Yep, you heard right. Visas came on Wednesday for five missionaries...and no, sorry to keep you in suspense there, but I was not one of them. But that's ok, I'm so glad to be here actually and I totally know that I'm where I'm supposed to be. My companion, Sister Pedersen, and her brother and an elder in my district all got theirs and they are flying out tomorrow morning! I'm going to miss her, but I'm sure glad that Sister Barlow will still be here with me. It would be really hard without her. Everyone that has been getting their visas are from the east coast or northern california.
As for this week at the MTC, we've had some really amazing experiences! I cannot believe how much I am learning and growing here. The Lord is really preparing me for His work. Portuguese is really hard. I didn't expect it to be so hard because I'm a fairly decent student, but it is definitely a challenge! The MTC has a new teaching method that they've just started, and from a teacher's standpoint, it is the best way to teach, but also the hardest way to learn. For not even being here 2 weeks, I am amazed at how much portuguese we can speak. We've taught 5 lessons in portuguese, and we pray and sing in portuguese, and we only speak in portuguese in class and at lunch. It is amazing how much can be accomplished with a little faith, diligence, and the Spirit of the Lord. Oh man, I feel like there is so much to share, I wish I could give more details! As far as our investigator is going, we taught him 5 lessons and committed him to be baptized! Say what?! It was so amazing! I guess I should fill you in that just before we taught our 3rd lesson with him, we found out that Hugo was actually one of our professors playing the character of Hugo (who is a real person in Brazil). At first we were devastated because we had put everything we had into those lessons. We gave him the BOM with our real testimonies, and we prayed for him, and fasted for him, and developed a relationship with him. Sister Barlow and I may or may not have shed some tears. But you know what? It was the most AMAZING experience that I will always cherish, because it was so REAL. The Spirit and all of the emotions we felt, truly came from our heart. And as we continued to teach him, he was still Hugo to us and the Spirit still worked through us and testified of the truthfulness of what we were saying and aided us in our Portuguese speaking. I will probably always remember Hugo as my first investigator. I am really glad for the whole experience, and all that it taught me.
Our speaker at the fireside on tuesday night was Elder Russell M. Nelson and his wife! The following is from my journal: "He entered as we were singing "Where can I turn for peace?" and as we stood and Elder Nelson entered the room, I was overcome with the Spirit. So much that I found myself unable to sing comprehensibly as tears strone down my face. I KNEW THAT HE WAS A PROPHET AND APOSTLE OF GOD, without a shadow of a doubt, because I felt the strong Spirit of the Lord that his presence brought. I've never been in such close proximity to a prophet of God. It was amazing. He focused on the Book of Mormom and my testimony has most definitely been fueled tonight. The Spirit has been so strong today and I've has many instances today alone of the perfect thought/inspiration/scripture coming to mind at just the right moment. Huge testimony strengthener."
I never thought I'd say it, but I bought a BRAND NEW Book of Mormon today! Mine are just so marked up, it's hard to focus on what I'm trying to study. So my goal is to read the BOM again by the time I leave the MTC, marking all of the scriptures that apply to the lessons I'll be teaching or people I'll be helping focusing on the colors of the lessons in Preach My Gospel. I figure if I read at least 13 pages a day, I'll finish before I leave. Wish me luck!
Well I love you all and and I know that this gospel is true! I know that Jesus is the Christ and that His Atonement can HEAL us and help us through all of life's adversities. I can't wait for another week to be able to learn and grow and come closer to my Savior. It is my hope and prayer that all of you will strive to do the same. COME UNTO HIM.