Last week we completed our one and only week of Language Immersion. What an amazing week. Eight hours a day of nothing but language study. Here's a sampling of how our day would go:
Up at 6:30 (Yes, I really was getting up at 6:30). Get ready and eat breakfast.
8:00 study buddy for an hour. Our study buddies were great. We had a sister from Provo who came in two mornings. She would leave her husband with her four small children ages 6, 4, 2 and six months to come help us (I know, can you believe it? Just to help us!). She let us record her reading 'Uluaki Tohi 'a Nifai 1 (1st book of Nephi, chapter 1) so we could listen to what it was REALLY supposed to sound like. Robert is from Hawaii. He learned Hawaiian from his grandmother, Japanese on his mission, and Tongan from his Tongan friends. He helped us so much with pronunciation and pronouns and practice speaking. I think we read the first chapter of 1 Nephi at least a dozen times with Robert, practicing our pronunciation and phrasing. He came in two days in a row and spent HOURS with us each day. There was Haini who helped us learn more about Tongan culture. And Mele who is from Texas!! She Skyped with us.
9:00 to 11:00 we spent with our tutor or with one of two JMTC teachers (that's Junior Missionary Training Center as opposed to Senior MTC – we're not sure we like being called seniors yet). Jordan Gardner was our tutor who Skyped with us before we even got to Utah, and crazy enough, we found out that he is the son of one of my good friends from high school, Clark Gardner. What are the odds? Mosese grew up in Tonga and helped us a great deal, as did Bro. Maikolo (Michael) who served his mission in Tonga and got home from his mission the first of this year. He loved Tonga so much he went back for a visit in July! We loved talking to Bro. Maikolo because he served in 'Utulau, which is where the Tupou's are from. He knew our dear friends Lupeni and Fusi and Lutini and Mele, and Meki and Tono, all the kids and grandkids. It was so fun catching up on what our friends from 'Utulau had been doing since we saw them last. Bro. Maikolo not only spent the time he was scheduled to be with us, but came in on his P-day and helped us. He and Robert worked us hard!! It was great!
11:00 to 11:30 was supposed to be personal study time, but we often used this time to continue working with our helpers. We would often work until noon. But we didn't complain. We needed all the study time we could get.
1:00 to 3:00 was study time with Jordan or Mosese or Maikolo.
3:00 to 4:30 was generally personal study time, but half of the days we continued working with either Maikolo or Robert. We usually weren't done by 4:30 and would work a little longer. One day we got kicked out at 5:15, having learned they had to lock the building at 5:00. We would have worked longer if they would have let us.
We'd have a quick dinner and then evenings were spent doing last minute shopping, studying in our hotel room, and trying to get to bed by 10:00. But one night we did go to dinner with Jordan, his wife and his parents. It was great seeing Clark again and meeting Jordan's wife (in person :) ) and Clark's wife. It was nice to see that Clark was still the same Clark I knew in high school. What a wonderful bunch of friends we had in high school!! We had a great time. The evening went by too quickly.
The week rushed by. We wished we could have done Language Immersion for several more weeks, but because our mission president wants us to get to Tonga as quickly as we can, and we strive to be obedient (well, Garth is really the obedient one – I'm working on it), we limited our time in Language Immersion so as soon as we are finished at the MTC we can be on our way to Tonga.
We loved all of our study buddies and teachers. We were sad when the week was over because we knew we wouldn't get to see them again. Our feelings were bittersweet having to say good-bye to so many people we had grown to love, but looking forward to our time in the MTC.
Well, that's our first week in Utah. Next week Preach My Gospel training at the MTC, then office training the following week. Then it's off to Tonga!!!! We can't wait!!!