Today we received our first email from Elder Blackford! He only had a short time to respond to any emails from family only, and had to skip dinner to do that, so he apologizes to anyone else who sent him emails.
As we figured, Elder Blackford and the 3 other missionaries on his flight to Provo rearranged seats to sit next to each other on the plane and had a great chat. One of the other elders is also going to Brazil (but in a different mission) and is in the same MTC district as Elder Blackford. As for his companion and roommates, Elder Blackford tells us they are all athletes and the 4 of them get along great. Elder Blackford loves the atmosphere at the MTC. He writes:
Being at the MTC has been amazing, the Spirit here is so strong and it is amazing to be surrounded by other elders who have the same goal as you, and who are learning as well.
One of our current main goals is to get away from using words like "bro, dude, guys, man, broseph, broseidon, etc.," and so in our district we "tally" every time you fail to call someone by “Elder.” Then before we go to bed we all put in our tallies, and that’s how many times you jabbed in the stomach. Maybe not the best way to handle it, but hey we’re all scared of getting beat at night so it helps us remember to call each other Elder.
He is already as busy as can be. They already have put him to work learning Portuguese. As he said, “We had two days [of learning Portuguese] and BOOM we’re preaching.” He’s already preparing lessons and learning to bear his testimony in Portuguese. Church for Elder Blackford was all in Portuguese as well. He said he felt confused, but was proud when he understood something. Also, “most importantly,” he says, is that he has learned to say “Your mom goes to college” in Portuguese. Some things never fail to entertain him…
Elder Blackford said that the time is flying by. “I have already gotten the experience of getting ‘lost in the work’ and if it continues like this, I think I’m going to be home tomorrow!” he tells us. I couldn’t be more proud. We all expected him to love serving, but his email just exudes enthusiasm. It’s wonderful to hear that he really is ready and excited to be there.
Here is the most exciting news that came today: Elder Blackford leaves at 8a.m. tomorrow, December 13th, for the Brazil MTC! He found out the second day after arriving at the Provo MTC, and was allowed a 5 minute phone call home to tell us the news. He also asks that family and friends limit the length of emails, since his time to spend checking emails is so limited. Elder Blackford says that he would love it if the longer messages could be sent as letters instead.
He leaves us with one of the best messages we could receive:
My testimony has grown so much. Listening to amazing talks, and as each elder in my district has born their testimony, it has really strengthened mine that this is what I want to do, and I can do it… Overall status is I am doing great, loving it here and can’t wait to continue to learn more.