Saturday, December 31, 2011

Heading to the Brazil MTC

Autumn has received her visa and will leave for the Brazil MTC on Tuesday, January 3rd.  She will have a lay over in Detroit and will arrive in Brazil the next morning.  She will be traveling in a group with her MTC companion and some elders.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

December 26th E-mail

Dear Family and Friends! 
I love you all! I am still doing well! Probably thanks to all of your prayers!
Today will be the first day that we will be prohibited from speaking or responding to our teachers in English. If we speak in English, they will just pretend like they can't understand it. I think I will struggle, but I also think I need this. I think I will start catching on much more quickly if I am forced to speak in Portuguese at all times. I have been getting discouraged at times because I am not so great at speaking and putting sentences and words together in Portuguese, but then I remember that I can understand most of what is said and most of what I read, and I have to think that that is a miracle in itself. Even if I can't speak it very well, I can understand a new language already!! However, I am praying everyday that I will improve in the speaking of it.
As I said a little bit yesterday, Christmas was different. It didn't even feel like Christmas. For one thing, there was no snow, I wasn't with my family, and I couldn't just lounge around and lazily enjoy the day. However, just because it was different doesn't mean that it was bad. Just to tell you a little bit more about it....Saturday was just like any other day until the evening. Evening class was canceled, and we had a Christmas program. We all started lining up really early because we thought an apostle would be there to speak to us. No such luck. But, while in line, a bunch of missionaries in my zone thought it would be funny to attach every name tag they could find to my sweater. I didn't even notice because I was practicing vocab with my companheiras. I probably had about 20 nametags hanging from the bottom of my sweater. Things to do: Become a more observant individual.  Then after the program, we watched a Christmas Carol and ate some popcorn. Then it was back to our residence halls and in bed at 10:30.
The next morning, we had a combined sacrament meeting with all the missionaries in the MTC. Everyone lined up to get into the gym sooooo early because we all knew that an apostle would be coming to speak to us THIS TIME. And one did. Guess who? Drumroll please..................Elder Bednar! His talk was so great. It was great to hear from him when he has such a focused audience to talk to. He was talking straight to me. He talked about how this time is the Lord's, not ours. Therefore, we should not be thinking about ourselves. He mentioned Christ's character. About how Christ turned out to people when everyone else would have turned inward. He said that when you turn outward and develop that characteristic of Christ is when you are going to have the most success in your mission. It was the best part about Christmas! Not to mention I got pretty good seats!!!
So my visa says it has been authorized? That is pretty cool! It shouldn't be long before it says "Ready for Collection!" I have mixed feelings about the possibility of my visa coming. I have enjoyed my time here, and really get along well with my companions. I am also worried about going to Brazil and finding out I am really behind everyone who reported to the Brazil MTC the day I was supposed to because they have been exposed to Portuguese more. But, I can't wait to actually get down to Brazil, to be among the people and see the culture. It is an adventure I am looking forward to. Mom, I know Elder Heiner. He is in my zone. So his visa was authorized the same day mine was? Cool! I think he is going to Porto Alegre South. I sure hope I fly out with someone I know. I would be a lot more comfortable with that! Hopefully some of the missionaries in my district get theirs when I do! I guess this is just part of mission life and I'll have to get used to it, but it's hard to get to know people in your district/zone etc and then see them leave. The hard thing about going to Brazil is that there are so many missions! I don't know of anyone else going to Porto Alegre North, so it's not like I'll see any of the friends I have made here at the MTC in my mission. But, a lot of them go to BYU, so maybe I'll see them afterward!
So I officially hate winter. I am thinking that 85% humidity would be really nice right about now. My skin is shriveling up. I usually get pretty dry skin during the winter, but it is especially bad right now for some reason!
Well, looks like I have to go, but I love you all so much. I am amazed that I've almost been gone for a month already! The Savior lives! This is His work, and I am so grateful and humbled to be a part of it!
Love you!
Sister Autumn Barnes
P.S. You should definitely keep me updated on the visa stuff. It's really nice to know!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas Day E-mail

Dearest Familia, 
Feliz Natal! You don´t get an phone call from me today, but I get to email! However, since every missionary and their dog is on email right now, the computer keeps freezing up...and to add to that.....the computer I am on was switched into Spanish mode. I tried to switch it back to English, but it wasn´t even in the options! So if some of my typing is all messed up, you know why!
My Christmas has been different than any other Christmas I have experienced, but it has been good. Doesn´t feel much like Christmas, but they have tried to make it as special as possible. Yesterday started out just like every other Saturday, except for we didn´t have classtime in the evening. Instead, we all met together for a Christmas program. It consisted of some missionaries reading a narration while other missionaries acted out the Christmas story. It was actually pretty cheesy and gave us all a good laugh, but it was still really good. After the program, we watched a Christmas Carol. That is an interesting movie. Most missionaries got a kick out of a few special parts. Their favorite seemed to be the Ghost of Christmas Present.....a really big man with a very hairy chest.
The best part about Christmas however, was Sacrament Meeting. Guess who presided over it. Wow my question mark won't even work. Elder David A. Bednar!!!!!!!!!!! Wow, that man is powerful! He carries a powerful spirit with him! A tangible one! He talked about how we´ll be the best missionaries when we turn out towards others instead of only thinking about ourselves and being the kind of missionary we want to be. It was great!
Well has taken me over 20 minutes to type this because it keeps on freezing, but I will type you more tomorrow! Tomorrow is my PDay. I love you all so much and hope you have had a great Christmas! Till tomorrow!
Sister Autumn Barnes

Monday, December 19, 2011

December 19th E-mail

Oi Minha Familia! 
I hope this Christmas time is going well for you! I have been doing really well. I have been really blessed because so far I haven't experienced much homesicknesses. That is until this week....just a tad. I think it's just because this Christmas is so different from any other Christmas I have ever had!!! There's no resting or lounging around for me!
I am loving Portuguese. I can understand Portuguese pretty well already, but I have trouble speaking it. I can put sentences together, but I'm pretty slow at processing the right words and order and such. I'm sure it will just come with practice. I think the little background I had in spanish really helped. It has helped me because a lot of words and such are similar in Spanish and Portuguese. I always get really nervous to teach....just because it makes for some awkward experiences when you don't really know how to say the words you want to say. It will get better I'm sure. It already has, I guess. But......I still DREAD it. For one thing, teaching these lessons at the very beginning will make lessons seem like a cinch when I actually feel more comfortable with the language.
We are expecting some pretty cool speakers for Christmas this week! I'll tell you who ends up coming! Did I tell you I was able to talk to Sister Dibbs and Sister Dalton? They are amazing ladies and really made me feel like choosing to go on this mission was the right thing to do.
I told you how I am serving as a temporary companion for a solo sister, right? Well, I am. She usually just stays with her district of Elders, but whenever she needs a companion, I am her go-to sister. She has been having some knee problems, so she has been going to physical therapy every couple of days. I get to go with her. We get to escape MTC campus for a little while, and its pretty nice to be out and about in Provo a little bit.
Yep, I have been to two temple sessions so far. The temple is closed for a couple of weeks now, but my district got to clean the temple for a couple of hours this morning instead. I wasn't able to though because I was with Sister Feistner at her physical therapy appointment.
Because it is Christmas, our teachers (both of which are BYU students) are gone for the holidays. So, we have substitutes for the next couple of days. One of the substitutes is named Irmao Vilanova, and he happens to be a native of, guess where? Porto Alegre!!! Portuguese sounds differently in all different parts of Brazil, so it's been nice to hear how Portuguese is spoken specifically in Porto Alegre.
Oh, my district which started out with 9 missionaries is now down to 6. Three elders have received their visas. They filled out their electronic application a few weeks before I did, I believe. What is the status on mine right now? Is it processing yet? It is kinda sad because the three elders that have left were the elders in the district that made me happy and made me laugh when I needed a good laugh. I was talking to one of the men in the MTC Presidency the other day. He found out I was a visa waiter, and said that the visas have started coming faster. A couple months ago, they had 300 Brazilian visa waiters, and now they only have 60. We'll just have to see what happens I guess!
I went to the bookstore to get some pictures printed so I could send them to you, but they haven't come in yet! When you get them, you should scan some of them and put them online so people can see what my companions/district look like!
Wanna hear a funny story? I don't remember if I told you this yet.....frankly I don't remember what I write in any of my previous emails, so I'm sorry if I repeat a ton. Every Sunday night, they play church movies like The Joseph Smith Movie, The Testaments, etc. The other day's movie was Legacy. My companion told me that her RM cousin told her that all of the Elders like to stay to watch Legacy because there are multiple kissings scenes in it. I didn't believe it until the first kissing scene came up. So much cheering and ooooohh's and cat calls from the Elders. Every SINGLE kiss. How pathetic are they? :)
Well, my time is up. But I hope you all know how much I love you and miss you. I am glad to be here, but that doesn't mean I don't miss my family and friends. This truly is a humbling experience. I have realized that I'm not picking up the language as quickly/easily as I had hoped to. It has really made me rely on the Lord to bless me with the gift of tongues. My roommates left for the mission field today. They are going to South Carolina, so they were only here for 3 weeks. It really made me thankful that I have 6 more weeks to prepare for the mission field. I am nowhere near ready. I have a lot of learning and growing to do beforehand even though I have felt like I have learned so much already!
I love you! The Lord loves you! Feliz Natal! 
Sister Autumn Barnes

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

December 12th E-mail

Hi Family! 
Things are still going great! I have found myself pretty overwhelmed and down at times, but there have been so many times when my resolve has been strengthened. Missionary work truly is a rollercoaster....and I have only been here under two weeks! Sometimes I get frustrated with the teachers for giving me 2 minutes to prepare a 20 minute lesson in a language I can't speak! But shortly after that, they will bear powerful testimony about the gift of tongues and our divine purpose as missionaries, and I can't be mad at them anymore. The language is coming along. I feel like I'm moving too slowly if I want to be able to speak somewhat well after I leave the MTC, but I realized that the further along I get, the faster my learning will get. Learning will get exponentially faster.
This week we had some great firesides. The BYU Men's chorus came yesterday for a musical fireside. They sang a bunch of Christmas songs. The spirit was so strong. Relief Society is interesting here. All of the sisters from the whole MTC meet in a big room and we have a cool speaker. Yesterday, President Monson's daughter, Sister Dibbs came to speak. Hahahaha my companions and I were crying through the whole thing. The part that really got me was when she mentioned how she was at her dad's house the night before and he told her to tell us that he loved us Sister Missionaries and he was proud of us. That really gave me added strength to know that everything I am doing right now is worth it!
I am so attached to my nametag. I love being a respresentative of Jesus Cristo!
As far as my visa situation is whole district is composed of visa waiters. So far, one of the elders received his visa and will be leaving for Brazil tomorrow, but the rest of us are just chilling. I am honestly not too worried about it at this moment. I would love to experience the Brazil MTC, but I like it here too. My companions have been so great. I especially love my companion, Sister Zeller. We have so much in common. We just get each other and have very similar senses of humor. From what I've heard about her relationship with her little sister, it sounds exactly like my relationship with Lisa.
Agghhh.....remember the story I told you about teaching my "investigator" that I had actually met at BYU before. Giving him the lessons was so humiliating because I looked like an idiot....doing them in Portuguese is hard! Well, after the first couple of lessons I told myself to just calm down....I am just learning. Besides when will I ever see this guy again, and why should I even care? Well turns out.............he's my teacher!!!! Sneaky, sneaky MTC! We didn't know that we were teaching one of our future teachers! I guess they do that so the teachers can see how you teach in that kind of environment, and then they know what to help you with! Gah....I feel so self-conscious when he teaches because I think he thinks I'm a complete retard. Hahaha it's ok though, because he seems to be a pretty good teacher.
The food here isn't so bad. No dad, I haven't had to resort to Lucky Charms for every meal.
There are only 7 girls in our branch right now. We are super outnumbered....BUT on Wednesday we are getting 21 new missionaries in our branch.....and 12 of them are sister missionaries! They are all going to Portugal though. I have discovered what the main difference between Brazilian Portuguese and Portugal Portuguese. We use a lot of G sounds and CH sounds in Brazil. They don't do that in Portugal. However, they pronounce all their s's like Sh sounds. Kinda interesting! I also figured out why we are called "Sister Barnes, Sister Zeller......." instead of Irma ________ (irma is sister in Portuguese). It's because only nuns use the title "Irma ___________."  We are definitely not nuns. So I will be known as Seester Barnes down in Brazil.
Lisa.....can't believe you ran into a tree. I hope Abbie posts that part on the blog. I will get you guys some pictures of my experiences at the MTC: pictures of my comps and district and such when I can. We only have 30 minutes to email, so we are really pressed for I haven't even tried to send pictures through email. Don't even know if I can! Either way, I'll get you some pictures soon!
I love you all! I know this church is true! Just in these past couple of weeks, I have really come to know that the Lord LOVES ALL of his children! I love serving Him!
There are so many people I want to write letters to, but we have really limited time! I will write you all letters when I get the chance!
Love you,
Sister Barnes

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

First E-mail from the MTC

Dear Family, 
I don't have much time to do this, so I hope you don't mind if this email is all over the place.
I am doing great. I am really liking this whole experience so far. I am currently in a trio. My companions are named Sister Felber and Sister Zeller. We all get along really well. I could see myself being friends with Sister Zeller outside the mission. On Tuesday I am going to be a temp. companion for a Sister Feistner. Sshe has been here for 6 weeks. Her companion just got her visa and will be heading to Brazil. I will still be in the trio, but I will walk around with Sister Feistner before and after classes. We are on completely different levels, so we don't go to the same classes or anything. That's why i'm not going to be her permanent companion.
I absolutely love the Portuguese language. It is so beautiful. The second I walked into class the first day, my Instructor, Irmao Cangelosi only talked Portuguese to me. That's pretty overwhelming, but it's amazing how much you pick up that way. I've already taught two lessons in Portuguese and will teach another tomorrow. As you can imagine, the lessons are pretty rough. Although we have learned a lot of Portuguese in the few days we have been here, not nearly enough to teach a good lesson. I get kind of frustrated because most effort is put into having the investigator understand what we are trying to say. There is no way I can bring the spirit into the lessons yet. I was so nervous to teach the first lesson because we had to after only being here for 2.5 days. Wanna hear what made it worse? The "investigator" is someone I have talked to before on BYU campus. He sat next to me in the math lab and was totally flirting with me. So going in there and making a total idiot out of myself while trying to teach a lesson in a language I don't speak was kinda humiliating. Lessons will get better once I can speak better! And I hopefully won't have him as my investigator the whole time!
My district is really cool. We are all visa waiters, so I am assuming our district is just going to get smaller and smaller as people begin to get their visas.
You should have my address by now, yes? Please post that on the blog and facebook. Getting letters at the end of a hard day is the absolute best.
Yes, I got to see the Christmas devotional. It was great!
Church the other day was quite the experience. all testimonies, prayers, etc. are done in Portuguese. Every week the branch presidency randomly chooses a couple of people out of the group to speak on the assigned topic of the week so every week you have to come with a prepared talk in case you get called. It wouldn't be so bad, but the talk has to be in Portuguese! They really know how to push you out of your comfort zone here!
I am pretty much out of time, but I love you guys. I am doing great. It is hard, but I have loved all the learning that I have done here and the spirit that is so easy to be felt here. I'll write you a letter to explain more in detail. Don't be afraid to forward this to friends and family.
Love you!
Sister Autumn Barnes

Monday, December 5, 2011

Entering the MTC

Here are some pictures of Autumn before entering the MTC.