Hi Mom! Hi Dad!
I am taking this opportunity to write to you both now on Tuesday rather than Thursday because Thursday is Thanksgiving. The MTC does something very special this Thursday to celebrate "El dia de accion de gracias" but I do not specifically know what. I will keep you posted. My new companion, Hermana Emily Ann Higinbotham, from Orem, UT, has her preparation day today because she leaves for San Jose, California tomorrow. I spent the last week with her district, District J in Branch 55, but all of them have left besides her. She leaves tomorrow morning at 5:00 A.M.
It is rather ironic how most of the missionaries leave between 3:00 A.M. and 6:00 A.M. each Monday through Wednesday mornings of their determined departure date. Then, there is enough time in the morning to prepare for the new missionaries to come in each Wednesday afternoon. Last week on Wednesday, I was able to be a host for the incoming sisters with District J, show them their rooms, where they would have their classes, and around the MTC campus. The one sister I was able to host that day before I had to leave for my physical therapy appointment was Sister Jardine from Canada. She had arrived at the MTC the Tuesday night before at a very late hour. The MTC hosted her for the night because she had traveled so far and didn't have anywhere to stay. This was the case for at least 100 elders and sisters traveling from around the world. Unfortuately, Sister Jardine's luggage (both suitcases) were lost after she rechecked them. (Remember what happened to me when I arrived in Spain. Same thing happened for her. Porbrecita!) I put on my most cheerful disposition to reassure her that the Lord takes care of ALL his missionaries. Plus, I told her of my experience in Spain so she could be reassured that this happens to many people, not just herself. I thought this would cheer her up, but her facial expressions and mannerisms did not leave much room for emotions so I couldn't tell. She had arrived at around 3:00 or 4:00 A.M. that morning, though, so she was very tired.
This week we are not welcoming any new missionaries because of the holiday, so last week when I was a host, 655 people entered. That is double or one-third more than the MTC normally welcomes in one week. Actually, Brother Heaton, the Administrative Director here at the MTC gave a fireside two Sundays ago (we have a fireside every Sunday evening at 7:00 P.M. and a devotional every Tuesday evening at the same time). He described to all the missionaries what the church estimated would be the amount of missionaries in the mission field starting next year versus what it will actually be. I hope that sentence makes sense. He described that the Church had studied the numbers of young men and young women in the Church at present and guesstimated 52,000 missionaries would be in the field by the beginning of next year. However, with the number of mission calls being issued, we shall find that 56,000 missionaries will actually be in the field starting next year. That is why building 4M on the MTC campus is being stripped and rerenovated right now to welcome the increased number. Isn't God's work going forth?
To update you on my knee, I went to my follow-up appointment with Dr. Scott Jackson this morning at 8:20 A.M. He said everything looks great and fixed. I have one more appointment with him on December 6 at 8:20 A.M. in his Provo clinic at the Utah Valley Clinic. He promised to give me clearance to leave on my mission at that doctor's appointment. YAY! I go to the Spinal, Orthopedic, and Surgical Physical Therapy clinic at 3303 North University Ave in Provo. They nickname the clinic SOS Physical Therapy. Isn't that funny?! It is definitely saving my soul because I am so ready to leave the MTC as soon as my knee is strong enough to withstand all the walking I will do in Ecuador.
Other than that, Mom, I received both pairs of shoes that you reordered. The Clarks fit perfectly. The Sketchers are a little small, but I am sure that if I wear them here, they will stretch out for sure. If I had the same pair in a size up, it would have been too big. The Sketchers are super comfy, probably the most comfortable shoes I own. Thank you for reordering them in a half size smaller. For the things that I need, I am going to try and find what I need in the MTC Bookstore or depend on the charity of others until I leave for Ecuador. I am using my raincoat with the inside liner to keep me warm and I add the gloves Mom sent me for extra warmth. The MTC Bookstore sells nude control top tights, so I am using a few pair of those. I want to thank you both for doing everything possible to keep me warm and clothed properly. I don't know what I would do if I didn't have your support.
I keep hearing stories of sisters and elders who joined the church as a young adult. Then, they served a mission when they reached 19 or 21 years of age. However, for some reason, their parents disowned them and friends dismissed them. While they were on their mission, they didn't receive any mail or packages from family or friends. Especially around the holidays. Maybe you can put together something for the missionaries here and send it. Don't put a mailbox number on it. Just address it to someone in need of a package. I know you can get creative. My heart just goes out to them for the sacrifice they give to the Church and the Lord. Dad, was your mission kind of like that? I admire you so much more now. Can I just express my love to you for serving your mission amongst all the opposition you must have faced from your family. I can promise you that it definitely made a difference in my life as well as our family's.
Now that I have seen two different districts leave the MTC, I consider myself an expert. I want to fill you in on a few things. The day that I leave the MTC, I am allowed to call you and Dad from a pay phone at the airport. All missionaries are allowed one phone call. President Evans, my branch president, gave me permission to call both of you. I am allowed to call you on Christmas Day when I am in the field. I am allowed to set up a specific time with you then to talk to the whole family.
I think that is all I can think of right now. I love you all very much. How are my siblings doing? Please write to me soon. I haven't heard from you yet this week. I hope I have answered all your questions and requests in your letters. I love you both very much.