This has been one crazy week and I'll do my best to cram all that has happened in the short time that I have to write you. It sounds like you all have had a ton of fun this week! Camping with the beehives, mom? You sure have a lot of courage... Haha. I miss those awesome boating activities, so I'm glad y'all had fun. How did the Pioneer Trek go? I remember the one I went on was pretty easy and not too difficult. I'm curious to know if that was the case this year as well. Also, how has the summer been only having one child at home. I'd imagine it's pretty quiet and uneventful, but I may be kind of wrong. Also, thank you so very VERY much for the letters and care packages!! Currently, Valerie and Natalie are doing really well in making my days and giving me hope as I've been here. Nothing feels better when coming back to my residence after a tough day than opening up a box of goodies and reading your thoughtful letters. Keep them coming! Also, because I don't have much time and can't email you, expect a nice letter in snail mail soon! I love the chocolate bacon too. Mama, you know me too well. Also, if you want to send letters that I can get the very day you send them, and for free, DearElder.com is a great way to do that. I highly recommend it.
WHERE TO START!
First off, to answer some questions you have, I am at the main MTC. I still don't know exactly how the other campuses work. Where they learn, eat, so on. I'm clueless about it. My companion is absolutely incredible. His name is Elder Deiffenbach (dee-fin-back... it took me over 24 hours to remember his name and be able to pronounce it right). He already has learned so much portuguese and has been a great teacher for me. He has a great love for this wonderful gospel, he has so much faith, and does a wonderful job at heling me, serving me, and overall being a great friend. I couldn't have asked for anyone better. Really.
Our district is also very wonderful. There are 6 elders, all assigned to Rio like me, and 6 sisters who are all assigned to Fortaleza, including..... SISTER NOWELS!!! It's fun telling people that we are from the same stake. We blow peoples minds. It's fun having her in the same district to talk about life in Spokane. Also, I have been assigned as district leader too!!! It's crazy. I never would have expected myself to have such an important assignment so early in my mission. Pretty much, my job is to interview each of the senior companions each week (only elders), collect mail twice a day, encourage my district to stay on task during language study, personal study, etc., organize district meeting once a week, and attend lots of meetings every. There's a lot of responsibility involved with the assignment, and at times it adds a bit more stress for me, but it has allowed me to rely more on my Heavenly Father's help and I have been very blessed so much from the assignment.
Want to hear something CRAY CRAY? Only one day after being here at the MTC, my district learned how to pray in Portuguese and by our second day, we learned how to bear our Testimony and gave our first lesson to an investigator.... ALSO IN PORTUGUESE. :D Eu sou que meu Pai Celestial vive!!!! E Ele me ama tambem!! (I don't know how to type accent marks which is driving me crazy) Overall, I have a wonderful testimony of the gift of tongues. I currently know more about how to speak and understand Portuguese in 9 days than I did in Spanish from high after learning it for 2 years. I can understand my teach, Irmao Workman, very well. On our first day in class, he spoke nothing but Portuguese. You can imagine how freaked out us newbies were. Those first few days were very tough adjusting to always studying, learning, and teaching. However, as I've relied more on my Heavenly Father's help and guidance, and have followed the promptings of the Spirit, the work here has become very enjoyable and managable. Elder Deiffenbach and I have already taught 5 lessons to our investigator named Suzie, and have been able to commit her to baptism! It's always a heartfelt experience when you can feel the Spirit so strongly enough during a lesson to have your pesquisador commit to something so important.
The food here is very yummy. The first week, my body wasn't a fan of it, but I'm starting to adabt to it. In the words of Elder Kenney, I had the nuncas, followed with some hardcore sempres. I don't think I've gotten fatter though. My companion and I like to go running with our gym time and I've been doing the p90x ab workout (since I memorized it from doing it so much back at home). Sometimes after I eat a meal, though, I feel like death and want to crawl on the floor and act like a slug. I can be gluttonous (spelling?) at times. But You and Dad know that :)
As far as preparation goes, I feel like my preparation before arriving was pretty good. It's important, especially for foreign language elders) that you have a great knowledg and testimony of the restored gospel before arriving at the MTC. So much of what we do here relies on missionaries believing what they will be teaching. Our time here is not to learn it and develop a testimony for the first time. I'm grateful for all that you have taught me and encouraged me to learn while I was home. I've ran into EVERYONE here! I saw all of my old roommates from BYU, including Elder Hanohano, Elder Wagner, and Elder Carter. Elder Hanohano was hosting the day that I arrived, and I was able to get a picture with Elder Wagner and Elder Carter the night before Elder Wagner left to Peru. Elder Ross lives like 3 doors away from me, and has the same gym times and lunch times as me so I see hime around 5-6 times daily. I've also ran into some other good friends such as Elder Ensign, Elder Brown, and a few others. They are everywhere here!
Well, my time is almost up, and I still have so much more to say!!!! Thank you for keeping me in your prayers. I look forward to hear back from you. I love you so much and miss you every day. If at some point, I could get a framed picture of the family or a cool photo book, that would make me jump up and down a roll on my tummy with felizidade e animade (happiness and excitement). Be safe and have fun!
P.S. The photos included are of my district, and the elders all in fromt of the map, and one with Elders Wagner and Carter. I'll get more ready to send!