|Danielle & her BYU roommate, Jessica at the MTC|
ANYWAY... where can I even begin? I suppose I'll just tell you everything I've been doing. Grandpa dropped me off at like 2 on Wednesday and I rushed around getting a million books and my name tag and everything and just dropped my stuff off in my room. Then my host took me my to my classroom and I met my district. I was the last one there since it goes alphabetical. My teacher's name is Irmao Chamberlin and he's super nice. He served in Rio but he speaks AMAZING continental Portuguese (since we all know I'm a Portuguese expert...NOT).
My companion's name is Sister Larsen and I LOVE her. Seriously. She's super sweet and really fun. We both really want to be here and I love working with her. She just finished her second year at BYU-I and she's from Nevada, Las Vegas area. Like 2 minutes after I got to our classroom we went to some orientation stuff.
The MTC is SO fun because we just sit down and start talking to people around us and everyone is going so many crazy places!!! And as we walk around with bright orange "Hello I'm new here and know absolutely nothing" stickers on our name tags people are super nice and say "welcome" in a bajillion different languages. That first day we were in groups of maybe 50 or so people and we taught lessons in English as a group. The person in charge would just walk around handing the microphone to different people and we'd have to pick up where the last person left off. BOTH me and minha colega we called on to speak. It. Was. So. Hard. I mean it was really good too and I learned a lot from others and myself about what NOT to say, but also some good things to do too of course. The next day we did some more orientation stuff and figured out where things are and we had our first real lesson with our teacher. Before coming to the CTM I kind of thought our teachers would be there more but we really only see them for about 3 hours a day to learn really basic grammar. I typically spend those 3 hours asking a million questions about things that I stumbled upon in my language study that day that I don't get. Irmao Chamberlin is very patient with me haha. We spend a LOT of time in class doing Estudo Pessoal, Companion Study, and Language Study and we really do teach ourselves a lot. It's good though. My best advice for people preparing to serve language missions though is LEARN SOME BEFORE COMING. I am SOOOOOOO glad I know a lot of basic Portuguese. I help everyone in my district a lot and it has made this week not overwhelming at all. I'm having an absolute blast. Don't get me wrong, I still don't know a lot but even just knowing how to bear my testimony, say a prayer, greet someone and conjugate some basic verbs is seriously saving me here. I'm having so much fun learning more too. I love being able to help my district and learn from them as well because trust me, I'm very honest when I don't know something (which is a lot of the time) and then we figure it out together. They still joke about me being Professore Swasey (spell check that one, nao sei...) but soon enough they'll be on my level and I'll need their help just as much. My district is amazing though I love everyone so much. I suppose I can tell you a little bit about the people I spend hours and hours with!
Sister Larsen is my companion and like I said she's awesome, we get along super well and we both work really hard. Sister Derrick and Sister Call are the other companionship in our room (but we're getting two new Brazil bound sisters tomorrow). They super nice and both from Utah. The four of us get along really well and are very honest with each other about things. They both speak Spanish pretty well so it definitely helps their Portuguese MOST of the time. The accents are still really different but they're both picking it up really quickly and I ask them for help A LOT. It just makes me laugh when people in our district try to use Spanish because sometimes it totally helps and other times it's not even close so it's pretty funny. I can't really use my French as much for individual words but it helps with the accent and just approaching the language.
Anyway, Elder Roberts is the only 19 year old elder and he's really cool! He kind of reminds me of Rob but I can't exactly tell you why...it's definitely not based on looks though because all the elders in our district are super tall and blonde except one. So basically I fit in pretty well with them. Kind of. But seriously, the tallest is 6'7" and the shortest is the lone brunette Elder Lynn and he's still 5'11".
Elder Lynn and I are pretty good friends. He's really good at Portuguese because of his Spanish background and he's not afraid to get sassy and sarcastic. It's a good thing I can dish it out AND take it with him around. Elder Hillman usually sits next to me and you might think he's quiet and shy but he's pretty good and being subtley sarcastic and he's absolutely hilarious. If you think I love food (and trust me I LOVE food) then Elder Hillman has a food obsession or something which is funny because he's almost as skinny as me. Speaking of the food, it's not bad! I mean it's pretty much Cannon Center food so I'm used to it.
Elder Elsmore is who I like to call my favorite American. He may be from Arizona but he kind of has a slight southern accent. He "lahkes truhcks" but only Ford and Chevy and he's pretty funny. His companion Elder Naylor is like a little kid. He's always having fun and is super enthusiastic. He probably has the attention span of a squirrel but he keeps the mood really light and fun which is great when we've been in the classroom from 4 hours trying to form basic sentences.
I'm not sure what to write about! The first day I already kind of told you about with orientation and whatnot and most days are pretty much the same. Everyone kept saying "Make it to Sunday and it gets better!" but honestly I LOVE every single day. Like I said, I'm not overwhelmed, at least not yet of course. We've been teaching an investigator and his name is Lucas. He's from Brazil and he's really nice and receptive. We've taught 3 lessons so far. I thought our first one (on Friday morning) was going to crash and burn but it went really well! We talked about the restoration which was nice because we have a panfleto for that so we got to read some of it rather than trying to tell it in our own words, which kind of didn't exist in Portuguese quite yet. Our second one went pretty well too. We introduced the Book of Mormon and asked him to commit to reading certain passages. Even though we still used notes I tried really hard to speak from my heart even though I didn't always know how to say it very well in Portuguese. Again, studying it before hand is so so so helpful because Sister Larsen is still so new at Portuguese she looks to me for help a lot and I try not to let her down. Our last lesson was really humbling to say the least... which is funny. You know how people say not to pray for patience and humility because the God will give you trials to make you that way? They're right! I prayed SO hard this week for both patience and humility because I really didn't want to feel like a know-it-all or anything like that. In my prayers Heavenly Father really opened my eyes and was basically just like, "Danielle, who do you think your language skills come from?" Um...definitely not me! "And why do you think I've given you them?" To help my district and to help my investigators. Our last lesson we decided to not use notes. It was SO hard. It's so hard to ask questions and not understand what they answer or ask and not be able to really tell them what you feel. I tried really hard to speak freely and by the end I think I finally got it though. I took a deep breath and testified. I told Lucas that I KNOW it's true and I just want him to feel the happiness I do. That was certainly the best learning experience so far. Very humbling and good for me.
Even though every day has been AMAZING Sunday really was even better! Sheri Dew came and spoke to us and she is AWESOME. She is an amazing speaker. She taught us to really learn how the Lord communicates with us through the Spirit because sometimes we just don't know. She also taught us about being humble. D&C 112 especially verse 10 is a really great missionary/humility section so check that out if you can!
Basically, I love it here. We're up at 6 every day since we have the 6:30 breakfast shift, which means that we get to each lunch at 11 and dinner at 4. It's kind of weird but I'm getting used to it. We speak our language as much as we can too. The MTC calls it Speak Your Language or Fala Sua Lingua. I really try hard to say whatever I can in Portuguese. The Spirit is so strong and I know that even though it's not hard for me yet that this is what I'm supposed to be doing. I love you all so much and I think about you a lot. I'm so happy and I've never wanted to try harder at something in my life. Even though we study like ALL day I never feel like we have enough time. I've really learned that we focus EVERYTHING on investigators, especially language study. I think I was a little selfish thinking it would be cool to learn a language in general. Now I'm much better about knowing that I do want to learn Portuguese but I want to learn it so badly because I want to be able to teach in it and really invite other people to come unto Christ. I'm trying SO hard here and I fall short a lot but I know I have the Lord at my side. Gift of Tongues may not mean He just poof makes me fluent but I definitely feel him helping me learn it.
I've taken a lot of pictures but I don't have a clue how to attach them so hopefully I'll figure that out next week! I'm out of time and sorry if this is scatter brained and random but I'll try to be better. Just know that I'm HAPPY. I'm really learning how to serve the Lord.