Oi minha família!
I hope things are going well for all of you! Life at the MTC is as good as ever. Every day seems to go faster and faster. I have officially been a missionary for a full month! Where does all the time go?
Last Tuesday for devotional Elder Anderson came! He spoke on love and sacrifice. He said "you sacrifice for the things you love the most, and you love the things you sacrifice the most for." That is so true. One of my favorite quotes has always been "nothing worth having comes easy", and this is ever so true as a missionary. The most life changing moments and experiences take a lot of work on your part. This week has been especially inspirational for me. I have been thinking a lot about my relationship with God and how I can better follow His will for me. I am working to sanctify myself and be completely worthy for whatever the Lord would have me do. It is a long work in progress, but I am slowly starting to become the missionary I want to be. The MTC prepares you so well. This is the best schooling I have ever had. It will be hard to leave this holy, wonderful place.
After the devotional they held us over for about 20 minutes because there was a thunderstorm going on outside. It made me very happy and reminded me of home:). Eventually they just let us loose and we all ran from the Marriott Center back to campus. It was pretty funny to see all these missionaries running around like crazy and getting soaked. If we can't go to Brazil, Brazil will come to us! This is only the beginning of being completely soaked with no where to go put straight into the rain. Bring on Brazil!
Speaking of which, no news on the visa yet. We get our reassignments (or visas) on Friday! I won't know anything until then about where I'll be for the next few months. I will most likely be reassigned somewhere stateside and leave on Monday, but some people have been leaving as early as Saturday. There is so much suspense! I am really excited to find out. It's like receiving another mission call. I will get to have one more preparation day the day before I leave so I will let you know all the details as soon as possible. Who knows, maybe I'll be seeing some of you soon...I could go anywhere in the whole US!
We had the chance to actually skype with a Brazilian this week! His camera wasn't working so we couldn't see him, but we could hear him and he could see us. That was an interesting experience. Real Brazilian Portuguese is very different that MTC Portuguese. We didn't understand very much of what he said, but we did get a few words here and there. It was still a good experience and sweet to talk to an actual native. He was from São Paulo and is a life-long member. It was definitely motivating to make me want to study as hard as I can to learn this language. It is so beautiful and I want to get it down so I can teach from my heart. What a better motivation to learn a language than to teach others the gospel of the Lord! He is helping us through this and blessing us with the gift of tongues. It is coming slowly, but I love it to death. I can at least understand pretty much everything our teachers say in class now. They speak a lot of the lessons entirely in Portuguese now, and I love sitting back and listening to them speak. I learn so much just from hearing them. And big news: we received a new teacher this week! Irmao Chamberlain had to drop a district this week because school started. We are going to miss him a lot. We are especially going to miss teaching Vander! He was doing so great and is supposed to be baptized this week. He keeps all of his commitments like you would not believe. This week for one of our lessons we taught him about tithing. When we showed him a tithing slip he asked if he could have it, and took out money and filled it out right during the lesson! I could not ask for a more committed, loyal investigator. He soaked up everything we taught him and didn't really have problems with anything. I wish all investigators were that receptive! When we told him we were being transferred, if you will, he was super sad and said he would miss us a lot. We had a little mini testimony meeting during that last lesson. He told us this neat story how after going to his mom's church and being offended how the Spirit felt wrong there, he had prayed and the next day we showed up. These investigators that we teach now are real investigators that our teachers once had on their missions, so it was neat to think of how that must of really happened and how it must have felt to be in those missionaries' shoes. What an awesome experience! Vander is the man, and it was such a blessing to teach him.
Our new teacher is named Irmão Rodriguez. He hasn't taught us yet but he came in to meet us yesterday. He is actually a Brazilian from São Paulo. It will be way helpful to be taught by him since he knows all the little details of Portuguese and the Brazilian culture. I hope we can learn as much as possible from him.
This week a lot of new faces came in. I ran into Elder Ayer the other day, and Elder Marchant's (the 18 year old that used to be in Montgomery Ward) classroom is actually at the end of our hall. I have also seen Elder Bryant a bunch of times. He is in the same Brazilian building as us too. There are so many amazing people here right now! It is fun to see so many familiar faces.
Sundays are always the best. This week was Fast Sunday so we had a big Mission Conference in the morning. Most of the MTC Presidency spoke. They talked a lot about obedience and repentance. It was one of the best meetings for me since we've been here. I have really found that I am so much more effective and have the Spirit with me stronger when I am obedient. We can't teach without the Spirit and we will not have the Spirit with us if we are disobedient. I made a new goal this week to follow all the mission rules and commandments of God to the best of my ability, and like they said in one of their talks, to "be more obedient than you think you need to be". The Spirit filled me right up so that I wasn't even very hungry all day. That doesn't happen to me very often on Fast Sundays! In Sacrament Meeting I shared my testimony in Portuguese! That was a neat first-time experience. I could actually do it! Then to top it off we went and watched Character of Christ again for our Sunday Night Video. It couldn't have been a much better Sabbath.
So on to all of my music events of the week. I found out in the mail that I will be playing my piano solo tomorrow for the New Missionary Meeting. This is the first meeting any of the newcomers have as soon as they come to the MTC. I'm a little nervous because I'll be playing for hundreds of people, but I think it's ready. What an amazing opportunity! I played the accompaniment to the EFY Medley for the departing district last week in Sacrament Meeting, and this week our district and one other that is leaving is singing Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing for our musical number. That is one of my favorite songs ever and it is coming along pretty well. We have a lot of good singers among the 22 of us. It's fun to be doing this with so many other missionaries. Last Sunday I was also called to be the Branch Music Coordinator! It's a little silly because it is only for two Sundays, but it was still a pretty neat job to have. (I was called last week and will be released this week! Shortest calling ever). I basically just pick the hymns, chorister, and pianist. Even if it is for such a short time, it still gives me the excuse to get to play the piano a few more times:).
One quick funny story: So my companion Sister Shipp is really quiet and pretty much everything she does is cute, so the sisters in our district have been calling her Sister Bonitinha for the past three weeks. The word for cute in Portuguese is bonitinha according to our dictionaries...but apparently not in real life. We called her that one time in class and our teacher was like, I don't think that means what you think it means. He explained that bonitinha is used for someone who is usually ugly but in this rare occasion happened to do something cute. I don't know how that much information can get into one word, but then there's a lot about Portuguese that I still don't understand. I about died from laughing so hard. Needless to say, Sister Shipp is no longer Sister Bonitinha.
One scripture I've been thinking a lot about lately is Matthew 7:16-23. We really have to show forth the fruits through our actions. To really have faith, we have to act on it. To say we are "active" members of the church, we have to be acting on what we believe 24 hours a day. I hope I can be a good example to the people I teach through righteous actions, regardless of what situation I'm put in.
Well, the days are zooming by! Before I know it I'll be in the mission field! Everything is working out great and like a member of our bishopric says, everything is happy, happy, happy! There are so many great people here who teach me so many valuable lessons. I love this school!
I miss and love you,