Sunday, December 15, 2013

Elder Hodgson's First Week in the MTC

 My P-day is every Friday, except last week "didn't count", so this has been my first chance to actually use email. Anyways, things are going great here. my companion is Elder Moss, he's 18 yrs old and lived in Virginia before he came out. I have 3 roommates, Elder Moss, Elder Hargrove (from Texas, really funny guy) and Elder Ballard ( from Asheville NC, also our district leader).  We all get along great and have a lot of fun here. We started learning Portuguese on our first day here. I've already learned enough to have simple conversations and to pray. We basically just study all day with breaks for meals, devotionals, and then gym every other day. Our district has 6 Elders and 3 sisters total. My roommates + Elder Hodges and Elder Pennington, along with Sister Maughn, Sister Bozworth-Arzani, and Sister Thacker. Sister Thacker will also be serving in Recife, Brazil, and it turns out she's also from MA. She said it was somewhere near Plymouth though, but she said she knew our Stake President very well (President Cox). It is freezing here! its funny because we can look up the weather in Utah, usually around 9 degrees, and then the weather in our mission, usually 89 degrees, all on our profile. I always get a good laugh out of that.
         We began teaching our first investigator on about the 3rd day. We were only allowed to speak Portuguese to him. The first lesson was rough, but after that everything went well, despite the language barrier. We taught him about 5 lessons, he was committed to be baptized on the 3rd one. It turns out he was just an actor though, and he will be our teacher pretty soon ( the older missionaries told us this would happen, so we knew all along). Eventually all the lessons got progressively better, required less time to prepare and were coordinated better between me and my companion. Isn't it amazing that our whole district was capable of teaching in ONLY Portuguese after less than a week of studying the language? The gift of tongues is very real.
          Last Sunday we had Sacrament meeting in almost all Portuguese. Me and Elder Hargrove also went on a Temple Walk, where we are allowed to go visit the Temple. It's closed until January so we only got up to the gate outside. Everyone was taking pictures of it haha. It felt really weird because we hadn't seen cars in almost a week, or people not associated with the MTC haha! We also watched the Christmas Devotional(# christmasdevo!!!!!), and heard a broadcast from Elder Bednar. It was awesome! He gave several examples of how Christ always turned outward ( like when he fasted for 40 days, was tempted by Satan, but sent ministering angels to John the Baptist instead of to himself). He also warned us that having a testimony of the gospel is not enough to remain active. Many people who have a testimony of the gospel still fall away from the gospel. We must have not only a testimony of of the gospel but also be converted unto Christ. In Alma,26:5-6 it says that any of them who had a testimony AND were converted unto Christ did never fall away. He also said that whenever there is a gospel principle we would like to know more about, we should obtain a book of mormon, a cheap paperback one, and read it cover to cover highlighting anything related to our question/topic. Then create a one page summary of the answer we received. eventually we could build a sort of library for ourselves of different topics. I thought this was a very good idea and would result in a very good understanding of Gospel principles over time.       On Tuesday, we also had Elder Quinton L Cook come and speak to us. He talked mostly about our missions, and why we were called to where we are going. He said that a large portion of missionaries are called to serve in a specific mission because of the Mission President who is there would be most helpful to them.
       Our Branch Presidency is awesome! 2 of them served in Spain, and then the Second councilor served in Brazil, Back when Brazil was only one mission. The first councilor, President Jeffs served in Barcelona around 1974-6 . He said maybe mom would know the Lara family? anyways they are doing a really good job. They've challenged us to read the Book Of Mormon before we leave the MTC, which will be January 13th or 14th. I'm in Jacob right now, and I've already noticed how reading it often makes a huge difference. Every time we read it, we will learn something knew. I now truly understand how important it is to read the Book of Mormon daily, and encourage all of you to do it as well.
      Anyways, I have almost everything I need right now, except a shoulder bag, and a power converter for when I arrive in Brazil. Other than that everything is going well. I'm very happy to be here, I'm learning so much, and growing so much spiritually. I'm really excited to enter the field, especially as my Portuguese gets better and better. I will send some pictures next week once I figure out how. I need to get a card reader from the bookstore.

I love you a lot! write me and let me know how things are going!

Eu muito amoro voces! Chao Chao Picapou!!!

Elder Hodgson

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