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Friday, July 31, 2015

The weeks seem like days...

Oi! It seems like just yesterday that I was just writing, time is flying by!

I'm gaining weight from eating so much delicious food.... I'm up like 1.5 kilos heh heh heh.....

I've started thinking in Portuguese... It's super weird, and it just happens haha... I was writing a note to myself and meant to write it in English, but it came out in Portuguese woops... My English is getting worse too. I have to stop and think about words quite often, but it's great!

Elder Hughes and I are Zone Leaders now, and so we're responsible for all of the English speakers (our branch is almost all American). It's fun because now we get to plan Sacrament Meeting and there's an Elder from England here, so we asked him to give the closing prayer this Sunday because we like his English accent in Portuguese hahaha... That isn't abusing our power, is it?

Last Sunday the Area President of Brazil came and gave our devotional. It was awesome, and I understood almost all of it! (There's always live English translation, but it was easier to listen to the Portuguese haha. I'm getting more and more blessed with the language every day.

So the best part of the whole entire CTM happened on Wednesday-- We got to go to a part of São Paulo and give out the Livro de Mormon to people!!! You definitely can't do that in Provo haha. It was absolutely amazing. We were all scared beforehand because we actually were going to go teach real people (not just our instructors) in Portuguese. We got 3 Livros each, and Elder Hughes and I gave our 6 out in 20 minutes. It was so cool, because people were just so engaged and so interested when we said "Somos representantes de Jesus Cristo, e nós temos um mensagem sobre Dele" ("We are representatives of Jesus Christ, and we have a message about him"). When we were all out of books, we went up to people and just taught them, since we had like an hour left. We were talking to this man and I felt prompted to talk about the Plan of Salvation, and so Elder Hughes and I started teaching this guy on the street a 10 minute version of God's plan for us, and then a little bit of the Restoration of the Gospel. It was so indescribable because whereas I usually struggle to find my words and my sentences are choppy, while we were teaching this man the words flowed out of my mouth effortlessly. I knew all of the words, but they had never come so easily as they did then. The whole time, I was guided exactly to what I needed to say, and I could feel how important this message is and how much we all need to understand it in our lives. At the end, I felt compelled to ask him if he would like to be baptized, and he said he would! We wrote down his address, and hopefully the missionaries in his area will be able to teach him. It was so amazing, and I know that was the Spirit. Super awesome.

We got to go to the São Paulo temple again today, and it was just phenomenal, like always. I love the Temple, and I'm so grateful to the Lord for all of the wonderful blessings I'm receiving.

Love you all!

Elder Merrill

Friday, July 24, 2015

Another one flew by

(A note from Brian about letters: I got both of your letters this week! One took 10 days, the other 7.... If you want to tell people they can send me real letters, do it in the next 2 weeks so we make sure I get em before I leave, that'd be great, thanks!)

MTC Mailing Address (send through August 5):
Elder Brian Robert Merrill
Brazil São Paulo East Mission
Brazil Missionary Training Center
Rua Padre Antônio D'Angelo, 121
Casa Verde
CEP 02516-040 São Paulo - SP

I can't believe that it's been a week! It's so crazy here, I live in a time warp. The days feel sooo long but the weeks go by sooooooooo fast. 

Word of the week: Feijão - beans
Oh my goodness I love the food here, I'm just worried I'll get fat because I eat so much haha

More and more and more Portuguese. It amazes me every single day how much we learn, and how awesome just being a missionary is. Elder Hughes and I are teaching 2 or 3 lessons a day now, and it's so cool how far we've progressed in just a week... we haven't been using any notes, whereas we had to almost read our entire lessons from what we wrote on paper earlier.

So on P-days in the Brazil CTM, we get to walk around the streets of São Paulo! It's so cool! Elder Hughes, Elder Baker, Elder Batten (the other Elders in my District) and I went exploring last week, and the whole time we were like "holy cow, this is where we get to live for 2 years!" So. Awesome. 

Also another way cool thing about the CTM is we get Brazilian roommates, and it's fun to get to know them in our broken Portuguese hahaha. Elders Batten, Baker, Hughes, and I usually make it a group effort to understand when they're telling us stories and such, but it was super ótimo when we finally could carry on full conversations and understand each other.

Last week I forgot to mention that I played piano for Priesthood meeting in Church and for our Tuesday nightDevotional, so Mom and Dad, all those years of miserably forcing me to practice when I hated it is already paying off haha:)

We got 2 Sister missionaries in our District this week who had spent 2 weeks in Provo. It's kinda fun to get new people because we can relate exactly to how overwhelmed they feel, and it's great because now we feel seasoned and experienced haha. It was also kinda weird to get 2 new sisters, since our District has gotten super close since we've been here. We have the most tender spiritual moments, it's just amazing to be around so many people who are so strong and willing. We've grown into a little family, and it's been such a blessing because the CTM gets really stressful sometimes.

The Lord is so amazing, and He knows exactly what we need and when we need it. On Monday, I was sick (not too bad, just coughing and sniffling and a slight fever maybe, but I still had to study, so I did) and was getting kinda discouraged with the load of everything all at once. In the evening, a group of Elders that were visa-waiters before and were leaving the next morning came into our classroom and basically just shared some advice and bore their testimonies to us. It was so powerful, I felt so strongly that I am in the right place and that I need to be humble so that the Lord can make me so much more than I can myself.

I love you all!

Elder Merrill

Friday, July 17, 2015

Português, Portugûes, Português

Nat's Note: Brian wants everyone to know that they can't send pictures from the MTC, but he will send a bunch in 5 weeks. Something to look forward to! And now for his letter!


I don't even know where to start, this last week and a little has been absolutely crazy!!!

Word of the Week: Português.

I'll talk a little about the CTM in general... When we got here, we had a little orientation thingy on the first day, but that was about all the instruction we officially recieved on where to go and such. Everyone was jabbering in Portuguese and we didn't know what they were saying and we didn't know where anything was and we couldn't ask like anybody anything because everyone speaks Portuguese and we were all still drained from traveling.... I could go on and on, but suffice it to say, it was a bit overwhelming. Also, the day of a missionary is suuuuper long. You're either studying or teaching from 7 in the morning until 945 at night, and none of that is spent relaxing or doing anything leisurely. It's a brutal adjustment. Our Zone Leaders told us that it's always bad at the beginnning, you just have to stick it out until Sunday, and goodness they were so right. This week, I finally feel like we're getting into the swing of things. We're studying hard and focusing in class and having the greatest spiritual experiences... I wish I could write it all down, but I don't have time!

Being here in the Brazil CTM is awesome because you become immersed in the language and a bunch of culture immediately. Also, the cafeteria serves Brazilian food that is muito bom. I would tell what some of it is, but most of the time I don't know or ask and just eat it, thinking sometimes it's better to not know hahaha. Just walking through the halls talking to people taught me so much before our first class. It's just so great. Everyone is so happy, and we all know our purpose here.

We have the BEST teacher ever, Irmã Correa! (pronounced co-hey-uh) She is so otímo!! On the first day of class, she just barked Portugues at us and I thought "holy poo this is gonna be a long six weeks..." She is actually from Columbia, but speaks portuguese like a native. She is super energetic, and you can just tell she has so much love for us and for the gospel.

I've learned sooooooooo much! It simultaneously feels like I've been here for months, yet was home a few days ago.... I can't explain it very well. But on the 3rd day here, Elder Hughes and I taught our first lesson to an investigator (who actually was just one of our teachers) but it was all IN PORTUGUESE. The Spirit is amazing. There is no possible way that everyone here could learn as much and as fast as they do without the Spirit helping. Like one morning, Elder Hughes and I memorized 3 scriptures in less than an hour, and have taught so many lessons since then. It's just amazing. I know so strongly that God loves His missionaries, and He really helps them learn whatever they need, including Portuguese.

Today we got to go to the Campinas temple, and it was just soooooooo amazing. I love the temple, and I really needed the solace of the Celestial Room to refocus and ponder on what I've been learning. It was wonderful. The temple truly is the House of the Lord.

Amo todos vocês muito muito muito!!!!!

Elder Merrill

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

I'm alive!

Elder Merrill has officially left for Brazil! He  was sent off from the airport at 6AM yesterday by a group of family and friends. We love him! We received his first letter this morning! Here it is:

The President of the Brazil Missionary Training Center (CTM) sent us this picture! 

Hey everyone! They're giving us time to tell you that we actually made it to the CTM and are all happy!

As the plane took off in Wenatchee, I thought to myself "What the heck did you just do?!" It was a bunch that hit me all at once.... I went from peaceful to scared out of my brain every 30 seconds. I was able to talk to the people next to me on the plane a little bit, but they weren't super interested. It wasn't until after I was in Atlanta for a while, sitting and reading my Book of Mormon (my only form of entertainment while traveling) until saw a guy in a suit with a nametag go sit down across the terminal. I joined him, and over the next few hours more missionaries joined us until there were 12 of us! It was so relieving and I finally felt like I belonged somewhere haha. All nervousness went away and it was so exciting to be talking with other missionaries! 6 of them had already been out (visa waiters), and 6 of us were coming straight from home. It was great to hear everyone's stories!

The flight to São Paulo was a long one, and it was overnight so I got 5 hours of sleep (some of the missionaries didn't get any). I learned very quickly after hearing a bunch of passengers speak rapid-fire Portuguese that mine has a looooong way to go still hahaha. Thank you Mannings for the bag of food! It saved my life multiple times, and is now with my wonderful stash of food (I'll figure out how to send pictures later, I don't have much time) Our flight landed at like 5 am and then we went through customs pretty smoothly, then traveled to the CTM and arrived at about 8, then ate and were able to unpack and nap for a short while. My body clock is so off, I don't even know what time it thinks it is! I've been on and off sleeping for too long, I'm so disoriented. But I'm excited and ready to learn! My companion is Elder Hughes, who is also going to São Paulo Leste! Maybe we'll be comps out in the field too! 

So yeah, I'm actually in Brazil and I'm alive!

Tchau! I love you all!

Elder Merrill

p.s. Our next P-day will either be next Wednesday or Friday, those are the days they give the Americans.