Sounds like Sister Shaughnessy is doing great. Here is her first letter from the first Week in the MTC.
I survived the first week, and I have absolutely LOVED it! I think that Uncle Ryan and Uncle Colby just had a bad attitude or something about the MTC, because I have really enjoyed being here! Time is so different here as well, I hardly feel as if a couple of days have gone by and now I have been here a week! The days go by so fast, they all seen like one. The schedule is hard, but we have all been keeping up really well.
My companion is Sister Wallace, she is from Cottonwood Heights and super outgoing and way cute! We really enjoy each other, I think we balance each other out a little bit! The two other sisters in our district are Sister Kelley and Sister Lewis, the are our roommates as well and I adore them! Sister Lewis is from Farmington and is more quiet and timid, but SO smart and sweet! Sister Kelley is from Arkansas originally but has been at BYU and is almost done with her Elementary Ed. Degree. She has the most amazing voice I have ever heard and is really sweet, she wants to be a kindergarten teacher, and I can totally see that in her.
Our district is super small, there are a lot of missionaries going to Ukraine, even more going to Russia, but there are only 7 of us learning the Ukrainian language, and it is just us 7 in our district. The Elders are in a trio, and that is an interesting dynamic. Elder Vandermark is from California, and the nicest person ever! I think he is the one that keeps the other Elders in line when it comes to manners; always taking our trays for us, opening the doors, ect. Elder Wilkinson is my favorite! I mean, I don't have a favorite, but really... He is from St. George and is so awesome! He is a tech junkie and can take the most amazing pictures you have ever seen! Every time he bears his testimony I cry, he is just so sweet and amazing! Kind of awkward, but I love it! Oh, and he is 6'8"!! Elder Peterson is our district leader and has definately taken charge! He is actually Kassi's friend from American Fork, and I have cut his hair on several occasions. He said he felt bad he didn't remember me. I also, as we have talked, found out that I played volleyball with his sister Hannah. It is kind of odd... but he is really good at keeping us focused, but having fun! Today they all dressed up the same, I have the picture so I will be sure to send it to you.
We pretty much are in class all day, but it is really fun! The time flies, and I am almost disappointed when we get a break because the spirit of learning here is just so strong that I want to keep going and learning more. It is also kind of fun speaking our language around campus, everyone looks at us funny, especially the Russian speakers because it is kind of close, but not really. We go to church and everything with the Russian speakers, so we will learn some of it, but we have been labled as the "Ukrainians" in our Zone. It is fun though, because it has kept us really close.
They also just throw you right into everything! We taught our first "investigator" Tamapa, and that is spelled correctly, p makes the r sound in Ukrainian, and it was quite the experience! We have taught her 3 times since, and we finally got her to pray with us, which is great! She didn't understand the concept that God wants us to talk to Him. Tomorrow is our last lesson with her and we are kind of sad! We finally feel as though we can someone communicate with her on some level using broken Ukrainian and hand gestures! Thankfully Cectpa Wallace is really good at acting things out! When talking about prayer we had to act our talking on the phone and relate it to praying to God. It was quite commical, and she laughed at us quite a bit, but she prayed! We will see what she says on Saturday when she becomes our actual teacher.
When we first got here all the girls just told us to wait until Sunday and after Sunday everything will be good. We didn't understand why they would say that because we have really enjoyed our time here, but once Sunday came around we understood why! We were lucky enough to have Easter be our first Sunday, so we had a devotional first thing in the morning, and it was AMAZING! Bishop Causse came and talked to us, and so did his wife. They are french and so when his wife got up to speak she apologized about her language because she is not very good at english. It was such a great and simple talk, everyone felt the Spirit, and you really could feel her love for us! It just made all of us foreign speaking missionaries so greatful! You really don't need to speak the language to convey your message!
Bishop Causse's talk was also just so good! I took a bunch of notes but there was one quote that I wrote that has kind of become the motto for me and my companion, and I feel like the whole MTC/mission experience can be summed up by it as well. He said; "We think we can't do it, but with the Lord's help we know we can do it, and we are happy about it!" That really is how I have felt the whole time I have been here at the MTC! The amount of Ukrainian that I have learned in such a short time is really amazing! The fact that we can teach a lesson, albeit roughly, in Ukrainian and have 3 times is such a miracle! It is all through the Lord that we can do it!
The rest of Sunday was testimony meeting, personal study (in our classroom of course!) and the temple walk! Which, by the way, the temple walk is the best thing ever! My district just walked up there and sat on the grass and enjoyed the sun and not being in a classroom.
Last night was probably the best day so far though, we had a devotional and it seriously changed by life! Elder Ringwood came to speak to us, and it was really so good! Cetpa Kelley likes to sing, as I have said and so we all joined choir! Yeah, no kidding! You all are laughing about now! But the bright side of choir is that we get great seats to Devotionals! We listened to his talk on enduring to the end and afterward had a district review, in them we just share thoughts, feelings and impressions from the fireside that we had. It really was just astounding how strong the spirit was in that meeting! All 4 of us sisters were crying and really, it was just so great to discuss and get the insights of others. Everyone put their input in and we had the greatest discussion and really learned a lot about each other.
I need to go now, but I love you all! I will try to send some pictures soon!
P.S. Email is nice, but letters really are even better! We can only check email once a week, but letters and DearElder is checked twice a day! So please write!
Love you all!