Ia ora na i teie poipoi!
Well, the first week of Tahitian is done! And it was definitely fun, difficult and enlightening. We started out just last Monday, saying simple stuff like greeting phrases. In later days we learned how to bear our testimony and say prayers. Now we already have the challenge to practice contacting a random other missionary in Tahitian every day this week. What I think of the language? It is surprisingly one of the most beautiful, flowing, yet powerful and unique languages I've ever heard. Just hearing my teachers speak in it is just amazing. I'll also say that it is much, much more difficult than I expected it to be... The first reason why, is the pronunciation can be so difficult, mostly for the Rs! Words like "faaho'i-faahou-hia mai"--which means restored--I can say no problem! But other words, like "maitiraa"--which means choice--I have trouble with, because the rolled R comes right after the I, and it's sort of a difficult combo. I'll get it soon enough! Second reason why it's difficult, is that there is so much vocabulary to memorize. It isn't like French where a lot of the words are actually similar with ones in English. It will be definitely my main focus to just pull out the flash cards and start memorizing vocab. The grammar is surprisingly pretty easy, the verb just always goes first, and the object last! For instance, "T haere nei ratou i te fare", or in direct translation, "go they to the house." Also, there are no conjugations for verbs, and there are tense markers at the beginning of every sentence-- "E" is future, "Te (verb) nei" is present and "Ua" is past or an indication of feeling. It's some pretty radical stuff, and I absolutely love it, just as much as French!
I've heard some great stories about Tahiti as well. Some awesome things like 5-foot tall stray dogs, sharks and eels swimming in the street gutters, ancient human sacrificial altars and poisonous foot-long centipedes that crawl into your bed during the day and wait... pretty sweet stuff. I've also heard more about how gracious the people are, and how anybody, even nonmembers, are super kind to the missionaries and feed them whenever. It will be a nice change of pace from San Francisco, I can tell you that!
The teaching has been going super awesome as well. Even if the lesson is a complete failure, we still learn a ton! We finally got an investigator with Frere Coulson, named Jean Christoph. We taught him two lessons this week, and our second lesson was one of those complete failures. We taught him about the Plan of Salvation, and when we talked about the fall of Adam somehow we just got way in too deep in doctrine, and he started to ask questions that we had no idea how to answer in French. And with a lack of time, we had to finish the lesson having gotten nowhere. Frere Coulson, as challenging as he is, gave us mercy when he gave us our feedback, and he told us to pretend like that lesson never happened and he gave us advice on how to explain it more efficiently and simply. Definitely a good learning experience.
So my companion and I decided to join the MTC choir. We had a pretty fun rehearsal last night, and we mostly joined because we learned there was a big event coming up that the choir was going to sing in. We learned yesterday that it will be for a Church broadcast about missionary work, at the Marriott Center, with the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve present. You could say I'm stoked! It will be on June 23rd, and it will be such an awesome moment. I can't wait!
This week we realized the reality of how much food we were going to be eating in Tahiti... All of our teachers gained at least 40 pounds on their missions. They would have like three huge dinners every night. Will that happen to me? Most likely... but you know what, I'm totally okay with that! If I have the opportunity to eat as much delicious food as these gracious people will give me, I'll take that opportunity! And when I come home, and walk/bounce/roll off the airplane, you might not recognize me at first, but just know that I will be happy. For as Jacob said in 2 Nephi 9:51, "Let your soul delight in fatness." ...True, that scripture might refer to spiritual well-being, but why not take it in a different, equally jolly point of view?
I'll also be happy because I will have served Heavenly Father and His children, and have brought them unto Christ, of course. Mosiah 2:17 is one of my favorite scriptures, and it says that "when ye are in the service of your fellow beings, ye are only in the service of your God." So if we want to express our love to God, one of the most genuine ways in which we can do that is through serving others, His children. We are all children of God, and we all have, in some way, a need to be served. I know that service is the source of happiness, and brings about true charity, and I'm so grateful for this opportunity to serve.
Well, it's been a great week, and another one to come! Thanks for all your love and letters, and I love you all! A fa'aitoito!
Ua here au ia outou,
Write Casey at:
Elder Casey David Ball
MTC Mailbox # 174
2005 N 900 E
Provo, UT 84604-1793