(Editor's note: if you don't have time to read this flashback email, scroll down to "Elder Forsyth's last letter home" below)
My first greeny e-mail home:
Oi Familia!! Como Vai?
Woooo!! The MTC is absolutely great and I love the people here. There is a sweet spirit that resides here at all times and it makes it extremely easy for every Elder and Sister to be guided by the spirit when trying to be the best missionary they can be. Anyways, don't worry Mom, I wrote you a letter today on my P-Day which is a Tuesday which has all the deets especially for you:) So that will come in the mail in the next 3-5 business days. Honestly it could be sooner I have no idea how mail works. But expect it sometime around then.
It feels extremely strange when I have only been her for 6 days and my companion (Elder Baird: He is as great as I hoped he would be. Seriously the man will be a general authority. He knows his stuff and someday I strive to be just like him) and I were able to teach the first lesson...all in Portuguese. When the Lord has a will there is definitely a way. I am extremely humbled when words that have been stored in the back of my brain from 9 hour learning days suddenly start to come out of my mouth. We have a "faux" investigator named Antonio and the first time we taught him we were just getting by. It was so hard to understand his slurred, slang-like super cool Portuguese. We kinda just had to testify on the words we knew in Portuguese and let the spirit do the rest. It was was humbling to see how much work we had to do. Elder Baird and I are just working so hard everyday to let the spirit guide us on what we need to improve on and it is working great! We are able to have full on conversations with one another just in Portuguese and we decided that sometimes only speaking in Portuguese is the best way to learn. Also another great way is by teaching others in our district the lessons that we will teach Antonio. We are able to learn from each other and learn from the spirit at the same exact time. woo I am so pumped. In the mornings I am so tired from the mentally, physically and emotionally straining day before. But the spirit works wonders as I pray every morning for energy and for a fire to be constantly be burning in me as I go out and learn how to be the best missionary possible.
I am so grateful for everyone back home. It takes a village to raise a child and I completely agree with that. Everyone has played such an important role in my life and without you guys I wouldn't be the man I am today.
Soooo everyone told me not to play basketball due to the constant elder casualites that take place on the court. Yeah that is a true rumor. such a trumor. Elders are dropping left and right from sprained ankles and fingers to the eyes. It is kinda crazy. I have survived by avoiding extremely competetive basketball playing Elders and have joined the foursquare family. Elder Forsyth is now Elder Foursquare. Okay too cheezy I know but forgive me I am more tired than I have ever been. But also more aware of others too. Ed you were right. The MTC is one of the most emotionally straining things that have happened in m y life. But being set apart as a representative of Jesus Christ brings its pros. I have been able to love more than I have ever loved. I didn't know I was able to have all that love in me. You gain love for those you just glance at. I have tried with all my heart to see others as Christ sees them in every aspect. I know that through earnest and faithful prayers the Lord answers all of our prayers. I just feel different. It is the best different ever, though. I am happier than I have ever been :) Also reading the Book of Mormon and Bible as a missionary is a completely different experience. I am marking and noticing little things that have such a bigger impact on my life. Especially in 1st Nephi. Our district's Branch president asked us to restart The Book of Mormon from the beginning no matter where we were before and I am in 1st Nephi Chapter 17. There are red markings everywhere hahah. It is super cool :) It is really hard to decide what to write down since it feels like I have already been here for 4 weeks (there is so much learning that goes into one day. My brain is learning more in one day that it has in a while. It is very good exercise for my brain.)
The spirit works wonders in every missionary's life as soon as they enter the MTC if they stay obedient to the rules. Obedience is one of the major themes that I am discovering here at the MTC. Even the little rules that seem like they can be broken and nothing will change need to be followed. No matter what. Obedience brings blessings but Obedience with Exactness brings Miracles. I love everyone at home and only have a little time left so I just want you to know how grateful I am for all of your prayers and all of the love that is sent my way. I really can feel it all the way over here in Utah. Please send me as much mail as possible. It is a nice break through the harder days. But everything is great and I love all of the elders here. I wish I could write more but there is a 30 minute rule. There are just so many tender mercies I see throughout the day that I want to write down in this letter but I don't have time. More will come:) Pardon the typos......i really do stink at typing. There is love that is laced in the typos. lots of love.
Elder Forsyth's last letter home:
For all of those that have wondered, "Where did Ian go for two years?" I´ll give you a wrap up of the mission that I have lived and accomplished. Many friends back home must think that I've been running through Amazon forests with my native-made machete, teaching Indians. No, I don´t use a compass to tread through dense brush nor did I see any anacondas in the Brasilian rivers. Yes, I did see huge spiders in my apartments and yes, one bit me on the neck. No, I didn´t get any spidey-like powers like I wanted. Portuguese wasn´t the easiest language to learn and I am still growing my grammatic and vocabulary universe. I've strived to absorb the culture and become a Brasilian. It worked. I don´t remember how to order a hamburger anymore nor do I know how to ask a girl on a date. So, what did you do, Ian? What happened to all of your manly skills?
When I was younger, not so much younger than today, I thought manliness was a teenage dream. I thought it was who could eat a hamburger in less than 30 seconds, drift their sedan around a light post while blasting adrenaline pumping music, play guitar, beatbox, quote the most comedy movies, and jump off a high cliff (into water) without any fear. Though I still think these things are gnarly and righteous, my priorities have changed. What I've have seriously learned and will surely apply is the principle of being proactive. I used to be real lazy. I knew our family motto was "WE DO HARD THINGS" but I kind of just said it to be considered a Forsyth. I would rarely practice what I would say. That didn't help me man up so that I would be able to face challenges that would face me in Brasil. In Brasil, I've learned to get up, stop complaining about problems, and to be the solution what ever the situation may be. There is always a solution.
Lehi said to his problematic sons:
Awake! and arise from the dust, and hear the words of a trembling parent, whose limbs ye must soon lay down in the cold and silent grave, from whence no traveler can return; a few more days and I go the way of all the earth.
And now that my soul might have joy in you, and that my heart might leave this world with gladness because of you, that I might not be brought down with grief and sorrow to the grave, arise from the dust, my sons, and be men, and be determined in one mind and in one heart, united in all things, that ye may not come down into captivity;
If we lay aside our laziness and fill our lives with activities, we will not, I repeat, we will not have time nor space to sin. Satan does not have power over those who have full schedules. To become a man we have to shake the dust that has been slowly building up and awake from a lazy, dormant state. We must be agents.
And now, my sons, I speak unto you these things for your profit and learning; for there is a God, and he hath created all things, both the heavens and the earth, and all things that in them are, both things to act and things to be acted upon.
You either act and stop being lazy or you are acted upon and do not progress. I learned it the hard way. I was called to serve as a missionary and representative of Jesus Christ. Yeah, I had to change a lot to live up to his name. Luckily, the Lord reached out his hand of mercy to help me. He gave me a tool to refine my spirit and my human nature. Of course, it is The Book of Mormon. The Book of Mormon is a treasure that I have studied, read, re read and have kept close to my heart. I know it is true. I have come to know my Savior by revelation due to this amazing and sacred record. It is the book by which all men shall be judged and it has helped me become a man in a world where there are few gentlemen. It has changed my style of language. I'm not saying I sound like an old English major in writing style, but it has cut out the profane and the unnecessary and I have tried to maintain these changes.
Refining the way I am has helped me to not judge others. Sometimes we see someone we don´t even know and we judge. Right on the spot. How can we do that if we don´t know the person? We don´t even know their name nor have we tried to get to know their name and who they are. If we cut the profanity from our lives will we see that the change will immediately affect the way we see others because our natural and daily thoughts will be pure and true.
The Lord can make us a righteous people. Our good works will not just influence our immediate generation but many generations to come.
I found, taught, baptized, and confirmed, but I wouldn't be enabled with power if it were not for my Savior. I love Him and I want to maintain this spirit that I cherish so much. I love all of you back home. I have felt your earnest prayers. I have read many letters and cards that uplift my spirits and help me rise from the dust. I cannot thank you enough. Like I said at the beginning, it takes a village to raise a boy. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you! I´ll be coming home in a week. AAH!