Friday, February 26, 2010

Last E-mail from the MTC in Brazil

This will be the last email you all will receive from me while I´m at the CTM. I leave to go to Teresina on the 26th of February, just 3 days from now! Plus it´s my birthday then! It´ll be really cool to get to the field on my birthday, be assigned an area and a companion, and then getting to work!

The world here in Sao Paulo Brazil keeps getting smaller and smaller! An Elder Lopez arrive here a a couple of weeks ago from the Provo MTC. They have each district posted at the help desk that has all the names and hometowns of the missionaries here. I took a look and saw a hometown of Herriman, Utah! It turns out Elder Lopez and I were in the same grade at Herriman Elementary! I don´t think we were ever in the same grade, but we did have the same english teacher 6th grade, Mrs. Earl. I´ve found so many connections with the missionaries here! It´s so neat having that connection with them. It´s definitely helped us grow closer together as a district.

I´m so glad for the opportunity I´ve had to be here in the CTM in Brazil. I hope I haven´t taken it for granted. I know that things happen for reasons we don´t always understand. Sometimes we understand them down the road a bit, but sometimes we never understand them. Either way, I know I´ve been here with my specific district and with other specific missionaries for specific reasons. I know I´ll enjoy looking back and reading my journal here and seeing some of those reasons make sense to me and I´ll understand a little piece of why I was here in Brazil at this time.

I´m going to miss the CTM. I´m definitely going to miss the prepared meals. Not necessarily the food, but not having to make the food is nice. I´m going to miss the completely planned out schedule that we have. I´m ready to leave it, but I´ll definitely miss it. I´ll also miss my instructors and the different friends I´ve made with the other teachers here. They´re so much fun. But most of all I´ll miss the missionaries I´ve become so close with. They´ve put up with me for 9 weeks, I don´t know how they´re still sane haha, but I´ve learned so much from each and every one of them. But hey, I´ll see them at some point after 2 years!

It´s a shorter email this week. I´m trying to cut myself down to an hour of emailing on PDays because that´s about what I´ll have when I get to the field.

Elder Rackham

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Ten Little Indians

That´s how many days I have left here at the CTM!

I´m trying to count them down because I really do want to enjoy my remaining time here because I only have the opportunity to be here once. And it´s such a unique opportunity too! But if I were to say I wasn´t excited to head out to the field, that would be a lie. A big, big lie.

The population here as jumped, no -leaped- to almost 300 missionaries! Visas came into the Provo MTC by the boatloads apparently, because 4 out of the 7 days last week, American missionaries were showing up; Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. It usually around 20 missionaries too! I hear some more missionaries came in today too. 30 some odd Brazilian missionaries are coming in on Thursday too! There´s going to be a few missionaries going to Teresina because today is exactly 3 weeks before transfers, and they stay for just under 3 weeks.

Today we were able to go to the Campinas Temple. It´s about an hour and half away from here. I really liked it! The view was awesome. I´m 90% sure that we could see Sao Paulo because the Temple sat up on a hill. But... then again you can never be too sure because Sao Paulo is so huge, I can´t tell where it starts and where it begin.

On Friday we go proselyting for the second and last time. This time though, we drive into downtown Sao Paulo and proselyte there. It´s much better there. My branch president taught us some great techniques for street contacts. I hope to apply what I´ve learned!

I´ve been studying a lot on humility this past week. It´s amazing to see what I can learn when I´m diligently studying the scriptures. I learned some wonderful things that will help me stay humble. I took a break from the New Testament when I studied humility, but now I´m returning to it. I love reading it and then putting it into perspective of the history at the time. I´m sure I´ve learned about it before but it never really sunk in that the Savior´s earthly ministry was only 3 years, but the apostles labored roughly 30ish years after that to maintain the church! Despite intense persecution of the early Christian church, it´s such a testament to their efforts that Christianity was able to take root like it did.

My instructor in the morning went to Belem on his mission. At that time Teresina didn´t exist and Belem included half of what the Teresina mission is today. Fortaleza had the other half. He never served in the state of Piaui which is half of Teresina, but he did serve in the state of Maranhao which is the other half of Teresina. I was able to talk with him a lot this week about it and I´ve become even more excited!

My time is short this week. I have one more chance to email here at the MTC, then I´ll be in Teresina!

Elder Rackham

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Things are heating up!!

In more ways than one!

First, the weather here in Sao Paulo has gotten hotter. Sleeping at night hasn´t always been the most fun. I thought I was getting used to the heat but it turns out that it´s been abnormally cool for the summer here so far.

Second, I jumped the gun and just assumed that I would be staying for a total of 11 weeks because I came 2 weeks early. Paulo, the person who is in charge of most of the logistics for the missionaries like travel dates, who´s in what district, etc talked to our district. We´re all leaving after we´ve had a total of 9 weeks. For 3 Elders that falls on their normal transfer dates for their missions. For the rest of us, we´re all leaving on February 26th. Yeah, on my birthday! The reason we´re leaving on a Friday and not a Tuesday like we´re supposed to is because there´s a seminar for Mission Presidents on the Tuesday we would be leaving, I think it´s March 2. So... we´re leaving on a Friday instead! I´ll be just over two weeks early for transfers. I´m assuming I´ll be put in a companionship of 3 elders temporarily. We´ll have to see. That puts me at just over 2 weeks left here! I thought I had more time with the language, so I´m going to have to kick it into high gear to meet my goal of being fluent in the lessons when I leave.

Last Friday, we went proselyting. Elder Knapp and I were given 4 Books of Mormon to place. We had to stay within our normal boundaries that we have during our P-Day adventures. It was such a wonderful experience! Except for getting a bit sunburned. I was only outside for 3 hours! I guess that´s plenty of time to get sunburned here. The first person that we talked to was kind of interested in a book so he accepted one when we asked if he wanted one. The second person we talked to was great. His brother-in-law lived in Salt Lake City for a while, I don´t know if he was a member or not, but he knew about us. He said he didn´t have a lot of time because he worked a lot but we assured him that it´s okay to just read a little bit here and there when he has time. Elder Knapp and I were able to bear our testimonies and he wanted a copy too. We walked around a bit more and ended up at a bus stop. We talked to a lady and we caught that she said "all words about God are good" or something like that. Unfortunately we couldn´t finish our conversation because her bus pulled up but we were able to get a book into her hands as she ran to catch the bus. The 4th person was an amazing experience. The Lord really has prepared people to hear the gospel. Elder Knapp and I walked around a bit more but decided to go back to the bus stop and talk to people while they waited for the bus. There were 3 people there when we came back. I didn´t really notice, but as we were talking with the two of them, Elder Knapp saw the other lady look over at us and move closer to us so she could hear what we were saying. We finally were able to talk to her. She was so desperately interested. We couldn´t catch everything she was saying, but she said "There´s something different about you. You´re not like the others who preach around here." I felt so good about giving her a Book of Mormon. We had more time after that so we went back and got 2 more copies. An older man was interested but here in Brazil, people sometimes think that they have to pay for a copy but we assured him it was a present and when he was holding it, he was holding it to his chest like you would something really precious. It was really neat! Apparently the area around the MTC is a tough area. People are used to us missionaries coming around with Books of Mormon so they aren´t as receptive as the rest of Sao Paulo, but we shocked a few people when we our whole district placed a total of 26!

Speaking of district, my district has gotten even larger. Originally there were 8 of us, then 2 more Elders who were in the Provo MTC got their visas and joined our district. Well on Saturday, 3 more came from Provo! We´re up to 13 Elders! Elder Bostrom was one of the 2 Elders that came first, and the other 3 were in his old district in Provo! Funny story about Elder Bostrom, he was talking about how in his family it´s tradition to name the firstborn of the firstborn Thor Bostrom. I remembered a guy named Thor that was in my ward at BYU-I my winter semester so of course I asked Elder Bostrom and that was his brother! It´s such a small world here in Brazil. I never would have thought so. I have a connection like that to almost every Elder in my district so far it´s weird but cool!

I´ve been reading the New Testament for my personal study and I´ve made it through Matthew. I´ve surprised myself because after personal study is over I don´t want to stop reading! I just love reading about Christ´s earthly ministry. I want to know more and more! There´s just not enough time to read though. I´m starting to truly love reading the scriptures for probably the first time in my life.

That´s about it for now. It´s been a great week, again! And next week is going to be even better as President Brinton, my branch president, says.

With love,
Elder Rackham

P.S. Does anyone know of a Larry and Jaydean Rackham that lives in Boise? I´m assuming I´m probably related somehow. I ask because one of the other branch presidents and his wife are friends with them. have thought so. I have a connection like that to almost every Elder in my district so far it´s weird but cool!

I´ve been reading the New Testament for my personal study and I´ve made it through Matthew. I´ve surprised myself because after personal study is over I don´t want to stop reading! I just love reading about Christ.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Yet Another...

Bom Dia everyone!

Bom Dia (pronounced Bone Jeeuh) means good day! Anyway as the subject says, my forearms hurt a bit so this email may not be quite as long. The keyboard is not very good here unfortunately. Also I don´t have as long today because one the way back from the Temple we went in every direction BUT back to the MTC! Seriously it was not fun. Plus it was hot since the AC didn´t work but that actually wasn´t too bad. I was even wearing my suit coat the entire ride home! I´m surprised at how well I´ve adjusted to the weather here. I don´t think I´ll have a problem with the heat in Teresina. Oh by the way, half of my mission is arid and dry. No humidity! Woo! I am a big fan of that. I can deal with heat easier if I´m not swimming in my own sweat.

An update on my attempt to lead a choir: I must say I´m pretty talented. I didn´t expect it to turn out so well. To be honest though it was mostly the choir and not me. They sang so beautifully. We sang Abide With Me ´Tis Eventide. I kinda got into it as the conductor. I used both hands I guess the other missionaries who conduct don´t and I was a bit expressive with them haha. Anyway, I was very pleased with how it turned out. I was scared at first because I didn´t really know how to run the 1 hour practice. It went well though and the fireside was amazing. Elder Soaris spoke. He´s an area seventy I think. Anyway it was wonderful!

Class is going much better. We´re more focused during class and we speak more portuguese during class as well! In fact if we try our hardest to speak portuguese for the rest of the week, our two instructors are going to make t-shirts for us! I really like my morning instructor Irmao Nascimento. He was a great missionary I can tell. He teaches us really practical things and techniques. The evening class is hard because we´re tired and unfocused. But last night we did much, much better!

Can I just say that I have probably the best district? I´m most missionaries think this, but we really are the best! Almost all of the instructors love us! And I think the ones that aren´t included in that statement haven´t met and talked with us.

I love my Branch President. He´s taught me so much! Sundays are so wonderful! But I especially love his wife, Sister Brinton. She´s so wonderful! I can feel her love for us and her love for the Lord. If President Dias' wife (my mission president when I get to the mission field in Teresina) is half as awesome as Sister Brinton I will have a truly great Mission President´s wife. But I have a feeling that Sister Dias will be really, really awesome! Irma Fiallo one of the teachers here told me that President Dias is AMAZING. He used to do something with CES (Church Education System) in Brazil and he was just really awesome. I´m so excited to meet him!

Did I mention last week that our room of 4 Elders became a room of 6 Elders? They added 2 brazilian Elders to our room. I´m starting to talk with them more and they´re alot of fun. They´re both going to Manaus.

New Brazilian missionaries come to the MTC on Thursdays. Last thursday 48 new missionaries came! The MTC feels so packed now even though there´s only about 75 missionaries total haha. I think it´s just because we have to actually wait in line for food now. We used to walk right up to the serving area and be served right away.

Oh my favorite fruit here is Goiaba. I think that´s the spelling. It´s guava unless I´m horribly mistaken. All you need to know is that it´s absolutely delicious. I hope I´ll be able to buy them in Teresina. I imagine that I will be able to. But who knows!

My studying is becoming more meaningful and I´m growing and progressing. I can´t even imagine what it will be like when I get to the mission field! It´s amazing to look back at these past 5 weeks and see the Lord´s hand in my life. And it´s a little weird to realize it´s been 5 weeks! It seems such a short time ago that I got here, but at the same time it feels like forever! I do enjoy the MTC. It´s such a unique opportunity that I hope I´m taking advantage of.

Until next time!

Elder Rackham