It has been such a crazy 10 days here at the MTC, but 10 of the very, very best days. Sorry this is the first letter I could send you! Fridays are our P Days, and our first Friday didn't count as one, so this is the first time I've been able to communicate with any of you!
Let me tell you a little about my life here at the MTC. I LOVE it! I'm in a "tri-panionship" with Elders Swensen and Manning. Elder Swensen is 6' 8" and Elder Manning is about 6' 4". We're a pretty tall companionship! It is so fun being in a threesome with two awesome Elders. Having two other brains thinking about what to say really helps when teaching lessons and coming up with new ideas and goals.
Me with my companions, Elder Swensen (blond) and Manning (brown hair)
In my district, there are 13 people. 7 Elders and 6 Sisters. We are a pretty diverse group, but we all get along really well and have had many tender moments together as we learn and grow. The first two days were a surreal blur. As soon as I was whisked away, I got my two name tags, and was taken right up to my room. After dropping off my bags, we met in our classroom in building 8M, where our teacher, Irmao Lemperle greeted us (in Portuguese) and started us right away with simple salutations and "getting to know you" type phrases. By the end of the first day, we could say a basic prayer in Portuguese, and by the end of the second day, we could bear a simple testimony. It is SUCH a neat feeling being in a room with 12 of my brothers and sisters as we all struggle to learn together. Though we cannot always understand one another's Portuguese, we can understand the language of the Spirit, and the message the Spirit conveys is always beautiful.
My with my district at the temple :)
I keep getting these mini "visions" or glimpses of what it will be like in Brazil. I see myself teaching God's children in a foreign land and bringing them the joyous news of the gospel. I see myself rejoice in their new found happiness and faith. In one of our meetings, the teacher told us to imagine being in Heaven and being turned around by Christ. He told us to imagine looking out into the heavens and seeing people walking towards us. As these people came closer, we would recognize them as those sweet people we brought the gospel to in Brazil. He said to imagine them coming up to us with tears of gratitude and love in their eyes as they fell to our feet and thanked us for bringing the gospel to them. I cried!! I can't imagine anything more fulfilling or beautfil than to see the sweet people I was able to bring to the gospel through the Lord. ALL I desire is to be an instrument in God's hands and bring souls to Him. I
Last Friday, we had to teach our first investigator, Geraldo IN PORTUGUESE. We were all freaking out and very nervous, but our first lesson, though very basic went well. As we learned more Portuguese throughout the week, we continued to teach Geraldo as a companionship each day, and three days ago, he committed to baptism!! We couldn't be happier. There is a saying that keeps floating around the MTC that goes like this, "If you want blessings, be obedient. If you want miracles, be exactly obedient." As my companionship and district try our best to be "exactly obedient", we have witnessed miracles like Geraldo happen. I know that Heavenly Father loves His children and wants to bless them. I know that as we are obedient to the commandments and the covenants we make, He'll make up the difference.
Me with my first investigator, Geraldo
Sunday was a great day. Truly a day of rest! We all had to prepare a talk in case we were called on in sacrament meeting (thankfully I wasn't) but the messages were beautiful. We learned about enduring to the end and Christ's Atonement. Read 2 Nephi 9! It is such a beautiful chapter that describes the majesty of Jesus Christ's infinite sacrifice for us. We've been asked to read that everyday in addition to our personal Book of Mormon Study. We were promised that if we read all of the Book of Mormon from beginning to end by the time we leave the MTC, we will be blessed in our mission language and the language of the spirit. I love the MTC because if you ever have a sad moment or are feeling down, you are surrounded by thousands of smiles, and beautiful promises and messages of HOPE. It's easy to worry, but it's even easier to rejoice and have faith to know that as long as you're doing all that you need to be doing, The Lord WILL make up the difference. It's truly a miracle! I can't believe how much I've felt the love and encouragement of Heavenly Father. Here are some highlights from devotionals and speakers that have helped me go on and take comfort:
- Heavenly Father has called ME because he needs ME
- All we have to do is TRUST in Him
- Don't compare yourself with other missionaries. Doing so will either bolster your pride or tear you down
- YOU CAN DO IT!
There is a real excitement about the upcoming announcement this Sunday! Unfortunately, I came a week too late to be part of the choir :( Rumor has it that the announcement might be something about service time, China, or a new missionary program. We'll see!
Sorry that this letter is all over the place! Time is super limited, and I wanted to write so much more, but know that I love all of you and that I thank Heavenly Father for EACH of you. I means the world to have so many people supporting me and praying for me. I know that Heavenly Father hears and answers prayers. I know He is a God of love, tender mercies, and miracles. I KNOW that this gospel is true. If I've learned anything here, it is that. The message of the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ is for ALL of God's children.
I love you all so very, very much! I can't wait until next week to tell you more about the MTC and our two new investigators. Tchau!