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) 

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