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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Week 4 - Spiritual gifts.

Oi Mai e Pai!

My week has been a good one.  Elder Oaks talk was amazing but his wife was even better!  She is probably my favorite female speaker.   She is amazing!!!

The language is coming along well.  Portuguese is actually a more descriptive language then English and can be confusing sometimes.  You have to conjugate words in a certain way if you are showing doubt and things like that.  I can really understand it well from my teachers.  That’s probably because I’m use to their accents and how they talk.  I can easily pick up what they are saying.

I’ve learned that the gift of tongues isn’t what people think it is.  Well at least it isn’t for me.  Everyone thinks the gift of tongues means you can  speak fluent Portuguese even if you don’t know how to say words and stuff.  Out of all my teachers only one has seen that happen and it occurred just once in his life.  For me, I pray for the gift before I teach a lesson -- and I have to pray for it every time I’ve learned.  Otherwise, I don’t get it.  Then I am able to think in Portuguese.  I don’t have to translate what people are saying from Portuguese into English and I don’t have to think of the sentence in English and then try to translate it into Portuguese.   I am not given the ability to say words I don’t know.

For some reason I’m staying at the MTC for a week longer then everyone else. That’s OK because the next eight devotionals are going to be apostles which means I get to see one today. Plus I really love my teachers.  One of my favorite teachers left because he got an internship.  I was super sad but my new teacher is so awesome! He is from Mozambique! He is so smart.  My first teacher Irmao Neilson is really cool too!  I’m lucky because my teachers are so profound, deep, and gospel oriented.  The down side is my teachers teach way less Portuguese compared to the others but I’m OK with that.  

Iramo Neilson is way cool.  We both have been given the spiritual gift of being able to know how people feel.   We ended up talking about it for two hours yesterday.  It was awesome!  He understands exactly how I feel.  The gift is special.  I don’t know how to really describe it.   It’s a sixth sense.   You are able to tell how people feel even when you don’t know them.  It was nice being able to talk with someone that had it too.

I’m for sure learning a ton about the scriptures!  My teacher taught me how to read the Book of Mormon using a different perspective and now I can teach a 30 minute lesson using just the first seven verses.  Those verses are about missionary work and following the promptings of the Spirit!  They are probably the most read verses in the Book of Mormon and they are actually so profound and deep!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Week 3, part 2 - Random details.

We have four new elders and one sister in our zone.  They are all going to Portugal and are all really cool!!  I don’t have a companion.  I have someone that sleeps in the same room.  We walk together everywhere but we are both solos because we attend different classes.

One of my favorite teachers last day is tomorrow and I’m really sad about that. He KNOWS AND UNDERSTANDS SOOOOOOO MUCH about the gospel! I learn so much about Brazil and how to teach and the things I’m capable of doing if I ask God.  He has an internship so he has to quit working at the MTC.

I ripped a white shirt, which I was really sad about. [Dallen ripped one of his pairs of pants the first week].

My estimated date for flying to Brazil is May 20.  I’ve been told I won’t be going to the Brazilian MTC for part of my language training.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Week 3 - Easter: Because of Him

My week has been sooooooo amazing.  I couldn’t have asked for a better week!!!  The miracles at this point are too many to count! The first crazy thing that happened was I GOT TO MEET AND SERVE AN APOSTLE!!!

Tuesday Neil L Anderson came.  His grandson was just called on a mission so he and his family came and asked the Brazilian Elders to show them around the MTC.  He had us teach him what MTC life is like!!!  It’s pretty crazy.  I did a favor for an apostle of the Lord!  Later that night we got to hear him give a talk and it was amazing!!!

Also this week something neat and special happened.  It wasn’t really an answer to one of my prayers but one of my teachers.  Here at the MTC your teacher’s pretend to be an investigator they taught while on their mission. You get to teach them but you can only use Portuguese.   They pretend they don’t know English.  It can be hard.  I was teaching my teacher Irmão Neilson and I was teaching him about prayer and how God truly listens and answers our prayers.  After I was done he started to get really emotional and then started to tell me how I just helped him answer one of his prayers.  Apparently he has been praying and fasting to know if he should ask his girlfriend to marry him.  During my lesson he got his answer!!!  Apparently I helped someone get married -- or not.  I haven’t asked him if the answer was yes or no yet. 

That’s one thing that is amazing and blows my mind about being a missionary, a Mormon, or a son of God.  I’m not the greatest teacher or missionary -- especially when it comes to teaching in Portuguese, but the neat thing is I don’t have to.   I’m not a perfect human being but again I don’t have to be.  Alone I can’t do much as a missionary, but I don’t have to.  I don’t have to be a perfect human being because the Savior was.  He makes up for all my imperfections.  All I have to do is try my best.  

As a missionary I don’t need to be the best at speaking, teaching, or anything.  I just have to try, put my faith in the Lord and He makes up for the rest!  I know that’s true.  I’ve already seen it happen with my fake investigators!  They’re returned missionaries.  They already know everything I’m teaching but yet they are still able to learn something and have their prayers answered.   Why?  Because the Holy Ghost truly teaches people -- not me.  I know Heavenly Father listens and answers our prayers.  It might not be when or how we want, but he answers them.  

This Easter week has been a special one.  Easter Sunday Morning we had the opportunity to hear from another of the Lord’s apostle’s:  President Dieter F Uchtdorf.  He shared the story of Christ’s atoning sacrifice and how he suffered for all our sins, pains, and afflictions and for everyone that was, is, or will be.  Now we can repent and be made clean again because of Him.

I know that Jesus loves everyone regardless of what we have done.  I am sooooooooooooooooooo grateful for Him and for His suffering for my sins, pains, and afflictions.  I’m sooooo thankful that He did that.   Whatever I’m going through.  Whenever I think there is no one who understands how I feel.  He does.  He knows EXACTLY how I feel.   He suffered too and more.  As I turn to Him during those times, through the power of the atonement, my sins and pains can be go away because of Him.

Our church released a video recently for Easter, which apparently is one of the top trending videos on YouTube.  It’s entitled Because of Him   I invite you to watch it regardless of your religious background.  Even if you are not religious, Jesus Christ sacrificed for you.  This is the message I’m going to go share with the people of Brazil.  It is exactly the message this video is sharing.  Learn what is possible because of him.  I am who I am because of Him.  I’m doing what I’m doing because of Him.  Watch this video.  Check out the website after you are done.  This week think about who you are and what you have and what you can do because of Him.  Please write me back and tell me about yourself and the blessings you’ve received because of Him.

-- Elder Hammond

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Week 2 - MTC Miracle

Oi! Tudo Bem! (Hi, what's up)

This week was really good and sad at the same time. I literally had MIRACLES happen! what's cooler then that!  Then a few sad things happened too.  My companion Elder Evans was having to go to the doctors a lot and I didn't know why.  I was really worrying about my companion so I said a prayer and asked Heavenly Father to please help me read something that would uplift my companion or that could give me insight into how to boost his morale.  LITERALLY RIGHT AFTER I said that prayer the wind blew my scriptures open to Alma chapter 8 (In the book of Mormon) and in that chapter there is a verse that talks about how Alma was told to go and preach to this city and everyone just hated him and rejected everything he said.  He left the city just down and feeling like a failure and then an angel appeared to him and was like why are you down?   You went and did what the Lord asked of you so you should be nothing but happy.  You did everything he asked of you.

Shortly after reading about that my companion came up to me and told me that he was getting honorably released and was being sent home tomorrow due to medical reasons.  The Mission President felt it was best for him to go home and he was really bummed about it.

I shared that scripture with him and let him know that hey even though he was going home early, he could be proud and happy.  He was obedient and did what the Lord asked and came here and gave it his all.  The Lord just has other plans for him at the moment then being on a mission. It really helped him out.

I can not recall ever having a prayer answered so fast or so personal like that so it was just really amazing.  Since I hold the Melchizedek Priesthood I was able to give Elder Evans a priesthood blessing that night which was a very emotional/spiritual experience and then after I gave him one he gave me one and I will probably never forget it!

Half of the people in my zone went home yesterday or today so now there are only six of us. We are getting four new Elders and one sister tomorrow which we are excited for!  It has been confirmed that a general authority is coming and giving a talk on Easter Sunday which I'm crazy excited for!!!!

Overall it was a good week and I am progressing a ton in Portuguese!  The days are going by sooooo fast it seems like I was emailing the other day.

Com Amor (with love), Elder Hammond

They have caffiene free Mountain Dew here!

The Brazil Sao Paulo East Mission area.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Week 1 - Mission Training Center

The MTC [Mission Training Center] here is pretty cool. Its basically EFY [Especially For Youth].  David Archuleta came here and did a devotional and so did the BYU [Brigham Young University] group Vocal Point and all the girls are going crazy hahah. I wasn't here for David but Vocal Point was really good!

Portuguese is such a beautiful language! I love learning how to speak it! Its really easy for me to understand. Speaking it is way fun but I for sure do not have enough vocabulary to teach yet.  Our first two lessons with investigators where pretty awful. We forgot to bring our scriptures with us both times which really messed us up but its OK.  It's our first week. One of the strangest things now is in my dreams people only speak Portuguese which is way weird but way cool at the same time!

My companions name is Elder Evens who is from Alabama.  It's super nice having a companion from the south! He is funny.  His birthday is November 22 which is insane.  It's one day different from mine. He is pretty cool!  We get along really well!  No one here knows what boiled peanuts are here except for us.

Our district is really small.  There are only eight Elders and Sisters combined in our group at the MTC who are going to Brazil. Most of the people in our zone are going to Portugal.  Portugal Portuguese sounds gross.

Conference is the coolest thing at the MTC!  There is a special spirit here during conference and you feel peoples love and prayers when the general authorities talk about the missionaries.