Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Bom Dia!! September 27, 2011

1st Letter
Hey Everyone!
How can I describe my first week at the MTC!? From the very get go, it has been completely crazy, but so interesting and spiritual that I hardly notice myself.
First off, it was so great to see so many familiar faces on the first day here. My host was Elder Hodson, and an Elder Twitchell (I’m not sure how we're related). Then, I found out that my companion is Elder Barkdull, a friend from fall semester at BYU last year, who also got called to Curitiba Brazil. Elder Barkdull has been great; he's really spiritual and fun to be around. I think I got really lucky that the person I’m going to be with 24/7 for the next 9 weeks is so great!
Then, I found out that Elder Olpin is my Zone Leader, along with Elder Bowser! Elder Olpin has helped me a lot since I’ve been here, showing me the ropes of the MTC. Also, he has a gift for Portuguese. This Sunday at sacrament meeting, he bore his testimony in Portuguese, and honestly it blew my mind. He just absolutely loves the language, and it shows. I feel like I’m really lucky to have Elder Olpin as my Zone Leader, not only because he's a friend, but because he is a solid missionary.
The language certainly is the most challenging part of the MTC experience. Within an hour of arriving at the MTC, I was already thrust into a language class, learning how to greet people in Portuguese. Every day we learn so many words, conjugations, grammatical rules, etc. that by night time my head feels like it's about to explode with information. It's definitely the hardest learning experience I have ever had, but I also have never cared so deeply about what I’m learning either. Irmã (Sister) Gonzalez and Irmão (Brother) Maxwell are our teachers, and they are amazing. Not only do they know the language, but they are true representatives of Christ. On the first day, Irmã Gonzales bore her testimony in Portuguese, and I felt the Spirit as strongly as I ever have with an English testimony. It´s really hard, but I have already felt the Lord help me to learn the language, and I am excited for him to work through me when I teach the gospel.
The schedule here is filled to the brim with things for us to do. We start every morning at six thirty, and are in our suits by 7. We then have an hour of personal study time, then breakfast. After breakfast, it varies from day to day, but it typically consists of about 6+ hours of Portuguese study, lunch, dinner, more personal study time, Gym, and then `Golden Hour´ which is when we get ready for bed, write in our journals, pray, plan for the next day, etc. It´s a breakneck schedule, but I have found that it forces us to be the best missionaries we possibly can. True, I go to sleep completely exhausted, but by the time I get up, I am refreshed, and ready to learn more!
Wow, I should have planned out what I was going to type before I sat down to write this. I´m already out of time! I love you so much, and I cannot wait to get more letters from you! I did receive the cookies you guys sent, but unfortunately it arrived on Saturday, and I can’t pick up mail until Monday. By that time, the Cookies were smashed to bits, but me and my roommates still enjoyed them!
I want to hear how the San Jose is going! Autumn, tell me how your classes are going! And has Dad gotten a calling yet! And Mom, I hope it´s hasn´t been too boring without me to hang out with you all day!
I hope everything is well with you, and I hope that the Lord has been blessing you. I know that if you give the Lord ~you´re all, he will help make up the difference. I have seen that clearly since I’ve been here. There is such a huge difference when I forget myself and my own trivial pains and worries, and trust in the Lord. I´m so excited to learn more about Portuguese, and more importantly, more about the Gospel. I hope that San Jose is treating you well, and that you have an optimistic perspective on things. And Don´t forget to watch General Conference this Weekend!

Com muito Amor,
Elder Avram Twitchell

PS. Mom, they don´t have the Tree of Life here.
PPS. Tell Bishop Hogan thanks for the letter! It was really thoughtful and helpful of him!

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