Meredith in Montreal

Letters and Photos from Sister/Soeur/Hermana Hanna

Month: November, 2014

Meredith’s 11/26/14 Mission update

Hello Dearest Familia!

The MTC continues in its usual cycle of study, eat, sleep, study, eat, sleep as Provo gets colder and colder and my dread for the tundra of Montreal increases. A usual day in the MTC is as follows: wake up, work out, get ready and shower in 30 minutes (I used to believe this was impossible), eat breakfast looking ok or continue getting ready and actually look nice. In the time between meals we either have classes or have our daily study cycle (personal study, companionship study, and language study). We have a bi-weekly service assignment which varies from cleaning restrooms to vacuuming the track. I have discovered that I love cleaning sinks!

This week’s devotional speaker was Dallin H. Oaks!! He gave a great analogy for missionary work comparing us to pens, stating nobody wants a pen that says “today is my P-day, and I do not wish to work.” It was a great devotional, and I’m looking forward to our devo tomorrow.

The language is getting easier to communicate in, and I asked my teacher if he would start talking Spanish faster and with more of an accent. Maybe I will regret that in our next practice lesson. My Espanol and Francais have become an odd mixture as we speak in Spanish as much as possible. This afternoon a French teacher said “Bonjour ca va?” to me and I responded back with ” Si, ca va bien, gracias”.

Today was our last lesson with Hely and it was so sad to say goodbye. We also got our flight plans!! There are about 10 sisters I think and one elder going together to Montreal on Dec 9th, leaving the MTC at 3:30a.m.!  I think 6 are going French & Spanish–3 hermanas that are already fluent in Spanish and are learning French in the MTC, 3 who are fluent in French and learning Spanish, and 4 learning just French.

The MTC is a warm cocoon of love and encouragement, and I am a little nervous to enter into the real world, but I am excited to actually teach and talk with people and share what brings me happiness.

I love you all so much!!!

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This is from my birthday package where Hermana Rees got some things too! She was so happy!

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Liam was volunteering at the MTC Teaching Resource Center. He speaks Khmer with missionaries to help them with the language every Saturday morning. The elders went to look for him and found him.

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Sister Rees, Laurent Urbani, me and Laurent’s companion,

(Elder Laurent Urbani is our friend from Cugnaux, France who is leaving the Provo MTC on Dec 1 to go to Tahiti).

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Hely, Sister Rees and me.

Picture of me using my beloved Sister Training Leader phone, IMG_2684IMG_2683

I took a picture of myself in the scarf that Sister Tague sent me!

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IMG_2685Notice the name tags of the statue missionaries are in Spanish!IMG_2682

In the picture of the room you can see little sticky notes where we have labeled vocab words.

Meredith’s MTC bday

IMG_2657I HAD THE BEST BIRTHDAY EVER. Tell everyone thank you so much and that they made my day even though I can’t see Facebook! Thanks Mom for printing the messages and emailing them to me!  It was so wonderful to see so many people from different stages of my life– high school, college, my childhood– who I love wishing me a happy birthday. It really seems only yesterday that it was my 10th birthday. We had  the sister missionaries over for dinner and I told them with excitement that in 10 years I’d be twenty. Now I’m a sister missionary myself celebrating my 20th birthday in the MTC!  I don’t mean to gloat but I just will. WILLIAM ROLAND DONALD STEWART LAVELLE IS THE GREATEST BOYFRIEND EVER!! I don’t know if you planned anything with him but I got a huge Home Depot box in the mail on November 18th. The elders were lame and didn’t tell me I had a package until late, so I couldn’t get it, but I got it the next day. There were two cakes, two bottles of sparkling grape juice, and some other goodies+presents. It was enough that I could have a birthday party with all the missionaries in my zone! He made me a photo album of all these things we had done on dates, a boxed set of classical music, and some cute Fu dog statues. The hermanas got me a water bottle (because I’m always almost passing out in class) and the elders got me non-alcoholic sangria.

The elders can really only check the mail twice, and they didn’t check in time so I could get my package. It’s fine though, it was nice to have two birthdays. I don’t know if there is anything else much to report, besides that our “investigators” are progressing and doing well.:)

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The sisters insisted we have reeses pie from the vending machines for my birthday. One slice is around 360 calories. Eek!!

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btw, 33 is the page in the white handbook that says no flirting or romantic relations with other missionaries or members in the mission

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Also for my birthday all the hermanas from the other district heart-attacked my door! They wrote me all these wonderful notes! I love them so much and I’m so lucky to be their Sister Training Leader!

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Hermana Rees already has a yoga puppies calendar to go with my new yoga Cats calendar! Comp unity

Meredith’s 11/13/14 Mission update

Hello again from el CCM! The past week has been wonderful and so busy and I’m not quite sure how to begin.

This past week our fearless band of eight missionaries dwindled down to six as two were called to their respective native CCMs. Elder Bangerter was sent to Mexico City and Elder Edwards was told that he had two days to get ready to go to Guatemala City. We switched teachers from Hermano Rasmussen to Hermano Pemberton, who, in a surprising twist, was actually our first investigator Yerick. Hermano Rasmussen is now our newest investigator, Jesus Benjamin. It is fairly uncomfortable teaching someone who is already an amazing missionary, and I feel painfully aware of my inadequacies in the language, though I try to forget my worries during the lesson.

The schedule is still hectic and we are still busy all the time but I’ve come to really love the MTC. I’ve come to embrace mission life in all its chaotic glory, including listening to EFY songs and “Glorious” by David Archuleta more times than I care to admit. Our investigators are so nice and I committed Hely to baptism yesterday!

Being in leadership has been great, as it helps me get to know the other girls in the district a lot better. I have interviews with the senior companions of all the hermanas every week, and they are so kind and such great missionaries.

The MTC continues to have amazing speakers. The General President of the Young Women spoke to us, as did Spencer J. Condie and a member of the presiding bishopric. We watched Legacy as a district on Sunday, and it brought back so many memories of watching it when I was younger, making fun of the dramatic acting.

The language has gotten better, though people (even investigators) are still commenting on my French accent in Spanish. I have issues with rolling my “r”s and everything still sounds very French and throaty.

The most rewarding part of a mission for me so far has been having to rely on my own testimony and help it grow. I can’t rely on anyone else’s belief or knowledge, even if it’s just partial. I have loved putting hard work into study and prayer, working to build my testimony so I can share it with confidence.

I love you all so much!!

Meredith

Meredith loved the chocolate caramel apple she received in a package.

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Editor’s note:  Here is a translation, if needed 🙂

“Hermano” is the Spanish word for Brother.

“el CCM” is spanish for “the MTC.”

EFY is Especially for youth, a week long youth camp sponsored by BYU.

The First week at the MTC

companion in mtc room 10-29-14

Hermana Rees and Hermana Hanna

name tags

Two name tags: One for teaching in French, one for teaching in Spanish.

Hello my dear Family & friends!

It is crazy to believe that it has been a week since I arrived at the MTC, but yet here I am, in a sweatshirt, jeans, and pineapple socks, finally getting to send letters and read emails! Our Preparation Day is Thursdays, so we had to wait a whole week to answer all these lovely messages. The MTC is great as well as cold, but we spend almost all of our time in our classroom (which, ironically, is sometimes colder than outdoors). We have about 2 hours of instruction per day and then we have study time for the rest. For my dear siblings, and for all others who are planning to go on a mission, I would recommend learning how to stay focused in a hectic environment. We are left to our own devices to figure out how to spend time as the MTC places a lot of trust in us. My district is great so they are quite fun to socialize with. We have two hermana companionships and two (soon to be one trio) companionships of elders. There are a lot of girls at the MTC currently preparing to serve in Montreal. A couple were called only French speaking, two (that I know of) are fluent in Spanish and are learning French, and there are three of us who can speak French who are learning Spanish. They are all wonderful and I’m excited to serve with them in the field. The elders in my district are serving in Guatemala, Costa Rica, and Mexico (though the one going to Mexico, Elder Bangerter, is leaving next week to be transferred to the Mexico MTC).

One of the main nuggets of wisdom that “older” (read: been in the MTC longer) missionaries enjoy bestowing upon newbies is “just make it to Sunday.” The first couple of days in the MTC are exciting, spiritual, and a small bit frightening. I was missing family and my old life, like many of the other missionaries, and it was hard to get used to the rigorous missionary schedule. Every Sunday we get the opportunity to watch films or old MTC devotionals, and so my district and I decided to watch the “Character of Christ” Christmas devotional by Elder David Bednar. Oh my goodness amazing. He emphasized that you need to focus outward and develop first a personal conversion as you help others learn about the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Even still, on Monday I was having my fears and I was feeling quite inadequate, especially as I was called as Zone Sister Training Leader. During a coaching session with a teaching hermana I broke down in front of all the other sisters, and it was not too pretty. They were able to make me feel so much better, and I’ve been fine since (though, of course, the language is a struggle). The MTC believes in complete immersion, which I also believe in, though the first couple days made me feel like I was dog-paddling through the language rather than being immersed in it. The Spirit helps though, in so many wonderful ways. During lessons with our investigators (investigators are assigned to you on the second day, yes) I’ve been able to remember words in Espanol that I saw on billboards as a kid in LA, in phone books, or labels on food. Our investigators are either real or actors (we are not told either way), and their names are Hely and Yerick. They are both so kind and so patient as me and my companion try to explain gospel topics in broken Spanish.

I love you all so much!!

Meredith

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Editor’s Note:  The letter and photos were sent 11/6/14

Meredith’s first Letter from the MTC!

Getting dropped off at the MTC in Provo, Utah, Oct 29, 2014 1:30pm.

Getting dropped off at the MTC in Provo, Utah, Oct 29, 2014 1:30pm.

¡Hola Familia!

¡Feliz Halloween 10/31/14!

I am so sorry for not writing sooner!  I was sure that the MTC would let us write home a quick email on our first day, but I had my name tags & books and was in my first Spanish class in what felt like 10 seconds.  I got two name tags; one for Hermana Hanna and one for her Québecoise alter ego, Soeur Hanna.  Hermana Hanna is the tag I wear all the time since it is the language I am learning full time and that I’m expected to speak full time, even at my incredibly beginning level.  Conversations with other missionaries are spotted with “Muy bien” and “yo no sé” and “que suave” (a popular one among the elders).

On my first day I met my district:  2 companionships of elders and 2 of hermanas.  3 of the 4 hermanas are going French & Spanish speaking to Montreal, and the other (my compañera) Herman Rees is going to Panama.  Hermana Rees was scheduled to go to Mexico City for the MTC, but with visa issues was told 3 days before her flight that she was going to Provo.  Oh the vicissitudes of international travel.  The elders are all going to South America, except for one who is actually being transferred to the Mexico City MTC in 12 days.

The first day [of the MTC] consists of classes and orientations.  One of my teaching preparation classes was taught by that one elder from “The District” that I accosted in the BYU library and made take a selfie with me.  An orientation to the MTC preceded it.  Interestingly, when we sang the song “We are as the armies of Helaman” (I forget the actual title), they changed the words from “we will be the Lord’s missionaries” to “we are now the Lord’s missionaries.”  It gave a sudden realness to the fact that we are now in the place we had prepared for and dreamed of for so long.

A lot of people have told me that a mission is an emotional roller coaster.  Though all of the hermanas and elders say that once you get past the first Sunday you’re fine, you definitely go through a couple roller-coaster-esque highs and lows before then.  I do love the MTC, but it does not believe in introducing new material gradually.  Your teacher speaks in the language with no English for (usually) your entire stay, which for me is 6 weeks.  This frustration with difficulty learning the language is, however, offset by inspiring classes and teachers and by the wonderful spirit of the MTC.  Our district has gotten close through the adversity, and they are all great support as I struggle to separate my French from Spanish.

The other hermanas are all really nice, and we’ve become good friends.  Yesterday I was called as the Sister Training leader for our zone.  As of right now us 4 hermanas make up the sisters in our zone.  We were quite popular the first day and didn’t know why until the branch president mentioned they hadn’t had hermanas in 3 weeks.  We might get more next week, so me and my companion would have to give an orientation.  We also get a nifty little pre-set phone.( I am not allowed to know the number, sorry) to call the MTC office in an emergency, so that’s a little cool.  I mean, suave.  hehe.

There have been a couple times I’ve felt like breaking down, crying, and running out of the George Q. Cannon building and onto BYU campus.  But there have also been times more powerful when I’ve felt the importance of what I’m doing, and also so much love for the people I’m doing it for.  I’ve felt the spirit here in wanting so much to be a better person and to help and love others the best I can.  I want so badly to be a good missionary and take advantage of every second! I hope that I can and that I’ll make you all proud.

I love you all so much!

Bises,

Meredith

–because I love my name and love writing my name after being Hermana all day 🙂

P.S. I saw Elder Urbani in the cafeteria on my first day.  Talking in French with him definitely made me feel better after metaphorically drowning in Expañol.

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***Notes from Meredith’s mom who is typing out Meredith’s letters and updating her blog:

Each missionary has an email address, but Meredith doesn’t seem to have time to read/write emails yet.  So please use her physical address to send her letters.  She would love to get more mail!

Sister Meredith Anne Hanna
DEC09  CAN-MON
2009 N 900 E Unit 178
Provo UT 84602

Language Primer:  Hermana = Sister in Spanish

Elder Urbani is the son of Frederic Urbani, a dear friend from my mission in France.  Elder Urbani’s sister is in England on a mission while he is in the MTC in Provo preparing to go to Tahiti.