I am so happy to be writing to you right now! There is sooo much that has happened in the past week, and I don't know where to start! I guess I'll start by saying that I love being in the MTC! I can't fully describe how glorious it feels to be one of the Lord's missionaries. I know this is where the Lord wants me right now. And I know it's only been a week, but I already can't imagine my life, present and future, without this sacred privilege of serving the Lord and our Heavenly Father's children. I feel at home. Although it's a little strange being surrounded with so many younger missionaries, it's also amazing- It's a miracle really. I am so impressed with these younger missionaries, especially the elders. For example, my companion hasn't been sleeping well so the elders gave her a blessing last night. Just minutes before they gave her the blessing, they were goofing around a bit, being typical young elders.. But then they laid their hands on her head and administered to her a Priesthood blessing. The Spirit was so strong as they exercised that power they have as worthy priesthood holders. The Spirit is truly amazing here at the MTC. This is the Lord's training center for His missionaries. And I can testify to you that these missionaries may be young, but they are powerful. As our teacher Brother Buttars keeps reminding us: God saved the best for last. Satan has many ways by which he gets people to forget about God, especially in these the last days.
Let me tell you about my district! I know everyone always says they had the best MTC district, but I really do have the best MTC district! They are so great! We have 8 elder and 6 sister companionships. I wish I could attach pictures, but I will send some this week. I definitely think we have the most fun district, and funny! The elders are hilarious. We laugh until we cry every day, multiple times. The elders started saying "Tolo ganso" a few days into being here and now we all say that about everything. It means "silly goose"- in proper portuguese it would actually be "ganso tolo," but they stuck with tolo ganso. Speaking of Portuguese, I can speak it! Obviously not fluent or well at all- And I don't know very much, but for only being here just under a week, I know TONS. I was promised by a member of the branch presidency in an interview that if I love my companion with all my heart, I will be able to communicate in Portugues in 3 weeks. Our teach Brother Buttars (who is awesome by the way) bore his testimony the other day about the gift of tongues, and how real it is. The first day I was here, I would have a hard time believing that I could ever speak this language, but I am speaking it and can bear a personal testimony that the gift of tongues is real. The day after I got here (Thursday), my companion and I taught our first lesson, IN Portuguese. Yes we did. We brought a few notes and our lesson wasn't the greatest (it really was pretty horrible:) but we did it! Our first investigator's name was Vanderlei. We taught him two different times. Then yesterday we taught our first lesson to our new investigator Pedro. We loved Vanderlei, but he was a little intimidating. Pedro is much easier to teach, and we taught him with no notes. We gave him a Book of Mormon and committed him to read 3 Nephi capitulo 11. He believes in God and Jesus Christ, but doesn't have a very strong relationship with them. We found out that he doesn't pray, so we are looking forward to hearing him pray in our next lesson. :)
Missionary work is about PEOPLE. Not one thing about this mission is about me- It's about helping OTHERS to come unto Christ "by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end." On Sunday (which is the best, even better than P-day. I love Sunday in the MTC!) we watched a film showing of a devotional Elder Bednar gave about the character of Christ. He taught us how Christ turned outward always, never once inward. Turning inward to self is the natural man's way, not Christ's. An example of this is when right after His great suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane, he healed one of the guard's ears that was there to take him away. Even after the greatest suffering imagined, FOR US, he still turned outward, even to those who persecuted him. Elder Neal Maxwell said, "There would have been no atoning sacrifice without the Character of Christ."
I don't have much time left, but I want to say one more thing- I LOVE MY COMPANHIERA!!! Her name is Sister Robbins (pronounced "Hobbins" because of Portuguese) :) She is from Texas and is SO GREAT. I love her very much and we are loving serving together.
I have to go now but thank you, MUITO OBRIGADA for the loving emails. I hope all is well at home. I know the Lord loves you, and knows you personally.
Sister Katie Thornhill