Dear Mom and Dad,
I only have 26 minutes to write you and I have so much to say because so much has happened in the last week since I got here! So if my spelling or grammar is bad I’m sorry, it’s just because I’m rushing to get in a much as possible.
So, after you all dropped me at the curb at the MTC, I was escorted by my host Elder who is from Australia. He gave me the low down on what goes on here and I was very excited to start. As soon as I got all my papers that I needed I met back up with him to go to my room. That day is all a big blur, so it is a good thing I have been writing in my journal everyday so I know what I did! After I went to my room, I had to go to my classroom where I met my district! Everyone in my district seems really cool and I am excited to get to know them over the next 9 weeks. I then met my Spanish teacher Hermano Garcia and I found out he is from Chile. He is a really cool guy and I feel the spirit strongly every time we have class. I then met my companion Elder Larson who introduced himself to me by asking if I liked to play soccer. I said of course I like to play soccer and from then on I knew we would be great companions together!
After I got to meet everyone, we went to lunch where I saw Bennett Nichols sitting next to one of my friends from BYU-I. They were sitting together at lunch and once I yelled over to Bennett the whole table threw up the Skizzy! Ha-ha they told me that they have been spreading the Skizzy and telling people about me hah, I don’t know why. I have got to tell you about two Elders I met named Elder Sansbury and Elder Olsen. I told them about the Skizzy and now every time I look over at them, wherever they are; I see them teaching people the Skizzy. So everywhere I go now people are throwing it up and saying “Yo Elder Dolor (means Payne in Spanish).
As I talked to Bennett, he told me about this game they play at the cafeteria called reverse pick pocketing! Instead of taking something out of someone’s pocket you put something in someone’s pocket! So they take spoons and put them into people’s pockets when they aren’t looking ha-ha! We have been playing this game during breakfast lunch and dinner! When you check your pockets you end up having like 3 or 4 spoons in them. Kids are getting really good at being sneaky. The spoon game has been going nuts because everyone is playing now, some people end up going back to their rooms with spoons in every pocket! I don’t participate that much but it is so funny to watch it happening.
After dinner we talked to some investigators about the church and it was like a roll playing thing in a group. Me and my companion stood up and shared our testimonies in Spanish about prayer with one of the investigators! I sat next to Elder Utuifi in one of the groups (remember the Elder we met at the Distribution Center). It was hard to teach some of the investigators because most of the elders in the group don’t know Spanish very well yet.
Anyway, I went back to the apartment and met everyone on the top floor where we are staying. One of the Elders next door is an Elder Payne too, but I don’t think we are related. I then met the other guys on the floor and we are all really good friends now. My district and I have also made up a competition to see who can do the most pull-ups at the end of 9 weeks. The winner gets 1 tie from every loser! I hope I win, so I can get some cool new ties! I am up to 24 pull-ups in a row right now; I think there is something in the food here that makes you stronger or something. After 9 weeks I should be back up to my 30 in a row during my wrestling days.
I can also see the gift of tongues helping me as I say Spanish words that I have never said in my life during conversations. My Spanish is improving dramatically and I thank the Lord for that. We met the Branch President and counselors and they're awesome! I also had an amazing spiritual experience! My companion Elder Larson wasn’t feeling well so he asked me to give him a blessing and I did. I’m glad that he had so much faith in me even though he hasn’t known me for more than 2 days. But it feels like 2 weeks here. We have now gotten Elder Riches in our companionship making us a trio. He is tight and we all get along together very well.
I have been a little sick while at the MTC these past few days but I have still enjoyed it thoroughly. I figure if I like it here when I’m sick, I’m really going to like it when I’m a 100% healthy. The food is good here, and I was able to share my testimony in Spanish the other day with 3 random people in the MTC. My testimony is growing and so is my desire to study the scriptures every day. If you would have told me that I would like to read and study for 16 hours a day a month ago I would have said you're crazy! But I really do love to study the words of God and learn more about Spanish everyday!
When I got here they told us we weren’t allowed to say Dude or Bro anymore, so I am trying to substitute it with other words like Elders of Zion, or Disciples of the Lord, etc. I got a letter from Elder Hardy the other day and he was like Dear Dawg, I miss your attitude Bro. So I know I can still talk like that a little, I just have to know when, and pick appropriate places. Our first companionship inventory went real well and I felt the spirit as our companionship counseled with each other. The rules here are pretty strict but I know as I follow them the Lord will bless me as He has already blessed me so much!
It has been so great here and I really love it. The spirit is so strong and I know that I am doing what the Lord wants me to do right now. Sunday was such a spiritual day and it was great to reflect on what has happened. I just want to leave you with my testimony and say that I know God lives and he loves me! I know that Jesus is his son and my Savior! I know that the work I am embarking on is the Lord’s work and I can’t wait to serve him and the people of Portland Oregon. I’ve got 20 seconds left, so peace out!