Tuesday, April 24, 2012
Tuesday, April 17, 2012
Well, the word on the street is that I'll be getting a companion tomorrow!!! (ps - little side note - translating english lang into Portuguese doesn't usually convey the same meaning...hahaha!) I'm excited to be getting a companion, but after two weeks of being a solo sister it might take a little adjusting too...but I'm way stoked to start teaching with her! On Saturday we had our first TRC (I have no idea what that stands for...). The CTM brings in some members from the Sao Paulo area and then we get to teach them using what little Portuguese we know! I'm sure we sound ridiculous, but it was fun to talk with the members and practice teaching. I have A LOT to learn.
All three of my Brazilian roommates left for the mission field this morning. Two are going to Floranopolis and one is going to Sao Paulo Norte (this sister lives in Natal...which is part of my mission! I'm hoping that I will get to meet her family when I'm up there)! I will miss themm and their friendship immensely! They've been so patient with me and my terrible Portuguese. Last night, they told me that they all wanted to say a prayer in english because I had said all of my prayers with them in Portuguese. So, I taught them how to pray in English and then they all said a prayer in English and I of course said a prayer in Portuguese. It was a neat experience and made me really feel of their love for me! My favorite time of the day is 9:30-10:30 at night when I'm with my roommates and we have these fun, goofy conversations where we try to understand eachother usuing as much Portuguese and English that we can all understand between the four of us! I've also decided that Sundays are my most favorite day of the week. It's a nice break from my normal routine AND I can spend as much time as I want talking to people during lunch, migrating from table to table without worrying about being late to a class! (which I won't lie, happens quite a bit...they run a tight schedule here at the CTM...)
I don't know how it happens, but one week goes by like a day and yet feels like a lifetime! For various reasons, this past week was extremely difficult for me - the main reason being that I was frustrated that it was my 2nd week in the CTM and I still couldn't speak or understand Portuguese very well! (don't judge, I know I'm being impractical...heehee) Everyday I'd think to myself, "I know the Gospel very well and I know how to teach it, but I just can't do it in Portuguese!" Ahhhhh! However, as I contemplated my current situatino one evening, I realized that I had to stop thinking about what I couldn't do and start thinking about what abilities I could develop from this challenge. I realized that my personal experience here at the CTM was vastly different from a Brazilian Sister who already spoke Portuguese and only needed to be at the CTM for three weeks. The lessons she would learn during her time at the CTM would be vastly different than the lessons I would learn -- and I realized that this difference was very important. Whenever I would feel discouraged or frustrated, I began to look for the lessons I could learn from my situation. Here are a few of them!
First, kindness can be understood in all languages. Even though I can hardly communicate with the other Brazilian missionaries, I have been able to develop such strong friendships with them. A hug, a smile, a laugh, and a simple attempt to say something in Portuguese instantly breaks the language barrier and we can both understand the universal language of love. Never underestimate the power a simple gesture of kindness can have! Second, I've learned that to teach simply is to teach powerfully. I don't have the extensive vocabulary in Portuguese that I have in English to explain certain Gospel principles...BUT I have enought! My inability to say everything that I want to say in teaching me to rely more on allowing the true teacher, the Holy Ghost, to teach for me. Third, I am learning to trust and rely more in my Savior. I REALLY can't do this on my own! We will each have times in our lives when our patience and faith will be tried. We must always remember, though, that it is in life's most difficult moments when we have the greatest opportunities to accomplish things we've never done before! No, it't not easy, but the Lord has promised us that if we put our trust in him and continue in the faith, we will experience miracles in our lives. No matter your challenges, NEVER give up...NEVER!!!
Sunday, April 15, 2012
Transcription of Courtney’s first letter from Brazil, probably written April 4, 2012.
Title: São Paulo, Brazil (not Shippensburg)
Oí Mão e Pai! (Hello, Mom and Dad)
I guess mail gets to the MTC much quicker than we expected. So, you can post this address on the board at church if you want.
Sister Courtney Lynnette Fernelius
Box #25 District #14-A Brazil MTC
Brazil João Pessoa Mission
Rua Padre Antonio D’Angelo, 121
Casa Verde, São Paulo, SP
And it sounds like I’ll be in the CTM for 6 weeks—the original length of time was 9 weeks…so minus 3…anyway it’ll still go by fast. As I was going through customs the lady asked me in Portuguese how long I was going to be in Brazil. I stood there stunned for awhile and then stammered, “Repita”. She asked again and I replied, “Dezioto meses.” (I had just learned numbers on the plane! hee, hee. It’s basically nothing, but I COMMUNICATED!!) Then, when all of us missionaries were standing around waiting for others to exchange their money, I walked over to the Brazilian who had been helping us out and said, “Vocé é com aeropuerto ou a igreja?” (Are you with the airport or the church?) Who knows if my grammar was correct, but he understood enough to say, “a igreja”! ha ha ha J He probably spoke English, but we left before I could ask him that in Portuguese! I really don’t know much, but babies don’t know how to say much either and they still talk—Besides, how can I share this powerful message with these wonderful people if I can’t speak their language?! Yes, the Lord uses all kinds of ways, but I WILL be speaking Portuguese in 4 months at the longest! (Goal #1J) Four other sisters ended up joining me on the flight; none going to João Pessoa. The total of missionaries traveling together was 25! The power of those elders was tremendous!! Talking to them, hearing their testimonies, feeling their excitement, and already seeing their devotion to the work was incredible. Sister missionaries have power, but elders have a sacred obligation and a duty to their priesthood—and when they act upon it and live up to their divine inheritance, their power is remarkableJ!! Three other elders are going to João Pessoa! The night plane ride felt like sleeping in a pop up camper with someone walking around all night rocking the thing back and forth—it was fantastic!...We didn’t even get to take showers when we got to the CTM! We all look great---greasy faces, greasy hair, smelly clothes…BRING IT ON BRAZIL!
Wednesday, April 11, 2012
Sunday, April 1, 2012
Tomorrow I will be set apart as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. However, I will not become a missionary when I pin the tag that bears the name of the Church and my own name to my shirt Monday night. Becoming a missionary requires much more than a white envelope with a call or a tag pinned to my shirt. Becoming a missionary is something we each began when we first started building and strengthening our testimonies of the Gospel, and is a process that should continue throughout the rest of our lives!
As heirs to the Abrahamic covenant, each one of us has the divine responsibility to become missionaries and to carry forth this great and marvelous work! Elder Bednar described how we can each become missionaries; he said, “You can increase in your desire to serve God and you can begin to think as missionaries think, to read what missionaries read, to pray as missionaries pray, and to feel what missionaries feel. You can avoid the worldly influences that cause the Holy Ghost to withdraw, and you can grow in confidence in recognizing and responding to spiritual promptings.”
I testify that each one of us have been called to this great and marvelous work! No matter what stage of life we are in or what our circumstances are, we can each become missionaries and join the Lord’s army in bringing His restored Gospel to all the world! Missionary work is not simply an activity in which we engage for a limited time or an assignment we must complete as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Rather, missionary work is a manifestation of our spiritual identity and heritage. We were foreordained in the premortal existence and born into mortality to fulfill the covenant and promise God made to Abraham. We are here upon the earth at this time to magnify the priesthood and to preach the gospel. That is who we are, and that is why we are here—today and always…we have been prepared for this day to build up the kingdom of God. We are here upon the earth now to assist in this glorious work!!
As I depart for a full-time mission in João Pessoa, Brazil, I would challenge my friends and family to look for areas in their lives where they can become a missionary and take part in this GREAT AND MARVELOUS WORK!!!!