Monday, October 31, 2011

Pictures from the MTC

Members of District 54-B'
S Horkley, S Patton, E Reeves, E Hobbs, E Barkdull, E Twitchell, E Trevisanut
1 Nephi 13:37

Our District at the Provo Temple
Psalms 24: 3 - 5
The Folsom Elder (friends)
E Olpin, E Hodson, E Nethercott, E Twitchell
Alma 16: 2-3

The Elders from Avram's district
Twitchell, Frahm, Barkdull, Johnson, Trevisanut, Glenn, Reeves, Holland

Avram's companion (Best companionship ever)
Elder Barkdull
D&C 42:6
Here are the Elders, seeking diligently the Word of God
D&C 11:21
How many Temples is Elder Frahm toughing here?
put response in comments, I'll give the answer next letter

Friday, October 28, 2011

October 25, 2011 - Tudo Bem, Familia!


October 25, 2011
Tudo Bem, Familia!
You guys are in for a treat, I just sent another letter to you Yesterday. Oh, and Autumn should expect a letter as well. I'm just going to say what comes to mind in this letter, so if I have some
overlap with what's in my handwritten letters, I’m sorry. I'll try to avoid that.
What's the deal with our family and computers? It seems like we are ever-plagued by viruses and malfunctioning systems. Our family is like Job's family in the Virtual World--perhaps we should just Curse computers and die? Oh well, if we keep persevering, perhaps we'll receive more blessings than we can handle, eventually... virtually, of course.
Visas are such a weird thing. They're like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're going to get. Or like the Ice cream truck. It just kind of shows up randomly, with no warning. Pois e' (whatever).
I'm glad you enjoyed the pictures! I hope you can see a little bit of the caliber of missionaries we have here. I feel really lucky. Yesterday, I got some pictures of my teachers, too. They’re such amazing teachers. The best teachers ever, in fact. I'll probably send the pictures of them sometime next week.
So Elder Olpin got a reassignment, along with his whole district. I don't think he's going to Minneapolis-- I’m pretty sure he's headed to Milwaukee, Wisconsin? Maybe I’m wrong. He left Saturday morning though, and I didn't get a chance to say goodbye to him really. Oh well. But it was cool, I think someone from his district is going to Milwaukee also, and a few of them are going to Alabama together. I feel bad for Elder Olpin's companion, Elder Bowser. He got reassigned to Salt Lake City. He hasn't even filled out his electronic visa, and he put in his papers at the same time as me. It was sad, his whole district was gone by yesterday, so he
just followed our district around, because he wasn't allowed to be alone. Oh well, he's such a good guy, I know that he's going to do great things.
So last week, our district got four more Visas; Elders Hobbs, Reeves, Johnson, and Glenn. The situation in which they got it was really funny, because we all ended up rushing down, expecting our Visas, because the Lady on the intercom told all Curitiba missionaries to come down. We all get down there, and then Only they got their Visas, so Elder Barkdull and I were totally psyched out. It was funny. Anyway, they all left today, it was actually pretty sad. We all sang "God be with
you 'til we meet again", and then prayed together a last time, and took pictures, and saw them off on the Bus. Muito Triste (very sad).
The Real tragedy is the state of our District now. It's just Elder Trevisanut, Barkdull, Sister Patton, and me. Four person district. It gets really weird too, with the companionships, because now Trevisanut is in our companionship, because he can't be alone at all, and Sister Patton is still in our group (We found out that she's not a "companion", we're just her escorts, which honestly, to me, sounds almost as bad.) So, we are going to be a four person group walking together all the time. This doesn't really start until tomorrow, but basically all four of us are going to be together all the time. And I have no idea how they're going to arrange the teaching schedules. I hope all don't teach together. Teaching with four people would be... overkill. But, I really don't expect to be like this that long. I'm definitely going to get my Visa soon. It's going to happen. The amount of Brazilian Missionaries arriving hasn't really decreased. If anything, it's pretty much the same. More of us are getting Visas, though, so I’m thinking our numbers are decreasing. It's cool though, we don't really even notice, in our district. Most of the Portuguese speakers go to another building for classes--there’s only our district and one other in our building. So we're kind of cut off from everyone else. We're the forgotten districts. The only other district we really knew was Olpin's district, but they're gone now. Poise'. I'm getting my Visa this week, so it's not that big of a deal. So it's actually been pretty cool teaching with Sister Patton, because she lived in like Peru or something for 6 months, so she speaks Spanish really well, which transfers somewhat to Portuguese. She definitely can hold her own when we're teaching. The only problem is that sometimes, when she tries to say something really fast, she'll start saying Spanish words, so she's really speaking some sort of cacophonic farago of language. Like, Portuglish, or Spatuguese? see, even the names sound nasty. Spanguese?
On Monday, we had one of our most difficult lessons. We were teaching Rogerio (Irmao Maxwell) about the plan of salvation, and then when we got to the Spirit world, he got all sad. We asked him what it was, and he said that on Sunday, the Bishop said during class that people who are not part of this church are going to "Lugares Ruimes", which means horrible places. Rogerio interpreted this as Hell, and felt like we were teaching that all his friends and family not in the Church were going to Hell, Which is nao Bom. We then tried to console him. We shared with him a few scriptures, saying that everyone will get a chance to hear the gospel, and feel happiness. I think we shared Mosiah 3:11? I can't remember. But he still was sad. Then we testified that we
knew it was true. Still, upset. There was a long silence... Then, we just told him that we were here to help him, and that we cared about him. We said a prayer, and then left. Wow, what happened! None of us--Patton, Barkdull, or me-- had had a lesson like that. Maxwell must have been trying to get us out of our comfort zone by giving us a situation that couldn't really be resolved in one lesson. Whatever it was, us three all sat down and seriously discussed how we could help Rogerio feel comforted. After a lot of spiritual consideration, we decided the next thing to teach would be faith, and that we'd have him read either Ether 12 or Alma 32 with him. He has to understand that through faith in Jesus Christ, he can feel that happiness, and know that God loves all of his children, even the ones that haven't been able to receive the gospel yet. We prayed to know if this plan was the right way to go, and I felt the spirit pretty strong. So, hopefully our next lesson turns out well. I honestly am thankful that our lesson went so bad, because I feel like they've been ideal investigators for us this far. Now, we're a little bit more on our toes, and we have to really PRAY about our investigators.
Our next lesson with Kaka (irmao Simons) went pretty well, he had some difficulties with his family, but we were able to comfort him. That was a really spiritual lesson for me, but I don't feel like I can really describe why in writing. It was just really cool, and I’m thankful for Elder Barkdull and Sister Patton, and their testimonies.
Oh, so real quick, Elder Trevisanut is our District leader now (yes, he has a lot of power over this four person district). And Elder Barkdull and I are Sacrament Coordinators here, which means we assign people to pass and bless the sacrament each Sunday. It's not really that big of a deal. If I get some overwhelming spiritual experience from this calling, I’ll be sure to inform you
straight away.
Also, I do indeed get to go to the Temple every Tuesday. I absolutely love it. It's like receiving Much needed direction every week. It's always such a spiritual experience. But, unfortunately, I couldn't go today, because we were seeing half our district off. Dang Visas. That's cool about the dancers! It's always fun to just tour around and such. I'm still not really sure what that whole thing is about, but it sounds like it was a fun time, and you guys enjoyed it! I will say this though: my dancing days are over :P
You know what's even cooler than the Dancers? READING THE BOOK OF MORMON! That
so cool that you have the goal to read the BOM! I encourage you to read it quicker than in a year, but it's up to you. It's really not about speed. It was the weirdest thing, I always thought it was impossible to spend more than an hour on a chapter, but the other day, I spent two hours just figuring out all of the implications of just this one chapter (I think it was Alma 26? I can't remember right now). It’s been bad though, the past couple of days I haven't been reading as much as I want, and I can so tell the difference. I need to work on that, and focus more during study time.
I hope you guys know that you're in all of my prayers! I've been praying about Autumns tooth, and that Amber will do well with all the changes going on right now!
Keep updating my blog! It makes me feel really happy that the experiences I’m feeling here are expanding past just myself. Maybe they can help others during hard times. That's my hope, at least. They're really not at of me though. They're all of the Lord, and I’m glad that there's a chance that they can help others.
Keep looking up, being positive, and remembering the Lord. Happiness comes from a humble and obedient attitude to the Lord, from personal revelation through the Scriptures, and revelation received through Church.
Good luck, you're in my Prayers, May the Lord be With You.
Love,
Elder Avram Tyler Twitchell

Sunday, October 23, 2011

October 23, 2011 - Querida Familia!!


October 23, 2011
Querida Familia!
Esta semana foi muito louco!

Tons of Visas. About 75 came in on Wednesday. And four of those visas came to our District; Elder Hobbs, Reeves, Johnson, and Glenn. It was so exciting! Haha, it was hilarious when they got their visas. We were all sitting in class and then the intercom came on and asked Elder Glenn & Johnson to come to the Travel office. They came back with their visas, and then about 10 minutes later, this Brazilian woman’s voice comes over the intercom, and she says in a booming voice, “this is the Voice of Heaven! Are there missionaries going to
Curitiba?”
And we all responded, “Yesssh!”
“All of you come to the travel Office!”
So Elder Barkdull, Hobbs, Reeves, and I all go down to the travel office, super excited. We get there and they look through the Curitiba Visas, and they only had Reeves and Hobb’s visa. BLAST! Oh well, it was so exciting to see everyone get their visas. It will be weird, though, because they all leave Tuesday, so starting Wednesday, we’ll only have four people in our
District: Sister Patton, Elder Trevisanut, Elder Barkdull and me. Lessons/Study time will be weird, but I think it’ll be really good, because we’ll be able to participate more. It’s sad though. Elder Olpin got reassigned, and left yesterday for Milwaukee, Wisconsin. It sucks, I can’t quote Arrested Development and Avatar with him. But I know he’s going to do awesome, he has got this missionary thing down. Ahh! I just want to go to BRAZIL! I just want to jump right into the field! I know that that’s where I’m supposed to be, and I just don’t want to wait anymore. I love the language, and I just want to go master it. I know that there are more things I can learn here at the MTC, but I feel like I know the basics pretty well, and the next step is to just go out there and teach with the Spirit!!! Oh well, I shouldn’t get so worked up, I still have a month to go in the MTC, and I’m still learning tons here. This is where the Lord wants me right now, so I just need to make the most of this time to grow! So today there were a lot of releasing’s/callings. Elder Barkdull and I were called as Sacrament Coordinators, which means we assign people to pass and bless the Sacrament each Sunday, and make sure there is bread and water. Hobbs was released as District leader, and Trevisanut was called to his spot. So, E. Trevisanut is our District leader, over four missionaries. I’m so glad that I wasn’t called, because DL meetings cut into lots of Study time, which is not cool beans with me. I love my personal study time. The Book of
Mormon is legit! I had to stop marking stuff though, because I was marking everything. 2 Nephi is completely red. I know you sent me extra colors, but I still haven’t figured out a good system for marking. Do you have ideas? I’ll definitely do a color for the Atonement, and then another color for prophesies/fulfilled prophesies, but then I don’t know what to do. Some guys in my district mark scriptures by what lesson they correspond=d with but I kind of don’t like that approach, because I feel like I’d only use the scriptures for what lesson they were marked for – nothing else. Sorry, I just realized I’ve been blabbering for half a page about scripture markers.
So I had a strange day Friday. In the morning I had gym, and I saw Nate Tuttle. He works here as a missionary babysitter during gym time. It was cool catching up with him, especially since he served in Brazil.
Now, the weird part. During Personal Study, this guy comes in our classroom and asks to speak with me privately. His name was something like Weatherby, or something. And he’s the guy that Alexis Tuttle is engaged to, LOL, super random and a little strange. I mean, it’s really cool that he came to talk to me. He just said that he knew I was good friends with Alexis. He was a really nice guy, I’m happy for her. It was just a little out of the blue.
Well, I guess I’ll just finish this letter off so you can hear from me sooner. I hope all is going well for the family. I’m praying for Autumn, that her teeth will be ok. I also pray for dad, so that he can have an easier time at work. Tell me how life is going out there. How was Landon’s Primary thing? Have you been able to visit Folsom again? How are our neighbors? Do you still walk in the morning? Mom, have you been mugged at Lucky’s yet?
Family name, five things you want to know about the MTC life.
Tell me five annoying things that I used to do that, that you don't have to worry about, now that I’m gone.
Tell me five things you all like about San Jose, that you didn’t realize before -- go out and find things you like if you don’t have enough reasons.
OK, you have to answer these questions. I want to know how you’re doing at home!
Read the Scriptures, Pray every morning and night and moments in between. Know that the Lord is with you always, if you keep his commandments.
Love, Tudo Bem,
Elder Avram Twitchell

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

October 16, 2011


October 16, 2011
Dear Family,
Here’s some pictures. There you go. I actually have been taking pictures, thank you very much.
However, these pictures are already obsolete, two of our district members – Elder Frahm and Sister Horkley – are leaving Tuesday for Brazil. They got their visa this Thursday and Friday. Visas are starting to really flow in now. 20 people in my zone got visas this week. Mike McKinley
just got his visa. Also, Elder Barkdull got his e-visa, and while we were in the travel office we heard one of the workers predicting that within a month, most of the Brazilian missionaries will
be out of here. I’m sooo excited!!! Our teachers have been telling us all about Brazil, and I’m ready to go. It’s going to be sweet. But, I shouldn’t get too excited. I still haven’t had my e-visa in for too long, and Elder Olpin, Morrey and Bowser haven’t got their visa’s yet. But yeah, I’m super excited. I just want to go out to Brazil NOW!!!
The MTC has been great, though. I’m on my fourth week now! In five days I’ll be here for a month. It’s so crazy. The time is so trippy here. I honestly have no good gauge of time. The language is coming great. I’m so humbled at how much help I’ve been given by the Lord. E. Barkdull and I can teach good lessons, and we have the Holy Ghost with us when we teach. And I’m starting to get way into the BOM. I feel like I get Personal Revelation every day. It’s weird though, they don’t want us to ready the old or New Testament. But anyway, the Book of Mormon speaks to me so much. I encourage you guys to pray about the BofM before you read, and then with the spirit, read and ponder what you read. I promise you’ll find answersto difficult questions that arise.
Lately Elder Barkdull and I have been taking bold steps to improve our teaching. We’ve been tackling hard topics, like the Fall, in Portuguese. Also we’ve been focusing on doing discussions, asking good questions, and asking our ‘investigators’ to talk about how they feel from the Book of Mormon. This forces us to understand and respond to a variety of topics, with little preparation.
Sometimes it’s rough, but it helps us with Portuguese so much, and also it gears the lesson more towards our investigator. One particular bold step we took was to invite a “member”. The way the ‘investigators” here work is that our teachers play our investigators, and we teach everyday, either I the morning or in the evening. Right now we have two separate investigators: Irmao Simons
playing Gabriel, a thoughtful 16 year old that enjoys math and history and Irmao Maxwell, playing a twenty-something shirt designer that attends several churches. It might sound weird, but our teachers base these investigators off of real people they taught on their missionary, and they refuse to comment on anything that happens when we’re teaching them as investigators. You can tell that they help you out sometimes, but most of the time they act pretty real, and they ask hard questions (try explaining a colligao de Israel (gathering of Israel) in Portuguese) Anyway Gabriel is a Baptist and he has a really good friend, Adriana, who used to be Baptist with him, but then converted to Mormon like a year ago. Now, we never had an encounter with Adriana, so it was still unknown who she even was.
So, during our weekly planning session, one of the things we had to discuss was how to help our investigators more. And during this part, I looked up and saw Irma Gonzales, and suddenly, I had an epiphany. We don’t ever teach Irma Gonzales as an investigator, so she could be
our Adriana! I asked her if she would be Adriana at 6:50 for our appointment with Gabriel, and she said she could, so E Barkdull and I filled her in on who her character was, and then woila!!! We had a member. It was a lot of fun having Irma Gonzales be a member, and our lesson with her taught me how important members are for teaching lessons. They can connect way more personally than the missionaries can, and also recent converts know many of the doubts that new investigators have.
Well, I better send this so that you can get pictures. Oh, and make sure you keep your phone on hand. Tons of visa are coming in, and when I get my visa, I get to call you for like five minutes.
Just be ready. I’ll try to do the call in the evening so you all can hear, but it could come literally any day, and more or less at any time.
I love all of you!!! Good luck with the ward and remember all the little blessings the Lord gives you. Some of the greatest miracles that occur happen so gradually that we can fail to notice they’re even happening.
Pray hard, read the Scriptures, and may the Lord forever guide your life.

Tachu, com Amor,
Elder Avram Twitchell

PS Something I’ve been doing lately is writing in my journal at the top, one specific thing that
I’m thankful for. It’s been really cool, you should try doing it.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

October 18, 2011

Hey Family!
Yes yes, I know. Pictures are on the way. I actually have been taking pictures! Not a ton, but I’ve been doing it. They're coming in my next letter, which I will try to finish later today. I just did not plan out my time very well, and so I wasn't able to finish it off. I'll try to get that in by tomorrow. I think you'll like the pictures.
Oh, and I actually have been getting a lot of mail from friends and family. It's been great. It's actually the reason why I wasn't able to finish the letter to you guys--it's because I was doing quick letters to others. I just always end up writing a ton, and include one or two gospel discourses in the mix. It really gets out of hand. So, next time I write, I’m going to make sure to
finish YOUR letter first. That's the most important one. I've been getting letters from Alicia, Adam Sink, and Amber. Oh, and I got a letter from Sydney, and a letter from my friend from school, Kyra Klopp. On top of that, I received a letter from Mitch this Monday. But I look forward to your letters the most, so keep them coming! And Write long ones too. I can print them off and read them on my P-day, without taking up my writing time. It all works out. The only suggestion I have is maybe write me e-mails on Monday night, because Elder Barkdull and I every
Tuesday morning at like 7:30 go to print off our letters, so we can figure out what to write by the time we go in for our letter writing time, which is typically 2-4 PM (we write while we do our laundry.) Today at least when I went to check the e-mail I didn't see the letter from you guys. No worries though, I printed it out later in the day.
Visas, Visas, Visas. Yes, they are flowing in. It's a veritable cascade of Visas. Ok, that's maybe an exaggeration, but this past week two of our District members got Visas: Elder Frahm and Sister Horkley. Sister Horkley left this morning at 8 AM, and Elder Frahm leaves tomorrow at like 5 AM. It's actually a litter weird, because now Sister Patton is a "solo" sister, and me and Elder
Barkdull are her "companions." Basically she's like a normal companion, except, you know, she's a girl. So, we go basically everywhere with her during the day, and she's going to start teaching with Elder Barkdull and I. I'm a little weirded out by this, but I think it will be a good think,
because hopefully she'll keep us more focused when we prepared lessons. She is such a spiritual person, and, on top of that, she lived in a Latin American Country (I want to say Peru?) for like four months, so she knows Spanish pretty well, which helps with her Spanish. It's muito bem. So, I still haven't gotten my Visa, but I’m really hopeful about it. Ben hasn't got his either, but I'm positive that he's going to get it before he leaves next week. It's going to suck to have him gone, though. I've been spoiled, having all these friends here.
That's too bad that Mitch doesn't have his Electronic Visa yet. But from what it sounds like from his letter, he's having a good time in Billings, Montana. And sometimes, the Lord just needs us elsewhere, and trials like these are just to bring us into remembrance of all the things that the Lord does for us. I pray often for Brazil Visas, and I hope that Mitch gets his soon. Speaking of friends, yesterday I saw two friends here: KC Boyce and Nick Serafin (Lorenzo's little Brother.)
I saw KC Boyce yesterday morning in the building I learn Portuguese in. He does like Custodial work there. It was so cool to see him. He told me how BYU was going, and then said that he saw Andrew White at Uruguay. I don't know, it just hit me then how spread out all my friends are. We are literally all over the world. It's so unique and awe-inspiring to me. Then, at Lunch that same day, I saw Nick Serafin, refilling the lettuce in the salad line. I talked to him real quick, and he told me how Lorenzo was doing in Rio de Janeiro.
And speaking of, I have not been able to go visit immunizations on Thursday so see Sister Hope, I have class at that time. It's ok though--I wouldn't be able to redeem the hug you gave Sister Hope anyway. I can't hug girls anymore.
My time here has been intense as usual, but the days are going by quicker and quicker. Yesterday, our three hour class sessions didn't even seem that long. And we're getting into some really difficult Portuguese topics that I never went into when I took Spanish, like Subjunctives, pronouns, etc., so it's been more interesting. Also, Elder Barkdull and I have stopped being wimps with the language. The first couple weeks, when we taught, we would stray away from topics that were hard to explain even in English, like the Fall and Chastity. It was probably good that we did that, because we got really good at the basics--God loves us, the BOM is the word of God, etc.. But we're not two weekers anymore. So, we took on the Fall this past Saturday, and
we're going to go full steam ahead with the Law of Chastity sometime later this week (oh gosh, I just remembered that when we talk about the Law of Chastity, it will be one of our first lessons with Sister Patton. Woops. Oh well, no backing down.) Also, we've been able to converse really well lately. We have our "investigators" (our teachers, Irmao Maxwell and Irmao Simons) read the Livro De Mormon and pray about it, and then each lesson, we discuss with them what they read. This is actually my favorite part, because there is really no way you can prepare for the questions they will ask you. So, you have to just use the language you do know, and explain to them why Nephi had to kill Laban, or why Jerusalem had to be destroyed. But normally, E. Barkdull and I do an ok job. That's not to say it's not rough sometimes. We were following up with our one "investigator", Rogerio (Irmao Maxwell) about church. He said that he liked it, but he was confused about the lesson during Priesthood about the "coligaƧao de Israel" (Gathering of Israel), which perhaps doesn't look too difficult to understand in writing, but in Portuguese, it's pronounced "Co-leeg-a-soun jee Iz-Hi-el", which absolutely bamboozled both Elder Barkdull and I. So, we just put on a smile, and told the "investigator" that that was a good question, but that we didn't know what he was talking about. Pois e (whatever). It seems like everything is going pretty well over there! I'm glad.
That's going to be fun to see Landon. I miss all of the babies. They're so fun. It's cool though, I have their pictures on my camera, and since I use my camera all the time, I see them a lot :).
And what's this Great America/Ballroom dancer thing? That sounds so random, but really cool! It's always fun meeting new people. I'm sorry you had to clean my room, though. Was it terribly dirty? I can't remember. The Dancers are probably going to think I’m a dirty, prideful secular recluse, though, with all of my books (Two volumes of Anthology of Western Literature? Who does this guy think he is, Samuel Beckett?). That sounds like a lot of fun.
It sounds like you’re a Hero, Dad! What the heck? Popping in that Elder's knee? That's awesome. Hopefully he gets better. That would be so hard, to work like he did to get on a mission, and then get hurt like that so quickly. I hope he heals quickly. I will pray for him. Oh, and I’ll pray for the Elders that Dad's taking to Pho, also :P haha no, that sounds so good right now. I am not really
a complainer here, but the food that they serve here is... it's a challenge. You have to be careful with what you choose to eat, because if you misuse your agency in the meal room, God will not hold back his judgment upon thy bowels. That's cool that Work is getting better for you Dad. That has got to be tolling, and I’m glad it's easing off. I pray about you every night, too, that you will be able to cope with your work environment. At least you have Basketball still!
Autumn, your letter was the best thing ever. Elder Olpin and I were just giggling for like a half hour, reading all those Mark Livingston quotes that you sent. I'll be sure to send you an awesome letter in return. For now, good luck with school, and Read your scriptures. Oh, and read Life of Pi, too. That book was legit! During one of our activities here, we had to make up and investigator and then have another missionary teach us, while pretending to be that investigator. The
personality I made was Pisces Patel (Pi from that book), and I pretended like my parents died in a shipwreck, and that I owned a moderate sized zoo, and that I was a Hindu, Muslim, and Christian, all at the same time. It was fun for both me, and the sister trying to teach me, because she had read the book too, and tried to base her lesson off of the needs of Pi. Next time, I'm going to go for Harry Potter (I think that he would know a lot about faith, because most of the muggle world don't believe in Wizards, but they are Real.)
Well, it's time for me to get out of here, I’m quite a bit over time. Like I said, I’ll try to send my letter in tomorrow, which will have pictures. Also, it will be a bit more spiritual. The rush that comes with the e-mail makes it hard to write anything super spiritually edifying. Sorry!
Good luck family, keep reading your scriptures. Any question you have can be answered by the BOM. Follow the Path of Christ, and the Lord will be with you, every step of the way.

Love,
Elder Avram Twitchell

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Hey Family - October 11, 2011

Hey family!
Thanks so much for everything you've been sending me! It was like Christmas today when we went to pick up mail. I had four whole packages! And then, I got Four e-mails from Mom! It's just been a good day today. Things were getting a little ridiculous for mail, because Sister Patton has gotten like one or two packages every day for the past week. We started calling Packages "Pattons" instead. But now with all these packages, hope is restored for the Elders of District 54-B.
Thanks for the stuff you sent. Honestly, everything you sent me was exactly what I needed right now. I feel truly blessed. Especially the Hinos, I was starting to get discouraged, because I’ve been checking the bookstore every day for the past two weeks, and they still don't have Hinos! And, as it turns out, that mean Book store Lady doesn't have a cat that just died, so I won't be able to make a movie out of this little bonanza later on in life.
Also, thanks for the scripture markers! I've been reading so much of the book of Mormon, and I've started marking it hardcore, and doing all of my own references, and all of this intense Scripture study. And I realized once I got to Jacob that pretty much all of 2 Nephi was red in my English scriptures! It's really not that helpful! So, I decided not to mark anything else until I got more colors, and I set up a system of marking, i.e. set red to atonement scriptures, blue to prophesies, green to repentance, etc.. And then, you sent me those scripture markers. That's exactly what I needed! Thanks!
Oh, and just curious, I got a package of Toffee? Did you send that, or is that someone else? Regardless, I am thankful for the Toffee, and also all of the other candy you sent me! It's going to be a party in Room 325!
Speaking of Room 325... you know what's kind of silly? I spend maybe an hour and a half during the day in my room, pretty much writing letters or getting ready, so i really don't need that much space. But, my room is like twice the size of my dorm room at BYU! I know that there are four guys in my room, but still, it seems huge to me!
MTC life keeps going on. I am now aware of exactly 5 other Elder Twitchell’s here, and have spoken to Two of them, including one that i accidently stole his name tag (I should have realized--the Tag was in Spanish!).
Elder Barkdull has been such a great companion, it honestly blows my mind. It's weird though, because honestly, I think anywhere outside of the MTC, i don't think we really would have been great friends, because we're pretty different. He's really into random stuff, like Star Wars and Pokemon, and then he's a total thrill seeker, always talking about Snowboarding, Wakeboarding, Skateboarding, etc. But when it comes to important stuff, we're on the same page. When he reads his scriptures, he really gets into it. The other day, he was pointing out stuff to me in the Allegory of the Olive Tree that I never even caught on to! It's so cool!
And then when we're teaching? Don't even get me started! The first few lessons we taught were, admittedly, rough. But now, we have such a good rhythm for teaching. We don't ever plan who is going to say what anymore, we just go in, and we support each other. We have this weird connection going on, like I’ll be speaking, and for some reason I’m just impressed to stop, and Elder Barkdull will have the perfect thing, ready to say. It's definitely the Holy Ghost at work, but it helps that we get each other!
And not to brag or anything, but I think that Elder Barkdull and I have the best Portuguese in the District. We did a teaching scenario the other day with another companionship, and we switched companions, so I was with Elder Trevisanut and Elder Barkdull was with Elder Frahm, and then each group switched off being Investigators and Missionaries. But when we taught, it was like me and Elder Barkdull were the only ones speaking. In fact, half way through our lessons, Elder Barkdull and I both stopped talking, to give the other Elders a chance. I don't want to come off as really arrogant, because that's not what I’m getting at, at all. It's just that I feel really blessed for the resources and abilities that the Lord has given me. I pray every day for Humility, because i know that blessings from God can turn into Pride so easily, and I don't want that to happen to me.
But everyone in my District has been working so hard, and been doing such a great job, it's amazing. And we get along really, really well. Almost too well, in fact. We've been having to split up our district during study time, because we always end up talking to each other. It starts out innocent enough; we'll all be sitting in our classroom, reading scriptures/PMG/etc. And then, someone will make one little comment, or one little quote from the Office or some movie. And then someone will say another little thing. Next thing we know, everyone is having a good time talking, which is ok for like maybe 15 minutes a day, because honestly, we'd all go crazy is we fully utilized all of our study time. It's so maddening to be in the same class room for like 10 hours a day. But once this happens, it can be hard to get focused again. But we've all been trying hard to keep focused.
I think you would love my District! We've come up with nicknames for pretty much everyone. There's Elder "Dry Reeves, or Reeves-who-must-not-be-named" Reeves (this nickname comes because in Portuguese, when an R starts a word, it sounds like an H, so Reeves is pronounced "Heaves"), Elder "Hobbit, or the Everlasting Hobb-stopper" Hobbs, Elder "Snootch-Dog" Trevisanut (again, another Portuguese joke. When a T is at the end of a word, it is normally pronounced as a ch. So, all of our teachers call him Trev-a-snootch. And he likes rap, and Snoop Dog is a rapper, so we call him Snootch-Dog.). Then there is Elder "Farmer" Frahm (because he's a farmer), Elder "Shaft" Barkdull, Elder "Golden Twitch" Twitchell (I was Snitchell, but i didn't like that, so they switched it to Golden Twitch, just like the GOlden Snitch in Harry Potter), and Elder "Farley" Johnson (because he looks and acts like Christ Farely). We haven't gotten a nickname for Elder Glenn yet, and we don't have ones for the Sisters, but they're just as much a part of the Group. They're so great!
All of us in Brazil zones have been getting really excited lately, because tons of Visas have been coming in. Every week, more and more people are getting their Visas. Elder Barkdull filled out his Electronic Visa today, and while we were there, we overheard that over a 100 Brazil Visas just came in to Salt Lake City, most of them for missionaries from California or New York. Everyone just has this nervous energy, because it's completely random who gets their Visa first. Hopefully I can get it soon!
That's sucks about Autumn's teeth! Nao Bom. But that's cool that she was able to bear her Testimony! I am so happy that she enjoys the ward. Our ward IS good! It's just a bit rough around the edges, which can describe all of us!
Hey, sorry, Elder Barkdull just got called to the Travel Office again, so I have to go. I'll send you guys a letter soon, and I’ll talk a bit more fully in that! Have fun, be hopeful, and know that the Lord loves you!
Love,
Elder Avram Twitchell.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Letter mail October 01, 2011

Oct 1, 2011 (received Oct 6, 2011)
Dear Family
Happy General Conference!! Here at the MTC, we all get really excited by our weekly devotionals on Tuesdays, when there’s a good chance that an Apostle can come. In fact, devotionals have been described as a Spiritually edifying Mosh Pit of missionaries. So you can imagine the nervous energy we have for General Conference!
Enough about that, though, here are my answers to the questions you’ve asked:
Boots: Yes, get the boots, the high tops ones.
Dear Elder vs. Mail: Obviously I enjoy both, but through Dear Elder, they print out your e-mail and put it in my mailbox, so I believe it’s a bit quicker. As for me, I’ll be doing both, since I only get to e-mail once a week, and get to write one letter a week. I’ll usually try to get my letters off by Friday or Saturday, FYI.
Private Content in letters: If Dad thinks things are too personal he’s probably right. Honestly, I can’t really remember what I wrote, so I’ll leave it to your discretion. I try to censor myself, but I may have been too personal, feel free to put my letters on the blog though.
P-Day: My P-days are actually on Tuesday. We accidently told Sister Hope (who was super nice) Thursday, but they’re on Tuesdays.
Bathrooms: Bathrooms here are just like the ones at BYU – Communal. No toilet in my room (thank goodness). Oh and the showers are not Tree of Life, although I have quickly learned that not all showers are created equal. We have two showers that are “water savers,” which means that they shoot out water like a sprinkler. E nao bom (It’s not good) Then the rest are normal, except one. This one is the shower over the bath tub stall. We call it the waterfall stall, or the shower Irreantum, which being interpreted, is shower of many waters. (see Nephi 17:5)
OK, enough of that. On to things I need.

OK, now onto my experience in the MTC

Portuguese classes have been hard and trying, but rewarding and fun. Portuguese is such a beautiful language. To me, it sounds like a cross of French and Spanish, but waaaay better. There are lot of hard little rules, but I’m getting it. The hardest one for me is the letter R. The letter R almost never sounds like an R. If it starts at the beginning of a word, or there are two r’s in a row, it’s pronounced like an h. So representante (representative) is pronounced heh-preh-zen-than-chie. Otherwise, it’s pronounced as a light d, like para is pronounced pa-da.
It’s not like we aren’t given the time or the tools to succeed though. We’re given almost 8 hours of study time for language each day, and three of these hours we have a teacher. Our teachers are Irma Gonzales and Irmao Maxwell, and they’re wonderful! They both know the language and love it. This love really shows in all our lessons, as does their love for the gospel. I truly feel blessed to be taught by them.
The other five hours included an hour of personal language study, an hour of “TALL” (which is a program on the computer that has us do activities with the language) and then three hours of preparing to teach an “investigator”.
So far we’ve been teaching an “investigator” named Chico. We first taught him our first Thursday night, and we’ve taught him every night, minus Sunday, for 20 – 35 minutes, entirely in Portuguese. The rest of that three hours is spent preparing for it.
Elder Barkdull and I completely scripted out our first lesson in Portuguese, along with our second lesson on Saturday. I mean, we’d only been in the MTC for a couple of days, we couldn’t converse in Portuguese without help! Starting on Monday, 9/26, we starting going in without prepared scripts. It was terrifying. I was praying all day for the gift of tongues, and when I wasn’t praying I was practicing the language. Elder Barkdull had a hard time concentrating, thought. I don’t expect him to pick up the language fast, but he was just being distracted, especially be Elder Hobbs. Elder Hobbs was being very immature and downright inconsiderate, as he was distracting the whole district. I just think looking back, that it’s kind of pathetic that after two hours, Elder Barkdull & Elder Hobbs had only studied maybe a total of fifteen minutes.
So, at 7:45 pm, Elder Barkdull and I went in to teach Chico, about the Plan of Salvation in Portuguese. I can say quite frankly that I was able to converse and teach comprehensibly in the Portuguese. However, Elder Barkdull could scarcely say anything at all, relying on pre-prepared phrases written out on his notebook.
After that lesson, our district was sitting together, reading the scriptures. I could tell Elder Barkdull was really depressed (It’s weird, I can tell when he is even slightly off, and he is the same way about me.) so, I started praying, asking for a way to help Elder Barkdull, to help him get back on his feet, and really learn the language. During this time, I realized that the Lord had NOT blesses me with the aptitude for Portuguese for myself – I was supposed to use it to help others. So, I decided that night to help Elder Barkdull learn the language as best as I could. Shortly after I came to this realizations, Elder Barkdull was telling everyone in melaucholre tones how poorly he had done and how well I did. Then Elder Hobbs asked me,
“What’s your secret, Elder Twitchell.”
My Secret? I definitely felt the Spirit speaking through me as I opened my mouth. I first said how incredulous I was when I heard Elder Olpin bear his testimony in Portuguese (He is honestly the best Port. Speaker I’ve heard so far). Then I told them how when I spoke to Elder Olpin about this, he said that he was so good because he LOVED THE LANGUAGE. I told them that if we go forth without this love, filled with antagonism and negative feelings toward the language, we will never learn it.
Then, I shared with them a scripture. 1 Nephi 16:29 “… and thus we see that by small means the Lord can bring about great things.”
After sharing this, I told them that they were too busy hoping to receive suddenly the gift of tongues, when that is not the way the Lord typically works. It is through small means – ie. Using our study effectively, without being mortally distracted – that w are able to learn the language. These small means, and faith and prayer.
I didn’t mean to be so bold. – I normally don’t talk this way – but I got the feeling that these things needed to be said.
I don’t really remember much immediately after I said these things, because I was still dazed by it all. But I will say this: the next few times we had language study, Elder Barkdull worked. No, it wasn’t perfect, and yes, Elder Hobbs was still distracting us all the time, but Elder Barkdull was now trying, truly trying. I helped him as well as I could. I prayed for Humility and Meekness, because I know that the gifts I have can lead to Pride. After each lesson with Chico we got better and better teaching the gospel in Portuguese.
Something special happened this past Thursday 9/29/11. We were teaching our last lesson with Chico. Both Elder Barkdull and I were able to understand Chico, and respond intelligibly (we still have months to go before we can communicate what we want to though). We then gave him the Baptism challenge, and he agreed, on the condition that he quit smoking. After this lesson, I reflected on how blessed I was that the Lord helped me to help Elder Barkdull, and that we both have learned so much.
Chico, as it turned out, was not a smoking Brazilian emigrant investigator with a tendency to use his hands as he spoke (typically to mime to us works we didn’t know) He is a RM and in fact our third Portuguese teacher. He came waltzing into our classroom Friday
Night and taught us about having effective study time, all spoken in Portuguese, claro (of course). It was a chock for our whole district, but Chico (not his real name) is a great teacher, and I’m excited to learn more from him.
Well, there’s the best story I’ve experienced so far. It’s a good one. I like it.
Over the course of this story, life went on at the MTC. Our district played volleyball several times, and one day won the tournament that is held every gym hour. We all put up with the food here and then gradually accepted the food, even, dare I say, enjoy it. Elder Hobbs got stung by a bee. Brother Don R. Clarke of the Seventy spoke to us at the Devotional in what must have been the most irreverent, while still being Spiritually edifying talk I’ve ever heard.
I got to come and know and love each member of my district 54-B: Elder Barkdull, Elder Frahm, Elder Trevisannt, Elder Glenn, Elder Farley Johnson, Elder Hobbs, Elder “Dry Heaves” Reeves, Sister Patton and Sister Horkley. I want to tell you all about them in my coming letters.
This experience I’ve had so far has been brutal, frustrating, confusing, and trying. But it also has been rewarding, fun, edifying, and humbling. I cannot wait to see what the Lord will have us do next, and I hope I have the Faith and Humility to accomplish those things.
Tell me about San Jose! I want to hear how you’re doing! I heard Dad finally got a calling! Sure, it’s not as glamorous as Ward Financial clerk, but it’s nice to know what the Lord wants of us, as a calling. Surely, the church building will be more clean than it ever has been with dad in charge. Oh, and Good luck with work! I pray about you.
Mom, That’s too bad that the lady taught the dating lesson. I guess she really likes teaching that lesson too. Also, I’m sorry you don’t have anyone to protect you when you go to Lucky’s. Let me share a story about a woman biking up a hill when it was really windy. She prayed to the Lord for help, and the wind did not calm itself. If anything, it got stronger. When she got to the top of the hill, she sarcastically thanked God. Right then she heard in her heart this! “I did not still the wind; instead, I gave you the strength to overcome.” She would never have been able to go up that hill without the Lord.
I know how hard it is to live in San Jose, I really do. I pray about you all every day, especially for you, Mom, But I know that the Lord will give you the strength to overcome.
Autumn, I hope that school is treating you well! It can be hard, but just remember who you are. President Monson at the Priesthood conference said that part of being a member of the church is sometimes standing alone. But remember that you never really are alone if you’re living the right way – you have a member of the Godhead with you always. Think about that. A member of the GODHEAD with you always. I’m praying about you too. Tell me about the new manager in the Office! Oh, and don’t forget to look forward to Legend of Korra! By the way, Elder Barkdull is an Avatar fan, and before conference we were talking about it, and literally eight or nine people – check that, missionaries – joined in the conversation. There are many closet Avatar fans here.
I started this letter Saturday morning, but now it is Sunday morning of general Conference, 8:52 am. It’s a long letter but I wanted to give you a glimpse of what it’s like here.
I love you, and pray about you every day, in Portuguese ( Eu son grato por minha familia (I’m grateful for my family!)) Good luck, and enjoy conference. I’ll probably e-mail you before you receive this.

Com munito amor (with much love)
Elder Avram Twitchell

PS. It’s kind of funny, there are at least three other Elder Twitchell’s here that I know of. But don’t know how we’re related

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Oi ! October 4, 2011

Oi!

Thanks for this E-mail! It's so great to hear from you, it's one of my favorite things here at the MTC.
Ok, so my P-day is on Tuesdays, me and Elder Barkdull told Sister Hope the wrong day, because we didn't have our schedules on us and we couldn't remember. So yeah, Tuesday is the day to expect e-mails.
I actually just sent you a pretty long letter, where I address a lot of the things that you've been asking. Unfortunately, I sent it later than I wanted to, on Sunday, and they don't send mail on Sunday, so you will probably be recieving that letter in the next few days. I'll just address some of the really important information in that letter first:
Boots: Yes get the boots, the high top ones, por favor.

Yellow Immunization card: This one is REALLY important. I need this to go to Brazil. It should be in that manila folder by my bookshelf in my room, along with all those other books, notebooks, etc. Inside should be all my immunization stuff. Among them is a kind of card thing that tells the Brazillian customs people that I got the Yellow Fever vaccine. I believe this particular card can unfold, and perhaps have some stamps on it somewhere. Also, on the front, it will mention the WHO (World Health Organization.) If you cannot find it, please send me a letter as fast as you can! Thanks!

Also, I want to correct at least one mistruth I said in my letter. I thought that the people who work here would print out anything I recieved on this e-mail, and put it in my box, just like the Dear Elder. This is not true. I can only come and check my e-mail here once a week, on Tuesdays, and I print it out myself.

So, for those keeping track, there are about 4 ways you can contact me: Dear Elder, Letters, E-mail, and Packages. Dear Elder is the quickest, I believe, because I get it the same day you send it (again, I am not sure, but I think that's the way it works.) E-mail I can only check on Tuesdays. And Letters and Packages get here after a few days. So, there you go, that's the mail system here. When attempting to send me information, choose wisely which way you will contact me.

Muito Bem, onto other things!
Conference was soooooo great, although it was pretty challenging at the same time. The reason why it was challenging was because we would sit for two hours straight in a hot and stuffy auditorium with 2000 other Missionaries, and the Chairs there are easily the worst Chairs in the MTC. It was ok though, a little physical mortification never hurt anyone :P It was so worth it, too! This conference was so great! I felt the spirit literally every meeting. And this time, every time the Prophet spoke, I felt the Spirit, as if it were telling me "Yes, this is your Prophet. Hear him" I also really enjoyed Henry B Eyring's message Sunday Morning about our sacred responsibilities as members of Christ's Church. Also, Bednar gave a great talk on the Spirit of Elijah that I thought Dad would Love! It was so profound, yet true. After General Conference, Chad Lewis, who used to play Tight End for the Eagles, gave us a message. It honestly exactly what I needed. He just told us about how we need to cherish EVERY MOMENT here at the MTC, because it is during this time that we will truly grow and learn, coming closer to Heavenly Father. Muito Verdadeiro.

Just real quick, yes I know Elder Trevisanut. He is a boss! He is one of the coolest guys I have ever met, and he is really solid with the Language and the Gospel. I feel really lucky to have him in my District. His Name IS a little hard, but we all still love him anyway. Our Portuguese teachers have fun with his name too, pronouncing it as Treh-vuh-zeh-nootch, because that's how a Brazillian would pronounce it. That's really cool that you are friends with his mom. He was telling me earlier today that you two were friends. He's a good guy!

On to Visas. With Spencer, it was really funny, because he had totally reconciled himself with the fact that he was reassigned. The last time I saw him, he said that he had practiced all the discussions in English, so that he could be ready to teach. But, literally the night before he was going to leave, his Visa came through!!! So, instead of going to the USA, he went straight to Brazil! He has got to be the luckiest missionary ever.

Ben has his electronic Visa in, and is expecting it any week now. He has a pretty solid chance of going straight to Brazil. I saw him yesterday, and he told me that he knew for sure that he was getting his Visa today, but, alas, it did not come. He's keeping his hopes up, and in the mean time, he is tearing up Portuguese. He by far speaks the best Portuguese out of anyone that Ihave seen here so far. He has a real Gift.

And lastly, my Visa. I think that I should go ahead and say it... Yesterday I filled out my Electronic Visa! Yippeee!!! It was so funny though, because my district was all sitting in class when I got the news. What happens is they call your room over an intercom, and ask for certain missionaries to come over to the Travel office. When they called our room, this is what it sounded like:

"Will Elder------ please------- Travel Office----------."

Frantically, my whole class spits out "Who! Who is it! We can't hear!"

Then the intercom, "Can he come down?"

"Who!!!"

"Elder Twitchell."

Woohoo! My district gave me a little applause, and me and Elder Barkdull went down to the Travel Office to fill out my online Visa. I was a little nervous because I thought for sure I was going to mess something up (They must have called three or four different people when i asked them which address to put in, because when I first did the Visa, we were living in Folsom, so we put that address, but now we're in San Jose). But, I finished up the application, signed a few things, and then I was done. I should be getting my Visa within the next few weeks. This part is truly random. I've heard Elders waiting anywhere from 1 week to two months, so I just have to focus on learning Portuguese and the Gospel now. But it's nice to know I only have one more step to go, and that the Lord is looking out for me!

So that's my Electronic Visa story. Go, tell my story :)

I'm just about out of time, so I'll just hit on a few of your other questions.

Autumn, I have no idea why the sisters get more money than the Elders. I assume that they just have more needs than the Elders. Our money is spent at the Book Store here at the MTC. We get stuff here like Pens, clips for our Missionary name tags, Teachings aids/cheat sheets for our Languages, Language Hymn books, etc. Basically, a bunch of supplies that help us learn and grow here at the MTC.

Let me tell you about the Hinos. Hinos is Hymn in Portuguese. I desperately need the Hinos, because one of our district goals is to Learn Called to Serve in Portuguese, and I still don't have a Hymn Book! Everytime I go to the Book Store, they are completely sold out. I've heard that 10 percent of the Missionaries arriving at the MTC are Portuguese Speaking (I don't know if this is true) but nonetheless, they are constantly sold out. So, I've been coming to the MTC bookstore every day at about 4 Pm (they say that their shipments arrive at 3 PM) since Saturday, and ask them for a Hino. So far, I've had no luck, but I've really gotten on the nerves of this one Lady who works there. She must think I'm the peskiest, sliest little missionary that she's ever seen, because she always answers my questions with a curt "No Elder, the Hinos are on Back Order." I always try to be as happy as possible, though, when I'm talking to her. I figure that she must normally be a nice old Lady, but her Cat just died by getting hit by a car, so she's really bitter about life. However, by the end of the movie--- umm, I mean experience here--- we'll become true friends, and I'll help her see the Joy in life. I don't know, it's just a feeling I have.

Ok, I am way over time, so I'll just wrap up real quick.

I have noooo idea what a space saver is, so I can't really give a smart answer to whether I need them or not. Maybe if you explain to me what they are?

And go ahead and give my e-mail to whoever. You could even put it on Facebook if you want! I love getting mail and e-mails from whoever!

Ta Bom, I gotta Go!

Tudo Bem!

Tell me how San Jose is! I love you guys lots, and I pray about you often!

Muito Amor,

Elder Avram Twitchell