Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Ahhhhhh, Portuguese

September 25, 2013

Ohla familia!

First of all, howdy to the kids :) I love hearing how you're doing, and what's happening in school/church/home.

Emma: Congrats on making Student Leadership rep! You're going to do a great job. You're a very responsible girl. And cool that you decided to do percussion! I hope you have fun. That's awesome. And the weather here in São Paulo is actually really cold right now, but when I get to my mission, it's going to be reeeeeally hot :P

Nathan: Holy moly, you have walking pneumonia kid! That's no fun! Get better soon, okay? I'm proud of you for going to the dance and planning it even though it wasn't that fun. Good for you for doing it anyway. How is sophomore year going? Reading any good books lately? Are you almost done with marching band?  Also, Nathan, I go into the field in less than a month, and actually I haven't met anyone from my mission!

Rachel: My goodness, Rachel it sounds like your head is a rainbow of bruises right now! :( Send me a picture!  Hope you're feeling better, and stop throwing yourself around, you silly girl! ;) The daddy daughter picnic sounded really fun! What are you reading right now?

Laura: Good job on marching band!! Was it better than you expected? The P party sounded very fun! What are you reading right now? How much longer do you have to do marching band for? Both of my companions are just with me for the MTC and are going to different missions after we leave. I'll get a new companion when I get to Recife.

Life sounds crazy as ever for you guys. Welcome home Grandma and Grandpa! Glad you made it back safe! So glad dad was able to surprise Bethany. So much fun to get together :) Thanks for the email, dad :) You rock. It was great to hear from you. I'll pray for Grandpa Hicken. He's a tough old fellow.

Thanks for keeping me updated, mom. You can post my talk on the blog, I don't mind. Thank you for sending it to me! 

So, with time remaining, random thoughts from the week:

So far, I have met no one else going to Recife. I've met 2 sisters from there, but no one going there. But whenever I tell people where I’m going, they always say that it's hot, a poor area with a really different accent, but very beautiful, and the people are wonderful. Nothing to do at this point but brace myself I guess!

This week we continued teaching our old investigator and got a new one (who is our current instructor). We made no progress with the old one, but now we don't have to teach him anymore because the instructor is leaving. We liked him as a teacher but he is a tough investigator! Our new one, Augusto is really great. We've become better teachers, but also he is very receptive of what we teach. We've really been able to feel the spirit in those lessons. Too bad he's going to "die".  Haha not really, but Irmao Barros who plays Augusto is getting married this Saturday and will be gone for the week, so both our investigators will have died. We'll have to get new ones. Teaching is really hard, because you have to plan, but you can't just write out everything you're going to say. It's not like a talk. You have to prepare, and then go in and ask questions, and interact with the investigator and go by the spirit. And it will go in any direction, depending on what they need. Hard enough in English, but reallly difficult in Portuguese. We're improving though.

The language itself isn't difficult for me. It's a challenge, but in a good way. I can definitely feel the gift of tongues working for me, because I was never able to understand Spanish this way. I love speaking the language, and learning it and hearing it. It's helped a ton making Hispanic and Brasilian friends, too, because it forces you to speak the language, and they help you learn it. We have made friends with a district of four sisters and 3 elders across the courtyard from us. Our classroom windows face each other, so we wave at each other, and that's how we met them, haha. They're from all over South America. They are fantastic, so loving and patient with our Portuguese, and they're hilarious. They leave for the field next Tuesday, and we are sooooo sad. It is not going to be the same with out them. But we've made other friends too. I love the people here. Haha, we actually taught them the cup song from Pitch Perfect and we were all doing it at dinner the other day, and then other people joined in, and it was pretty much awesome.

Every Tuesday and Sunday we have devotionals, and last night we watched a Jeffrey R. Holland talk from a few years ago that he gave at the Provo MTC. It was incredible. He has a way with words that just pierce straight to your heart. It made me reevaluate what kind of missionary I want to be and just how serious this work is. After that we had a district meeting (which means just the three of us because we're still the only Americans/Australian from this week) and made goals to help us stay focused and work hard. I'm trying hard today to stay focused even though it's P-day so that I don't lose the Spirit I felt last night.

What else, what else. That might be it for now. But one last funny story. This is one of those classic language stories that I thought would never happen to us. Luckily, I didn't say anything wrong, but my companions did. We had TRC, and were giving a lesson to an "inactive member" and Sis. Cameron thought she said, "We want to give you a message" but she actually said, "We want to give you a massage".  And then in that same lesson, my other companion accidentally said a really bad word. He didn't tell us until after. Ahhhhh Portuguese.

I love you all and miss you and pray for you! Thank you for your emails! I'll talk to you next week!

Love, Camille

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

First Week in the Brazil Missionary Training Center (or CTM)

Sister Hicken, Sister Cameron, and Sister Lawrence:  The Best District at the CTM

September 18, 2013

Ohla, minha familia!!!
Hey guys! wow I have so much to tell you and only half an hour more to email, so I'll try and remember everything and type it as fast as I can. Thank you for all the emails :) You have made me a very happy missionary today! hahaha
So, last time I wrote, oh man that was the first day. Gahh so much to tell. So Sister Lawrence, the missionary from Minnesota, arrived the next day. Her flight had been delayed. So she and I and Sister Cameron are in a trio, and we have gotten along SO well. I love those girls so much :) We work together well and also have fun, and it's just great. They're going to northeastern Brazil missions like we are. We're also our own district. No other American missionaries came from home last week, (and they were supposed to get 99. Darn visas). So all the instructors say we're the best district because it's just sisters haha. So a typical day for us is 6:30 wake up, then breakfast and personal study, then companionship/language study, then exercise, and then lunch, and then we have a three hour class with our instructor, Irmao Barros, who is super awesome. In that class, we learn teaching skills and Portuguese. Everything is in Portuguese. And you're supposed to speak it all the time. After class, we usually have dinner, then time to plan our lesson, and then we teach an "investigator" (one of the other instructors) at 8, and then more planning, and then bed. More or less. It varies from day to day.
Our first day here, they started right into the Portuguese lessons, but they're not really lessons, they just speak Portuguese and tell you to speak Portuguese, and you figure it out, and study your books (we got a thick stack of books, and that's how you learn most things). I've actually picked up the language super fast though, mostly thanks to knowing some Spanish. It's close enough that I can figure out what people are saying, but when I go to speak, the Spanish comes to mind first. But I'm getting better, and I love speaking the language, and hearing it, and learning it. It's crazy how much we've learned in the first week. And it's so fun, because then we can talk to other missionaries. We talk to the American ones a bunch, but we've also made friends with several Brazilian and Hispanic ones. It's funny trying to talk to the Hispanics, because Portuguese is not the native language for either of us, so we communicate in a mix of Portuguese, Spanish and English, (and lots of hand motions) and I translate the Spanish for my companions. Hahaha it's super fun.
Today was my first P-Day. P-day is Wednesday, so you can expect to hear from me then. I have 45 minutes on the computer to read/write emails, so I tried to read as fast as I could so I could answer back fast. We got to go to the São Paulo temple today, (next week they'll take a picture and send it to you. You aren't allowed to take pictures outside the CTM, and even then, only on P-day.) And we went out into the city within the set boundaries, and did a free trial of this thing called Mission Ties. It's like dearelder, and you'll get some information on it. Don't worry, it sounds sketchy with the free trial thing, but everyone tries it the first week to get a free cookie, and we don't have to do it. They'll send you info on how it works, and a message from me. A lot of missionaries use it.
Can you send me the lyrics to Come thou Fount? And also, can you send me my worth of souls farewell talk? On Sundays, they ask four missionaries to give talks with no notice beforehand, so you just have to have something ready all the time. First 3 weeks it can be in English, but after that only Portuguese.
So, I'll reply to questions as fast as I can now,, and also emails. \
Laura: Hope you get to babysit for your teacher! That's awesome! Can't believe you don't like the 3rd Fablehaven book, it's awesome! The food here tastes pretty different. They have a lot of meat, and then you can also have rice and beans with every meal, but it's really tasty :)
Emma: Sounded like a fun and yummy activity days! And coolio on learning the trumpet!! You'll have to play a song for me when I get home. I bet by Christmas, you'll be passing up Bethany (winky face, can't figure out how to do that on this keyboard). I LOVE my roommates. they are also my companions. The classes are classes on how to teach, and speak Portuguese
Nathan: Bummer about the guns, but hope you get to shoot them next week. Good luck with marching band! And also the zoology class. Hope it gets more interesting. We're supposed to speak it all the time, so we do as much as we can. the view from my room is of the city, and it's beautiful!
Rachel: Glad you're loving Nancy Drew! Those are fun books. I'm proud of you for reading them! I miss you too! My companions are Sister Cameron and Sister Lawrence and they are AWESOME!!
We're not allowed to send pictures in the MTC, but once I get into the field, I'll be able to. You're welcome to post this on the blog if you want, I'll leave that to you :)
Oh one more quick story: Our second day here, we had to start teaching an investigator in Portuguese. It was so nerve wracking, especially since we didn't know it was really an instructor (because they told us he was real!!) So we've been teaching him for a week now, and it gets better every time. Gahh love to write more, but I have to go. I love you all so much and miss you and pray for you! Thank you for the little photos, and for the emails. I will write again next week! Talk to you soon!
Love, Camille
P.S. PAPA!!!! YOU DID not write me!!! *squinty eyes* :)

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

First Letter From the MTC

September 11, 2013

Hi Mom!
Not sure how much time I'll have before they kick me out, but I will try to answer as many of your questions as I can!
Flight was good, really bumpy in some places. Got a whole row to myself, so I was able to sleep better. Got into the airport fine. I was the only missionary. There was supposed to be another sister on my same flight from Detroit, but she never got on. We're not sure what happened. So I was driven to the MTC by myself, and met with a senior missionary, and he said I was the only American/English speaker that arrived this week. But then it turned out that another sister from Australia had arrived at 4 a.m. that he didn't know about, and we're companions. So no worries! I do have a companion. And she's awesome. Her name is Sister Cameron. If the other sister from Minnesota comes, we'll be a trio. Our room has three bunkbeds in it, pretty big. I expected to be put to work right when I got there at 9, but it turned out we didn't have anything until 12. So I showered and got ready. And then we met up with a group of four elders and one sister from the Provo MTC that they weren't expecting. It's crazy right now with all the visa stuff. They have 1100 missionaries waiting on visas to Brazil. So anyways, we had some orientation/introduction and tour around São Paulo (just like a block around the MTC), and you get an email with a picture of me and the other missionaries with the mission president and his wife. My companion is the tall one right next to me. The food is really interesting and different, but good. I love trying new things.
Not sure how often we're allowed to read emails, probably only once a week. I think we're only allowed right now because it's the first day. Pouch mail I think is delivered every day though. Haven't met any sisters (or elders) going to Recife. But almost every Brazilian that I've told that I'm going to Recife says it's hot there.
I've loved my time here so far. It's challenging, and they're throwing us right into the language, but luckily my companion speaks English (with an Australian accent!!!) and people are understanding. I can't wait to learn Brazilian! Haha just kidding Nate, I know it's Portuguese. I have to go now, but I'll email or send a letter as soon as I can. Love you! Thank you for the email! Tell everyone I love them :)

I made it to São Paulo!

September 11, 2013

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 Wednesday or Friday, 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 as interested in the success of an elder when he is preaching the Gospel as is the Lord who sent him to preach to the people who are the Lord's children".
Please accept our love,
President Ralph Degn and Sister Mary Ann Degn
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.
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.