Surprise!

So… I have good news and I have bad news…

The good news is that two Elders in our district, Elder Ence and Elder Huch, got their visas. WOOT! They leave Tuesday morning at 6:15 for the Sao Paulo MTC. I am so excited for them. Elder Huch is my companion, but since there are two Elders leaving, my new companion will most likely be Elder Stevens, Elder Ence’s current companion. I am sad that I’m losing my companion, but he is going to do so great in Brazil. He is already learning Portuguese remarkably fast. He is probably the best in our class at Portuguese. Everyone else in our district got their calls at the beginning of February, so both of the Elders that are leaving had their visa stuff in by the end of February. I didn’t have my visa stuff sent in until like halfway through April, so I would be super surprised if I got my visa before I left the MTC.

The bad news is that I can’t send pictures this week. I have to buy an SD/USB converter from the bookstore here so I can put my pictures on the computer. So you’ll have to wait another week before you can put faces to all these names I’ve been spewing at you. I’ll wait until I send pictures to tell you about everyone in my district, but I can at least tell you that I love all of them. Everyone is very different, and there is no companionship where both people are even remotely the same. Regardless of our differences, we are becoming best friends, which is good, since we spend 16+ hours a day with each other.

Thank you so much for the pictures you sent. I appreciate them so much! Thanks for the package too. I’m definitely putting it all to good use. I shared the food with our district last night, so it’s already about half gone. I understand that it’s not really practical to send my quilt. It’s honestly probably better that you aren’t sending it.

I am so excited that Tyler is submitting his papers! Tyler, I know that no matter where you go, it is going to be a huge blessing. I’ll admit that sometimes I almost wish I was going somewhere English speaking. I feel like I could be a much more effective teacher. However, learning a language forces me to stretch and grow and be uncomfortable. It’s hard for me to not be able to say exactly what I want to say to the people we teach, but that forces me to learn even more Portuguese. It seems strange that in two short years, I will be fluent in Portuguese (hopefully a LITTLE earlier than that). But I know that I will be. And I definitely will only be fluent if I work my butt off and rely on the Lord to fill in the rest.

Lacey! I actually realized this week how useful another language (besides the one I’m learning) can be on a mission. The missionaries downstairs in our building are learning French, but one of the missionaries down their is from Belgium and is learning English. He was getting really frustrated because he felt like the only people he could talk to in French were his teachers, since his district had only arrived two days before and new very little French. I talked to him for probably fifteen minutes completely in French, and he was so happy to just speak to someone freely for the first time in a week. I was surprised I could actually understand everything he said, but even more I was surprised that I could respond and talk to him. That experience definitely showed me that my talents and abilities were meant to be tools for me wherever I am, and God knows that.

Also, Adelaide’s picture is so awesome! I’m definitely saving that for my whole mission. I’m also beyond grateful for the music from Michael. An Elder in my district, Elder Tagg, is a fantastic violin player and one of our (new!) zone leaders play the cello, so later today we are going to find a room to just play for a while. The music from Michael will be a huge blessing for my entire mission.

Dad- That Stake meeting reminds me of when Lizzy Keenan spoke at a stake priesthood meeting. I still remember that talk, which I think was at least two years ago or more.

The investigator that I told you about last week, Pedro, turned out to be our second teacher, Irmao James (excuse the lack of accents on my portuguese words. I don’t have time to change the language on the computer and I forgot all of the keyboard shortcuts anyway). He is a fantastic teacher, as is our original teacher, Irma Dangerfield. They each teach two districts, and switch off teaching us. Our district is convinced that our teachers have a thing for each other. The challenge is getting Irmao James and Irma Dangerfield to realize that. We’re still working on that.

We started teaching two new investigators last week, Paulo and Vera. Vera is 55, born Catholic but doesn’t go to church, is non-legally wedded (just like everyone else in Brazil), and has a daughter from a previous marriage that she rarely sees. She is also a heavy smoker. She has been very depressed because she lost her job and she feels like her life is at a dead-end, so we are teaching her about how the gospel, and especially our first covenant, baptism, can bring eternal happiness. Our second investigator, Paulo, is 28, lives with his brother’s family, and is unemployed. He has tons of energy and stutters a lot, so it has been really challenging to understand everything he says. His brother’s family recently joined the church, and he says that the church is the best thing that ever happened to his brother, so he’s off to a great start. He is really curious about everything we believe and loves learning everything he can about the church. It was his birthday yesterday, so we learned happy birthday in Portuguese and sang to him. He loved it and it instantly made him feel like we cared about him. Later in that lesson, he told us we were his only friends.

I can’t really remember what else happened this week. The days all blur together. I have really bad shin splints (where your muscle separates from the bone) from over-working my legs, and playing sand volleyball definitely hasn’t been helping. I should be fine though. As long as they get better before I have to walk around in Brazil all day, I will be great.

The longer I’m here, the more I know that the power of God is real. It’s amazing to be surrounded by so much good everyday.
I love you! Tchau!

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