As hard as it is to let him go so far away for so long, it's worth it. We're loaning him out for two years so he can be a blessing to others. But I'd be lying if I didn't say it's one of the hardest things I've ever done. Here is part of this week's letter:
Today is finally my first P-Day. Can I just tell you this has been one of the craziest and most wonderful and difficult weeks ever?? Man! I want to tell you guys everything but don't even know where to start. I miss you guys. I was pretty homesick for a while but I feel a lot better now, I feel like the Lord is helping me adjust to life here. The MTC is incredible. We have classes for basically the entire day so I'm kept super busy which is great.
Sad I missed Yara's pastries haha :) thanks for sending me so many emails. I've been writing in my journal every night so I can answer any questions or whatever at some point.
The language is crazy. I definitely underestimated how challenging it would be to learn. I have already had some amazing experiences though. The gift of tongues is real and powerful. I never really doubted that but after this week and a half I know it for sure. There have been tons of times where words have just popped into my head and I've been learning really fast. My companion is awesome. I struggled the first couple days with homesickness, etc. but we are getting along great. My district is also incredible! I would send you a picture but we actually can't send pictures from the MTC. Don't worry though, I'm taking tons and I'll send you them once I get into the field.
The picture they sent you was of both districts that arrived last Tuesday, and the MTC president and his wife. They are super nice.
I got to go to the temple for the first time today. It was just amazing. Such a good experience. Plus luckily they had headsets so I got to listen to it in English. Even the guy at the veil spoke english so it was all good haha. I think I'll move into listening to it in Portuguese in the coming weeks but it was comforting to listen to it in English today.
Absolutely my favorite aspect of being at the MTC is the language classes and teaching practice. I don't know if they do this at the MTC in Provo but we got an "investigator" on the first Thursday that was really one of our teachers, and we've had appointments to teach him every day except Sunday, 100% in Portuguese. It's been crazy and so incredibly cool! There is nothing like teaching someone about the Gospel and having them understand it, even if it's just practice. I have had some really powerful experiences with this and don't know if I can do them all justice but I'll share my favorite.
Yesterday was our first day of teaching 2 investigators instead of 1. Elder Work and I were ready to teach him but I was praying really hard that I would be able to follow the Spirit and know what to teach him. All the investigators we have are based on real nonmembers of the church and it feels so real to teach them. It's amazing how much concern you feel for them even though you know it's just role playing. Anyway, I really wanted to get it right. We were teaching him (his name is Emerson, which I thought you'd appreciate, Dad) and I had a feeling that the lesson wasn't what he needed to hear. But the problem is, with Portuguese, I can't really ask people that many questions or be very flexible. Everything is pre-planned until my skills improve. Anyway, about halfway through the lesson, Emerson asked why he was having so many problems in his life even though he was trying to do what's right. It was nuts, I could understand everything he was saying and I was able to answer that God doesn't like it when we suffer and wants us to turn to him so he can help us bear our trials, even if he doesn't take them away. Then I felt prompted to tell him that one way to turn to God is through prayer, and asked him if he would say a prayer for us. I was then able to explain to him (in Portuguese!) how to pray and what to say. He agreed and said a prayer, and I could not believe how strong the Spirit was. It was just an amazing experience, and a miracle. It really built my confidence in speaking the language but I know that I was being led by the Spirit. I'm really learning (and my farewell talk helped teach me this too) that if I follow the Spirit, I'll have the words I need. It was such a cool experience.
Anyway, sorry for that wall of text! What else do you want to know?? The food here is pretty good, like eating old Café Rio all the time or something. I like it a lot, but it's messing with my stomach and I've felt sick a lot.
The laundry room here is crazy. I tried to wash my whites and the machine just stopped halfway through so I had to do it again, and then the dryer took almost 3 hours to dry my clothes, and I lost a couple garments somehow. Good thing there's a distribution center at the temple (and everything there is super cheap!).
My box number is 15. Can't wait to get any letters you might send! ;)
They have Preach My Gospel (Pregar Meu Evangelho) in Portuguese here!! So great!! Also, there are 5 of us here going to Piracicaba, including all 4 elders in my district, so that's super rad.
My anxiety was pretty crazy the first few days I was here. I was missing you both because you help me feel better when I'm struggling like that, but the Lord has really been strengthening me. There are so many rules here and I've been adjusting to those contantly. It's hard to get used to shaving every day and stuff like that, and I don't always feel like I have time to do everything that's asked of me, so I was feeling pretty down on myself for a while, but the Lord has really helped me to see that if I do my best, that's good enough for Him and He'll give me the capacity to do more and more. I've really seen a jump in my productivity, my happiness, and my calmness and peace since I got here Tuesday. And time is just flying by. I'm having such a good experience.
I have felt my homesickness start to fade and I feel this constant love and this push, like I can do this, I don't need to be discouraged, I can overcome my weaknesses. I love and miss you guys so much but I just want you to know I'm really doing ok. I know you guys are doing well too. I think this time will fly by faster than we think it will, and I can't wait to see you. I know that the Lord is proud of me and you guys are too and that's what I need. :)
Love you guys tons,