Friday, 29 January 2016

January 22, 2016 ~ Loving the MTC

Manahoana Fianakaviana!

I'm having the time of my life here. I can't believe I've already been here about 2 and a half weeks! My departure date is Feb. 15. THAT MEANS I'M ALMOST HALFWAY THROUGH MY TIME AT THE MTC. The last few days, I've been thinking about the time I've been gone and it actually made me sad, but I was sad because I thought of how much closer I was to having to end my mission! I love the people here (especially the island zone), I love the atmosphere here, I just love being a missionary. I think what I love about it the most is the sense of purpose I feel. I feel like I'm part of something bigger than me, that I can make a difference. I mean, I feel like the people of Madagascar can actually use me, you know? Like at home, the UofA doesn't NEED me, the Canadian Forces don't NEED me, Atmosphere doesn't NEED me, but the people of Mad NEED to hear our message. I know that you guys love me and all that, but you get my point right? It kind of feels like the MTC is a throwback to basic training for WW2. We're all training for one essential purpose, we are all kind of brothers in arms, and no one sits there texting or playing games on their phone all day. It really is amazing how many friends you can make if you just talk to people. I don't miss all the distraction at home. I miss the distractions but not the distraction haha. Does that make any sense?

Okay, so about my week. Elder _____ from our district (supposed to go to Florida speaking Haitian Creole) went home to Kansas early this morning. It kind of hit me hard. I loved him. Him and Elder Duvinston were probably the people who we hung out with the most. He struggled because he didn't really have a testimony before he came, and I guess he couldn't gain one quick enough. He said that he's never felt the spirit before. He said he came on a mission because of the pressure he felt from his younger sister who looked up to him. I felt for him a little on the younger sibling front. I just hope he doesn't regret going home for the rest of his life. I'm sure he'll be fine. Could you guys pray for him for me?

Elder Simiskey and Elder Hamon (from Texas and Australia, both heading to Fiji and are our residence mates and zone leaders) are leaving on Monday for their missions. I'm going to miss them and the rest of the Fijian Elders and Sisters. It's hard to get so close to these guys, learn their stories and what they've had to overcome to get here and then watch them leave. They're the best examples to Elder Soper and I, and we're going to strive to be just like them. They're also  hilarious. I die laughing like 50 times a day here

Alright so the language. Here's what I find difficult about the language:
- What I talked about before about the vocab being so similar
- The fact that there are active (I eat the apple), passive (the apple is eaten), and circumstantial (under the tree I eat the apple) verbs. Depending on the type, the verb is completely different, and for passive verbs there is no way to convert from active. Essentially I have to memorize 3 times the amount of verbs as English has. Oh command verbs are different too. Make that 4.
- Pronunciation. You know how if I took off the last letter of every word in a sentence you could probably still understand what I was writing? Even if I spoke that way too? Well that's standard in Malagasy. Most of the time, instead of pronouncing the last letter, you kind of blow out air and make the shape with your mouth to say the letter.

We are getting better though. We can teach the first lesson pretty well now, and our grammar and sentence structure is improving. I still struggle a bit with vocab. Bloody Elder Soper and his photographic memory. I'm just kidding, we complete each other pretty well.

Thank you for passing along Fitzner's email! It was so good to hear from him and see him at the MTC. Any chance you could send me his email address? He gave me some nibs (the long kind) and I shared them with the zone and they went crazy. They'd definitely appreciate some more if you could send any haha.

Friday, 15 January 2016

January 15, 2016 ~ MTC


    Hey guys! The MTC is still bloody awesome. If I was Elder Hamon I would say "Heaps of awesome". Okay I don't have tons of time so I'm going to try and go through the answers to questions and stuff I want to say.
    First off, the DearElders are so great. Honestly they brighten up my day a ton. Don't worry about sending too many, Elder Soper's family is in Orem like 20 minutes away so they send him like 800 packages a day haha. I'm curious about the delay, I got your most recent one yesterday. When did you send it? Elder Soper and I check the mail twice a day as part of our district leader responsibilities. Maybe could you put a post on the blog asking people to send DearElders instead of emails if possible? It really is handy to be able to read them beforehand and I don't think I'll be able to respond to everyone because of how many emails I got (life of a rock star).
    The address for mailing to the MTC should be in the packet that I left behind. If you wouldn't mind sending a couple things. You were totally right about having "chill" pants for PDay. I'm sorry haha. But could you send my red joggers? If Danny hasn't claimed them already haha. Only if it isn't too expensive. Also, could you send me a picture of the South Africa temple? The one that will be closest to my mission. I want to be able to look at that temple as a goal, the way my investigators will.
     I'm getting a lot to eat. I don't think I've ever eaten so much in my life. I eat like 3 of the meal portions per meal. it's good food though, I can't believe some people complain about it. There are some things you have to avoid because they're made out of like pure sodium or pure lard but other than that it's solid. Plus we get ice cream on Wednesdays. 
     My Branch President and his wife (my mission mom and dad) are really amazing people. They care for all of us and tell us that they love us every time they see us.
 I'm not going to lie. The language is really difficult. Especially this last little while. It's been pretty humbling. Especially having Elder Soper as a companion. I'm a pretty good concept learner, but I struggle with pure memorization of vocab. Elder Soper on the other hand, can cram about a billion words that he's only heard once and remember them. Seriously. It's going well though. My teachers are so great. Brother Christansen and Brother Evans. Brother Evans has been acting the part of investigator since we got here but now he's actually doing some of the teaching. He was a pretty intimidating guy to teach.
     I can tell that he was a powerful missionary. Same goes for Brother Christansen (sorry not sure if that's spelled right). They're both so cool. The toughest thing for me is that all of the words sound so similar. Like all of the words pretty much go consonant, vowel, consonant, vowel, etc. and all of the present tense verbs start with the same letter. Basically it makes for a lot of vocab that's hard to distinguish between. I'm so grateful for the challenge and opportunity though. It's good to push myself again.

     I've gotten to know my district really well too now, and we're all pretty good friends. Other than Soper and I, everyone in the district is speaking Haitian Creole and serving in Florida or New York.

    I loved getting all of the messages from all of you. Keep sending me stuff like that. I don't have time to respond individually right now, but I will eventually. I love all of you.

    To end this off I wanted to share something that Brother Evans told us. God gave up 1/3 of his children to uphold agency in his plan. It would be such an insult to him to try and charm people into joining the church. We should also keep this in mind when we get frustrated with other people's decisions. That's the way God wanted it to be, and in the end, it will come down to each of us and God, and only our own choices will matter.
I love all of you so much.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Elder Schnoor

Elder Schnoor and Elder Soper
Not an easy language!
Elder Soper and Elder Schnoor

You can write Elder Schnoor during the week and they will print it off for him to read that day at:
Unit 10
Departure date for Madagascar February 15th

Saturday, 9 January 2016

January 8, 2016 ~ Pure Happiness.

Manahoana Fianakaviana!
   The MTC is everything I expected and more! I better start from the beginning though so I don't forget anything. The flights were good. Fairly uneventful. Like I said on the phone, the first one I was in the row behind first class (lots of foot room) and the seat beside me was empty! After I got to Salt Lake I received my bags without trouble and headed to the shuttle kiosk. This is where I met Elder Castro. Poor guy had no idea what was going on, so we got him a spot on the shuttle to the MTC. He is from Portugal and is going to serve in the New York, New York Mission speaking Portuguese! Really cool guy, and really nice for having gone 2 days without sleep and having the airline lose his bags in Pittsburgh. One more Elder joined us in the shuttle. Elder Samuela (not certain if that's spelled correctly) from Australia. Big Maori guy from Australia. He's heading to the Japan, Kobe mission, speaking Japanese. Really cool guy as well. We survived the shuttle ride (barely). Our driver was crazy. Like if Scrooge and the Grinch had a child... Yeah. But we made it. We arrived at about 12:30AM and they fed us a bit before sending us three off to a temporary room with some other early arrivals. It was neat because all of us in that room were going to different places and were from different places. There aren't many places in the world where you can meet so many outstanding young people that share the same values. Obviously there are a few iffy Elders, but for the most part I look up to everyone around me. Especially those in my branch, which I'll talk about next. On the 6th we were able to meet our teacher (Brother Christansen). He's so great. Really look up to him as well. He's a RM from Mad and attends BYU now as well as working for the MTC. He's studying medicine. My companion also arrived. And guess what!? It's the kid who found me on instagram! Elder Soper is his name. From Orem, Utah. Oh and get this, we're the only one's heading to Mad or learning Malagasy! We get a 1:2 teacher to student ratio! I wasn't expecting such a small class, but it really does help while learning. The teacher will only speak Malagasy to us, so it can be frustrating, but we pray for the gift of tongues every day and night and it helps. I'd like to invite you guys to do that for us as well, pray for us to have the spirit help while we learn and receive the gift of tongues. It really is the only way we'll be ready in 6 weeks. Anyways, about the branch. It's just the best. We're like the island branch. We have all of the Elders going to Fiji, Samoa, Marshall Islands, and the people learning Haitian Creole (although they're going to the US to teach). Everyone here is either Polynesian or now acts like a Polynesian. Everyone's always hugging and telling each other how much they love each other and just about everyone told us when we met them that anything that is theirs is ours as well. They're all amazing, will be fantastic missionaries and inspire me to be a great missionary as well. Our residence (room) has four Elders in it. Elder Simiskey, Elder Hamon, Elder Soper and I. I guess they decided to group all the white elders in our district together haha. Elder S is from Utah and Elder H is from Australia and they're both heading to Fiji in a couple weeks. They're also our Zone Leaders. Elder Soper was just called to be District Leader as well (which means I basically have to do all of the same things because we're always together) and I was called as the Senior Companion. Anyways, I love the people here. I love my companion even though he insists on stopping at every single water fountain. I love The Islanders even though when they hug me they pick me up and spin me around. I love and am grateful for Elder Simiskey and Elder Hamon even though they both snore. I can feel their power when they teach, that's the point I want to reach. To be able to teach with power. The language is daunting, even discouraging at times. It's frustrating because I can't always teach the way I would like to because of the language barrier. Tomorrow we teach our first official lesson. Elder Soper and I are both freaking out a little bit. We just had what has been probably the most spiritual experience so far. This batch of Fijian Elders are leaving, so (as per tradition) we all got together and sang a hymn from each of our languages. The Tongan one was amazing. So powerful, even though we didn't understand/remember what all of the words meant. Our schedules are packed. This work and the people I am working with make me so happy, so don't worry about me. I can already tell this will be the best two years of my life. I'll keep all of you in my prayers.

With Love,
Elder Schnoor

P.S. You can just post this whole letter to the blog. Don't have time to write anything separately.
P.P.S. I'll try to send pictures next Friday (P day), I need to get someone to show me how.