I guess I made it to Provo! This place is soo cold that it's unbelievable. I'm really sorry that I always teased Mom about her being cold in Arizona, because now everyone's doing it to me haha. I wear my suit jacket and outer coat everywhere I go, and sometimes I even wear a beanie and some gloves because of how cold it is. I'm DEFINITELY missing Arizona's nice sunny weather.
But it's kind of cool that it's already snowed a couple of times since I've been here! Nothing crazy so far, just enough to stick around for a day or so. I'm told that Hungary will be equally as cold but two or three times as humid, so that should be an adventure to get through.
The other elders in my district are really something! Elder Martineau is from St. George, Utah, and he's a really funny guy. He always makes us laugh, and he has lots of insane stories about his hometown. His companion, Elder Nordberg, is from Montana, and he's so awesome! He's only been a member of the church for a year now, but he's already brave enough to serve a mission and help other people. He's a really good example to us all. Elder Winkle is from Manti, Utah. He's always smiling and laughing at some joke or another, though, so it's kind of nice to have someone to make us feel comfortable whenever we get stressed out about learning. His companion, Elder Deitrich, is one of my favorite people that I've met so far since I've left home. He's from a town in Germany near Frankfurt, but I can't remember for the life of me how you say or spell its name. He's so sincere, though, because he doesn't speak English very well, and he's nice enough to put up with our crazy American slang all day long. We've taught him words like "cool beans," "do you even lift, bro," and "sup, homeslice." He always takes a banana from the cafeteria and sticks it in his coat pocket for later hahaha. Then he pretends to shoot us with the banana and says it's his "charity gun" and that he's giving us all lots of "charity." That's his favorite English word lol.
And then there's my companion, Elder Winegar! I've gotta say, we really couldn't be more different. But in a way, that's a very good thing because we balance each other out I suppose! I say what's on my mind to people and he's much more reserved. We're learning to get along with each other as the days go by. He's from California, and he's really loving the cold weather here in Provo.
The MTC is pretty incredible. Even from a non-missionary perspective, it's kind of impressive how many other elders and sisters are here getting ready for their assignments. When we arrived on Wednesday, they told us that there were 700 missionaries to enter the MTC with us! Crazy!
So far this week, we've been to a couple of different devotionals and heard the guy who wrote "Preach My Gospel" speak, and Elder Oaks came on Tuesday night! We sat really close to the stage, and he actually waved and winked over at our class a couple of times, which was pretty neat. Someone leading the music of the fireside that night was directing the hymn "Onward, Christian Soldiers" kind of slow-ish, and he got up to the microphone and basically said, "Our army's in bad shape if we can't sing this song with a little bit more energy and spirit!" It was really funny hahaha.
From day one, they've tried to teach us as much Hungarian as they could! I can count on one hand the number of English words I've heard from our teachers so far, but they're really doing their best to help us learn. It is definitely the most frustrating thing I've ever experienced to try to speak Hungarian. English and Spanish were both really easy languages, but Hungarian is nothing but crazy rules and conjugations for every sentence you can think of! It sounds kind of cool to say the few words we know to each other, though. We're practicing eight or nine hours out of the day, so it's only a matter of time before the Lord helps us learn the language. The Hungarian group that was here learning before us had an unusual overlap with our arrival date, so they were able to teach us a lot about their experience in the MTC and what they've learned about the language! They're all very nice and extremely helpful. They just shipped out to Europe this past Monday, and we really miss their advice and guidance.
We had a branch meeting on Thursday night last week and the branch president asked me if I'd serve as our District Leader! That was certainly unexpected and a bit surprising since I really don't quite know how this place works just yet. But, I'm just relying on the good examples of everyone else here who knows what they're doing. It's a humbling learning process, for sure.
It might sound kind of selfish, but gym time is probably my favorite time of day! We get to go to the nice, warm gym and play basketball, volleyball, or a couple of other indoor sports. There's also weight machines and a small (160 m) track upstairs. Everyone else in my district has been gaining weight so far, but I'm still the same as when I came in because I eat healthy foods and work out hard! In fact, my mile PR from home was like a 5:13 or something, and I ran a 4:51 on the track yesterday. The record for the mile here at the MTC is 4:31, and that's wayyy fast, but it would be the coolest thing in the world to put "Elder Priest" up on the record board hahaha. Tell Coach Selby I've been training!
It's kind of hard being in the MTC, because everyone here does the best they can to make you feel at home, but it's just not the same as being in your own house with your own family. It's really easy to miss people when you start to think about them, but we've been so busy with learning and practicing that the Lord's helped to comfort us!
Today's my first p-day in the MTC, and it's kind of cool because it's also Thanksgiving! There's lots to be grateful for here on a mission, but it's definitely different from how the holiday is at home. Instead of watching the Macy's Day Parade and sleeping in a little bit or running the Turkey Trot, we woke up at 5:00 a.m. to shower and get dressed in casual P-day clothes and do our laundry. (Today's kind of an unusual day since we have our schedule planned out ahead of us... not like a normal P-day.) When we went to the MTC laundromat, I washed all my white clothes together and that was fine. Me and one of the other elders from our district washed some darks together since he only had four or five items. Turns out, we totally picked a broken machine! It was kind of surprising when, after waiting for an hour, we went back to check on our laundry and it was sitting in a pool of black, murky water. Gross! We re-washed our clothes in another machine and waited for that to finish, then put those clothes into one of the double-decker dryers. Wouldn't ya know it--we pressed the wrong button and started the top dryer, not the bottom one! Basically, laundry took from 5:00 in the morning until almost9:00 because we were waiting for machines and re-washing/redrying our clothes. We ended up missing Thanksgiving breakfast because we were the only ones sitting in the laundromat cleaning our clothes haha. In fact, we were almost late to an apostle's devotional because we had to run our damp-clothes back to the dorms! But all was well in the end when we made it back to the assembly to hear David A. Bednar speak to us. That was WAY cool. He passed out little cell phones all over the audience and had us text in questions for him to answer as he spoke to us. Kind of weird since my texting skills are already a bit rusty! The choir sang an amazing rendition of "Come Thou Fount" and it was incredible. We went back to lunch afterwords and had our little Thanksgiving "dinner" at noon or so. Mom--I never told you how good of a cook you were. Haha the food here's okay, but I've got to be very selective in choosing something to eat here. Some stuff is ehh and some stuff is N A S T Y. But that's okay, because it's the thought that counts! Now I'm just sitting here emailing you before we get ready to go to a humanitarian service project.
I'll keep you all posted in the coming weeks as we continue to learn from our teachers and trainers here at the MTC! I know the Lord blesses us for our efforts and that, like it says in Matthew, we can truly be a light to the world when we serve! Tell everyone back at home that I love and miss them! I really do think about everyone in Arizona a lot. Szeretem titeket!
Elder Kinnon M. Priest