How's everything going? I was sorry to hear about Uncle Reed. I remember drinking lemonade at his house and his big ol' dog. I hope his family, especially Grandpa Del, are doing okay. Family's really important, and I'm so grateful we are all so close and can continue that way for eternity.
On the other hand, I was happy to hear about Jake. Not that he wrecked his bike, but that his suits don't fit him anymore. When they say there's "lots to love" on your mission, they're not just talking about the gospel :)
Well, for all of you that don't know, it is Sarah's birthday tomorrow. Yep, that cute, little Asian child we thought came from the mailman has now made it to 17. She's fun, happy, loyal to a fault, and one of the most loving people I know. While most of my memories of Sarah of are her phase when she idolized Raven Simone, not my favorite, haha, I'm really grateful for the relationship we have now- that I have a friend I can talk to when I come home and eat paninis with. Happy birthday Sarah! I love you!
This was a busy week here at the MTC. Wednesday, our teacher, Irmao Hansen/ Maurilo, left on vacation. So now we have a knew teacher, Irma Ricks, and "investigator", Alesha. Irma Ricks is way cool, and a really good teacher. She said she hated it when, in the MTC, people would just blurt out the answers right away and not give her a chance to think about it, so she makes us all wait for 5 seconds before answering. THANK YOU. I love my district, but there are always those people who answer everything and forget about those whose brains may not process as quickly. Yeah, it's a humbling experience.
Thursday was, of course, the 4th of July! We had a special devotional that night. One of the people here at the MTC spoke about his experience escorting a soldier home from Iraq. It reminded me of that movie "Taking Chance"- super good if you've never seen it. We belted tons of patriotic hymns and were reprimanded for waving flags and shouting " 'merica!" I love the patriotism here at the MTC, but I think we were making the Canadians feel bad. Then the devotional took a whole other turn and they started talking about pioneers and playing 17 Miracles. Don't get me wrong, I love the pioneers and have so much repsect for them, but that's what July 24th is for. That was kind of annoying. I love America, I love our military, I love the principles and morals our nation was founded upon, and I love the potential we have to truly be the promised land of milk and honey it talks about in the scriptures. So to everyone who is or has served our country in any capacity, thank you! I'm grateful for the sacrifices of those people who, right along with us missionaries, are trying to bring about a "marvelous work and a wonder". This country is truly wonderful. Later that night we got to eat ice cream and sit outside watching the Stadium of Fire fireworks. We all sang Carly Rae and Kelly Clarkson wistfully as we watched the show.
Sunday, we were all going to fast for our visas, but decided that we should just be happy with whatever Heavenly Father decides is best (yeah... I got bandwagoned on that one). On Monday, however, we did do a fast from English. All day, from the moment we woke up to the moment we went to sleep, we spoke nothing but Portuguese. It went really well in the morning. I got better at using my preterite and imperfect tenses, but by the time afternoon rolled around, I was not a happy camper. I really love everyone here at the MTC, and while I am studying my brains out, I've made a ton of friends too. I hated not being to contribute to the English conversations going on in the hallway! That's my biggest annoyance right now, is that I have all these words, I know all these tenses, but I can't think fast of them fast enough to sound normal. According to my companion, I say "um" between like every word. We did have a cool experienceon Friday, though. Fridays are TRC days. I don't know what that stands for, but rather than teaching "investigators", legit people from "the outside world" volunteer to come to the MTC and be taught by the missionaries. For some people, it's really stressful, but for me, it's the highlight of my week! I'm in my element trying to strengthen those who already have a basic testimony because that's what I've tried to do my whole life! However, TRC is in Portuguese, who'd of guessed, so it's not as easy as that. This week was great, though, because we didn't teach anything, the members taught us. In one of our lessons, this lady from Portugal and another lady serving here at the MTC Portuguese speaking asked us to talk about why we're serving missions. As I shared my testimony of the gospel and talked about the feelings I have and the blessings I want for my family, the spirit became so strong. I started crying and soon everyone was crying. We may not have learned anything new in that "lesson", but our testimonies of the spirit and God's love were definitely strengthened. The spirit and love in that room were almost tangible. Afterwords, Sister Rose came up to me to thank me for my testimony, but also to say that while my Portuguese is coming along, it could still use some work (don't I know it). However, she said, when I started talking about my family, when I bore my testimony and really opened up my heart, my Portuguese became almost perfect. She could understand everything I said and knew I was being blessed with the gift of tongues. All I remember is feeling the spirit so strongly, but if that's what the gift of tongues is, I will continue to work my hardest, be worthy of the spirit, and open up my heart more to those around me so that I can have and share experiences like that more.
As we finished up our fast from English yesterday, brains melting, tongues numb, someone comes running down the hallway yelling "She got her visa! She got her visa!" Sister Heyer, in the district next to us got her visa yesterday! Rather than being re-assigned, she'll be flying down to serve her mission in Brazil next week! Yes people, there is hope!!! Suddenly, we all regretted not fasting for our visas on Sunday, sooooo guess what we're doing today? Fasting! I'm trying to be less of a baby about today than I was on Sundaybecause I REALLY WANT MY VISA!!! It's funny that when I received my call to Brazil, I didn't really feel this strong attachment to it or desire to serve there. I was chill with whatever, but I didn't feel like "it was the perfect mission for me" like everyone else. Now that I've been working so stinkin' hard at this Portuguese business and have heard so many stories from there, there is nothing that I want more in the world! Pray for our visas people! Miracles do happen!
The language is coming, the gospel is coming, companion relationships are a work in progress, and so is self-perfection, but I know that Heavenly Father is there for all of us in all of our efforts and that our prayers are answered. I love the gospel. The more I study it, the more I know it's true.
If you're ever in Provo, I love Great Harvest cinnamon bread :)