Wednesday, September 24, 2014

September 24, 2014- P-day- week 3

Hello Family!
This past week has gone by way too fast. It seems as though I'm going to bed just as soon as I'm waking up. Yes! The Churrascaria was amazing! By far the best one I've gone to. It blew away that $50 place we went to, Texas de Brazil. The meats were less in number, but greater in taste. It was so good! Plus it was only 20 Reals, which is about $10! We were also able to walk around the city here and beyond the craziness of the center here. My companions and I walked around the neighborhood and ran into some real missionaries. The American missionary who had been out for around 4 months was speaking almost fluently. It got me excited for the actual mission field!
Anyways, things have been pretty normal here. Wake up, shower, go study for an hour, breakfast, more study, physical activity, lunch, class, dinner, TALL, class, and bed! Such a routine schedule. Thats why I love Wednesdays so much here. We are able to go around and relax from all the tension and stress buildup from learning Portuguese and how to teach. The Portuguese is coming along pretty well. I'm learning more and more everyday.
Yes! We just had a general authority here yesterday for the devotional. Do you remember Elder Causse? I can't remember what he is, but he came down here to settle property settlements, and he stopped by the CTM. It was a really good devotional! Last Tuesday, we watched a broadcast of Elder Richard G. Scott from the MTC in Provo. It was a really good talk on prayer and our relationship with Heavenly Father.
As for weather, it gets a little chilly here in the mornings, and one day it was cold for the whole duration, but other than that it is lovely weather. It is going to be so hot once summer starts! Yes, I write in my journal every night. And yes, I have Brasilian Reals (remember the r sounds like an h; also the z's and s' switch sounds).
My district consists of all elders, 3 companionships. Yes, I have been taking some pictures, and I've been drawing a lot. Oh! So, the other day, I was stacking chairs in my room to give me a little height so I could see outside when I draw, but I didn't lock the top two chairs in place. When I sat down, it came crashing down on my fingers which were on the sides. I crushed my fingers, and I couldn't move them for several hours. There was a ton of swelling, and they're still purple from the bruise. There was also a little internal bleeding! haha No need to worry though, just an accident that I'm recovering from.
Its great to hear from you guys. I hope John does well with the ACT and SAT. To John- remember not to slack off as your brother once did. Get the best grades you can, and try to focus a little more on school than usual. I promise you it will help a lot! 
Well, I shall keep you updated throughout my stay here, but there won't be much to talk about till I get out. And trust me, you will have plenty to look at from my pictures. Love you all very much!
Your son and brother,
Elder Matthew Taylor Collins

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

September 17, 2014- P-day email

Hello Family!
This past week has been really fun! I just got back from the temple down in Sao Paulo! Its actually kind of small, and I heard the Campinas temple is a lot larger. They said that we would probably go there at least twice during our stay here at the CTM, but that we wouldn't know when. Also, I don't have much time to write letters-they only give us 45 minutes-so I'll try my best to write this with as much detail as possible.

So, after I sent that last email to you, my whole district and I went out to go tour the area. We went to Mr. Cheney's and were able to get a free cookie by sending our families a "test letter." I don't know if you guys recieved it or not...Anyways! After that, we went around and found this pretty cool burger place that sells their burgers really cheap- like 4 Reals. Also, a little Portuguese lesson for everyone out there- the r's at the beginning of a word, and any double r's in a word are pronounced as an "H"-interesting, huh. This language is pretty crazy. There's a whole lot of pronounciation differences. So, right by the burger place is a churros stand. They fry it right there and then fill it up with Dulce de Leche! It's really good. Also, everyone here drinks Guarana. Its the national drink here in Brazil, and its really good. We had it once at Epcot at the drink station, if you remember. Today, for P-Day, my whole district is going to go to a Churrascaria. We heard it only costs 7 Reals for one person. 7 REALS!!! Thats like 4 bucks! Way better than paying $50, I'd say.

As for the blog, you may take whatever you'd like from my emails and post in on the site. Some of the stuff I'm writing is directed to you guys, but you can edit it. I don't think I'll send out an automatic update letter to everyone until I get out of the CTM. Here, there's barely any time to write 3 emails. Once I get out into the field, I have as long as I need AND I can upload photos.

Portuguese! Yes, I am very grateful for my background in Spanish. Although it is very different, the conjugation and a lot of the words have a similar base. We speak it everyday, and have classes for 6 hours in total everyday. We also teach "investigators" a lot! We have 2 pesquisadores and 1 menos ativo. We teach them everyday, and so are learning how to plan and study. Being in a trio is kind of hard sometimes, though. My two companions- Elder Bush and Elder David- are both from Utah. Elder Bush went to college for a year, and David just came from high school. They are both really cool. Its going to be quite a change for me when I am put with just one other missionary. I think it will be a whole lot easier though. My district has also gotten really close. We do everything together and know each other well now.

Well, I'm running out of time now, but I would love to get your mailing address. Letters are a lot better in my opinion. They take longer to get to the destination, but I can put a whole lot more in it. Anyways, thank you for the email. I look forward to the next one.


Elder Collins

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

September 10, 2014- P-day email

Matthew was actually able to send a few brief personal emails to specific family members and friends, but this was his main email.  Sounds like he is busy, but doing great!-  JMC

Hello Family!
This past week has been incredible! The flight here was exhausting, but I was able to get to know a few of the missionaries. I found out, after arriving at Sao Paulo, that there are actually 7 others going to  Piracicaba with me! So our whole district is made up of missionaries going to Piracicaba! We all know each other very well now and get along great. I actually have two companions, and they're names are Elder David and Elder Bush. They are both really cool. Unfortunately, I can't send any pictures during my stay here, but the camera's turned out to be really poopy any way. The pictures are really grainy and the zoom is terrible. Other than that, I can still take somewhat of a picture. Ah, yes- Mr. Cheney's! Yes, there is a place right across from the CTM that does care packages, and I heard they have some really good cookies. For my P-Day today, we went to the Sao Paulo Temple, and it was really cool. We had to wake up extra early to go there today, though. We just got back about 20 minutes ago, and we have to finish our emails as fast as possible to be able to go out exploring. That also means I can't go up to my room and get my mailing address, but I think you have a book that says what the mailing addresses are. Its the one with the missionary lists of items to get.
Anyways, my schedule goes something along the lines of:
6:30-7:00 Wake up and get ready for the day
7:00-8:00 Personal study (scripture study; my district made a goal to read the whole Book of Mormon here before we leave)
8:00-8:30 Breakfast
8:30-9:55 Additional study
10:15-11:00 Physical Activity (we can't play soccer though)
11:00-11:30 Take a shower, prepare
11:30-12:15 Lunch
12:15-13:30 Language Study
13:30-16:30 Time with Instructor (his name is Irmao Tavares)
16:30-17:15 Dinner
17:15-18:00 TALL (like a language program on the computer; it barely even works half the time haha)
18:00-21:00 More time with Irmao Tavares
21:00-21:45 Daily planning and snack!
21:45-22:30 Prepare to sleep

So, yeah, thats pretty much our schedule. Sometimes, something will be changed or added, like on Tuesdays- we have a Devotional at night, and Wednesdays are our P-Days. The meals! Oh my, they are so good. With every meal, there's beans and rice, beans and rice. They also always have some sort of meat. And they have milinesas! (or however you spell it) But that is seriously the best meal I've had so far, and both my companions agree. For our language study, we have learned so much. Like, I know more Portuguese than I do Spanish now. Also, my companions and I always sit next to the natives during lunch and talk with them. Also, before we go to bed, the Brasileiros storm our room and its like they've never seen Americans haha. Needless to say, we've been very immersed in the language. On Tuesday, our second day here, we had to give a full lesson to an "investigator" all in Portuguese. The cool thing was, that we were able to do just that. We had learned so much Portuguese that we could actually carry on a long conversation with them. I learned so much in the past week, and have come to grow a strong testimony of the Gift of Tongues here on my mission.
Yes, Dad, that would be awesome to have you create a blog for my mission. Anything that works, right? :) I love you all and hope the best.

Your son and brother,

Elder Collins

Friday, September 5, 2014

A letter from the Brazil MTC President and his wife

We received an email from the Brazil MTC President and his wife telling us that he arrived! They also took a group photo of all the new missionaries!  Can you spot him?  Very exciting to see him as a missionary.

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 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 able wife who is a nurse. We are also 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 Lorenzo Snow said: “There is no 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

PLEASE DO NOT SEND PACKAGES to the Brazil Missionary Training Center. All packages must be sent directly to the mission where your missionary will be serving not the MTC. If you have already mailed a package to the Brazil MTC, please understand that the package cannot be forwarded to his or her mission and will be returned to you.
WE STRONGLY ENCOURAGE SENDING HAND WRITTEN LETTERS. Please write your missionary´s first and last name. Your missionary will provide you with his district and box number.
Also, please DO NOT SEND ANYTHING BY FEDEX, DHL, UPS, or other private carriers.  The cost to process this type of correspondence is exorbitant.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Elder Collins first email back home!

We received an email yesterday from Elder Collins telling us that he arrived.  I am pretty sure they let all the missionaries send a quick email home to let family know they are safe.  It was great to hear from him!

Sept. 3, 2014
Hello Mom and Dad, Melissa, John, and Sarah!
I have safely arrived here at the CTM in Sao Paulo, so no need to worry! You probably know already, but my first flight from Orlando to Atlanta was delayed by like 30 minutes or so.  When I got to Atlanta, I was able to arrive at my gate safely, but holy cow! There were more than just three missionaries there. There were around 35 of us total, including sister missionaries (and thats not including the other missionaries arriving just a little after we did, here in Sao Paulo). The flight went by quicker than I thought, but I couldn't sleep at all. There was too little room and no comfortable position for me to adjust to.  Anyways, we only just got to the CTM about two hours ago, but we've been able to unpack and take a shower.  I got my tag too!  Apparently, I have two other companions (probably due to an odd number of missionaries), but one of them has not yet arrived. So...I don't have much to say right now, but I am ready to embark on this new and exciting adventure! I love you all and miss you.  Remember to choose the right!
Love from your son and brother,
Elder Collins