I've been here in the MTC for less than 48 hours, but I already love it and have learned so much. It's pretty busy. But that's what I was expecting. We wake up at 6:30 a.m. and from then on are running all day long. We're supposed to be able to plan and do companionship inventory from 9:00 to 9:30 each night, but so far we haven't been released from our meetings or classes until after 9:30 each night. 9:30-10 is supposed to be our time to get ready for bed and do companion prayer, but we usually don't get back to residence until half way through that time. Then we shower and get ready for bed. By the time "lights out" is announced, we're barely starting to settle and things are pretty crazy. At this point, we haven't been able to get to bed before 11. Hopefully the schedule gets a little better as time goes on though.
First off, I was surprised to find that I'm not in French classes. I guess because I've been fast-tracked they decided to put me in English-speaking classes. Because of this, I also don't have any language study time planned into my schedule. So that's pretty crazy. BUT it has really turned out to be the most amazing thing and a wonderful blessing.
I have been placed in the advanced English branch. So that means all the international missionaries who already know English pretty well, so are just learning here for 12 days like me. Wow these people are amazing. I am one of two Utahns and American born missionaries in our entire branch. The other is Elder Bosil from Orem, who is also French speaking on the fast track (serving in the Paris mission). We have missionaries from EVERYWHERE. And they are really the most amazing people. I feel so blessed to get to know them. It's harder sometimes because we can't communicate as easily as with native English speakers. But they speak so well and they are the most wonderful people. Wow I love my branch. So, about my companion :) Her name is Sister Lyu (pronounced kind of the way the French pronounce tu). She is from Taiwan and speaks Mandarin natively. She's serving in Canada Calgary speaking English. She is 25, a convert of 2 years, and has the most amazing testimony. Today she told me a bit about her decision to serve a mission. She is the only member in her family, so hasn't had the most support. She is amazing though. There are two other companionships in our district, our entire district is sisters :) Sister Kwansing (from Figi) and Sister Wisanbannawit (said just how it looks ;), from Tailand ). The other two sisters are both from Tonga (I always forget their names :/). The are amazing. They are best friends and have been for years. The one is a convert, brought to know about the gospel with the help of the other. She has been a convert for about a year and a half. They both are amazingly strong and have such strong testimonies. They both entered the MTC the same day and received their call to Korea. Both going to the same place and they're BEST FRIENDS! It's so amazing. Because they'll be starting a Korean class, we only have them in our branch for about a week more :( We will definitely miss them.
There are two other districts of new missionaries that I have come to love. I was originally assigned to district 14B until things got moved around. But my first day I spent really getting to know them. There are 3 sisters and 2 elders. Sister Leewin (It's not spelled that way at all, but I'm not even going to try spelling it right ;)). She was born in Vietnam, but moved to the US at 6 years old and has since lived in Texas. She went to BYU last year and worked in the cafeteria here, so she knows what's going on and can help us out a bit here :) Her entire family are converts, all baptized on the same day. She is amazing and so kind. Sister Kwon is from Korea. The sweetest girl ever. Oh my goodness, I love her. They have a trio with a Somoan sister (I just can't remember these islander names :P). They are all so wonderful :) Then there are two elders. Elder Boutoille is from FRANCE! So even though I haven't had any French classes, he's spoken to me in French a bit and he said my French is great :) actually, he said he thought it was better than his English. I know that's not true though. It was so wonderful to speak French though :) His companion is Elder Taka from Tonga. I haven't talked to him as much, but he seems pretty cool. :)
The last district of newbies is 14G. I haven't gotten to know the Elders very well. Elder Bosil (the one serving in France) and Elder I don't remember (from Norway :). The sisters are all going to serve in Temple Square. One companionship is from Japan and Mexico. I've talked a bit more with the other companionship--Sister Rauta (pronounced How-ta [from brazil :)] ), and Sister Dechesne (from FRANCE!). I've spoken a little French with her as well :) They are all wonderful people.
We have only had 2 days together, but already have so much fun and love each other so much. They each have AMAZING stories. I wish I had time to share all of them. They really are such wonderful people. So I'm not in a French class and sometimes it's hard having a companionship where we can't always understand everything or converse perfectly. But it is amazing. I feel so blessed to get to know and serve in the MTC with all of these wonderful people. Seriously from EVERYWHERE. They are wonderful :) I'm so happy to know them. Can you tell I love my Branch? :)
Our sister training leaders are also so so sweet. They've been here a couple weeks already. They are both oriental (I'm not sure from where). But they are always so sweet. They remember all of us and are always smiling :) And then there's our roommates. Sister Lyu and I are in a room with just two other sisters. They've been here a week. One is also from Taiwan, the other from Hungary! (tell Ella :) . They are such wonderful girls. I love talking with them, although we only see each other the crazy hours before and after going to bed. I love them though. They are such a wonderful companionship.
The people here are wonderful, and everyone is so happy and friendly (which is good since we're all missionaries :). I've met so many people, in my branch, at the gym, in the cafeteria... everyone is amazing and all have their own story. It's pretty amazing :)
I love it here. Oh, and the branch President said he was going to try to get a French tutor for Elder Bosil and me, so we can learn some French words for teaching while we're here :) So that would be great.
The MTC is amazing. The food isn't as good as I've heard... it's too processed for my liking ;) But they feed us well and I eat lots of fruit to make up for the unhealthy stuff they try to feed us ;) I'm grateful to be here. Now that I'm here, I have no doubt that it was right to leave early. I feel so blessed that I'm able to enter the mission field before I'd otherwise be arriving in the MTC. This is all for a reason and I know it :) I know I'm supposed to be here and I'm so grateful for that. I'm so so so excited for the coming year and a half and for the people I'll get the chance to serve :)
Also... feel free to let the letters start coming. I'm sure that would be lovely. They days are great as is, but a little added excitement is always welcome ;)
I love classes and my teacher though. I love all that we have learned. I love the gospel and I love being a missionary.
All my love,
Sister Heather Shelley
Heather's MTC address is:
Sister Heather Brooke Shelley
2005 N 900 E Unit 222
Provo, Utah 84602
Her mission email :