Dear Family & Friends,
This is my one and only Pday email from the Brazil MTC so get excited!!! I have way too many things to write about and I don't even know where to begin. But first and foremost... I LOVE THIS PLACE!!!
Having visa-waiters come to the training center in Brazil is the best (most inspired) idea ever. Total immersion in the language. Us few "Americanos" (there are about 30 of us total) are among more than 250 missionaries from Brazil, Ecudaor, Argentina, Peru, and several other countries. It's super weird to be the "foreigner". My district is made of all American visa-waiters like me, but we are mixed in with the other missionaries for meals and everything else. Our teachers speak Portuguese (most of them don't even know English) and our roommates are even Brazilian. I'm definitely trying to make the most of this opportunity to speak the language as much as possible. It's frustrating but Heavenly Father helps me.
The biggest adjustment so far for me has been the food. SO MUCH MEAT. I wonder what I'll be eating when I go to my first area next week. I think I'm getting used to having a ham and cheese sandwich (everyday) for breakfast, but I'm still hoping for a dessert that doesn't jiggle...
I love being here at the Brazil MTC because we get hands-on experience. our district rode an extremely crowded city bus to the center of Sao Paulo to proselyte. Each companionship had to give out 6 copies of the Book of Mormon. Coming from my state-side mission where people pretty much scream and run when you say the word "mormon", I was shocked at how easy it was. Brazilerios were taking the Book of Mormon like it was candy. Of course explaining the Book of Mormon in my extremely limited langauge abilities was difficult, but I could at least say my testimony! That's what is most important.
This morning we went to the temple in Sao Paulo which was a really special experience. So beautiful! I can't even express how it feels after waiting so long to actually be here in Brazil. The session was actually in Spanish because most of the missionaries we were with were from Argentina, so I had headphones for translation. No matter where you are in the world, no matter what language you speak, no matter what temple you're at, the Spirit is the same.
Last night we had a devotional by Elder Pinho (just was called to the Quorom of the Seventy this last conference and happens to be the dad of one of my teachers at the Provo MTC) and all the missionaries got to sing a special verson of "How Great Thou Art". We sang a verse in Spanish, Portuguese, and English. I had to hold back tears because the Spirit was so strong. It's just so neat to be surrounded by all these missionaries from different countries who have the same testimony and conviction about the gospel of Jesus Christ as I do. Though it was in Portuguese, the devotional was great and I understood a lot.
The other Americans in my district waited for their visas for anywhere from 7-12 months. I didn't realize how lucky I was. It's interesting to have this "pause" in our mission, coming back to the structured environment of the MTC after being in the field for so long, but I am SO grateful for this experience. Several visa-waiters in my district had the chance to serve as Zone Leaders and Sister Training Leaders so I am learning a lot from them. Sister Talli Archibald from my stake in Alabama is in my district (she waited for 8 months and served in AZ) and Sister Gabrielle Pinon from my Provo MTC district (served in St. Louis, Missouri) is my companion! These familiar faces are definitely a tender mercy from Heavenly Father to help me in this transition.
Every day when I wake up and look out the window at the beautiful city of Sao Paulo and see my Brazilian roommates, I thank my Father in Heaven for this opportunity to serve here. I am so blessed to finally be living my dream. I am not going to waste a single minute of it! I am thankful I have the chance to serve two very different missions, which were and will be hard in different ways. The experiences I am having are giving me a foundation in faith and testimony of my Savior Jesus Christ that I will have for the rest of my life.
I wish I could write for hours and hours and hours but this will have to do for now. I tried to include pictures but I think these MTC computers are blocking it so I'll have to keep you wondering, sorry. Next email I will be in my Sao Paulo North mission! WOOHOOOO!
I love you all! Thanks for the prayers and support.