Friday, July 31, 2015

Week Three

I just got back from the São Paulo temple. There is one 30 minutes away in São Paulo and one in Campinas about an hour and a half away. It was fun. We usually do endowment sessions after service in the morning at São Paulo because of the shorter drive. Campinas we go straight into a session.

This week my district went out proselyting. Everyone has to go out with three Books of Mormon and hand them out.  We took a bus on Wednesday, went to a separate part of the city and we walked around this park outside of the train/bus station and talked to people. It went pretty well. Me and Elder Baker would take turns introducing ourselves, and talking about the book, challenging them to read it. The second guy we got to talked to us for about 20 minutes. He kept going on about work, and his wife, and a lot of really random things, he was really genuine though. Probably an ideal investigator. I understood about 60% of what he was saying but when he would speak quickly I was unable to catch it all. I couldn't really respond to a lot of it though. I was surprised at how easy it was to talk to people. People here are very accepting, and love to talk about Jesus Christ so that was great.

This experience has made me more anxious to go to Maceió now. I really want to see what it is like there, and what the people are like. One of the Irma's here is from Maceió, she said it is very Lindu and that the people are tranquill, and that it is a peaceful place. People there have a different accent than the people in São Paulo. They pronounce their R's and S's differently. My language is definitely not ready to leave though. I am getting much better at teaching lessons with our "investigators" but I am still unable to express certain feelings, and explain things in depth.

Time is a very strange thing here. The saying is days feel like weeks, weeks feel like days. The days are long, but the weeks go by really fast. I haven't been here for very long, but it feels like I've been her for 2 months, but it hasn't dragged. I think it's because of the amount of work we do with learning a new language. I've learned so much about an entirely different culture and their language which is why it feels that way. If that even made any sense.

Until next week,

Friday, July 24, 2015

Week Two

It doesn't seem like it has been a week since I wrote my last email. Time has gone much faster this past week. I got to go to the São Paulo temple today for P Day, it was pretty cool to see more of the city. Last week after I sent my email I got to walk around outside the MTC which was super fun, actually. São Paulo is pretty cool, and it is much different being outside the United States. I'll get to do that again after I am done with sending emails.

Portuguese has been coming quicker and quicker. I can teach lessons pretty well without taking in tons of notes. All I need is bullet points and scriptures written down. So I can talk freely giving lessons, but the lessons will be much harder in the field when people ask more in depth questions. My conversational skills are still lacking, but I can understand most of what people are trying to tell me.

This week for Tuesday devotional the head of all international MTC's (not Provo) gave a pretty good talk.  He showed us a picture of a missionary from the Phillipines (I think) who was 7'8. When they saw him the MTC President said they would have to pull two beds together for him to be able to sleep. His response was "Oh President, don't worry, I don't remember the last time I slept on a bed. All I need is a blanket, pillow and a space on the floor." That missionary came to the MTC without shoes. He was a size 23 and they didn't have shoes that size where he lived, and they said they could get him some. His response was "Oh president, don't worry, I can't remember the last time I wore shoes." He served his entire mission without a pair of shoes. The talk was pretty good and very humbling.

See you next week,

Friday, July 17, 2015

Week One

So I just got done going to the temple.  We drove out to Campinas which was like an hour and a half drive. We had to get up extra early but I took a small nap on the bus so it wasn't too bad. The Campinas temple was pretty cool, there were huge palm trees ( I think) outside of the temple. I took a few pictures, but I won't be able to send them until I am out of the MTC. Right now I have 45 minutes for emails, and then we get to go walk around Sao Paulo for a little while.  I'm super excited. This city is bigger than anything I've ever seen in my life. From my window we can't see anything but buildings for miles, it's ridiculous. We went to the Federal Police Station to get fingerprinted on Tuesday and accepted as citizens, so I'm now a Brazilian. But I got to see more of this huge city. I'm super excited to go walk around.

The first few days in the MTC were pretty rough and long. From Thursday on, in all our classes the instructors spoke strictly in Portuguese.  A lot of the stuff they were trying to tell us I wasn't understanding. After a few days though I started to understand more and more. Sunday there was more English though and that was pretty relaxing. On Monday we got our daily schedule which is: personal study in the morning, breakfast, lessons/additional study w/ instructor, lunch, lesson with instructor, additional study, language study, dinner, language study, TALL, physical activity, planning, snack and bed. We eat SO MUCH here and the food is good but I am never hungry.

We have to prepare lessons for fake investigators in Portuguese, and get them to progress towards baptism. The first lesson we taught I think was last Friday. I pretty much read straight from the stuff I wrote down in my notebook. I've started getting better at speaking though and can now give lessons off mostly bullet points and scriptures. Speaking can be kind of hard because I don't have words to expound into depth, but I can cover a lot of basic stuff.

The Brazilians and Native speakers here are awesome. They are always helping the Americans speak during lunch and in the hallways. We can get out basic conversations, have fun during meals, and things like that with them. I am finding however that I can understand a lot more Portuguese than I can really speak. But I have 5 more weeks to work on my speech so I'm not super worried. A lot of the missionaries who went to Provo said that you learn significantly faster here, because you become immersed in the language where as in Provo you don't. So that is a blessing.

Whenever I tell people here where my mission is they always say Quente (kee-nch). Which means hot, and they say that it is very pretty there.

It's good to hear about Sam and Seth leaving, that is awesome. One of the missionaries who came out with me had been serving in St. George for 8 months, and he said he had gotten to the point where he didn't want to leave, but he speaks really good Portuguese and is excited to be here as well.

Well I don't have much else to say, so I will talk to you again next week.

Elder Batten

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

A message from the MTC President

Dear Parents,

Sister Swensen and I are very happy to let you know that your missionary has arrived safely at the Brazil Missionary Training Center.  What a great joy and privilege it is to greet each missionary as they begin their missionary experiences with us.  We will surely take good care of your missionary.

The missionaries 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.  Their branch presidents and wives will meet with them this Sunday.  These wonderful couples are richly blessed as they work with, motivate, and interview the missionaries assigned to their branch.

The MTC has a full-time live-in physician to care for their health needs.  He is assisted by his capable wife who is a nurse.  We are also very happy to report that the cafeteria food is plentiful, healthy 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 missionary is about to make an eternal difference in the lives of many others.  President Loranzo Snow said: "There is not 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." We love these missionaries as if they were our own.  We will watch over them carefully to ensure they are ready for a wonderful missionary experience after the rewarding time they will have in the MTC.

We thank you for preparing such a wonderful representative of the Lord.

President Robert Swensen and Sister Julie Swensen

In the MTC

Hey its Luke,
I made it to the MTC safely. The trip was long but it went smoothly and without any problems. On the flight to Brazil I met some other missionaries there waiting before I got on and talked to them for a while. There were lots of little Brazilian kids on the plane and some of the ones behind me kept poking me and asking me questions. They were pretty funny, and the most entertaining thing on the flight. The lady sitting next to me didn't speak any english and she tried talking to me in Portugese. I didn't understand what she was saying, but I spoke to her with my crappy High School Spanish, which she understood a little. She told me it's hot in Maceió and asked me if I had any sunscreen. She said I'm gonna burn since I'm white. Sao Paolo is a huge city. Whey I got here they fed us and let us unpack, bathe and take a nap. We were given companions, and my companion is Elder Baker who happens to be the Banton's cousin which is pretty cool. I have a few other meetings to go to later today and my next P-day will either be next Wednesday or Friday.

Love, Luke

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

He's Off!

Elder Batten is on his way to the MTC in Sao Paulo, Brazil.  I can't wait to hear all about his adventures as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.