Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Another Beginning

Tuesday morning, I was the old dog in the CTM, familiar with schedule and comfortable with the everyday routine.  By Tuesday night, I was the smallest (pretty terrified) little ant in João Pessoa!  This transition began at 5:30 am when 13 other missionaries and I rode to the São Paulo airport and flew to Brasília.  I had brought a Portuguese Book of Mormon with me, but on the first flight I never mustered up the courage to talk to my seat mates (and to be honest none of us probably wanted to talk that early in the morning anyway).  On the second flight from Brasília to João Pessoa I started a conversation with the woman sitting next to me.  I am sure that I sounded ridiculous, but she could understand me and I could barely understand her.  Talking with people is exactly like playing a sport - it is always better to be on the offensive!  I have more success understanding a Brazilian when I am the one who first starts the conversation and keep it in the few subjects that I know how to talk about; families, where they are going, what they are doing, and the Gospel!  As we were getting off the plane, I pulled out my Book of Mormon and told the woman that I would like to give it to her.  I explained to her how much it meant to me and that I knew it would only add to her happiness and testimony of Jesus Christ!  Whether she actually wanted it or whether she just felt simpathetic toward me and my poor Portuguese, I do not know, but she happily accepted my offer!! 

We exited the plane right onto the runway and then walked back into the aiport to pick up our bags.  I was instantly engulfed by a heavy wave of heat as I emerged from the plane.  It felt just like good ´ol PA on an August afternoon!  As all of us missionaries walked into the airport we looked up at one of the windows and saw Sister Hall and some Elders excitedly waving at us!  It was tender, and almost felt like we had family there to pick us up.  João Pessoa is very different than São Paulo.  It is much more clean, much more beautiful, and not as overwhelmingly huge!  We first went to the chapel to have some training and meet our new companions!  Sister Tia Hinderliter from PA was one of the Sister missioanries who met us at the chapel!  She was Erika Dillers companion in the CTM!  It was fun to finally get to meet her and talk about how much we both loved Erika!  When President Hall announced our companionships, all of the Sisters were sitting beside their companions...this was incredible because there were four new Sisters and four trainers, and none of us knew who are companions were going to be!!  Its just a Sister thing, ya know!  My trainer is Sister Araújo.  Out of the four trainers, three were American and one, Sister Araújo, was Brazilian.  Even though I know it will be difficult, I am so grateful to have a Brazilian compaion.  I prayed to be blessed to learn Portuguese quickly...and I am certain Sister Araújo is the answer to my prayer.  I can already tell that she is going to be an amazing trainer for me!  All of the new missioanries and their companions ate dinner at the Mission home with President and Sister Hall.  It was kind of strange becasue everyone was speaking Portuguese, even the American missioanries (naturally), so even though I was not the only American I still felt somewhat out of the loop.  Sister Hall would be explaining something to the Sisters and then ask me a question and I would look at her and smile becasue I had no idea what was going on...I can understand the gist of a conversation but not everything.  The Sisters all slept in the Mission home and the Elders left to spend the night in another apartment nearby.  Sister Araújo and I went over our plans for the next day.  We would travel to our assigned area, Natal (the southern part of the city), in the morning, get things put away in our apartment (do P-day activities), and then at 6:00 we would have a teaching appointment!  In fact, Sister Araújo had four teaching apointments scheduled! 

I have learned a lot in the CTM.  I have learned how to speak a little Portuguese, I have learned to get along with my companion and a variety of other people and personalities, I have learned how to teach and how to contact people, I have learned to be humble, I have learned to love the scriptures even more than I already do, I have learned to pray with all the sincerity of my heart, and I have learned to trust the Lord with every fiber of my being - to trust that although I am weak He is strong, although I am afraid he can make me brave, although I have never done anything like this before in my life He will bless me to be able to wake up each day, to put one foot in front of the other, to speak the words that He would have me say, and to develop an overpowering love for these people and this great work.

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