Wednesday, February 22, 2017

CTM Week 4

First in response to your question, yes having your name on things is very important, or at least something so that you can tell what is yours and what is other peoples.

So this week has been fun, and strange. We have been in a different class room this entire week because of the new missionaries in our district. We got two new districts this week so Elder Porter and I are in charge of more people. The Americans from Provo that came with us on the plane left yesterday and it was sad. I bet one of our instructors is happy because they would come into our room and speak English to us. Also my Brazilian roommates left this week as well, which was also sad, and I don´t think that we are getting new ones today. Because our roommates were leaving this week I played a few games of chess with them. Elder Palhano, who was one of my companions for splits, played one game with me. It was good and went back a forth till I won. I played 5 games with Elder Holanda, who was Elder Porter´s companion for splits. He won, then I won, then he won. The last day we played two games, and I won both. That was fun and gave me a little break from missionary life. We also had daylight savings, but because it is in a different hemisphere we went back an hour instead of jumping forward which was really great, but our Brazilian roommates forgot and woke up an hour early.

The cookies were great mom, and yes we always go there even though it is 7 reals ($2.27) for a cookie. That was awesome and funny. (We use an online service to send letters to him. The service also has a shop across the street from the CTM that sells American treats, like ice cream, soda, pizza and cookies. I tried to order him a treat online for Valentine's Day but the website was down. But when he happened to go in to get cookies on pday, they owner gave him four cookies for free and then had him dial my cell number so she could tell me that she had seen him. Such a fun surprise and treat for both of us!)

The temple was good today, and I listened to almost all of it in Portuguese. I didn´t understand all of it, but I could understand enough that I could do everything required of me.

I am going to send you guys some letters today, but it only wrote some for the family currently at home. I will try to find time to write some more, and send them, but this is what Ive done for now.

This week we got some more new companions for splits. My companion this week is from Portugal, I think he can speak 4 different languages (English, Portuguese, Spanish, and another), and I think he said that he has been living in Brazil for 2 years before coming to the CTM. He is a little intimidating looking, but that helped me realize how much the Lord helps me with my Portuguese. At first I was not looking forward to teaching with him, and because of this it was harder to understand him, but as I tried to love him more, as he tried to help me be a good teacher, and as I got to know him more, I started to understand what he was saying. That really bore testimony of the Lord's help with my understanding of Portuguese. 

We watched a devotional that Elder Ballard gave at the Provo MTC 2 weeks ago on Sunday, and it was funny because they put us in charge of starting the different versions so that everyone could listen to it in their own language. All we had to do was press a button on the laptops, but the thing was that they told us to tap the pad and not press the left click button so it didn´t work the first time and we had to do it over. 

The devotional was really great, and I felt the spirit very strongly during it. Elder Ballard talked about how our attitude as missionaries is very important, and that we need to develop an attitude of happiness and love for the work. There was something that Elder Martin, one of the missionaries that left this week, would say whenever someone would say something they can´t do even if it didn´t have to do with them. He would say ``Not with that attitude.`` Also Elder Ballard shared a story about when his son was on his mission, and he was worried about how many baptisms he was getting and about whether or not he was a good missionary. Elder Ballard´s response was: ``If you can get on your knees every night, and tell the Lord that you did your best that day, then Elder Ballard, you are a good missionary." This is a good analogy for life as well. I think that if you can get on your knees and honestly say to God that you did your best, then you are doing it right.

--Elder Pettingill

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

CTM Week 3

This week has been great! So a little more about the meals, there are more types of juices here and they are all really good; I get acai each meal though. So I think I am finally getting decent at the finger slapping thing here, now I am working on my other hand. If you come to Brazil or a different place near here you have got to know that. I am so surprised by how much Portuguese I know already, also it feels weird being the experienced American here. Another group of Americans came in yesterday. 27 new Americans, which is a lot for here. My district lost two missionaries who are a week behind us. It is a little sad, but I am sure they will do better not having to be by themselves for a week after we leave. We are also getting 3 new sisters, so now my district has 11 missionaries. We have to change classrooms now, because the other one is too small. So it is funny because in Portuguese, tu, is only used for closeness so we use it in prayers and not anywhere else. Instead we use voce which is conjugated the same as ele which is a little easier and a little harder.

We went proselyting this week. That's something that the other missionaries don´t get to do. It was really fun. They give you 3 Book of Mormons per missionary, and you and your companion go and give them out. For most of the time Elder Porter and I were just walking around, scared to talk to people, but once we started talking to people we gave them out really fast. The people here are soooo nice! If there is someone on their phone they still talk to you. We met one guy who tracked us down later to take a picture for his wife which was really cool.

So apparently if you press a certain key on this keyboard it sends the email you are typing. Anyway, in the CTM there are several different types of missionaries. There are the native Portuguese speakers who are still speaking Portuguese, the missionaries going to Japan and are learning Japanese, the Portuguese speakers learning Spanish, the Spanish speakers learning Portuguese, and the Americans. They have different dots to tell apart the missionaries. Also there were two missionaries learning Dutch who were going the the Netherlands. They were here for 9 weeks, and they had to take a test on Dutch before they could get their visas. I think that is more stressful than what I am doing.

For the devotional on Sunday this week I was asked to sing ``I believe in Christ`` in Portuguese along with other American elders, and it was a really good experience. Singing in Portuguese is really hard, because you are trying to read the words, sing the notes, and sing the right way. As I have learned more Portuguese it has gotten easier though. 

Oh this is something that I forgot about. Before the last plane ride two missionaries (Elder Martin and Elder Johnston) that were flying with me did this fun little thing with their ties. So they rolled up their ties and help them by their necks. Then Elder Martin said ``we are going to race.´´ On the count of three they both let go of their ties, and Elder Martin said ``it´s a tie.´´ So there that is my pun contribution to this email.

The Temple was great today. I have been having a hard time the past couple days staying focused on being a missionary, but the temple helped me remember the promises the Lord has made to me, and it really helped. 

So this week some Americans left, and they gave us a book that was being passed down from missionary to missionary. It was not a good book. My district gave it to President Grahl, and talked to him about it. The reason that I am telling this is because when we went to President Grahl I didn´t really know what it was about. Because I am in a different room than the rest of my district I wasn´t involved in the receiving of the book. My district decided that it was not a good thing. I am just really proud of the district that I am in, and I am glad that they are the great people that they are.

So a couple Sundays ago we were talking about why it is good to ask questions, and I came up with this analogy. When we follow Christ, but don´t know why we do the things we do, then it is like we have our arms on Christ´s shoulders, but we are blindfolded. When we are like that it is really easy to trip and fall away from Christ, but if we find out the reasons for doing the things that we do, it is like we are taking the blindfold off. When this happens we not only can see the things that the adversary does to trip us, but we see where we are going.

--Elder Pettingill

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

CTM Week 2

To start off, we don´t have a lot of time. 

You said you have snacks. What kinds of snacks do you have? We get a snack before bed which usually consists of juice, crackers or muffins, and some chocolate thing. Other than that I just snack on the snack mix that I still have.

You said you wish you had brought more exercise shirts. Can you buy t-shirts there? Yes we can buy t-shirts here. On P-day we are allowed to go out into the city for some time so we can by some. I bought a Captain Moroni shirt, and a Muller soccer jersey. They were 25 reals each so pretty cheap.

Do feel like the CTM is like EFY, where you feel the spirit all the time? Life in the CTM is cool, but it is a lot more work and less sleep than EFY so I wouldn´t compare them in that way. Although we do get a lot of meetings where we feel the spirit.

Do you have districts and zones there? Yes we do have districts and zones here. There are now 6 elders and 4 sisters in my district and there is one other district in the zone. Me and Elder Porter became zone leaders this week, which is pretty cool.

How many missionaries are there in the CTM, would you guess? There were about 150 missionaries but yesterday about 100 of them left so now somewhere around 60 or so.

Who is in your same room, where you sleep? How many in each room? There are 6 missionaries in a room usually (six beds) and in ours there is me and Elder Porter and 4 Brazilians. We got moved out of the other room when one Elder come unexpectedly last week. It is better though because we get to bed on time now. The Brazilians in our room are really nice and friendly. We read the scriptures in portuguese every night before bed with them which is awesome.

What do you do on pday? On Pday we go to the temple, email, and go out into the city.
How far away is the temple? It takes about 45 minutes to get to the temple.

How are you doing?  I am doing great and I love hearing about you guys.

So a little about life here. We live on the 4th floor and the missionaries aren´t allowed to use the elevators. So we do a lot of stairs. We get to exercise every day and my district does the most actual exercise.  Most everyone else does the laps they have to do on the track and then plays basketball or volleyball. They have a gym here but you have to go out and around because the door is welded shut for legal reasons so I haven't been there yet. Portuguese is really interesting because a lot of words are spelled the same as Spanish, and pronounced the same, and some are spelled the same but pronounced differently and some of them are completely different words. Also different regions pronounce things differently, like in Curitiba they pronounce ``te`` normally while everywhere else it is a ch sound, but ``ti`` is still a ch sound and de and di are j sounds but de only at the end of a word. There are more things like that, so people say that it is a mix of Spanish and Portuguese. Splits are cool, but hard. You get put with a Brazilian Elder then have to teach a lesson. I got put with Elder Lima who was in my room before I switched, and speaks English, which is nice. Splits are hard because you teach other missionaries, then get taught, and so you rely on the Brazilians a lot, and whenever you speak you feel stupid, because you can´t communicate.

Elder Porter is really awesome. I am glad that he is my companion. Also he is a light sleeper so whenever anyone gets up for any reason he wakes up. So I also forgot an umbrella, so I will be getting one today. Interesting fact, I am the youngest in my district. So apparently when shipping packages to Brazil there are two ways to get them here without being opened. The first is fed-exing it here, which is supposed to be expensive, and the other, which I don´t know for sure if it works, is wrapping the package in pictures of Jesus. Apparently the postal workers don´t like cutting through that. Concerning breakfast, they basically have bread, meat and cheese every morning with some type of porridge. They did have cereal a couple of times here, and they also had scrambled eggs twice and sunny side up eggs once.  

Love you all and I am glad you are all doing well.

--Elder Pettingill

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

CTM Week 1

Ok well it has been a long week, but it has also been a great one. I will start off with the questions from last week. I met missionaries at the Atlanta airport. Elder Johnston (blond), Elder Martin (black hair and glasses), and Sister Chugg (shortest sister) came from the MTC in Provo so they are not in my district. Elder Davis (tallest), Elder Porter (my companion), Elder Arazani ( short one), and Sister Pyles came straight to Brazil. On the plane there were games and movies that we were apparently allowed to watch and play as long as we felt comfortable. Basically I didn´t watch any movies, but I did play chess and sudoku. Other than that I slept or read scriptures. I was only close to Elder Davis on the plane, so we talked also. I did have some trouble in the Atlanta airport because the stations didn´t have the same names as on my schedule, so that was confusing. So I waited for it to come up on the board then went to it. There was a lady who took us to a van then took us the the MTC. Sister Snider ( I think that is spelled right) met us and talked to us about the CTM, Elder Snider wasn´t there till later that night. My companion is Elder Porter (as said previously) and he is from Texas. There are 8 people in my district. The people who came straight to Brazil with me and two sisters from the Philippines and Elder McLean who arrived yesterday and nobody knew he was coming. First day was really easy because we had mostly free time. The second day on the other hand was hard. My daily schedule is 6:30am-9:30 or 10:30pm, and I have breakfast, lunch dinner and a snack. I have classes on Portuguese and time to prepare a lesson for an investigator (one of our teachers) which we give every night except Sundays and Tuesdays. Portuguese is great. I am already able to understand some of what people say sometimes, but it is already better that my Spanish. I love the food here! We have rice and beans every meal which is awesome and the rice is much better than the rice at home. There are rolls at lunch and dinner which are soft in the middle and have a seam perfect for stuffing meat into. The only semi bad meal is breakfast which usually consists of a big roll meant for a sandwich of cheese and spamy ham. That is about my only complaint.

I have not gotten home sick yet, but others have. The temple was awesome today, I got to perform comfirmations in Portuguese. I think I am a trial for Elder Porter, because I am weird, and I think I annoy him with some of the stuff that I do. The Brazilians are awesome. Also I get 45 min for email not 30. Daniel´s suggestions for shaving have really helped, and the lotion helps a lot too. There is bad new though, I think someone stole my speaker out of my bags when they were coming to Brazil. Also I lost my water bottle between flights 2-3 so I have been using a plastic one. I bought a hymn book today, now all I need is the thing that says what hymn is what. The whole CTM participates in a choir before devotionals, and so I found out that singing in Portuguese is really hard. I haven´t checked the mail yet so I don´t know if the letter came or not. Oh we have devotionals on Sundays and Tuesdays which we have to wear suits for. Other than that I wear short sleeve shirts everyday. I wish I brought more shirts for exercising though, and I wish that I had brought my running shoes. By the way I do not look like a Brazilian (dad). Apparently my name is really hard for the Brazilians to say. Also everyone calls Elder Porter harry potter.

I had a really good experience this week. I had a little bit of a Job moment in the sacrament meeting this week. I was sitting in the meeting and I started having thoughts like ``you shouldn´t be here.`` or ```You should just go home.`` and I thought no I should stay, I am doing a good job so far, and just combating these thoughts, and then I realized that these thought cannot be coming from me, they must be from Satan, and the overall effect was that it strengthened my reason and my thoughts about why I am on a mission. This confused me, because we were told that the MTC is the most holy place besides the temple in Brazil, and I was in a sacrament meeting. This confused me until I was in my bed at night and I remembered the story of Job, and in that story God allows Satan to do bad things to Job. So I thought maybe God did that today with me. Maybe he let Satan tempt me in that holy place because he knew that it would strengthen me in an area that I would be tested in. This is kind of an example of trial. He lets us have trials so that we can become stronger, and can handle trials he knows will come. Also after one of the devotionals I came up with a phrase that the other elders refer to as ``wise words form Elder Pettingill``` along with the ``not so wise word from Elder Pettingill.``

I love you all and I am so glad to have such great people for family members.

-- Elder Pettingill