I can't remember what week I'm supposed to be talking about, so I give up on that. Whoops :)
What an incredible week!, we had Mission Conference! All of the MTC Presidency spoke to us, and it was so great. One of my favorite things that was said was the idea that what I sincerely believe about Christ will determine the kind of person I will be. I really believe that, and I want to make sure that they way I act reflects the love I feel for my Savior. So I'm working hard at being better at that, and being the kind of missionary that people can feel God's love for them by the way I act! I want so very badly to share what I have with those I meet. The other exciting part of Mission Conference was that our District got a shout out! President Hacking started his talk by mentioning that he sat down with two of our Elders at lunch one day (it was P-day, so we weren't with them. Usually we all sit together) and started talking to them. He found out that they were waiting on their permission from the land of Brazil to come and stay in their country (we don't say that other word), and was asking them how learning the language was going. They told him it was great! When he asked what they were doing to study, they told him about President Brough's promise to us that if we read the entire Book of Mormon while we were in the MTC, we would learn Portuguese. At first, he thought they must have been studying it in their mission language, but nope! We read it in English in order to learn Portuguese. It makes about as much sense as tithing :) They talked about how we as a district made it a goal to learn the language of the Spirit and how as we've focused on that, the language comes when we need it. We get into lessons and know the Lord is guiding us and helping us, putting words into our mouths. And that's what he based his talk off of--learning the language of the Spirit! I was so proud of our Elders! I have such a great district!!
Thedevotional was equally amazing! Eduardo Gavarrett from the 70 spoke, but my very favorite part was his wife's message! They're from Uruguay, which is close enough to Brazil to be super exciting! They usually give the wife about 5 minutes to start out. This sweet woman's name was Norma, and when she started speaking Sister Garner and I just looked eachother and got all teary eyed...because we cry a lot. Haha. But she had such a strong, special Spirit, and one of the first things she did was apologize for speaking in such heavily accented English, and then shared shared her amazing conversion story and heartfelt testimony! And THEN she started speaking in Portuguese! It was the BEST THING EVER! And because she was speaking Missionary Portuguese (bearing her testimony, etc) I actually understood everything she was saying!! It was so wonderful, and it just felt so right. Yaaaaay Portuguese! And then she bore it in Spanish, and I only caught every few words. So as depressing as it is that I've lost that, it's so cool that after only 4 weeks in the MTC, I could understand everything she said! The gift of tongues is real! Then in Brother Gavarrett's talk, he was equally awesome. He said, using Mosiah 28:3, that our desire would determine our success. And then he gave advice for when we were worried. He said...
Focus on Learning.
Focus on Working.
Focus on Paying the Price to become a missionary.
Focus on Being Happy and Enjoying this time!
And Focus on Christ.
IT WAS SO AWESOME!! And then we had our District Devotional Review, and I doubled my notes. I learn so much from my district, I'm so grateful for them! Sometimes it's a little bit like Groundhog's day here, where you wake up and just live the same day over again. But better! We follow the same basic schedule of studying, class time, practice teaching with our teachers or eachother acting as our "progressing investigators", language study, companionship study, TRC where we practice teaching volunteers, and more studying. It's wonderful, and there's always something to do. But we spend a lot of time in our classroom together, so we've gotten pretty close.
I've decided to introduce you to them a little bit :)
Sister Garner is the greatest companion ever! She's so funny and so supportive. She's my rock :) She definitely keeps me sane, which is very much appreciated. Love her!
Sister Davis is going to the Salvador South mission. She has an identical twin that reported the same day and lives in the room next door, going to Vitoria Brazil, which gets a little confusing sometimes! They keep accidently wearing the same outfits, which is kind of hilarious. But she's so sweet, and ridiculously good at explaining things in simple, clear ways. She's such a great example!
Sister Vaughn is going to SAO PAULO NORTH!! (Woohoo!) She's Sister Davis's companion, and is one of the funniest people I've ever met. Mostly because she'll completely lose it and crack up any time anyone says anything remotely funny. Hahahaha she's hilarious! She's the optimistic "we can do it!" Sister, which adds a lot to our District.
Sister Stevens is also pretty hilarious, and is going to Salvador South. (Her latest funny phrase was "You've cats to be kitten me right meow!") She's really good at thinking of questions, both to get to know eachother and to use as awesome conversation starter tools with our investigators. She's an amazing teacher aaaaand she's super adorable. We all just love her so much!
Sister Brimley is her companion, also going to Salvador South! She is the most random and energetic person I've ever met, and it's the most wondeful thing. She's kind of like a mix between Giselle from Enchanted and...someone loveably crazy. Haha sorry, I don't know! She's the one that looks after all of us when we're sick (because literally, someone is always sick) and is so great at making people feel loved. I've never met anyone who's more genuinely excited to get to know everyone she meets!
Elder Pollard was our first Distrcit Leader, going to the Salvador Mission (no South). We've all been so impressed with what a great leader he's been, but he's also completely ridiculous. How do you explain Elder Pollard's sense of humor? Ummm...oh, here's one of his.
Q: Why do missionaries have such big bladders?
A: Because they only have one P-day
...Yeah. Like I said, all but one of our Elders are 18!
Elder Price is Elder Pollard's companion, going to Goianna. They both actually just been assigned as Zone Leaders, and they'll be so great at it. They were the one's that talked to President Hacking. We realized last night that if we get new missionaries this week, it'll be us three training them (Sister Travis is leaving for Portugal), and we thought that was pretty hilarious. Hahaha...
Elder Kelley is going to SAO PAULO NORTH!! He's ridiculously good at Portuguese, which is good for me. We kind of have a friendly competition for who can finish memorizing all the things President Brough asked us to first, but it usually just ends up with us working together on it. It's good, it makes me work harder to push myself!
Elder Lillywhite is also going to the best mission!! (Until next week when I get reassigned temporarily. Then it'll tie) Woohoo! He is so fun, and super smart. We have him give us random facts of the day at lunch, and he always has something. It's awesome.
Elder West is going to Salvador South! He's the oldest of our bunch (24), but he is such a good example to all of us. It kind of reminds me of how Grandpa must have been. He's also pretty hilarious--but most of our Elders are, actually.
Elder Peters is our brand new district learder, going to Goianna! He's fantastic. He was kind of quieter at first, but he's one of the funniest people EVER once you get him going. He's a great example of staying focused and always trying to act according to his calling as a representative of Chirst.
Ok, so that's my MTC family! I've also been super lucky with this new assignment, because I've gotten to know all of the lovely Sisters in our Branch, and love them too! That's so much fun. The pictures I'm sending this week are of one of the new districts--they wanted a picture in the laundry room, so that's why we look so lovely. Mmmhmm. But I love all of my Sisters, and I'm so blessed to feel so much love in return!
I have about five minutes to share this, but I think it's worth it to try! A couple weeks before I left, I was studying the mercy of the Atonement for the talk I gave on Easter. One of the questions I wrote down while I was studying in Alma 34 was "what does it mean that we would be lost without the atonement? What would it mean to perish?" I decided what it meant for me, but never found a clear scriptural answer. Then the other day I was reading in 2 Nephi...9? I'm sorry, I don't have my scriptures to check. But I think the section that stuck out was 2 Nephi 9:7-10.The message was that without the Atonement, our bodies would never rise again and our spirits would be sent to dwell with Satan, forever in a state of misery. When I read verse 9, it so vividly painted a picture of how miserable and lost I would be, forever cast out from the presence of my Heavenly Father, that it brought tears to my eyes. (Again, I cry all the time!) I can not immagine anything sadder or more miserable than the way it described our condition without the Atonement. But because my Heavenly Father loves us all so much, he provided a way for us to be saved from that condition, and come to Him. I love my Savior, and I am forever indebted to Him! Because of Him, I can have hope in the Atonement! Which made me think of Moroni 7, where it talks about having hope, and hoping in the Atonement. Knowing that all things in my life will work together for my good, to lead me home to Him.
I want you to know that I have a testimony that this is the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. I know with all of my heart that my Savior lives, and loves me! I love being a missionary, and learning to follow the guidance of the Spirit in all I do. I have so much to learn, but I know where I've already been. I'm so grateful for all of you, and the examples you are to me! I love you so much!