Oy! Hi everyone thank you so much for sending me emails! keep up the good work!
This last week has been crazy! The flight was good. There were about 60 new missionaries that flew in on my flight. So it was pretty much a guarantee that we would make it there without crashing. The first few days were extremely overwhelming. Different country, new language, new culture, new life style, and new family. I told you guys I met my first companion on the flight in. He is a really great guy and is now our district leader. He is super nice to because I don't speak the language very well at all, but he doesn't seem to get annoyed when I ask him how to say the same word 10 times in 1 day. The teachers here are great. They "only" speak Portuguese so that is a big challenge for me. Everyone else in the district seems to be able to speak better than me and my teacher knows it. When my teacher asks if we understand he always looks directly at me. Usually I give him the squinted eyes extremely confused look. He seems to know what that means, and then he repeats what he said. Progress is extremely slow but I am progressing somewhat.
We had to teach an "investigator" on the first day...in Portuguese. Luckily they give a book with all the lessons translated line by line for you to study from. It is still super awkward trying to teach someone in a different language you don't know. Lucky my companion seems to know what is going on and fills me in. At that point I do my best to contribute by spouting out a simple sentence, "you god love you he want you back. Understand?" Yeah I am doing really good.
My district is awesome though they have helped me a lot to learn the language. Without them I don't know what I'd do. This first week has been extremely discouraging. Last night we had a district testimony meeting; this really helped me as well. I bore my testimony and afterward an elder in my district told me that what I said was exactly what he needed to hear. This morning in the temple also really helped. I did struggle a little bit in the temple since they only spoke Portuguese and it was my second time. So you can only imagine how that went down. Once I was through and got it all right I think I could hear cheering in the background. The spirit is undeniable at the temple and the MTC. It lets me know that I was called here for a reason, even though I am struggling a lot with the language.
There are also some great sisters in our district. They are pretty much already Brazilians. They speak with the natives really well. They are also real people and not fake in any way.
As soon as we got here we had a meeting for all the new missionaries. The MTC president spoke about exact obedience. He said as long as we have exact obedience we will have the spirit. I am so grateful for what Briana taught me about exact obedience. She taught me to be exactly obedient to your highest ability. It's ok to make a mistake, don't beat yourself up about it. As long as you do what is best for the people you teach.
Today was super fun being able to leave spirit prison. I felt like Andy Dufrane, innocent... but still in prison. So we finally got to explore a little bit. Sao Paulo is a pretty cool city. It is like the ghetto part of L.A. but super colorful and fun. The people are extremely nice. I can't wait to meet and teach them. Hopefully I can learn how to speak by then.
Anyway I love you guys and I love hearing from you! I will write to you next week.
- Elder Stevens