Saturday, February 22, 2014

Singing and Testifying

“And if ye had  all the scriptures which give an account of all the marvelous works of Christ, ye would, according to the words of Christ, know that these things must surely come.”  3Nephi 28:33

Ok your questions: (Are you taking pictures and can you figure out how to send them?)  I have no clue how to do pictures.  I’ve tried 3 times and we all think that the computers here are just locked down too tight and so my first email from the field will be really huge and filled with pictures. There were no new Americans who came in this week so we still have the new sister but she is doing fine and she will be way ahead of anyone else her actual week.

So it started to rain this week, a lot. On Tuesday it rained during our actividade física where we have a small outside track, fastest 3 laps I’ve ran since I’ve been here. And that also means that it is getting cooler. Apparently the super hot temps when we first got here were the highest it’s been in 60 years.  Now it’s starting to cool back down and I actually slept under a sheet for the first time since being here. So this past Wednesday Elder Si. and I got brand new Brasileiro room mates they seem pretty cool, one has that accent where you pronounce all the s´s as sh´s its pretty crazy.

I’m glad yall got the recording of the our song “Abide With Me; Tis Eventide”- that was pretty awesome to sing. We had been practicing for 3 weeks and I tried to help everyone with technique and how we were going to arrange all the verses and such, it was good. The day before we were going to sing they told us, “oh yea, the member of the Seventy over all the missionary work in the entire world is going to be there, Elder Evans. So we were like ... well I guess we should practice more, haha, but it was really awesome. Elder Evans’ talk was interesting though, it was all about families and the need to have children and families, families, families… which is all great but they were like, “oh yea, don’t think about this for 2 years- but remember! haha.

So we have 12 days or something like that left here in the CTM- crazy! Irmão Brito said that it’s time now to essentially sprint to the finish.  He’s really encouraging us to fulfill our language goals and stretch even further (ex: 5 words a day 2 phrases memorizing different grammar points and memorizing scriptures) which doesn’t sound like a lot.  I’m sure we learn much more than that, but just on the spot it is crazy hard. So now we’ve started analyzing the grammar in the scriptures, never has it taken so long to read through 1 Nefi 1:1!  We’ve also upped our number of investigators we teach from 2 to 4 so we all have a set other companionship that we teach during our additional study.  That also means we don’t have as much time to prepare for any of our lessons, but it’s all good. Spiritual experience: We were doing practice teaching about the importance of the Book of Mormon and I was teaching Sis D. and she had this scenario where she had no time to read and her life was really crazy.  I felt led by the spirit to promise her that she could turn to any page in the Book of Mormon and read any verse and it would strengthen her testimony of Christ, so she was like, “right now?” and I was like, “yea right now”.  So she randomly flipped to 3 Nefi 28:33 and it was in Portuguese so we didn’t know exactly what it said, but it spoke of Christ.  She was awe struck and started crying and it was so powerful and the spirit was so strong and so I teared up a bit too.  Then I bore my testimony of the Book of Mormon and its testimony of Christ and it was just amazing… then we looked it up in English. haha It was a great experience.

“And if ye had  all the scriptures which give an account of all the marvelous works of Christ, ye would, according to the words of Christ, know that these things must surely come.”  3Nephi 28:33

I’ve gotta go now I love yall so much! Hope you feel better

Elder Pierce

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Riley sings with MTC District

Abide With Me Tis Eventide sung with Brazil MTC District

Got an email from the Executive Secretary of the CTM in Brazil a couple of days ago.  They recorded Riley and some members of his District singing in a devotional with an iPhone.  Click on the link above to listen and enjoy!

Friday, February 14, 2014

From the Streets of Sao Paulo to the Police Station

Sao Paulo Skyline
So this week was pretty exciting. We went proselyting on the streets of central Sao Paulo this past Wednesday! In the afternoon we all headed out with one of our instructors, Irma (Sister) de Silva, and we walked a bit and then got on the omnibus (public bus) which was super hot and crowded. We walked a bit more and got to a pretty busy block and they handed all the missionaries 3 copies of the Book of Mormon each and we were off. The day before they gave us some tips and we practiced with each other, but basically what you do is you walk up to someone and say, "Good evening, may I give you a present?" because apparently all Brazilians love presents and it totally works! So after you get their attention with the present you just give them a quick "this is another testament of Jesus Christ, it will bless your life as you read and pray to know if it is true, testify!, thanks!" It was a little slow at first but after the first man we placed a Book of Mormon with we were super stoked and it just kept getting better. We had this one couple come up and talk to us and I think they asked us if we were like Jehovah Witnesses. Unfortunately, I didn’t know the word for Jehovah’s Witnesses in Portuguese so that was pretty confusing but Elder Si. was able to kind of understand and reply. I hope they got the difference and they said they would read the book- awesome! 

Speaking of Elder Si.and myself, things are going along well. I am trying to help him out of his shell a bit. I stand by my advice that one of the most important mission prep sort of things you can do is just be able to start up, keep going and end a conversation with anyone at anytime. He has some reservations about doing that in English, so add on the language and it gets a little much sometimes. But he has progressed so much and this proselyting was a big confidence booster for him. And back to that we even saw 2 guys as we walked back by reading the book later, cool, so we placed 7 BOMs (we helped out another companionship who was having a hard time). As a district we placed 30 total, it was an amazing experience!  So we all feel like we run the CTM now, which we kind of do, haha, just kidding. 

So about our district, apparently we’re a “diamond in the rough” district because of how much we try to speak Portuguese and with our focus and such. We may not feel that way all the time but, hey. Anyway we get back from proselyting and we get the news. We had a new sister move into our district who had only been in Provo MTC for 4 days... 4 days to 3 weeks is a big, big, big difference! Since our sisters are the "newest" American sisters in the CTM, she had to come in with us. And because of this we had to move classrooms to a bigger one but the desks are tiny like at college and it’s on the 3rd floor instead of the 2nd. Now our teachers can’t continue where we were or at the speed they were because this new sister can’t understand. Whew- its been kind of rough but the sister is catching up. The plan is that another sister should be coming next week so she will be with that sister and move down to the week she actually is in. I don’t know but we will find out, I guess.

So for my teachers we have Irma (Sister) De Silva in the afternoons and Irmao (Brother) Brito at night. They are both native Brazilians from Sao Paulo who served missions somewhere in Brazil. They are awesome though and super funny and know how to teach well. For our class schedule it kind of repeats for the morning then the evening. We have an hour of grammar, and then we have a lesson on some pre-determined topic like “how to teach the word of wisdom”.  They show us and we practice with each other and then switch who we teach or we’ll be the investigator.  Then we have time to study with our companion while our instructor becomes our "investigator" and we all switch around who teaches when and then in the night we do it again except with different topics and the other teacher.

Ok, so on Thursday we had to get up earlier and go to the police station to declare our visas. Everyone who got to the CTM at the same time as us got on a big bus and drove to the police station.  We had to wait in line for a long time and then sit at a computer, hand them our stuff, make sure our name was spelled right, then they took pictures of us and did all of our finger prints and we were on our way... after waiting forever! Oh, and the Olympics were on the TV in the waiting room- talk about torture! Anyway, it was all good.

 I love you all so much! Have fun in the snow and I hope everyone gets to feeling better!

Elder Pierce

Saturday, February 8, 2014

CTM Life, Sundays, Solos & The Spirit

Family! Friends! etc, etc, Wow sounds like a whole lot’s been happening, almost more that around here haha. Mom I forgot last time but I’m so glad your glasses work! Thank heavens and they look great.

Ok, so I have learned that the accent down in Santa Maria is the Portuguese accent closest to Spanish because of its proximity to Argentina and Uruguay. Pretty cool for getting to talk with everyone back home who speaks Spanish but here in the CTM all of the teachers have the Sao Paulo accent so I’ll have to re-learn how to say a bunch of sounds in the field, “ta bom”. So everyday we have actividade fisica and there’s this little track that we have to run 3 laps on. Then we do some push ups and sit ups, etc. and then our district goes and plays volleyball for like 35 minutes.  Pretty much every day is awesome.

Sundays here are amazing, mostly because it really is a day of rest for us haha. We still have personal study in the morning then we go to our sacrament followed by elders quorum. Afterward, we have a district meeting and then while the leadership have another meeting the rest of us have free time which is super nice.  They play some different church movie every week but it’s all in Portuguese so our district normally just hangs out and sings hymns or something during that time. Then there’s the devotional and everyone in the CTM does choir practice and afterward we do some planning and go to bed (which by the way it is next to impossible to go to bed on time, that’s something I’m definitely working on...). Back to Sundays though, this past Sunday was different because it was some special conference and that was when I sang the hymn "Beautiful Savior" and I had prepared like the descant as a solo in English on the last verse. When I get there, the sister conducting came up to me and was like "ok you’re going to sing the first verse by yourself in Portuguese... go!" and I was like... “Let’s do this thing!”  Sister Swenson who was playing the piano was like "oh I’m sorry I don’t think I told you you were doing that"... nope but it was all good and turned out well.

Ok so besides the lessons we teach we do this thing called TRC which is pretty much just another lesson but its longer, about 45 minutes and its only once a week instead of every day and they video us then make us watch ourselves so we can do sort of self evaluation type stuff. That was pretty interesting and my companion Elder S. (whose parents emailed him last week about the Cobia connection -cool) was like banging his head on the table because he was so embarrassed, it’s all good though and he did just fine and he is progressing a lot. On occasion we actually sing for our investigators so we sang “Families Can be Together Forever” for this TRC (I bought a Portuguese primary song book at the distribution center last week yay!).  It actually was pretty good on the recording haha.

Ok to answer how long it takes letters to reach me: I don’t exactly know, but I got what I would assume was Dad’s first letter that first p day so a week ago (btw our p day is Friday which was a super long wait that first week but I’m glad you didn’t call the office haha).  Just as I am writing this email I got handed Mom’s letter, so however long that is.

This past Thursday I woke up and my voice was gone and I was sick... sadness.  It’s been like all over the CTM though because it hasn’t been raining as much and the pollution is like messing with a bunch of people, but Advil is magical and I’m feeling much better today. So also last p day my district walked around Sao Paulo and hit all the cool stuff the other missionaries told us to do. There’s this little shop with these awesome ties that have like borders on them, I’ll have to send you a picture, but they are the thing to have here so I’m totally going to get one this week.  Also, after the temple today, which was great, we went down to the distribution center and I got a leather triple of Portuguese scriptures for 35 reis which is like $17 which was pretty sweet.  

I love you all so much! The language is coming but more important I am learning how to listen to the whispers of the spirit and discern the needs of our investigators. The language is a tool, a very important tool and essential to have, but it’s that speaking to people’s hearts that I hope to achieve here in the CTM and out in the field. Good luck, keep being awesome, I love getting your emails and let me tell you the hardest part about being here is not being able to just call you guys up or ask mom what song to sing haha.

Love Elder Pierce

Also I’m still trying to figure out how to attach pictures, hopefully that will be soon! Oh and also, if I don’t answer your questions it’s because I’ve forgotten and I am very sorry so please include them in the next week’s email because I don’t have the time to go back and check, Love ya! Till next week