Wednesday, March 27, 2013

"Life begins at the end of your comfort zone." - Neale Donald Walsch

Ia Orana!!!!

Hokay so. I'm about to embark on my 8th week at the MTC and Tahiti is finally becoming a mental reality! I don't want anyone to worry about me, I'm doing really well. Seriously. :) The languages are difficult, but it's not like I'm learning Russian or Japanese, the languages are totally do-able. My teachers are so cool, they tell us interesting things about Tahiti all the time now (praises, I was getting worried that there were dark secrets about the island or something) and I have learned a few cool things:

1. Rotten fish is actually something they eat. Like apparently they deliberately put raw fish in a container and let it sit there for a week until it turns a color and then they eat it. I don't really understand, but if I die out there, now you'll know why.

2. I will get tan. Praises.

3. I will be given gifts all the time because I'm an American girl. I am allowed to accept these gifts! Gifts include: real pearl earrings, necklaces, ukuleles, etc.

4. I will have to deal with cockroaches. If you want to send packages of Roach Killer to my Tahitian address now, I wouldn't object. Please & thank you.

5. I will be doing a lot of reactivation. Our teachers said they would be very surprised if we met ANYONE who hasn't already heard about the gospel. Tough stuff, that means we have to do something different than all the previous missionaries. Challenge accepted.

6. Letters will take about 2 months to reach me, packages somewhere between 2 and 4 months.

I have taught approximately 4 lessons in Tahitian, a total of about 100 minutes. Yes, I have had a big smile on my face while I'm teaching (big indicator of my lack of comprehension), however I can use pictures and string a few words together like a pro. I can understand about 10% of spoken Tahitian, written Tahitian is about 20%.

Oh, I might be on TV. Apparently there is a special feature for one-hour between General Conference sessions where they do an edition highlighting a place in the world. This Conference session's special feature is about the MTC! I am in the choir and the news crew filmed us singing a song and apparently some clips will be in it! Not sure if I'm in it or not but feel free to look for me. :)

My volleyball skills have improved since I arrived at the MTC. I got hit in the face again, I just don't know what's going on. I don't know if I've mentioned this or not, but I have had the best salads of my life here. My district and the other Tahitian district is super tight pretty much, we're all so lucky. I can't say that enough.

My testimony of prayer and the Book of Mormon is the strongest it has ever been. My teacher Frere F made us a promise that if we read the entire Tahitian Buka a Moromona out loud and write the English (or French, whichever I think of first) word above it, we will be fluent in Tahitian by the end of it. He said that everyone who did that in the mission field was successful. I've gotten through the introduction and the page after that, wish me luck. My days are long but filled with so many things, it's amazing how much you can accomplish before lunch.

My friend Fran D came in to the MTC! It's always a big ordeal when we see each other, love her. Ok I've got 1 minute left & I hope I have left you with some pearls of information. It's so hard to summarize time here, but just know that I am happy and working through things that aren't perfect. Big hug for everyone who (isn't a guy) and who reads this blog, handshake for all the guys who read this.

Soeur Carter

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Stoicism at the MTC

Heyhey it's Soeur Carter!
Weeks passed: 6. Weeks left: 5. Woah. I'm implementing the philosophy of stoicism and I acknowledge all humor and tragedy with a simple nod. :)
How am I doing? Well, I absolutely love praying, it's my new favorite. Thank you for any and all prayers, they're helping me keep it together. :) Tahitian is cool but it's humbling me even more than French. I know approximately 50 words and there are 2000 words total in the language so I aim to memorize 500 more in the upcoming 5 weeks at the MTC.

I can pray, bear my testimony, ask like 3 basic questions, introduce myself, say the full name of the church, and sometimes I can count. We taught our first Tahitian lesson yesterday and it's so difficult to understand that I actually had a mini giggle fit IN THE LESSON. Oh my goodness, not good. We placed a Book of Mormon though, so our investigator has something to answer his questions while we continue learning the language. So far, there have been a few tiny similarities to Arabic, which was unexpected!
The MTC continues to receive missionaries, I've been AMAZED by how many people I see around here that I actually know! (S Jarvis is here!) Our teachers love us, we're playing a language game called "Vrai Francais" to reward the people who speak the most French (and Tahitian), we have been studying outside in the SUNSHINE and I immediately got a sunburn (so worth it), and we went to the temple today for Preparation Day.
There was an actual, real-life Tahitian here and he just left today, but he's the tall/tan one in the picture I'm sending you! Also, I've been keeping a pretty darn good journal where I write "I'm grateful for..." at the top.  Also, the MTC is probably the best-dressed I've ever been in my whole life, thanks again Mom for helping me get together a bunch of clothes!!
Spiritual things: we saw the film "Character of Christ" by Elder David A. Bednar and he invited us to study the "Character of Christ" by searching the Book of Mormon and finding evidence for places where 'when others turned inward, He turned outward.' No way in heck I have time to implement another study topic right now, but I plan on doing this in the field!
Gym time is now study time (flashcards while I run on the ellyptical), I just can't afford to not be thinking about the languages all the time. Ok, nerd moment: it is so fun to translate our prayers from Tahitian directly into French, we do it during companionship prayers and it's our new favorite thing!  For all you people out there wondering, NO I haven't been dreaming in my languages but sometimes I say things in French before I say them in English. Our book club for Jesus the Christ is sooo great, we're a pretty brainy bunch of kiddos.
I can't say this enough, but I totally lucked out with my district and the other Tahitian district. We are all seriously so dynamic and different enough that we all have something to add to the conversation. So glad, because we're together for so long that it would otherwise be grating!
Soeur J is so talented on the piano and she's helping accompany an Elder for the song "Oh, That I Were an Angel" which is a pretty song and coincidentally is the song that is on my missionary plaque! Soeur F is hillarious and takes the coolest notes, I'm kind of obsessed. She does all of these little sketches in the margins and whatnot and it's so artistic and visually-charming. I aspire to take notes like Soeur F and play the piano like Soeur J.
So much love in this club.
I hope all of you are doing well and please write if you haven't already, letters are so incredibly fun. :)
love, Soeur Carter
MTC Mailbox #184
2005 N. 900 E.
Provo, UT 84604

Monday, March 18, 2013

Tahitian Language

We started Tahitian yesterday (March 11th) and our class was really fun and a little crazy because the language is so different from Engish and French.  When our teacher (Frere "F") started off the lesson by talking in all Tahitian, I was kind of excited/confused/motivated/stressed all at the same time and one Elder was kind of worried because I was laughing but slightly hyper-ventitlating, which I've never actually done before.  I have been sick though so there is a good chance that I just temporarily forgot to breathe through my mouth.

I have such a good district/zone, we're so lucky.  There are 13 total people going to Tahitii at the same time and every person has something really interesting about them.  One Elder "L" (other class) - his dad bakes amazing things and the Elder always shares these things with us.  Last night it was this cheese/sausage roll that I would pay good money for in the real world!  Did that I mention that we have a book club for "Jesus the Christ" by James E. Talmage?  We just finished discussing chapter 4.

Today is one of my companion's, Sister "F's", birthday.  After our temple session, we ate brunch and lunch in the cafe in the basement "to talk of holy things".  Not especially holy, but it was fun and I had the best apple ever.

Bishop "B" sent me a postcard from Cancun, Mexico and wrote "I wanted to send you a post card from Cancun, Mexico just to show I beat you to paradise first!"  Tell him I say hi and thanks for the reminder :-).

So much love,

Soeur Carter

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Une Autre Lettre (Another Letter)


MTC update: every week we get way more missionaries than those who departed for the mission field, lines are getting CRAZY but I'm a people-watcher so I've thoroughly enjoyed analyzing the chaos. There are so many missionaries everywhere, all the time.
We are officially done with learning French, but will continue to utilize French in class when we're learning Tahitian.  Both of our teachers are officially wonderful and they really love us. Yesterday our (previously super-serious) teacher quoted Nacho Libre "Leave Sister and I alone so we can talk of holy things." and thought of how our family quoted Nacho Libre tous les temps a la maison! I'm starting to lose a little bit of English, I think. We were all talking about this the other day, we're forgetting song lyrics and movie names and we think it's because we're filling our brains with French and Tahitian. I guess it's a pretty good trade-off.
I can officially speak in French all day: tell stories, teach lessons, analyze food, make observations, tell jokes. I am not fluent, but I expect to be fluent after 2 months in the field. This is not a brag, this is just an evidence of how much time we spend here PVL (Parlez-Vous Langue). Sometimes I think in French and then have to translate it back to English so I can talk to normal people. It's pretty awesome, I'm pretty hyped about how well everything is going! Tahitian has really rocked our worlds, as you will find detailed in the other letter.
We learned how to say a prayer for our first lesson (priority number 1 as a missionary) and Souer F said a Tahitian prayer when we were outside the temple today. I can read the Book of Mormon in French and understand about 85%.
Tonight we have a devotional and we never know the speaker until 15 minutes before, we're always hoping for a member of the Twelve Apostles or the Presidency, especially since we're making history over here with our numbers & whatnot.

Got to go!!
Lots of love!!!
Soeur Carter <3

Pictures, Pictures, Pictures

Pictures from the Missionary Training Center as well as a few more from Sister Carter's trip to San Francisco with her missionary class.  Not sure what the gnome thing is but looks like they were having fun!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Pictures, Pictures, Pictures - MTC and San Francisco

These are pictures from the Missionary Training Center with my two companions.  The picture in the middle is from our one-day trip to San Francisco to take care of our visa applications.  Love to all.

Soeur Carter

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Visiting San day visit to get our visas

Dearest Darling People:

Salut!!  There are a total of three sisters in my companionship and four elders in  my district.  There is another Tahitian group; they're awesome and there are two sisters and four elders in that group.  We're always visiting each other; they're great.

Tuesday is P(Preparation)-Day.  On this day I generally write letters, e-mails.  We only get 30 minutes of computer time so my e-mails are limited.  Keep all the letters coming family and friends and I will handwrite back a letter, old fashioned style. :-)

We went to San Franciso recently to take care of our visa applications for Tahiti.  San Francisco was an awesome one-day affair.  We went to the French Consulate first thing.  Every once in a while when we were in the waiting room, a highly sophisticated French person would glide past without making eye contact, so cool.  My interviewer was very French.  My interview lasted a little longer than some others because according to some other people in my district I was being "chatted up" so hopefully that means no visa problems for me.  We ate lunch at In-N-Out (delish) and then went to Ghiradelli Square for chocolate!  We walked around a bit and visited Alcatraz!  I placed a pass along card all by myself to this 20-something Asian American guy and it was very relaxed and friendly.  We took lots of pictures. 

Note to Blog:  I may have overpacked because I've been here for 3 weeks and haven't repeated any outfits.

We have two teachers - Frere "C" and Soeur "B".  They are very different but both are so awesome; we are so lucky to have them.  Both of them roleplay as investigators (separately).  I don't know if I told you this before but we taught one of them (Nella) for a week (and constantly theorized within our district about whether she was a real investigator or not) and then one day she came into our class and introduced herself as our 2nd teacher!!  I was personally shell-shocked and my mind was so blown I could only sit there and smile.  When she asked if I was okay I admitted to the class that I felt "like I just got punked".

I absolutely love the part of the day when I get the mail so keep em' coming.  Please continue keeping me upudated on the goings on and I shall do the same.  :-)


Love Soeur Carter

P.S.  Reminder

Soeur Carter
MTC Mailbox #184
2005 N. 900 E.
Provo, UT 84604

Oh Hey, It's that Missionary Again...

Ia Orana!
Ok I have been here for almost 4 weeks at the MTC and I have realized some things. It takes EXACTLY 3.5 weeks to use up a bar of soap. It takes 28 seconds to memorize the Moses 1:39 scripture en francaise. It takes me 4 minutes to actually get out of bed in the morning (we set the alarm 10 minutes before, so we're still righteous). It takes 5 days of 30 minute sessions to read all 225 pages of the Preach My Gospel manual. And lastly, I can speak French now for 9 hours with only speaking one English word in that whole time.
I really really hope everything goes well with the outside world! I hear you have cars and listen to music (what?) and the website makes mail day fabulous! (my email again: I just took a 2 hour nap and it is one of the best things I have done with my life up until this point.
So this is our last week of French, next Monday we start Tahitian (prayers welcome). I have definitely felt like I have been able to handle the workload because of (constant) prayer. I never imagined that I could learn so much in so little time (16-hour days, time is relative here). But even though the MTC is demanding, it has high pay-offs. For the record, I snuck in some Tahitian practice and I can say a grand total of 8 words in Tahitian. :) That's right, I'm basically on the track to success. I think about all of you (family, friends, stalkers of my blog) often and I hope that you are all enjoying what you're doing with your life. I know that this is exactly where I'm supposed to be and I'm preparing to serve the people who need to hear this message of Jesus Christ's restored gospel. I'm preparing to change people's lives and I'm very aware of that fact. It is the biggest thing I have done in my life so far, and I'm loving the challenge!  Recent challenge for myself: bearing my testimony in French in my French ward with a bunch of French-speaking missionaries, so cool. Did I mention that I have a hymn book that has French and Tahitian? Best $4 I've ever spent (thank you missionary discount in the bookstore). Just a shout-out, I still like food so if anyone wants to send some then I will remember your name for the remainder of my life.
The ticker thing in the top right corner of my screen is red (3.5 minutes left) so I just want to let everyone know that I have a testimony of the Church of Jesus-Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I know that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the World and He cares very much about everything that we do.
You are all wonderful, keep doing wonderful things (writing missionaries counts) and enjoy what you're doing RIGHT NOW in your life.
So much love,
Soeur Courtney Carter