I think the Finnish Elders’ accents are my favorite to listen to. They really like to sing. They are all older – about 20 – because all the Finnish young men have to perform a certain time of military service. Elder Kinnunen, our district leader, was an Army cook at a training camp where he got up at 4:00 every morning to make porridge in huge pots. Another, an Elder Jones, was a military policeman. They are all really tall – I’m talking like 6’3″, 6’4″, 6’5″ and really skinny and strong. It’s also funny to watch all the Finnish, Norwegian and German Elders eat fruit and toast for breakfast while the Americans are eating chocolate milk and croissants. There is one Elder Moorcraft, a white elder who grew up in South Africa and then moved to Australia who was homeschooled his whole life. His accent is also neat and mixed. There is an Elder Muir (Meyer) from Germany who was a runner and soccer player before this.
The grounds are beautiful! Lawns and hedges and a million different kinds of flowers just grow like crazy. It’s weird here because you can hear the birds all the time, but you don’t see them very much, because there are so many plants for them to hide in. And there are TONS of ducks! Most of them are Mallard, but there are a lot! And there are dozens and dozens of swans on the Ribble River, but not in the pond. (drat!) There are ducks and geese in the pond. The geese hiss at us whenever we walk out for exercise and they act like they are going to attack us.
You can see the temple spire from pretty much anywhere on the MTC campus. Now everyone, I wish you could see the temple! It’s really simple on the inside, like Reno, but it’s so beautiful! It has one tall spire that sticks straight up with the Angel Moroni on top. No matter where we are on the playing field or the trail you can see the Angel Moroni way up in the sky so we always know where we are.
President Preston took us to a session last week on P-day. I got the name I was supposed to do but had no idea how to pronounce it. I felt really bad that I couldn’t say it right. Then I realized she was Norwegian and we had Norwegian Elders in our session. However I couldn’t catch any of them to have them teach me the pronunciation but I did find Elder Muir. Like I said, he’s German but he could still say the name for me. When I heard him say it it sounded good and I thought, “Great!” But then he told me to say it back to him. When I actually said it I could feel that she was there to accept the work.
They keep the MTC doors locked at al times, not to keep the missionaries in (so they say) but to keep other people out. There are a whole bunch of people around the grounds for other facilities and they always want to come in and see what the missionaries are doing. The MTC is way too small to accommodate that. It’s only one building. So whenever they let us out to exercise or study everyone is super interested in what we’re doing. They just sit and watch us run. It’s almost like they’re saying, “Oh look, the missionaries! They actually do exist in there!” Random people will just walk up and give you their temple name cards to do.
It smells good here. We’re a little bit out in the country, so it doesn’t smell like a city, but every time we are out and we pass a farm I think it smells SO GOOD, and every else thinks it stinks. They all think it’s really cool that I grew up on a farm though, and they ask me questions about it all the time, and look at my pictures, and whenever I start telling a little story about something that happened to us, everyone likes to listen because they say it sounds so great. I’m so glad I grew up on a farm. Today we walked to this little store close to the MTC, and we passed a pasture with cows in it! AhAAA! So I took a picture.
And then I saw a tractor driving down the street. So I took a picture.
There’s a bug going around the MTC and everyday more missionaries wake up with a sandpaper feeling throat and yesterday it was me. I sound like a smoker. I think I have something more though because off and on throughout the day I fell nauseous or like passing out. I almost fainted after soccer today because I was running around when I knew I shouldn’t have. It was so embarrassing! Oh, and that’s another thing, I am learning how to play soccer! You might be surprised to know I am actually pretty good at it. Maybe it’s just because we aren’t allowed to be competitive so everyone goes really easy. It still gets pretty intense though. Today I outran this Portuguese elder who is a soccer whiz. Apparently I’m faster on my sprints than I thought I was and everyone was quite impressed. Like I said though I must have outdone myself because I was sick and almost passed out afterward. I had to sit with my head between my knees.
One of my favorite things is getting foreigners to imitate the way we (Americans) talk because they literally can’t do it! I thought everyone could talk like us but no. They talk like Gid and they sound like total hicks!
Bob (nickname for Sara), people are crazy. Whenever they see pictures of you they think we look like twins. They think Gid and all the little boys are the cutest things in the world and that mom looks really young and pretty. Sister Ackley is weirded out because her mom is four years older than Dad. They think our farm is really pretty though.
We are leaving the MTC in one week. Aaaa! I’m kinda scared, but SUPER excited, because it feels like my mission hasn’t started until I’m out there, and once it’s started I’m closer to seeing everyone again! I love you all so much and I miss you very much. The other day I saw a little white weed flower on the lawn and heard Jason say, “Oh! So pretty!” And today I smelled smoke and heard Gid say, “Smells like fa-ar.” I hope you’re showing them pictures of me.
I love you more than you could ever know. I pray for you and the farm and everyone multiple times a day. I know God is looking after you.