For the past three weeks we have been attending church services at the Brazilian MTC. Mike has been called to serve in a Branch Presidency there although he hasn't been assigned to a specific branch yet. I will be working in the Relief Society as an occasional teacher.
We are working with the Elders and Sisters from North America or in other words the English speaking missionaries. This enables the missionaries to understand church services and to be understood by their church leaders. The missionaries are organized into districts which are determined by their arrival at the CTM (Brazilian speak for MTC). Districts can be as large as 12 and as small as 4. The branch consists of 3-5 districts. They keep branches small so the branch presidency can get to know the missionaries. The branch size will vary depending on how many missionaries are in the CTM. We were told that this past January the total was around 50, few weeks ago it was around 300, yesterday it was 255.
The Elders and Sisters and interviewed when they arrive, half way through their time at the CTM and then just before they leave. Most are in the CTM for nine weeks but there are a few test groups that are there for only six weeks. The missionaries are given the opportunity to speak in church, help with the music, and pray. They are asked to sing the hymns in Portuguese and to pray in Portuguese. Otherwise everything else is in English.
It is so much fun to get to know the missionaries and give them our support. It is also fun to know what is going on in church. It doesn't help my language skills but it does boost my spirit. The CTM is a great place to be serving. I am so thankful for this opportunity.