Ola familia! Tudo bem?
This week was so cool. The days feel like weeks and the weeks feel like days, and it's crazy how much time has passed already. Last Tuesday Elder Dallin H. Oaks came and spoke to us with his wife. He gave a pretty fantastic analogy comparing missionaries to pens. The pen has to be ready when the author needs it, not when the pen wants to be ready. The pen has to be filled with ink, missionaries need to be filled with the Spirit. The pen has to write the message the author wants written, not the message the pen wants to write. There were a lot of cool things. The next day we told Irmão Rodriguez about the analogy and he took it a step farther. He said, "You can choose to be the Monte Blanc (* Just for the record I don't actually know what he said... it's just some fancy pen that I guess is the best pen you can get... you ought to look it up, just in case) or you can be the Uni ball pen that no one wants to use." I thought that was super funny, and incredibly insightful. I just liked it. On Thursday we had our special Thanksgiving devotional and guess who the speaker was.... Elder David A. Bednar! I love hearing him speak. He did a question and answer session like he's done at the youth conferences we went to, but it was amazing to hear what he had to say. He talked about so many things and some of them were very interesting, but there were times when I was pretty sure the comments were directed at me. At one point he said something and looked right at me... actually, it was more like right through me, but what he said really stuck. It was something that I had never thought about, but it was something I needed to be thinking about. At one point in the devotional he talked about agency and it reminded me of the "Character of Christ" devotional they show here. He talked about how once we've made covenants, we don't just get to choose right and wrong anymore. We have our agency to choose whether we're going to keep our covenants or whether we're going to break them..... holy smokes. That was like lightning to my brain and I've thought about it every day since. I had never thought of it like that before, but he's right.
We had a Thanksgiving lunch and then a Thanksgiving program... it was the most interesting thing I've ever seen. The best part was the service project though. We packaged meals for the Utah food bank and we beat last year's record by 16,000 meals. We got 366,000 meals packaged. Awesome huh?! At my table there was this kid named Elder Walker going to Washington. He heard me say I was from Idaho and he about died. He said, "No way?! I'm from Idaho!" ME: "No way!" Him: "Yeah! Do you know where Thatcher is?" Me: "Yes." Him: *Extreme happiness* "No way! No one knows where Thatcher is! Yes, yes, yes!" Needless to say he was pretty excited. Then the other missionaries started talking about soccer and he said that soccer was not even worth watching. I said that we liked rugby and he nearly fell over. Him: "You're kidding?! I play rugby!" Me: "Are you serious? What position do you play?" Him: "Hook!" Me: "Nooo! My little brother plays hook!" We talked for about two hours straight about rugby and Idaho and farming (thank you agronomy classes for giving me the necessary background to even have those conversations ;) ). My poor companions... they were so lost. Sister Mills said that she didn't even understand most of what we were saying. All she heard was "Potato, potato, potato, potato, potato... Idaho.... potato, potato." That's not actually what we were talking about, but to her it was another language and I'm pretty sure that's about what she heard. :) All they could do was sit and listen while we packaged meals and talked. His companions were so bored. After the service project we got to watch a special movie.... "Meet the Mormons" and I loved it even more the second time! President and Sister Nally have been working for months to get it approved to show at the MTC and now it's part of the regular Sunday movie rotation. I love that movie so much. After the movie was done we were told to go out to the plaza for a special surprise. They put up Christmas lights for us! :) I was a happy little kid. Aaahhh... I love the MTC.
On our Sunday temple walk we were just standing there on the temple grounds in our district and this pair of elders walked passed us. I heard, "Hey Idaho!" I turned around and that same elder from Thanksgiving was there. His companion said, "Oh my gosh! Seriously, like every time we go anywhere it's like 'Wait! I hear the song of my people.' He always finds people from Idaho. Do you want a picture? We need a potato in the background." It was funny. I know I've never met Elder Walker before in my life, but I could swear I've met him before. It was like we'd known each other for forever. We just had so much fun talking to each other and pretty much we were instant friends. I'll attach a picture from Sunday. He's the tall, super white, light-haired elder with the cheesy grin standing next to me. You can't miss him. You'll have to have Benjamin see if he's ever seen him before at any rugby matches.
For our Sunday devotional BYU's group "Vocal Point" came. They sang and some of them spoke to us. Irmão Lemperly (I don't actually know how to spell his name) served his mission in Portugal and he's in Vocal Point. He spoke about your power and authority as a missionary. He said that you won't fully understand your power and authority as a missionary until the day you're released and it's taken away. When he said that it was like a brick wall hit me. Now I have a whole list of things I need to work on to improve and grow as a missionary so that I use every moment and work as hard as I can.
This week I´ve been so grateful for my teachers. They are inspired. I don´t know how they do it, but every day they both say things I need to hear to help me change and improve so that I can become the missionary God wants me to be. I love Irmão Gray and Irmã Kimball, and I´m going to cry so much when we leave the MTC. Which is happening next week. We got preliminary travel plans for Portugal. Dad, you've asked about my visa every week and the only answer I have is that I don't know anything... and I really don't care. Sorry, but I don't care if my visa comes on time or not. My visa's not the reason I'm here, and God is only going to send me places where there is work for me to do. If I do get reassigned though I'm voting for San Francisco or Oregon... one of the two. The preliminary travel plans say that we'll be flying out from Salt Lake on December 9th, but we don't know when. The Travel Office in Salt Lake doesn't know if or when we'll get our visas, so it's just a waiting game. Either way, my p-day next week will be on Monday, so you'll have to email Sunday night and I'll let you know my final plans on Monday.
I'm so excited that Cameron is going to Brasil! Oh my gosh! I am so excited for him! The Portuguese they speak in the João Pessoa mission is so pretty. I love it. Oh! We heard from our district in São Paulo and the missionaries in the São Paulo MTC get to go into the city and go proselyting! I am so excited for Cameron. Really. I'm so excited... like, I could die I'm so excited for him.
Matthew and Inette I loved the pictures. That looks like the cutest Thanksgiving I've ever seen.
Clarissa thank you for your email. I loved it and I'm excited for all you little kiddos and for Ay's baptism.
Benjamin, your email last week made me so happy. I printed it out and cut it out to keep with me. I about died laughing. :) P.S. did you get my postcard I sent to you?
Mom, I don't think I'll get the package if you don't send it soon. Packages take forever to get to the correct missionary here so if you wait until Thursday I might not get it. Thank you for doing that though.
I love you all and I love being a missionary! I could honestly be missionary forever and be perfectly happy, but that's not the way it's meant to be. I'm grateful for every moment here and I know now that Heavenly Father has perfect plans for each of us if we do our part and get to work. The Church is true e eu amo voces!
P.S. The other day I had to give my first name for something and it took me a second... I just kept thinking "Sister Smith"... but that's not the name they wanted. :) It was funny. I finally remembered my name though. I even refer to myself as Sister Smith... even when I sleep talk apparently.