Sorry to have taken so long to reply, I hope I haven´t worried you much at all.
Life in the CTM is a very unique experience. I´ve never been in a place where I must isolate myself from others because I can´t communicate with them. It´s odd to be the minority, and it really opened my eyes. The people of Brazil are kind, funny, and very loving. Every one I´ve met has been patient as I bumble through a foreign language, sounding like a baby, and never understanding what they try to say. As difficult as it is being in a foreign land surrounded by people I can hardly talk to, it is quite impactful on my language learning skills. The instructors here prefer the strategy of "I´ll throw you in the water, start swimming", as opposed to "This is how you swim, ready to go?" It was frustrating at first, and still honestly is at times, but it´s highly effective!
I couldn´t be in a better district. There are 6 of us in my district, and all are Elders. I think we´re the only single sex district, so we tend to stick out. All of us became friends almost immediately, which made it very comfortable to start here. Well, more comfortable. My companion, Elder Christiansen, is wonderful. He´s a rock climber from Utah, and a huge nature conservationalist. He is incapable of being angry, and seems to always be relaxed. I love being paired with him. He´s an example to me, and always inspires me to be better. He´s very much the jeep riding person with long hair kind of guy.
The other Elders in my district are:
Elder Connor - A lot like Bradley Bardin. Tall, very much a jokester, and has spiritual input when it counts. He´s from North Carolina, but has been living in Utah for BYU.
Elder Perkes - Yet another Elder from Utah. He loves a lot of pop music and is more of a feminine type of person.
Elder Cuvelier (Coo vuhl yay) - He makes us all look like chumps. He too is from Utah, however, he had lived in Brazil his senior year of high school. His parents are the mission presidents of Curachiba (don´t know if I spelled that accurately). He is picking up the language much faster than the rest of us, as you can guess. He is very athletic and obsessed with sports.
Elder Morisson - He looks like the generic Utah Mormon, but is actually from California. He has been given the nickname "Joseph Smith" by the Brazilians (pronounced Josefuh Smeetch) because of his brilliant smile and blonde hair. He does kind of resemble Joseph Smith, in a way. He is always smiling and has quite the infectious laugh. Thanks to him and his companion, Elder Connor, we attract many other people because we laugh, a lot. A lot.
Learning a new language isn´t easy. The strategy here combines gospel learning with language study. Every day we have an hour to prepare and then we teach a lesson to an investigator entirely in Portuguese. Hm, no pressure. The investigators are our instructors, just in character. They are convincing actors, and have rooms set up to look like a living room for us to teach in. It takes a long time first to understand what they are saying, then three times as long to form a coherent reply. Some funny stories there, but I don´t have much time to tell them today.
The instructors for my district are the best teachers in the entire CTM. Irmão (Brother) Conceição and Irmão Ribeiro are their names. They also happen to be best friends. Irmão Conceição baptized Irmão Ribeiro about 4 years ago, and now they are both working in the CTM. Both served missions and are incredible examples to me. They are full of patience and love, and focus on o ponto central do Propósito Missionário: Baptism and confirmation. They have us focus on "opening the door to the Celestial Kingdom" for our investigators.
I love it here. It´s strange, it´s hard, and it´s wonderful.
Oh, and the food is great. Tuna casserole pizza, rice and beans, vinegar soaked potatoes, ham and cheese sandwiches every morning, and infinite sparkling water. Dessert is always very, very strange, and often difficult to eat. Always new and exciting!
I love you all very much! Keep working hard at home; I´ll do my best here.
PS: Tell Hayley I´m proud of her and excited to see her progress, and tell Dad to keep sending me more deep doctrine as he did last week. I rather enjoy his insights.