Here is Tessa's first letter!
I'm so sorry that I didn't get a chance to e-mail last week, but we didn't get a P day. #newmissionrayproblems
My P days are on Fridays, so from now on, you can expect an e-mail from me every Friday!
Also, I can only write handwritten letters on P day.
So, I guess I'll just get right down to it!
After Christie, Chris and Grandpa dropped me off, I had a missionary be my "host" and take me around to get my nametag and books. All of the new missionaries get an orange dot on their nametag to show that they're new - as if the look of sheer terror on their faces is not enough. Anyways, all of the missionaries were so enthusiastic about greeting us! Every single missionary said, "welcome to the MTC" with these insanely big smiles. In fact, they were friendly to a point where I kind of thought they were kidding, but the light of Christ that shone through their smiles told me that they were genuine. I dropped my suitcases off at my room and then went straight to my classroom to start learning Portuguese! Our teacher didn't speak English at all on Wednesday. It was a little crazy, but because I know enough Spanish, I was able to understand almost everything he was saying. I would respond in Spanish, which I'm sure was annoying for my teacher, but that's all I can do at this point :) Our class is our district, so we spend class time, meal time and every other time of the day together. My district is composed of 10 elders and 4 sisters. My companion's name is Sister Spencer and she is the best! She's the one I was talking to on Facebook before I came! She and I couldn't be more different, but our strengths compliment each other very well! She is actually the best! The other sister companionship in my district is also awesome! Sister Acavedo is from Texas, and her first language is Spanish, so she's doing really well with Portuguese! She seems quiet at first, but she's actually the sassiest and funniest sister in the MTC! Sister Guyn is wicked cool as well. She is an econ major and wants to become a doctor. Her parents are on the board of directors for rising star, and she went there a few years ago! She also studied at the Jerusalem center last semester! Way cool! We're lucky because most of the other residence rooms at the MTC have six missionaries in them, but in ours we only have us four! We have such a fun time together! The elders in our district are all awesome as well! I couldn't have gotten more lucky with the district I got! We taught our first "investigator" on Friday. In Portuguese! It was rough, but also amazing! Sister Spencer and I prayed so hard before the discussion, and that is the only reason it went well! The spirit was so strong, and I know that it is only through the spirit that he was able to understand anything! We taught a total of 5 lessons to this "investigator" over the next week and it went really well! We set a baptism date in three weeks. (note: I say "investigator" because it's a teacher here at the MTC volunteering to act as an investigator - he used the character of an actual investigator he taught on his own mission).
There's a sister who lives on our floor who is from Brazil and serving in Salt Lake City. She is the sweetest! She has all of this Brazilian paraphanelia (don't mind any spalling mistaks i mite mak) that she gave us! We got these Brazil flag key chains, and we made all of the elders in our district extremely jealous! We asked her if we could give her a spiritual thought in Portuguese a few times a week and she was so sweet to let us do that! She corrects us when we make mistakes with our Portuguese, and it's very helpful!
Our Branch president is very adamant on following the principle of "exact obedience". We follow the schedule and all of the rules exactly. As all of you know, this was not a strength that I had previous to my mission. However, I know that I've had such a good experience thus far because I practiced this principle. We went to the devotional at the Marriott center on Tuesday, and the speaker read an amazing letter that I'd like to summarize for you. The letter was from a former missionary to his first companion in the field/ trainer. He reminded the elder of an experience they had one night. It was late and rainy, and both of the elders were very cold. It was 9:00 and they wanted to go home (in the missionary handbook, it states that missionaries should not return to their residence until 9:30. The training companion motivated his companion and said that they would be obedient and work until 9:30. the elder writing the letter explained that because of this experience, he continued this practice throughout his mission. Not once did he go home early. This, he explains, led to the conversion of at least two people.the elder writes, you can add these two to your list of conversions. It didn't end there, the elder wrote, but those two people ended up having temple marriages, and at least one of their children is currently serving a mission. The elder notes he himself was a man converted by this missionary. I hope that while I'm on my mission, I can learn from the example of good companions as well as set an example to others.
I love you all and miss you all so much!
Here is Sister Pennington's District (minus Tessa who took the photo ;)