Relocated to Rochester, New York!

Hey everyone!
So, this week was a really good one!

We taught more practice lessons and they were all really good. Wednesday through the rest of the week was amazing though! On Wednesday we ended up demonstrating how to teach in front of the new missionaries. I was really nervous because I was going to have to teach in front of like 50 people and wanted to make sure I would be able to demonstrate right.

We did this experience twice, and each lesson was fantastic! We practiced the principle of listening closely to people and being
able to take the experiences and the stories of the people and using the Spirit to apply it to their lives and it was really a wonderful experience. By far the biggest highlight of the MTC!

So, Thursday was also a big day. Since I don’t have a visa yet, I got a temporary reassignment to go to Rochester, New York! Originally my companion was going to come with me, but then his plans got cancelled because they think he’s going to get his visa really soon.

I’m so excited though to go to Rochester! I’ll be able to go to Palmyra and the Sacred Grove, where the prophet Joseph Smith saw God and His son Jesus Christ, which I’m really super excited about! I’m probably going to freeze to death, but I know that the Lord will bless me with the means to stay warm enough that I can actually preach the gospel without being frozen.

Friday we had In-field orientation, where we had a lot of workshops on how to be a better teacher and how to improve your teaching. It was really a cool experience! We watch this movie called the District (a reality film of what it’s really like to be a missionary and teach the gospel) all the time in the MTC, which made it cooler because 3 of the people from the movie were our teachers! Anyways, it was way cool!

Well, nothing else really happened other than those 3 days. It was just a really good experience over all and the week went really really fast! I’ll be leaving for New York on Monday the 31st, so anyone sending letters or packages of any kind should stay tuned until I get the address I’ll be using (since I have no idea what it is yet!)

Anyways, hope to hear from everyone!

Elder Finch

October 24th, 2011

Hey everyone!

So, this week was really an odd one, though not in a bad way, so I will start from the beginning.

Tuesday was really awesome because of the evening devotional. We had Elder Richard G. Scott come and teach us, and it was a wonderful opportunity to learn from an apostle. The thing I learned most was that each mission call is divinely inspired from God, and that every call is given for that person because of their abilities and experiences, not simply because they have openings in certain missions or not.

Speaking of mission calls, I will be receiving another one this Wednesday or Thursday telling me where I will be reassigned temporarily seeing as I still haven’t received my visa. I am also currently the last one in my district who has not received their electronic visa, which is even more reaffirming that I am needed both stateside for a time, and in Brazil. I know that there are people in Brazil that I am meant to teach, as well as people here stateside.

Wednesday we hosted the new missionaries arriving to the MTC, which was both exciting for them, but sad because you had to see their depressed families driving away, which was really hard. Thursday wasn’t really anything to report.
Friday my companion and I got a letter from the MTC telling us that they wanted us to demonstrate to the new missionaries on the 26th how to teach an investigator. Apparently our teachers thought we were qualified and recommended us, though we’re both really nervous about it.

Saturday we practiced teaching one of our district members about a lot of stuff just to practice teaching, which was a really cool experience! I even learned a lot, and I was only teaching!

Sunday I was selected to give a talk (they select people randomly from the group to speak), which I felt like I did decently on. We also sang a song as a district because we are all leaving next week (or possibly this week depending on the reassignment report date).

But yeah! Everything has been going fantastic and I’m excited to be able to be here and be able to serve!

Keep me posted on what’s happening back home!

Elder Finch

October 17th

Oí tudos!

This week was really interesting. First off, during dinner on Wednesday, Elder Hunter Goodall showed up! That was really cool and it is awesome to have someone from home in the MTC with me! He’s even in my same gym class so we see each other a lot.

Also, the MTC is getting way too crowded (mainly because there are 400 missionaries here that should be in the Brazil MTC right now but have to wait on visas also). So, to accomodate all these people, each room that only fits four people, now has an extra bunk bed and 6 people in each room. We ended up getting 4 new roommates who have been here about a week and a half now. Luckily, all of them are awesome, but it still feels ridiculously cramped in the room.

The only other really exciting thing that happened this week was that we watched a devotional from Elder Bednar that had been recorded called, “Becoming a Missionary.” Wow, it was awesome. It talked a lot about what the difference is between going on a mission and being a missionary. One of the coolest quotes from the talk was, ”When you are ready to return home, return to your families and friends, but never leave the mission field.” I just thought that was really cool. I got a lot of instruction from the Spirit and it ended up making the whole latter half of the week worth it.

Well, that’s pretty much the story of this week. I still haven’t heard anything about my visa, but I’m not worried, because I know that the Lord will send me where He wants me to go.

Hope to hear from everyone!

October 3rd, 2011

Hey everybody!

Wow, it feels weird being here for a whole month already, yet it feels like I’ve been here for forever! The MTC really has been awesome though and I don’t regret getting sent to Provo instead of the Brazil MTC. We had two “baptisms” on Saturday, so we are going to be teaching new investigators this week, which should be really interesting! Plus, we get to be investigators for everyone, so I’m kinda excited for that too.

We had an amazing devotional by Don R. Clark this past Tuesday. It was a perfect missionary devotional and talked about all the many things to help us be better missionaries. It really was a fantastic devotional. One thing that was really cool, is that he told us that Gospel literally means “the good news” in Latin, and that Elder means ”the bearer of good news.” So needless to say it made the title of Elder that much more awesome to me.

My companion, Elder Stewart, got his electronic visa though this week, which made me that much more anxious to get mine so I can get my actual visa asap (for those of you who don’t know, you have to submit a paper application for a visa, wait a really long time, then they send you an electronic visa to fill out, then after another while you get your actual visa).

General Conference was absolutely fantastic! I learned so much from it and had a lot of ideas on how to improve my work as a missionary. One thing that was really cool about conference is that they announced a second Provo temple! I thought that was awesome, along with the new Paris, France temple (which I know Françoise is really excited about).

Anyways, I know that my letters are getting shorter and shorter, but I can’t think of anything else to write at the moment because the days all blur together and are all the same thing for the most part.

Don’t forget to write!

Elder Finch

September 19th

Hey everyone!

Wow, it feels like I’ve been gone for months, even though it’s only been about 3 weeks. Don’t take it the wrong way though, it’s not because it’s been a bad three weeks, but that I’ve learned so much in so short a time that it feels like I’m already miles ahead of where I was three weeks ago! The MTC is awesome, and although I wanted to go straight to Brazil, I’m glad the Lord allowed me to come here where the transition to Portuguese is a much easier one to make.

This week was really awesome though! We started teaching two more investigators (again teachers, but I doubt you understand how real the experience feels when we teach them). One was Rosinaldo and the other was Mercia. Both have already accepted the baptismal commitment because my companion and I work so well together at bringing the spirit into the lessons. Rosinaldo prayed and has already learned the truthfulness of the Restoration of the gospel, and it was so exciting to hear how excited he was about his answer.

On Tuesday, I saw Mark Lucas (a friend I haven’t seen in years), who works here at the MTC. He advised me to get to the Tuesday night devotional way early because we were going to have a special guest. We got there and hour and a half early to get good seats. Turns out it was a good idea because it was Elder M. Russel Ballard of the Quorum of the 12 apostles who taught the devotional. The meeting with Mark was definately a blessing from the Lord because otherwise we would have had no idea! It also really hit me hard that with the title of Elder, I have the same title as the Lord’s chosen apostles, and I am treating it as nobly as I would when talking to an apostle.

We got our new teacher (in addition to the one we already have) for Portuguese this week. She’s actually from Brazil, so it’s really cool to hear a real Brazilian speak. We also went to the Training Resource Center (TRC) and taught people there in Portuguese also. I felt bad because, since we went on splits and I didn’t have my usual companion, I spoke most of the time because no one else knew what to say in Portuguese. I have truly been blessed of the Lord with the gift of tongues, and I know that the Lord is helping me with the Language so that I can not only help the people in Brazil, but also my district here at the MTC.

Then, last night, we had a devotional from one of the District Presidents here. It was about obedience and it really hit me hard. My companion and I have been obedient, but have not been exactly obedient in everything. We get up on time and go to bed on time and stuff like that, but just minor adjustments. My companion and I decided that we’re going to be 100% obedient. We also watched a devotional from Jeffrey R. Holland that was taken 2 years ago about teaching by the spirit. Whoa, talk about a powerful devotional! It was absolutely amazing and I learned a lot about how to teach by the Spirit.
Well, my letter was definately shorter today, so I apologize to everyone! I love you all! Eu te amo meus amigos! Hope to hear from you all soon! Until Next week!

Elder Finch

September 12th, 2011

Oi Tudos!

My week has been absolutely incredible! Monday and Tuesday were nothing really special, but it was really fun. Wednesday however, is worth writing a lot about.

That evening, we had our third lesson with our investigator, Valdery. This lesson however, was more than outstanding. Instead of treating Valdery as a teacher trying to test us, we taught him as Valdery, a Catholic fruit vendor who loves his family. Treating him like a real investigator made a huge difference. It made my companion and I love him unconditionally and when we taught him, it was a miracle.

Valdery hadn’t prayed at all yet, so we focused on how to pray and the importance of communicating directly with our Heavenly Father in a personal way. Due to the idea we got from the devotional the night before, and due to the fact that our first two lessons with him didn’t have the spirit in the meeting, my companion and I sang, “I’m a child of God” after we prayed to bring the spirit into the room (btw, the song along with the entire lesson was all in nothing but Portuguese, no big deal or anything).

Almost immediately, the spirit filled the room and set the mood for the lesson. We then proceeded with our lesson about prayer. First, my commanion and I bore testimony of how prayer has blessed our lives and how it could do the same for his. This seemed to catch his attention and make him actually focus on what we were talking about for the first time. We talked about how if you pray in a personal way, you can get a personal answer, just like Valdery’s kids would get personal attention if they asked a question.

We asked Valdery to pray for us, to which request he again refused saying that he was perfectly content with the way he prayed using the Lord’s Prayer from the Bible. We then read 3rd Nephi 18: 18-21, which expresses that God has commanded us to pray so that we can be protected from the adversary, and bore testimony about the truthfulness of the scripture and again asked him to pray.

He said he would pray, but only if we helped him if he needed, to which we replied, “Claro!” He then proceeded to give a wonderful prayer to the Lord, thanking God for his family and many blessings, as well as asking for security and health for his family, along with other things we had previously suggested.

By this time in the lesson, the Spirit of the Lord was strong, so we asked him how he felt, to which he simply replied, “Bom (good).” We however, knew that he felt more than just simply good due to the expression on his face, so we asked him what he was thinking. He said he felt peace and good feelings, which we told him was the Holy Ghost confirming that the Lord heard his prayer.

We then bore testimony of how the spirit has helped us through our lives, and I was almost crying when I bore testimony about how the Lord has answered many of my problems through promptings from the Holy Ghost. After I finished testifying, and the spirit was almost overwhelming, my stud companion, clearly inspired, invited him to be baptized so that he could feel the Holy Ghost all the time. After a pause that seemed to take forever, he said he would prepare himself for that date we set. We thanked him, ended with a prayer, and set a return appointment so we could answer any questions he had.

Ok, so first off, yes this is a teacher at the MTC, but he was representing someone he taught from his mission, and my companion and I were the only ones who brought the spirit strong enough for him to accept the baptismal invitation. When we teach Valdery though, we feel as though we’re teaching an actual investigator, which is why it was so amazing when he made the commitment to be baptized. If this is how it will be in the field, with that kind of joy and happiness we both felt afterwards, I am more than willing to take whatever problems I need to be able to have just one more of those moments, let alone if I have multiple.

The coolest thing about the whole meeting was that my companion and I taught as one. We were unified in the message and could back each other up whenever we didn’t know how to say something in Portuguese. Our testimonies complimented each other’s beautifully and it was a fantastic lesson.

After an experience that amazing, the rest of the week doesn’t even seem worth reporting (besides how dissappointed I was when someone told me BYU lost to Texas by 1 point hahahaha). I seemed to hit a barrier with the language and don’t seem to see much improvement, but I know that the Lord will help me even still. The only other thing worth reporting was yesterday, Sept. 11. We had a devotional dedicated to the events that happened 10 years which included watching a clip of the attack, and then watching a 30 minute performance by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

I hope to hear from you all!

E Eu digo estas coisas em o nomê de Jesus Cristo, nosso Salvador e Redentor. Amêm.

– Elder Finch

First Week at the MTC

Hey everyone!

So I made it to the MTC safely! I was kinda worried because of all the things I had to get done before getting to the MTC and didn’t think I’d have enough time for it.

Obviously, the Lord knew my concerns, because my flight got into Salt Lake City 30 minutes early, giving me plenty of time to grab my bags before the 10 am shuttle to Provo. I got dropped off at the missionary mall so I could pick up my suit and a few other random items, and was lucky enough to get a ride from one of the employees there to the MTC (since he had just gotten off work). As soon as I arrived, I saw a whole bunch of my old BYU friends, including Elder Finlayson!

My companion, Elder Stewart, is amazing. I couldn’t have asked for a better example for a companion. Our district is also a stellar group of missionaries. Our District Leader, Elder Tatafu, is probably the happiest person here and is a great leader. He does not lead by telling us what to do, but rather says nothing with words and just sets a fantastic example for us to follow.

This past week has been so crazy busy/awesome! Elder Stewart and I had to teach an “investigator” on Friday, which normally wouldn’t have been so bad, except we had to do it entirely in Portuguese! I was really really nervous, but we studied, prepared, and then let the Lord do the rest. It went surpisingly well! There were a lot of pauses obviously due to our small vocabulary, but it went well because we taught purely by the spirit and not by any script. I felt like there was more interaction than I had originally anticipated.
We also taught Valdery (the same investigator) again Saturday morning, but we had it more scripted so we didn’t look like cavemen Portuguese speakers. We had way fewer pauses, but also way less interaction on his part, so we’re trying to find a balance between script and teaching by the spirit.

Our Portuguese is already getting so much better! We can really feel the Spirit of the Lord helping us learn the language as we study and retain a lot of what we learn. Our district motto is “como um chefe” or “like a boss.” Yeah, our district is just that awesome!

We had a testimony meeting yesterday and I (along with almost everyone else) was able to bear my testimony entirely in Portuguese! Granted, it was very primitive Portuguese, but it was Portuguese nontheless! My companion and I have also been praying entirely in Portuguese and even taught each other for 20 minutes just speaking the language. It’s amazing how much the Spirit is helping us here.

We also had a devotional yesterday about the true purpose of teaching, and our mission president gave an amazing testimony about how we are protected as missionaries and servants of the Lord. I can honestly feel how much the Lord wants us to succeed while we are here and it motivates me to always be trying to improve my teaching and my language speaking. Also, it feels amazing to be able to wear the missionary name badge and have the name of the Savior on my person at all times. I’ve waited a long time to be able to have this experience!

I was going to write a paragraph or two in Portuguese, but I don’t want to butcher sucha beautiful language (at least not yet)! I should be able to do it next week though.
Please don’t forget to write! I’d love to hear from everyone! DearElder.com does free, same day letters that I can get any day of the week (as opposed to email which I can only check once a week). Also, my email is not supposed to receive emails from friends until I actually get to Brazil!

Eu voces amo!
Seus missionario,
Elder Finch

Pre Mission Feelings

Hey everyone!

As you all know I’ll be leaving for two years to go to Vitoria, Brazil, so I thought I’d share some pre-mission thoughts and feelings to kinda get this blog started.

First and foremost, I’m excited to go to Brazil and be able to learn Portuguese. I’m excited to be able to spend time abroad and grow as I spread the gospel of Jesus Christ.

For those of you who don’t know what missionaries do, I’ll give you a summary. In short, members of the church go out for two years to a location decided by the inspired leaders of the church. They assign you to a place that the Lord has determined you will be best suited for and that you will be able to influence people in the way they individually need.

Once you are assigned to a mission, you go to an MTC (or Missionary Training Center). Basically what you do here is not only learn the language of the country you’ll be staying in, but also learning how to teach people in that language. It is anticipated that I will stay in the Provo, MTC for about 9 weeks, although hopefully I’ll get to go to the MTC in Sao Paulo after a few weeks and spend the remaining time in that MTC.

After your time in the MTC, I will report to Vitoria itself to begin my mission. What I will be doing is spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ with the people of Brazil. Basically, we will be following the examples of Christ’s apostles in the New Testament. I will be teaching everyone who I can find, whether that be through places I go, or knocking on doors and teaching people.

I want everyone to know that I know that the gospel of Jesus Christ as it was taught by the Savior himself has been restored to the Earth and that I will be able to share that message with those in Brazil.

I also want to thank every one of my friends who have all helped me through high school and helped me become the person I have always hoped to be. Thanks to all the support you guys have given me and I will miss you all.

Adeus a todos! Ve-lo em dois anos!

Elder Finch