Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Latest from Sao Paulo

Hey all ya´ll!

You know, it bothers me that when they teach us Portuguese, they don´t distinguish to us you (singular) and you (plural) like Mrs. Camp did with all ya´ll. For instance, they´ll put a sentence on the board for us to translate into Portuguese: you are going to the store. A part of me breaks inside because I don´t know which you they mean! haha it´s just a really really minor inconvenience that I´m blowing way out of proportion in order to eke out a laugh or two from all ya´ll (see what I did there?). Or maybe it´s because I feel especially witty today! I cherish these moments because they are few and far between.

Now to the nitty gritty, this week went by so quick! Every Saturday, I write a letter to my Branch President telling him how my week went, my successes, anything I´m struggling with, concerns, etc. All of the missionaries here at the MTC are divided into Branches. The person who is in charge of the Branch is the Branch President. We meet on Sunday as a branch for Church meetings. So anyway, this Saturday I was writing the letter and I was like "Gosh it feels like I was writing a letter to President Brinton just yesterday!"

I mostly enjoyed my 32 hours and 15 minutes of class this past week. I can get through my morning block of class no problem, but the evening class is hard. We´re all tired so my district gets a little overactive and unfocused. But we learn, and that´s the important thing, I think.

My morning instructor, Irmao Nascimento, really helped us understand that we can be completely fluent by the time we leave the MTC. He gave us 4 rules that every missionary he´s taught that left the MTC fluent followed.

1. Be happy. You can´t learn if your sad and such.
2. Be obedient. If we´re not obeying the rules, we won´t be blessed with the Holy Spirit. I can testify that when I was obedient, my learning capabilities were increased tenfold then when I wasn´t obedient.
3.Participate in class. Ask questions about things, use the language in class, make mistakes. All of those things will help learn the language quickly.
4. Work hard. If I stretch myself every day to learn portuguese I´ll learn that much faster. There are days that I really push myself and I can literally feel myself grow in the language. It´s an amazing feeling.

My goal is to leave the MTC fluent. I think it´s possible. Irmao Nascimento has seen it happen. He´s had missionaries that can understand what he says even if he speaks fast, they understand when he makes jokes in portuguese. I am confident that if I apply those 4 rules, I will be able to be fluent.

I´ve been sleeping better. I´m not sure what it was. Of course I still sometimes get droopy in class but I think that´s more from sitting still for 4 hours straight than from how much I slept that previous night.

This past week or two, I´ve became friends with a few of the Brazilian missionaries that live in our hallway. The Brazilians only stay at the MTC for 19 days because they already speak portuguese. So today they left for their individual missions. I was sad to see a few of them go, because they were a lot of fun. Apparently I´ve married of Lysa and Stasi to two of them. I was showing them pictures of my family and they said "namorada!" and pointed to Lysa and Stasi. Namorada means girlfriend. Then they started calling me conhado which means brother-in-law. Hahaha, Lysa and Stasi you have 2 years to get away before they start coming after you!

On Tuesdays we have a devotional, and today I´m conducting the choir! I´m pretty excited! I decided that we´re going to sing Abide With Me, ´Tis Eventide. It´s a beautiful song. I just have to remember that a choir isn´t the same thing as a band, and I´ll be good to go! I hope I´ll do well, but it´s not like it´s the Mormon Tabernacle Choir or anything so I should be fine.

In 4 short weeks, I´ve already become more organized and focused! It´s not like that was hard though, considering my state of organization skills when I left. But out of everyone in my district,
I´m almost always the person who knows where we´re going, when we have to leave, what we need to be prepared with, etc. I think it has something to do with the nifty little planners they gave us. And when I was in charge of keys, I never lost them! My companion and I have been pretty much the most on time out of anyone else, which is a surprise! This is coming from the kid who could count on his hand how many days he was actually on time to things.

I can feel my wrist becoming carpal tunnel-y. I don´t really have much else to say for this week. Here´s to hoping for another quick week!

Wth love,
Elder Rackham

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Plot Thickens...

Hello All!

I thought the subject for today´s email was epic and mysterious is roughly equal parts. Nevermind that it probably has nothing to do with what I´ll be writing about today! I will not conform, dangit!

I´ve decided that saying to myself "7 weeks until I get to the field" sounds much better than "8 weeks until I get to the field" haha. Now that´s not to say I don´t like it here in the MTC. I really do. I´m just more excited to get to Teresina! I´m fairly certain though that as I get closer to the end here in the MTC, I´ll be sad to go.

One thing that I´m a fan of here are the mattresses. They are soft, yet firm; Supple but unrelenting. In other words, with the exception of a night or two, I´ve been sleeping really well! I´m still trying to get used to the food, but the future looks grim. I´m really crossing my fingers that it will be better outside of the MTC. But I´m quickly losing hope, because I´ve been told that in Teresina, they like to eat goat stomach. Yeah... it´s going to be just as bad as it sounds. In neighboring Fortaleza, they decided it would be yummy to eat a lizard on a stick. Ha, fat chance! I´m hoping that hasn´t made it´s way into Teresina. I have been able to eat a lot of the bread and fruit here to fill myself up when I eat, and most of the time the chicken is delicious but I´m not so sure about everything else.

Oh! I finally recieved my name tag on Friday! One of the first sentences I learned was "Eu nao tehno a plaqueta, mas eu vou receber minha plaqueta em sexta-feira." I´ve said that more times than I can count. I have yet to find another missionary that´s going to Teresina, so my district has been joking that it didn´t exist because I didn´t have a name tag and nobody else here is going to Teresina. 3 weeks before I leave for Teresina though, there will probably be a few Brazilians who come in that have been called to Teresina, because they only stay in the MTC for 19 days. I´m sure there are a few missionaries at the Provo MTC who are also going to Teresina but who knows. Apparently 150 are still waiting for visas. I´m really blessed to have gotten mine!

The language is still coming really well. I´ve gotten to the point that I just need to start expanding my vocabulary because we´ve covered the basic tenses which I can get by with until I know more. Plus, I´ll be able to communicate with the Brazilians instead of saying 5 words and staring blankly at them for a minute or two.

The city of Sao Paulo is huge. And by huge I mean, gargantuan. If you haven´t seen it for yourself, it´s so hard to imagine. I look out my window and all I can see is Sao Paulo. They don´t even have a distinctive downtown here because this city is so huge. Several places could be considered downtown. The weather has been either nice, or a little hot. For some reason no matter how perfect it was during the day, sleeping at night is a little on the hot side. It´s not the most fun but that´s okay. I think it has something to do with being on the 6th floor.

One of my instructors, Irmao Anderson, served in the Recife mission. So of course I asked him if he knew Ben Wood or Eli Carpenter and he did! He even had a picture taken with him and Eli. I thought that was cool. The world can be such a small place sometimes.

My favorite day in the MTC is Sunday. One because we have our Church meetings and they´re so powerful and uplifting. I´m floating on clouds every Sunday. It´s just amazing! Two, we actually have some free time! I spent this past Sunday taking a nap and it was glorious. I was feeling slightly under the weather though and completely exhausted from one of the very few not-so-great nights of sleep, I imagine that probably had something to do with it.

Overall, things are great! The days are going by a bit faster, and the weeks are definitely going by faster. The first week felt like 3 weeks, this week felt like just over 1 week, pretty soon I´ll wake up one day in Teresina and wonder where the time went!

Until next time!
Elder Rackham

Monday, January 11, 2010

Pictures from Brazil!

Hello All!

I'm going to post some pictures of Scott from the MTC in Brazil. Enjoy!

Scott and his companion in front of the temple in Sao Paulo.

Scott and other missionaries.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

First Letter!

Hey ya´ll

So as I´m sure you´re all probably aware by now, I made it to the Brazil MTC in one piece. Although I think I left my sanity on that awful 10 hour plane ride to Sao Paulo. It was not fun. I did get to stretch out in 2 seats because the flight wasn´t full but that didn´t help a lot. It´s great here. I love the MTC and the environment. The food is not so hot. I´ll be straight up honest, I do not like most of it. I eat a lot of the breads and desserts and the rice. Other than that I pick at whatever else they have. I have to remember it´s cafeteria food so I know it´ll get better when I get out into the field.

My companion is Elder Knapp. He´s from Washington. He was raised by coyotes and can kill a bear. Of course I´m exaggerating but not by much haha. He´s really cool and he´s a great companion. There are 8 Elders in our district. 3 of us are from New Jersey! One is in the East Brunswick Stake and the other, Elder Vallem, is technically a part of the Scranton PA Stake even though he lives in NJ. It´s weird. They´re all great Elders. Oh yeah and I wasn´t alone at the Philly airport. Elder Vallem was there. It was nice to have someone to talk to. There were about 19 of us total going to Brazil. All but 8 of us were coming from the Provo MTC. There are still more missionaries waiting for visas there.

I forgot a lot of things but that´s to be expected. Apparently there´s a whole bag of things that I couldn´t find so they didn´t make it into my suitcase. So I don´t have toothpaste but the other Elders have been kind enough to give me some. I also don´t have any of the sunscreen I packed except for the small tube for my backpack. But I don´t need it now. It gets to be at least 100 degrees in Teresina then you tack on the humidity so I´ll without a doubt need it then! I think I might die from too much sun. We´ll see.

I was assigned as the District Leader for our District the Wednesday we came in. But that didn´t last long. Elder Flynn is now District Leader. This change happened on Sunday. But apparently I was doing a really good job because I´m now an Assistant to the President. I don´t know how that happened. Technically I´m the Assistant to the Branch President because the MTC is more of like a stake. And it´s not like I have a whole lot of responsibility. There´s only one District of American missionaries in our... zone I guess? In total there are about 30 american missionaries here right now. 4 of them left today. Half of the Brazilian missionaries also left for their missions today so the MTC is getting barren again. In one more week even more Brazilians are leaving but I imagine that we´ll be getting more brazilians soon. I don´t know if we´ll be getting anymore Americans soon.

I´m having a great time! Sorry I left such a mess for you to clean up Mom. Also... they discourage sending packages to the MTC but if you really need to, try to send it before the 4th or 5th week I´m here because there´s a chance I´ll have left for the field by the time it gets here and they can´t forward it to me. I left a few things like toothpaste, sunscreen, whatever was in that walmart bag, my temple recommend holder case, my oil and vial, and maybe a few other things. Sorry!

Oh yeah Portuguese! The language is coming along pretty well if I say so myself. We haven´t had a real instructor yet because ours were on vacation so what they´ve taught us has been really disorganized. Once we get our instructors we´ll be awesome. The Italian is really helping. It´s also really nice to be able to talk to the Brazilians because they´re so happy to help. There´s this one elder who looks like a happy gorilla! But he´s so nice and I love talking to him. Apparently he knows jiujitsu extremely well so he could kill a man but he would never hurt a fly haha. I guess I really do have a knack for languages though because I´m very confidant that I´ll be ver well off when I get to the mission field.

Well I should go.

Elder Rackham