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:)
Elder Reid Empey