Saturday, August 31, 2013

Mission Letter: Week 1

Day One: Drop off with Brooklynn and Cameron

Oi familia! Tudo bem!
Week one is down and we are already partly through week two!  This is my disctrict's first Pday and other districts have had theirs way before us.  At first it was rough thinking I had to go ten days before I could email or write home or do laundry but now it's so great because we are already ten days down and they keep going faster and faster.  I am currently scheduled to leave the MTC exactly one month from today! So crazy!

The first four days were a total roller coaster.  At times I was thinking "this is so great!" and other times I was wondering "how in the world I am supposed to get through 18 months??".  But luckily each day really does get better and better.  Part of what was so hard was that we didn't get gym time for the first 3 days so by Saturday we were so ready to get outside!  I played soccer with some of the other sisters from our zone and it was so fun!  Gym is one of my favorite times because I get to go outside and enjoy the sun!  

Photo: Pday (she's such a cute missionary. I could be bias though).. ;)

My companion and I do exchanges with the other Sisters in our district (and the ones we live with) because my companion, Sister Stone, and Sister Neilson like to run... and we all know how I feel about that. So Sister Hardester and I just go out to the field and walk or play soccer or just chat!  
Sister Hardester is so much fun and so funny! I love when we get to spend time together because we get along so well!  Sister Stone and I don't have a lot in common but we get along and I pray every night to love her and find ways to serve her.  One thing we struggle with is our different levels of the language.  I am picking up Portuguese way faster than I expected and she is really struggling with it so that can be so hard for me but I know that she appreciates when I take the time to help her so I have been saying the words over and over for her to repeat and get the pronunciation down.

Portuguese is so awesome!  Thank heavens I took Spanish previously because it is helping A TON!  My teacher is super cool and funny but he never ever speaks in English to us so sometimes that can be frustrating.  But I know we will all be so thankful when we leave because we are learning faster than the other disctricts whose teachers do talk in English also.
The first lesson Sister Stone and I taught in Portuguese was on the third day and it was humbling. haha.  We have now taught 5 lessons and on our last one I didn't use notes so I was really happy about that.  It can be hard because often times I feel like I completely understand what they are saying but I have no idea how to say what I want to say back to them.  We are learning a ton every day though and noticeably improve!

                                    Photo: The District
My district is so fun.  One of my favorite Elders got his visa though and flew out the next morning to Brazil!  So now there are 12 of us.  There are some of the funniest people ever in my group and it's nice every once in a while to have a little light-hearted fun.  We are getting so close and I can see so many amazing qualities in each of them.  I am so glad I am in the district that I am!
I get to see Sister Halie Lewis multiple times a day because our classrooms are right by each other so that is so fun!  This last Wednesday was fun to have new missionaries come in.  I got to see Sarah Carlile!! I have seen her twice now and it is such a little blessing in my day when I get a friendly familiar face.  I also (completely unexpected) saw Tanner Litchfield (don't know if I spelled that right) abd that was super fun! He was so lost haha but I saw him again today and we decided we have to keep our cameras on us so that the next time we run into each other we can get a picture.  Every one in my district thinks that I know a million people here and it's funny.  The first counselor in my Branch Presidency is friends with Uncle Scott so he loves me now haha.  And one of my teachers knows Jed McLoughlin and told me he says hi!  Love when I get these little surprises!  The Chad and Cathy Bairds sent me cinnamon rolls and that was one of the best surprises!  Sister Hardester also got some so we had cinnamon roll breakfast with our district the next morning.  BIG THANKS to the Bairds for that :).

On Tuesday we had a devotional and went to the Marriot Center to listen to Neil L. Anderson speak and it was awesome! He talked about love and sacrifice and the importance of this not only on our missions but for the rest of our lives.  We sacrifice for what we love and and we love what we sacrifice for.  He talked about how love is the strongest force in this world because it is an eternal force.  Love comes ultimately from God and it is the most unselfish of feelings.  I can already see this in my own life.  When I was first called to Brazil I wanted to know about all the cool stuff and all the things that I was going to have to deal with (heat, bugs etc.) but as my time here continues I haven't hardly thought about any of that but instead been thinking about the people that I will have the opportunity to teach.  I already love them and feel so grateful to be able to have this opportunity to find those who will need me.  All I can think about are the lessons they will need and the truths they will need and what I can give them.  There are tons and tons of Brazil missionaries here and not very many leave to Brazil due to visa issues but at this point I am honestly just excited to get out in the field and will be happy with wherever I go because I know that God is going to put me where I need to be.  So many of the other missionaries in our zone get reassignments and it is always exciting to see where they are going!  Lucky me might get two mission calls ;).  We got caught in a thunder and lightening storm on our way back from the Marriot Center and it was so fun! Made me a little homesick though with all the rain!

Photo: Sister Hardester and Sister Westover. SOAKED from getting caught in a crazy thunderstorm walking back from devotional.

The days are long but they are still so wonderful and I am learning a ton.  Whenever we are struggling in our district we tell each other "tem fe" which means "have faith"!  there is a reason faith is the first principle of the gospel.  Elder Preciado in my district said "faith doesn't make things easy, but it makes them possible".  That is so true!  Faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement can truly work miracles in our lives.  It is the power to make up the difference wherever we fall short.  I am so blessed to be here and to be learning these things! I love and miss you all tons and pray for you every day!
       Sister Westover

Photo: Sister Westover and her Relief Society at the Provo Temple.