Monday, October 10, 2011

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

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