I no longer fear hell, for I have been to the Provo Missionary Training Center.
The first night is the toughest. They march you in naked as the day you were born, eyes stinging and skin burning from that delousing stuff they put on you. And when that door slams shut, that's when you know it's for real. Whole 2 years gone in the blink of an eye.
Some elders come close to madness that first night. Almost always one of them breaks down crying. This time, that one would be my companion, Elder Pikula.
Actually it's not so bad. I was just way tired today after only 4 hours sleep last night. My companion, Elder Pikula, is from Salt Lake City and is a Tongan. We are often stopped by other Polynesian missionaries who do not know him, but inquire about his relatives who they often know. I've shaken hands and hugged many a Polynesian today.
There are 4 people in our room. My companion and I share one bunk, while the other bunk is taken by Elder Ward, a loveable and happy missionary from South Carolina. He goes about 6'5" and is the classic Southern type. We all liked him immediately.
His companion is our new district leader, the Swedish expatriate Elder Gustaffson. Several times are room has been filled with the chatter between the Swedish-speaking missionaries and himself. It is unnerving at first, but in time I think I will learn to block it out, or just learn to speak Swedish.
I'm not really oriented here yet, despite my previous visit with Kamalei. We're never lost though because of the people at every junction directing the flow of gawking new missionaries. Give me a couple days and I think I'll get the hang of it.
My departure date is not 100% sure yet. I will know when I get my flight plans next Friday (Oct. 3).
I hope you're all doing well since I last saw you this morning. Pray for me and the other missionaries. We definitely need it. I love you all and I hope to make you proud.
I must end this letter now because the act of writing has made me feel faint.
I love you!
P.S. Pictures of the family, especially Kaylee and Weston would be great.
*note from LD- the first part of the letter is Matthew quoting from the "Shawshank Redemption," edited version of course.
Elder Matthew John Karlsven
MTC Mailbox # 157
2005 North 900 East
Provo, Utah 84604-1793