I hope you are all doing well! It seems crazy to me that I just barely got here. These first few days have been pretty confusing, but the MTC is beginning to make sense and every single elder that I have talked to says that as long as you can make it to Sunday, it all gets better. The reason why I feel like I have been here so long is that we do so much. We spend our days in personal study, companionship study, language class, or teaching. My companion is Elder Gray. Him and I were in the same American Heritage class Fall Semester at BYU. He is pretty relaxed and we are becoming better and better friends. We taught our first lesson in Spanish yesterday. It lasted 25 minutes and went fairly well considering that we have only been speaking Spanish for three days. Our investigators name is Cesar and he is very helpful at asking leading questions so that we will teach him what we are supposed to. My Spanish teacher is Hermano Wood and the very first day he looked at me and asked if I had a brother named Stephen. I said yes and he said that Stephen was in the Bishopric in his single's ward. The MTC is a small small world. I decided that Grandma Updike would love it here because not only would she find out how she knew everyone, she would also find out how she was related to everyone.
I have already learned a lot of Spanish. I pray in Spanish (as much as I can, sometimes I have to say some things in English), Elder Gray and I talk in Spanish almost all day, and I can understand just about every word that Hermano Wood says (he talks in simple Spanish for us though). Elder Gray taught me an important lesson last night. We had just come out of class and had been in the classroom all day. We were all tired and frustrated because it was a lot of new Spanish and the concepts were confusing. Hermano Wood finally stopped teaching and just asked us what we wanted to learn and what questions we had. Most of the questions we asked were about how to teach with the Spirit, how to learn the language quickly, and how to succeed here at the MTC. He said that we needed to work hard, pray for help and for the Spirit, and have faith that if we do our part, Heavenly Father will do His. He also told us that we need to understand that we need to be on the Lord's time and not try to seek for things in our own time. After this discussion with Hermano Wood, we had personally study time and Elder Gray and I went outside on the grass and were chatting about the day. We were thinking about what we could do to be more obedient so that we could have the Spirit with us more fully. He looked at me and said that even though he wished that he could have more of the Spirit with him all of the time he was amazed at how much he had already received the gift of tongues. He said that on the first day he could barely understand anything that Hermano Wood said but that yesterday he understood almost every word. I realized that I needed to think that same way. I have been pleading with Heavenly Father ever since I arrived to bless me with the gift of tongues and with the Spirit and yet I haven't recognized the answers to my prayers. I haven't expressed my gratitude for the understanding of the language that I have had or for the Spirit I have felt while here at the MTC. It was a humbling experience and I was grateful to have Elder Gray.
Another neat experience that happened last night was that right after Hermano Wood finished talking to us about how everything would be ok, he asked what we wanted to sing for a closing hymn. I suggested "Because I Have Been Given Much". We had enough time to sing all the verses and as we were singing, the Spirit came and spoke peace to my soul. I had the impression that the Savior has been there before and he understands and that I could rely on him for help. It was such a comfort to know that Heavenly Father knows me and is mindful of me. I am so excited to share this work with the wonderful people of the Texas Houston South Mission!
Hope all is well. Let me know how you all are doing. I forgot to email out my addresses to everyone, but they are on my blog that dad is keeping up. The blog is eldermichaelcase.blogspot.com.
I love you!