When I checked in [at the MTC] they pulled me over to a little table to talk to me because...I am the only missionary learning Haitian Creole right now! They call me a "solo sister", because I am the only one in my class. I was assigned as a trio companionship with 2 sisters going to Paris France. In my pictures the sister with lighter hair and glasses is Sister Deakin - the one with darker longer hair is Sister Welter. They were my companions for the first day. On Thursday the Branch Presidency came at night to meet us and switched me to be companions with the last sister in our zone/branch, Sister Calderon (she has short curly dark hair). She has been here for two weeks and is a solo in her class with 2 elders. So we're companions outside of class. All four of us sisters are in the same room and we're really close so it kinda feels like a quad companionship in a way. I am the 4th Sister to learn Haitian Creole, period. They've all come through in the past few months, and at least 2 of them are in my mission now. I have a French/Kreyol name tag and an English one. They used Soeur Hardman with the church name in Kreyol. It turns out I was saying sister slightly wrong before I came haha, it sounds like sare. I have two teachers, Brother Anderson and Chandler. They both served in the Ft. Lauderdale Florida mission around the same time Greg did. Do you remember either of them? Brother Chandler says he took over one of your areas. On Friday I taught my first investigator. Crazy! Because I am the only Kreyol missionary, I had to teach alone. It was soo hard and frustrating. My third lesson with him yesterday went so well though, the Spirit was so strong and he's progressing really well. One of the French teachers, Sister Coleman, is trying to learn Haitian Creole and is going to start being my teaching companion tomorrow. I'm really excited to be able to work with someone and have their insight to help. My teachers are saying they might be having the Kreyol sisters come alone because in the field it's likely we'll be companions with another english native speaker who learned another language so we can teach in 3. So I would be teaching alone then too possibly.
We have a really early eating schedule, dinner is at 4:30. We do service Friday mornings. We have gym last thing every night, we've gone up to the track everyday this week and it feels so good to just run after sitting down inside all day. I've learned soo much already, my teachers are impressed with how quickly i've gotten things down. I'm struggling with comprehension though, especially when I teach Jean (the "investigator") because he's a native Haitian and speaks super fast. Oh my goodness and Sundays here are amazing. Absolutely amazing! I got called to be a Sister Training Leader with my companion, so I go to Branch Council and Leadership Training in the morning. We have sacrament in as much French as possible. Oh yeah everyone in my zone is learning French except me. The rest of my district is going to Paris, and the other district of 3 is going to Montreal Canada. We have to prepare a short talk every week, then they call on two of us in Sacrament meeting to share ours. This week we got to do it in English, next week it has to be in French.. Or Creole for me :) I can give simple prayers and testimonies in Creole now. We have choir practice on sunday and tuesday nights for the Tuesday devotionals. This week we're singing "Behold the Wounds In Jesus' Hands" by Pearson and Taylor. It is a beautiful touching song. Please look it up. We talked about how it's kinda from the view of a missionary talking to an investigator about a picture of Christ.
"Behold His wounded hands and feet!
Come touch and see and feel
The wounds and marks that you may know
His love for you is real.
Then as you fall to worship Him
and wash his feet in tears,
Your Savior takes you in his arms
and quiets all your fears"
We had a fireside after choir with the Managing Director of the Missionary Department, Stephen B. Allen. It was really good and personal to everyone. He talked about our sacrifices to be a missionary, the hardships and challenges we have as one, and how we really aren't alone. Many others are feeling the same thing as you. And no matter what it is, turning to the gospel and our Savior will help us and strengthen us. We also watch a film every sunday night. This week the branch presidency suggested we go to "The Character of Christ" by Elder Bednar. It is a talk that he gave here at the MTC on Christmas days a few years back. It was beautiful and so touching. He talked a lot about how the Savior always turned out to serve and think of others when the natural man would turn inward and be selfish. It was really inspiring and I definitely have a lot to work on it that regard. Elder Bednar also talked about the difference between having a testimony and being converted unto the Lord. I've always heard that there's a difference, but now it makes sense. If your testimony is what you know to be true, then conversion is consistently being true to what you know. If programs are changed in the church or a leader says or does something rude/wrong, etc it could easily sway someone with just a testimony. Bednar says this is why some returned missionaries fall away from the church. He promised that if we are truly converted unto the Lord then we will never fall away. I want to work towards this while on my mission. Having such a firm testimony that nothing could shake me. Aahh I loved sunday, it was so spiritual and thought provoking.
We sing before each class from the "Chanmou pou Grangou" Haitian Creole hymn/children's songbook pamphlet. I'm not sure if that's the right name but it's close... Whenever I'm with the other districts we sing from the French "Cantiques" aka Hymn book. I've got a mini one of those to carry around with me now. Mom, look up the song "Souviens-Toi" from the Cantiques, it's a beautiful lullaby only the French hymn book. Cafeteria food is okay, some days/meals are a lot better than others. Sundays there's only one choice so it's easier for the workers, but it makes it harder to eat well if you don't like the meal. The first couple nights I could not get my bottom sheet to stay on for the life of me, and the pillows are old and flat so I didn't sleep very well. But I found a room with extra sheets so I now have one that stays on and am sleeping better.
~Sister Amanda Hardman
Sister Calderon and Sister Hardman
Sister Hardman with her MTC district who are all going to the Paris France Mission.
Sister Hardman with her zone members on the Provo Temple grounds.
Sister Hardman with her MTC sisters