Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Week 3


Well I have completed one half of my time here at the MTC! This week was great. Time is really starting to go by quickly, especially this last week. The first two weeks it was pretty hard to stay focused in a classroom for so long every day, hence the many different games we played that I wrote about last week.  But this week it was not as much as a struggle to stay focused and to continue to work hard. This week I feel like my Portuguese has improved greatly! We started to incorporate learning Portuguese into our games and it's been pretty fun. In my personal language study, which is for at least 3-4 hours a day, I make flashcards to learn new vocab and it is crazy for me to think about how much I have learned already.

This last week we had the opportunity to participate in the TRC here which I think stands for Teaching Resource Center. Anyways, they have Portuguese-speaking volunteers come in and we just get to talk to them and get to know them and then share a quick gospel message with them. My companion (Elder Shelton) and I talked with two people for 20 minutes each and it was cool to interact on a personal level in Portuguese. I was very surprised that I was able to say everything I wanted to and they understood me and I understood them. It was a really cool experience and it helped me be a more confident Portuguese speaker. Elder Shelton and I also teach our teachers once a day in Portuguese. They act like people that are interested in learning about the Gospel and they each have their own stories and own concerns and questions that we have to help them learn and understand. That has been going on for awhile but this week was WAY good for that. It is awesome now that I can just speak to them in Portuguese and I am able to convey the message I want. Anyways, so Portuguese is going very well and I continue to work hard at it. I for sure know more Portuguese than Spanish now. It's crazy how much I have learned in just 3 weeks here!

Also, I forgot to mention that we have either personal exercise time or gym time for an hour 5 days a week. They have a sweet gym here and most of the time I play basketball. We play 3 on 3 and it is usually always good competition and a lot of fun! It's crazy how fast that hour goes by though! I feel like I've only been playing for a few minutes by the time our hour is up. It's good though, and is a really nice break from the regular day to day studying and classroom time here. A few times the Elders in my district all decide to play hacky sack together during our exercise time and that's been fun too! We play 2 hits and then you can catch it and throw it at someone to get them out. And sometimes we run around the MTC campus for our exercise - actually we only did that once. So most of my exercise here is basketball, which of course I love!

Elder Fuhriman left this morning for Arizona and I got to go up to his classroom last night and say a final goodbye to him and take a picture together. He was so excited and I know he will do great. It has been really nice to see him quite a bit throughout these last 3 weeks. He also gave me motivation last night that although it sometimes seems like I have been in the MTC forever, the day will quickly come when I get on a bus and head to the airport. Each week in devotional and other settings we hear so many incredible stories and amazing experiences that happen on a mission and it gets me so excited to get out but I know this time here is needed and crucial. Also, the district that is in our residence hall that got here a week after us just all left early this morning because they are all going English speaking in the United States. Everyone in our district are all excited to go but we know that we have 3 weeks left and we need to appreciate this time and the awesome place that this is!

I want to tell you a little more about my district. We have all grown so close over these last 3 weeks and I know we will continue to grow closer over the next 3 weeks. Our District Leadervhas been Elder Larkin (someone else will become District Leader this week) from Salt Lake City and he just finished his Freshman year at Harvard. He's a great guy and I really like him, he's going to Fortaleza as well. Then there is Elder Phillips from South Carolina, Elder Colvin from Washington, Elder Whatcott from Arkansas, and they along with me and Elder Shelton (my companion) are all goign to Fortaleza. There is a companionship with 3 Elders that are going to Porto Alegre, Brazil. That is Elder Nielson from Virginia, Elder Shreeve from Arizona, and Elder Barnes from Kansas. Then the four sisters in our district are all going to Rio de Janiero and their names are Sister Hess from Colorado, Sister Calder from Washington, Sister Trussel also from Washington, and Sister Tanton from Maryland. We all work hard and get along really well with each other.

I am excited for another great week ahead. Elder Solomone Wolfgramm is due to report here tomorrow so I am WAY excited to see him! I hope you all have a great week and thank you for the continued support and love!

Until next week.

Elder Helvey

This picture is me and the big map in the main building of the MTC pointing to my mission: Fortaleza, Brazil!

One of the Sister's mom's sent the whole district a creative candy package. We were quite excited.

A last farewell to Elder Fuhriman who left this morning for the Arizona Tempe Mission, Spanish Speaking. It was fun to see him so often throughout these last 3 weeks. He was very excited to go and I know he will be great!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Week 2


Well another week has gone by here at the MTC and I am loving it. I have had such a good week! Last week on Tuesday night all the missionaries walked over to the Marriott Center at BYU and attended the MTC Fireside. Elder Hinckley came and spoke to us and it got me so excited to go out and teach people because he had so many cool stories and experiences that he shared with us. I was also able to sing in the MTC Choir which is huge and it was a really cool experience. I think there are about 1,000 missionaries in the choir so it's fun to be part of such a big group singing, even if I have no idea what the director is talking about when he gets all detailed about the notes and stuff haha.

Tuesday is our P-day which means we have the day to prepare for the next week. We still get up and eat breakfast at 6:30 but then we get to walk up to the Provo Temple and we do personal study outside on the Temple grounds for an hour. It's awesome being up there especially because the MTC is so crowded but up there it is so quiet and not busy at all. Then we walk back to the MTC and have until 4 o'clock to write letters, email, and do laundry. After dinner tonight we will go to the Marriott Center again for choir practice, and our entire district decided to do it together. Then we will have someone come speak to us, they don't tell us who, it's a surprise every week but I'm sure whoever it is will be great. It will probably be focused on the Pioneers in the early days of the Church because tomorrow is Pioneer Day and in Utah that's a BIG deal. It will be fun!

Sundays are good here also. We have our regular church meetings spread out throughout the day. Like Sacrament Meeting, Sunday School (which we just have with the 13 people in our district), and Priesthood meeting are all spread out. We are in the classroom studying and watching the Mormon Messages videos if we're not in one of those meetings. Then on Sunday night we have a devotional here at the MTC where someone comes and speaks to us and that's always really good. And then they show different talks and films for missionaries throughout the whole campus. Last week I watched a talk by Sheri Dew that she gave at the MTC a little while ago which was really good, but this week we (as a district) decided to go watch the talk by David A. Bednar that he gave at the MTC awhile ago. It was all about The Character of Christ and how we can become more like Him. He went through a lot of the stories in the New Testament and explained how the natural man's reaction in all of us would be to turn inward in selfishness, but how Christ always turned outward in love and service. He said a lot more of course but that was the essence of it. It was very powerful and he challenged us all to become more familiar with the true character of Christ and how we can strive to become more like Him. It was great!

This week has been good during the regular days, too. I am now used to the schedule and really enjoying it here! It's funny, there was one day where we as a room decided to get up at 6AM instead of 5:45AM because we had gym first thing in the morning and didn't need to shower. But guess who just instinctively woke up at like exactly 5:45AM with no alarm? Yeah, I did. It was weird. But then I quickly fell back asleep for 15 minutes until all our alarms went off. I am still so exhausted every day so it was weird to me that my body decided to wake up then.

Anyways, my District is the BEST! We have so much fun together. Sometimes we need to maybe focus on studying Portuguese a little more than we do (which is sometimes my fault), but hey we need to have fun, too! Every once in awhile when we are all in our classroom silently studying, I come up with a game and within 10 seconds no one is paying attention to what they were studying and we're all laughing and having fun. Some games we've played this week are who can be the first person to throw the dry erase marker from the back wall of the classroom to the very front and have it stay on the little ledge right under the white board. It's a game I often played in high school and dang did we have a lot of fun doing it. It's harder than you'd think. You have to have just the right amount of power, trajectory, and spin on the marker. Elder Barnes from Kansas won that game. Another game was who can catch the most watermelon sourpatch in their mouth at a time. Like rapid tosses. I was in charge of tossing and our current record in 8, set by Elder Phillips from South Carolina. It was awesome! Then later throughout everyone studying I would toss a few of the candies out for people to catch in their mouths. Everyone is pretty good at it actually. Except for a couple of the Sisters haha. But everyone tried. We also sometimes try to incorporate learning Portuguese into our games, which I don't think is quite as fun but still pretty good haha. We did this one game with memorizing the colors and it got pretty competitive. I was in the Final with Elder Colvin (18 year-old from Washington). Unfortunately I lost but something that was interesting about that game is when one of the sisters got kicked out of the game (Sister Trussel, who was actually one of my friends from BYU last year), I started smack talking just a little. She then chucked her Portuguese/English translation book at me, it was all in good fun and boy was it hilarious to the entire district!

Meanwhile, my Portuguese is continuing to improve and even though it is obviously frustrating at times I continue to feel good about it and not get discouraged. Especially when I feel like some Elders and Sisters in my District are pretty much fluent now. I mean I know they're not but it seems like they know so much more than I do! It's all good though, my teacher just keeps on stressing that we all learn at different paces. I'm working hard though and learning a lot every day. It's funny, the person that we would teach in Portuguese the first week (acting as an investigator) actually ended up being our second teacher so that was fun. His name is Brother Hickman and we all really like him.

Anyways, it's been great here this week. It was fun to see both Elder Latu and Sister Healy from back home arrive here this week. Elder Latu's classroom is like 3 doors down from mine so that's awesome and Sister Healy is in my Zone so I see them both a lot which has been good.
I hope everything is going well with everyone and thank you for the continued support through prayers and love.

Until next week!


Elder Helvey
At the Provo Temple with the District Elders

With Elder Latu (from the Los Altos Ward)

With MTC companion, Elder Shelton


Name Badge - it's in Portuguese!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Week 1

Hey everyone!

Well I have completed my first week here at the Missionary Training Center here in Provo, Utah. Right after I got dropped off, another missionary helped me take my bags and led me to the building where I received my room key and my missionary name tag. We then went to the MTC Bookstore and they gave me a big yellow bag full of church literature in Portuguese. We then quickly went to my room, dropped my bags off, and then went straight to my classroom. He left and I met my Portuguese teacher that I will have for the next six weeks. He immediately started to talk to me in Portuguese and I quickly found out he never speaks English to us. I have heard him say about 3 words in English this whole week. His name is Brother Whittaker and he just got back from his mission a few months ago. He served in Lisbon, Portugal and is super awesome.

Pretty soon all the other missionaries in my district started to arrive. There is 13 of us total. 9 Elders and 4 Sisters. My companion’s name is Elder Shelton and he is from Tampa, Florida. He is a great guy and we laugh and joke around a lot. Actually, my entire district is really funny and we all get along really well. There are 6 of us Elders that are going to Fortaleza, including my companion. 3 Elders are going to Porto Alegre, and then the 4 Sisters are going to Rio de Janeiro. We have one Elder who is 18 and then all the rest of us are 19. It has been really fun to get to know everyone in my district and we have a lot of fun together.

Our daily schedule consists of getting up at 5:45 AM and be at the cafeteria for breakfast at 6:30 AM. Then throughout the day we have a 3 hour block of class with our Portuguese teacher, 1 hour of personal gospel study, lunch for 30 minutes, 1 hour of companionship study, 2 hours of language study, 30 minutes of teaching a fluent Portuguese speaker acting as a progressing investigator of the church, dinner for 45 minutes, and then additional study time until our 9PM companionship planning meeting, then return to our rooms at 9:30PM and lights out at 10:30PM. It's crazy how busy we are and it makes it seem like I got dropped off here at the MTC months ago! It has seemed like a really long week just because they have us doing so much all the time.

Portuguese is going okay. I'll be honest, it has been extremely hard for me to spend 7-8 hours in the classroom per day. That is probably no surprise to anyone. When we can, my companion and I sit on a bench outside and study but for the most part we are in the classroom for pretty much the entire day. But I am slowly getting used to the schedule and how things work here at the MTC. At times I have been pretty frustrated about the language but I need to remember how long I've been here. It's only been a week and if I really think about it I have already learned so much. I don't think I have worked this hard my entire life. At the end of the day my head feels like it is going to explode because I am learning so much. Translating from Portuguese to English or vice versa all day is exhausting haha. I just need to be patient with myself and know that it's not going to be fast and it will take some time, but if I continue to work hard and stay focused I'll get it.

The food here is pretty good. It's exactly like the Cannon Center at BYU. Actually pretty much all the facilities are exactly like BYU so that's cool and the dorms are pretty similar. My companion and I share a room with 3 other Elders from my district. There are 3 sets of bunk beds. My bed is on the bottom of one and in the back corner of the room. The room is pretty small but it does the job. It's cool to be here with so many missionaries and there is such an awesome Spirit here on the MTC campus.

It's been awesome to see so many people I know here also. The one person I see most that I know is Elder Fuhriman. It has been awesome to see him and spend a few minutes with him. I think I've seen him almost every day. I also ran into Sister Whitlock in the hallway so that was fun. I really only get to spend a few minutes talking to each person I run into because we're all so busy, but it's been fun. I have seen a ton of other people I know from last year at BYU too. 

It is hard to be away from all you guys and I often miss you a lot! But I know this is where I am supposed to be and this is what I am supposed to be doing. Overall things are going well for me here. I just need to stay patient with Portuguese and know that if I continue to work hard it will come. Until next week.


Elder Helvey