Friday, June 21, 2013

Poor Brother Nielson

Oi Minha Familia!
Hope everything's well (todo bem) with everyone.
So, I'm at the MTC!!  It's crazy.  At first it felt a little bit like EFY, but then they started pounding in all the rules, and that brought an end to that.  I love the MTC.  There's such a strong spirit here, and everyone is really friendly.
First off, I guess I'll tell you a kind of funny, kind of pathetic story.  Usually, leaving people is not a big deal for me, but this time was actually hard!  I held back the water works at the airport when I said goodbye to my mom and dad, saying goodbye to my super cute cousins, and even when Grandma and Grandpa dropped me off.  My "host" showed me around campus a little bit, I got a bunch of books, my name tags, ID card, etc, and then my host introduces me to my teacher for the next 6 weeks.  He didn't even say hello; he just started going off in Portuguese, pointing here and there, and I totally lost it.  Poor Brother Nielson.  I think it must have traumatized him a bit because he like never calls on me in class, haha.  Pretty embarrassing.
The first couple days were pretty overwhelming.  When they say "just make it to Sunday" they know what they're talking about.  Our teacher will only talk to us in Portuguese, and we had to give our first lesson to an investigator the day after we arrived.  It was really hard because I don't know any Portuguese, and the teachers here don't really help with the language.  We're pretty much expected to learn it on our own time.  I've never studied so hard or prayed so hard in my life.  When I woke up on Sunday morning, I'll be honest, I was kind of hoping this would have all been a really bad dream.  I felt like I'd been praying so hard for help with the language and love for my companion, but no one was listening.
I can bear you my testimony right now (in Portuguese, actually), that He does listen to us, He does care about us, He will answer our prayers.
Sunday morning for Relief Society, Sister Marriott, 2nd counselor in the general Young Women's presidency came and spoke to us.  She is so cute!  This may be my own stereotype, but I've never been a huge fan of the women speakers in the church because I feel like they all sound the same and are too nice.  Sister M. is from the south and had a super inspiring conversion story.  More than anything, though, she was a total answer to my prayers.  Apparently, her husband served as a mission president in Brazil or she and her husband served missions in Brazil, can't remember which one, but anyways, before she even began her talk, she singled all of us Brazil sisters out and said "I have a message for you".  She talked about feeling inadequate with the language and inadequate in the gospel.  She told us to stop comparing ourselves with the other missionaries in our district who may be learning faster or more easily.  Our humility with Portuguese and the mistakes we make are what will open the hearts of our investigators to us.  I wish I'd had my notebook with me so I could've taken notes because everything she said was exactly what I'd been praying about all week.
In sacrament meeting, our branch president talked about not giving up and enduring to the end- consecrating all of our time and energies to Lord.  I really needed to hear that too.
While the MTC is a really wonderful place, it's really easy to get discouraged here.  I'll never be fluent in Portuguese in 6 weeks, I'll constantly stumble over investigators questions, there's always more to improve upon, to pray about, and to study, but I know that Heavenly Father cares about everyone as individuals; he cares about ME.  I know he answers our prayers.  I know that our struggles make each experience in life so much more meaningful and that through it all, Christ is there, reaching out to us, helping us up.
In our lesson yesterday, we were challenged to teach without notes and just follow the spirit, to gear the lesson towards the investigators needs rather than a gospel discussion.  Minha companheira and I went in there, as prepared as we could be with the goal of teaching about the apostasy, the resoration of the gospel and the priesthood, and maybe a commitment to prepare for baptism.  That must not have been what the spirit had in mind.  A couple days before, we challenged Jorge to read the Book of Mormon and pray about it, but when we asked him about it, he said he didn't really feel anything.  I don't know why, but this just broke my heart because I know the Book of Mormon is true and how much it can help us.  I bore my testimony to him of Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon, and as I did so, yes, I started crying, but I felt like Heavenly Father was opening my eyes and allowing me to see Jorge the way He does and feel the love He has for him.
Missionary work is hard, harder than I ever imagined.  A lot of times I just want to be by myself and cry, but that's obviously not possible for many reasons.  Despite how hard it is, though, I love it.  I know it's what Heavenly Father wants me to be doing, and I can already see myself growing and becoming the person he wants me to be.  Prayers for myself and especially my companion would be greatly appreciated.  We're really struggling with the language, but it's amazing how much we've learned in 6 days.
I love you all!
Sister Barkdull
P.S. If you happen to watch the big mission president conference next Sunday, look for me and my companion in the choir!
P.S.S. Coco Bean cupcakes are GREATLY apprecaited as well... maybe even more so than prayers...  just kidding!

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