Friday, July 24, 2015

Gravity, Accents and Good Work

So this week I learned that flan is subject to gravity, does not stick to forks, and that ties are hard to clean. However, if you use water and a hand air dryer, you will be just fine!

We went to the temple today! We went to the São Paulo Temple, which was the first here in South America. It was super cool and when I was reading in the Livro de Mórmon, I didn’t even have to translate it in my head to English. Woot! We also have two new sisters in our district from Provo—their visas came through—Sisters Lund and Chandler. Our district is now 8 people and we all laugh until we cry—about every hour—so we get along really well.

This past Saturday through Tuesday the Director of International Missionary Training Centers was here at the Centro de Treinamento Missionário and spoke at a devotional on Sunday night. It was super cool. He talked about how all the different MTCs are essentially extensions of each other and we all have the same purpose: to invite others to come unto Christ. He had slide shows of all the different MTCs around the world, and in one of the slides showing the Ghana MTC, I totally picked out Elder Harris, one of my roommates at BYU! It was super funny ’cause I yelled out "I know him!" It was kind of like in Elf, only not really at all haha. I talked with the Director a few times over the few days he was here and he was a really nice guy.

One of the coolest things this past week happened on Monday night. We were all doing our planning for the next day as a district, when the four elders we flew in to Brazil with walked in. They had all been through the Provo MTC and were waiting in the U.S. until they got their visas, so they were only in the CTM here for two weeks; they were leaving early Tuesday morning. They asked how we were liking missionary life and they told us that they came over to bear their testimonies to us before they left for their areas the next morning. Elder Harden had been serving for 10 months in St. George, UT before his visa came through, and he is probably the studliest missionary anyone has ever seen. He told us that trying to be the best missionary we could be would get us nowhere, but when we try to be the most humble servant, then we’d be successful. It was a really good experience and I’m glad they were prompted to come talk with us. We all really look up to them because they've already been teaching and were really good, humble missionaries.

Our Brazilian roommates left for their mission areas this week too. Elder C Souza, a roommate, has only been a member for a year and 3 months. His entire family is part of another church and aren’t too supportive of him serving a mission. He decided to serve anyway, and is called to serve in the same mission the elder who baptized him lives in. Elder C Souza is a great example of faith and what it means to endure to the end, and I want his diligence in my own life.

Here in Brazil there is pizza. And the pizza has no sauce and sometimes it’s covered with chocolate and bananas and cinnamon and is really quite delicious. However, if you eat six pieces of that pizza for dinner and then go try to play volleyball you will have a hard time since you’ll be so full. I advise none of you to do that thing. Though you should try chocolate banana pizza if you have the chance because it is glorious.

That’s really it for this week! We are still studying multiple hours a day and are always exhausted. Next week we are going out into São Paulo to talk to people and proselyte. Should be awesome!! My Portuguese is getting pretty good I think, and all the Brazilians say I can understand a whole lot. I don’t have the accent yet, but I made it a goal this week to—by one year into my mission—have someone ask me where I’m from in Brazil. I got some work to do, but with diligence and obedience I know I’ll have help from above.

Love you all!!

Elder Hughes

Friday, July 17, 2015

Study, eat, repeat. An excellent week!

Oi family! Tudo bem?

Disclaimer: Brazilian keyboards are tough getting used to, so grammar will be thrown out for this email.

This week was pretty darn awesome! We spend about ten hours a day studying Portuguese and we’re all getting pretty proficient. All the missionaries here for the most part speak Portuguese, so we have to speak it at every meal and around the halls of the Missionary Training Center. We had the chance to go to the Campinas temple this morning, which was awesome as well! The week was packed with action-filled things of all kinds.

So the description of my first night’s sleep here went in my journal. I slept so well—like unto a baby. The roommates were literally throwing things at me, even dropped a watch on my face and I did not wake up. I think my subconscious refused to, actually. After that we woke up at 6:30am (as we do everyday) and got to personal study for an hour. The typical day for us goes like this: wake up, brush teeth, put on clothes including white shirt and tie, study for an hour, breakfast, study for three hours, lunch, study for three more hours, dinner, study for an hour, exercise, study for an hour, plan for the next day for thirty minutes, then go to bed. Learning lots. Essentially, I’ve taken two years of high school Portuguese in a week. Muito bom!

Our teacher here is named Irmã Correa (pronounced Coh-Hey-uh) and she is from Columbia, and learned Portuguese on her mission. We all love her. On the second day here we were in class (which is all in Portuguese and never has she spoken a word of English to us) and getting super tired from so much study time, and because we didn’t know the language, and Irmã Correa started telling us about how she originally spoke Spanish, learned Portuguese, and now teaches Portuguese. She started bearing her testimony of the gift of tongues ** and... all of a sudden we all understood exactly what she was saying!! It was the coolest thing! The spirit was so strong and we all were fighting our tears because of the love in the room and the understanding we had. It was super good stuff. The gift of tongues is real, and really cool.

We watched the funeral service for Elder Boyd K. Packer this week, and the Americanos all put on headphones to listen to a translation. It was such a humbling experience to have to have help to understand what almost everyone else did so easily.

So here’s a funny thing: I led the music in an MTC-wide devotional the other night, and I hadn’t led music for like multiple years, probably. I walked up, turns out there wasn’t a hymn book, went and got a hymn book from another room while everyone waited for me, found the page, and then proceeded to not keep tempo with the music at all and wave my leading hand somewhat haphazardly. I kept a smile up though, so A for effort.

So the food here is also really, REALLY good. At lunch we sit with people from all over South America: Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Bolivia, Columbia, a few from Mexico; then there’s the Americans, and one Sister randomly from Finland. Since the MTC here is smaller than Provo, the food isn’t as mass-produced and is super fresh, and the cooks can cook. On one day, it was a Thursday, we walked into the cafeteria: there it was—FeijoadaFeijoada is like this steaming stew of rice, beans, and assorted meats, and it smells like heaven. My first serving of it was about one and a half what I usually eat, then I got seconds that were the size of a normal serving. I finished my last bite, smiled, and then fell asleep. Too many beans.

We went to the Brazilian Polícia Federal this week to become residents, which was cool. We had a field trip and got to see the city. When we were there, there were TVs and music videos and such, and someone mentioned that one of the elders in our group could sing (and in reality he couldn’t). However, the workers we were talking with were having none of the excuses that he couldn’t sing, so he proceeded to sing about 15 minutes worth of Michael Buble songs for them. Studly, and also really quite memorable. You get looks when you’re a missionary singing English music for a long time in a Brazilian Federal Police building—you get a lot of looks.

Essentially that’s the week! We study, eat, repeat. And it’s going really well! The Brazilians are so loving and are really helpful with the language. I can pretty much understand what everyone says from taking Spanish classes—I just need to replace my vocabulary with Portuguese words. I’m glad there’s been some rain back home! I'll keeps praying! My district gets along really well and we often laugh until we all cry. My companion and I get along really well, and his Spanish is better than mine so we are good at pushing each other to learn the language and vocab.

Love you all and hope all is well in the States! Have an excellent week!

Elder Walker Hughes

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** (the Greek word “tongues” translation literally means “languages”—so, the ability, inspired by God, to understand an unfamiliar language.)
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View from Campinas temple
São Paulo Missionary Training Center
MTC track
(photos are courtesy the worldwide web this week—jh) 

Tuesday, July 14, 2015



Hello! I am in Brazil!!

My flight from Atlanta was fine, as was the flight to Sao Paulo! I met up with 10 other missionaries in Atlanta and we are all trying to speak as much Portuguese as we can so we can communicate with everyone else. I’ll tell ya how it was!

San Francisco to Atlanta wasn’t bad. The flight was about four hours long and was pretty quiet. I read in my books—and in Syd’s journal to me—which was awesome!! I love that thing already. I landed in Atlanta, hopped on a sweet little train, and then made my way to the International Terminals. The Atlanta airport is rad. It’s really well designed and if you feel like spending lots of money, you need to look no further—my gate was in between Gucci and Mont Blanc stores haha.

The flight to Sao Paulo was about 9 hours and was completely full. I was confused by how many people from Atlanta also wanted to go to Brazil, but then I thought about connecting flights and it all made sense. I read on that flight too, and tried to get as much sleep as I could, but only got like two hours. I caught glimpses of “The Blind Side” and “The Devil Wears Prada’ on screens haha. We landed about 6am local time which was earlier than scheduled—our flight had been moved up almost an hour earlier than my itinerary for some reason, so there wasn’t much of a layover at all.

We had lovely complementary meals of pasta on the flight, and packets of four Tic Tacs for each person haha. I was pretty hungry by the time we got to the MTC to say the least. The group of 10 missionaries all tried to make our way through customs, and all went well which was very nice! I laughed about how a bunch of sleep deprived foreign missionaries tried to make it though the airport in a foreign country. “Preciso meu mamae e um abraço?”—Pres. Judd.

We had about a 30 minute drive to the MTC this morning and it was cool to see the city. The skyscrapers are HUGE. They are really wild actually. It was overcast when we came into the city and the buildings all blended in with the clouds so they snuck up on me. The city is covered in graffiti and street art and is pretty cool looking. There are three of us going to Sao Paulo East from the group of 10 new missionaries! My companion is Elder Merill from Washington state—I recognized him from Instagram. It’s funny seeing people I’ve seen on the interwebs in person here; everyone is feeling like everyone else is oddly familiar.

The food here isn’t bad either! There is a breakfast soup thing that is arroz e leite, or rice and milk. It’s like horchata oatmeal. And the fruit is super good and fresh and ripe. It’s odd to me that it’s winter here because I just came from the hot 4th of July. It is definitely humid but okay.

Next preparation day will likely be next Wednesday or Friday. I’ve been told we’re going to watch Elder Packer’s funeral service on Friday.

Well, it’s super real that I’m a missionary! We new elders aren’t sure how and when we have to be with our companions, so we just go everywhere in a big group together haha. I think all of the Brazilian nationals here think it’s funny we don’t speak Portuguese. When we entered the MTC to get our name tags (WHICH I HAVE NOW) the driver had to call someone to open the gate for us, and in our limited Portuguese we heard him say, “I have the Americans.” Felt like a spy movie full of missionaries.

Love you guys! I’ll talk to you all soon!

Elder Hughes
New missionaries   |   07.08.15
San Francisco to Atlanta

Called to Serve: Brazil São Paulo East Mission. Reporting to Brazil Missionary Training Center 07.08.15.

Opening Mission Call  |  02.20.15
Elder Hughes  |  07.06.15