I hope you all are doing well! Mom, Kirsten and the Shell's, I got your emails and loved reading through them and browsing through the pictures that you sent (Kirsten). Unfortunately they don't let me download anything or print them out, so maybe you can send some hard copies (there'd be a question mark there but it doesn't work on this computer...). Mom and Kirsten, still no letters yet :( I'll check with Mission Ties today to see what's up. I don't really know how it works but I'll try to get that figured out when I stop by to send off the letters I've already written for you.To my family, I already sent out a letter last week by regular mail that I hope will be getting there soon. I love you all and miss you so much, and I'm thinking of you. Please, please feel free to write (and email!) Shell family, thank you for that update! I'm so glad to hear that you're all doing well. I'm going to try to get a letter sent out to you today, and if not, certainly next week. Good luck with all your activities!
This week has been even better than the first, if that's at all possible! Last P-day my companions and I found out we'd be getting two new roommates the next day. One of them is Elder Perez, who I think I alluded to last email. He is from Chile, he's 22, and he is absolutely hilarious! When he found out he'd be moving into our room he started doing laps around the hallway and screaming (with what I think was excitement--I couldn't tell). We all love him, especially when he quiets down by 10:30 so we can sleep :) This past week he's put on a show for us of Elvis, Michael Jackson, and a 3 character monologue from Star Wars Episode VI all by himself. Our other roommate is Elder Vieira. He's from Brasil, he's 20, and he's the only active member in his family. He speaks no English so communicating with him has been...a good challenge for me. He speaks so fast compared to our instructors! It's great to have him with us though. I feel like I'm learning the language more effectively talking to him for 5 minutes as opposed to studying for an hour. Last night he surprised us all by offering back massages--he's pretty talented, I have to say. Haha!
The weather here this last week has been crazy. We've had days where we've had a high in the 40's and other days when we've had lows in the 80's I think.
As I was thinking through what I wanted to say today on the way home from the temple this morning I thought it might be fun to do a "spiritual" and "fun" highlight of every week. So here goes:
It's hard to limit my spiritual highlight down to just one thing, but if I had to choose it would be my first experience in the TRC this past Friday. The TRC (Teaching Resource Center) is where you and your companions teach an "investigator" who is really another American that's been here for at least 6 weeks. You walk into a room set up like a living room with a camera and microphone to record your lesson so that your instructor can give you feedback without being in the room and so that you can watch it for yourself later on. And of course it's all in Portuguese. A little intimidating, I know! But it was such a great experience for me. We taught an investigator named Leonardo who was struggling with the concept of prayer. Our job was to help resolve his concern by helping him see why we should pray and how prayer can bless us. I will be the first to say my Portuguese vocab is not nearly good enough for me to say everything I want to and everything I feel like I should, but for whatever reason I could during TRC. The Spirit was so strong and although we all stumbled in our teaching the spirit never left. What a great blessing and confidence builder that was to know that I really am capable of teaching with the Spirit. Or better said, letting the Spirit teach. The feedback we got was almost all positive. Other districts that had been here longer than we have said that all of our district did really well, especially for our first time.
One more spiritual highlight because I just have to...Wednesday afternoon one of our instructors, Irma Kikuchi, invited us to read in the Book of Mormon out loud as a district (in Portuguese). She asked us to choose what chapter we wanted to read, and since nobody else volunteered I suggested Ether 12. As we read that chapter, specifically verse 27 (the scripture on my plaque), I was overwhelmed with how directly God was speaking to me through the scriptures. It occurred to me that Moroni was writing that chapter because of how he felt with his weakness in writing. He didn't feel like he was adequate enough, but when he told the Lord that he replied by telling him that as men "come unto him, he will show unto them their weakness." Then they are humble enough to have the Lord turn their weakness into strength. That applies so much to me on my mission. Serving a mission was a big part of my desire to come unto Christ, and it has definitely made clear many of my weaknesses. But I feel so, so often that I am being guided by a higher power, and that I am overcoming my weaknesses in the language and as a teacher much faster than I ever could have on my own. I shared those thoughts with the class and Irma Kikuchi started to cry becuase she said she's felt the same way as an instructor so often (we're her first district, but she really is doing a fantastic job).
For the not directly spiritually related highlight...this past Sunday I attempted to accomplish what's known at the CTM as the "jello challenge." Basically whenever there's jello for dessert some missionaries will dump it out on their plate and try to slurp it up in one gulp (I know, very 19 year old-ish, isn't it). Not many people have had success. I summoned the courage (or probably better said, stupidity) to attempt it. I had swallowed half of it when the whole table started laughing because I looked like a chipmunk with chunks of jello in my cheeks. I lost it and laughed and spewed jello everywhere back onto my plate. We all laughed pretty hard, but I went to my bed that night and repented of my childishness :) Still, I think everybody in the district has opened up to me now a little more because of that.
Some last minute things I should probably mention:
I'm hoping to scan home some journal entries so far to my mom so that she can post some of them on the blog or email some of them around or whatever she pleases. Let me know what else you want to know about my life out here!
Also, it's easier on the secretary here if, when you're sending letters, you include my district number and mail box as well. My mom should have a copy of the updated address that she can send out to you, so please ask her for it to make life on Sister Steadman here a little easier!
I'm going to try to scan some pictures home as well after I send off the two letters...hopefully that work! I love you all and can't wait to hear from you.
Last thing, I found out this week that we're really only supposed to be emailing family. So, I'm going to send next week's email to my family and then I'll be sure to have her forward it to you. As far as emailing me, maybe you could just email her and she can send everything to me in one big, long email...I don't know, I'll figure it out.Love you all!
Com amor, Elder Sears