I guess there has been some questions as to whether I can email with friends or not. I can, but I don’t have a lot of time on the computer, so if you write me an email please include an address so if I run out of time on the computer I can just write a letter to you. I can just print off emails I receive so it’s pretty fast in that sense, but it’s harder to respond by email. As far as sending packages I am not really sure about restrictions, but I think it’s basically the don’t be dumb rule, so I’m sure all of you will be fine.
I sprained my ankle pretty bad. The bruise is weird because of this wrap they had me put on it.
Amber and Heidi have asked for a little bit of a progress report so here goes: The teachers here are amazing and both are teachers have sweet names. One is Brother Buttars and the other is Brother Nothum. I have learned a ton here – a lot about myself, God and the Portuguese language. As of today I can understand most of what is being said during a lesson and during class. I can bear a fairly basic testimony and teach most lessons although it is a bit of a stumble and I’m not too sure how coherent my sentences are.
2 missionaries in our district of 14 have got their visas. They were transferred to the Brazil MTC and left earlier today. The consulate I went through in Chicago seems to be doing a pretty good job of getting visas, at least relative to other places. The two that left were Elder Taylor and Elder Eskelson. They were the two tallest in our district (so you can pick them out in the picture). Elder Taylor is a really good basketball player. He redshirted a year at Utah State. We played a lot of basketball together when we had the chance. Elder Eskelson was an awesome guy too. I am going to miss them both. It kind of got me thinking about leaving the MTC. As much as I want to leave and go serve in Brazil I am going to miss this place. There is something about so many young people that believe in God and want to serve him at the prime of their life. I don’t know, it just seemed kind of cool.
I am also the new district leader. I am still learning what exactly I have to do but I guess I didn’t notice a lot of things going on until I was put in charge of them.
More about my companion – Elder Molinaro is from Atlanta, Georgia. He went to BYU for 3 semesters before coming to the MTC. He is really smart – he got a 34 on his ACT and a very good GPA at BYU. Along with being really smart he works very hard. It seems he is always studying even while we are eating.
We had our first experience at the TRC last week. The TRC is the Teaching Resource Center. It is where people from the “real world” volunteer to be taught by missionaries. We can’t speak any English either during it so the experience is about as real as they can make it for us here, and well, I guess it is real. For missionaries like us learning a new language that often times means we are teaching return missionaries from BYU that served in Brazil, but we never know exactly. Most are members of the church but some are less active and some aren’t even members at all. We taught 2 – 20 minute lessons. One was to a woman who I think was 24 or 25. After talking to her a bit, we found out she was an RM and a student at BYU. This lesson went, well I’ll be honest – it was rough. We had a very hard time figuring out what she needed to hear and learn from us. Our Portuguese isn’t great and she talked quickly and quietly so it was hard for me to understand. I think my companion got most of it but I am not too sure. This was the second lesson we taught. Our first lesson was with Brother Judd, and it went amazingly well, even better than either me or my companion could have imagined as we found out later. For the first part of the lesson we got to know him a little bit. He was from Utah but I think he married a woman from Brazil – I’m still not really sure. He told us a story about when he was in Brazil and I think the gest of it is as follows (again not too sure): There was a travel group of a bunch of tourist and they were curious about the Church and I think they all eventually got baptized or some of them did or maybe just one. I at least know he said baptism in the story. So yeah, that’s the story as I understood it, haha. Anyways, we continued into more spiritual things. He told us how he was sick and recently got out of the Hospital and something about his spouse too. I really don’t know what he said. We talked to him about foundations, and how a life built on the foundation of Christ cannot fall no matter the storm that it must endure. He then shared a story again and started to tear up a bit. I am not really sure what he said but we continued. Me and my companion shared our testimonies about how we can go through anything so long as we rely on Christ, and closed with a prayer. We could all feel the spirit so strongly during that lesson it way really cool. Later we found out our teacher talked with the volunteers afterwards, and Brother Judd told our teacher he believed he had received direct revelation to a question he had. It was really amazing to be a part of that. This experience also offered two very different ways missionary work can go. One can be difficult and frustrating while another can be amazing and humbling. I don’t really know what that means yet but it was an interesting comparison.
I want to end with a quote. I don’t know where it is from and I won’t get it exactly but it goes something like this: “We (as missionaries) are responsible to act as the Savior would act, talk as he would talk, walk as he would walk, to think as he would think, to teach as he would teach, and to love as he would love.” We wear the name of Jesus Christ (Jesus Cristo in Portuguese) on our chest. We are set apart to do amazing things that alone we are not capable of. We have the ability to help others come unto Christ in a way they couldn’t otherwise. It is an amazing responsibility and privilege, that I am humbled Christ trusts me with.