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