Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Monday, May 20, 2013

 (Hand written letter)

Dear Family,

Hello! I'm starting this letter on the very first day here, but time is short so this will be a work in progress. It definitely feels good to be here, but today was mostly just overwhelming. My companion is Sister Shallbetter, who is from Magna, Utah. We are very different, but she is interesting and fun to talk to.

Contrary to popular belief, I do not have a difficult time waking up at the crack of dawn, nor a difficult time being in bed at 10:30. (It's just the whole "sleeping" business that happens in between that still alludes me!)

I have found that my chocolate milk consumption has grown exponentially! I don't just drink a glass at every meal, instead I have to fill two glasses up when I get my food, otherwise I would not make it through. It's a good thing I didn't live in Helaman Halls, because I kind of eat a heap of food.

Sorry it has taken so long to finish my letter, our teachers really like letting us out late which means we have less time to get ready for bed, and I end up with like fifteen minutes to write in my journal / write this letter.

Also, mom's special "home-made" Mother's day gift was taking up a lot of my time on P-day. So I haven't been able to send any letters besides the email to you, and two short emails to Erin and Sadie, who emailed me last week. So when you get the Mother's Day gift, even though you might want to throw it away, don't.

We have three companionships in our room, all going to Mississippi, all in the same district/class. Also in our district are three companionships of elders who are going to California. There will be 22 missionaries on my same plane flying out to Mississippi on Monday, so I think there are a couple other districts with people going to my mission. I really like all of the girls I am rooming with, which is probably another reason why I have so little time to write, because everybody likes to TALK!

Each of our classes are really good, but sometimes the schedule puts us in the classroom for huge blocks of time - plus we have personal study / companionship study / class / and then sometimes planning meeting . . . so we get a little stir crazy. Our classroom is on the second floor of 4M, and we live in 17M (just like Katie did!). We are on the basement floor though.

Let's see, what have I done in the past week besides the usual MTC stuff . . . Oh! I joined choir. Weird, huh? We went with Sister Rosenaur and Sister Orth (she's from Canada, so I ask her a lot about the weather, and tell her "that's how they do/say it in her country" - just to tease her. I like making it sound like she is really foreign, but in reality, she lives right near the border, so it's kind of like a running joke. (Also, she shared Ketchup chips with us, which were good-ish, but supposedly Canadians are obsessed with them?) Back to choir . . . Even though I'm a mediocre singer it was actually super fun. The director was really funny, so that was good, but there were also some parts of the song he discussed in like a mini spiritual thought that I really liked. We sang "Blessings" which was an arrangement of "Come Thou Font of Every Blessing". With the line "here I raise mine Ebeneezer" he talked about making our mission our Ebeneezer. So, like the Israelites who looked on their boulder to remember the battle/reliance on the Lord / need to be good, we can look back on this time to remind us of some of those same things / give us the strength necessary to continue on.  I thought that was really cool.

Also, on Sunday, the sisters all went and saw a broadcast of Music and the Spoken Word which is where I found my inspiration for your special gift (which I guess could "technically" also be a birthday gift, because it will get to you closer to your birthday, but I'm not exactly sure if that's OK with this particular tradition). After which we had basically the best Relief Society ever.  Two missionaries told their conversion stories and then Janice Kapp Perry spoke and had us sing a medley of her songs, including a brand spanking new song of hers.  So cool!  The song was to the tune of "As Sisters in Zion", but is called "The Sisters of Zion" and is a really good missionary song.  Plus we were the first group to ever sing it, so that made it even more fun.  You should think about booking her for your next Relief Society meeting, Mom :)  Ha, ha.  Plus for our devotional on Tuesday Elder Russel M. Nelson came to speak; they really spoil us with great speakers here.

I really wanted my letter to be longer than it took to actually be here in the MTC, in remembrance of my story telling prime in kindergarten, but regrettably there just is not the time.  Hopefully this is better than my pathetic email though.  I got the package from the family on Wednesday night, but I also received a package of cookies from the BYU candy counter from my friend Emily (plus with notes from some of my co-workers) and a package of snacks from the Dodson's.  I was feeling seriously loved.  And I got another package slip yesterday and need to go pick that up.  With so many packages, I feel so special, though I am really happy about all of the letters I have been getting too.  They are the best, plus you all write me a lot, while I've only gotten two emails from non-family, so clearly family is the best.  Ha, ha.  That really went without saying, but you all didn't like how I was spending some of my precious last few days at home with my friends.  Even though I tried to keep it short, I just want you all to know that I still love family best and always have!  (I play favorites)

Oh! I just remembered that I also went and worked out at the 6 am sisters only aerobics class, as suggested by Katie.  I'm pretty sure it gave me shin splints.  Like for real.  The first day of gym I spent the time running/jogging on the track for an hour and nothing.  Then I do aerobics for half an hour and two days later my shins still hate me.  Unfair!

Let's see, I remember you asked me about my flute.  There were two problems with bringing it:
  1.  The mission call packet specifically forbade it.  I think they were worried about missionaries carrying around expensive instruments and being mugged.
  2.  My flute is kind of still slightly injured if I remember correctly, so it needs a little TLC.  I also don't know how we would ship it nicely.
If these qualms could be reconciled, I would happily love to be reunited with my precious.  Otherwise I can easily get along without it.

Thanks again for all the love and letters.  I'm going to use my flight time to write responses for everyone.  They will just have to be sent from Mississippi, so sorry everyone.  Katie gets a gold star for sheer quantity, Mom & Dad & Kami are currently tied for silver and CC gets the bronze medal for not missing me.  Brandon gets tin for forgetting about me.  Don't worry, there are still eighteen months to write me, so you all have the opportunity to either continue enduring to the end or repent and start writing or start writing more meaningful letters (cough, cough, CC).

Love you all!  Loving it here!  Excited to serve!

Lots of doubles,
Sister Markle

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