Dear Mother, Father and Family,
I miss you all already! Life here is SO much harder then I ever imagined it would be! There is absolutely no free time in between classes and I may go insane. My teachers though are absolutely amazing! They are all so happy and have so much energy! They are also very young, the oldest teacher is 22 or 23 years old. I've found it so hard to focus because I have not slept through a night since arriving here. It got so bad that last night they had to give me medicine to make me sleep, so I feel SO much better today :). (By the way, I'm sorry if I repeat myself in this email because I can't remember what I wrote last time.) I also can not wait for when mom sends me my sheets and pillow because the ones they provide here are stinky and old... but I can wait I guess.
I'm glad John noticed my absence and hope you all start missing me and sending me letters/e-mails soon. I haven't even been gone that long but getting an e-mail from mom and receiving my packages today made me so insanely happy... like you have NO idea how happy I was.
I love the people in my district! They all have such interesting and different personalities. We have 4 elders and 4 sisters (including me) and we all get along so great! The buildings here are huge and confusing, but I'm starting to figure them out. My room I share with 5 other sisters and it is pretty interesting. The room was only made to house 4 people but there is so much construction going on that they moved all the sisters from the one building into ours. When we first got here we all thought it would be easier to just live out of our suit cases so we tried that... needless to say things got crazy and there was stuff everywhere. So for one of our P Day activities today we decided to unpack our bags and just make this place a more comfortable home for while we are here.
I Hate Sharing A Bathroom! There are eight sinks that everyone on my floor of the building are supposed to share, that doesn't work so well. There are eight showers that the curtain isn't even big enough to close the gap so people can see you while you shower, that doesn't work so well. And so far we haven't had to wait in line to use a toilet so at least that's been nice. I make myself get out of bed 40 minutes before everyone else so that I can get ready for the day by myself, and it isn't too hard to do that since I haven't been able to sleep anyway.
My companion and I work together so much better now then we did at the beginning. It's been hard for her because she's older then me and has a hard time looking at me as an equal. But she really is a great person, she just treats me like a little sister instead of a companion. I've tried to be very patient with her though... and it's working! She has done so great at being patient with me as well. Her name is Sister (Tiffany) Lowry and she is from Canada. She is 22 years old and has graduated college, she speaks French very well, because she studied it for 12 years, and she has been to Hawaii for college, to Provo for college, and to Africa for humanitarian work. So adjusting to life here has been super easy for her. But not so easy for me though.
I hate to admit to this but every day since coming here has been SO hard. At the end of each day I am so exhausted and stressed and cant help but think to myself about how much easier it would be to just go home. I've been so tired and was starting to get very short tempered (until last night when I was finally able to sleep). But yesterday night they let us watch a video from David A. Bednar and they couldn't have picked a better one for me to watch at that time. He spoke about how the only reason people would be feeling down and homesick is if they were making a mission about themselves, and that the only way to overcome it would be to pour yourself into your studies and make your mission about the people that you will bring the gospel to. So I've made myself a goal to apply his talk to myself for the remainder of my time here and see if it helps me find the strength I am going to need to be able to stay here.
On a better and more happy note... we got to go on a temple walk yesterday. It has been raining almost every day here so we got a little wet on our walk. But I really needed it, and it was so much fun to just be able to talk with my companion and to become better friends with her and with the other people from my district. And I think I might have already told you this but one of the elders from my district has the last name of Braithwaite. So of course I had to ask him if we were related. Well we talked a little about who our ancestors and found out that... YES, we are related! I remembered you telling me that we are related to the girl from the love story in the movie "17 Miracles" and Elder Braithwaite is also related to her.
Also there is this super weird rule here that says we can't say "guys" we have to use proper and appropriate words to talk to people. They even got after me for saying "y'all" so there has been a lot of weird rules here that will take some getting used to. And the food here really is good. The first day here was super nasty, but now meal time is my favorite time of the day, and that also has to do with the fact that it is the ONLY break we get from class.
I wake up at 5:30, then have personal study until 7:00 then there is breakfast. Then at 7:30 there is class until 11:30 and at that time we get to have lunch. Then at 12:00 I have class again until 4:15 because that's when we have dinner. Then we have class again at 4:45 and that doesn't end until 9:30. Then we all have to be in bed by 10:30. So as you can see it's very overwhelming.
I'm running out of time to write so I will hurry and bring this to an end. I would love to get letters from everyone because I can receive those any time of the week, I can only access my e-mail once a week, but I would be okay with e-mails as well :).
I love you all very much... don't forget to pray for me and write to me
Sister Amanda MacKay
P.S. They can't figure out how to send pictures, so I'll try sending those when we get this figured out.