We Get Sent To Le Cachot, But Not Tahiti. Probably.

Iaorana! So. Last week, we finish emailing an hour or so before dinner, I practice piano for a bit, and we head to dinner to end our p-day...


So. Last week, we finish emailing an hour or so before dinner, I practice piano for a bit, and we head to dinner to end our p-day. (P-day only lasts until dinner, and we go back to class after.)

We walk into the cafeteria and swipe our cards, like any other 8:10am, 12:35pm or 5:40pm. We get a few feet past the door however, and all of a sudden we are mobbed by our elders, who are yelling and waving these strange papers in our face that say "Travel Itinerary."

Wait, what?

As some of you may remember, the MTC has been saying that my departure date is 26 janvier, which would about be six weeks from when we got here. However, on one of our first days of classes, we asked our teachers about the whole learning-two-languages thing, and they said, "oh, no, you'll be here for nine weeks, six for French, three for Tahititan." So we figured that the travel office just had it wrong, which happens a lot, and eventually they would start crossing out our departure date on our mail (our address is what says our departure date), which is what generally happens when dates are changed. Funnily enough, I had a suspicion in the back of my head that maybe when it got close to the original date they would suddenly change their minds and ship us out in January as planned, since I hadn't seen them change the dates yet. (Then again, I don't get much mail anyway so how would I know... ahem.) But I'd forgotten that thought and the fact that we were getting closer to that original date, so the travel plans still were quite the surprise. Anyway, that's what we've had in our heads all along - we leave vaguely sometime in fevrier.

(okay, now, before y'all get your hopes up, that is still what is happening, but it's more fun to tell this story all dramatically so bear with me.)

Nevertheless, at approximately 5:50pm last Friday, we were holding in our hands evidence that perhaps we had been terribly wrong and we now had 10 days to take a crash course in Tahitian and stuff our clothes into a bag. Which, I've been told, it's not unheard of in the Tahiti mission to have about three hours warning to pack your bags before a transfer, so I suppose ten days would have been generous. Anyway, the best part was... it was holiday weekend and the travel office was closed until Tuesday, so we couldn't even talk to them to sort out the confusion. The elders had apparently tried to go and talk to them before dinner but were told to come back Tuesday (which would have then been a 6-day warning, if anyone's counting). So basically we spent dinner on Friday night until breakfast on Tuesday morning completely in the dark about what on earth was going on. The only witnesses we had were contradictory: Sœur C, who said we were absolutely staying and refused to teach us Tahitian, Frère T, who thought maybe we weren't staying and started to help us learn a little Tahitian between our French lessons, our branch president who apparently had no idea we were ever maybe not leaving (which explains why I was asked to speak the other week), and a short email conversation with our Mission President. It went something along the lines of "Hey President Bize, we were just wondering, we got our flight plans yesterday but we thought we were staying for 9 weeks to learn Tahitian?" "Yes, I've been expecting you on the 25th, the Tahitian program is only two weeks." "Okay then, I guess we'll tell our teachers to start teaching us some Tahitian." "When did you get to the MTC?" "A month ago." "So you haven't learned any Tahitian?" "Nope." And then nothing for about two days.

We anxiously awaited Tuesday morning, and two of the elders headed to the Travel Office first thing to sort things out. We met them after breakfast for their report, and the news was we absolutely have to leave on Monday because the next transfer isn't until March. By this point, we'd felt everything from anxiety and fear to utter excitement to be out in the field, but most of the anxiety had gone away so we were just really excited. However, when our teachers came after lunch, we told them the official news... and Sœur C still refused to believe it. She sent Frère V to talk to the Travel Office, and when he returned, he told us that the Travel Office had indeed gotten it wrong, because Salt Lake got it wrong, because the Tahiti mission is sort of a mess when it comes to this sort of thing. So final consensus: we leave 16 fevrier! We think! We were disappointed at first, but I think now we all recognize how much of a blessing it will be to have that few extra weeks here. Sœur C finally told us why she never believed us: pretty much the exact same thing happened to one of the last Tahiti districts. It comes down to two things, I'm thinking: one, the transfers in Tahiti are a bit weird because of the massive size and spread out nature of the mission (transfer=the (usually) six week intervals mission are divided into, so called because that's when missionaries are transferred to other areas, or in our case, islands). Two, it's only been a few months since they shortened Tahitian MTC stays from 12 weeks, and they're still trying to figure out what works best. Don't you just love being a guinea pig?

Anyway, so that's that. I won't even get into the part about it maybe being delayed to March 9th, because that's a whole other story that I'm pretty sure I don't need to worry about. Next Monday we officially start Tahitian, and I'm stoked! We've been learning what we can in our free time, and it seems hyper chouette. Or, even better, nave!!! I can almost say a decent prayer, and when I read the Book of Mormon in Tahitian, I actually recognize every twentieth word! (Usually Nephi or Lemuela or something like that, haha).

Some other hyper chouette things that I've neglected to mention:

Sunday, our devotional was from the lovely Janice Kapp Perry! She only wrote like every children's song in the songbook, no biggie. She and her husband were so adorable. Probably everyone's favorite part: Sister Perry talked about how they met, which was in a clarinet class at BYU. She had her eye on him all semester but he didn't say a word to her until she was standing up to play her piece for the final exam, and this is what he said: "Those lips look like they were made for more than clarinet." After Sister Perry said that, Brother Perry stood up, walked to the podium and kissed her! That's scandalous here at the MTC, haha! Later she said "You know, I think I know him like a book, but some days I just don't know what page he's on!"

Wednesday was a busy, busy day. We finally got the chance to be hosts for the new missionaries! Basically, every Wednesday a bunch of new missionaries get dropped off at the curb by their families, and missionaries that have been here for a few weeks get to help them get their books, take their bags to their room, find their classroom, etc. We've been looking forward to our chance for weeks because new missionaries are so fun. Every Wednesday all the missionaries with orange stickers on their tags get "WELCOME TO THE MTC" yelled at them at least a thousand times, because everyone remembers how scary and exciting and surreal the first few days are. Anyway, after hosting we watched a later showing of the worldwide missionary training broadcast, for all the missionaries everywhere. Apparently this is the first one they've done in over ten years or something. I think one of my favorite messages from it was something Elder Anderson said, similar to what he shared with us in the devotional last week: "No matter how much we testify of Christ, it will never be enough. No matter how much we love Him, our adoration is only beginning."

Wednesday was also our first day in a new classroom! Well I say new, but really... let's just say it's cozy. We used to be on the third floor of 4M, which is one of the newest buildings with slightly bigger classrooms, better desks and chairs, fresh air. But they decided to rotate the classrooms for whatever reason, and we are now in the basement of 8M. The Tagalog speaking missionaries apparently fondly call this basement "the telestial kingdom." We prefer "le cachot" or the dungeon. It's really not so bad, but it is rather cold, and the only window we have is tiny and hidden behind the TV. And there is nowhere to put our small child size pile of books. Other than that, it's great!

I haven't got much time left, but some quick notes on our lesson this week! At the beginning of the week, we started teaching lessons to Elders L, D, and I, pretending to be investigators. Elders H and P started teaching Sœur S and I as we pretended to be investigators. It's fun and actually really helpful to see lessons from an investigator's point of view. We also had two more lessons with Brian, which are so special and I'm glad we get to continue them! That would have been one of the saddest parts about leaving early, because Brian is just awesome. The Spirit is so strong in those lessons, and we know he can feel it too because he says so!

I'll leave you with a few Tahitian words to think about. On of the best and worst things about Tahitian is that many words have multiple meanings, which is the worst because it makes it easier to misunderstand but is the best because some words just have a bunch of beautiful meanings all wrapped up in one idea. A few of my favorites that I've learned are "haapao" which means to obey, to care, or to matter, and "tiaturi" which if I remember correctly, means to trust, to have confidence in, to believe, to wait on, to have hope in. I always liked how the French translate "waiting on the Lord" to "hoping on the Lord," but Tahitians take it even farther. "Hinaaro" means to want, to need, or to desire, making 'aau hinaaro much more than just 'willing heart.'

Anyway, think on those. Ua tiaturi au ia Iesu Mesia.

Ua here au ia outou! Sœur Ladd