Well, first off, I want to sort of apologize. Our P-day is on Fridays, but I didn't really know that. So now you know! haha. Anyway, I prewrote what I wanted to talk about on paper so that I could have enough time to say everything. We have roughly 45 minutes to type. Since I have more time now, I'll relate everything that's been happening. First, the plane rides. Phoenix to Atlanta wasn't so bad. I teared up every now and then thinking of you guys. The Atlanta airport is huge! They have a subway station that takes you to different parts! I met many Elders/sisters waiting for the flight to Sao Paulo. A guess would be 12-14 Elders and 4-5 sisters or so. The A's/Royals game was on a TV screen, so i watched it and thought of you, Dad. Hahaha. I sat next to a Brazilian lady in her mid 20's that spoke some English. She says Salvador is a very nice city with awesome beaches. The layout of the plane was interesting. Three rows with the middle row having 3 seats but luckily I wasn't in the middle. The airplane food was meh. They had some chicken and rice with a salad, yadayadayada. They served some breakfast yogurt/granola as well once we were about 30 minutes from landing. I didn't eat much because I was still kind of shellshocked from leaving to Brazil. The Sao Paulo Airport is interesting. The best way I can describe it as is a bit dirty, kind of muggy, lots of Brazilians, and occasionally some missionaries. The drive was interesting. I know I talked about it already, but I'll try and be more detailed. There is graffiti practically everywhere and cars cut each other off all the time, like I was pretty sure we were going to get in an accident haha. It's crazy. The MTC is liked a gated community with a small guard tower and barbed wire. We're surrounded by some hotel-looking complexes as well. My district is seriously legit. I room with my companion, Elder Mochaki, two other Elders (De Hoyos and De Coursey) from Utah, and an Argentine companion (who I speak Spanish with sometimes) and a Brazilian. My companion, De Hoyos, and De Coursey and I are the dream team. We always stick together. Mochaki calls me his "comrade" in a Russian accent, hahaha. I have some Elders in my district who are going to Salvador as well! I heard that once we leave the MTC, we take a plane there so I was really happy to hear that.
I'll do my best to send pictures. We aren't allowed to send them via computer (ugh) and we can't take them out except inside the MTC on P-day or at the temple. But there's a place nearby we can pay to get them developed for money so I'll do my best to figure it out. I can send letters but I think I'll wait for the most part until I'm in Salvador because it's quicker to type. Sorry if that bothers you guys. Also, apparently there's a place called Mr.. Cheney's..? that does Missionary packages or something like that and if you show them your "newbie" dot, you can do buy 1 get 1 free so I'm going to go get my cookie today! Also, an Elder lent me a watch. I need to go buy some hangers today. Hmm, what else.. the food! A LOT of paninis (hot sandwiches). They have a little press thingy where we can heat them up. I'm startng to get a little tired of it but I can't complain. They have a soda fountain that dispenses that Guarana soda but I've been drinking mostly water. ALWAYS some kind of chicken for lunch and dinner with a salad/fruit bar and ALWAYS rice and beans. Breakfast, they have this cream of wheat stuff with no consistency that I kind of like. Cereal is magical though. Occasionally we get cereal and it is amazing. Frosted flakes, Raisen bran and such. One day, we even had pancakes. Oh, my gosh. hahaha.Brazilian missionaries are kind of funny. They like to sing a lot and they all treat you like a friend. They like it when you try and talk to them in Portuguese. By the way, tell Flick that everyone hear says "Tudo bem" like he was telling me. It's a greeting, so it's super common.
Elder Mochaki is from the town "Velkom". I'm not really sure where that is but his city touches the Durban South Africa Mission. His mission is in Angola. He's like a celebrity here because everyone freaks out when people find out he's South African, hahaha. People in my district are kind of jealous of me as well. I catch on to Portuguese very well because of my Spanish background. My district constantly asks me, "Hey, Elder Skinner! How do you say this, this, and this?" As of today (10/10/14), I can say a prayer, say simple things, bare testimony, and teach a lesson with Mochaki with little to no reading lines.
Anyway, my first couple of days were rough. I missed you guys. I don't know why I was so homesick the first week. I missed you guys and I knew it was going to be a long time till I could hug you guys again. I secretely wanted to just turn around and go home. I've never had to rely on my testimony so much before. But I will tell you this though. I'm a different person now. I felt the Spirit during General Conference. I prayed that the General Authorities would talk about what I needed to hear and I felt my prayers were answered. I feel now that I pray because I need to now, not because I want to. I feel like Portuguese will come faster than I know. The Brazilian missionaries love American money. An elder in our district gave one a dollar and it like blew his mind. I didn't spend any of the money that Dad gave me but I exchanged it to reals (pronounced hey-eyes) once we got to Sao Paulo. One of them was hungry here and I remembered I had the fruit snacks you gave me, Mom, so I shared one with them. Ummm.. what else? I saw an Elder with the Brazil tie that I have. I didn't talk to them, but I thought that was cool! The Sao Paulo temple was cool too! It was weird to see it in person after so many pictures. We did initiatories and an endowment. Since it was somebody's first time, they had to do it in Portuguese (even though they do it in English with American missionaries) so we had headsets. Did you guys get that picture of us? There were two americans that served their missions in Brazil and so they speak English. Anyway, they took pictures of us to send to family. I hope you enjoy them while I figure out how to send you guys pictures.
Anyway, I think that was mostly everything that I wanted to talk about. I get so excited hearing about what's happening back in Arizona. I can't wait to get back and see Dad's mustang and go eat at Mattas again, and watch movies together and see all of you guys again. It's going to be an amazing day 1 year 11 months from now. But just know that things are alright with me now. I feel like the MTC is a home away from home. I want to tell you guys a story though. One day during dinner a couple days ago, I was feeling tired and homesick. My district was there to comfort me though. They told me to always think of the joy that I feel and the love I have when I'm with me family and that I should remember that I want to share that with others. They also said that there's no better thing I could be doing right now that would bring more blessings to you guys. Elder Hoopes also had me read D and C 100 concerning families. You guys should read a few verses from that and you'll know why he shared that. This really motivates me and makes me feel better. I just want you guys to know that I'm always thinking and praying for you guys. I'm so happy to hear about Mom's job, and Tommy's games, and Karli and Maddy at school, and all these awesome things while I'm here.
Anyway, I haven't been walking outside the MTC on P-day yet, so I'm about to leave in a few minutes to go outside! I'll tell you guys more about it next Friday. Please, please ask questions to me! I want to live my experiences through you guys as if you were here.
I love you guys!!!!!!!