Nathanael sounds fantastic! It's such a relief to know that he is coping well with missionary life in a place so far away. I love that he is throwing himself into the work (it's super fun that his companion's name is Elder Work) and relying completely on his Heavenly Father. It is inspiring to read his letters and feel of his love for missionary work. I'm so proud of who Nathanael is. Here is his letter:
Thanks for emailing me! It sounds like life is good for you guys and that's good. I miss you guys but am glad everything is good. Time is starting to fly by here, and I'm really getting into the groove of working, practicing the language, etc. My body is also starting to adjust to the food haha. I've had a cold for a few days but am fine.
I want to tell you guys about proselyting last Saturday first. It was so amazing!! They gave me and Elder Work 3 Books of Mormon each and they had us just go out and talk to people. It was crazy. I tried to talk to everyone but sometimes it was really scary haha :) you know. But we got all of our books handed out and it was so so cool! Man! I've really never had a day like that, or an experience like that, so it was really cool for me. Nothing like knowing you're giving people a book that could potentially change their lives forever. Our Portuguese wasn't great but I memorized how to say "I have a present for you and it's free!" and that was good enough for the most part haha. There was one guy who offered to teach us Portuguese over Skype and I didn't know what to say but luckily our instructor was walking by at that moment and he helped us out. The people here are so nice. I had a bunch of people say "not interested, but have a great day!" That seriously happened like 10 times. So proselyting was really cool. It was really good practice and it just felt natural, even though I was nervous.
Conference was good for me! I really liked the talks. I especially liked Elder Christofferson's talk and a couple others which I forgot now. I think one of the new apostles. Conference was good because I was able to feel the Spirit and be inspired on some things I can do.
We went to the temple again today. Don't worry, I'm taking tons of pictures! I already feel like I look different haha. I have that faraway look in my eyes that only those who have been to the jungle have. Jk. Kinda. Also, my language is really coming along. Obviously I'm not even close to fluent but I'm learning tons and the gift of tongues is really helping me. I find I'm easily able to remember words I need, I can understand many things people say, and when I'm confident enough to open my mouth, I can usually say what I'm trying to say. So that aspect of things is going really good. It's easy for me to be hard on myself so I'm learning how to manage that but luckily you guys taught me a lot and I'm doing my best. :)
It's really easy to get discouraged here because the stakes seem so high -- work as hard as you can or people you might have taught will never know the truth; keep all the rules all the time or you won't be able to teach; always speak your language or you won't have the gift of tongues; etc. I'm not perfect obviously so I've really been having to learn how to balance having high standards and expectations while also not being perfectionistic and hard on myself. It's been interesting, and definitely the theme of my MTC experience so far. I don't know if I mentioned it, but the Sunday before general conference we had a lesson on the atonement in church that was really powerful. I had a really strong impression then that Heavenly Father loves me and wants me to just do my best and the Atonement will make everything right. Well, during general conference I was feeling really unsettled and I wanted to know what I can do to feel better. I had a really strong impression during the opening hymn (that was fast!) on Saturday morning that the Lord's grace is still readily available, that the Lord is with me, and that I just need to do my best. In my mind, I was kind of thinking, "ok, but then what?" Later that day (or it might have been during a Sunday session) one of the apostles quoted the scripture, "Did I not speak peace to your mind?" or something like that, and I had an unmistakable impression that that was the Lord's message for me, that I need to rely on His atonement and do my best and everything will be ok. I've been doing my best to apply that message since then and I have felt much more peace and happiness in my life. I mean I was ok before but the Lord is helping me to have a more constant feeling of peace instead of a bunch of back and forth, which is what the first couple weeks were like.
As far as the package goes, I could also use some more hair gel. I thought when I came down here I would be able to find stuff but this is literally a foreign, non first-world country, so there you go. Haha. That's all I can think of, but I'll let you know if there's anything else. Also I'm excited for the paper letters!! Yay!! Thanks for that.
I had a really neat experience yesterday during splits -- I got to bear my testimony of the First Vision in Portuguese. I've done it before but I have the scripture memorized and I was feeling really confident yesterday so while we were teaching, I held up a picture of the first vision and said something like, "in his words this is what happened... (read the scripture)... this event forever changed the world because God began to restore His gospel to the earth, and I know this is true." I don't know why but the Spirit was so, so strong, and I know other people were feeling it too. It was a real blessing because I have had a testimony of the first vision for years but yesterday I felt it burning so strongly within me for the whole day that I would have defended it with blows. It was a really good experience. (Don't worry, I won't hit anyone while proselyting!)
Love you guys so much. Things are good here. I don't know how to explain it, but the Lord is succoring me in my weaknesses and making me stronger, more able, and more confident. I have help here because He is with me. It is really true that we are never out of reach of the Lord's help, even if we're halfway across the world.
Keep sending emails!! Love you guys.