Tuesday, July 16, 2013

July 11, 2013, "I'll Spare You the Details"


Thank you so much for the letters and emails. Well, P day is finally here. For some reason the MTC thinks that missionaries don't need a P day during the first week, which is the worst idea ever. We heard when we arrived that we just had to get to Sunday, and then the rest would be smooth--Wednesday through Sunday were the longest days of my life, but Monday, Tues, and Wednesday just flew by. My P day should be every Thursday while I´m in the MTC.

Our first day was pretty rough because the following day was the 4th of July, so they stuffed a lot of things into the schedule on the 3rd. We got back to our residence around bedtime and we still had to unpack. The next evening was the 4th and they thought staying up to watch the fireworks would be a special treat for us....I wish they said we could have gone to bed early. That would have been nice treat. We also had to endure a "special 4th of July fireside" but I´ll spare you on the details so you don't vomit.

I don't remember what I said in the letter I wrote, so I might be repeating some things. My companion is Sister Seegmiller from Springville. She´s very nice and full of energy. She just finished her first year at BYU. The other two Sisters in my district are Sister Moea´i from Hawaii (but she´s Samoan) and Sister Whitney from Murray. They look pretty funny together...Sister Whitney has curly blond hair and is very skinny. She has a fantastic Irish accent she pulls out sometimes in class. Sis Moea'i and Sis Whitney are referred to as "Sister ro" which means "the sisters" and Sis Seeg and I are referred to as "Sister ro jet" which means "the other sisters." The four of us live together, along with two sisters that just left for Kirtland this morning at 2 am. I´m glad I didn´t wake up when their alarms went off.

I think there are 17 people in our district, which is really big.  We have all of the intro Kajinmajol (Marshallese) speakers but there are a few going to Iowa, Oklahoma City, and Honolulu.  Everyone else is going to Majol.  There are two elders that speak it pretty well.  They both lived in Hawaii and they were friends before coming to the MTC.  One is full Marshallese and the other is half Marshallese, half Hawaiian.  They are hilarious.  The Marshallese Elder´s name is "Lefty Lee Leviticus." I kid you not.  But he's right handed.  He's really small just like all the other Marshallese people and he's so funny.  I asked him if everyone else there is as funny as he is, and he said yes.  He's also our district leader.  Our district is about half Polynesian.  There are about four from Hawaii, one from Australia and he has a sweet accent (but I think he's from Tonga), one from Fiji, and one from Vanuatu.  The one from Vanuatu speaks French and just a little English so he has a hard time.  Our zone consists of the Samoan elders (that are all half Samoan, I swear...and they all seem really serious and scary) and the Kiribati people.  We don't get to interact with the Kiribati people as much because they're learning Kiribati.  There are two sisters in that district.  We should get more Fiji people this week or next since a batch just left last weekend. 

A day usually consists of personal study time, two 3 hour blocks of class, personal language study time, gym time, meals, and computer time (for studying the language).  I like the days with no morning class because we have personal time and maybe TALL (it's the computer program we use to listen to audio clips of words in Marshallese), gym time, and then we shower for the day.  Of course we have to be in a skirt before gym time, but at least we don't have to really get ready.  Then after lunch we have a 3 hour block of class, personal language study time, dinner, and then more class.  We have an investigator we've taught now for five times in Marshallese.  We were told they were MTC employees that are RMs that choose an investigator from their mission to act as.  We taught on fri, sat, mon, tues, and wed.  We've really only had a few lessons learning pronunciation and grammar, but somehow we already know so much of the language.  

The language is really interesting.  The tense is always tied to the pronoun, not the verb.  It makes a lot of sense because one only has to memorize a few tenses and then you just slap on a verb.  For instance, Iaar mona (I ate), Ij mona (I eat), and Inaaj mona (I will eat).  "I" (pronounced "eee") means I and "mona" means "to eat."  Except "mona" has accent hats over the o, n and a, so it really sounds like "mung-ei."  There are 15 different vowel sounds but only 9 vowel written letters, so some letters have multiple sounds.  but you never know which sound it makes.  And women say the letter "j" more like a "z," while men say it like a "j."  It's hard because our teacher is male so we're never quite sure how to say the J's.  And there is usually a j (if not more than one) in each word.  It's fun.

Our first lesson was pretty funny.  We came back laughing and crying (from laughter) because it was just so bad and funny.  The best part was when Sister Seegmiller asked if we could sit down once we were already sitting.  We sing for our investigator before every lesson and we also sing in class all of the time.  It's fun to learn the hymns.  The Marshallese people love the hymn "I need thee every hour" and supposedly they sing it every Sunday.  All Marshallese people know the song, not just the Mormon ones.  We also learned that they will feed us non-stop, so we're all trying to cut back on our ice cream intake in the cafeteria.  

The food is pretty good.  I was mildly impressed.  They have a wrap bar where you tell them what you want in a wrap.  I got one once with guac, black beans, chicken, and those small yellow semi-spicy peppers.  It was pretty good.  

Oh...back to our lessons.  Last night we had our last lesson with Lakije (who we found out happened to be our other teacher, that we had somehow mysteriously never met before...) and after the prayer he broke from character, which he wasn't supposed to do, to say that he felt impressed to tell us we two had made the most progress in the language from our first to fifth lessons and that our lessons were always the most organized and clear.  He cried and we all cried and it was great. 

Our main teacher is really great.  He went to Oklahoma on his mission and was speaking spanish originally, and then was switched to Marshallese the second half of his mission.  He studied linguistics at BYU so he's really good at telling us how to make the different sounds correctly.  

There's a ng letter that we English speakers say in the word "sing," but it's very hard to say when it's the first letter of the word.  We also get two more teachers starting tomorrow. 

I'm trying to see if I can attach photos to this email.  I bought an SD card reader in the bookstore for 7 dollars. Hopefully it works.  I might have to try a different computer.  Supposedly the camera cords don't work on the computers in the MTC. 

Ohh...Fast Sunday.  Fast sunday was awful.  We had dinner on Sat at 4:30 and then we had to wait until 6 on Sunday.  And it's great because they just don't open the cafeteria on Sunday, so you really have to fast.  I wanted to study because we had so much free time, but I couldn't because I was so hungry.  And instead of Relief Society, which I've heard is really great, we have a terrible 2 hour long "mission conference."  Ughhh.  But we did get to walk up to the temple.  The Provo Temple is closed right now for cleaning and it opens a couple of days before we leave, so we're not going to be able to go.  We're all pretty bummed.  We've heard they might bus us over to the Timpanogos Temple once.  

All of the international missionaries get to go to Salt Lake one day, which is pretty cool.  The farthest I've gotten off campus is the Marriott Center, which was sadly kind of exciting.  But we have a lot of fun here, so Idk if I'd really call it "the prison on 9th."

I'm trying to think what else there is to tell.  I hope time continues to go quickly.  The more I hear about the islands, the more excited I am to go there. 

I need to go check my laundry.  Tootles.  Love you all,

Sister Butler

P.S. I love emails but if you can occasionally send hand written letters I would also appreciate that.  It's really nice to get something during the week instead of having to wait until Thursday.  But I understand that emails are much easier to write, so don't worry about it if it's a pain.
P.P.S. the photo outside the Marriott Center is with the Kiribati sisters and the one inside is with our roommates.

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