August 9, 2013

Surprise p-day

August 9, 2013

Bon dia minha familia!


I got a surprise p-day today because they felt bad that \I haven't had one yet, between all the moving from continent to continent. So I got email time! Hopefully \I can give you a better idea what my life has been like the last few weeks. Wednesday will normally be my pday, so today is a happy exception. I still can\t do smiley faces on Brazilian keyboards, sorry. I’m smiling for the record.

I tried to send you an email earlier about Mission Ties, its a better, easier, and cheaper way for me to get mail in Brazil. I'm not sure all the rules about it, but the other English-speaking missionaries here (we aren't Americans now, because there are some from Australia and Scotland and England too) say its very helpful and useful if you want to pay for the subscription. You should go check it out. There is a cookie store across the street that doubles as a headquarters for missionary mail haha. Two very good things in one place!

Okay, a little bit about the CTM. It’s pretty small, just one building, but its a very very nice building. There are lots of palm trees and birds of paradise everywhere. The view from my window is gorgeousssss (it’s the third floor, but here its technically the second floor. they have a ground floor, then first floor, then second, on and on. the center is 7 stories). There are only a few hundred missionaries here. Like \I said in the last email, there aren’t very many Americans so the fact that our visas came is a HUGE deal. The dedication prayer for this building is on the wall, and in it says "Bless that this country will keep its borders open to those who want to come here" or something to that effect. You can definitely see that blessing, especially this week. Because it’s so much smaller, we got a personal meeting with the mission president and his wife. Everyone looks out for us here. The best/worst part is that everyone speaks Portuguese! Try explaining administration details in a foreign language! it’s very challenging haha. I am learning so much here. My companion and I (her name is Sister Shirts and she is absolutely incredible!) have a goal to sit with brasileiros for 10 meals each week and we practice talking with them. We actually have friends now. It’s difficult to communicate, but they are so patient with us and always smiling. It is the most humbling experience in the world to be here. My Portuguese is so broken and so difficult to understand, but everyone just smiles. They don\t get annoyed when \I try to talk to them, they repeat things, and sometimes they try and speak in English as well. Their English is much better than my \Portuguese. I am ashamed to think of how rudely \I’ve treated people in the past who don't speak my language. it is so difficult, and the fact that they are trying is incredible. I think everyone should have an experience like this, to truly be the outsider and the foreigner. I can't help but think that the people in Brazil are a lot nicer to me than most people in America would be to Brazilians. I am humbled and in awe of this beautiful people. My teacher is amazing, Irmao Ramalho (pronounced Ha-Mal-Yo) tries so hard to communicate with us. It’s very different from \Provo, where the teachers refuse to speak in English, than here, where the teachers literally can't speak English. All and all, \I am beyond grateful to be here. I am learning more outside of class than inside, and I’m glad that \I can pick up the language here for a month before going out into the mission field.

Sao Paulo! Where to begin! This city is HUGE. I don’t know if they make skyline pictures because the skyscrapers are everywhere- they just sprawl out for miles and miles. Flying in was incredible. Picture all the skyscrapers of NYC, but going out in every direction, as far as the eye can see. There is really nothing quite like it at all. In between clusters of skyscrapers, there are little pastel houses and shops piled on top of each other. It’s indescribable. Also, we aren’t\t allowed to bring our cameras outside the CTM, so here's a little trick Mike taught me- type in my address to Google maps, then click street view. Then walk around! Look at the streets three blocks out in any direction from the CTM! And then you can almost experience what I got to see this morning. It’s beautiful. My companion and I just went outside, all by ourselves, not knowing the language, and walked around. So cool! We managed to buy cookies, shampoo, and little shoes. We are supposed to wear shoes everywhere here, just to be safe from...things. bacteria things. and we were sick of wearing our soaking wet shower shoes around the apartment so we bought little black flats for 5 reias, which is about 2.50 dollars. The store owner was very nice in helping us figure out shoe sizes, apparently I’m a 39 here and have very large feet. I tried to thank him for his patience with my broken \Portuguese, and I think I may have told him that he is very passionate. oops. They have a lot of American brands here, which is very nice for hair and skin care products. I don't know what natal is like, but \I can get almost anything here in sao paulo! It was a little embarrassing, because Sister Shirts and I had to walk around with our little dictionaries to figure out what to say sometimes. But there is a post office nearby, and a place that sells peanut butter, and a little kiosk where we can get custom-made scripture cases by a member in the area. Definitely getting one of those, \I think a small one for the mini book of Mormon and new testament that you got me Mike. I\m trying to decide what to send home to you all, I’m looking for an ornament but so far no luck! Dad, would you wear a Brazil patch on your Scout uniform? Or is that even allowed? There is a woman called Sonia who runs a kiosk for missionaries, sells ties and scripture cases and pins and CTR rings and many other neat Brazilian-LDS things. Thankfully most places take credit cards here.

I don’t want to sound like all I am doing is shopping though! Far from it. Just walking around the city was a wonderful experience. We said "bon dia" to everyone, and almost everyone smiled and responded! They like missionaries here. Everyone is friendly. I am already starting to love the people more and more. Just getting a feel for the city and the culture is the best experience I can have in the city. We're going out to lunch after email time with some other sisters.

The food here at the CTM is incredible, rice and beans and meat and salad and lotssss of fruit. My favorite is abacaxai- pineapple! I had goyaba today, which I think means guava in English. Breakfast is my favorite, its a sweet milk-rice pudding and I put bananas in it. We have meat at just about every meal, and lots of it! The other missionaries in my district assure me that the food does actually get old, but so far I love every bit of it. I'm one of the lucky ones, because I really liked rice and beans before coming. Such is the meal plan of a poor college student haha.

Okay, my schedule goes something like this. Wake up each morning at 630, get ready really quickly, and breakfast by 7 and class by 730. We have study time, personal and companion, until 10am, then gym for an hour. The gym is funny here, they have equipment that you might find in an American gym but none of it works. like, the exercises bikes and elliptical just are....there. and you can use them, but no resistance haha. The Elders are teaching me how to lift weights as well, I want to be able to do a pull up by the time I leave. We can also play volley ball and basketball, but no soccer because Brazilians are very competitive when it comes to soccer. After gym we shower, have lunch, and are back in class by 1. We do online language exercises, have lessons in the afternoon until 430, then dinner til 5, then class the rest of the evening. Most nights we teach an investigator, sometimes an actor and sometimes real, in addition to class time. Bedroom by 940, lights out at 1030. I barely have time to breath, and its wonderful! Needless to say, I spend a lot of time in the classroom. There are 12 of us there, and we know each other quite well at this point.

I am so excited to teach these people about the gospel. We watched an eye-opening video yesterday about the Atonement and it really reminded me why i am here. I am here because Christ suffered and died for the sins of every one that has ever lived, but only a few people know that He did and an even smaller number know how to access this amazing gift. and I\m here to teach people about Him and His life, and how these things are relevant to their life. I love my Savior, and I will do anything - even move to a foreign country knowing no one and no words - to honor Him.

I love you all so much! Talk to you on Wednesday!




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