It starts with the hand-flicking thing. You know, that thing missionaries who served in South America do? That flick of the hand that makes a finger snap? It's all very innocent at first, trying to get it down so you can do it, too. But practice becomes habit and before you know it, it's a nervous tick. Then comes the laughing at things that aren't funny, and then laughing just because laughing feels so good. Then the twitching begins, closely followed by the shifty, glinting eyes.
The missionaries who have been here for 7 or 8 weeks have it bad. Last week, Elder Barton pointed out the symptoms showing up in our own district. I looked around me and laughed. He was right!
Remember that part in Muppet Treasure Island when all the pirates are sitting on the ship without a breeze and their faces begin to stretch in unflattering ways, their eyes wild? That's the stage my district is currently at. Come next week, I fully expect to see my Elders break out into song, with towers of fruit on their heads as they dance in coconut bras and grass skirts while shaking marrakas.
6 weeks is a long time to be in one building. Sister Oliver calls it "the Prison". I wouldn't go that far-- it's actually a really great place, with a nice gym and a beautiful courtyard with palm trees and a HUGE mango tree (hopefully the mangoes ripen before I leave. They're looking so good!), and goodness knows how I LOVE the company. But all things in moderation, my friends. I'm sure it's a good thing that they're cutting MTC-time for missionaries after I leave. Yeah, the future missionaries will have 3 weeks less to learn the language, but maybe they'll also have 3 weeks' more sanity when they get to the field. :P
What do we do all day, one might wonder? Well, wonder no longer! Here's my daily schedule in a nutshell:
6:30 am-- Arise and prepare for the day
7:00 am-- Breakfast in the cafeteria
7:30-8:30 am-- Personal scripture study
9:00-12:00 -- Classes with Instrutor Viana (grammar, teaching fundamentals, etc)
12:30 pm-- Almoco (lunch)
1:15-4:45-- Classes with Instrutor Ricardo (Portugues, Portugues, Portugues!)
5:00 pm-- Jantar (dinner)
From there, depending on the day, we have gym or Lab, more study time and language practice. Then we sit and write down our study plans for the next day and go to sleep at 10:30. Every day. It's a full schedule!
I really love it, though. I've found that any time I'm not studying or in class nowadays, I start to get antsy and I have to pull out my flashcards to practice. I'm sure I'll always be remembered as Sister Stick-in-the-Mud, because I never want to just play. I want to work, work, work all the time! Weird, huh? It feels good, though.
Last Sunday I prepared my first talk in Portugues! Every Sunday we have to be prepared to give a talk if called upon at the last minute, and up to this point we were allowed to write them in English. But from the 6th week on, they have to be completely in Portugues. It was such a challenge to write that I was actually disappointed almost as much as I was relieved when I wasn't called upon to share it.
Well, my time's about up now, but before I go I just want you all to know how much I love being here. I love this Gospel so much. I love my Savior and there's nowhere I'd rather be than here in Brazil, doing His work. It's not always easy, and I miss you all like crazy, but I know that I'm right where the Lord wants me.
I love you all!!! Stay close to the Lord! Be wise, be kind, and be happy!