I'm not really sure where to start....Well I'll just start talking. Everyone says that the mission is the best 2 years of your life up to that point. That it's hard work but it's still the best 2 years. I'm here to tell you for sure that it is definately hard work. Some days you're tired all day, or you're sick, or you just don't want to do anything. And you still go out and work and teach everyday. You might be thinking, "how the heck is that the best 2 years?"Well its not the best 2 years because you are hanging out with friends and having fun all the time. The reason it's the best is because it's the most rewarding. You walk around sometimes all day without teaching anybody in the hot sun, you're hungry, tired, your feet hurt, and the numbers say you didn't do anything. But the thing that makes it worth it is when you find someone that wants to know the truth, that wants to change and follow God's will. That is rewarding. It's the moments when 1 person accepts a baptismal date, when you teach a good lesson, when you get a reference, the small things that make it good.
Also remember some things. You always hear that you will have a companion that you don't like or you might have some stuggles. This is true. You will always find something in your companion that you don't like or that bugs you or whatever. But you still have to stick with him 24/7. Yeah sometimes it stinks, but you can't let your differences get in the way of your teaching. If you and your companion aren't getting along and fight, your investigators suffer the consequences because your teaching will suffer. It will suffer in that you won't be teaching with the Spirit and you won't be focused on ping-ponging the lesson with your companion. Your team will be divided into 2 separate people that can't work together. Pray for patience with your companions and that you can be humble enough to accept when you're wrong or humble enough to know when it's time to keep your mouth shut even though you know you're right and they want to keep arguing =). I too have problems with this sometimes. You just have to accept it. It stinks but that's how it is.
Now the language. It's hard. There were people in the MTC who had 4 years of spanish classes in school and guess what, everyone else basically caught up to them in the 9 weeks in the MTC. If I have heard right you will only be in the MTC for 6 weeks. If that's true count your blessings =). It was like an eternity to me. You will be surprised at how much and how fast you learn in the MTC. The first week you can't even teach a lesson without reading it, by the end of the MTC you can teach a full lesson in Spanish. Not perfect, but you can easily teach a 40 minute lesson in spanish. Don't worry, you never have to talk for the whole lesson, the investigator does a lot of the talking too. One thing that will really help you is working on the verbs. Familiarize yourself with the differenct conjugations and when to use them. Buy the little yellow verb card in the copy center and study it when you can. Also, keep a little notebook and write down new words when you heard them and then look up the definitions later. And I know it's hard, but try and speak as much spanish as possible in the MTC. It's not so fun, but I wish I did that more. You can study all you want, but nothing beats practicing. And pray for a companion that doesn't speak english (in the field), you will learn the language much faster that way. Something that my teacher in the MTC told me is that he saw more progress in the missionaries that study language that will help them teach the gospel as opposed to those that study general and normal conversational stuff. Keep that in mind. Also pray every day for the Gift of Tongues, even if you see lots of progress with "your own efforts". You and me, we both need God to be able to learn the language.
Studies. You have tons of time to study in the MTC. It's hard a lot of the time to focus and not get bored. But if you do it's okay. Have a little silent prayer and try to focus yourself again. A goal for you could be to start the Book of Mormon at the start of the MTC and finish by the time you leave. A good goal. And when you read a scripture that impacts you or you think that you can find some way to use it with an investigator, a member, anything, write it down in a little notebook. Write the reference, a line of what the scripture says so you can know what it says, and then why it impacted you. Your studies will be way better if you keep some sort of study journal or notebook. I'm not kidding....way better. You will feel the Spirit more and get more out of your reading. Also a fervent prayer before and after your studies.
When you go procelyting/contacting, this really works and I testify to it. There's a part in How to find New People and there's a section that says "Hable con todos", or talk with everybody. Do it. Even if they look like a bumb or they don't want to hear. You never know. We have found more investigators doing this that anything else. Yeah you find lots of uninterested people, but you also find lots of interested people. Might seem lame but do it. It really works.
Also, write in your journal. Dad can tell you a million times to write in it, but know I'm telling you too. Even if you did nothing that day or you think you did nothing, at least write that you did nothing or write down that you studied all day or you didn't have any success in the contacts. Something. You might think you'll remember everything and you're wrong. I've already forgotten stuff that happened only a month or so ago. "Oh well that's Skylar and he forgets everything". Well, can you possibly think that you will regret writing in a journal every day? Nope. The opposite is true though. You will regret not writing everyday. (insert dad saying "exactly like I told you Hunter" and him saying that he regrets not writing in a journal).
You will come across elder's who think that being perfectly obedient is lame and you are just a missionary robot (cajòn/drawer is the missionary term for the stict obedience robots). That you need to break some of the rules to have success. They don't know what they're talking about. I will be honest, at one time I thought that too. That You almost have to break the rules to have success. Well I thought of something one day. I can't imagine me asking God, "Do I have to keep all the rules no matter how dumb they are?" Oh no of course not, you just have to obey the ones you think are important. That doesn't sound right to me. We can also read in Genesis where Adam is offering sacrifices to the God. "Why are you offering sacrifices Adam?" I know not, save the Lord commanded me. This is how we should be in the mission and out of the mission. There are some rules that seem dumb and they're just making up random stuff. Even if they are we're still asked to keep the rules. "Why are you obeying that dumb rule Elder?" I don't know. I only know that the mission President told me to. The mission president is called by God to lead your misison. So anything that he tells you is revelation or for your protection even if it seems dumb or harmless. Like my mission president told me,"If you're obedient you will see success, if you're perfectly obedient you will see miracles".
Almost done. One thing that will help you in your teaching is this. No matter what lesson you teach, apply the "Gospel of Jesus Christ" at the end of every lesson. Once you've taught The Restoration, for example. Say something like,"Okay, now we'd like to talk about something very important, it is our principle message that we bring. It's how we can return to live with God". Then you teach the Gospel of Jesus Christ in a couple minutes and then invite them to baptism. This really brings the lesson into focus and even if your lesson was bad at the start you can save it if you do this at the end. Always apply the gospel to their lives and show them why they need the gospel. That they can't live without it. You can't apply the gospel to their lives if you don't know them and their needs. Read the section called How to Begin Teaching. This will help you teach most effectively, to the needs of your investigators.
Well that's it. I talked to an elder today and told him that you're leaving in 2 days for Costa Rica. He said that the people there are awesome and you'll love it. I can testify to you that if you put into practice what I said in this letter, your mission will never be bad or boring. I'm not anywhere near perfect and I'm improving everyday. I know that God is happy with you for being willing and worthy to serve a mission for 2 years of your life. Get as close as you can to the Savior on your mission. The mission is not only a time to convert others, but also to more fully convert yourself to the gospel. I've been in the church my whole life and I'm still a convert to the church and I'm more converted every day. Good luck of your mission and see ya in 2 years.