Thursday, July 2, 2015

The Mission Begins!

Missionary name tag in Czech

Roommates at the MTC - his companion is on the left (Elder Newman)

MTC companion, Elder Newman, from Reno, NV

The first MTC selfie

All of the Elders in his district

The district in the classroom with the Czech flag

July 2, 2015

Hey family and friends!

After going 8 days without a P-day, I'm glad to get the opportunity to share my first week experiences! The first day here was definitely a new and cool experience. As soon as I got the MTC they let us put our bags in our room and then took us straight into my Czech classroom. We were thrown into the Czech language study within the first 15 minutes we were here! We had class for a couple hours and then all the new Elders and Sisters went to a first day meeting with the MTC Presidency. We got to see where all the new Elders and Sisters were from and it made me realize how far and wide people come to serve a mission! That first night, the new Elders and Sisters also got to go to a first day training. Groups of about 75 of us got to talk to 3 "investigators" and try to teach them a first lesson. That was a good learning experience for everyone! 

My companion is Starsi Newman. He is from Reno, Nevada. He has a good sense of humor and knows the gospel well. Him and I get along pretty good and teach well together. My district consists of 8 Elders and 2 Sisters and we all came in new last Wednesday. My zone is made up of Bulgarians, Turks, Slovenes, Croatians, Polish, Slovaks, and Czechs. Our zone is a really cool group of people and we get along well. 

The schedule was weird the first few days since there was a mission president training for the first weekend I was here. All the general authorities were on campus with us! We never saw any of them, but it was awesome just to know that I was that close to the Quorum of the Twelve!

The second day here we got to meet our branch presidency. They are good men and I'll like having them as my leaders. We had a meeting with them and then they chose a District Leader for the new Czech district. My companion, Starsi Newman, was called to be the District Leader. And since he is District Leader, I am considered to be the senior companion. 

On the third day here, my companion and I had to teach our first lesson to an investigator, and we had to do it in Czech! Basically, we just read out of our phrase book and tried to listen and understand at least a word of what our investigator was saying haha. This experience really opened my eyes to what I'm going to be doing the next 2 years! 

Day number 4 was when I felt like I was finally getting the schedule down although that was the day I felt most tired! We taught our investigator again, and once again we had a pretty rough time. 
Sunday was an amazing experience for me. We had sacrament meeting and had priesthood meeting with our zone. That night we had a devotional. Elder Allen, managing president of the missionary organization (or something like that), spoke to us. He spoke to us about repentance and about our missionary experience. I really felt the Spirit in his talk. After that, we watched a past MTC devotional talk given by Elder Bednar. His talk was titled, "The Character of Christ," and it was an inspiring and amazing talk. He talked about how we need to forget ourselves and turn outward toward others as Christ would. He also talked of how everyone has a testimony, but not everyone is converted to the Lord. His talk was one of the best I've ever heard and it really got me to think. Am I really converted to the Lord? I have never felt the Spirit stronger and I feel the desire to do the Lords work more than ever. 

The last couple days have also been good. We've taught our investigator, Ales, twice more. He really likes what we have to teach him and he wants to learn more. He also says our Czech is getting better which is good to hear. Yesterday I felt like I hit a wall with the language. I felt like everyone was progressing faster than me and I was frustrated. But it made me think how far I've already come in a week! I've taught 4 lessons in Czech, I know how to bear testimony in Czech, I know how to pray in Czech, and I have a basic understanding of how to conjugate verbs. The Lord really does bless his missionaries with the gift of tongues! 

We got to hear a devotional talk from Elder Sitati of the Quorum of the Seventy on Tuesday night. He was a good speaker and brought the Spirit in. Devotionals and getting to sing with all the Elders and Sisters in the MTC are great experiences. I feel the Spirit so strong when we all sing as a group of Elders and Sisters. I also went to choir practice this past Tuesday

Gym time is a time that I look forward to everyday. After sitting in class for 3 hours at a time, its good to get up and moving. And of course, I go and play basketball as often as I can.

I see Elder Smith, Elder Bonnell, and Elder Fleming more than I thought I would. Its always good to see a familiar face. I've also seen Elder Nathaniel Coleman, Sister Emily Eckman, Elder Keller from Snake River, Elder Ricks from West J, and Elder Phillips from Teton. 

This first week has definitely been great and has been a huge learning experience for me. I love the Spirit that you can feel here with all the other missionaries. I'll make sure to keep everyone updated! 

Love you all!
-Starsi Shirley

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