Oi familia!!!!!

I can’t believe that my time here at the MTC is almost finished. Next Friday-ish we should receiving our reassignments to somewhere in the U.S!!!! We just sent off 2 sisters this morning for Cleveland, Ohio (Sister Warden) and Tacoma, Washington (Sister Tingey). I love these sisters so much and I was so happy to be sending them off to do bigger and better things but sad to see our sisterfriends go. These are such sweet sisters that have been such good friends to us as we have been navigating our way here. 

So, Sister Russell and I were just starting to feel like we getting into a groove when we found out that we would be welcoming a new sister into our district and into our companionship. Sister Gold is actually not new but has been here for 8 weeks. She broke her foot (I think, All i know that she wears a big boot) pretty early on in her MTC stay and hasn;t been able to leave because of her injury. Crazy enough, she actually is one of the few people who have gotten their visas, all she has been waiting for is her foot to heal. So this patient sister has spent more time than expected here and has had to say goodbye to 2 districts already. She just went to the doctor last week and they told her she needed another 2 weeks. So she will be joining my district (70E) for the remainder of our time here. I”m praying really hard that we will be able to work through this adjustment and minimize awkwardness. I don’t know, I just feel bad, she’s going to be put in a baby class basically and I just hope we can make her feel welcome. Her Portuguese is awesome and she is so friendly (ps she also sewed a button on a dress for me the other day in, like, 3 minutes flat) so i have high hopes. If her foot isn”t healed by the end of our next 2 weeks i think she will have to go home to heal. Oh boy. We are super praying for her.
For our Tuesday devotional this past week, it was broadcasted for the first time to all the other MTCs in the world!!!!! AND RICHARD G. SCOTT CAME SPOKE TO US!!!! it was pretty fantastic. most super empowering talks are invigorating, a call for action. this was one of the most softest and tender talks i have ever heard. his talk was about prayers. i had been struggling that weak with how to deal with something and it wasn’t until his talk that it clicked with me that earnest soul-pouring out prayer to heavenly father was probably my missing link. i realized that i hadn’t said a personal out loud prayer since i had gotten here, just because i am living in the same room with other people and it would just be weird. but i needed to pray out loud. when i say prayers in my head at night, my mind starts to wander and its really easy for me to fall asleep (suprise surprise). and so that night, after all of the sisters in my room went to sleep, i went into one of the empty bedrooms that a bunch of sisters had just moved out of and knelt down beside one of the empty beds. i started talking to my heavenly father. i told Him all of the things I was grateful for and then began to tell Him about all of my worries, all of the things I was struggling with and needed help to deal with and change. it was so comforting and freeing to be able to share all the thoughts and feelings of my heart and mind. for the first time in a long while, i was able to sleep soundly that night. a couple really neat things about elder scott’s talk, he bestowed an apostolic blessing upon all the missionary learning a new language…TWICE. there was such a special spirit in the marriott center that night. during his talk, he stopped and looked around for a minute, and shared that he could feel the presence of his wife there that night. i’ve always loved the way that he talks about his wife and that she was the only one for him. you know some of the general authorities have remarried after their wives have died, but i’ve always loved that elder scott talks about his wife as the only wife he has ever had and will ever have. i like that. i know it might sound silly but i’ve always believed in a one and only and i think it’s just so sweet how he always talks about her. two things that he said (everything was fantastic but i dont have time to write a novel) that i loved: 1) the Lord has called us to succeed, not to fail, He will fit the task to your ability 2) you cannot rush an effective prayer
 
if melody is reading my blog, first let me say im sorry i havent gotten a chance to respond to your hilarious and thoughtful dear elder…i will get back to you… one day. also, do you know a girl named jacy taylor? we do service (cleaning around the mtc) every wednesday and there is a girl named jacy taylor who works in the janitorial department and always shows us what to do. i was talking to her and we were talking about byu’s film department and then i was like, oh i have a friend who just got in, melody chow, and then she said she knew you and i was soooo excited. so, im hoping you were the right melchow that she knew 🙂
 
also, if michelle whitaker is by any chance reading my blog, I SEE YOUR BROTHER ALL THE TIME- he also works in the janitorial department in my classroom building and i was so excited to see him and tell him that i saw you right before i left 🙂
 
also, if janine is reading this, sister sauer-davis lives in the room right next to me and i’m her sister training leader and i see her all the time. remember the super adorable hipster girl you ihntroduced me to at that dance 🙂 she is awesome and we have bonded over knowing you 🙂 see how you bring people together! oh, and i see saul, let me translate (saaaa-ooool) all the time.
 
so this week, irmao buttars asked us to go through our patricarchal blessing and note all the places where blessings and gifts are promised, then match these blessings and gifts with stories and people from the BOM. i never really felt like a alot of my patriarchal blessing really related to what was going on in my life but since i’ve been here…oh my goodness, the majority of it fits so perfectly with my mission and has been one of the many reconfirming assurances that i was supposed to go on this mission at this time. mommy, i made a copy of it and put it in that binder, it would be cool if you wanted to re-read that. i am so grateful for my life and for all of the opportunities i’ve had and will have to fulfill heavenly father’s plan for me. im so honored that He thinks that i can do such big and important and hard things. this helps me to have faith in myself. jenny told me that there would be a lot of ups and downs, redefinitions of high points and low points during my mission, and i’ve already felt such experiences. but i’m so grateful for the constant reconfirmations that this is the work of our Heavenly Father, to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man. i know that God’s existence, love and plan for us is simple and real. i know that GOd’s truth and power is on the earth today and that He wants us to be happy. something i have learned here is that everybody on the planet knows these truths about God and His plan, they have just forgotten them because of the veil between this life and our existence before birth. all they need is someone to help them remember. i’m so happy to be one of the thousands and thousands of those someones.
 
sorry everything is kind of scatter brained. i make a list of stuff i want to write in this email and its not always exactly organized.
 
this week sister russell and i taught was i think was our best and most full-of-the-spirit lessons. we are teaching a man named Edgar (irmao buttars). we met him in a street contact and have taught him twice since then. in our last lesson with him we found out that his wife and son died in what we think was gang violence. he said something about ‘drogas’ ‘e dois grupos de pessoas’ and then he pointed his index finger and thumb in the shape of a gun. i had tears in my eyes as he was telling this story and i can’t believe how much sorrow and shock and love i felt for this person even though he wasnt the real edgar. it was such an amazing lesson and we asked him ‘digging questions’ and taught him about eternal families and faith in jesus christ and the plan of salvation. we’ve been really working on applying the gospel to people’s lives, teaching people, not lessons. i felt the spirit so strongly during that lessson and edgar said a really beautiful prayer at the end. sister russell and i were so grateful for the spirit that we felt and hoped that edgart felt at the end of this lesson that we said another prayer after we left. loved it.
 
sister russell and i are now teaching 4 people at the same time and we already feel swamped and lost, trying to remember specific things about specific lessons. i feel a wee bit like im drowning. i need to really work on remembering our investigator’s needs and responses and then writing everything down right after the lesson. it is so hard to planfor the next lesson if you don’t remember what you even talked about or how they responsed in the last lesson. we are teaching 2 of our disctrict members (everyone takes on the persona of someone that they are close to that does not have the fulness of the gospel in their life). and then we are also teaching our 2 teachers. oh boy. yesterday was kind of rough. we were teaching irmao nothum (kenzo) and he is a tough nut to crack. he always falls asleep in our lessons and acts so uninterested. yesterday we were actually somehting out of him about his family and then he stopped us in the middle of the lesson to let us know that it was starting to feel like an interrogation. ughghghghgh, i was so excited that he was finally talking about something legit that we just kept pushing more and more questions. i felt like poop. we need to work on integrating deep questions with stories on how we can relate with what they are going through and then also testify about whatever doctrine we are talking about. i feel like we learn so much about how to teach and then when we get in there, i just forget. i’m learning, i know it will take time but it’s lessons like that that made me feel like i don’t know how to do diddly squat. but sister russell reminded me that we made progress with this lesson, that he finally opened up about something and he committed to come to church and he even said a great prayer at the end. ok, i guess it wasnt so awful. jenny, im really bad at not taking myself too seriously, im working on it 🙂
 
music and the spoken word was awesome this past sunday! i loved the gospel songs that they sang!!!! oooh, soul/gospel songs have a special place in my heart. and that one sister who had the little solo…seriously, during the performance i was just saying to myself, ‘you go sistah’. one of brother newell’s messages was that it’s never too late to choose who we want to be, that we canchange to be better with each small choice. i loved that!!!!!
 
this week in TRC, we met with a man, brother judd, who served in brazil many moons ago and can you believe it , served in every area!!!! apparently he basically pioneered all the brazil missions. he said that he and his wife just wanted to move to brazil and live on the beach…mom, dad- sounds like a good place to retire 🙂 just kidding, you will never retire, you will both be forever young, and i love you and you are both so vivacious 🙂
 
so sister nielson in my district found a little magnetic pig in one of the free bins (when people leave, they dump stuff they dont want). magnetic pig, weird, i know. so sister nielson brought it to class and it stuck on the whiteboard so she just left it. we have a sort of where’s waldo thing with the pig because everytbody keeps finding a new hiding sport for it. then one of the elders figured out that it stuck to the ceiling and during class one day irmao nothum looks up and is like, what the heck. we all look up and see this pig hanging from the ceiling and sister russell and i burst out at the same time, ‘SPIDER PIG, SPIDER PIG’. it was pretty cool 🙂
 
ps, mom, i wanted to let you know that i did receive the coat from lark and i also received all the postcards and your letter and the sunflower card and my clothes…THAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAANK YOOOOOOOOUUUU!!!! I love you so much and i am going to write you another letter (there should be one waiting for you at home) to try to express my gratitude. seriously, i know this isnt enough but thank you so much for all the love and thoughtfulness you put into the postcards. ps mommy, i get to talk to you in 2 weeks!!!!!!!!!
 
the other night i had a really neat experience with bearing my testimony. i told you all that our district made a goal to bear our testimonies every day to someone in portuguese. so the other night sister russell and i were walking around outside trying to find someone to bear our testimonies to. we couldnt find anybody for a few minutes and then a huge group of sisters came toward us to get to their residence halls. i suddenly see my friend angie from my byu freshman hall, she sees me  and we start ‘no way!!!’ ing. we got to talking and she had only been here for a couple of days. she said she had been having kind of a rough time adjusting and so i was just so happy to get to talk to her. at the end of our conversation sister russell and i asked if we could share our testimonies. it was such a neat experience and i know heavenly father put her in my path for a reason. love.
 
we had a really awesome district meeting this past sunday and talked about what ‘faith in Christ’ meant to us. we had a really great discussion and i shared that faith to me was relying on my Savior to help me deal with or change the parts of me or parts of my life that i felt like i didnt know how to handle or change by myself. i believe that faith in christ is realizing that we cant do everything and be everything by ourselves, that we need someone so divine and loving to help us be better. faith in christ is admitting our faults and weaknesses and submitting our wills and pride to Him, having a heart that is willing to change.
 
in sacrament meeting this past sunday, one of our branch presidency counselors (brother davis) spoke and one thing he said stuck out to me. he said that we should never ask anyone to do anything we are not willing to do ourselves. that struck a chord with me as a sister training leader. i’ve been trying to be a better example of being obedient in all things. it’s hard. but i know that i need to be better to help my sisters here be better. something i just realized while typing this is how fair Jesus christ is. He has felt EVERY moment of our lives and knows what it means to be human, knows what it means to be weak and need help. and He has done EVERYTHING that He has asked us to do. He is our ultimate example of the compassion, forgiveness, and selflessness that we are all asked to strive for. i love it when that spiritual lightbulb goes off in my head.
 
this morning i got to go to the temple. i really needed it. i was feeling pretty crummy about myself by the end of last night and i just really needed some peace. when i was sitting in the celestial room and staring at the face of my brother and Savior Jesus Christ, i made a realization about something in my heart, and i felt so loved and i felt like the stupid things that were keeping me from being my best christ-like self were not of significance any more. hallelujah. seriously. i’m so gratfeul for the temple and the miraculous power of Jesus Christ to change our hearts and lift our souls. its real, i promise. please go to the temple whenever you can. i still have trouble staying awake at some parts (sorries) but i look forward to learning more and more.
 
lissy, i got all of your packages and your adorbs pics and i’m sending you a letter this week forshizzle. thank you for being so thoughtful. erin, thank you so much for you letter. i loved the porkajees story 🙂 seriously, everyone im so sorry for not being able to respond to your updates in a timely manner but i promise im working on it. every hour here is just scheduled for something. dadddy, i got the cookies today. they made me cry. they smelled and tasted like home. thank you for such a beautiful note. please thank grandma for her lovely note too and for all of her help with the cookies. they are sooooooooo good and i’ve only shared them with sister russell. im deciding whether or not to share this precious commodity. daddy, i thought a lot about you this morning, even before i got my package. im going to try really hard to write you a long super awesome letter this week. i love you so much. jenny, thnk you so much for my email that i got this morning. my p-day has always been tuesday, so yes 🙂 i’m so glad adelaide is hittin the pot!!!!! i’m going to try to work on a letter for you this week too. i started writing a letter to liss on my last tuesday and finally finished it today. slow goin. but please keep the detailed updates and pictures coming. i love it all so much!!!! morgy, how are you doing big brotha!!! i need updates on the soulmate-search front 🙂 sorry, was that embarassing 🙂 i love you. if it helps, i have told my sisters here all about you and they have seen your picture and think you are handsome and cannot believe you arent married. remember, you are a spiritually strong, adventurous stud muffin. matt, how is philly??? mom said that you and erin went for the week. please send pics, i bet you had a fun time visiting your friends.
 
i love you all. i wish i could squeeze you all right this minute. be strong. say your prayers (and pour out your soul). i love you with all my heart. thank you so much for all of the packages and dear elders and email and love. i pray for you everyday.
 
all my love,
sister mariah jackson
 
ps im wearing my ron swanson shirt today and ive gotten so many compliments. one elder was like, i don’t know if im allowed to say this but i love your shirt more than anything in the world. boo ya.
 
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