Monday, December 26, 2011

Hello Again!

Hi, everyone!

The week leading up to Christmas was unlike any other this year, but I磎 glad that I got to spend it with my companion and cousin, Elder Call:) What a blessing:)

I was thinking about some experiences that I have had in the mission so far, and I thought about something that I am so grateful for about my area: the people talk to us! It is incredible to me how much we talk to people on the street or just while we磖e going somewhere because they call us over to talk to us. This week, we were walking down the street, and an older woman was standing in front of her house. As we walked by, she said, ``Hey, come here for a minute. I want to read what your tags say!创 We talked to her a little bit, and learned a little bit more about here. She is a sweet, dear woman, and yet she has health problems that make it so that she hardly ever leaves her house. We asked if we could share a short message with her, but she said she didn磘 have time then, but that we could pass by anytime, because she磗 always at home. We will probably pass by in the next couple of weeks. I磎 so glad that we got to talk to her.

I feel blessed, because things like this happen all the time on the street, and I feel like this sort of thing wouldn磘 ever happen in many other missions in the world. The Brazilian people are so open to talk, and not afraid to ask you if your German or something (It happens quite a bit, and I was never expecting that...), and they are a very loving people. I am so grateful for the chance I have to be here. What a great blessing!

I love you all so very much! It was great to talk to my family yesterday, and I am so glad for the blessing of families in our lives. It truly is God磗 plan for us! And through them, we receive the happiness and joy that He wants us to feel and have:)

I love you all so very much! Thank you all for the letters, and the packages, and the prayers! They all mean so very much to me:)

Love you all tons and scoops,

Elder Reid Powell Empey

P.S. Aunt Marilyn, your package came, and we are so grateful for the gifts! We wore the ties on Christmas, and showed them off at church while we gave our talks:) Also, thank you family again for the package! I will let you know when the others get here:) Love you all tons and scoops!

Merry Christmas, All!

December 19 Email

(I am so very, very sorry, but my email to Presidente Souza deleted itself again! And I had to re-type it completely...therefore, this will be another very short email:( But, I will try to make the best of it!)

Hello all! I hope that the coming days are exciting and full of joy for you. Christmas is a wonderful time, especially for family and friends. It is a time to ponder the things that are most important in our lives. And, it is a time to be grateful and express thanks for the matchless gift of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Of all the gifts that we will receive in the coming days, we need to remember that none of them are as wonderful and grand and joyful and loving as the gift of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. What a blessing, that we can repent of our sins, that we can be free from the pain and burden of our transgressions! We can be clean again, and return to the presence of God, with our families. This is one of the most glorious parts of the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ, that through His Gospel, His sacrifice, and our willingness to be obedient to His commandments, we can be sealed to our families forever, and live together with Heavenly Father for all eternity.

The Atonement surpasses our capacity to comprehend, yet as we apply it in our lives, we begin to feel of the joy and happiness that is to be found in repentance. And, through the Atonement, we can change. We can let go of the habits and tendencies and character traits and attributes that cause us discomfort, pain, and sorrow in our lives. We can take upon ourselves His name, His attributes, and His goodness.

What a glorious gift our loving Heavenly Father gave to us! And what great love doth the Savior have for us, that He would lay down His matchless and perfect life, take upon Himself our sins, our imperfection, our weaknesses, and our pains and afflictions, that we can be made whole, and that we can truly become as He is.

My dear family and friends, let us never forget who we are. Let us never forget that the hands of the Savior are always extended out to us, no matter what we have done, what we haven´t done, or how we feel in the moment. He is there, waiting for you. And if you accept His invitation, and be willing to obey His words and commandments, you can feel that joy, love, and peace that you so desperately want to feel.

Let us never forget, also, that the love that we have and share, one for another, is God-given, and that as we feel it and share it, it will grow, and our love for the Savior will grow, and we will begin to experience just a tiny, little, infinitissimally microscopic piece of the wonderful joy and love that our Heavenly Father has for us, and that we can have forever and ever one with another, even into the eternities.

I love you all so much. Please remember this Christmas the marvelous gift of Jesus Christ, and His Atonement, in our lives. And also remember that this gift is simply too good not to share with others:) As we do, our own love and gratitude and joy of this matchless gift will grow even more.

I love you all so very much. Please remember that too!

Hugs, and kisses, and bucket fulls of love,

Elder Reid Powell Empey

P.S. Neither the letter nor the package have arrived as of yet:( Maybe tomorrow, but maybe not. So, even if it doesn´t come know that I still love you all so very, very much! And that I will most likely get it some time in the future:)
P.P.S. Geneil, the things from you guys hasn´t come yet either:( But, that´s okay! I love you all tons!
P.P.P.S. I´m not sure yet what will happen as far as calling is concerned. You will be getting a call sometime during the week, most likely on Friday. So, please keep your cellphones on and with you. If I can´t get a hold of one of you, I will keep trying for all of you until I get somebody. So, please be ready!! Love you tons and scoops!

Happy Holidays and Birthdays and Wedding Days and More!

December 12 Email

Hello all!

I´ve heard all sorts of news about weddings and birthdays and Christmas plans and stuff like that, and I´m glad to know that things are still bustling and jumping all over the place like usual:)

It is strange to be in a tropical climate around Christmastime. It´s hot (actually, this time of year is the hottest:) It will be hot until the rain season will be an adventure to say the least.), it´s humid, and even the thought of snow is impossible to even entertain.

I love the scriptures:) I´m so glad that we have them to guide and to help us in our lives. Through them, we truly can invite the Spirit into our lives, and learn more about Heavenly Father´s will for us. We can learn what we need to do differently, and what lies we are telling ourselves that are hindering us (Hel. 3:29-30), and we can find the assurance to continue pressing forward. Please read the article written by Elder David A. Bednar in the October Edition of the Ensign. The whole Ensign is about the Book of Mormon. Even if you are not a member of the Church, please read this magazine (Ensign is the name of the magazine). It explains more about the Book of Mormon, why we have the Book of Mormon, and how it can bless our lives. Here is a link to read this edition of the Ensign online:

Anyway, the article by Elder Bednar ( is about the importance of continually holding fast to the Iron Rod, or the word of God. He discusses the significance of the story of Lehi´s Dream in the Book of Mormon, and what we can do to learn what we can learn and what we should and need to learn from the principle of continually holding fast to the Iron Rod. It really is a wonderful article:)

I am almost out of time, but I want to let you all know that I know that I am where the Lord wants me to be. I know that He wants to bless each and every one of us with the things that we need, and sometimes even the things that we would like too! But, He cannot bless us unless we are being obediant to the commandments. Also, we can´t keep the commandments if we don´t know what they are, or perhaps if we have a wrong understanding of what they are. Because of the need to know clearly the commandments of the Lord, He has given us those who can show us the path, and tell us how we need to prepare for the future. We have the blessing of the Lord to have the guidance and the direction of prophets, both the sacred words of the ancient prophets and apostles in the holy scriptures, but also the priceless and heaven-sent guidance of a living, latter-day prophet. I bear my testimony that we truly do have a prophet on the earth today, and that he leads and guides the Church under the direction of Jesus Christ, who Church this is. I know that Thomas S. Monson truly is a prophet of God. I also know that everyone can know that this is true for themselves, not just because I say that it is so. If we will pray to Heavenly Father, in the name of Christ, really desiring to know and to act upon the truth, He will show us, through the power of the Holy Ghost, the truth of all of these things.

Please, never forget that you are never far from the gaze of a loving Heavenly Father. Pray to Him. He wants to hear from you, just as badly as you want to hear from you children, the same as you what to hear their voices and hear the things that are going on in their lives. Sometimes we just want to hear from each other! And so it is with Him:)

I know that as we seek after Him, in prayer, in scripture study, and in being obediant to His commandments, we will find joy and peace and happiness in our lives. He will shows us where we need to be, where He wants us to be, and we will be better able to see His Hand in our lives. And not only that, but we will begin to see that His Hand has always been in our lives, and directing our path for good.

I know these things to be true. I love you all so very much:) Please, don´t be afraid to follow Him! You will be blessed more than you can know see or perceive. Pray that He will open your eyes. There is more at work than you can see (

I love you all so very, very much! Keep moving forward, press forward in Christ, feast upon His words, and you will find the joy and the happiness that you seek.

Love with all of my heart,

Elder Reid Empey

P.S. So, some not so fun news for the family: no Skype:( But, that´s what President says, and that´s how it´s going to be. So, you will be hearing in the coming weeks about when the call will happen, the details, etc, etc. I love you all so much:)
P.P.P.S. Good luck to all of you will your traveling, driving, and meandering! Love you tons!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Greetings from Juazeiro do Norte

Hello, my dear family and friends!

I hope that you are all well and happy, and full from the holiday season. And it´s only just begun!

As far as being here during these times, it´s a little bit out of the ordinary to say the least:) There are Christmas decorations in stores, and some people have Christmas trees and decorations in their houses, but it really doesn´t feel like December at all. Well, granted, it is significantly hotter here than where most of you are, but it still doesn´t feel like December.

As far as where I live in Juazeiro do Norte, I live in Bairro Centro. In Brazil, every city is divided into ``bairros,´´ which are like districts or ``neighborhoods´´. The Bairro Centro is where almost all of the shops and stores are, so we are close to places where we can buy things. Right now, the branches here in Juazeiro are meeting in a large house while the ``capela,´´ or chapel is being renovated. This house is located on the corner of Rua São José and Rua Da Conceição.

The actual chapel is located on Rua Doutor Flora ( I think that´s how you spell it:) Anyway, the basketball court is outside, and we have only played there once because we got special permission. We haven´t done it since.

Anyway, I have to go now, but remember, please remember, that I love you all so very much; and, more importantly, your Father in Heaven loves you so very, very much. We can´t even comprehend how much He loves us. Go to Him. Pray to Him. Cry to Him. He will hear you. He will help you. And you will be able to feel to love that He has for you. Whatever the hurt, pain, or discomfort we feel in this life can be relieved, healed, and comforted through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. He lives. He loves us. And He wants to bless us so very much.

I know that I am not perfect, and that I have many, many things that I need to do differently, but I know that I am here for a reason, and I know that Heavenly Father wants me to be here, right now, as His servant. May God bless you, and may you feel the redeeming love of the Savior, is my prayer and hope for you all.

Love and hugs and kisses and more, from the bottom of my heart to yours,
Elder Reid Powell Empey

11/29/2011 Quick Lettre from Juazeiro

So, this week I ACTUALLY don´t have much time to write. My computer´s had some problems, and my letter to my mission president might have been deleted...dang, I think it did....

Well, this week has been hard. Again:) Might as well get used to it! Actually, I think that it´s good to know that all missions are hard, even the ones that everybody says you will baptize a lot in. It´s encouraging:)

I really do love you all, even though this is a very short letter today. I hope that you are well. I am doing fine, and I am seeking to rely on the Lord in His work. I know that He lives, and that He wants to help all of us with our trials. Seek after Him, and you will find relief and rest in His will, His commandments, His mercy, and His grace. What a wonderful knowledge that we get to have:)

Really quick, here is my Christmas list (or, at least, all that I can remember right now):
  • green ointment (I think that I left my big container in São Paulo. It will be good for you to know, however, that I left it because it was out of my bags AND I WAS USING IT. So, please send me another if you can. I´m sorry...)
  • Pilot G-2´s - Just can´t have enough of them. I wrote over 120 pages in my study journal in the MTCs, so I need more. Please don´t send me .7´s, and actually I´ve discovered that I really like the .38 because they´re really thin.
  • Pictures of all of you, and pictures of my friends too! Actually, you can probably just send them in emails. Please actually get everyone to send me pictures, or to you so that you can send them to me. I really want and need them, because everyone asks to see the pictures that I have, and I don´t have very many! I will be printing the ones you just sent me off here, so please, send me more!
  • I can´t remember anything else right now, but as I think of things, I will write them down, and send them next week. Sorry!
Anyway, I love you all so very much. If you have questions that you really need answered (like, doctrinal or personal questions), ask Heavenly Father. Elder Bednar said that if you learn one thing from having one experience to ask a General Authority questions, you should learn that you don´t need a General Authority to answer it for you. Ask Heavenly Father, and He will answer. (And keep asking, searching the scriptures, going to church, the temple, etc. so that you can receive your answer when He tells it to you, k? K:) )

Love you all tons and scoops,
Elder Reid Empey

P.S. Claire, you can use some of my sweats if you want, but you´re going to have to fight Mom for the keyboard:) Whoever wins can use it, as long as the keyboard itself doesn´t get broken in the process:)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Adventures of Elder Empey - Capítulo Alguma Coisa - Novas de Juazeiro (News from Juazeiro)

Olá, todo mundo! Tudo bem? Eu espero que sim:)

This email will probably be pretty short, but I will try to write all that I can in the time that I have.

This week was kinda hard. Actually, it was pretty hard. Many of our appointments fell through, and we have been having difficulty finding new people. It´s hard, but I know that we are supposed to be here, and that we are here to do the Lord´s work; and that He will continue to help us to do His work here in Juazeiro do Norte:)

The capela (the church, or, literally translated, ``chapel´´) is being renovated right now, and I´m not sure of the address. But, right now, we are meeting in a building that is on the corner of Rua Conceição e Rua São José (``rua´´ means road or street). It´s quite large for the buildings here in Brazil. I am so excited for the capela to be finished. It is beautiful, and reminds me of home.

It´s crazy, because there are things here that are different that you maybe wouldn´t expect to be different. One example: grass. It wasn´t until I got to São Paulo, and lived there for a little while that I realized how much I miss grass. Weird, huh? There was one place at the CTM in São Paulo that had grass, and one place that I have seen here in Juazeiro with real grass, but nearly anywhere else it simply isn´t there. Also, the dirt is different here. It´s red:) I miss brown dirt!

Another thing that I sort of miss that I never would have expected to miss, or thought that I was addicted to it: chocolate. I didn´t even know! They don´t have much chocolate here, or at least good chocolate. And even the regular chocolate is pretty expensive. Elder Call and I found a box that has American chocolate in it, like Hershey´s, Reeses´, Almond Joy, Mounds, Whoppers, and stuff like that in it. We bought it, but it was nearly eight reais (R$ 8) for 300 grams of chocolate (like $4.50 or $5 in the US). But, we are trying to savor it while we can. I´m glad we found it:)

Elder Bednar came to speak to the Brazil Fortaleza Mission last week, and it was a great talk! Sadly, we were not able to attend because there is a rule that missionaries can´t go to meetings that require more than two hours of travel (it is nine or ten hours by bus from Juazeiro to Fortaleza). Yet, I know that it was a good talk because we got copies of it. Well, sort of. Another rule is that you must get permission to record video or audio of these sort of meetings, and they did try to get approval, but things fell through, and it didn´t work out. So, they wrote down everything they possibly could, and combined all of their notes together, edited it, translated it into Portugues (``português´´ in Portuguese :) ), and sent it off to all of the missionaries. It was a little bit hard to understand at times, but I was able to translate some of it directly into English in my journal (funny how the names for languages in Portugues are never capitalized...).

One of the cool things that he said was about the Atonement. Someone asked him to teach them about the Atonement (they opened the meeting up for questions, as they typically do in these types of meetings, I hear), and he said what he had heard Elder Packer say before: ``Buy a copy of the Book of Mormon, cheap and simple, and read it the maximum that you can for six months. When you finish, write a summary of what you learned on one page. Not ten, only one.´´ Elder Bednar said that he has done this various times since he heard Elder Packer say that in 1995. He then said (not a perfect quote, but I´ll do the best I can), ``Ì give you a blessing and a promise that as you do this, you will have eyes to see what you´ve never seen, ears to hear what you´ve never heard, and you will have more love and admiration for your Savior in your life.´´

What a blessing:) Truly, through the Book of Mormon we can become more converted to the Gospel, each and every single one of us. Elder Bednar also said that we should read the Book of Mormon hundreds and thousands of times in our lives. I know that as we study the word of God, we will hear His voice, and hear the Spirit whisper to us what we need to do now in our lives. And as we follow those promptings, we will grow in faith, trust, and in knowledge and understanding of our Lord, our God, and Their wondrous plan for us here on earth. The important thing, though, is that we must act upon the promptings of the Spirit if we want to grow and learn in faith. Please read Elder Bednar´s talks that you sent me from Dallin: Ask in Faith, from General Conference, and Seek Learning by Faith, which is in the ``Additional Addresses´´ category on the Church website. They are wonderful, and as you follow the guidance given there, as well as the promptings and feelings and impressions that you receive as you read them, you will be blessed, and you will be guided by the Holy Ghost.

There is something very important that I have learn, now from two apostles of the Lord: The promptings and impressions and thoughts that you receive during a meeting, even during a meeting with a General Authority or an Apostle, are the most important things that you need to do in your life. They very possibly, yes, very probably if not definitely will stem from the words that are spoken in the meeting. But, there is something that Elder Richard G. Scott said in a devotional at the MTC a few years ago that struck me as significant, and Elder Bednar said something very similar: ``I want you, tonight, to only take notes on the thoughts and feelings that you  have tonight, not writing down what I say, because the Spirit can teach you things that are greater than anything you and I could talk about tonight.´´ Wow.

So, listen to the Holy Ghost, seek after personal revelation, and do it. Also, if you aren´t receiving revelation before hand, do something. Another thing that Elder Bednar said was, ``We only receive revelation when we are acting.´´ So, keep the commandments, do you´re very best, honor your covenants, and act in faith. (This is almost a direct quote from his talk last week, and also, if this is confusing or your have questions, read those talks, and apply them; they´re really good:) )

I love you all so very very much! Please keep pushing forward! I know that it´s hard sometimes, but don´t even forget that Heavenly Father loves us so, so, so much. Do you know why? Elder Holland answered this question very emotionally, because it was very personal to him as a father. He said, ``I am no where near perfect. But the one thing that I am nearly perfect in is that I love my children. I would do anything for them.´´ My dear friends and family, our Heavenly Father loves us because we are His children. He will always loves us. And as we ponder the connection that we have to our own families, our own children, or anywhere else where there exists a connection of deep, tender love, we still can only see a glimpse of how much Heavenly Father loves us as His children. If you love your children, even if they are not perfect and make mistakes, and make unwise choices sometimes, do you still love them? Of course you do. Now, imagine the sadness and pain and love and desire that you feel for your children when they make decisions that are not for their benefit. Do you cry when they cry? Are you sad because they are sad?

These feelings that we feel are only a taste of what our Heavenly Father feels towards us. He is happy when we are happy, He rejoices and cheers when we make good decisions and succeed. And He mourns when we mourn, He is sad when we fell let down or disappointment, and He cries and mourns and yearns for us when we feel like we are unworthy of Him, and when we cannot feel His love and His support. He wants us to return to Him so, so badly. And He wants us to be happy on the way there:)

I know that God lives. I know that Jesus is the Christ. I know that Christ paid the price of our sins, and that he took upon Himself our afflictions, our sadness, and our sicknesses, both physical, spiritual, mental, and emotional. He wants us back. And, the good news of the Gospel (which word literally translated means, ``good news´´) is that we can repent, we can be clean, we can feel His love, and we do not have to do it alone. Please, please, please, turn unto Him, in every thought, and trust in Him and His counsel. Have faith that He will guide you in the paths that you need to walk for your benefit, learning, and growth. For along the way, He is giving us experience that will allow us to be more like Him, and to feel the joy that He feels, and to rejoice with Him, together, in the hereafter.

As families, as siblings, and as friends:)

I love you all so very much. May you see the Lord´s hand in your life, and be humble, that He may lead you by the hand, and get you answers to your prayers (D&C 112:10 - I love this scripture).

May God bless you, and may you feel of my love that I have for you. Keep moving forward, and know that you are truly a child of God:)

This is my prayer for all of you. I love you all so very, very much:) You are a blessing (in fact, many blessings) in my life.

Love you all tons and scoops, love your guts (Mom...), zerbers for you all, Clifton Murrays and musical notes for the whole world (well, maybe not Clifton Murrays, just for Joslyn:) ), and as many bullets as you can afford (I think that applies to everyone, not just Dad:) )

With love and affection,

Elder Reid Powell Empey

P.S. And yes, I am a Powell too! I nearly cry when I sing our family songs from the book....I miss you all so much:) Bye! Até mais!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Finally Here in Fortaleza! Except……….I’m in Juazeiro : )

Hello everyone! I won´t be able to write very much this week because the computer I have been using is very slow and it took some time to read the other emails.

However, for those of you who don´t already know, I am in Juazeiro do Norte, a town that is in the south of the state of Ceará. It probably has right around as many people as the Tri-Cities, except they are all squished together, so it is much smaller than that.

My first companion in the field, my trainer, is in fact my cousin, Elder Dallin Call! I was so excited to hear that we are able to have this opportunity together on our missions. I am excited to see where
things go, and how these next two transfers turn out.

By the way, I have some news for you that I think no one is going to like, including myself. Due to the very far distance between Fortaleza and Juazeiro, I only recieve letters, mail, or packages once every 6 weeks in Juazeiro. That´s once a transfer:) So, if things get to the mission office address (my mailing address) by the end of those six weeks (not sure the exact date, but it´s around five weeks from today), I will receive it before Christmas. If not, I won´t receive it until the end of January :( I can still write and send mail to you, because I use the postal system directly, whereas my mail from all of you goes through the postal system to the mission office, and they handle those things. I don´t think I´m supposed to give out my actual address to circumvent that, so I guess I will just have to wait:)

Anyway, things are crazy around here. And very hot! Juazeiro do Norte is apparently hotter than Fortaleza, so it´s pretty hot:) We played basketball at the chapel (which is beautiful, and being renovated at the present), and it was blistering hot on the basketball court.

Anyway, I have to go, but I love you all so very much! I am finally out in the field, and I want so badly to do the very best that I can, and do what the Lord would have me do. Read your scriptures, cry unto the Lord in prayer, keep your covenants that you have made, and seek for the Spirit in your lives. One thing that I have learned from the scriptures is that the principles of missionary work (especially concerning the spirit of revelation and prophecy, and the need for faith to accomplish the work of God, and to see miracles, and to receive the blessings that Heavenly Father has in store for us, and to open our mouths, bear our testimonies, and be missionaries to the world) are the principles that apply in our everyday lives. As members, and parents, as children, as priesthood holders, as glorious mothers and daughters and sisters and aunts and friends, and as the children of God, we are to use these principles to draw nearer unto God, just as any missionary would. Yes, there is a difference in being set apart, being ordained, and having the authority given to use to preach the word of God. But the principles that we use are the same as the ones that we all must use for the rest of our lives, and for eternity. That means also that the blessings are powerful too! We can receive wonderful, glorious, faith-building, and awe-inspiring experiences in our lives. And as we are obedient (which is DEFINITELY an important principle in missionary work AND for the REST of our lives), and have faith in Jesus Christ, His Atonement, and His power, Heavenly Father will bless us as fast and as greatly as we will let Him. (Read Moroni 7, it´s really great:) )
I love you all so very, very much! Please continue to pray for me. I need all of the help that I can get, and I am receiving it already. Please know that I pray for you too, my dear family and friends. May you be blessed and filled with love always (Moroni 7:48),

Elder Reid Empey

P.S. And may your expectations for the future be replaced with gratitude for how things actually turned out:) One of my favorite sayings is this: ``Life is what happens when you´re planning for something else.´´ And I think that Heavenly Father intended it that way:) Love you all!
P.P.S. Hugs and kisses and love to my dear family.
P.P.P.S. Especially to you Mom:)
P.P.P.P.S. Especially to you Joslyn! :)
PPPPPS. Zerbers for Anna
PPPPPPS. And especially to Dad:) I hope that you find some more magpies, I´m sorry the others slipped out of your scope:)

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

He's in Fortaleza!

Hey, everybody! I don´t have much time to write. We are here at the mission home, and I need to let you know that I am alive and well, and that I am HERE in Fortaleza!

I love you all so very much. I will let you know how things turn out when I can:)

Love you tons and scoops and wagons and wheel barrels and back-hoes full,

Elder Reid Empey

P.S. I hope I spelled that last one right...:)

(For those of you who don't know, our family likes to express our love  in "Tons and Scoops" and whatever else strikes our fancy at the time we are writing. Sometimes we get pretty creative!)

Monday, November 7, 2011

No email from Elder Empey today but...

I did get an email from his cousin, Elder Dallin P. Call, who is serving in the Fortaleza Brazil Mission already for the past 14 months. Here is what Elder Call said in his email....

"This week was OK. We found some good investigators, but sadly in the end of the week none of them went to church, so for a lot of them it is back to square one. We had a good end to the transfer though. Working hard to get people to progress towards baptism and salvation. We did have one visitor at church on Sunday though, and we will be working a lot with her this week to see if she can be baptized on Sunday after the church meetings.

We also had the transfer calls. My comp went to Crato in the same zone here in Juazeiro, and my new companion will be an Elder Empey, from somewhere in Washington... YES, I will be training Reid! He will get to Fortaleza tomorrow, and then he will get here to Juazeiro Wednesday morning. I´m super excited to see him. This also means that we will both be staying here in Juazeiro for at least two transfers or 12 weeks. A Juazeiro CHRISTMAS!!!

I do have some sad news to add though. Due to the distance from here to Fortaleza our zone of 20 missionaries will not be able to go to the conference with Elder Bednar. I almost cried when I found this out on Saturday. But it´s ok. All will be well in the end. I know that the Lord sees us and our needs, and guess he decided that I don´t need to be there."

Some FUN stuff! Elder Empey will be thrilled that his first companion outside of a Missionary Training Center will be his cousin, and that he may even get to participate in a baptism soon! He will be disappointed to learn that they won't be able to see Elder Bednar, but who knows maybe they will get to see him, somehow.
And we will be able to talk to both of them on Christmas. My sister and I are going to have fun figuring out how to get flat gifts to them so they won't take forever to get there.....maybe we'll take pictures of his presents that he will get when he gets home....probably not a real fun idea to him!
But I had to share with everyone!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The CTM Times

Hey, everyone! I hope that life finds you smiling and involved. I know that whether I´m smiling or not, I am being involved some way or another down here in São Paulo, and I´d rather be smiling while I´m doing it.
Thank you so much, Mom, for sending me the emails from Dallin. I got a letter from him yesterday about the mission conference, and I will be there for it! I am so excited:) (For those who may not know, Elder Bednar is coming to my mission conference a week after I get there! Elder Costa, Area President and just recently Emeritus Seventy, will be there as well. So excited! It will be on Nov. 14th, and the very next day, the 15th, wil be the groundbreaking of the Fortaleza Brazil Temple. I dont know if we´ll´be going to that, but it makes sense that Elder Bednar would visit my mission while he´s here for the groundbreaking.) Also, the scripture about charity is extremely important for all of us to remember and ponder (Moroni 7:45), and I definitely needed that reminder.
Here, things are bustling around as usual. The volleyball courts are finally finished after I-don´t-even-know-how-long. They were covered up when I arrived, and now they are done, and that is what is important to me:) I get to use them for a week!
Which brings me to the simple reminder of what your calendars would tell you if you were to count nine weeks from when I entered the MTC in Provo....This is my last week in the CTM!! I will be leaving the CTM next Tuesday, and I have no idea when I will be emailing next. It might be two weeks before I can touch bases if I miss a P-Day in transit. We will just have to see.
Therefore, I hereby request that all correspondance by mail be postponed until I can get you my address in Fortaleza. Or, I´m sure that my mother can put up my mission home address, and I´m also pretty sure that they will accept letters that way. I have received quite a few letters, for which I am grateful. Dear Elder isn´t as convienent here as it is in Provo, and yet the news has still gotten through to me one way or another. Thank you all so very much for writing. I love to hear from you all:) I will try to write back when I can, P-Days are crazy around here, and so is the postal system, so I have been semi-trying to wait to reply until I get to Fortaleza. (Mom, please let the girls in Apt. 210S, Campus Plaza know that I will be replying to their letters shortly, and that I beg their forgiveness for the long wait. If your not sure that you know who they are, just think for a minute, and it´ll come to you:) )
Well, I don´t have much time left, but I wanted to tell you about my first proselyting experience in São Paulo! It was kinda awkward:) I´m sure that many other missionaries would tell you to same thing about their first street contact experiences. For one, it was interesting to see how difficult it is to understand some people when they talk. We talked to a man (he looked like he might be homeless) whose name was Enoque(In English, Enoch). We talked to him for a little over a half hour, and by us talking to him, I mean we listened to him talk:) But, it was really interesting. He was very nice, and only a little bit drunk, so it was quite the conversation. The only actually Book of Mormon that we were able to give away was to a girl who was waiting for her mom to pick her up. I think she is probably in high school, and I can´t remember her name, but she spoke a little bit of English, and that helped the whole conversation go a lot smoother! She was very nice, and it was good to see that there are nice people who are willing to talk to you sometimes:)
I have to go, but I also wanted to let you know about an article in the Economist that was published a week or so ago, where the Economist declares, in large, broad letters, ``MORMONS ARE CHRISTIANS´´. Isn´t it nice to see some people catching on? Anyway, I haven´t read it, but I thought that I would let you know about it.
I love you all so very, very much. Write to me when you can, and if you can´t, that´s fine too. I will write and reply when I can, but please be patient with me:)
With all of my love and hugs and kisses,
Elder Reid Empey
P.S. Congratulations, Joslyn, about Seussical! I thought that it sounded like you weren´t going to be able to participate in it, but I´m so glad that it worked out! Congratulations to Eric and Jackie, and to Shannon as well! The earth sure keeps turning, even when you´re on the other side of the world while it´s happening:)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Greetings from the CTM

Boa tarde! I hope that everyone is doing well these days, and that life is good for you all. Brazil is Brazil, which I think is to be somewhat expected; today is actually quite hot! The first few days I was here at the CTM were hot as well, but then we had a cold front that has lasted nearly the whole time that I´ve been here, and it´s been very nice:) But, I need to get used to the hot weather, because it will be this hot and hotter every day in Fortaleza:)
It is hard for me to believe that in two weeks, I will be entering the field! It´s crazy! I feel like I´ve been in one training center or another for at least a semester´s worth of time. (Oh, wait.....two months is like two-thirds of a semester....huh.....weird....) I have learned so very much, and am so grateful for my teachers and my leaders that help me to learn and to grow.
My companion in the CTM is Elder Swinney. He is from Fresno, California, and he is a great elder. Even though he and I have had very different experiences, and have very different points of view on some things, we get along very well, and are learning more about how to work well together every day. (Both learning more every day and working together every day:) ) As we have sought to dicuss what we want to focus on in our lessons with our ``pesquisadores progredinos,´´ and communicate with each other how we might be more effective as a companionship, we have grown more united and more able to meet the challenges that we are facing. I may not have told you this, but we have investigators here in the CTM (actually, they are our teachers takign on the role of investigators...), and we teach them! In Portuguese:) It is quite the experience, and I have so very much to learn, but I know that this is probably the best way to learn at this point without putting real people´s salvation and progression in the Gospel at risk. I am excited to see what the field is going to be like. According to D&C 4, it´s all ready to harvest, so I guess I´d better make sure that I´m okay with jumping in with all of the other workers! (I wonder if there is some sort of Gospel parallel for a combine in this metaphor, because that would be kind of handy....maybe it´s the Book of Mormon!)
Just so that you are all aware, there is a Brazilian equivalent of a ``Dear John´´ letter. It´s called a ``Carta Azul.´´ Literally translated, this means ``blue letter.´´ However, the wonderfully clever females of Brazil make their break-offs as humiliating as possible, because they literally put the letter in a blue envelope, so everyone around them can see exactly what has just happened to some poor soul. Whenever anyone is checking the mail, a Brazilian district or an American district or whoever, everyone chants, ``Carta Azul! Carta Azul!´´ Most of the time, there isn´t anything to really get excited about. Yet, I did hear about one Elder who received two the same day:)
Anyway, I am out of time, but I love you all so very much! The temple this morning was very good, and I am so glad that we get the chance to go every P-Day. What a blessing:)
I love you all tons and scoops! If you have specific curiosities, please let my Mom know your questions so that she can email them to me, and I will answer the ones that I can.
Anyway, I love you, and I will write again next week!
Com amor,
Elder Reid Empey

Saturday, October 22, 2011

October 18, 2011

Óla! Como estão? Eu espero que vocês estão muito bem estes dias, e que vocês estão aprendendo as coisas que vocês precisam aprender em suas vidas:)

(I hope that Google Translate will work for you.)

{Mom E. ~ Google Translator says "Hello! How are you? I hope you are well these days, and that you are learning the things you need to learn in your (plural) lives:)"}

Life here at the CTM in São Paulo is VERY different than Provo. This is to be expected for many different reasons.

Firstly, one has to consider the logistics of the situation: São Paulo has a little over 130 to 150 missionaries right now. We are getting a whole bunch more because a slew of visas just came through from all of the consulates, but we still have a relatively few number of missionaries compared to how many we could have. The Provo MTC, on the other hand, has around 2300 missionaries; remember that a vast majority of these are 19 year old boys:) So, by natural circumstances and dire need, the rules, support system, and structure are much more strict and enforced. It´s a very tight ship over there:) Over here, there are less people, so, naturally, the enforcement and regulation/regularity of schedules, class start times, activities, branch structure and leadership, etc. will be less. It is an extremely different dynamic than the Provo MTC is.

Secondly (and I think this augments and multiplies the natural less strict atmosphere here), we are in Brazil. The CTM staff are Brazilians, teachers are Brazilians, the cooks are Brazilians, and most of the missionaries here are Brazilians (especially considering all of the visa problems that Americans are having these days). Therefore, everything is going to naturally be less uptight and strict because the Brazilian culture is very, very flexible with whatever is going on. It is definitely more laid back, and a very different experience.

I must say that I am glad that I was in the Provo MTC for the time that I was. I learned things that I never thought that I wouldn´t learn here. For example, when you get used to all of that structure, and everyone is saying all the time, in every devotional and fireside, ``Obedience, obedience, obedience´´, you adapt to the circumstances, and utilize that pressure to push you to do the things that you need to be doing. Atleast, that´s what I tried to do:) Here, however, there is very little of that. Because there is a lack of pressure, missionaries are more prone to get distracted and stay distracted, including myself. So, I am glad that I am getting frustrated with some of the laxity (if that is even a word) that is going on, because that says at least something about my own drive to stay focused.

So, we only have thirty minutes to read AND write emails in the CTM, so I don´t have as much time as I usually do. Also, I can upload some pictures to you, including the one for my missionary plaque. I don´t know if I will ever be able to do so again, but we will have to see:)

My mom asked me to talk a little about how Reid is doing, not just Elder Empey. Well, I am doing well:) It is a new experience, and there are struggles and trials and difficulties. It is hard when I get frustrated with others´ lack of focus. It is difficult getting used to the bumps of a new district, and a new companion. It is difficult when I don´t do the best that I can. But, I know that we are blessed when we do all that we can. I am grateful for the newfound meaning in the phrase, ``Do your duty, that is best, leave unto the Lord the rest.´´ This does NOT mean that you do EVERYTHING that you could possibly do. No, no. It means you do your very best, and what ever else doesn´t work out will.

Anyway, I need to go now, but I love you all so very very much! The postal system is supposedly still on strike, but the mail goes through. It just takes a lot longer:) Try Dear Elder again, I could swear that they send it to here too, it just costs money:) I love you tons and scoops and gallons and cider bottles and apple bins and Zoom-Zoom loads (my family knows what that means :) ). Know that I am doing well, and that I love you very much. May God bless you, that you may be filled with His love. Your prayers on my behalf are appreciated. I desperately need them.

I love you all so much!

Eu amo vocês sempre,
Elder Reid Empey

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Elder Reid Empey and the other Elders entering the CTM in Brazil

He made it to BRAZIL!!!!!!!

Dear Parents,

We are happy to send the good news that your missionary has arrived safely at the Brazil MTC. What a great joy and privilege it is to greet each missionary as they come through the front door of the MTC for the first time. We promise to take good care of your missionary.

They 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. The branch presidents and their wives, will soon give them a second greeting. These couples are rewarded in their callings through the love they always develop as they embrace and watch over the missionaries.

The MTC has a full time live-in physician to care for their health needs. He is assisted by his able wife. We are also happy to report that the Cafeteria food is abundant 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 Tuesday or Wednesday, depending on individual assignments.

Your very important young person is about to make an eternal difference in the lives of others. We hope you will be encouraged and comforted by this quote by President Lorenzo Snow: “There is no mortal man that is so much interested in the success of an elder [sister] when he is preaching the gospel as the Lord that sent him to preach to the people who are the Lord’s children.”

Please accept our love,
President Donald L Clark and Sister Zaza Clark

ADDITIONAL information . . .

DO not send packages to the Brazil Missionary Training Center. All packages must be sent directly to the mission where your missionary will be serving not the MTC. If you have already mailed a package to the Brazil MTC and it arrives after your missionary has left for the field, please understand that the package can not be forwarded to his or her mission and will be returned to you. The only other option is for us to open the package and forward the letters and photographs, giving the rest of the content of the package to the missionaries that are here.

WE Strongly eNCOURAGE sENDING HAND WRITTEN LETTERS. Please write your missionary´s first and last name. Your missionary will provide you with his district and box number. Also, please DO NOT SEND ANYTHING BY FEDEX, DHL, UPS, or other private carriers. The cost to get this type of correspondence is exorbitant.

Monday, October 10, 2011

This Week Has Been Crazy!

I got my visa on Friday, and that changed my plans with and perspective of a lot of things.

I am so glad for the opportunity to go to the Brazil MTC! It will be an incredible experience, as this experience has been. I am very excited to see how things turn out over the next few weeks.

My brain is going in tons of different directions right now, and it's hard to focus on what I should write about. I have things that I need to get done, and not much time (read "NO TIME!") to do them, but I will be fine. I think that I will be getting up early so that I can ensure that I can get everything done:)

I have talked to Elder Fieldstead (a cousin's son, who is also in the Provo MTC) a few times, and say "hi" whenever I see him. I think that his classroom is in my building, but I'm not quite sure. I don't have much time to wander the halls of the MTC, do I?

If and when you send pictures, (not just Mom, ANYONE who would like to send them:) ) I think that the regular mail would be fine if it's the size and weight of a regular letter. Apparently the mail system in Brazil is great with letters, and it takes about a week to get down there. Still, I don't know much about the pouch system, and it may be better to send pictures that way. (Addition from Mom E., pouch mail is letters ONLY, NO pictures from my understanding. Unless you print them on regular paper and fold them up with your letter.) By the way, I love the pictures that my family has already sent. (Although, it would be nice to have a more recent picture of our family...) Please send me pictures and letters, they make my day, and help me to continue pushing forward.

I am so glad to be here, and for this wonderful priviledge to learn, and to grow. I have learned so much about relying on the Lord, and being patience, and pushing forward amidst the presence and pressure of challenges, trials, and opposition. I have felt the Spirit bear witness to me of the importance of this work, and specifically my part in it. I am so excited to see what being out in the field is going to be like, and I hope that my Portuguese is sufficient enough that people can understand me, and won't mock me too bad for it. (I was talking to a woman who works with missionary immunizations today while I was getting my second hepititus A shot, and she said that we didn't have American accents. Actually, she said that we have Portugal accents, and that the people in Brazil will make fun of us for them Oh, well. I think I can handle it. I think I'd rather be mocked for speaking with a Portugal accent than for not being able to speak the language at all...)

I love you all so very, very much. I know that the little amount I write and send in an email is not much, but I hope that you know how much I love you, and appreciate you and your desire to push forward, and do what the Lord wants you to do. I don't think it's easy, in any circumstance, to yield our will to the Lord's, and I think that it is supposed to be that way. I know that as we strive to give up our will, and give ourselves, our hearts, our mights, our minds, and our strengths to the Lord, He will tell us what we need to do. We will be enabled to accomplish the things which He requires of us (if you doubt that, read 1 Nephi 3:7, and try to remember how many times Nephi tried to get the plates before he actually could). We can do it with His help. We can. It will not be easy, but it will be possible, and I think that as we seek to live with His Spirit as our constant companion, and are better able to recognize and understand and have the courage to follow the promptings that come, it will become easier and more manageable; but not because our load is getting lighter. Instead, we are becoming more strong, and better able to bear the load that we already have placed upon our backs. I think that the Lord often works in this way: rather than taking our trials from us, and the weight and burden that they are in our lives, He strengthens us to be able to bear them up, and He molds the back to carry the burden placed upon it, until we can hardly feel them upon us. (Mosiah 24 is great for this one)

Anyway, I love you all! use Dear Elder, I think that they send letters to the Brazil MTC as well:)

Love always,
Elder Reid Empey

MTC Week Three is over!

Hello my dear family and friends!

I cannot believe it, but this Wednesday will be one month from my entering the MTC.

All I can say is: "WHAT!?!"

It seemed crazy to me that it has been a month, and that my MTC stay is officially half-completed. It feels both like I just got here, and like I have been here forever.

I love all of the letters and Dear Elders and packages and emails and love what you send in them! I love to hear that I have a package, or a letter, or two or three or four! It makes my day, and reminds me that there really is a world outside of this one, and there are people who live out there, and love me, and wish me to know and feel of their love by sending me a little something :)

General Conference was a blessing in my life, as it always is. I had many of the answers to my questions and prayers be answered, and I have made some connections that needed making. Yet, there are connections that I still seek desperately to make. How thankful I am for modern-day revelation, that we can truly hear the word of God from the mouths and voices of His servants. It's strange to hear them speaking directly to the missionaries who are presently serving, and to realize that's me :)

I hope that you all are doing well, and are feeling the love of the Lord in your lives. What a blessing to be on the earth at this time! To learn and to grow, and to utilize that knowledge for the helping and uplifting of others. My testimony was strengthened in the need for a testimony! We need our own testimony, and then as we bear it to others, the Holy Ghost can testify both that the things we testify are true are true, and the Holy Ghost can also testify to others that we truly know those things to be true.

I've also learned more about the necessity of having the Holy Ghost to be with us always, and my desire to have that constant companionship has greatly increased. It is interesting to mention the scripture from which the name of the manual "Preach My Gospel" came from. Right on the front cover, it quotes the scripture from the Doctrine and Covenants from which it was taken. (I believe it's D&C 50:14) I have heard numerous people talk about this title, one in particular being Elder Jefferey R. Holland in a powerful devotional address given in 2005 (I think). In D&C 50:14, it says that the elders, or missionaries, are called to "preach my gospel by the Spirit". Elder Holland said (now, truly imagine Elder Holland saying this in his own way, with power and force, with the edge that is characteristic of when he is saying something that in his mind and heart and soul is extremely important): "The name of this manual could very well have been 'Preach My Gospel By the Spirit', but it was simply a bit to lengthy. But don't you ever think of it's title without the rest of the verse connected to it."

In Doctrine and Covenants, Section 42:14 (I think), it says that we should seek for the Spirit in our teaching, and that "if ye receive not the Spirit, ye shall not teach." For a very long time, I thought that this was almost like a commandment, that if we don't receive the Spirit, we are commanded not to teach. I now do not believe that to be a correct interpretation of the scripture. Instead of a commandment, it is a declaration of fact, a statement of principle that we need to come to realize and have a testimony of. It should guide our actions and remind us of the vital importance and significance of all of our works and deeds in associating with other people around us.

It is not a commandment in the sense that "if ye receive not the Spirit, ye are commanded not to teach." Rather, it is simply and emphatically stating: "If ye receive not the Spirit, no teaching will take place." If we don't have the Spirit with us, and we don't teach by the Spirit, then how can spiritual things be learned? There are a few things that we must realize:

First, we do not teach. The Spirit does. This is good for us to know, because if we do have the Spirit with us, and we learn to teach by the Spirit and with the Spirit, it doesn't matter how incapable or inexperienced teachers we are. The Spirit will fill in the gap between our abilities and what others need to know, feel, and do.

Another important component of this is that we need to never be prideful of our teaching abilities, because the Spirit teaches, not us. (If your confused about this, read D&C 121:36-end of the chapter, specifically where it talks about pride causing the heavens to withdraw).

Second, we must be sure that nothing in our lives is hindering our ability to have the Spirit to be with us, and/or to teach and/or learn by the Spirit. This includes trying to teach others by logical, Bible-bashing-reminiscent means. (I can say that because I've been guilty of this, and have a knowledge through experience that it doesn't work.)

Anyway, I love you all, and have the Spirit to be with you! And like how Brother Bott would end every single class: "you want to teach with the Spirit, but in order to do that you must:"
"DON'T SIN ANY MORE!!" (we would all yell back)

I love you all, and will write soon:)

Love always and forever,
Elder Reid Empey

MTC Week Two!

Hello everyone! I wish you the best, and hope that your lives are going well.

Mine is quite busy. As I have said before, my schedule is extremely packed to the brim, and I must be very discriminatory with my personal time so that I can actually do the things that I need and want to do.

My mother (Hi, Mom ) has repeatedly asked what Sundays are like at the MTC. How about I tell you what yesterday was like?

So, I got up at 6:30 am (or very close thereafter), showered, and got dressed. On Sundays, personal study starts at 7 am in the classroom, whereas the first activity of nearly every other day (breakfast) starts at 7:10; and if you're late to breakfast you just have less time to eat. Therefore, it is more difficult to get to the classroom at 7 on Sundays, and I think that I have yet to make it there exactly on time. But, still, I get there!

Yesterday was different than most Sundays because it was Fast Sunday. Usually, we have breakfast at 8 am after personal study, then Priesthood meeting at 9:10, then more personal study from 10 am to 12:10 pm. District meeting would start at that time, and then Lunch at 1 pm.

Now, this is the usual schedule. Yesterday, however, we had personal study from 7 am to 9:40 am. Our branch is part of a new pilot program apparently, and there are certain activities that they want us to do on Sunday, like a Preach My Gospel Doctrine Assessment, or PMG Principle Assessment, a Language Study Checklist, a Scripture Study Checklist, etc.

Another part of the online course is watching a documentary called "The District." Actually, we first started watching "The District 2", and then we watch the first "season" after that. It is footage of real, live missionaries, real, live investigators, and documents the daily life and activities of missionaries. It is very cool, and I can't believe that they had all of those actual discussions with cameramen around them! This is a good thing to watch, because you can feel the Spirit of missionary work. Although, it does make you sort of wish that you were already in the field:)

Yesterday, I was supposed to watch the third and final episode of "The District 2." However, the link just took me back to the second episode, and there was no way for me to get to the third one. So, I chose to watch something else. Maybe that's not what you're supposed to do, but I did :) And I am so glad that I did.

Instead, I watched the address that was given on Saturday by President Uchtdorf at the General Relief Society Broadcast. It is an incredible talk! I loved it. It was definitely something that I needed; and I have no qualms that I watched it :) I highly recommend for anyone who has not seen it to watch it now.  It's only twenty one or so minutes, and it is worth it. Also, don't stop halfway through, please. Watch it all at once :) That's how we're supposed to listen to Conference talks the first time, right?

Anyway, so after I watched that recording (and actually, I ran out of time, so I had to finish it later; this is why I recommend watching it all in one go the first time around...), we went to mission conference. It was really great! There were talks, a musical number, more talks, a congregational hymn, and then the mission president, President Gordon Brown, and his wife, Sister Patricia Brown, spoke to us. For most of his talk, however, he yielded the time over to two visitors, whom he hasn't seen since 1972.

They were a couple that he had knocked on the door of while he was a missionary. They have served in many different capacities, served missions, and so on. They had stayed in contact after their baptism, but lost contact and hadn't talked since 1972. What a special experience, to see them, and hear their testimonies.

Well, my time is about up, so I get I will just have to write the rest of my schedule down, and Mom can type it up and send it out!

I love you all so very much. I am doing well, even though it is very difficult for me sometimes. Yet, the Lord is there for us, and He wants to help us to be able to bear the load which we are called upon to carry. He will help us, if we will trust in Him, in His power, in His voice. I think also, though, that we need to not just trust in Him, but to truly trust Him. He means what He says:) And He is always there, waiting for us to exercise our agency in such a way that He can bless us.

I love you all:) Boa tarde, e boa sorte! (Good afternoon, and good luck!)

Sincerely and truly,
Elder Reid Empey

MTC Week One!

Hello all! I can't believe that it has not even been two weeks since I was home. Crazy:)

Thank you all so very much for your letters! I sure do need them:) I love to hear what is going on in your lives, and how your testimony has grown over the past week. Your experiences and testimony strengthen my own:) Please continue to send mail, and I will write you back! Also, please be patient if you do write. According to the mission rules, I am only supposed to write letters on P-Day, which is Monday for me. So, if you desire a quick reply, try to get it to me as soon before Monday as you can! If you still don't get a prompt reply, I promise that I am trying, and that I will write back as soon as I can:)

So, some members of my family have been asking me about time, and Sundays, and what I have done, and if I've had any time to play the piano, etc, etc. One thing that I have learned about the MTC is that you have no time. The schedule is filled almost literally to the brim, and there isn't much time to do much else than studying, classroom time, and trying to figure out how I'm going to teach an investigator ("pesquisador") in Portuguese...

My Mom asked me in a Dear Elder letter (which I highly recommend if you don't have time to write or prefer not to; although, I so do love handwritten letters:) ) if I had the chance to play the piano at all. At the time that I read it, I hadn't:) I sort of laughed inside because there simply wasn't time. However, since I read the letter, I have played the piano a little bit, at the insistence of some of the Elders in my district. They liked it, so they basically try to get me to play whenever they can.

Susequently, I have officially been labeled as 1) a piano player, 2) a person who knows lots of stuff, and 3) a stud muffin. The definition of the third item apparently loosely translates to "gets tons of letters, and Dear Elders, and talks to all of these Sisters, and knows like everyone, and talks to all of these Sisters, etc."

I feel the need to clarify on the third point: apparently, the Elders here have this weird idea in their heads that they need to stay away from the Sisters, like their something that can cause them to loose focus, and that if they hold even a small conversation with them, they'll either fall in love with the Sister and then be distracted and a horrible missionary, or the sister will just tell them to buzz off (and maybe report them to the MTC President).

I have realized a few important things as far as this in concerned: one, these Sisters are missionaries! They want to be here. They have the desire to share the gospel. More likely than not, they are willing to talk to you if you start a conversation with them:) Two, because so many of the Elders avoid them like they're the plague (or something), they are talked to very little. So, they might feel even a little refreshed when they meet an Elder who asks them where they're from, or where they're going, and doesn't run away from them like they're Potifer's wife. (Maybe a little overexaggerated, but just a little...)

Anyway, this place is great! I'm much more comfortable here now. It's been very difficult, but I've been able to rely on the Lord, and come to know the things that I need to improve upon to receive His Spirit in more abundance. I went to the temple this morning, and it was a wonderful experience. I invite those who can to attend as much as they can. This morning I did other things than the regular routine, and I am so grateful that I did:)

My companion, Elder Nielsen, is a friend and a strength to me. I am so glad to have such a wonderful companion, who isn't addicted to video games, or texting, or phermones, or whatever. He desires to work hard, to learn the language, and to do what the Lord wants him to do. He will be a great missionary, and the Lord will use him to accomplish great things.

I love you all so very much! Please read the Book of Mormon. Seriously. It is the key to personal revelation, and if we use it like we should, we will receive power, and knowledge, and a greater capacity to do what we need to do.

I need to go now, but I want to tell you that I have a testimony that this is where I am supposed to be. No doubt about it in my mind:)

Love always,
Elder Reid Empey

His Mission Began September 7, 2011

Dear Family and Friends,
Greettings from Provo! Or, atleast one small part of it:) I am alive and well here at the MTC, and I am excited to be learning so very much about missionary work.
As you know, I am going to the Brazil Fortaleza Mission, Portuguese speaking. Apparently I am participating in a new pilot program in my branch that is supposed to increase the amount that I learn in a shorter amount of time. At least, that's sort of what I have heard. I've only heard general heresay, and not much from my ecclesiastical leaders, so I'm not totally sure:) Still, I'm glad that I get to participate in another pilot program, just like there is a pilot seminary program back home in Washington! (Email my mom if you want to know what that is)
As far as learning more in a shorter amount of time, I have to say that is true:) The program is largely based on a principle called "SYL: Speak Your Language." Basically, I walked into class on the first day, and my teacher speaks only Portuguese to us. We have to sort of guess what he is saying, as he tries to explain the meaning of a word we don't know with other Portuguese words and actions and stuff. His name is Irmao LaBanc, and we also have a sister teaching us as well, Irma Holtzclaw.
Learning the language has proven to be quite difficult, and it continues to challenge me, but I love Portuguese! It is so cool:) From my humble perspective, it is more fun to speak than Spanish, both because the pronunciation sounds more outlandish, and because it's easier to speak Portuguese with an accent than Spanish. (When I speak in Spanish, I just sound like a white guy:) ) Anyway, I am enjoying it very much, and I'm excited to see what kind of progress I can make before I leave the MTC! I can already say short prayers in Portuguese, bear my testimony, and I am learning more every day. Another part of the pilot program (I think) is that we get to teach investigators ("pesquisadors"). Actually, all the missionaries here at the MTC work with pesquisadors I think, but we taught our first discussion to an investigator totally in Portugues on the third day. It's pretty intense:) I think that it is a good thing even though it's extremely hard, because it forces us as missionaries to learn and practice language in Portuguese that relates to the Gospel; and it helps us to immediately begin thinking about and learning how to tailor our studying, both Gospel study and language study, for a specific investigador. For example, how do we convince Vincente (pronounced "vin-SEN-chee") that the Book of Mormon will help him and his family? How do we convince him to read the Book of Mormon with them, and to attend church? How do we follow up with Vincente? Anyway, it helps to know that our "pesquisador" is in fact an actor ("Vincente" is one of the other Portuguese teachers here at the MTC), and that we won't ruin someone's eternal salvation if we mess up really bad:)
My companion is Elder Nielsen, from Parma, Idaho. He is an awesome elder, and we get along very well. I'm glad that we are companions, because it's not difficult at all:) We are very open with each other, and want to do the very best that we can. We struggle together, and compliment each other, and I am grateful that we were assigned to be together. I will send a picture of us as soon as I can, but I don't have an SD card reader so I can't upload the pictures right now. (Just to forewarn you, he's 6'4" :) )
Anyway, I don't have very much time left, but I just want to let you all know how much I love you, and that I know that this is the place that I'm supposed to be. My testimony has grown so much, and I am so grateful for the opportunity to serve. It has been hard, and I'm sure that it will continue to be hard, but I know that this is the Lord's work, and that I can do anything through Him. I have a testimony that Heavenly Father loves us so much. He wants us to be happy, and wants to give us blessings. It is up to us to be obediant, and to exercise faith in Him, and in Jesus Christ, and to trust in His mighty hand, as well as His timetable:)
Please write to me and let me know how you are doing! I can only write letters on Mondays (P-Day), as well as email, so try to get it to me as soon as you can before so that you can get it as soon as possible.
Anyway, love you all! Hoje e um moito bom dia!
Elder Empey