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Week One at the MTC

August 7, 2013

A couple things real quick. I only have 30 minutes for email which is just enough time to compose one. I will not be able to read those sent to me. Can you start using the “Dear Elder” service for you messages. They will get to me pretty quick and I can read them every night. (Dearelder.com also sends free printed letters to the Ukraine Kyiv Mission!)

Because of the limited time this will likely have many spelling and grammar errors. Also, I found out that the SD card readers on the computer are disabled for some reason so I will need to pick one up from the book store. Photos will be coming next week.

My first impression of the MTC is that this place really feels like a compound. All of the walk ways have covering over them which blocks out the sky. It feels like a self-contained city. We walked to the Marriott Center last night and being able to see a far off blew my mind a bit. But things are going well.

I have been made district leader for the first three weeks of our stay. We have three companionships: my companion and me, two sisters, and three other elders. My companion’s name is Elder Y. He is 18, just out of high school, and very enthusiastic. But definitely 18 years old.

The people in my district are Elder Y, Elder K, Elder K, Elder O, Sister P, and Sister G. We are all headed to Kyiv, Ukraine. Like I said, photos are forthcoming. Above all Elder O has been the most interesting to work with because of his background and mindset.

My roommates are pretty interesting. The other companionship are exact opposites of one another, but work surprisingly well together. One is Elder K, who is going to school at West Point and has shown me the proper way of making a bed and polishing shoes. Very funny person too. In our room inspection we were given a “commendable” grade and an extra comment on how nice our beds were. He has our room on a strict workout routine that we do every morning. So instead of waking up at 6:30, we are up at 6:05. But it is good. He has said some of his exploits from West Point were published in the Wall Street Journal, about him and his cadets stealing the Navy’s mascot goat twice. The other roommate is Elder S. He is best described as a little nerdy but overall is a pretty enjoyable person.

Elder O is from Serbia. He served a mini-mission in his country before his call to Ukraine came. He would talk about his time in the Serbian military as a sniper and how he was a professional soccer player. I did not believe it until I saw both a photo of him dressed in camo holding a sniper rifle as tall as he is, and the contract he signed to start playing soccer. My mind was pretty much blown at that point.

Oddly enough, he does not like Serbia at all, and is completely in love with America. An example is the second day we were here I walked into our classroom and saw him drinking a Dr. Pepper. I asked where he picked it up, to which his reply was, “The freedom of the great country gave it to me.” Extremely patriotic. He also only wears ties that have an American flag, or U.S. military logos on them and cannot stop talking about how great the United States is. He has only been in the U.S. for three weeks.

On the flip side of the coin Elder O is also the source of my stress as district leader. He injured his arm a year ago and recently had surgery to fix the issue, so he is going through physical therapy right now. I was accompanying him to one of his appointments when he saw a woman driving some construction equipment. He looked at me and said, “There’s woman driving dat truck!” I told his that was a common thing in the U.S. which he had a tough time wrapping his mind around.

I overall think he is a nice guy. There have been a couple moments where he was mad at my decision making, but him and I sat down in another room and talked. Things are going well because of it. As a sign of friendship he gave me a medal he was awarded in his home town for work he did as a police officer. I will show a picture of it next week. Right now Elder O is on codeine for his arm so he sleeps a lot in class, this sadly is our most productive time.

To be blunt Russian kind of sucks. I am very slow to learn it but am still making progress. Hopefully things will pick up.

Sunday was pretty busy. In the morning I had 5 1/2 hours of continuous meetings between leadership, MTC conference for Fast Sunday, and church. Pretty rough sitting that long. But overall it was a nice day. This coming Sabbath should not be so rough.

Today is my first P-day so you can expect emails on Wednesday. We woke up at 5 A.M. to do laundry. Things are going well so far. I plan on going and reading for an hour after this email is sent.

Overall the MTC is pretty good and I am enjoying my time here. The first four days were the longest I have had in a long time, but it is picking up quickly. (Chris and his cousin Jesslyn– who teaches at the MTC– crossed paths on Saturday, and now they know where each other’s classrooms are!)

Also, I mentioned not wanting any photos sent during my mission. I have changed my mind on that.

Hope things are going well in the rest of the world.

With love,

Straechna Hancock

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