Sorry if you were expecting to hear from me earlier this week- my P-day is Friday. Let me tell you how my week has been!
There are about 260 missionaries here, and only about 50 of them are American. Most of the missionaries are from other countries in South America (Argentina, Chile, Bolivia, Peru, etc). Not as many missionaries are Brazilian as I expected. And of the 50 or so Americans, a majority of them are only here for two weeks. They finally got their visas after going to the Provo MTC and then serving somewhere in the States for a little while. The two-weekers are in a different part of the building with a different schedule so we hardly ever see them. The first couple days here were a little bit hard to adjust to. I was really tired after the flight here and we just went straight into classes. I feel like I'm completely adjusted now though and I love it here! There are 8 missionaries in my district: 5 sisters and 3 elders. Three of the sisters are the same ones that I flew from Salt Lake with. The other two sisters are from Nevada and England/Australia. I'm in a trio companionship right now with Elder Chamberlain from Blanding Utah, and Elder Caldwell from Snowflake Arizona. I like them a lot! Our whole district arrived last week except for Elder Chamberlain who arrived the week before. We were the only Americans to come in last week! I think Elder Caldwell and Sister Breithaupt would have been on our same flight from Atlanta if we would have made it on time. Elder Caldwell is going to the Natal mission with me, and Elder Chamberlain is going to Brasilia. Four of the sisters are going to Recife and the other one is going to Natal. I love my district! We have one classroom that we're in together for most of the day, so we get to know each other pretty well. We have one teacher in the morning named Irmao (brother) Benatti. He is pretty recently back from his mission in another part of Brazil. He is the greatest! The rule here is that none of the teachers are allowed to speak English- ever. Irmao Benatti speaks pretty good english, but we only heard him speak it on the first day. He's really funny and is just a great teacher. I didn't know much about what MTCs were like before I came to this one. We have a packed schedule all day with lots of personal and companion study time. Starting on the first day, we had a fake investigator that we would teach every day. Yes, it's only fake but it seems so real! His investigator name was Israel (pronounced is-hi-EL in portuguese), but his real name is Irmao Brito. Now he's our other teacher, but during the time that he was our investigator, we would only see him when we taught him (except for a couple of awkward encounters in the hallway when we weren't supposed to see him, haha). We didn't meet Irmao Brito's real personality until he became our teacher yesterday. He's also a fairly recently-returned missionary that can speak english but doesn't. They try to make the investigators seem as real as possible and it definitely works. And the lessons we taught had to be completely in portuguese. Not as hard as it sounds though, because we have lots of helpful english/portuguese teaching manuals that we can read phrases off of if we need to. Portuguese is going pretty well for me. It gets frustrating sometimes but I'm making progress. We sit by hispanics/brazilians most days at lunch and that helps. I can carry on basic conversations. We try to speak portuguese most of the time as a district.
The food here is awesome! They usually serve some sort of meat dish and then we get to serve ourselves rice and beans, fruits and vegetables (some of which I'd never had before coming here), and drinks. Everyone here is very friendly. Everyone greets you with "Tudo bem/bom dia/boa tarde, etc." We climb up and down lots of stairs every day since we're not supposed to use the elevators. The CTM is one big building with 7 floors and a courtyard in the middle. My bedroom is on the 6th floor. There are some amazing views out of the back window! We can't send picture here so I'll have to send some when i'm out in the field.
This morning we woke up early to go to the temple. I was excited because it was the first time I was able to leave the building since coming here more than a week ago. It was about an hour-long bus ride. It was so fun to see the city! It's so much different and bigger than any city I've ever been to. There are skyscrapers in every direction. The temple is pretty small and it doesn't stick out very much compared to its surroundings. It was beautiful inside and the grounds were amazing too. I saw a general authority in the locker room when we were finished with the session. It was Elder Claudia Costa, the president of that area. I talked to him for a little bit and shook his hand.
Our email time is really limited so I'd love to get some letters too! Our district is 26A and it's box #7.
I forgot it was the 4th of July until earlier this morning! I'm excited to have a little bit of free time for the rest of the day. We're allowed to walk around in the streets outside and go to stores. They almost didn't let us out because Brazil is playing Columbia in the world cup later today.
Well I'm out of time but i'll talk to you soon!
Love, Elder Church