Saturday, February 27, 2016

2016-02-25 One Week Less in the MTC!

okay here's what i've been up to BLOG FORSE (maybe)
still getting along with my comp really well.  every conversation that is easy for everyone else in our branch is a back-slapping, high-fiving experience for us to be able to understand each other.  she's seriously an angel, there's no way she could survive living in america and learning italian without the disposition she has.

So we received some big news today!  well, it's big for us but for everyone not in the MTC and who thinks the MTC is a miniscule part of the mission, trust me, it was BIG big news.  we're leaving to italy a week early!!  so instead of 6 weeks, we only have five.  rome leaves on the 7th and milano leaves on the 8th.  we found out when a different teacher came in and started talking really rapid italian to our substitute because she didn't want us to understand.  afterwards i was like w/e and was studying but i guess some sort of understanding had occurred because a few seconds later i hear someone in my district, "we're leaving a week earlier??"  and i was like, "what?? Scerzo!!" (joke, i joke) and our sub was just dead-pan and i guess the other teacher had said that she told her class so we might as well know too.  she was dead serious just like, no we found ou tthis morning and i wasn't gonna tell you guys but you were gonna find out.  so then some sort of weird uncontrollable laughter came over me ans sister rushton for several minutes but i was overjoyed!! the mtc is super stressful and it's also amazing and spiritual but like, i'm excited to have real investigators and live in italy and really help people and be people's friend and cook italian food and like why would i want to spend another week in provo when i could get a head start on this mission?  so i'm pumped but that night we had some girls weeping and really panicky.  i think one thing people don't get is that the mtc feels like it lasts and ETERNITY so i think they weren't really hurting for one less week but now all the sudden it just seems so much closer.  we have 1/3 of a normal week left and then next week is our last full week, and it won't even be a normal one because we'll have in-field orientation ("love everyone and open your mouth," probably) and culture day which is when we bombard our teacher with more questions about slang and how fat he got and how good the fashion is and if italians really say "mama mia" (surprise, they do and it's hilarious)

oh, speaking of which, we have an actual italian elder in our building!  he's going to france.  we have filipino and french missionaries in our building.  so we run into the french ones a lot.  i'll try to include a pic of the italian elder cuz he came in to our class and was talking to us for so long, so exuberantly, that he was late for his patriarchal blessing :D  hahaha we kept trying to shoo him out and his companion was trying too (he's from england, i couldn't help myself from shouting how beautiful his language is every time he talked and he just laughed) a true taste of italy, that elder is.  love it.  never felt more cultured than when i was having a conversation with the italian, the brit, the frenchy, and the american.  belissimo.

studying is good, hard to stay on task sometimes but it's good to have some fun too.  and sometimes naps, shame on us.  we've all accumulated a few good shots of each other sleeping on our desks.  i know anziano polombo has one of me and sister poletz wide awake right next to me, laughing, but i probably won't get it.  the funniest was when we walked in and two of the elders were quietly enjoying the scene of elder kim fast asleep with his head tilted full back in his chair.  that was funny enough as is and we tried our hardest to laugh silently, but a couple seconds later we heard him snore and then it got really hard to laugh quietly.  every time he took a breath i wanted to cry real tears.

so i want to share a cool thing i learned!!  i'm geeking out on the gospel because it's so profound, every time you learn a new principle it's like reading poetry.  i think mom and dad will appreciate this one just because it's so fresh and beautiful.  but first of all our lessons are going soo much better than they used to because i (idk about my comp, i'm sure a lot goes on in her head that i miss) but i'm not here to teach lessons.  i'm here to bring people closer to Christ and the lessons are just a tool i have to do that.  so i stopped worrying about what I'M saying and what OUR lesson plan is and started focusing all my attention on whether the investigator (cuz we're still teaching lessons every day, our teachers take on the character of real investigators that they had) is coming closer to Christ.  it's a game-changer.

so the cool thing i learned came from "simone" who is a 14-year-old punk who is also amazing cuz he wants to know the gospel.  and he asked me why we pray in the name of Jesus Christ and after i shamed myself by trying to answer what i thought the answer was in english, in italian, i told him we'd answer tomorrow haha.  so i spent a lot of time looking for the answer, and aside from it being a commandment there was nothing and i don't function like that, that's not enough for me or for my investigator.  so after searching for definitely at least an hour over a couple days, i asked a different class's teacher and she pulled her phone out and started looking cuz she's smart but she didn't know either.  so i had read in the BD that prayer is the way in which the will of the father and the will of the child are brought together.  now remember that the will of the Father is perfect, and we are imperfect so that's important.  but I had always thought that prayer is just giving thanks, asking for righteous stuff, and asking for forgiveness from sins.  
now the reason we pray in the name of Jesus Christ is because it's through the power of the atonement that we can pray.  doesn't make sense, right?  cuz you don't need the atonement to ask for righteous things or give thanks.  BUT THIS IS WHERE IT GETS COOL.  I didn't know what repentance really is!  because i thought repentance was specifically saying "im sorry for swearing" or whatever you're sorry for.  but like prayer, repentance is ANY action or thought that turns us away from the natural man and towards perfection, towards God, towards His will.  So basically when we give thanks and ask for righteous things, we ARE repenting because we're BECOMING more like God!!  However, we are fallen, si?  So we can't pray to God without the Atonement because prayer perfects us by aligning our will with His will and we can't become more perfect without the atonement that Jesus Christ suffered for us and that is why we pray in the name of Jesus Christ.


(Martha's Note:  Jill did not include this as part of what to post on this blog, but I want to include it.)

okay so in other news i also got called as a sister training leadr whish is the highest position a sister can get but i'm a sister training leader ovre like, 15 girls for 2 weeks so its nbd but it was kind of cool because sevral hours after i got the call, some guy in our branch pres (we get basically a bishop and counselors when we get here cuz we have sacrament meeting as a branch which is again the italian missionaries in our case) told me that they wanted to call me right away cuz they could tell i was a leader but they wanted to give sister poletz some time to adjust cuz she got called too.  that made me feel pretty good!  i go to meetings sunday morning, for two sundays lol, and conduct interviews and assign people stuff for RS.  so a crazy thing though was i was conducting interviews yesterday and i thought it'd be like 
how are things?
good! ciao!

(I'm not going to post how the interviews really went down, to protect other women's privacy.  But rest assured that Jill quickly learned that being a leader was not all "good, good, ciao!" :)

Monday, February 22, 2016

Italy is Coming Sooner Than Expected

We received a snail mail letter today from Jill, telling us that they have been informed that they will be leaving for Italy one week earlier than planned.  I am guessing March 9th?  She is very excited to get to Italy!

Saturday, February 20, 2016

2016-02-18 Email - Two Weeks into MTC

so okay so we had some sub teachers and that was so sick because ours is really focused and we managed to distract our subs hardcore and have them tell us about the areas and the people and slang and gestures and the food and everything, which, there's a day for that right before we leave which is why our teacher hasn't been wanting to talk about it but we learned so much and  I was really excited to go to Italy (obviously) and then I got here and taught a RS lesson in English and I was like, dang it!  I wish I was going somewhere stateside because then I could be so much more eloquent!  it's so hard to express what i'm trying to say when i don't speak the language, and know that i won't really be able to for half a year and probably never will be able to as well as i could in english.  And then I realized that I said and realized I'd rather speak 18 months of poor Italian in some of the most gorgeous land in the world than speak beautiful, fluent English...

i think these emails will be longer but they take a lot of time to respond to everyone but i just want you guys to know that actually i've got a very full life right now and it just doesn't seem that way because people only get to hear from me for like, 10 minutes once a week but trust me I'm definitely having a lot of experiences, esp with the way the schedule is set up where no minute is wasted and every activity we do gets feedback on it basically.  

so first of all we had this way funny thing where one of the Anziani (elders) had heard that italians don't spell stuff and fratello sloan was like what? no.  but then he changed his mind and he was like, okay so because in Italian you ALWAYS say EVERY letter, when you ask people how to spell stuff they just shout it at you slower because like, you spell it how it sounds lol I love that.  so he went around the room saying everyone's last name and it was all easy like, kim, polombo, younce (yown-cheh!), rushton, bonzo, but then he got to me! XD feel free to just try and sound out every letter of our last name.  he tried 4-5 times until finally he just shook his head and was like "nope." I guess my name will just be really exotic and foreign when i get there.

the italian is going well though, i can now reformat sentences with direct and indirect objects and one form of past tense.  i can pray and bear my testimony, if slowly lol.  it comes out naturally, in fact i sound weird in my own ears now when i say "thank you" instead of "grazie" (there's a subtle "eh" at the end of the word, if you say it "grazi" you're saying it wrong, sister poletz finally got on my case after i'd been saying it wrong for like, a week)
In our branch there's about 7 people going to Milan or 8 and then like 13-14 going to roma, so we're in the minority by a little bit.  i really like all the missionaries going with me and then get a little sad when i think of all the people who will be in rome instead of milan but it's all good, you make friends and then you lose them and that's just life.  you take advantage of the people surrounding you for the time being and be grateful when you find some that will stick around for a while.

We've heard that Switzerland is the place to be.  There's two areas that go into Switzerland and I can only go to one of them because the other one is actually IN Switzerland and i have to have a different visa to live there so but there's one area that is half in italy and half in switzerland so i might go there who knows.  people were asking each other "which area do you want to go to first" and i was like bro, a) what's even the point? you can't pick so who cares and b) it's italy, are you kidding?  it's all nice.

we're having a lot of fun squeezing slang out of our teachers.  so far we've learned words like Ganzo!  which is like, cool!  but only in the south so that one's no good for us.  but the anziani have been trying to directly translate english slang into italian and that's been hilarious.  anziano polombo likes to say "destroyed it!" which literally translates to "lo distrutto!" and it means nothing but he says it all the time now, or I said someone was being salty so that's salato or something when it's translated.  we also learned gestures which are hilarious. i can't describe them well but word is that they actually use them and they're hilarious.  my favorite part about learning about italy is finding out how many stereotypes are true.  like we heard mafia stories, like, MULTIPLE mafia stories and that was really cool because it's a legitimate thing outside of black-and-white movies.  (but don't worry dad and mom, it's super underground in the north and we probably won't run into them at all.

So okay my whole life now is spiritual bootcamp.  our teacher yesterday asked us what we've learned and like always there was an awkward silence cuz everyone doesn't want to answer questions but some people said some stuff and i got to thinking and i said something like "ive learned so freaking much it's like my head and heart is gonna explode" and everyone laughed because we all felt it, it's soo true and i said "i feel like i've learned enough to be perfect.  like i feel like i've been given so much instruction on how to teach, how to be more christlike, how to communicate, that i can't possibly do it all."  it's like working on swim stroke and then your coach gives you like, 5 things to work on and as soon as you start doing one really well you forget the other four.  so i feel like i have such a full heart and mind of the spirit but and i've grown a lot but i can't do everything at once!  i'm not down about it at all though, it's way cool to be in a place where everyone's just so spiritual.  it sounds corny and i thought i'd roll my eyes at this whole situation but it's like living with a bunch of monks and nuns or whatever that like to shoot hoops with candy wrappers or talk about their boyfriends.  it's good.

so two (of multiple) experiences this week were first of all a cool thing my teacher said. our investigator turned out to be a teacher!  surprise!  but actually i was surprised haha i wasn't sure if she was a real investigator or not and at the end of the day it doesn't really matter.  anyways, she came and talked to our istrict about our lessons iwht her and she said "the power of God isn't just in this book, it's in you.  You have the power of God.  You are Pauls and Johns and Almas, you are missionaries.  There is power in that phrase."  and usually i also roll my eyes at the "you have the power of God" thing because i was like, we all have the spirit if we are doing the right things you know? like i'm not special, i'm just trying to help people.  but i really liked how she compared us to these really amazing men because it's easy to feel like a mission is lame or common when so many people go on them but if you look at yourself as an individual, literally we're all giving up our homes, our families, our belongings, our partners, our school, our jobs, simply to go teach people to repent.  if that sounds familiar it's because tons of people in the scriptures do that.  now you can see how missionary work is so cool because we're literally all comparable, in some small shallow way, to these amazing christlike figures in the scriptures.

the other thing is maybe our experience with TRC which is like teaching members.  tbh idk what it really is but anyways we taught members.  we had to teach a member and we were all planned to read some scriptures about light but I kept reading them and they all felt bad!  I felt no spirit.  So i started reading PMG and I just felt so strongly about life on earth and making good choices and I'm not very good at being sensitive to the spirit but I was like, I gotta act on this.  So I prayed for my companion's heart to be softened and with less than an hour we changed our lesson entirely and it was totally worth it.  The second person we taught really needed that and I got to bear my testimony in a way that related to her and I saved the little paper of advice from her because she said she really needed that.  I was guided by the spirit!  How cool is that!  i never really had enough faith that the spirit could have enough influence on me to direct my actions but i listened and it affected someone so that sort of was a big testimony-builder because as soon as we got out i didn't want to say anything because literally all i could say is "omg i was right!  good thing i listened to the spirit!" and i didn't want to make it about me but sister poletz just turned to me and we both said "that's exactly what she needed to hear" and we got really happy and peaceful and we hugged each other and we were so happy and i think sister poletz is really grateful to have me as a companion cuz i speak french but it was just a moment we had where we were so filled with joy we just hugged and she was like "i love you!" and i said "i love you too!"

i was at gym yesterday upstairs and i was stretching my calves over the railing and this elder yelled up to me, "sister!  did you used to work at smith's??" haha because i wear my "taste of italy" shirt at the gym :) so i had to tell him how my dad bought it for me from a grocery store lol  :D
dad i love zucca it's so cute!! :')

Love you so much!! keep me updated with everything!! thank you for your love!! please if you have anything important/interesting to tell me right away then use, its a free way to send me same-day letters so i don't have to wait a week to hear about stuff like....HOW JOSH DID AT STATE 

okay love you! ciao!  until next week!  i'll email every week in the morning!  1/3 of the way done with the MTC next week it will be 1/2!!
Valentines Day Outfits

The boys from my district, Polombo (Tennessee) Kim (st geezy) younce (north carolina)

Visa Field Trip with Anziano Morlock in background

I literally brought that shirt exclusively to send good vibes for those four days of state I'll miss over 18 months

Sunday, February 14, 2016

2016-02-11 Emails

(Email #1)
I miss you guys so much! And I'm so glad for all the emails you probably think "ah whatever" because that's how I felt about mission letters but even if nobody else emails me, I hope I get like, 3 emails from you every week until I come home, because you guys are my family and I miss you so much.

Okay i'm sending this one now so maybe you can get it in time to tell Josh I say good luck at state!!! I know he doesn't swim til tomorrow anyways but still.  You can tell him that I shouted and then cried when I saw that he was going to state and I'm doing a hard thing but I know it's a good thing so I try not to dwell on what I'm missing but I really really really wish I could just be home and go to state tomorrow with you two and cheer for Josh because I know he will do so well.  State is a fast meet and he will do well.

(Parts of email #2.  To give context to - we told her of buying a microwave to replace the one we killed during her farewell party.  Of course today's microwaves are 3/8 inches bigger than ones 20 years ago, so we had to get creative to get it to fit.  We also told her Lady Gaga looked like she had bloody holes for eyes when she closed her eyes because of her red eye shadow.  And that Joshua was going to compete in State for swimming.)

That microwave story made me laugh.  Of course it didn't just fit.  Where did you have to take off, I couldn't see?  Good thing you guys are problem solvers haha.

I'm so proud of Josh for his computer!  Just looking at that picture I was like, ah he doesn't have to be Michael Phelps because he can be Steve Jobs or just like, an IT guy maybe.  Looks way cool.  If i was there that's still all I would say because I know nothing about computers and therefore have no questions I can ask.  I like Bruce I think he's a cool kid.

Yes! $$$ for Italy.  How much money do I have?  Because I have my eye on this Mustang across the street that's for sale and I want to make sure my card doesn't bounce.

Thank you so much for the Superbowl description.  I laughed out loud for sure.  Why can't she be a normal human?  I could actually see her face when you said that.  Some of the Anziani (elders) sidled up to some cafeteria worker on Monday, real casual, and got him to tell them how the game went down.  A couple guys were from states where the teams were from so they were like, tearing out their hair a little bit when we realized it was the superbowl haha.

Poppa, what does Zucca mean?  I like that nickname.  We were talking about motorcycles yesterday (when we should have been studying) and I told them about yours.  We talk about our families when we want to talk about something because it's either that or the gospel, because telling stories about our friends isn't really interesting because most of those are "you had to be there" stories.  I miss you both lots.  

Haha okay I sent you two letters, did you get both of them?  My branch president told us to only write letters on P days but I KNOW I read somewhere that you can write letters throughout the week, but I don't like that rule.  It's hard because they emphasize obedience a lot here (suprise!) and just that we can be better if we are.  It makes sense in the way that Jesus Christ was perfectly obedient, and so our being perfectly obedient makes us more Christlike, right?  It's just a matter of finding which rules would actually make one "Christlike" to follow.  So I'll probably still write you letters.  I promise that letter was in English.  Also I wrote it in my bed so that's probably why it's impossible to read.  I think it's legible because I can read it, maybe I formed my own dialect in all the years I've been writing.

Okay So here's what's been going down.  I have so much to say about the MTC experience and only have like, 15 minutes to express it (I know even on P day we have limited time, it's frustrating.  But actually I could probably go over I just think that s. poletz is probably done soon and I haven't even looked at friend emails yet).  

So I already described the organization of missions.  Since Friday, we've managed to start sitting together, our entire branch which is like 20-something people. 

 It's weird because I'm not a naturally chipper person and I still am not but I don't hate the atmosphere here.  I think because it's not fake maybe, like when I got here tons of people shouted "welcome to the MTC!" at me and I wasn't rolling my eyes because they are just like, genuinely happy to be here and to see new people here.  
But anyways, yeah I really like my district which is of 7 people and we have a lot of fun together.  Us girls are good at studying and the elders are good at breaking up the monotony.  So for example, Elder Younce yesterday (skinny, red, small, did one semester of college, has a really infections laugh) was asking us, "so how do you translate....uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuueghhmmm...."  and after like 5 seconds of this prolonged "um" we just bust up laughing because you can't friggin translate that but then the quiet one, Elder Kim who is partially Korean and from St Geezy from the corner said, "uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuueghhmmm" and we all laughed even harder.  I NEED the elders because when literally all you do is gospel stuff, if you don't get to joke around you'll go insane or turn into a monk and I don't want to be a monk.
or another time Anziano Polombo asked Fratello Sloan how to say "sweet" in Italian. and then A. Younce was like, "dolce!" and we all laughed because f. sloan was like  but then he started laughing harder and he said "dolce, fra!" and we laughed even harder because it's like, "sweet bro" but "dolce, fra" and idk so just stuff like that.

So that's one thing I feel like I want to convey is just how much your day-to-day life changes once you get here.   You think getting a new job or even going to your first year of college or even moving to a new country is a big deal but the MTC is a bigger deal in the way that your schedule  changes in such a way that you will probably never experience anywhere outside of here, or the military.  Not one minute of my day is wasted.  I get up at 6:30, get ready, walk to breakfast at 7:15, eat breakfast, go to class, have lunch, return to class, have dinner, return to class, go back to the dorms at 9:30 and somehow that hour zips by so that I'm always just barely finished washing my face and changing and writing in my journal and writing a letter maybe by10:30.  
During class you either are taught by your teacher (mine is the handsome guy, remember) or teach your investigator or do personal study time which is mostly preparing for your next lesson.  I kind of had the impression that studying would be very personal and I could read what I wanted for at least some of the time but I seriously only get 5 minutes for the Old Testament which is what I want to study and then I have to move on to BOM and what we want to teach our "investigator"

So that's what else about the MTC is besides your schedule being packed with the Word of God! it really is kind of emotional.  And it's a weird thing because in all of our pictures and just day-to-day in class or the cafeteria, it's not some big existential thing but somehow we all have found time (because we talked about it during testimony or at lunch or whatever) to think about what the heck we're doing here. ... ... ... All I know is the BOM is true and Jesus Christ saves us so that's what I'll teach because that knowledge is enough I think to change a person.

I love you so much and miss you!! Ciao!!

(Email #3)

Haha I snuck onto the computers again bc there's computers at laundry apparently but I'm so happy this is like a mini conversation!! Thanks for telling josh I'm seriously so excited for him!  the pictures are of my branch and district, branch being big and district being small you can probably find the picture of my district it's the small one with me in it.  they're the people i spend the most of my time with.

Jill's MTC Branch.  Jill is front, left of center.

Jill's MTC District.  Jill is in the middle.

Friday, February 5, 2016

2016-02-05 Email

It was sad walking away for me too.  I mostly did not cry until the end of the day and a Tongan district sang God Be With You Til We Meet Again and I thought how long it is until we are together again and now my eyes water but I am happy.

It's not just me but also other sisters have said the same thing which is that it feels like it's been two years already, not two days.  Like, how are we not done with our missions yet.  I can't explain to you how this happens but I can't even remember what we did exactly on the first day because it feels like it was a year ago.  I had to pull out my schedule just now.

Today I have tons of time (technically I'm supposed to be studying right now but we were allowed "some" time to write you guys before Thursday which is my P-day so I am taking some liberty with the phrase "some" so I will use this email to explain in how things are organized and what we do.

So I'll just explain my first day, they took my bags and my helper and I walked all over like it was a maze to check in then get books then go to my dorm then go to class.  The dorms house 3 bunkbeds.  Me and my companion share with four Hermanas so they're all going to different spanish speaking missions so we don't see them throughout the day.
Anyways they waste ZERO time here.  So first day, within an hour I was in class.  The first thing I did was meet my teacher who (I promise this is purely for the sake of description) a VERY handsome guy, he's 22 and he goes to BYU obv because most of the teachers are young adults going to BYU who have gone to Italian missions.  So he's from AZ but he looks very much Italian with the skin and hair.  Anyways, he's very nice and he speaks .1% english to us.  But it's crazy because literally we've been here for two full days and WE ALREADY HAD TO TEACH SOMEONE A FULL 20-MINUTE LESSON IN PURE ITALIAN but you know what, sorella Poletz and I just did it and now we're writing you so obviously we've learned a lot already (okay but yes we used books that have all the info but that's not to say we aren't learning anything cuz we are.  I carry my dictionary with me everywhere so I can look up words to speak mostly Italian and learn new things outside of class)

So the first of class we took a little intro quiz idk what it was for and then watched a like, 30 minute video on the gym which was the most pointless thing of my life I was like, is this the most essential??

After that I went back to class (it's an older brick building, like the entire campus is, and we have white cinderblock walls with a whiteboard and italian flag facing one another on the walls with a window that's entirely blocked by a bush on a third wall haha) and there was just my teacher and another sorella there and the first thing I did was have a conversation with my teacher (fratello sloan) on the whiteboard come
come sta
benne e tu
benne grazie
di dove sei
blah blah blah

when I sat down I was looking at a little packet I had with my key because a third and fourth girl now had come in and done that and realized they were companions so after I checked I realized that the girl that was already in there was my companion.  Suprise!  She's french!!  alors nous parlons francais beacoup parce que she doesn't speak perfect english so it's hard for her to understand some things so I try and dictate in french so she understands.  She's 19 and she's small and cute from northern france, her dad is a farmer.  I'm so glad we are companions, she is so nice to me and I try to be nice to her like it's only been two days and we have this habit of always opening the door for each other and when we go get food we always get two forks/spoons/knives and give the one to the other and just little stuff like that.  And of course being trilingual is really fun for us, but less fun and more of a necessity.

Okay she's done writing so I'll wrap it up.  We are separated into districts and then branches.  For both, everyone is learning the same language but not everyone is going to the same mission.  You go to class with your district.  Your 100 lbs of study material stay in your class always.  When your teacher isn't there and you're doing personal study, you don't study in the dorms, you study in the class.  Your class is only your district.  So fratello sloan teaches me and sorella poletz, another girl companionship, and a trio of elders.  Branch is larger and we spend Sundays together and Tuesday devotionals are a thing I guess.

I'm not like 100% assimilated into the MTC yet, it's just easy because most of the time is spent studying and sorella poletz and I have a lot of fun and are really driven to learn Italian.  I hope (idk about her) that by the time we are at the airport, my italian is better than my french and her italian is better than her english.

Okay i really have to go dang it!

Love you, my P day is Thursday so until then ciao :)

And She's Off

We took a slow trip to Provo to drop off Jill.  Visit with Omi, Lunch in Sandy with Caitlin, then down to the MTC.

Dad gave Jill Little Sweetie as a reminder of us all

Caitlin and Jill at lunch

At the MTC

Last hugs before we left

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