Thursday, December 29, 2016

Dec. 29: Letter to Parents from Brazil MTC President and Sister Grahl

Your missionary´s arrival at the Brazil MTC

Dear Parents,

Sister Grahl and I are very happy to let you know that your missionary has arrived safely at the Brazil Missionary Training Center.  What a great joy and privilege it is to greet each missionary as they begin their missionary experiences with us! We will surely take good care of your missionary.                                                                                                     
The missionaries now have companions and are settled into their rooms.  They are assigned to a district with capable and caring instructors for language and lesson study.  Their branch presidents and wives will meet them this Sunday.  These wonderful couples are richly blessed as they work with, motivate, and interview the missionaries assigned to their branch.
The MTC has a full-time live-in physician to care for their health needs.  He is assisted by his able wife who is a nurse. We are also happy to report that the MTC food is plentiful, healthy and very good.
Your missionary will be able to e-mail home on Preparation Day after a morning at the Temple.  This will be either Wednesday or Friday, depending on individual assignments.
Your missionary is about to make an eternal difference in the lives of many others. President Lorenzo Snow said: “There is no mortal man that is as interested in the success of an elder when he is preaching the Gospel as is the Lord who sent him to preach to the people who are the Lord's children".  We love these missionaries as if they were our own.  We will watch over them carefully to ensure they are ready for a wonderful missionary experience after the rewarding time they will have in the MTC.
We thank you for preparing such a wonderful representative of the Lord.

Pres. Paulo R. Grahl and Sister Zuleika M. Grahl

Dec. 28: Brasil!

I´m in Brasil!

Yesterday felt like a really short day followed by a really short night. São Paulo is muito beautiful. We have a window in our room that opens up huge onto an inner courtyard with palm trees and sunshine. I love the Brazilian people! It was weird speaking portuguese to actual Brazilians on the plane. My P-day is not until Wednesday, and I won`t be able to send pictures until I get out onto the field because the servers are connected to Salt Lake. Everything is just a little different but tis to be expected. Also pretty much all of these words in this email have a red squiggly underneath and it´s driving me crazy haha.  I love you all and I am praying for you!

-Sister Choules

Monday, December 26, 2016

White Christmas

Dec. 26: Week 3 at the MTC

Felize Natal e Sao Paulo

Last Wednesday our zone leader, Elder Vuyk, burst through our classroom door and told me I should go to the travel office immediately. It felt like I got hit by a bus I was so nervous. BUT GUESS WHAT? I'M GOING TO FINISH MY TRAINING IN SAO PAULO! I leave tomorrow morning at 5:20 am and arrive in Sao Paulo 8:20 am local time (3:20 am MT). I have my visa!!


Elder Dallin H. Oaks from the Quorum of the twelve Apostles came and spoke to us yesterday. He talked about how some people don't know what Jesus Christ did for us and that we all have disabilities and talents and we need to do all that we can with what we have. 

And David Archuletta came and sang last night! He has SUCH a strong testimony. He starts all of his song writing sessions (no matter what religion or not religion the person he's working with is) with a prayer, and has taught many people how to pray that way. He said serving a full-time mission isn't the beginning and end of missionary work, it's to prepare you for a lifelong mission of bringing others unto Christ. Many girls' dreams were crushed when they went to shake his hand and he is like 5' tall haha. He said music is a way to share your testimony and no one will tell you to be quiet or argue with your message, they just listen. I love music! I have learned that it has such power in bringing the spirit. 

This week has been really hard but I really feel like I am coming closer to Christ here at the MTC. God really does love us and know us.

This past week we had another really great lesson. Sometimes being a missionary seems so hard, but lessons like that when the spirit is just SO strong and you God's reality and all that the Gospel has done for you becomes crystal clear, it all becomes worth it. 

I love you all and I will probably have lots to say in my next email, so until then,
Tchau :)

Sunday, December 25, 2016

The District

December 19: Week 2 at the MTC

Elder Jeffery R. Holland + The Piano Guys

Elder Holland (one of the twelve apostles) came to the MTC last Tuesday! We were in the middle of singing a prelude hymn when he walked in and there was an audible gasp. I felt the spirit more that day than any other day in my life. Some things he said that stuck out to me:

"Be yourself, but be the best self you can be."

"It's not easy for you because it wasn't easy for Him."

"Either Joseph Smith really did translate the Book of Mormon or Joseph Smith was a liar. There is no in between." Muito paraphrased.

IDK if you can find the recording on BYUtv or anything, but I sang in the choir for the opening hymn and I think I'm in the recording!

Wednesday we had our best lesson yet. (It was on the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.) The spirit lit up that classroom. Our teacher challenged us to take a leap of faith. And the results were amazing. During the lesson I felt confident in what I was saying, because I knew what it meant and it was the truth!

Funny story: Sister Ostler fell asleep in class on Thursday. Dreaming that she tripped over a dog, she spazzed in her sleep and sent her copy of PMG flying, right in the middle of Irmao Coelho's testimony. 

Last night the Piano Guys came and spoke during Sunday night devotional! They had some good thoughts on measuring our spirituality by seeing how quickly we turn to God. Also, Humility = constant dependence on God. It was so nice to hear them play music! I love hearing the piano played so much!

December 12: Week 1 at the MTC

Bon Dia from the MTC!

The first day I felt like a weirdo and like nobody liked me. I did so many embarrassing things. It was so bad, but I remembered why I came here and made it through.

The second day was less embarrassing, but still embarrassing. I met an Elder Karsen Hammer, who I was in CTR7 in Indiana with haha. He was my first crush, and the first boy to make me cry (he barred the door to the classroom and wouldn't let me in). It was pretty funny to talk to him here after so many years. The biggest thing I learned that day is that as a chosen daughter of God who is faithful and chooses good, I am special! And I belong here.  The days are long but I just want to eat up everything we've been learning. Jesus really does love us.

On Friday I realized that I am too used to not believing in myself so that I don't get my hopes dashed or my proud heart crushed. I need to see myself in God's eyes more often. Our district has had a hard time staying focused during the 6 hours we are left without a teacher to study. We ended up having a huge discussion because four of the Elders were worried they were annoying everybody else. I said they weren't annoying, but they were distracting. Elder Jackson (a homeschooler by the way) spoke up and reminded us (almost in tears mind you) why we were here, and that our time is precious. He said the spirit was lacking in our classroom. Responses ranged from expressions of love, to "that's just the way I am," to "we were just getting to know each other." In our dorm, I reminded the sisters that Elder Jackson was right. I think that even though it is hard to focus because we are brand new doesn't make it okay to goof off during study time.

Saturday during study time we talked about Gospel questions we had. Afterwards, some of the sisters were feeling down so Elder Wilson, the district leader, gave them all blessings of comfort. The spirit was so strong! Afterwards our love for each other grew SO much. It reminded me that those 18-20 year old boys really do hold the Priesthood of God. It is so awesome that in this time of our lives that it so easy to be selfish and only think about yourself, your career, your relationships, your needs, Elders and Sisters take 18 months-2 years to serve everybody but themselves. 

"I made it to Sunday!" - everyone. I felt prompted when I first came to the MTC to join the choir, and I LOVED IT! For those who know me and how much I dislike choir, this was pretty crazy. The spirit was SO strong the whole time we were singing. and the song is SO beautiful! We will sing it on Tuesday, and it is one of the Apostles' favorites. It is called "Testimony" and is a new version of "I know that my redeemer lives."

FUNNY STORY: 4 of the Elders (including our district leader) went to shower and locked themselves out of their apartments. So they had to stand in the hall for a while until somebody brought a spare key

Monday, December 12, 2016

MTC District

Rachel's MTC District.

1st Day in the MTC!

Rachel at the Provo Missionary Training Center with her new companion Sister McKenna and President and Sister Burgess.