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Week 5

By 7:16 PM

Olá família!!
WEEK 5!!! Can´t believe it´s here already - one more full week in the CTM plus a few days and then I´m off! Crazy how that happens. I don´t even know where to start for this week, Sunday sounds good.
Every sunday we have gospel doctrine, in English, with President Swenson himself. It´s just us 4 and a few africans that speak a little english. I want to share something I learned during gospel doctrine - President talked about building our "library of knowledge" as missionaries, that we can pull from as we teach people. I realized that I really don´t have a library, or even a small collection, probably just a book or two. So I began to compile my "library" this week - I´m systematically going through the Book of Mormon and pulling concepts and principles from each chapter. I don´t know how to explain what I´m doing with it yet because I don´t really know, it´s still developing but I´ve already reaped the rewards from it in my lessons! That would be my advice to anyone preparing to serve a mission, or to anyone who desires to spiritually grow and progress - BUILD YOUR LIBRARIES!
I love how small the CTM is because you get to know everyone so well - President and his wife, the counselors, the staff and employees, all the teachers, and the missionaries. It´s a great atmosphere. Little known (or maybe well known) fact - President Swenson is THE GUY who proposed the mission age change to the Prophet! Thomas S. Monson! HE is the reason (ok one of the reasons) why I am here right now. So much respect for him. I love president so much, and so much more for that. Pretty cool, huh? Sunday we had a devotional given to us by President and his wife that changed my life. Earlier that day I was reflecting on my testimony during gospel doctrine. I realized I didn´t have the greatest testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith. The first vision and restoration of the church always just made sense to me, and I assumed it to be true from my testimony of the Book of Mormon that I know to be the word of God, but I just didn´t really have a solid testimony, and I just didn´t KNOW. I believed, but wanted to know for myself that he DID see God the Father and Jesus Christ. And I thought to myself, how can I teach and testify to people that I know this is true when I really sometimes question it too? I MUST find out.
And believe it or not, our devotional that night was on Joseph Smith and the Restoration. They testified of his life and the restoration of the church, mingled with Sister Swenson playing beautiful arrangements of restoration hymns on the piano. As she was playing "Joseph Smith´s First Prayer", I opened my english hymn book and read along with the lyrics - and I asked God in my heart, "is this really true? Did this really happen?" The spirit hit me and my whole body shook as the Holy Ghost testified to me that it IS TRUE. I knew it. I knew that Joseph Smith saw the Father and the Son, and restored the gospel of Jesus Christ upon the earth today. NOW, I can testify to everyone that I meet, look them in the eyes, and I cannot deny it. What an amazing feeling.
Another story about President Swenson - this week during class time he stopped by our room, had our teacher leave, and said the following: "We´ve had a lot of missionaries come through these doors. Thousands. And there is something different about this district. You are a special group. I don´t know quite what it is. But you have the capacity and potential to be the BEST missionaries we´ve got. I´m confident that if each one of you were to go out into the field today you´d be good missionaries. But that´s why you´ve got two more weeks - to become the BEST. Be the example, because everyone is watching you. Thank you for your spirit, it is a real pleasure, joy, and blessing to be in your presence." Wow. Hearing that come from a man that I respect so much was truly mind blowing. I feel deeply honored that he thinks so highly of us and shared his thoughts with us.
Story for this week: sorry mom this might freak you out but just to preface this.. I AM 100% OKAY AND FINE. Anyway, continuing on. Tuesday I got really sick - I won´t go into details but I thought I was going to throw up from horrible stomach pains. I was stressed out over this because we had 3 lessons to teach and a whole day´s work ahead. The CTM doctor told me that it would probably take a day or two before I would feel better. Irmão Benatti suggested that I have the elders give me a blessing. And so, I did. At first I felt a little awkward asking them, because I felt like I was imposing on them, but afterwards I knew that was the right decision. I had Elder Markham seal the anointing, and Elder Thompson gave the blessing. Neither of them had given a blessing before (pretty sure) and they were so nervous haha but everything Elder Thompson said calmed the worries and stresses in my heart - he blessed me that whatever was afflicting me would pass, and that it wouldn´t interfere with missionary work. The blessing was short and sweet, but the spirit was there and the priesthood blessing is the same. And the coolest part is, everything he blessed me with is exactly what happened. I slept for a few hours during some extra study time and lunch, and I was feeling better by our afternoon lessons and classes. What a cool experience. As awful as I felt, I´m glad both me and the elders had that experience. It strengthened our testimonies.
As for how the language is going, so many people tell me how good my portuguese is!! It´s such a confidence booster considering I only have 11 days until the field (not like I´m counting.. Sister Arbuckle is though ;) ) So far I´ve memorized 3 scritpures in portuguese this week: 1 Nephi 3:7, Alma 26:12, D&C 82:10, and the first vision and My Purpose as a missionary. Amazing what the Lord can help you do when you rely on his strength (Alma 26:12). I´ve even quoted my memorized scriptures in lessons! Woohoo. On the whole Gift of Tongues topic, Sister Arbuckle and I had an awesome conversation this week and she shared some really great insight - she said that to her, the gift of tongues is not about speaking the language fluently, or even speaking it at all, but the gift of tongues is the ability to convey exactly what message you want to get across through the gift of the Holy Ghost. And I know, for myself, that is true. Wow I´m eternally grateful for my companion. We have accomplished amazing things together and I´m sad we´ve only got a few days left together.
We had an awesome time at the temple again this morning - the day started out with the most beautiful, vivid sunrise I have ever seen in my life! I honestly think it beats the African horizon, mom.. wow. I´m grateful for such a beautiful world that God gave us! I mean, come on. He could have put us on some dreary looking planet, but instead he gave us Earth. :)
Then when we got to the temple (São Paulo, again) we had 3 hours until our session started so we did some service. Funny story about this: one of the workers asked the sisters for voluneers to do baptisms. Sister Arbuckle IMMEDIATELY volunteered us. I gave her the death glare that was supposed to yell, "what are you thinking?!" but she just cheerfully followed the temple worker and dragged me along to the font. I asked her, "do you know what she asked us?" Sister A: "yeah she was asking for volunteers to help with baptisms!"
"No, Sister Arbuckle. She was asking for sisters to DO the baptisms." Hahahahahah we both just bust up laughing, we got ourselves a real treat! One of those moments when a little information, or a little knowledge, is very dangerous. After all was said and done, I´m grateful that we had that opportunity.
One last story - we´ve been trying to prepare our "investigator" Lúcio for baptism, but he´s had real problems with the Word of Wisdom that we´ve been trying our hardest with him. He´s progressing, but his spirits have been really low when we go into lessons and it´s heart breaking! We taught him the law of tithing and fasting, and he proceeded to tell us that he wanted to pay tithing and wanted to receive those blessings in his life because he needed them, but if he paid his tithing he wouldn´t have enough money to buy food for him and his son. My heart just shattered at that moment - I felt so much love for him and I wanted to do anything I could to help him! At that moment both Sister Arbuckle and I felt prompted to share stories. She shared a beautiful personal story about the blessings of paying tithing in her life that I won´t share here, and then I shared the story in 1 Kings 17 about the woman and her son feeding their last meal to the prophet Elijah. The spirit was SO STRONG we were all crying and it was really one of those moments where I hadn´t planned at all to share something like that and I didn´t even know beforehand where that story was in the bible but I knew I needed to share it (reference here to the library of knowledge I need to build).
I wish I had more time to write, always. But this will be it for this week. Thank you SO MUCH for the letters, I got 2 of them in the mail today because it´s been Carnival here and the mail doesn´t go out for like 3 days. I´m going to send home letters through Mr Cheney´s today - I´m sending one for Max, please get it to him! Mom you might have to read it out loud to him if they can´t type it and send it.
I love love love you all, I will talk to you next week, last P day in the CTM!
Tchau <3

Sister Brown

Sister Brown and Sister Arbuckle at MissionTies writing letters

Sister Brown, Sister Arbuckle and their friend Brother Silva.  Brother Silva's wife is their teacher and Brother Silva was a missionary in Salt Lake and became close to our friends the Ashcraft family…small world!

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