That first day was crazy! They give you a little sticker that goes on your name tag so everybody knows that you're new here... Brilliant. Everyone always says,"Welcome to the MTC Elder!" all day... some elders put their nametags on backwards and go around asking the new missionaries where they get their tags engraved and it's sad how many of them fall for it! They didn't give us any time the first day, I dropped off my bags and was taken straight to class, they had already started and were learning basic greetings and how to wai (the thailand version of bowing, you put your hands together and put them up to your face, higher for the level of person you are greeting, and lower when speaking to children. Really Cool!
Good thing I had already learned basic greetings so I wasn't behind from the first day. I described all of my previous study as taking the first step in a marathon... That is how insignificant my "head start" turned out to be. I met my companion during that first class. His name is Elder Gage. He is from Springville and is a really cool guy, ah excuse me, elder. Still working on never saying "guys". Its really hard. There are six of us in one room. Two members of the branch presidency have visited our residence and been really surprised that there are six of us in one room. We tell them that we've grown very close over the past few days. haha.
Everything in the MTC goes at a pace probably five times the speed of the outside world. The first real full day, we learned how to bear our testimonies about pretty much everything in the church. than prayer, than teaching to pray, etc... I feel like I know so much Thai it's crazy! But we know nothing compared to the other elders who are speaking laotian, they know soooooo much and they actually just left yesterday. They were amazing and I really looked up to them. Our language is the hardest language ever. I really do think that ours is the hardest, (although finnish probably defeats thai in difficulty). The amount of time I get every day for studying is so great! I'm learning so much every day and my testimony has been growing exponentially since I've gotten here.
While I'm on the topic of Thai we've already taught 3 lessons to our first investigator. All in THAI!! He is buddhist, works with computers and has a disabled daughter named rainbow. We've been teaching him about his relationship to god because he doesn't feel like there's any purpose to life or any hope for him. We're going to give him a book of mormon tonight with some scriptures teaching that we need to have faith in christ and follow him. And that by following him we can receive blessings.
Lot's of people have said that the cafeteria food is horrible. No. It is cafeteria food but it's delicious! (as long as you get the right stuff) haha. We have this joke where some of the Elders in my room/district (the entire district is in the same room) yell, correction, speak loudly, in the cafeteria. "Hey Elder"! pretty much everybody turns around and it's super funny.
Our zone is tiny. When we got here there were only 4 laotian elders and we have 17 of us going to thailand. So our zone is now only 17 missionaries. 7 sisters and 10 elders.president Jackson asked Elder Gage and I if we would be zone leaders!! Can you believe it?! day 4 and we're already zone leaders...
We are the southeast asia branch. In a few weeks our zone will get missionaries going to cambodia and vietnam, and some elders speaking hmong and laotian going stateside too. than we'll have a normal zone of about 70 missionaries.
It has completely changed my entire outlook on life and has given me a strong desire to be better in so many ways.
If there is anything you get from this letter/email, it is that you need to watch this if you can. I bet you could find it on lds.org somewhere. Really. It is so important to me that everyone who gets this can watch it. Honestly life changing.
Well seems I'm out of time, I'll try to write faster next week.
Love, Elder Christopher Osborn
Link to Audio: The Character of Christ Audio
Link to Talk: The Character of Christ Talk