Friday, January 3, 2014

Week 4 at the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah!

Oi todo mundo! Feliz ano novo!

Next week is week 5, which is likely my last full week at the MTC! I'll have been here for 5 1/2 weeks total when I leave, on January 13th. I still haven't gotten my visa for Brazil yet, so I may end up in a U.S. mission for a while, but that's alright with me if that does happen. I can't believe I've already been here for a whole month! The first 2 weeks were a little slow, but the past 2 weeks have completely flown by! I think I have about 10 days left here now.
Alright, so, this week, I'm going to go through my days one at a time and tell a little bit about them. This is my first attempt at an actual "newsletter" or whatever you want to call it, so I'll probably change how I do this later on. I was going to try to write a blog post once a week for the blog that my fiancee (Alissa) is posting things on for me, but I haven't been able to do that yet, unfortunately! I'll try to do a better job of keeping up with that from now on.
Friday, December 27th:
I had this thing called TRC (Teaching Resource Center, or something like that), today, for the second or third time ever, where members of my church volunteer to come in and be taught by the missionaries (in Portuguese, in my case). We didn't have a lesson prepared (I guess we forgot about it), but we just ended up talking to the two people we met with about their lives and their family. They were actually married to each other, but we met with them separately. **Side note: Alissa got her wisdom teeth out today, and she sent me some pictures of her face, which was all swelled up, and she had this ice pack wrapped around her head. It was funny, but I couldn't help but feel bad for her, haha! She's doing better now though I think. :)
Saturday, December 28th:
So we have teachers come in and teach us for about 3 hours a day here (once or twice a day), and at the beginning of class, they pretend to be someone that they taught on their mission, and each set of missionaries goes in a room and teaches them for about 15-20 minutes. We taught our teacher (Irma Petitta) who was pretending to be an investigator (someone who's learning about our church) named Edinea. We taught her about the 10 commandments and had her commit to keeping them in her life, which she didn't seem to have a problem with. She's already agreed to be baptized, and that's supposed to happen on January 11th (again, this is all pretend, but we're trying to make it seem real, because it's good practice). Our next investigator (Irmao Walker) was named Sergio, and he's a little bit tougher to teach. He doesn't seem too interested in what we have to say.. but we taught him about prayer and about the Holy Ghost, and he committed to praying once a day. Later on, Irmao Walker told my companion (Elder Gartside) and I, that we needed to be more enthusiastic in our lessons.. haha! Otherwise, he said it feels like we're only there because we have to be there.
Later that night, two of my roommates and I, stayed up late talking. It was a lot of fun, but I was really tired the next day! Oh also, another side note, at lunch- someone was doing the bird call whistle from the movie "The Hunger Games" and held up the three fingers sign, and just about everyone did the whistle back and held up the sign.. it was pretty funny. (It's gotten a little annoying at this point though.. haha! oh well)
Sunday, December 29th:
I absolutely love Sundays at the MTC! We had quite a few lessons today about how to recognize the Spirit. It's usually impressions that come into your mind, a feeling in your heart, a warm feeling (for some people), or just a good feeling. God communicates with us through the Spirit. Anything that comes into your mind that is persuades you to do good, is from God. Anything that comes into your mind that persuades you to do evil, or is just bad by nature, comes from Satan. I also learned about inviting the Spirit into lessons with investigators, through sincere, heartfelt testimony.
We had a devotional (a guest speaker and his wife come in and speak to us for about 50 minutes) later that night, and then we watched a teaching demonstration video with Jeffrey R. Holland from the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in it, which was a little over an hour. It was great. I love hearing him speak. The video was called "The Gift of Teaching". He was saying that we should do the following things when teaching:
1) "Ask, seek, & knock (spiritually)."
2) "Teach from the scriptures."
3) "Teach by & with the Spirit."
4) "Help the learner assume responsibility for learning."
5) "Testify." (share how you came to know the truth of whatever principles you are teaching the class (or the person) about)

I liked when he said "You may not be able to teach them, but you can love them." and also, "If you love them today, maybe you can teach them tomorrow." I need to develop a greater love for the people that I teach! :)
Monday, December 30th:
We had two substitute teachers today. Almost all of our teachers are students, so they're going on breaks to see their family and things like that right now, and as a result, we've probably had.. about 7 or 8 substitute teachers in the past month.. haha! One of my main teachers (we have two, Irma Petitta, and Irmao Khang (Irma means "Sister" and Irmao means "Brother)), Irma Petitta, is actually getting married tomorrow! So that's why she's gone right now. She's awesome, and I am so happy for her.

So our first substitute teacher was really awesome, and his name is Irmao Tiago (Brother James). He taught us some Portuguese, and then I asked if he could name objects in the classroom for us, so that we would know how to say their names in Portuguese. After that, we took a short break, and came back, and then he said "Let's go outside." or something, and we went outside, and he just went around and named objects/things outside and we wrote them down. It was a lot of fun, but my hands were hurting after being outside in the cold for so long, and my pen almost stopped working! haha! After that, we went over the Preterite and Imperfect tenses (past tenses) for Portuguese.
Our second substitute, Irmao Laws, was very serious about missionary work, and he essentially gave us a lecture about how we need to use our MTC time wisely, and how it's up to us to figure out how to use our time, for the most part. He made an analogy with Lehi's family traveling in the wilderness for many years, and then when they finally arrive at the land that they called "Bountiful", which had a nice beach, and everything that they needed, the Lord told Nephi "Get thee up into the mountain". So instead of laying in a hammock and resting after his long journey, Nephi was obedient, and he climbed up into the mountain. When he got to the top of the mountain, he prayed to the Lord and asked what he needed him to do. He told him that he needed to build a ship to cross the ocean, to go to the Promised Land (the Americas). Instead of saying "I don't know how to do that" or asking for tools, he inquired of the Lord to know where he could find ore to make tools. Anyways, the analogy here, was that our time at the MTC could be fun and easy, like the valley Bountiful, or, we could climb to the top of the mountain (aka, work hard and study, and focus). The MTC is can be as easy or as challenging as we make it. I'm trying to challenge myself more now, after hearing that analogy. (for those of you who are unfamiliar with this story, it's from the beginning of The Book of Mormon :])
Tuesday, December 31st, 2013:
I got two Brazilian cookbooks from Alissa this week, and they are full of colorful pictures and recipes for tasty Brazilian food. Sweet! Some of the recipes look a little complicated, but that might just be me being intimidated by the professional-looking pictures of food that are in them, haha! So it was New Year's Eve that day, so obviously, what did I do? I stayed up till midnight! There were even fireworks outside (off-campus), which we watched for a little bit (they were partially blocked by some buildings, though).
Earlier that day, we had two substitute teachers at once (they accidentally signed up for the same day). Irmao Laws again, and then a new one, Irma Compton. We did something interesting today. We had our 4 companionships split up into groups of 2 companionships, and 1 companionship taught the other companionship, who was pretending to be investigators. It's actually really fun, and I think I like it better than teaching my teachers, in some ways. Since it was just us missionaries, we snuck in some English words when we didn't know the Portuguese words, haha! So my companion and I taught two other missionaries, and then two missionaries taught my companion and I. I have to admit, it's not the easiest thing, pretending to be someone else, and pretending to not know everything that I know. It went alright though, and we've met with the two missionaries who are teaching us twice now. It's not too bad, and can be a lot of fun at times, when we're joking around with each other. :)
That night, we had a devotional, where Brother Stanley G. Ellis (from the Quorum of the Seventy), and his wife, spoke to us. Afterwards, we had an awesome testimony meeting with our Branch President and his wife. The Spirit is always so strong in our classroom when we have testimony meetings.. I love it!
2013 was a great year. Spending so much time with Alissa is what made it great, in my opinion. I can't wait to marry her in 2016! :) So far away.. haha. I also got to spend a lot of time with my family, which I really enjoyed, and I got to know a bunch of the associates at the Webster Walmart, and made some good friends there. I absolutely loved December, at the MTC, and that was a great way to end the year. I miss my fiancee, and my family, and my friends, but I know that I'm where the Lord needs me to be right now, and that's exactly where I want to be. I'm willing to give up these two years of my life to serve the Lord, because He has done so much for me! Everything, actually! Also, knowing that I'll see my friends and family again near the end of next year makes it easier to be here. And knowing that I'll be getting married to Alissa a few months after I get back makes it easier too! haha! I can't wait! :)

Alissa actually has decided to serve a mission since I got here, and I am SO excited for her. It's great being on a mission. I love it! I am learning so much about myself, about the gospel of Jesus Christ, and I'm learning the awesome language of Portuguese. Eu amo Portugues!
I want to be a better person this year, 2014. I want to be the best that I can be, for my family, for my fiancee, for my mission companions, but most of all, for my investigators. People are counting on me. I can't let them down. One full year of missionary work, here I come!
Wednesday, January 1st, 2014:
Happy New Year! It's nice to be in an even year again. Today, there were about 300-400 new missionaries arriving at the MTC, and my district was asked to be hosts for the new missionaries. Basically, what that is, is we help new missionaries get their nametags, their books, find their residence room, and then we bring them to their classroom. It was cool to get to know some new missionaries and help them find their way around, and answer their questions about life at the MTC.
Today marked the 13th month that I have been engaged to Alissa! I am so happy that I get to marry her, she's absolutely amazing, and she has been such a great example to me. She has written emails to me almost every day since I got here, and it makes me so happy, and makes my week a little more exciting. :) She has been very supportive of me since I've been here. I love her so much!

I'm grateful for all of you who have written to me so far, and who will write to me in the future! I've said it once, and I'll say it again.. I love receiving letters and emails! So feel free to write to me whenever you want!
Okay, here's a funny story:
About two weeks ago, we got two new districts in our zone. The day that they got here, Elder Taylor (a missionary in my district (which has 8 missionaries in it in total)), said to all of them, "So, this may sound a little weird, but, as a zone, we like to pray on top of our wardrobes at night, because it helps us feel closer to God." None of us thought that they would believe him, and he didn't even think that they would believe him.. but.. haha XD (I'm laughing as I'm typing this) they confessed today that ALL of them have been doing that EVERY. NIGHT. since they got to the MTC! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!! XD my district just about died when we heard that. hahaha!!!!! They haven't done that since then (we never did it in the first place!). It was so funny though.

Oh also, and we had this one Elder here (who went home), but, he was in our district, anyways, he was pretending that he was from Scotland, and he did a Scottish accent around the two new districts every day until he left, and then before he left, we had him record a video on someone's camera, saying that he wasn't Scottish, he wasn't from Scotland, and he didn't have a Scottish accent. (All in an American accent) And we showed the video to the other two districts. Nobody knew that he was faking it! haha!
Thursday, January 2nd:
I got up a little late today.. I need to work on getting up right at 6:30am when my alarm goes off. It was probably 6:54am when I got up, but I still made it to breakfast at 7:15am on time, so it wasn't a huge deal. So our investigators (two other missionaries), are "Kevin" and "Mark". "Kevin" is a friend of one of the missionaries, and "Mark", is one of the missionaries, if he had fallen away from the Mormon Church. It's interesting teaching them. "Mark" is pretty open to our lessons, but he's worried about not being able to be forgiven for the things that he's done in life, which is why he stopped going to church. "Kevin", has never really attended a church, and he isn't very open to our lessons.. but we're working on that. We invited them to come to church next Sunday, and they're going to try to free up some time to go with us. (again, this is all pretend, but we're trying to make it seem real) We encouraged "Mark" to pray and ask God for forgiveness for his mistakes, and he said that he would try.

Later that night, during language study, I learned the verb conjugations for regular AR/ER/IR verbs in the Imperfect and Preterite past tenses, and I learned a few new verbs. It wasn't too difficult, and it should be useful when I'm teaching lessons or having conversations in Portuguese. Not everything can be said in the Present Tense! haha!
Friday, January 3rd (today):
I just wanted to say, that I am so grateful for how much my faith has increased, and my testimony has grown, since I got here. I am so grateful for the other missionaries in my district, and my zone, and for all of the things that I have learned from them. My district feels like my family right now, and they might as well be! We're all pretty close at this point, after being here for 4 weeks. I love being a missionary, and being at the MTC. I am really happy here, and I haven't been missing everyone too much (it comes and goes, but I've been doing alright away from everyone for now).

I know that the Lord has called me on a mission for a reason, and that this is where I am supposed to be, and that I'm here when I am supposed to be here. I have a strong desire to share what I know about the gospel of Jesus Christ with everyone, and that's why I'm here. I want other people to know what I know, and to be able to find true happiness and joy in their lives. I want them to be able to return to live in heaven after this life, with their families, forever. I know that this is only possible through following the example of Jesus Christ and having faith in Him. I know that God wants us to pray to Him every day, in sincere, heartfelt prayer. He wants us to be happy, and He wants to bless our lives. All we have to do, is ask Him. I'm not afraid to say all of this, to anyone. I'm sorry if this offends anyone, but, I know with a surety that having faith in and following the gospel, and the example, of Jesus Christ is the only way for us to return to live with Him and with God, and with our families. Those who do not get the chance to accept the gospel in this life will be given a chance after they pass away. They will be taught, in the Spirit world, after they die, and they will be able to choose whether or not they want to follow Jesus Christ and accept Him as their Lord and Savior.

You can pray to know the truth of these things for yourself, and I would encourage anyone to do so. :) I am by no means perfect, and I still have a lot to learn, so you don't have to take my word for it. Read The Book of Mormon if you want to know more! :) I know that The Book of Mormon is a true account of the Lord's dealings with the people in the Americas, and that anyone who reads it can pray to know the truth of it. I know that if anyone does this, sincerely, with real intent, and a real desire to know, that they can (and will) receive a knowledge of the truthfulness of it, from God, through the Holy Ghost. Maybe not right away, but in time, if they are diligent, He will answer their prayers.
If anyone has any questions about what I said in this email, or about how I'm doing, or anything, feel free to send me an email! Or even if you just want to say hi, or tell me about your life, or something that's happening in the world right now (I'm completely cut off from the news, the media, radio, TV, etc. haha!), feel free to do so!
Thank you to everyone who wrote emails to me this week. It made me very happy, and it's nice to know that so many people care about me.

I love you all, and I hope that you have a great week!
Until next week,

Elder Canto

I forgot to mention something!

During our lesson with the two other missionaries on Wednesday, I asked (in Portuguese), if one of them had a girlfriend, and he said yes, so I asked (in Portuguese), "how old is she?" And he said "dois anos" (two years old), and me, his companion, and the teacher burst out laughing. Him and my companion both thought that I had asked how long he'd been with his girlfriend, and they were confused why we were laughing at first. It was so funny though, and once they figured out what happened, they were laughing too, haha!
Anyways, I just wanted to share that experience with all of you.

Elder Canto

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