This last Saturday marked our official halfway point in the MTC. All the Elders in my district parted our hair down the middle of our heads in celebration of the event. And to celebrate the ’80s. And, especially, missionaries in the ’80s. Our Mission President happens to also have a middle part, which made things potentially awkward, but it all turned out well in the end—he’s a good guy with a good sense of humor and, in all honesty, it was just an ironic matter of coincidence that our hair looked just like his. I’ll send out pictures when I get a chance.
We had no special celebrations or Days of Independence (although the back-to-back Brazilian and Chilean Independence Days were patriotic and exciting enough to last for a couple weeks). We did, however, have Brazil’s National Aviation Day on Saturday. The day began with the sound of a jet fighter screaming over the Missionary Training Center at 7:00 am and peaked with a group of WWII-looking fighter planes doing aerial acrobatics not more than a half-mile from our location. The MTC sits close to an airport, so all of the specialty planes and the stunt squadrons were taking off and landing nearby. I swear the jet fighter was no more than 50 or 60 feet above the rooftops. The MTC sits higher than most buildings nearby and I live on the 6th floor, so I was able to see the jet close up as it pulled up its landing gear. The sounds of jets and prop-planes continued through Sunday for the two-day celebration which means our Sacrament Meeting was occasionally interrupted by what sounded like incessant air raids.
On that note—the Church note—I gave a talk (discurso) this Sunday in Church/Sacrament Meeting. For those of you who don’t know or may not be familiar with Mormon Church meetings, we usually have three hours of Church, and the first hour is called “Sacrament Meeting”. There we take the Sacrament, which I suppose is similar to the Eucharist, in that we take bread and wine in remembrance of the Atonement of Jesus Christ and his Resurrection. We do not believe, however, that we are eating and drinking the literal body and blood of Christ. We simply renew our covenant (promise with God) that we will 1) Take upon ourselves the name of Jesus Christ (in other words, stand as worthy witnesses and representatives of Jesus Christ, striving to live and love as he did), 2) Always remember him (i.e. we do not forget his Atoning Sacrifice and example and strive to keep his influence and example close to our heart) and 3) Promise to keep his commandments (most recognizably the Sermon on the Mount and the Ten Commandments, but also our responsibility to follow the Gospel of Jesus Christ, that is: Faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement (believing that he lived and gave us a perfect example to follow, that He suffered the Atonement so that we could repent, and that he died and rose again in the Resurrection, making it possible for everyone to have immortality and a resurrected body)).
In return, God promises us that we can 1) Always have the Holy Ghost to be with us (the still, small, voice of peace and happiness that enables us to feel his love and influence in our lives) 2) Experience a remission of sins (so that, after we recognize/acknowledge, feel sincere sorrow for, confess, make restitution for, and abandon those things that are contrary to God’s commandments, we can be properly cleaned through Christ’s Atonement) and 3) Being born again spiritually.
Wow. Okay, so I wasn’t expecting to write all that, but I realize that my audience may be seeing/hearing these things for the first time. So maybe I’ll start to devote some time every email to making all these things more clear. Starting from the beginning. Which is that God lives, he is our Heavenly Father, and He loves us.
But more on that next time.
For now, suffice it to say that I was asked to give a talk in Portuguese that I may or may not have only half-prepared and it didn’t turn out as badly as I feared. Hopefully that means I won’t drown when I land on the ground in Recife.
I love you all. I hope you’re all doing well.