June 30, 2011

2 emails in 2 days!!!

June 30, 2011


Everything is going great here in Spain! Obviously not a ton has happened since yesterday but there are a few things I want to share and I´ll attach a few pictures as well.

Yesterday we had about an hour to go out and have gym time. Here we're allowed to go down the street to play soccer or ping pong at a park (yes, they have outdoor ping pong tables in the parks here). The soccer "field" there is SO awesome. It is a big cement rectangle down about 15 feet into the ground and surrounded by huge stone steps that they use for seats sometimes. Obviously they were all covered in grafitti, but we couldn't understand what any of it said...probably because it isn't the sort of vocabulary they would teach in the MTC... Unfortunately we were there pretty late in the afternoon so there were no Spaniards to show us up, but it was still super awesome. Today we're going to the tourist district in downtown Madrid; can't wait!

So more about the food. It is seriously so much better here than in the States. Last night I ate the best fruit I have ever had in my entire life. We also had delicious chicken kabobs that were cooked in olive oil and some ham. It was so great. Her they call juice "zumo" (pronounced "thumo") instead of "jugo" like in Latin America. It is all made with real fruit and without sugar added. It smells a bit weird but tastes way better. Even the yogurt and dessert is better here...it is hard to explain, but you'll just have to trust me. They know how to do it in Spain.

Well, I think that is about it. We went to the temple this morning and it was really incredible. The temple here is absolutely beautiful. I'm so grateful I have a few more chances to go before I head down to Málaga. There is a special spirit here at Spain's temple square, I could feel it as soon as we came. I love being here and can't wait to share with people how they can feel the joy and peace that we can feel through the Gospel and in the temples.

I love you all!
Elder Mockler

Andy's Provo MTC District.
Elders Weeks, Rigsby, Ferrell, Bauer, Michelsen, Ehlen, and Hermana Bailey
The 3 Elders in the center left the MTC Tuesday (Elder Ferrell, Elder Weeks, and Andy). On the ends are their MTC teachers Hermano Bell and Hermana Esplin.
View from the staircases in the Madrid MTC.  The temple with some of Madrid behind it.

June 29, 2011

I'm in Spain!

Hola familia!
So I´m here in Madrid safe and sound! It's crazy to think I´m really here...in Europe...which is not America. Also I can't believe it is Wednesday....I lost all of my Tuesday to flying and time changes, so the days are a bit messed up now. All 13 of us in my group are running on about 4 hours or sleep in the last 2 days, so things are pretty interesting. We get to go to bed after dinner, I'm so excited.
Well, in case anyone didn't know, Spain is definitely another country. It is so cool to be somewhere so different. The first thing I noticed is that it is super hot. Everywhere. They don't believe in AC really. We're lucky to have it in a lot of our rooms here in the CCM but most places don't have it. Not even the airport had it in most of the places we were in while we were leaving. They also don't really believe in having grass, which makes sense because they also don't believe in having houses. Everyone here lives in high-rise apartment complexes. It's really wild, there are huge red brick buildings everywhere. And a lot of dirt in between them. And grafitti everywhere else. It kind of reminds me of Southern California sometimes. Except on a different continent 7,000 miles away.
The flight was pretty good. I couldn't sleep very well but it was alright. I read a lot and wrote a few letters and slept for about 2 hours. They fed us both breakfast and dinner. It was pretty awful. But I guess it was better than no food so I can't complain too much. I sat next to a boy from Mexico who just graduated high school and he kept asking me if I wanted to listen to music with his headphones because I must have looked bored. I explained to him a few times that I couldn't but I think he was still a bit confused. We got a lot of interesting looks - I guess I should get used to that for the next few year - and we had a few opportunities to share which was awesome.
So, a little about the Spain MTC. The food here is incredible. Especially after the Provo MTC cafeteria and airplane food. It is so delicious. And the showers are super nice as well. I can honestly say I don't think I've ever used a nicer shower in my life. The rooms are a bit smaller but we can see the temple and the windows are really nice, so it is a fair trade. My group that came today is the only one here, which is unusual. I'll leave next Thursday with 4 others - 1 of which is going to Málaga with me.
As far as Spanish goes, it is definitely a lot different here. I haven't gotten to speak a whole lot because everyone here speaks to us in Spanish today since a lot of Elders haven't had much time in the MTC. I guess I'll see tomorrow how prepared I am to speak! That'll be fun...I can't wait!
If anyone wants to send me mail while I´m at the MTC you may as well just email me. Otherwise just send it to the mission home in Málaga. I have email time again tomorrow because it is our P-Day, so you'll be hearing a lot from me I guess.
Love you!!!
Elder Mockler

June 23, 2011

It's official...I'm going to Spain!!!!!

Well, first things first...I have my visa!!! I go to meet with the Spain consolate on Monday to finish everything up. I'll go to the Madrid MTC for a week for a few meetings and to go to the temple there a few times. I'm so excited!!! I'll leave Tuesday morning. Mom and Dad: I can call you from the airport but I haven't recieved travel plans so I'm not completely sure when....sorry! I think it'll be from Atlanta, though, sometime between 2 and 6 eastern time. But maybe just try to make sure you're ready to answer any calls from payphones :). If I get my plans and find a way to email you I'll make sure to give you more info.
This week is an exciting week here at the MTC...it is the new mission presidents seminar, so all of the Quorum of the 12 and the 1st presidency are here. I ran into Elder Holland today while I was going to the travel office. My brain just about melted out of my ears. So awesome. We have a "special" devotional tomorrow and we're all hoping President Monson will speak. We also have combined sacrament meetings this sunday, which I think means some General Authorities will be in all of them. So awesome! I'm so glad I'm here for this!
Congrats to Owen and Jess! Glad to hear your building a house! Well....paying someone to build a house. But still...way exciting! Make sure you tell your kids I say hi when you start having 'em, ok?
Well, I didn't have a lot of time left over this week with all the visa stuff going on. I hope all is well! I love you all! As always, I'm so grateful for this opportunity to serve. I just want to share something that stood out to me in my studies this week. 1 Nephi 18:21 says:
"And it came to pass that I aprayed unto the Lord; and after I had prayed the winds did cease, and the storm did cease, and there was a great calm."
That is such a great principle for us to learn. We all have storms and winds in our lives, but if we will pray, come unto Christ, and focus on serving others, we can find a great calm. And even though sometimes the winds and the storms won't cease around us, we can find rest and protection through the Lord.
I hope everyone had a great week!!!!
Elder Mockler
P.S. Dad, I didn't send your package until Monday and it didn't get sent out until Tuesday I don't think. Sorry! It should be there soon, though :)

June 20, 2011

One Week to Go! And Happy Father's Day!!!

So it's been another great week here at the MTC! I´ve learned so much this week...we're definitely blessed here to be able to learn. I love it. That doesn´t mean I´m not excited to leave, though! Some elders in my district have started getting their travel plans. Hopefully my visa will get here before the 28th. If not I´ll be reassigned somewhere. Either way is great with me! I can´t wait to be talking to "real" people again!
Aunt D, Uncle Craig, Mom, and everyone else who pitched into the package...thank you SO much! I got it yesterday...so awesome! The ties are great; the envy of 6M floor 3. You are all great!! I love you!
So yesterday I got to be a host elder for the new elders coming in. It was tons of fun. I hosted 2 elders (we "only" got about 400 yesterday...next week is 600!), one from Virginia and one from North Ogden. Mom or Robert, do either of you know a Drew Hill? He and his sister are both here right now. That's so cool! We helped another car with a brother and a sister who were both coming in on the same day!
On Monday we made a district goal to speak only Spanish for the rest of our time here in the MTC. Of course that isn't always possible, we have been speaking a ton. It is crazy how well we can all speak. We're still a long way from fluent, but we're doing great. I'm sure we'll keep growing by leaps and bounds until we leave...and then even more once we're completely immersed!
Our devotional this week was with Sister Wixom who is the Primary General President. I think it was my favorite devotional so far, bar-none. She gave an awesome talk about coming to know our Savior better and how we can build a better relationship with him during our missions and throughout our lives. We sang a bunch of Primary songs, which was funny in a room of 2,000 19-22 year-olds, but it was also a lot of fun. I love being able to hear from such amazing speakers and learn from such great examples here in the MTC.
Happy Father's Day, Dad!! Thanks for being such an awesome Dad. I hope you have a great day on Sunday! I am sending a package today...it probably won't make it there until Monday or Tuesday, sorry about that!
Well, I think that's about it. Thank you for all of your support! I'm so grateful for the opportunity to be here. The Gospel is such an incredible blessing for us. I am so grateful that I live at this time and am able to have the knowledge of the Gospel to bless my life. This week I've thought a lot about the importance of the Temple. I am so thankful for the opportunity I have to go to the temple while I'm here in the MTC. The blessings of the temple are incredible.  I know that we are blessed more than we can imagine when we live the Gospel and that the Lord's hand is always working in our lives - even when we don't notice it.  I'm so glad I have this opportunity to share the joy of the Gospel with the world!
Elder Mockler

June 9, 2011

More of the MTC

Hey everyone! It's another P-day already...I can't believe it!!
So it has been a great week. After setting last Wednesday as "all Spanish" day and realizing it wasn't very tough, we have done it 3 more times. We're hoping to do a whole week before we leave, but we'll see what happens. It is so exciting! There were only 2 real vocabulary slip-ups this week...our District leader told someone that they could be clean from their fish (pescado v. pecado) and I accidentally told another elder he could live with his husband forever (esposo v esposa). Hopefully we'll get that all out before we start confusing investigators.
So on Tuesday, Elder Kikuchi came and spoke to us. It was great. He gave a great message about the Joseph Smith story. It was especially cool to hear him speak to us in English - his second language - because even though it was a bit broken sometimes, he was still a fantastic teacher and we all felt the Spirit. It was a wonderful opportunity.
I got to touch a cell phone this week to take a picture for a teacher. That was pretty rad, I guess.
Dad, sounds like a good weekend of mulching. Definitely don't miss that! Haha. Sounds like everyone is getting all situated with their summer jobs...that's good! Glad to hear everything is goin great in good ol' Indiana. And happy birthday Morgan!!
I think that's about it. No word on the visa this week. I asked in the travel office and they said they haven't heard anything from Spain in quite a while. Hopefully that means it'll be here soon, and luckily that means I haven't missed another wave. I'm grateful to be here at the MTC still, though. It is a great place to learn. There are definitely very special blessings here. I'm so grateful for the Gospel and for the comfort, peace, and purpose it gives to my life. I am SO excited to be able to dedicate my life to sharing that!
Thanks for all your support! I love you all!
Elder Mockler

June 8, 2011

Pictures from the MTC!

Andy sent some pictures in the mail.  It is fun to get a small peek into his world.
 Andy, Elder Tekulve, Elder Stockdale, and Elder Engstrom
They were all in the same ward in Helaman Halls.

Andy and Elder Ferrell

Andy, Elder Banbury, Elder Carlson, and Elder Tyler
Elders Banbury, Carlson, and Tyler are in Spain already.
Elder Banbury is in the Málaga mission too.
 Elder Ferrell, Andy, Elder Bauer

June 2, 2011: It's June!!!

Hey everyone!
So, it was another great week in the MTC! Crazy to believe that I'll be out of here in about 20 days. I'm so excited! Unfortunately no news on the visa still. It's about time for another "wave" of them to come in, so hopefully mine will get here this week sometime. Not sure if they would still send me to the Madrid MTC or not. Hopefully we'll find out!!
Last Friday, Elder Bauer, Elder Ferrell, and I got to leave the MTC to go to the dermatologist. It was super weird to be out of here. We were just in Provo so it was cool because everyone was super nice to us. It was definitely the most "adventure" I've had in quite a while now. It made me super excited to be out in the field because it felt really good to be talking with real people.
Yesterday my district did our first entire day in Spanish. It went really really well. It was frustrating sometimes because there are some things that are still really hard to express and we are lacking a lot of vocabulary, but considering we're just over half way finished here I would say it was a success. We've been teaching a lot in Spanish these past couple of weeks and that has definitely helped.
Last Friday, Hermano Bell, one of our teachers, was out of town and we had a substitute...it was Cameron Clark, who I knew at BYU! That was awesome. It was great to spend some time (sort of) with someone I knew before coming here. Alyssa Kohrman also came into the MTC last week and I see her around every once and a while.
Mom, I printed out some pictures today and I'll mail them to you soon. If you want you can scan them and email them out or put them up on facebook!
Well, I think that's about it for this week. On Sunday I watched the Finding Faith in Christ video online with some people in my zone. It was really great. Afterward I was reading Matthew 11:28. I love that scripture. It is so true. I'm so grateful for the Gospel and the opportunity to share it. I'm thankful that I can come unto Christ and find rest in him. And I am so excited to be able to share that with those in the world who are weary and burdened so that they can find rest in our Savior.
Love you all!
Elder Mockler

May 26, 2011: One Month Already!!

Hey all!
So yesterday was our 1 month mark...crazy! I can't believe it has already been that long. It's been flying by. At the same time, as an Elder in my hallway put it, I am starting to feel like I "was born here." Seriously, so much has happened, it's crazy. Spanish is coming along really well; we're trying to speak more and more every day. Hopefully soon we'll be doing all Spanish, but it is hard since there is a lot we don't know how to say. Not to mention our vocabulary is still pretty limited. It'll come soon enough though!
Elder Carroll went to Spain last Friday, so his companion, Elder Bauer, got put in a 3-some with Elder Ferrell and I. He is a great guy. He is from Bloomington, Illinois, and he speaks Spanish really well because his mom spoke it in his home. He isn't quite fluent, but he is definitely ahead of us. It's has been good to have him around with us! All the Elders going to Spain have left except Elder Bauer and I....we have tons more space in the classroom now. That's been a welcome change, for sure.
Still no visa news, unfortunately. I'm ok with that, though; I really love my district and my teachers here, so I don't mind sticking around. But, as soon as my visa comes in I'll be just as excited to get out of here!!! Mom and Dad, if my visa comes in and I'm leaving before I get a chance to email I'm pretty sure they'll let me call you and let you know, as well as tell you when I can call from the airport. So no worries about missing me! We'll be able to figure it out.
Speaking of getting out of here, I get to leave the MTC tomorrow to go to the dermatologist. It isn't going to be very fun to be there, but I think it'll be worth it to be out into the "real world" for a few hours. We just ride the shuttle to the doctor and back, but its out of the MTC! Woo! Mom and Dad, when they called you I was sitting right across from the receptionist who called you. It was funny to just sit there listening to her talk to you knowing that I couldn't! Haha
Today I saw Jimmer Fredette at the temple. That was pretty awesome. He was in my session. It took me really off guard when I looked over and recognized him! Just a brush with fame, or something like that. One of the older temple workers was pretty excited to see him. It was funny.
Elder Nelson came and spoke to us on Tuesday. 2 apostles in 4 weeks is pretty good, even for the MTC. it's always a blessing to hear from apostles here. Mom, Elder Scott and Elder Oaks came the week before I was here. I think they were there on the Sunday and Tuesday before I entered the MTC.
I saw the news about all the tornadoes on the church news website the other day. All the missionaries in Missouri were safe, which is great. Sounds like things have been crazy since I left! I hope everyone is safe and healthy. I love you all! Thanks for your support! Sorry I don't have a whole lot of exciting things to email about, most everything is the same here in the MTC. But that isn't a bad thing - it's an amazing place to be. I have learned so much and my testimony of this gospel has really grown since I've been here. I know that we can feel joy and peace through this Gospel. I'm so excited to share it with the world.
Elder Mockler

May 19, 2011: Another Week and Happy Birthday Owen!

Hey everyone!
Happy birthday, Owen! I meant to send you a real letter, but I never know what day of the week it is anymore, and it seems like there hasn't been any time between Monday when I thought about that and today. So I'll send something and it'll be a bit late. I hope you have a great birthday today! And take some time off from thinking about how old you are to have some fun!
This week really flew by. It seriously feels like I was just barely emailing. I also only had half as much laundry this week, so maybe I missed a few days. I wouldn't be surprised if I slept through a few. We learned a new phrase yesterday - "estoy hecho polvo," which means, more or less, "extremely tired." Literally it is "I'm made dust" or "I've been made into dust" or something like that. Pretty accurate, I'd say.
Speaking of Spanish, it has been coming along really well. We've been speaking a lot this week, and for the past few days it has been probably more than half Spanish. It's been hard, but also really rewarding. It has also provided plenty of entertainment. The other day in the TRC someone in my district was teaching a lesson and instead of saying that "Jesucristo tiene un cuerpo de carne y huesos (flesh and bones)" he said "Jesucristo tiene un cuerpo de sangre y huevos" - Jesus Christ has a body of blood and eggs. That's only one of many, like when I said Zoram was a napkin of Laban and when our district leader said he loves his "hijos y esponja" - children and sponge. Our Spanish is definitely improving despite our mix-ups; we'll probably be able to do an entire day in Spanish by the end of next week. Pretty exciting considering we're not even half way done in the MTC.
More bad visa news. Nothing yet. I asked at the travel office and they said that Spain visas rarely get rejected, so that is good. It's just a matter of waiting. 3 Elders and 1 Sister left for Spain on Tuesday morning. It was sad to see them go, especially since I could have been going with them. Yesterday another Elder in my district got his visa, along with lots of other Spain elders. He said they told him he is leaving tomorrow. That's pretty quick, but I wouldn't be surprised. I know it'll come in soon, though, and I really like it here, so the wait isn't too awful. I am definitely glad to get some more "comfortable" language training before being left high and dry in Spain.
So besides that, not a ton has been happening. Just the same old studying and sleeping. On Tuesdays we do an hour of "service" at 6am, aka cleaning the MTC. This week I got to vacuum using the "ghost buster" vacuum backpack. That was pretty fun, I guess. Oh, and there are new washers in the laundry room this week. That's pretty rad.
Thanks for sending that article, Dad. Definitely some good advice in there. Not just for missionaries, but for the rest of my life. I really enjoyed it. Sounds like everyone is looking for a job right now, that's a bummer. Just another mission blessing, I guess...no looking for jobs for the next 2 years! Blake sent me a letter saying that they were at Paul's the other day talking about how bumming around in his basement just isn't the same as bumming around in ours. I'll just go ahead and tell them to start hanging out at the house from now on....they can keep Rosey company!
Mom, it definitely has been cold and wet around here. It was raining all morning today and been pretty gross since Sunday. Elder Ferrell and I walked all the way to the temple in the rain this morning only to realize we forgot our recommends, so we had to walk all the way back to the MTC to get them. It was a bummer. Anything I need to make sure I'm doing with my suits when they get wet? I'm sure they'll get pretty soaked a few times in the next few years. We caught wind of the Spain earthquake as well. Sounds like everything was fine, though. And thanks for sending me that info about the Roldans! I had forgotten about them. I didn't even know they weren't Mormon. Good to hear they're keeping the missionaries company, though! Oh and thanks for the cookies, too! They were very much appreciated by my district. My license got here fine as well.
Thank you to everyone for your love and support! This Gospel is undoubtedly a marvelous work that is coming forth among the children of men. I'm so blessed to be here at the MTC and to be able to be a missionary to bring the world the Gospel. I've already been blessed so much. I know that the promise in D&C 4 is real: "Ask and ye shall receive, knock and it shall be opened unto you, Amen."
-Elder Mockler

May 12, 2011: Another Week at the MTC

Well, here we are. Another P-Day.
Not a ton has happened this week. Honestly, in the MTC every day is basically the same. We have class for 3-6 hours, depending on the day, and then the rest of our time is devoted to personal study or language study. Whitney, you had asked me before how language study works in the MTC...we have 3 language study books: a small red book of vocab and phrases, a bigger red book of grammar, and a big green book of grammar and vocab which is like a school textbook. We never really use the green one though. The two red ones are made by the church and are super helpful. We also use a program called TALL (technology assisted language learning) that was created by BYU for the MTC. It can be a little annoying but it is helpful. We use that for about an hour a day.
We got some new Elders in our zone this week. That's exciting. I don't know any of them yet, but the fact that I get excited when new Elders come into our hallway is a testament to how exciting any kind of variation is around here, haha.
Mom, of course you don't need to address your emails to Elder Mockler. I get called that here all the time, so reading my real name is kind of nice every once in a while! That paisley tie we got at men's warehouse always gets good offers, but I don't think I'll ever trade it. Nothing is worth it. Thanks for sending the bread, it was in great condition and my zone enjoyed it immensley! It was a great surprise to open a box and find a loaf of bread. I got a good laugh after the shock subsided, haha. As far as a photobucket go, I definitely can't do it here at the MTC. We can only go to a few websites. And there is no way to get pictures off my camera while I'm here. I might go print some this week and I'll mail them to you. And yes, they use Euros in Spain. That seems to be a common point of confusion, though; a few people have asked me that...Also, could you send me a list of everyone you forward this to? Just curious! Oh! And I saw Sister Weight here. I forgot to tell you that. She left a week or two ago already but it was great to see her while she was still here! She is headed to California.
Dad, thank you for the package! I got it. The pictures were great! I put them up at my desk in my room. Sounds like you guys are staying busy there, which is good. And its also good that you aren't traveling for a bit...you'll finally be able to really get lots of stuff done with the house! My companion is going to Iowa and whenever we talk about it I miss the midwest. That doesn't happen often! Haha. As for email, I only get a chance to read it once I week. thursday mornings I print out all my emails and then I write these emails in the afternoon. Also, I had to get part 2 of my Hep A vaccination today and I payed with the Amex. hope that's ok.
I checked on my visa today and it hasn't come in. The guy in the travel office told me to plan on being here for the full 9 weeks, but if it comes in soon they'll send me there right away. I'm not getting my hopes up though. Kind of a bummer that I won't get to go to Madrid at all while I'm there, but in the end it isn't a big deal to me at all. What really matters to me is that my visa comes in before my departure date. I am excited, though, to get away from the food here. It just does weird, weird things to you.
Great news about the Brocks. If they finish before I leave I might need you to send me a CD player and an aux cord so I can listen to it....
Spanish is going really well. I still have a hard time speaking it in the mornings especially, but sometimes I feel really good about it. Hopefully by 6 weeks from now I'll be feeling really good about it all the time. I know most of the grammar I need, so now it's all about vocab. They reccommend that you learn 20-25 words a day, which turns into like 1500 words by the time you leave the MTC. I haven't quite been keeping up with that so hopefully I can make up for it by next week. As a district, we are trying to speak Spanish from breakfast until dinner everyday, and then in the classroom after dinner as well. So far we still have to use quite a bit of Spanglish to clarify, but it is definitely helping us improve. And its a lot of fun to hear the crazy things we all say, haha.
On Tuesday, Neil L. Anderson came and spoke to us. It was an incredible opportunity. If you can find it online I would recommend reading it. I'm so grateful for the opportunity I have to be here and to hear such incredible men speak to us. Afterward we went out and he came and shook our hands! Haha, it was great. Yet another thing that I probably get way too excited about now that I'm a missionary.
Well, I think that is about it. If you have any questions make sure you email them to me...that helps me know what to put in here. Thanks to everyone for your support, letters, and emails! I love you!!
-Elder Mockler

May 5, 2011: Week Two

Hey y'all!
So mom, I asked Elder Ferrel about Mike and Jan Franks...he says that one of his best friends is their son Jordan! I guess they live right down the street from each other. Crazy eh? Also, thanks for the news about Osama Bin Laden. We heard right after it happened from some Elders who were on their P-Day. Taylor B. had the brilliant observation that it was America's way of 1-upping the royal wedding. Ha. Also, we get like $6 on our MTC cards every week to spend on random stuff. It isn't a ton....but it is enough for us! Especially since almost everything here is free for us. I will probably need a bit of money before I leave for spain to dry clean my suits. I'll let you know.
And dad, thanks for getting my glasses. I don't think I need anything else. I definitely don't need the shoes I left there - I have plenty of shoes already :). Thank you!! And pictures in emails are great. It is best if you send them seperate from any "letters" though, because of the way my district prints out our emails and whatnot. Anyway, I would love to get pics from you!
Still no news about the visa. Hopefully I'll hear soon though. I wouldn't mind too much if I had to stay here for all 9 weeks because I really like my teachers and it is easy to get mail. And I'm learning the language pretty well already. But I definitely want to get it before I'm supposed to leave the MTC....I want to go straight to Malaga! Haha.
So my ward here is just my zone. So there are maybe 30 of us at the most. We're actually just a branch. And it is all in Spanish. Our branch president is President Dennis. One of his councelors is Brother Smith, who was Mission President in the Marshall Islands while Ben Knecht was there. Pretty cool. President Dennis speaks Welsh so he does a lot of Geneology from early Wales because a lot of the names are hard to find since not many people speak the language. I guess that is what he does to wake himself up in the morning. To each his own...
As far as language training, we speak a ton of Spanish here. Whenever we have a teacher in the classroom (3 or 6 hours during the day, depending on the day), they try to speak only Spanish. In a few days they are going to speak in Spanish exclusively. We don't have any culture classes really. Every once and a while they'll mention something. I'm sure anything big I would hear about before I get there, but for the most part I guess it is just do or die when you're there. One of my teachers, Hermano Bell, served in the Malaga mission a few years ago so he has told us a few interesting things. Nothing too crazy, though. They give us lots of resources to use to learn the language. They have 2 great books that the church has produced that have all kinds of phrases and grammar as well as conjugation charts and stuff. And then we also have a program called TALL that I would assume is kind of like Rosetta Stone that we use for a couple hours a week. They definitely have this whole language learning thing down.
So, a couple of funny stories from this week.
First, yesterday our District sat down at lunch and I was next to a senior couple who is here for the week before they serve in Idaho. They asked me where I was serving and I said Spain. Then the lady said "Oh! So you're learning Italian?" It was hard not to laugh. I said "No....actually I'm learning Spanish" and she just looked a bit confused and was like "Ohhh Spain....Spanish....I was thinking of France." I said "France?" And she said "Wait...Italy!" I didn't laugh at her then. But we all had a good laugh after dinner.
Then, at dinner, I was walking to get some more water and I heard someone yell "Andy!...I mean Elder Mockler!!" I turned around and found who it was....and definitely didn't recognize him. And then he said "You're a legend!!" Needless to say I was pretty taken off guard and said "should I know you?" And he said "probably not...you're the drummer from The Brocks though!! We met at your last show!" Hahaha. It was awesome. I guess now that I'm safely on my mission people can remember that I'm in the band, eh?
The MTC has a bustling tie-trading economy. Paisley is the most valuable currency, by far. It's like the US dollarof the MTC. You can trade a paisley for anything. Anyway, I had great success in my tie trading. My ties were most desirable in my zone. It was excellent. I like my ties, though, so I didn't trade much. Only 1 tie, which was a good 2-for-1 for a tan tie covered in palm trees and another paisley. Score.
On Sunday nights they let us watch movies. But only sort of. They play a couple missionary related Conference talks in one room and some stuff like that, and then in the gym they play The Testaments. I had never seen it before, so that's what we watched (The Testaments, that is). It was SO good! Seriously. I've never seen so many guys crying in one place. I doubt you could make that many men cry in one place anywhere else in the world, haha. Made me realize how much Jesus Christ sacrificed for us and the love he has for us. Everyday I am amazed at how much I learn about his love. And then the next day I will always learn even more. The MTC is an amazing place. I can definitely see The Lord's hand in my life and see how am I being blessed every day. It is a great opportunity to be able to serve.
Anyway, I'm almost out of time. I love you all!!
-Elder Mockler
P.S. apparently there is no way to attach pictures through these computers. Bummer. I guess I'll send some in 9 weeks? Haha! I'll try to send some in my letters as well.
P.P.S. Happy mother's day, Mom!!!!! I won't be able to call home until I am going to the airport. There isn't really anything here for me to send to you, either. But know that I love you!

April 30, 2011: Life in the MTC


So, it's been a pretty crazy couple of days! We have P-Day on Saturday this week which is why I'm emailing now. Usually it will be on Thursday, though. We couldn't do our normal P-Day stuff because we were still being "oriented" or whatever. So yeah, my next email should come on Thursday. I don't have a lot of time during the week to write letters either...mostly just lots of time on P-Day and about 15 minutes right before bed (but usually there are elders in our room during that time, so it's impossible to get anything done.)

I don't really know what to write about. I'll just see what comes to mind for the next 20 minutes I have on the computer.

First of all, my companion's name is Elder Ferrell. He is from California. Roseville? I think. He is actually Will Ferrell's cousin. Actually he isn't Will Ferrell's cousin and that isn't even a funny joke. But it is after a few days around here. Humor is the first thing to go to pot, I guess. Gotta get rid of a few things to fit all that missionary stuff in my brain I guess. Anyway, he is going to the Des Moines, Iowa mission. Speaking Spanish. He got moved into our district last minute, which is good because it avoided having a trio of elders, but also a bummer because we aren't really all matched up by our mission (don't get me wrong, having him is not a bummer. He is awesome). There are 3 elders and a sister headed to Barcelona (Elders Tyler, Carlson, Carroll, y Hermana Reeder), 1 to Panama (Elder Rigsby), 2 to Honduras (Elders Michelson and Ehler) , 1 to Maryland (Elder Weeks (or as we call him, Elder Semanas), who is also our District Leader), 1 to Des Moines (Elder Ferrell), and 1 other to Malaga (Elder Banbury)

We have been speaking a lot of Spanish already. I'm in the intermediate Spanish program, which means the majority of our classes are in Spanish and we have to speak in Spanish a lot while we learn. And I think we have to teach in Spanish next week. Scary. Also we've decided you get put in the intermediate level as long as you understand more than 5 words of Spanish. So they have pretty high expectations for us, but also a lot of faith in our ability to learn.

The keyboards in this lab are absolutely terrible. I guess that's what happens when hundreds of missionaries are trying to pound out a letter in a half hour every day of every week for years.

The schedule here is always super crazy for the first few days, but I think it has been especially difficult for my group of missionaries. They are starting a lot of new programs with us and everyone here got a new schedule, so everyone is trying to adjust to that. Although everyone else had a bit easier of a time of that than we did, ha. They're also doing construction in the cafeteria, so we haven't gotten to experience the true joy of the MTC cafeteria. The lines are always super long and the tables are crowded. It has been excellent so far, though. A lot like the cannon center but the fruit is way better. Which is great.

On Thursday a bunch of visas came in. 3 elders and 1 hermana in my district got their visas. Unfortunately....I didn't get mine yet. Hopefully it will come soon. Mom, do you remember when we sent ours in? They all said they finished in early February. I guess the consolate is going to Madrid for a few weeks soon, so it better come in before he leaves or else I'll be stuck here for a long time...

I saw Elder Tekulve within like 20 minutes of getting here. I had just been launched through the building where I got my name tag and my picture taken and some other stuff, and upon exiting, looking for my host elder like a lost puppy, I heard my name in the crowd. It was a glorious reunion. I think everything was in slow-motion for a minute. We have all our meals together so I see him quite a bit. It's great. He leaves a week from Monday for Russia. He speaks Russian quite well from what I can tell. Sometimes our conversations are pretty bad because he'll accidentally say things in Russian and I have no idea what he is saying. And then I'll use one of the 5 Spanish words I know and he won't know what I'm saying. But it's still great to see him.

So that's about everything. The language has been pretty hard so far, especially speaking. We have to learn a lot of new vocab and we are reviewing/learning a lot of grammar as well. It has been a challenge not to be discouraged sometimes. However, as I have humbled myself and prayed for help and comfort, I have been blessed with the ability to speak when I need to and I have been able to feel the love of our Savior. I know he loves each of us personally and that we can access that love anytime we need it. The MTC is a great place. Sometimes it is a challenge but in the space of 4 days I have already matured and learned more than I could anywhere else in the world with weeks to do the same.

I hope all is well out in the "real" world! I love you all!!

Elder Andrew Mockler

P.S. if you have any questions, let me know. It'll help me know what to put in these letters :)