Saturday, March 12, 2016

Visa Status Update!

Hello family and friends,

So that blessed moment has arrived and I (think) that I have my visa now, at least I know who my sponsor is going to be! I am going to work 12 hours a week in this school named 'New Generation' Secondary School in Ulaanbaatar and this school varies between K-12--I may have even seen a picture of it and the walls are a happy yellow and the picture had little 2nd or 3rd graders doing their gym time outside and they had the cutest cheeks in the entire world. They were in uniforms and everything! So with this information, I at least know that I am teaching some variation of school-aged kids and one of the Sisters in my district, Sister Hansen, is teaching at the same school as me. The picture that I saw had "Sheen Oei" (in the Cyrillic lettering) written on it, which means new generations, so it would lead me to believe that it is the same place, but I could be wrong. Some of the other members of my District are teaching at the Medical University, another two universities, and at two other schools so we have all lucked out and will be teaching at schools and not at other random places. Do you know what else this means? There is a possibility of Summer breaks which means I might make it out to the country when it is at the prettiest!!

This week has been the longest week of my life, though, because of the English training that we did Monday - Friday and the In-field Orientation yesterday. Everyday, it felt like I was working two jobs because we would get out of bed exactly at 6:30 AM, get dressed as fast as we could, grab a lunch and breakfast, then jump into a van to go to the BYU English Training Center by 7:20 AM. We would begin observations non-stop from 8 AM to 3 PM, then we would come back to the MTC, go straight into Personal/ Companion/ Language study between 3:00 - 5:30, go to dinner, and then be in class for Mongolian grammar from 6:30 - 9:00 PM, plan for 25 minutes, and then back in the residence by 9:30 PM. Every minute, there were a million things that we should be learning. Also, since this week had such crazy timing, my Mongolian took a hit and back-tracked, the struggle is real. I went to try to teach a discussion this week and I couldn't understand well or speak well, so I have decided to take every free moment in the next couple days and read Mongolian aloud to try to just get my tongue used to the new words again. Starting this time next week, speaking English is not going to be an option. 
Reviewing our class
Reviewing our class 

From my understanding, the first week of being in Mongolia is going to be a culture shock, but it is the first 3 months that will be the hardest. Knowing that this is going to happen, I have already started to pray for an increase in patience in myself while I am really learning how to be fluently conversational and an increase in love from my training companion because I feel like she might be exasperated with my pronunciation.  Some words I feel like I can hit dead-on, but other words I can practice saying all day without it looking like any progress is being made. The Lord gave me this calling, so I know that He will help, but keep me in your prays, please! There was this really cool talk that I read by President Benson called, 'Beware of Pride', and he talks about how pride is pitting your will against God saying that your plan is better (which is bad) and it is the opposite as well where you feel like you are not good enough to accomplish anything even though God said that He would help (which is also just as bad). So I am trying to walk in the middle ground of this all and have faith--which is confidence in the perfect nature of Christ and knowledge that He loves us perfectly and wants to help--that He will help me learn Mongolian more perfectly even if it is not easy right now. I said it before and have had it reminded to me again, anything that comes easy will not be valued. So the struggle is real, but I love it!

One thing that happened at the ELC was that we observed about 3 classes on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday, but on Wednesday we only observed one, but taught and reviewed our own class. Reordered and everything. This class was incredibly fun every eye-opening on how to teach an English class and how to be mindful of little things (like slowing down your speaking speed and giving as clear and redundant instructions as possible) which I loved, but watching a recording of myself was also a bit painful. As a side note, I also want to point out that if you eat a lot everyday, stop running, and then sit down in a class for 9 hours a day, you will gain weight--thank you MTC and my lack of control at the cafeteria. So here I was, just watching myself on a video, but the most amazing thing was that it wasn't too terrible and I learned a lot! I am SO EXCITED to be an English teacher because you really do fall in love with the students that you teach and I know that English will make a difference in their lives--all the students at the ELC come from all over the world (church member or not) and they said that learning English allows for better jobs and opportunities in their home country. We also had a follow-up review session with the department director and he said that I had a great ability to have a cheerful attitude in the class where the students perked up, but there are times that I speak too quickly and the instructions come out jumbled. So I need to work on that. No biggie.
On Thursday, we had a lesson that was the needle that broke my back because I felt like a failure of a missionary because I could not understand what he was asking and thought that I failed based on my language skills (or lack of fluency thereof) and broke down crying in the middle of class. This same teacher, ended up taking time and pulled me and my comp out of class and just checked in with me. For the first time, he actually spoke English to me and we had a wonderful conversation about how a good missionary is not based on speaking, period, it is about serving with your full heart and trying every single day to work hard. By that criteria, I still feel like a good missionary. Everything is a little overwhelming with all the changes that I keep going through, but knowing that my family is there really helps with every step of the way.

So at the ELC there was this egg drop competition, we did not win.
The In-field Orientation yesterday was a last-shot where the MTC is teaching you how to be a loving and diligent missionary. It was about setting goals, making plans, sticking to those plans, and how to be a good servant to the ward that we are assigned to, and basically making the most of this consecrated time. I love being a missionary.

So, it is now time to finish strong. I am leaving on Thursday at 3:20 PM and will start my journey to the land of the big blue sky. I love it and know that the Lord will help.

Stay strong and with all my love!

Sister Jessica Olsen

This is what it looks like when I am scavenger for clothes--the closest I have to thrifting.
My District 
my shrinking zone. Come Friday, there will only be 4 sisters and 7 Elders left!

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