Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Hello dearest family!
Yep, we are over halfway done! I cannot believe the time is going by so fast. I love it here and am trying to soak everything up. There is so much to learn!
One of my favorite parts of the day is waking up bright in the morning before the sun even does and walking to breakfast. That might sound strange, and it does feel ridiculously early sometimes, but every morning walking out of our residence halls and bursting into the cool morning light always refreshes me. I love walking into the middle of campus and seeing the sunrises over the mountains and through canyon. It is a beautiful sight that most missionaries don't get to see because they wake up so late (6:30). I will definitely miss these great Utah mountains when I have to leave in a few weeks.

So last week you asked me what my daily schedule is like, so I wanted to give you a very details. My days are organized slightly differently every day, but we usually do about the same things. We wake up at 6:00 and get ready for a 6:30 breakfast (which I get to have oatmeal every morning :) yayyay!!). Then at 7:00 we usually have class/teaching progressing investigators for three hours. They have this MTC manual that goes through the basics of missionary teaching and we usually do one section from that a day. Then we have personal study from 10:00 to 11:00 and then lunch (I usually get their wraps. You can get pretty much anything you want in them like subway:) delicious). Then in some order we have additional study (which is usually planning and discussing lessons for us), language study, and gym (for 50 minutes, and time before and after to get ready). We then have dinner at 4:00 (which is kindof weird because we're never hungry by then, but you can't take food out of the cafeteria for later so we eat a lot anyway). After dinner we usually go to a computer lab and do TALL (Technology Assisted Language Learning--it helps with our vocab and grammer, since we are taught very little of the language in class). At 6:00 we have class again for another three hours (usually one of the hours is for lanugauge instruction, one for teaching investigators, and another for scripture study or more MTC manual info). Then at 9:00 we plan for the next day (of what we are going to study and such), and then at 9:30 we go in to get ready for our glorious beds. We get pretty exhausted by the end of the day, even though we aren't doing much physically. Learning by the Spirit is an tiring job! That schedule may be more than you wanted to know but know you can see a little better into my world. What a great place to be don't you think?

Sister Shipp and I are still doing well and our investigators are progressing. We have had a lot (about 6) of different subs so it is sometimes difficult to teach consistently, but when our two teachers Irmao Taylor and Irmao Chamberlain are here, we have had some great lessons. Irmao Taylor looks a lot like and reminds me a lot of Gil. He is awesome and gives super interesting and life changing lessons. I learn so much from him. We also found two new investigators this week. It is actually really neat because we are now teaching each other in the class. We each pretend to be a nonmember we knew back home and then get taught by another companionship in our district. We can feel the Spirit strong in those lessons. It is amazing what a simple, heartfelt testimony can do. Two elders were teaching us this week and were struggling with their porgtuguese, but when they sat back and bore a short testimony at the end, I could still feel the Spirit super strong. Our two new investigators are MaryAnn and Bridgette. It is interesting and a little harder to teach two people at once because they have different needs and parts of the gospel they don't understand as well. MaryAnn (53) is an inactive of about 35 years. Bridgette is in her first year of college and has a friend who is a member. This week we taught them about the nature of God and a lot of the Plan of Salvation. Bridgette accepted baptism and MaryAnn said she would come to church this week! I hope it happens, and at the MTC, we have pretty good odds with investigators. The more times we teach these lessons the easier they become. Every lesson and every investigator is very different, but as we learn new scriptures to use and ways to apply them to our investigators, the lessons are coming smoother. Sister Shipp and I are working off of each other better and teaching more in unity. Lessons are finally not as intimidating, but instead I now look forward to teaching. I hope I can have some lessons as good as these in the field in real life!

Another neat experience that happened this week was with our investigator Landon. The other companionships in our district took too long that night, so by the time we were supposed to teach it was time to go in for bed. Our teacher was turning out the lights and about to leave but we pushed him back in the room so we could share a short little message. (He said afterwards, "I've never seen so much determination at the MTC to teach!") We have never taught a five minute lesson before, but we were able to share a scripture and a simple, powerful testimony on his doorstep. It went really well and was awesome to know that we can share our testimonies and feel the Spirit strongly in only a short amount of time. I think that will be a very important skill to learn in the mission field. Landon is slowly but surely progressing, and I cannot wait to see where he will go from here. I have a good feeling about him.
Vander is also doing really well. He is keeping all of  his commitments and we have a baptismal date set for the beginning of September. It almost seems too good to be true. It makes me a little nervous every time we go in teach him because I'm afraid there is some concern he has that is not surfacing and that will be a sudden huge roadblock. But he just accepts everything so well and says he feels really good whenever he reads. Hopefully we can just continue to bask in this golden investigator!

The Sunday devotional this week was awesome. It was given by Brother Stephen B. Allen, who is the Church's Missionary Managing Director (he reminded me a lot of Uncle Fred, super nice and funny). He told some neat stories that were very applicable to me. He also talked about how Satan is pushing as many of my buttons as possible right now. He is very interested and eager to see us fail, but I won't let him! It's true there have been some really difficult parts about the MTC so far, but none that I can't overcome with the help of the Lord! Brother Allen said that every time we feel pain or discouraged, look down and see the other name on your badge. He also promised us in the name of Christ that we will never regret this decision to serve a mission. I know this is true for me. I know that the best things in life are the hardest things to come by. I will work my hardest to be worthy of my calling!

So this week we were studying about the Holy Ghost and found some really neat scriptures about missionaries. The scriptures have really taken on a new life for me as I've been focusing my studies from a missionary viewpoint. There is so much good in there! What was really inspiring and struck me this week was D&C 68:2-6 and 3 Nephi 19:9. This is what I most desire! Alma 17:2-3 has also been brought up at least five times so it is clearly the important scripture of this week for us. There is so much more guidance and help in the scriptures that I never fully appreciated. The Lord is looking out for us!
I want to write more but I really need to go today. I love you all and am VERY grateful for all of your lovely letters! I get excited over every one. You are the best support I could ask for!

Com Amor,
Sister Marchant

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Hello there!

There is so much going on here every week. Life is wonderful and I am learning a ton. Last Tuesday was super awesome. Devotionals are always fun because there are thousands of missionaries walking over to the Marriot Center all together. It kind of feels like I'm in a parade because every week there are a dozen or two people outside taking pictures of us walking down the sidewalk. I love being in the MTC devotional choir too because we always sing super great music and the conductor is hilarious. He always throws in a really interesting spiritual thought about what we are singing too which makes me want to sing with all my heart and testimony. Tonight we are singing an arrangement of Precious Savior, Dear Redeemer. I was really loving the song and thinking, wow whoever arranged this is a music genius. Then I looked down and saw that it was none other than Brett Stewart! What an amazing guy. He is always popping up somewhere with a new musical masterpiece. So for our devotional last week...Elder Scott came! His talk was amazing. He spoke all about prayer and how God will always answer in his time. He also gave us not one, but two apostolic blessings that we could have the gift of tongues through our study and faith. We are getting better slowly but surely, and I know those blessings were real. We can finally get through one or two entire sentences without any pauses. Foreign language is one of my favorite things to learn about so I am just fascinated by this whole process. I love learning Portuguese, and I know the Lord is helping us through.
My other favorite parts of Tuesdays is going to the temple! We have been able to go through twice now and it makes me so happy. I love being there again. There is no stress inside the temple and I feel such at peace. I love the new film and am glad I had the chance to see it before leaving to Brazil. Today when we were leaving the temple a member stopped us and asked us where we were serving. We told him and he said his son went to Ribeirao Preto too! He says they baptized more than any other Brazilian mission when his son was there, that it is the best mission, and that we were very lucky to go there. I couldn't agree more.
I've been wanting to talk to you a bit about my lovely roommates. Besides me and Sister Shipp, there are four other sisters who are in our district and also in our room. We have Sister Hoffman from Colorado, Sister Vanhoven (yep, she's Dutch!) from California, Sister Lewis from Oklahoma, and Sister Baker from North Carolina. And guess what? Sister Baker was in my Freshman ward at BYU! When she walked in on the first day we were both amazed and super excited. We knew each other well at BYU and talked about Brazil a lot. Who knew our paths would cross so close again? We have such a blast with these sister and learn a lot from them. They are hilarious and are always making me and Sister Shipp laugh. I am very blessed to be with such wonderful missionaries.
Our eating schedule here is pretty weird. Part of the reason I am so tired all the time is that all the Brazilian missionaries have breakfast at 6:30 so we have to wake up earlier to get ready than most people. Then we have dinner at 4:00 so we are hungry by the end of the day. It has taken a little adjusting to but we do fine. Especially since I get to see a handsome Gilbert in the cafeteria lots of times I go. I guess they just don't know what to do with all these Brazilians.
So something else pretty exciting happened this week...We were just starting class one morning and they called over the intercom, "Can you please send Sister Marchant to the travel office?" I almost leaped out of my skin. Could it be true? We raced there and then...they just asked me to sign a few more forms. No visa yet, but it is a good sign that they are working on it. Super big thanks mom for all your hard work helping me get my papers together! I have a feeling it will come any day now. :)
The other night I was walking into my residence hall like any normal night and I see this flash of red hair sweep through the closing door on the floor below us. I race through and eventually catch up to Sister SaraLynn Smith! It was super exciting to see her all dressed up and with her tag and just looking like a superstar missionary. She seems very happy and all is going well. It is fun to share this experience with her. We will probably sing together in choir so I can hopefully get really caught up with her then. I love this huge wave of missionaries! I have lots of friends here, and it is great to be all doing something so great together.
This week we also taught in the Teaching Resource Center (TRC) for the first time. It was a huge highlight of the week. Members volunteer to be taught in Portuguese by us as their own selves, no acting. It is kind of a relief to teach members because they already know all of the basics and will understand what we are talking about. They were so kind and gave us a huge motivational boost in our teaching skills. Most of them are RMs but there was actually a surprising amount of natives too. The first man we taught was Irmao Heiney and was super nice. Then when we were watching Music and the Spoken Word (yes, they broadcast it in the big auditorium for just the sisters every week. You could watch the same thing I am watching every Sunday!), Sister Shipp and I are pretty positive we saw him singing in the Tabernacle Choir. We met someone famous! He was the best and I hope we teach him again this week so we can ask him about it. TRC is once a week and I will be looking forward to it.
We received a new investigator this week. Instead of Manuel we now have Landon, who is actually someone Irmao Taylor knows in real life as a current investigator. It is very interesting to teach him because no one knows the true outcome of what happened to him, and we can pray for him as someone actually needing help right now. He is an RM who fell away. He just got out of rehab for drinking and has been divorced three times. He has been a little difficult to get started with getting him a desire to come back to church and have a desire to learn more, but we are trying some new approaches and I think our next few lessons will be good. Our other investigator, Vander, is progressing amazingly well. He is really quiet so he never really asks questions when we offer, but he is keeping his commitments and seems to be taking it well. We taught him the first two lessons last week and then committed him to baptism, and he said yes! It is really exciting to see someone progress so quickly. We still have a long way to go with him, but we are making some important steps. This is our first experience with actually teaching the lessons in order all the way through. Our two investigators are very different, and we are teaching them completely different topics. It has been really helpful to be put in such contrasting situations so that we can better know how to teach people from all different backgrounds. Teaching is still intimidating, but I don't get very nervous anymore and lessons plans come easier to us. Our classes really are making a huge difference.
Today I was reading the allegory of the olive tree in Jacob 5, and it meant a lot more to me now that I am in a position as one of the Lord's full-time called servants to work in His vineyard. All of my scripture studies are taking on a whole new meaning as I study with this different perspective and also am learning how to study more effectively. Chapter 6 was also hit me hard, and I would recommend studying those chapters again sometime. I love this gospel and I love the Lord! I will work in his vineyard as long as He needs me.

I love you all!
Sister Marchant

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Hello Fam!

This week has gone so fast! I feel like it was twice as short as my half week the first week. So many great things have happened. I'm still loving my companion and we now understand how most things at the MTC work and where everything is. There is so much to learn. At one of the devotionals this week, I think it was the MTC president Pres. Nally who said that the MTC is not only a place of higher education, it is a place of education from on high. That couldn't be more true. I am continually humbled by all of the wonderful teaching skills they have to teach us and all the great ways to preach the gospel. They know every trick in the book.
So a lot of big news this week. First of all, we were just sitting in our classroom one day waiting for class to start and in walks Lucas! Yep, our ex-investigator turns out to be our new teacher. We were all super excited because we have already grown to love and care about him a lot in every prayer and every study session. Now he is teaching us. His real name is Irmao Taylor, and his lessons are always jam packed with helpful information and spiritually uplifting ideas. I know I will learn a ton from him. The last lesson we taught Lucas turned out super great. We taught him a little bit about the Plan of Salvation and then a bit about baptism. When we committed him to baptism he said yes! I'm glad they gave us some success for our first investigator because it was very motivating. We are now teaching two new investigators: Manuel, who is a 40ish year old Brazilian whose son just got baptized three weeks ago (aka Irmao Taylor in disguise again) and Vander, who was a street contact from the last elders in our area (aka Irmao Chamberlain in disguise). We taught our first lesson to Manuel yesterday. The lesson didn't go as well as I was hoping, and I was really frustrated at first, but I definitely learned a lot from it. We talked a lot in class about focusing our entire lessons to be directed to the commitment we want to extend at the end, and I think that will help us a lot. We teach Vander for the first time next Thursday. The first lessons are the hardest for us so far but I think this next one will be better. We are getting a little used to teaching entire 20-30 lessons in Portuguese. It still scares me a bit every time but its getting better. I know that if we teach with the Holy Ghost, He will help our investigators to understand what we are trying to say and teach regardless of how good our Portuguese is.
The other really exciting news is that my music skills are coming to some good use! I auditioned for a piano solo at one of the devotionals (new-missionary meeting, mission conference, senior missionary meeting, etc.), and I was accepted! I played that Joseph Smith Medley that I love so much. Sis. Nally, the MTC Relief Society President, was directing the tryouts. It was really neat to meet her personally. She said I was very musical and should find out within a week or two when I was going to play. I probably won't perform until near the end of my MTC stay so I'll let you know if and when it actually happens. I am super excited to get the chance to do this! I didn't even know music additions were possible at the MTC but I'm glad I brought my music. I miss the piano already and this is a good chance for me to practice maybe on Preparation days if I have time.
This Sunday for Mission Relief Society Meeting the Primary President Sister Wixom came! She is so sweet and happy all the time. I love hearing her speak. She told us that to be a better missionary we need to get to know the Lord better, understand the scriptures better, and love the members more. She also said to love and think often about the children of your investigators for her, and also for the Lord. So I was sitting there thinking, well I won't have a problem with that because I just received a great package full of some ridiculously amazing action figures! Thanks so much Uncle Jan! I know my investigators are going to love those in Brazil. Today for our Tuesday devotional rumor has it that someone pretty important is coming to speak to us. The devotional is being broadcasted to all the MTCs around the world (19 last time I checked), so we're setting our hopes high. All the girls in our district our actually singing in the MTC choir too (which is huge) so we might be sent all over the world tonight! We're singing an arrangement of Jesus, Once of Humble Birth that is super gorgeous. It feels amazing to sing out strong with hundreds of other worthy, motivated misssionaries. The future looks bright in the missionary force from the way I see it from here!
This week in class and at least too other devotionals they brought up D&C 84:88. This is my plaque scripture so it means a lot to me. It's been fun to hear about it over and over again and to really analyze every word. I think I finally chose the right verse for me. Even Sis. Wixom thinks its great!
Funny story of the week: it's interesting to sit in a room full of hundreds of missionaries. You always know when the meeting is supposed to end because you hear dozens of little beeps! at the same time. Everyone has one of those cheap watches that go off on the hour. Watch out for missionary watches.
So my companion is telling me we need to go to dinner (yeah we eat at 4:00, I'll tell you about that next week) so I better get going. Sorry I haven't responded to all of your emails but thank you SO SO SO SO SO SO much for those of you who sent some! I'll get back to you in paper. And honestly paper letters are always way more exciting because I get them throughout the week so even if its just two sentences, feel free to send it in the mail. Thanks for all of your love and support! I have really felt it this week. I love you all!
Love,
Sister Marchant

P.S. I'm trying to get picture uploaded but its not working for me on these computers. Hopefully I can figure it out for next week.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Oi Everyone!
It is so great to be here! I love everything about the MTC. Everyone is so happy and ready to work here. I love being surrounded be so many noble missionaries ready to take on the world. The Spirit is stronger here than I have ever felt anywhere else in the world. This mission thing is going to be great.
I arrived Wednesday at 12:30 much thanks to the love and kindness of Mrs. Jessica. They pushed us through registration and right on to our rooms. There were 700 missionaries arriving here last Wednesday! The MTC is bursting with happy missionaries running around preaching the good word of God. I am living with the five other girls in my district who are all going to Brazil, either Ribeirao Preto or Natal. They are great and really funny. My companion is Sister Shipp. She is from Houston, Texas and is coincidentally also studying nursing at BYU! We didn't know each other before but we were in some of the same giant classes there. We have very similar personalities and are getting along quite well. She is super fun and willing to work. These next few weeks are going to be great together. In our district we also have eight other elders, but two already got their visas so they will be leaving us today. Most of the elders are 18 and all but one of the sisters are 19. It is a fun group and all of us are working super hard to learn the language of Portuguese and of the Spirit.
Speaking of Portuguese, our classes are going so great! I love speaking this beautiful language. My background in Spanish plus the small studying I did in the few months I was home for the summer has helped me immensely. I know all of the basics so I can pick up the little extra things that we learn, and then focus on learning new vocabulary related to the gospel instead of so much grammer and conjugations, although I still have a long way to go on that too. Sister Shipp and I am learning a hymn a day, memorizing scriptures, and always reading O Livro de Mormon for our language study. It is coming along and we are getting it slowly but surely. I have huge respect for our teacher Irmao Chamberlain. He served his mission in Brazil and is now married with a baby on the way due in November (look for them in the hospital Nate and Jess!). He is so kind and really cares about us. I can tell he already loves us and wants us to be successful in learning the language. He is also completely dedicated to the gospel and want us to come closer to Christ while learning this language. I have a good feeling about this class.
The MTC cafeteria didn't let me down, especially since I know the food is being partly made by one very handsome, talented man. It is so fun to see Gil there! I usually see him about every other day for a quick hello. I am so glad he works here and he always lifts my spirits when I'm feeling down.
One thing that I am starting to really gain a testimony for is that with the help of the Lord and a lot of prayers, we can do difficult things. We have taught three lessons this week! Our current investigator is a 22 year old studying engineering and named Lucas. We started teaching him the second day we came completely in Portuguese. It is hard to muddle through the lessons with a lot of pauses and ums, but we make it through and every time we are getting better. This last time we had a really special experience where we taught him the atonement. We hardly used any notes except for a few scriptures and instead followed the Spirit by asking him questions of what he needed. We really got to know him a lot better and we actually talked about what he wanted to instead sticking strictly to the lesson plan. It scares me like crazy every time we go to clap at his door, but I know that the Lord is with us, that this is His gospel we are teaching, and that with a small drop of faith anything is possible.
Sunday was awesome. The whole day was relaxing and I learned tons from the different meetings. One of my favorite parts of the day was Sacrament Meeting. It was Fast and Testimony Meeting so we heard a long stream of Portuguese testimonies. We have one zone for our branch, and they are all going to either Brazil or Portugal. The missionaries here have such strong faith! It was amazing to feel the Spirit come through so strong in that small room of elders and sisters. And the best part was that I could understand them! I knew what they were saying in every testimony and could tell how much they loved the Lord. What a great first Sunday to be here! There was also an awesome musical devotional by Jennie Oaks Baker. She is the daughter of Elder Oaks and went to Juliard for violin performance. She gave a little talk interspersed with musical numbers which were all perfect and so amazing. Then after that we stayed to watch a recording of a talk by Elder Bednar given to MTC missionaries a few years ago. It was called Character of Christ and completely changed my life. If you can find it anywhere online I would greatly encourage you to watch it. I now have a different view on missionary work and what I should become. I am working towards that vision slowly but surely and am learning so much every day. Good things are happening here.
It was one of the greatest feelings in the world to finally put on the tag with my own name right above o nome de Jesus Cristo. Eu sei que este e o trabalho do Salvador e que o Espirito Santo e com os missionarios de Deus. A igreja e verdadeira!
Love,
Sister Marchant
 
P.S. Just so you know, my email and address are hungry and willing to accept anything you can send! Here they are again if you would be so kind as to send me a tiny note of love: emarchant@myldsmail.net
Sister Marchant
SEP09  BRA-RIB
2011 N 900 E Unit 284
Provo UT 84602