Friday, June 28, 2013

First Week in the CTM!

Dear Mom (and everyone else that will read this),
WOW!!! What a week! The CTM is the coolest place ever!!! So just to clarify, the other sister in the picture is not my companion. That's actually Sister Bojoqurez, she arrived late Wednesday night so she didn't get a chance to take the picture with President and Sister Degn. We aren't allowed to send picture from the CTM  :( so I won't be able to send you pictures of my district and companion until after I leave. So...I'll try to answer all the questions that you guys asked. So...there are 6 English speaking sisters (one of them is actually in a spanish district and one of the sisters just got here on wednesday and she's from Fredericksburg, VA). There are probably about 10 or 12 English elders, so definitely the minority. It is so cool to be surrounded with so many Hispanic and Brazilians. But it definitely makes it a lot harder to communicate. Taking Spanish is definitely helping though, I'll try and say something in Spanish or mix Portuguese and Spanish. So Sister Skudder is my companion and there are two other girls that live in our room, Sister Acuna from Chile and Sister Sofia from Argentina. I love those sisters, we have so much fun! We don't see them very often except for the morning and evening. So a typical day is wake up around 6:15, get ready (there's a bathroom and shower in our room which is nice) Then personal study in our classroom (our second home) from 7-8, desjejum (breakfast) from 8-8:30 then we have tempo com instrutor (class) with Irma (sister) Igrezia from 8:30 to 11:30. During that time we learn grammar, stuff from Preach my Gospel, and then we normally teach our investigator Maria (Irma Igrezia in disguise) at the end of the time. Maria, "our investigator," is so sweet! She committed to baptism a few days ago but we're still working on explaining the importance of going to church and not just having faith. Then from 11:30 to 12:15 we have estudo adicional (additional study) then almoco (lunch) from 12:15-1. The food is actually really good! There's always, and I mean always, rice and beans, usually chicken and some type of meat, cut up lettuce, tomatoes, and a ton of fresh fruit, and some type of dessert pudding thing or fried empenada like thing. I am so surprised how good the food is. We are asked to sit with Brazilians or Hispanics and they are so fun. It can sometimes take a long time to say something or understand what they are saying but they are so willing to help us with our Portuguese and we help them with their English. In total at the CTM right now there are probably about 130 missionaries but it fluctuates. The Brazilians are only here for two weeks so they come and go really quickly. The Hispanics are here for 6 weeks just like us. So after lunch we have TALL (a computer program made by BYU to help learn Portuguese) from 1-1:30 then we have tempo com instrutor from 1:30 to 4:30 with Irmao (brother) Allan. Same thing as Irma Igrezia, we learn grammar, PMG stuff, and then teach "him" (as an investigator). Our investigator is Alessandro. He has been a struggle for me and Sister Skudder. We're trying our best to speak Portuguese and convey what we want to say but almost all the time he doesn't understand what we're saying and then we don't understand what he says back because he mumbles a lot. Funny story about Alessandro, last Saturday we taught him and we were asked to try and commit him to go to Church so we had him read D+C 59:9-10 but for some reason when I marked my Portuguese BOM I marked D+C 19:9-10 which is not at all what we wanted. So he read that scripture and we asked, so what does that say about going to church and he was like, uh that doesn't say anything about that. So then we realized it was the wrong scipture so I quickly flipped to what I thought was D+C 59 but I accidently flipped to D+C 60 and then he read that and didn't understand and I realized my mistake. So basically, the whole lesson was a bust and we we're so flustered and embarassed that we couldn't stop laughing, it was so bad and so obviously when we committed him to go to church he said no. Haha, oh well, I was pretty frustrated after but I'm glad it happened here for the first time and not with a "real" investigator. Yesterday was really frustrating with Alessandro as well because I know that he understands what we're trying to say (cause it's really Irmao Allan) but he acts like he doesn't understand anything! I ended up crying afterwards because I was so frustrated but some really sweet sisters saw me in the bathroom and told me to read about Patience and the Gift of Tongues in PMG. I LOVE the sisters here, they are literally angels, even though I can't understand all of what they are trying to say. Sister Skudder was really sweet too and understood because she was crying the day before because she was so frustrated. I know that I just need to have patience becuase I've only been here a week but I just want to speak Portuguese! Haha, it's all good though. Sister Skudder and I have this joke that we hate the phrase "Fala Portuguese" which means talk in Portuguese because it's what all our teachers tell us and we're like, We don't speak Portuguese! Haha, it's really all good though because I'm actually picking up a lot more than I thought I would! So back to the schedule, after Irmao Allan, we have estudo adicional from 4:30 to 5:00, then jantar (dinner) from 5:00 to 5:45 then we have thirty minutes to digest and get ready for atividade fisica (gym) which we have from 6:15 to 7. We usually play volleyball and we have so much fun playing with the Brazilians and hispanics even though we don't even speak the same language. After that we have 30 minutes to get ready and then we have more studying from 7:30 to 9. Then lanche (snack) at 9 which is basically a roll, an apple, and a juice box. Then we write down our schedule and plan for the next day until 9:40 and then we go to our rooms, read the BOM in Portuguese with some sisters, write in our journals, companion prayer, pray, then go to bed and do it all over again! It's great!
So, I have the best district ever! We literally have the best time and we laugh all the time. Lindsey, Sister Skudder said she didn't know him but that's still cool! It's very funny having 4 Americans, 1 kiwi, and 1 Brit! But we have the best time and we are always joking around. Sister Skudder and Elder Beale are always joking about how they're annoyed that were called an "American" district because they're not American. Haha, they use some pretty funny phrases too though! It's great though, we just have such a great time together and goof around but also have deep spiritual conversations as well. We had an awesome district meeting where we ended up just doing a testimony meeting and it really bonded us all together and now we're even closer. Oh, and Elder Beale even gave me a pound coin! :)
So Friday is our P-day but I didn't have it last week because it was my first week. We went to the Sao Paulo temple this morning and it was absolutely amazing. The session was in Portuguese but we had headphones so we could listen in English. I am so grateful we get to go.
Oh, and by the way, the security is super max here so you don't have to worry about me at all! It took us like 5 minutes to get back into the CTM becuase no one came to open the huge gate. There are cameras EVERYWHERE and a ton of security guards. We are all safe and sound for sure!
I am so grateful to be here and it's such a cool place. It is actually dedicated and consecrated so there is such a special Spirit here.
Another thing, every Sunday they have a testimony meeting with all the sisters and the sisters that are leaving bear their testimony. It's so cool to hear all the sisters testimonies and even though I don't understand a lot of what they are saying, the Spirit is so strong. The Spirit breaks the barriers of language and I was so grateful for the opportunity to attend that every week! Also the broadcast was so cool! They showed videos from the CTM and the Sao Paulo temple! You'll have to watch those videos again if you have a chance! And yes, such a cool broadcast! Also, listen to the Brazilian National Anthem because we sing that every Sunday as the opening hymn for the devotional, it's crazy but the Brazilians are helping to teach it to us!
I love all you guys and thank you for all your love and support! I definitiely need it. I love you and know that your baby sister is safe! Love you all! I hope you keep feeling better Mom!
Got to go! Love you!
Love you the mostiest,
Sister Hicks
P.S. Email is definitely the best way to communicate because I've been told that mail takes FOREVER! But we can still get it eventually! Love you!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

First Day in the MTC

Hey Family!
Well...I made it to the CTM safe and sound. Thankfully Alexes Nunes found me looking like a lost and dazed missionary and quickly came to my aid at the airport. There were no problems at customs or anything. My companion is Sister Skudder and she is from New Zealand. She is so awesome and fun! She has been waiting a week for a sister companion so she was very happy to see me. There are 4 elders and the two of us in my district. Elder Lee is the district leader and he has been here three weeks | think. Elder Beale is his companion and he has been here 1 week. Elders Walker and Davis got here yesterday. Elders Lee, Walker, and Davis are from the US and Elder Beale is from Britain! I am in love with his accent haha! And Sister Skudder has a really awesome accent too. Brasil is very different but I love it. Today I had to teach in Portuguese! I have not even been here a day! What a crazy lesson! I couldn't believe when our teacher Brother Allan said, ok you are all teaching today! Haha...the food is good and we are about to go to dinner. I love it here and the missionaries are so sweet and sooo welcoming! They all come up to me and say hi and the sisters give me a hug! Haha, it is so awesome! Well, I only got ten minutes to write today but I will have more time next week! I love you all!
Love you the mostiest!
Sister Hicks

Sunday, June 16, 2013

And...I'm off! I leave on Tuesday night to fly to the Missionary Training Center in Brazil! I will be there for six weeks and my mom will be updating the blog with the emails and information I send home! I am so excited to serve the Lord and I am so thankful for this wonderful opportunity! I love the Lord and this Gospel! See you in 18 months!
Here's a picture of where I will be in the Missionary Training Center: