Due to Mark entering the MTC, I would like to write a journal entry of mine from when I first got here, a letter to all new missionaries:
March 26, 2013 (one week into my mission and now approaching 4 months!)
Dear Future Missionaries,
For those ready to go into the MTC; I would like to say, the MTC is so great! You will love your time there IF you are prepared and know what to expect. I didn't have a hard time adjusting at all, from the second I got there, it was the best thing ever, but talking to my district later, I was the only one. I would say, prepare to work very hard and be a little uncomfortable. Especially if you are learning a language. From Day 1, your teachers talk in only your language and by day 3, you teach an investigator completely in your new language. By saturday, it's easy to feel a little overwhelmed at how much you don't know. But, it gets better! And as long as you remember that from day 1, you can get through anything. There will be days that you spend hours and hours in the same classroom(most actually) but just be ready to work! And remember that its just like cramming fro a test you will call your life in the mission field in just a few weeks. And even though the first week feels like a lifetime, the rest flies by in a second. I feel like I was really able to adapt to the classroom situation because I had so much previous experience in college studying for hours on end by myself, but most didn't. One of my companions had a REALLY hard time the first week or so adjusting. By week 3, she was the happiest missionary ever with the greatest love for the MTC. I asked her what she would tell new missionaries coming in how to avoid her situation. And it's not something new or profound, but she said, "I wish I had worked harder from day one. The first few days I just thought about my family and boyfriend and how much I missed them and I went through the motions and I was miserable. But as soon as I took a more active role in my learning and focused on the reason I was there and my purpose as a missionary, everything changed. Now there is no where else in the world I would rather be!" And now that I am in the mission field, I s so GRATEFUL I was able to work hard from day 1 because this language is so hard, but I know I did EVERYTHING I possible could have and not only do I have no regrets, but I have also seen amazing blessings come to me and I definitely picked up the language faster than others who it took longer to figure out. In the mtc, I had a pretty large vocabulary and one elder mentioned, "man, I swear you hear a word once and remember it forever!" True I have a good memory, but I also made 4 sets of flash cards and would quiz myself and those around me at every chance I got and it definitely paid off! I don't think he made that connection though... haha You are told countless times the key to success is obedience and work and it's the truth! I have seen its results even in the MTC.
And now in the mission field; I did not have any troubles adjusting, but once again, I was just about the only one. But I think what has made the difference is attitude. America and the Philippines are pretty different, as you can imagine, but I didn't focus on the differences. I basically came here with a clean slate mind and with the thought I'm in their culture where their way is the right one. So everything they do, I do without question. Everything they eat, I eat without question. I don't think of what I'm craving from America and it's been great! Not only have I had zero homesickness, the people love you that much more for loving their culture and accepting it so readily. even if you are going to somewhere in the US, people do things different all over the place. Don't compare, just accept and you will be so happy. And always remember why you are here and always live so you can leave with no regrets knowing you gave the Lord your all. I haven't quite made it that far yet, but I live everyday with that in mind. Although I am so exhausted at the end of each day, I am so happy!
Love, Sister Pike