Sunday, November 30, 2008

April 8, 2008

Dear Family:

I'm in the mission!! And guess where my first area is? THE BEACH! It is absolutely gorgeous. Especially after being trapped in the CTM for 9 weeks. It was really hard to say goodbye to my district and my compies. I'm worried about them. But I've just got to have some faith. They'll learn. I feel so blessed to have so much language experience behind me. My first few weeks will include a lot fewer tears than the rest of them, I think. I can understand my companion almost always. And so far (the first 5 hours) she seems awesome. She's only been on her mission since November. That's four months. She went from being a Junior Companion to training an American. She says she was so nervous that she woke up at 4 am and couldn't go back to sleep... I slept like a baby last night... but when I woke up I couldn't eat anything and felt like I was going to vomit for a number of hours... So here's how it went down. Sister Tittelfitz and I bade farewell to our dear Sister Martin at 7:15 am and then showered and finished packing and caught our van at 8:15. We went straight to our mission. There were 7 new Americans and 8 new Brazileiros. We arrived at the chapel closest to the mission home at 10ish. We were briefed by the assistant to the mission president. Normally we would've met our mission president... but he was out of the country. I don't know if you attended General Conference or not, but my mission president was called to be a Seventy. In the First Quorum of the Seventy. So he's still in Salt Lake. I'll meet him someday... I think. So we just heard mission stories from some elders, met our new compies, ate lunch, and headed out.

My new compy is lovely. Her name is Sister De Jesus. She's from the Northeast of Brazil and has 14 brothers and sisters... not all from the same parents. and 30-something nieces and nephews. She's the youngest. She's been a member for 7 years and is the only member in her family.So, heading out entailed dragging our maletas (suitcases) along sidewalks and down some stairs to the subway--which is beautifully maintained and looks like the DC metro--and riding the subway to the end of the line. Dragging our maletas up lots more stairs, buying a 15 $R bus ticket, and riding a bus for an hour and a half. Possibly the most beautiful hour and a half of my life. We passed through some city... with houses stacked up on top of each other... but then we passed into beautiful green-coated hills. There is a small mountain ridge between São Paulo and the coast, so we went over these mountains to get here. It was all foggy and georgeous. You could see down into these gorges that were full of trees... everything was covered in green. And then as we rounded the top of the ridge, you could see through the fog and down this mountain a glowing city. It is gorgeous. It was sunny in my town, so it was just glowing. I've never seen a more amazing vista. And as we passed into the town, all the houses were well maintained and colorful. And we got off the beach and walked along a sidewalk ON THE BEACH. If I had taken two steps to my right, I would've been in the sand. But that would be illegal. We're not allowed to be on the sand. But my compy's going to ask if we can go jogging on the beach for our morning exercises. So cross your fingers for me. She's all about health... and she's lost 10 kilos (22 pounds) since getting here... so I better start losing, too. I stayed even in the CTM, by the way. Which was a feat of strength.

My area is lovely. And we're going to visit some investigators in a few minutes. We have someone getting baptized on Saturday! And we're teaching 4-ish families... But apparently my area, although beautiful, is hard because people are more wealthy and less receptive. So we'll see how it goes. Wish me luck.My mission has a website, apparently :

Thanks for your recap of general conference talks. I don't know if this was the best general conference that ever happened, or if I was just more receptive... i bet it was a combination of the two. My Branch President suggested we go to conference with some specific questions in mind and promised that we'd find answers. And I did. It was amazing. I also asked for a reconfirmation that the organization of the church was true and that President Monson was a prophet. And it's amazing what you can get just for asking. Even if it's something that you should already know... you can still ask. And he's more than willing to answer you. I loved the solemn assembly. The spirit was so strong. And I loved how President Monson opened up even more so that we could all love him. It was perfect. And I got other answers to my questions, too. I could go on forever. But we have an appointment in 25 minutes. Crap. That's soon. I particularly loved the part of Elder Bednar's talk in which he said that members were full-time finders. I don't know if you noticed. You guys should take his challenge and find some people. Ready... Go!! Don't be afraid... It only hurts for a while. If I can do it in Portuguese, you can do it in English. I loved his whole talk on prayer... I am learning so much about prayer. I love it. And we're teaching two people about prayer tonight. It's a good thing I have a testimony of it.

Love you all,Sister Todd

April 2, 2008

Dear Family,

Thanks for sharing all your stories with me. I love hearing about everything... it reminds me that there is life out of the ctm. i think that's healthy. does kevin have his call yet? It is now my last p-day. The end is in sight. I probably won't be able to email next week because i'll be transferring and moving in and teaching people the gospel... so don't be concerned if you don't hear from me. but you might, so still write, kay? And I didn't actually send the letter that I told you about until last week... so it still might be a few days out. but it's coming!Last week we made a full exploration of the area that we can explore around the CTM: our district walked the perimeter. It was interesting to see all the different types of housing and stuff that's around. It really is quite different from the states. I'm excited to be out in it every day. But on our excursion, we ran into a farmer's market. it was full of delicious fruit. they cut us off pieces of sample mango. i love mango. it's my favorite. And there was this one booth where they were frying up these delicious pastery things with meat in them. at least they looked delicious. as soon as we finish emailing today we're going to go buy some. i'm excited. but as we rounded this booth a cop car came plowing into the field and the two cops jumped out of the car with their guns unholstered and arrested some young-ish kids... it was exciting. and it inspired a nightmare about how i was responsible for some innocent by-stander getting shot by cops because i was listening to music in a tennis court outside of the ctm at night... i rewired the lights in the tennis court to play music... and it was supposed to play it soft, but then it blasted it. and then cops came to arrest me, but they got the wrong person... dreams are crazy. i don't know why i'm sharing that. maybe because it's funny. and maybe because i've been having more bizarre dreams here than in the my entire life. i've also probably made my bed more times then in my entire life. and eaten the most rice and beans... and mopped the floor 8 times. that's another most, probably. fun stuff.

We went proselyting again this week. it was our best proselyting ever. we went to 'praza ramos' (if you want to say ramos right, the r is a glottal h sound and the a is super nasal so you basically have to honk out the ramos. try it. it's fun.) it had this big opera house and a park and a strip mall... and not very many people would talk to us, but we had some awesome conversations with people who were totally interested. it was great. our first positive contact was Alexandre. We talked to him for maybe 20 minutes. he said he used to be a drunk but finding christ had changed his life... but he was still looking for something more. we basically gave him an entire first discussion (the restoration) and he asked a lot of questions and we gave him a book of mormon and told him which parts to read and he even asked how he could get somebody to tell him more about it. i am so excited to be on the streets. if i were a real missionary, i could have set up a follow-up appointment right there! We even had some more awesome contacts. At one point we were all out of cards, but we still had a Book of Mormon left, and it's hard to make contacts without cards... because if they're not too interested, you don't want to give them your book of mormon, but you don't want to walk away without giving them something... so we said a prayer to find the right person. and then sister martin though we should cross this one street that we hadn't crossed before... and then the second or third person we tried to talk to was really interested. so we talked to him for a while. and then on our way back to the bus, this guy stopped us (amazing!) to ask us about our chuch. We answered some questions, but then we didn't have anything to give him cuz we'd given out all our stuff... so we asked him to wait while we dashed back to our elders at the bus to get a book of mormon and a card. And we went back and talked to him for a few minutes and then our teacher came up (because we were late for the bus) and got his address and phone number so the missionaries could come talk to him. So, to sum up, the Lord answers prayers. I love it.

Oh, one more thing. My comps had a kind of hard week last week. Sister Martin on Monday/Tuesday and Sister Tittelfitz on Friday/Saturday. Nothing serious... just the i've-been-in-the-ctm-my-whole-life-blues. So anyway, after some hard times, Sister Martin opened up with some of the things that she had worked through and it was exactly what Sister Tittelfitz needed to hear. And what I needed to hear too... It basically amounted to whenever you most don't want to work is when you have to work hardest. because those feelings of laziness and ornery-ness are really, trully from the devil. and you have to exorcize him. by working. so because we were all ornery and lazy, we have now enacted a stringent schedule of memorization and hard work this week. and it's really made a difference. so being a good companion sometimes means laying down the law and sometimes means being supportive... and it takes spiritual guidance to know when to do what and how to be a good companion. i am excited to have new companions and work with them and learn from them. it's awesome how companionships are awesome. Awesome.I love this work and the gospel.

I love you all.whitney

March 26, 2008

I have eight minutes to write today... I want to take advantageof it... I've been singing a lot in the MTC. We have a choir sing in the devotionals on Sunday and Tuesday, and we practice the hour before the devotional for the song we're going to sing that day. One day at dinner the choir director came up to me and told me he'd like me to sing one verse of the song as a solo. So the choir sang averse and then I sang a verse and then the choir sang another verse. It wasa little bit terrifying seeing as how I didn't have any practice time...but it was still fun. I do love singing. But I don't always love the awkward attention of having everybody recognize you in the halls for a couple days... but that was a while back. It all blew over pretty quickly.My entire district is pretty musical. We sing in our district at least 4hymns a day... often more. It's really fun cuz we're accappella andeverybody's singing a lot of parts. And there's always Elder Hancock the opera major making it pretty even if no one else knows the song well enoughto sing parts. it's a good time. we prepared a special musical number forsacrament meeting once. we sang Lead Kindly Light in four parts accappella and the second verse me and elder hancock sang sop and tenor while everyoneelse oohed their parts. and then the guys sang half a verse. and then thesisters sang a line. and then we all came together for the grand finale. itwas quite a performance for 9 randomly selected missionaries with noprerequisites for musical genious. it's fun.i also spoke in sacrament meeting on sunday. it was on the ressurrection so i talked about how our purpose as missionaries is to teach and preach of christ. i quoted the first little part of that talk you sent me. Then I talked about how the book of mormon andbible work together to testify of christ and how much my testimony of thathas grown. and then i talked about how the sting of death is swallowed upin Christ (1 corinthians 15:21-22 and mosiah 16:7-10) Abinidi and Paultestifying the same amazing thing--different time periods. one before andone after christ. And now we get to share that message with the world. Ilove my Savior and I love the scriptures.That's my ten minutes. I'll be more interesting when I get in the field anddon't do the same thing with the same people every day of my life for aslong as i can remember. 13 days!

Love you. Thanks for writing. I love hearing from you always.Whitney


Thanks for sharing your scripture study. I wrote down the scriptures youloved and i'm gonna read them today.Easter in the CTM was pretty great.

I had to speak in Sacrament. A three minute talk. Every week here we're given a talk and we're all supposed tohave a ten minute talk prepared and be ready to condense it into 3 minutes.And then for Sacrament Meeting, the Branch President gets up and just callsrandom missionaries. And you have to talk. So I've prepared some talkswhile I've been here. And Sunday I finally got asked to speak. It's ourlast speaking sunday in the MTC because next week is fast sunday and theweek after that is general conference and then we're out (i still have onemore P-day after this...)

So sacrament was good. But Relief Society was incredible. I love being here, because teachers can just open it up fordiscussion, and people actually discuss. And they say awesome things. TheMTC president's wife gave the lesson on the atonement. And then told thishear-wrenching story about her granddaughter who died of cancer at the ageof 9. And before she died she asked her Mom how she would feel if she wentto see Jesus and her mom said that she'd be okay if she just came back tolet her mom know that she was okay. And the girl said "good, because I'm soexcited to meet him." And then people just shared spiritual experienceswhen they really understood the atonement. And at the end we watched this10 minute slide show of paintings of christ's life set to this wonderfulmusic. It was really powerful. The spirit in the MTC is incredible. Youguys should look for this one picture that I've never seen before. Maybeyou know all about it, but it was Mary teaching Christ how to pray. He wasmaybe 5 and he was kneeling over her lap. Can you even imagine teachingChrist to pray? There were a bunch of pictures of women interacting withChrist. And his love for them. And theirs for him. That was reallytouching to me. And after chuch we just got a lot of chocolate. There was amassive ice cream bar with lots of toppings in the cafeteria. I ate myweight in chocolate ice cream and chocolate syrup and nuts and sprinkles.It was awesome. And apparently the easter tradition in Brazil is to eatfish. So we ate fish.I wish I had more things to write about... life is pretty much the sameevery day... that'll change soon enough though! 13 days till I'm a reallymissionary! I'm terrified and really excited all at the same time.

Love and Miss you,Whitney

March 12, 2008

I am officially half way through my time at the MTC. It's pretty exciting. We had some more awesome devotionals this week. And it was about the Atonement in missionary work. And if you need to search a database, it includes the following phrases: -- Salvation is not a cheap experience. -- How can it be easy for us when it was never, ever easy for him. -- We are invited to spend a few moments in Gethsemane. We must pay some small token--make some small gesture. -- It is supposed to require something of our souls. -- The atonement will carry you missionaries. -- The only way to salvation is through Gethsemane and Calvary. The only way to salvation is through Him: the Way, the Truth, and the Light. -- You have reason to stand tall!Among other awesome quotes. It was the most amazing devotional about the atonment. And the speaker shared clips from lots of talks on the atonemnt.

Then on Sunday we had an awesome Relief Society lesson about how we have to love the book of mormon. Because it's awesome. The lady that gave the lesson just talked about how much she loved it, and that was incredibly powerful. It made me realize that I need to be able to testify to people that I love the book of mormon and that I have felt god's love for me when I read it and that I really want to share it with them, etc...

So Sunday I had the best scripture study ever, and I'd like to share it with you. So maybe you guys can love Ether 12 as much as I do now.SCRIPTURE STUDY ASSIGNMENT: Ether Chapter 12.DURATION: 1.5 hoursPURPOSE: LEARN TO LOVE THE SCRIPTURESMETHOD: TAKE LOTS OF NOTES AND PRAY ABOUT ITThe Beginning: I read it. It was cool. It talks about faith and hope and charity. Good scriptures... but wait. It gives a whole lot of examples about faith. Why did he use those particular examples? And why does he suddenly switch from talking about faith to talking about weaknesses? What connection is there?Musings:Write down order of faith examples: walls tumble, conversion, holy ghost, miracles, not taste of death, see through the veil--finger first then all things (temple?), obtain promises from the lord.What do all of these things have in common? Maybe all of these are how we can be good missionaries through faith... walls between investigators and the gospel will tumble, people will be converted and receive gifts of the holy ghost... faith helps missionaries! Here's the other thing that I figured out... I think. Let me know if you guys agree. verse 22: Nephite prophets were promised that the book of mormon would go forth as a conversion tool (see enos, etc). The Lord Jesus Christ appears to Mormoni to command him to finish the plates to keep his promises that were made to the prophets because of their faith.23-25: Moroni tells the lord all of his weaknesses and why he can't finish the book.26-28: The Lord tells him that he can. And that through the BoM he will show the gentiles their weaknesses and teach them faith, hope, and charity.29-34: moroni explains what he knows and remembers about faith, hope, and charity.35-36: ^but god, what if the gentiles don~t get charity because of my weakness, please, can you give them charity by grace?37: No, my son, it's not that easy, but don't worry, you did your part.38-40: Moroni bears testimony that god did appear unto him and teach him these things.41: Moroni's last-ditch effort to get you to develop charity and be exalted despite his weakness in writing. PLEASE SEEK THE CHRIST THAT WE'VE WRITTEN ABOUT SO YOU CAN HAVE GRACE AND BE SAVED!CONCLUSION:The first half of this chapter is all about missionary work and how I can be a good missionary through faith. The second half is all about a vision Moroni had of Christ and how Christ resolved his personal concerns about not being a good enough missionary.Maybe? What do you think?My companions mostly thought I was crazy, so I decided to write you all about it. I hope you don't feel like it's a waste of a most-of-a-letter.I also thought a lot about how FAITH leads to HOPE and HOPE leads to CHARITY. We've been learning about these attributes and what exactly they mean and how exactly they work together. It's really interesting to define the attributes of christ more precisely and figure out better how they can work together.

One last devotional item. We had an awesome devotional last night from an area seventy. His name may or may not have been Carlos E. Godoi. He began by telling us he could have talked to us from the perspective of a returned missionary or a former mission president or something else, but he chose to talk to us as a father. He told us that our missions are blessing our families whether we have parents who aren't members, parents who didn't serve missions, or parents who did serve missions. He told us that as his children he would give us three pieces of advice, advice that he gave his son and daughter before they went on missions.1. There's a reason you were called where you were called. Because there is the mission president you need to have, the companions you need to have, and the people you need to teach.2. Do your best. There are levels of commitment to being a good missionary. Not doing anything bad, doing good works (baptizing), praying with out ceasing (to have the spirit and actually convert the people you're baptizing), or exercise faith unceasingly to work miracles. He said,"You are here to show the Lord that He can trust you." and he asked us if our parents would be proud of the level of dedication that we're putting in. 3. Open a channel of communication with God. Get as close to him as you can. He closed by reading us a scripture in Moroni 8:2-3 as if we were Moroni and our parents were Mormon. It was really awesome. Anyway. Sorry I didn't really tell any stories. I just get so excited about some of these things. I kind of had a hard few days and then these were the three experiences that got me back on track. So I know the Lord is blessing me. I'm having fun, too. My companions are still awesome. Although Sister Martin wants to have a lot of alone time and won't let us know if we can help her or when she's having a hard time... so I'll let you know if I figure out how best to help her.I hope you guys are proud of me. I'm doing my best to make you proud.I love you all,Whitney

March 5, 2008

Dad and Fam,Thanks for you letter.

So, I've got about 20 minutes left and I have a lot of cool stories. First: Tracting.Overall it was a positive experience. I kind of felt like a crazy person preaching on the streets for a while--like the Main Street Preacher in Logan that everybody laughs about--and it was kind of a blow. And it wasn't until we were done trackthing that I really took a step back and realized that what other people think about me and it only matters what the Lord thinks of me. And I really do have a testimony and really do believe that my message can bless peoples lives. Which I say at the beginning of my street contact (eu tenho uma messagem maravilhosa sobre jesus cristo, o qual abençoará sua vida e sua família...) So besides that important reminder about what is important, people were really receptive and really nice. So we were given a bunch of passalong cards and a book of mormon each and told to go to town. We were supposed to give the book of mormon to someon we thought would actually read it.Here are just a few of the people I talked to:
1. Americo-phile Dude: There was this one guy who really wanted to talke to us because we were american and he loves america and wanted to practice the little english he knew. This was not a productive contact. He just kept talking about how welcome we were and about how we're a good example to Brazil and if any one tells us we're not welcome, we shouldn't listen, because American's are awesome and hard workers and disciplined and everything good and Brazilians are lazy and need this message. I tried to control the contact by telling him that the reason we have this direction and work hard is because we have the gospel... but he didn't really care. He said he'd call the number, though!
2. Últimos Dias Dude: Sister Martin talked to some guy smoking like a chimney and drinking coffee at this little table. She gave her little memorize message, and then he asked "why the last days?" in english... so sister martin got into a deep doctrinal discussion about how we're preparing to welcome christ in the second coming. And he asked if we really thought christ would come. and she said absolutely. and he said he believed something would come... maybe not christ... that would bring love and stuff... so sister martin just bore testimony about christ and we left him with a card to call. sister martin is awesome.
3. Lady with Young-ish Son: I gave my BoM to a lady who was walking her son to school. When I approached her, she just stopped and looked totally like she wanted to hear what I had to say. So I gave her a little longer of a message and then told her about the Church and the Restoration. After that, (I was with my teacher Irmã Valéria at the time) Irmã Valeria explained about the number she could call to have missionaries come... and that the book was free. And she actually seemed interested.
4. We gave another of our book of mormons to this one lady. I really liked the conversation that we had with her most, because she spoke really clearly and we actually had a conversation in Portuguese and I rocked it. She said she was Catholic, but was interested in learning about what other people believe in. And that she was interested in reading the book of mormon as literature, but not as scripture. And so we said she could have it if she would read it. And we talked a bit about some of our doctrines. She asked if we were "fundamentalist" and I didn't know what that meant, so she told me it meant we only believe our church is true. So I explained why we believe that... and a bit about living prophets... and then she asked about the trinity and I tried to say that we believe in the three but we believe they're separate people... that portuguese got a little more sketchy. and then she talked about how she believes we are all children of god and have the holy ghost in us. and I said yes, we believe that too. and she said at least we have that in common. So then, I just bore my testimony that if she read it and prayed about it that god would tell her it was true by the holy ghost... but I doubt she will pray... but I think she might read it at least a bit. And that's a start, neh?
5. Then there was some guy who may or may not have said that he had the Melchezidek priesthood but was inactive. I was really unclear on what he was talking aobut... but that's what I thought he said... so I tried to tell him to go back to chuch, it will bless you life... it was pretty sketchy on the portuguese. And then there were a lot of other people... about half wouldn't listen, and about a quarter listened really impatiently... but about a quarter listened patiently and looked at least marginaly interested at least to see the crazy americans talking crazy talk on the street. But it was totally worth it. It's just interesting to approach people like that, when I can't really understand what they're saying, and you can only say a few things, so you just have to be really blunt and abrupt about your testimony. And just testify that you know it's true and it can bless their lives. It's hard, but I felt really good about it. At least I have more portuguese than some of the other missionaries... and I'll have even more portuguese next time and I'll keep reminding myself that it doesn't matter what I look like to these people, it only matters what I look like to God. This will be my mantra next time. So I don't feel so crazy.

Second: Whooshes- Dad reminded me that I should share my whooshes. I don't think I talked about the Sunday before last when we watched the Testaments... did I? If I did, I'm sorry for the repetition. But I hadn't seen the testaments since it first came out, so I barely remembered any of it. And the Spirit was incredibly strong. I loved the juxtaposition of Christ's ministry and the Nephites. I bawled for the second half of the movie. And we had fast and testimony meeting last Sunday. My branch is really small for some reason. Usually you have at least 4 districts in a branch, which is about 40 people. Which still makes for an awfully small sacrament meeting, but we only had two districts in our branch last sunday. So there were 19 missionaries. The other district has been here longer and almost all of them bore their testimonies. And they were all so incredibly powerfully. They each shared a scripture and talked about their trials here and their successes... and the whole time the spirit was amazing. I hope our district can be like that in a couple more weeks. They were a great example to me.Third, Me Not Moving Districts:I haven't heard anything more about me moving districts. I think that they probably can't use me in the field any earlier than I'm scheduled to be there... but I guess I'm not 100% sure yet. But I am really enjoying the time to prepare. I will take as much of it as I can get. I really want to know the scriptures so much better. So that I can know where all the scriptures are that I want to share with investigators to resolve concerns and stuff. But I guess that's just a process that will continue throughout my mission...Fourth, Conversion Stories:Being here has made me realize that I know none of our ancestors conversion stories except hyrum smith. Could you guys maybe hunt some up for me? I'd love to know how people came to know of the church and if they moved to Utah or whatnot... Fifth, Me Not Being Able to Speak Spanish:I have lost my Spanish. This freaks me out a bit. I seriously cannot speak it. I try, and I have to think of every single word before I say it... It's easier to speak Portuguese, and I can't really speak portuguese very well at all. I hear tell that this is normal and that after I finish learning Portuguese it's easy to get the Spanish back. But it's freaky.I'm 10 minutes over time. Out of control.I love you all,

Love always,Sister Whitney

Friday, November 7, 2008

Excerpt from Whitney’s third letter Feb 27, 2008

So... I may have a semi-amusing anecdote... stress on the may. I have several anecdotes... maybe one is amusing.

1. In class were learning our plurals and our animals, so we had to play charades. I had to act out an alligator. Easy. Someone had a pig. Also easy. Sister Tittelfitz (pronounced as Chee-chel-fee-chee by those of us who think pretending to say it in Português is funny...) got a dragon... How might you act out a dragon, you might ask? Apparently you blow air out of your mouth... in a kind of hiss... and when everyone just guesses tiger and lion... then you try to flap your wings. and your wings are your arms. and they kind of just convulse up by your head. no one guessed dragon, but several people nearly lost control of their bladders from all the giggling. The lizard by Elder Thompson was almost as amusing. Aparently a lizard splays itself against a wall and wiggles. And the parrot by Elder Evans was cool too. He put his hands in his armpits and bit on his lower lip and sqwauked occasionally. He was quite persistent about it. Awesome game.

2. Me and my compy's were walking around the track after lunch... or maybe it was dinner... when a wine cork came flying over the wall and landed on the track. I now have a wine cork. It smells of wine. Red wine.

3. I now know how to sing "who stole the cookie from the cookie jar" in portuguese. It goes like this:

--(insert name here) roubo o pão da casa de joão.
--Quem, eu?
--Então quem foi?
--Foi (insert name of person you´re qccusing of stealing bread from john's house.
(repeat with new name.)

The best part is if somebody doesn´t say their part right, you get to interupt them with a new song, to the tune of "it´s raining, it´s pouring", you sing "não sabe, não sabe, você têm que aprender. orelhas de burro, cabeça de e.t." Which means "you don´t know, you don´t know, you have to learn. ears of a donkey, and head of ET." ET as in the Extra Terrestrial.

I'm going trackting on Friday! I expect some prayers. I'm a bit nervous. And a bit excited. The girls that went last friday said they had an amazing time and they really felt the spirit and knew what to talk about when they talked to some people... like they were directed in their messages. That's the part that I don't know if I can do... say the right thing to the right person. But I guess I'll give it a try. I've got a couple of street contacts prepared. And we'll be passing out pass-along cards and books of mormon. If any of you feel like you should start contacting people on the street, you should know that one of the things that it's recommended that you discuss is the restoration. The best way to do this is say something like the following, in the language of the country you're in, of course:

"Good morning, I have a wonderful message that will bless you and your family. God is our loving heavenly father. He shows his love for us by calling prophets to teach us the gospel. But a lot of times people reject the prophets. But after this happens, god will always call a new prophet because he loves his children in every age. So I know that God called a prophet in our time--Joseph Smith. And through Joseph Smith he restored the fulness of his gospel and gave us the book of mormon, which is a proof that this message is true. I have this card for you. If you call this number you will receive a book of mormon--for free! I know that if you read it and pray to know it's true, God will answer your prayer through the Holy Ghost and this answer will bless your family."

Or you could teach about the Plan of Salvation (that's the second discussion):

"I have a wonderful message that will bless your life. God is our father in heaven and he loves us so much that he created a plan so that each one of us can return to him. As part of this plan, God sent his son, Jesus Christ to suffer for our sins. I know that if we accept Christ as our Savior and repent of our sins we will be able to return to live with God with our families after this life. I'd like to teach you more about this message, could I come by your house sometime?"

And yes, I can say that in português. Boo yeah.

Excerpt from Whitney’s second letter Feb 20, 2008

But it's been another wonderful week. It went a million times faster than the first week that I was here. I'm still learning a ton about the language and getting a ton of time to study. And i haven't collapsed yet. So I might make it. :) I'm still having a great time.

About the Discussions: I can now give a street contact in portuguese... which is like a one-minute version of the first discussion. And I'm pretty darn good at it, too. We have to give it to five random brazilian missionaries a day in the mtc, so I get to practice attacking people when all they want to do is get on with their business.

About the food: The food here is abundant and sometimes strange. Today we had a casserole that had mashed potatoes, hot dogs, and cheese... and it was delicious. my new favorite meal. except for maybe the fried meat-balls and fried cheese on a stick. also delicious.

About my district: They continue to be quite entertaining. Especially one elder, Elder Hancock. He's pretty metro, and he will bust Brittany Spears songs and uses extravagent hand gestures and speaks french. I can always count on him to know the Broadway songs that I want to sing, like the one from guys and dolls that that one girl sings about how a girl can develop a cold... complete with voices and accents. It's great. And Kevin, you had better hope there are sisters in your district, because we're really cool. Like your second moms or something. Except we're always getting in trouble for giggling too much.... But we did write a letter for the elder in our district that hasn't got a letter from his family yet.

Excerpt from Whitney’s first letter Feb 13, 2008

São Paulo is honestly HUGE! It goes on for minutes and minutes when you´re flying over it. 18 million people. I couldn´t believe it. All the houses are all built up on top of each other and I cannot believe that people live in some of those buildings. I think I might have a hard time with the poverty. But I´ve only seen it from a bus the two times that I´ve been out of the CTM in the past week (First time was on the way to the CTM from the aiport and the second was on the way to the Campinas temple this morning. we go to the temple on p-days.) Between those two times I did not leave the building. I felt a bit claustrophobic, but nothing too tragic.

I have two companions! Their names are Sister Tittelfitz and Sister Martin. They are both 22 as of January. Sister Tittelfitz graduated from BYU last Spring in Social Work and then went to Ethiopia to work in an orphanage. Cool. And Sister Martin is from Houston! She is huh-larious, to put it in her own words. We all get along so well. I am really lucky.

I´ve never worked this hard in my life, but I´m doing okay with it so far. I´m incredibly grateful for my companions, because they are all totally committed to working hard every day. They want to follow the rules and learn the language and everything. Our district is all hard-working... even though the rest of them are nineteen.

We have all of our classes and MDST time with our district and we´re in a district with 3 companionships of 19-year-old elders... they´re all super-sweet kids. We had our first district testimony meeting yesterday (on our own... no teacher, just our district leader who was chosen on Sunday who´s one of the elders in the district) and we started the meeting by discussing the devotional we just went to for about half an hour and then bearing our testimonies. And everyone was on task the whole time and really contributed to the meeting and bore real testimonies.

I am here to testify that the person who designed this program was inspired and this church is true. I can say that because there is no way that in any other context you could put a bunch of 19 year old boys together, work them to the bone, make them stay within sight and sound of another guy they just barely met 24 hours a day, confine them to a building for 6 days straight, deprive them of all contact with their families and friends... and at the end of that suggest to them that they should all get together and have a spiritual discussion and bear testimony to one another AND HAVE IT WORK! I still don´t understand it. But I love it. It´s great to see the Elders stepping it up and growing up so quickly. Most of them have never lived away from home before and they´re doing an amazing job.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008