Tomorrow will be my one week anniversary of being a missionary! The MTC is a place of paradox, for example I both keep wanting to tell people I just got here and also every day feels like a week at least. I am enjoying most of my time here, even when the hours stretch long. Some other paradoxical realities of the MTC:
– there is a strong diversity but also a very strong feeling of unity. Your first name is either “Elder” or “Sister” and half the people here have the same haircut, but every day I hear more snippets of different languages than anywhere else I’ve ever been. My companion, for example, speaks French, English, Haitian Creole, and another dialect of Haitian Creole. English is her fourth language. Amazing.
– everyone here is a stranger to me, but I spend every hour of my 16-hour days with the same seven people in my “district” (they are all 18 and 19, bless their hearts) and we have become very close. It’s a really strange and unique social experience. I’m pretty isolated from everyone I knew before Wednesdaybut since Wednesday I’ve had as many solid friendship-building hours as I have with many of my friends over a period of months. We had a testimony meeting with just the 8 of us last night where we all went around and talked about something that has been on our minds of a spiritual nature. One Elder described a sense of familiarity that he felt the moment he walked in to the classroom where we were all sitting, as if we had all met before. I get the sense that this feeling is common for missionaries, but it was a really spiritual experience for all of us and even though I don’t or shouldn’t fit in at all with them, I do have a really strong sense of belonging with them. Pretty much off the bat you’re crying/laughing/praying/being vulnerable together for no other reason than because there’s nobody else to do these things with.
– the time is busy and boring all at once. There’s always somewhere to be, which is great, but that place is sometimes the same chair for three hours. This is challenging.
– I’ve never really been around 18/19/20 year-old boys in large numbers before because of Bryn Mawr. From what I know, these 18-20 year-old boys are somewhere between being completely typical and completely atypical. Like, I see an Elder doing something ridiculous at least every 20 minutes (they’re always trying to jump over things?? why??) but I also see an Elder cry at least once a day. They also use that teenage boy voice to say things like “The gospel feels like… the way tacos taste, you know? Like, it’s so rad.”
One of the important aspects of the mission, I think, is that you can’t choose who you’re around at all, but you have a lot of love for the people around you. I think I touched on this earlier but I feel like I’m seeing my ability to love someone be decoupled with having something in common with them, which is actually a pretty amazing experience. I could never really understand the concept of unconditional love before this but I think I’m starting to. I have no choice but to love people just because they’re there.
Speaking of which, I love you all sooo much and I miss you a lot. I hope I hear from you all real soon.
Sister Aslan (as the Elders call me)