I GOT MY VISA!!!!!
I'm not kidding. My visa is here at the MTC and I leave for the MTC in Sao Paulo!!!! If you were planning on sending me anything anytime soon, DON'T. I will not be here to receive it. On that note, I'll write about my week . I hope everything is going great. I miss you all, I love you all, I'm SO EXCITED to be in Brazil in 5 days. :)
Bom dia Familia!!
I've said this before, I'll probably say it again, but WHAT A WEEK!!!! I never cease to be amazed at how much can happen in one week at the MTC... Again! It's been so exciting here, as I'm sure you have heard. It sounds like you've had a pretty busy and exciting week as well. So Natalie's in Utah right now? Haha it's funny to think how close she is to me. I bet she's having loads of fun with the cousins. If you get a chance, tell them hi from me and how glad I am to have had a chance to see them one last time before embarking in the service as a missionary. Which reminds me, I received an anticipated release day for when I should finished with my mission. The tentative date is June 23, 1915, which means I'll actually only serve a mission for 23 and a half months, but on the brightside, if we have a family reunion on July 4th in 2015, I'll be home for that!
I'm glad friends and family have had a chance to read my letters. I've really had an amazing experience here at the MTC in Provo and it will be difficult to leave. I feel like I just cram all of the most important events that happen each week into my letters. Tell Heidi congratulatulons for me and that her favorite uncle loves her so much and can't wait to see how much she's grown up in a couple of years! It sounds like it has been an exciting week for Bryan and his family. Let him know I'd love to receive a letter about their lives thus far since I have left. Also, I am still so shocked that I have my visa! WOW I thought no one gets it! Actually though, there have been a lot of sisters and elders recently who are going to Brazil who have been receiving their visas. The Lord needs his missionaries down south! In our district, two sisters got theirs last monday and were on a plane to Brazil by earlyTuesday morning. I'm glad I have more time to prepare myself and pack and what-not. My companion, Elder Deiffenbach, actually received his visa the same day as me and we fly out to Brazil the same day and on the same flight. I'm so glad he'll be with me that way he can help me study during the flight down. If you want more details about the flight plans, I've got a picture I'll send with the times I leave and flight numbers. I fly to Detroit Tuesdaymorning at 11ish and have I think a 3 or 4 hour layover there until we fly to Sao Paulo. I know of 3 other elders in our branch who fly the same days and a few others in other branches as well.
Since I've been a zone leader (which has only been a bout a week), I've had a great privelige to become really close with a lot of the Elders, newly arriving and old-timers, in our branch. With the blessings of having this assignment, however, comes many difficulties and trials. Two elders from the district who arrived last week have left our branch, one because of a developing skin condition that made him have to go home, the other came in knowing portuguese and moved up to the advanced 2 week class, which is good news for him. It's really tough having elders leave our district, though. Many of our learning and teaching experiences are afftected by those who are around us, and having elders leave changing our entire dynamic of our training experience. Another elder ended up going home out of the blue this week, which was really hard for Elder Deiffenbach and I. He was really quiet, but everytime we asked him how his training expereience has been. he always said muito bem (very good) or along the lines of that. I always do my best to let the elders in our branch feel welcome and try to help them with blessings or advice whenever possible.
Oh hey, so one of the Zone Leaders who we replaced was reassigned to the Spokane, Washington mission!!! His name is Elder Landeen and he's such a cool guy. I know of a few others from our branch who were reassigned to Spokane too (Elder Lloyd, Elder Morain... I think that's it), so if you ever see one of them, show them how great Spokane is and feed them well! I told them they need to go to Dick's at some point while in Spokane and have their burgers. I miss those so much. Oh yeah, and the family too, I guess :) I've also been seeing a lot of friends from Spokane too. Elder Zarecor just got here and I've seen Elder Crossen a few times. He seems to be doing well. Before Elder Brown and Elder Ross left (Elder Ross was reassigned to Riverside, CA), us Spokane missionaries were able to get a picture in front of the big map here last Sunday night pointing at our mission locations. It's a great photo and I love it a ton.
This past week, we had a Devotional where our district sang in the choir again. We had a different conductor than usual, and this new guy was really old and boring, which was kind of a bummer. I enjoy the old conductor, Brother Aggatt, because he teaches us the purpose of the song we sing, and we can really feel the spirit through music so much, but singing with this other geezer was fun too. The speaker taught us so much about the reason we as missionaries have and need to use Preach my Gospel. He told us a lot of stories about serving in the Great Lakes Mission from 1954 to 1956. His name was Elder H. Bryan Richards. Isn't that the mission Grandpa served in? And was grandpa serving during that time? Does he recognize the name? I'm just curious and that might be a cool question to ask him while you're in Afton this week.
Teaching this week has been a great building experience for Eler Deiffenbach and I. We have two investigators, Carla, who drinks, smokes, and likes to party. We've been teaching her about how our Heavenly Father loves each and every one of us, and how he blesses us when we keep his commandments. She has been tough to teach, since she has a lot of outside influence keeping her from really being able to feel the comfort of the Holy Spirit in her life. Samuel is a married man who's wife is very devoutly Catholic, while he hasn't had much of a religious background. The lesson with him have been going wonderfully! He prays, reads the Book of Mormon, attends church now, and we were able to have him commit to being baptized last wednesday! Teaching in Portuguese is starting tp get more and more comfortable. Our district has been trying to use Fala sua Lingua (Speak your language) where we only speak portuguese at meals and in the classroom to help us get used to only speaking portuguese. It has really helped us, especially myself. It's kind of funny, I have a hard time switching from speaking one language to another. I'm either in English or Portuguese mode, and I can't switch back and forth very easily. Last Thursday night, we were able to go to the TRC, a volunteer place at the MTC where people in the community can show up and we teach them FHE-like lessons. They are usually members of the church who ant to help the missionaries learn the language and teach others. Elder Deiffenbach and I taught a lady who was from RIO!!! It was great talking about where we'll be serving for two years, although her portuguese accent was CRAZY. It turns out that their accent is verrrrrrry different than portuguese we've been learning here. It almost sounded like a whole new language. It was scary, but encouraging.
At this time in 4 days, I will be on a plane leaving Utah!!!! My mind is still going crazy about it. I believe that I can call home from the SLC Airport, so be ready for that Morning!!! Maybe between 7 and 9 Spokane time? I don't know. It won't be long, but send me a dearelder letting me know you can or can't be home for that time or if I need to call a cell phone or whatever. I can't wait to be able to call you guys. I love you all and love my purpose here. I know that Heavenly Father needed me in Provo for 4 weeks and I have loved my experience here! I'm a bit scared out of my pants to be in Brazil, but I'm guided by a Savior who loves me and who is ready for Elder Deiffenbach and I next week. I'll be sure to share my experiences there and will post my MTC address there as well. The Church is true!!
P.S. I totally forgot to explain "code 33". As a district, we like to make different codes for actions that break the rules of the missionary handbook. For example, page 33 of the book speaks against "Flirting between elders and sisters", so whenever we see anything like that, it's a goofy thing we do where we say code 33. I promise, it's funny.
1. Elder Deiffenbach and I in front of the Carrot Cake... I mean, Provo Temple.