Tuesday, September 29, 2009

MTC Week 1: The Making of a Missionary

Austin's second letter was full of promise. He is a bit overwhelmed with the transition to missionary life but is courageously attacking challenges head on. He is still charming and humorous, even amid challenging circumstances, and it will be exciting to compare his letters months from now.

With Mike currently in Afghanistan and Austin on a mission for two years, our family is filled with joy and pride from their service to God and Country, but empty as a result of our separation. However, with four kids still at home, life is still abundantly filled with excitement and anticipation as we balance activities between home, work, school, church, and oh yes,...teen social life. Again, we express our love and appreciation for your thoughts and prayers for our family, and especially for our two men away from home. An excerpt from Austin's letter is posted below.
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...So far, being in the MTC has proven to be quite the roller coaster emotionally, physically, mentally, and spiritually, I've got a batch of missionaries who are determined to get fit in the MTC. Exercise is almost daily, paired with being unaccustomed to waking up before 11 AM, it's been a little rough. The food here, while good, is also throwing a wrench into my system. I'm currently sick after getting a flu shot. I think I'll check on whether chills are supposed to be a side effect. I'm holding up, though.

Mentally, this has been especially trying as well. They have REALLY piled on a ton of things to remember. Rules, planning, Spanish, gospel lessons, schedules..., it's a lot to take in. I expect by the end of this week that I'll have this stuff down, minus the language. That might take a tidge longer, but I seem to be doing very well with the Spanish. I should be at the same level I used to be at in high school by the end of the week. Gospel lessons shouldn't be too hard to get down once I learn the words in Spanish.

Emotionally, I've had a lot of conflicting feelings. Being homesick, missing family and friends, actually having free time, and such things are all part of the tough things in being a missionary. I think the pressure will go down with time, especially once I'm in the field. The longer I'm out here, the easier the mission itself seems to become. Not to say that this will be a breeze. There will still be a language barrier and the challenge of living in Panama, which I hear is 80% jungle. (I heard we get machetes. Crossing my fingers.) But I'm feeling confident in my abilities to be a missionary.Having a trio of zany missionaries as roommates is helping this experience to remain a little less stressful, given the extreme change of living conditions.I will try to write my next letter in both Spanish and English. My love and the best of luck to you all out there waiting and watching for me.

Elder Austin M. Ascura

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