t know what to expect from the MTC, but there is such a spirit of peace, support, and love that radiates from this place. There were many things that worried me about going on a mission. I knew that my answer was to go but I just felt so unsure before I left. I worried I didn’t have enough good reasons to go out and serve. Sure I wanted to give back to the Lord for all that he has given me, Yes I want to bring others to Christ, Yes the People of Poland need the gospel, Plus I wanted to do something to really challenge myself. All of the above reasons plus more are good reason to serve a mission, but I found a few more here at the MTC that have changed my perspective. #1 is The greatest convert you can bring to the gospel is yourself. I know I am going to the beautiful country of Poland for a reason, I never knew that I was going to serve a mission, but the Lord has been preparing me for this long before I ever knew myself. One of the most important reasons I think I needed to go on this mission is become my first, greatest, and most important converts to the gospel needed to be myself. So that I can rely on the testimony I gain here for the rest of time and eternity. Another realization I got in my week here is that this missionary work is so sacred. We are blessed with the opportunity to be doing the very work that the Lord is doing. We are on the Lord's team and it is the winning team. I am so glad to be on a mission right now. I know there is no other place that I need to be right now. I am going to learn and grow through this so very much, and though it is so very hard sometimes, I just have to say the Lord needs you one more day and the storm passes and it is good again. Some days here it feels like I will never leave the MTC but Poland is coming faster every second every day. Life is so beautiful. Prayer works, and the refiners fire is something that everyone needs to go through; especially me. I was good before... but now I am becoming the person that God designed me to be! The work is great, the work is hard, but there is joy that I never thought
Have a good week! God has been good to us. 
With love,
Sister Benson

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