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.