Oi!! Bom dia a minha familia!
How goes the life everyone? I don't really know where to start because there is simply so much to tell and so little time in which to say it. They say about 1 out of every 5 people are getting their travel visas before they leave the MTC so pray for me haha! Everyone else is getting reassigned to various places. It seems like they are all going in the States and waiting for their visas.
Portuguese is difficult. It's super frustrating to have so much to say when you are teaching an investigator but not be able to say all of it because of your limits within the language. My companion, Elder L., made the rather salient comment that it is like being confined to a wheelchair. All you want to do is get up and run, but you can't. You can only make limited progress. But I am trying my very best to pick it up fast and it occurs to me that it is making me simplify my testimony and my beliefs so that I can teach, because there is really nothing else I can do. I believe it is 2 Nephi 31:5 that talks about delighting in plainness because that is the way the Lord communicates with people, in their language by way of simple words. Well, that is all I have right now, extremely simple and oft mispronounced words. But I am absolutely loving it.
The MTC is a pressure cooker because we all want to work so fast and hard that sometimes it seems as if we will all burst. I have taught three lessons in Portuguese to date. One was with notes, which was rather dull, uninteresting, and somewhat heartbreaking because we were teaching the lesson, not the person, and there was no inspiration at all while we were speaking. We basically read the whole thing to our "investigator," Vanderlei. Wasn't happy with it at all. The second time was “no notes allowed” on our third or fourth day here (the days blur like no one's business) and that was probably worse haha. We had no idea what we were doing with the language and even less idea how to teach. I was not happy after that lesson. But I realized later it was because we weren't teaching by the Spirit at all. I feel like we have come a long way since then though.
Yesterday we taught our third lesson and, after having a very emotional heart to heart with each other, Elder L. and I decided we weren't going to teach a lesson at all. We were going to teach Vanderlei as a person. We would find out who he was and what he needed to know and we would teach him with pure testimony and pure faith that the things we had taught and would teach were true. We would step up without fear, knowing that the Lord would loose our tongues and we would be inspired to teach what our investigator needed to hear. We prayed together. We resolved to let the Spirit guide, and we just went for it. We knocked on the door, looked each other in the eyes, and I said "Juntos podemos." “Together we can.” With each other and with the Lord, we had fe que. It was possible. And it was awesome.
Sure we jumped around a little and sure we struggled to find words from time to time, but the Spirit was with us and testified of the truthfulness of the simple testimony we bore about Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon, and the truthfulness of the gospel. Sure, I accidentally asked how he feels on His Son instead of how he feels about His Son and sure I took moments of silence to pray and ask again and again that I would be able to find the words I needed, but it happened.
I felt the joy of teaching by the Spirit and of asking inspired questions in a language that it is not possible for me to have learned on my own. I know that it is not possible for me to have learned this language to the extent that I could have any degree of facility of language within it. I know that some of the sentences and tenses I used are not ones I know. I know that I was inspired to make up words that might have sounded plausible but that I have never seen or heard before, words that turned out to be what I meant them to be.
For one of the first times in my life, I felt the Spirit speak through me. And I can't tell you the gratitude and humility that comes with such an experience. I was very blessed yesterday during that lesson I am very blessed to be here serving with so many excellent people who want so badly to serve the Lord. I am on a never-ending Spiritual high and I know I am where I am supposed to be. Digo estas coises em nome de Jesus Cristo, amem.
Haaaaaaaaaa like that would be all I would write in the only time I have to speak English.
Truth also ACTS and cannot be acted upon. You should read some of the things I've been finding in my personal study. My study has been guided and my mind is nigh unto exploding. That should be enough to get you started though, that and the idea that we can obtain a fullness of truth if we will be perfectly obedient. Please, please read it. It's sweet. But more than reading, ponder. I am gaining a testimony of pondering. The scriptures are so packed with insight that if we will merely ponder, we will be able to obtain. Prometo que if you will read and ponder them, you can find insight into any problem, worry, or fear.
The first few days here might have been the longest of my life. I was the first missionary dropped off! NO JOKE!! And so much went on that day. I can't even describe right now because I don't have the time. Suffice it to say that I felt the Spirit so strongly, especially when all the new missionaries stood and sang "And we ARE NOW the Lord's missionaries to bring the world his truth." Wow. Simply wow. I have a great district. Several pessoas sao de Georgia! One is from a Georgia that does not intersect with ours. He is a great guy, one of the funniest I've ever met. The quote of the week is from him. "I'm more scared than a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs." I'm sure I'd heard it before but I thought it was hilarical.
The temple walks are great! There were protesters there, which had to be one of the funniest and most inspiring sights I've ever seen. You have literally thousands of elders and sisters called to serve Christ by a prophet of God being yelled at that they should receive Christ and accept him as their Savior and everyone calmly nodding and thanking them and telling them to have a good afternoon. It was inspiring to see the restraint and respect afforded the preachers by 19 year olds.
I also got to see Elder Bednar's talk on the Character of Christ. Pretty sure it changed my whole outlook on life. And I couldn't help but think of Justin as he described the characteristics of an ideal missionary and what true conversion is. You're such an example to me in so many ways and you'll never know how much I look up to you, Bud. I love you. Thank you for everything. All of you should watch the talk. It's about how everything must be turned outwards and how that love for others is the character of Christ.
Well, I have about ten minutes left. I'll try to learn to type faster but what I want to say most is that I love you all and I love this Gospel. There is not any doubt in my mind that there is but one true church and that this is it. Truth is something we have been so blessed to receive and it is our responsibility to share it. That's why I'm here.
I have a testimony of Joseph Smith. One day a boy looking for direction in life, looking for answers to life's biggest questions, knelt before his maker and in simple prayer asked his Father in Heaven for answers. Because of that faith, because of prayer, because of the action taken by a simple boy of 14, the world shook and the earth changed forever.
Christ is our Savior. I know it. I know of His love for me and for you and for all of us, individually and collectively. We are His children. There are hard things in this life. Sometimes we are asked to do things that are harder than we think we can bear, things we can't do on our own.
I have been humbled by my need for help from my teachers and my God to learn a new language and to know what to teach and how to teach. But I testify with absolute conviction that the Lord is willing to help us if we will but ask. Com Deus, podemos. I expect you to work and to testify and to grow with me. I have a testimony of truth. I have found it. I know it. And I am so blessed to now be called of God to teach it. This is the gospel of the restored gospel of our Heavenly Father, with Christ at its head. Somos missionarios da igrja de Jesus Christo dos Santos dos Ultimos dias. Of these things I testify, in the sacred name of Jesus Christ, amen.