Lauren leaves the MTC in Sao Paulo today flying on TAM Brazilian airlines. She should arrive around 11:00 am today in Joao Pessoa. We are all so excited!

Here's s some of her last letter from Sao Paulo... (she wrote this last week)

"I leave to Joao Pessoa Tuesday! SOOOOOOOOO Excited! So today we went to the Temple again in Sao Paulo and it is gorgeous! I get a little car sick every time cuz it~s pretty bumpy ride but i tried to stay awake so I could remember.

The city is NUTS! Motorcycles dodge in and out around and right next to huge buses going full speed. The freeways are bigger and way more crazy than LA there is even a canal in between the 2 directions of traffic. Today there was a boat in the canal and it made me think of wake boarding :) there is tons of graffiti everywhere only its actually artwork and not just words its pretty cool and it is everywhere. There is an eternal skyline too. Buildings everywhere you look even after driving for an hour. They are super tall and then there are just tons of small rundown buildings in between. With jungle right in the middle . Really like new york meets the amazon literally.. There are tons of cars too. small though and they spell them different. A Golf car is a Gol and there are lexus. The bus that takes us to the Temple is a lexus like charter bus, even the GARBAGE TRUCK is a lexus!!! they are everywhere.

People walk all the time and in the middle of the freeway there is so much traffic people sell stuff in the median or even the double yellow lines. I saw a guy selling whistles on my first day. But even when there is still tons of fast pace traffic like today a man was jogging down the highway! They also sell brooms on like every corner... I don't know why .

SO! Ive been singing in the CTM choir! I know crazy but I'm getting better! really i couldn't believe it but somebody actually said that i sing nice! so that is cool. Also I bought a hymns made easy book so I´m practicing the piano for the people in Joao Pessoa so I can play in church. Last Sunday I also conducted all they hymns for sacrament meeting and Also I'm the only sister in the branch. Its funny when they address the congregation it is "Elders and Sister Richardson" hahha

Also this past Sunday I hung out with Sister Clark! She is the mission presidents wife and is SOOOO cool! she took me to her suite (which is off limits!) and gave me chocolate, nuts and guarana we talked about our families and just had a good time. There are so many perks to being a sister.

Anyway so This week was the best week because we got to go out and teach!! We left, yes my district(Elder Neville, Quigly Zhino and Zao, Ammodt, Brohl and FIrkins) left the CTM and took a bus to down town and taught people. There was a huge teachers protest going on at the same time it was crazy. Elder Firkins and Brohl were my comps and we got to teach the 1st lesson twice!

(This is an example of what missionaries teach in the first lesson)

And I gave out 2 copies of the Book of Mormon. We taught a girl names Claire and I also taught a man Roberto, and a woman Named Simone. I really liked Simone. We had 2 hours to teach and towards the end of the time I saw here waiting for the bus and so I ran up and just introduced my self. She was super nice and I talked to her about The Bible and prophets then and the prophets in the Americas at the same time that wrote the book of Mormon. We read together from Alma 7 and How much Jesus Christ loves us and how he know each of us individual and knows our pains. He knows her as Simone and her husband and all her trials and happiness too. It was so amazing. I had her read Prophet Moroni's promise if she reads the book and asks God with a sincere heart and desire with Faith she will get an answer from the Holy Ghost. She said she believed it and that she would read and ask that night!! It was so cool to see her listening and smile and want to learn more! I gave her the book and I pray she did read and ask, when I walked a way she was reading it. Also My teacher got pictures of me teaching her so he´ll send those this week.

Thanks soooo much for the blog daddy! I wish I could see it but i don't have time to read it. But i really thank you for all the effort you put in it and I'm sending pics ASAP! Well we get an hour of gym time everyday and the elders and I have a sweet work out we are doing. Called 5 fifties. Geez the first day i had to do 50 pull ups! I did 3 alone and they helped me with the rest :) and then we take 5 laps, 50 dips, 5 more laps sit-ups, and plank. We were so sore! We do that everyday just doing diff things I'm working out my core and legs most. but it's pretty fun to do it all together and we also play Vball! I have 2 new brasilian comps! Sister Ogden got new comps. they are sweet girls and I help with English they help with Portuguese. The food is good. Totally getting used to rice and beans everyday. I like it better than Provo i think because there are less preservatives in the food and lots of it too.

I~m so excited to get out there and teach people! Thursday was an amazing experience and Tomorrow there is a woman who is coming to the CTM and wants to learn more. One of the teachers and I are going to teach her about the gospel and so this is my first lesson! (unless you count the one in downtown) I am very happy and I love you! Thanks for supporting me! I know you don't have to and thanks for writing me and being so happy with me serving as a missionary. I know that this is what God wants me to be doing right now and there is no other place I would rather be. I do miss y'all but I'm helping other people find happiness and just the thought gives me so much as well. I love you! XOXO! Sister Richardson

We received some pictures from Lauren this past week. The first two are from the MTC in Provo. The last one is from Brazil. Hopefully she will get more to us before she leaves for João Pessoa in 10 days.

This first one is of her in an MTC room with Hermana Hatch. She's not her companion; Lauren knows her from when she was in college at BYU Idaho.

This is the first time we all see her with her name tag on! We believe she is with two elders from her district out in front of the Provo temple. There's a little white sticker on her name tag that says 'solo' since she doesn't have a sister companion. (these two elders look like brothers)

We believe this is from a window from the CTM in Sao Paulo. It might be from Lauren's window but we're not sure.

She is scheduled to leave the MTC in Sao Paulo on March 31st and fly to João Pessoa. So this address is only good till then. PLEASE write to Lauren.

How to write to Lauren:

Here's the deal... if you write her a letter and drop it in the regular mail it will take 2-3 weeks to get to her. Not good... BUT, if you use a service like she can have it in 2-3 days! It costs a little more than just mailing it. You write your letter to her online, then they print it off in Sao Paulo and deliver it to her. You can send her care packages too - but only through something like

Sister Lauren Richardson
Brazil João Pessoa Mission
District (05A) Box (17)
Brasil CTM
Rua Padre Antônio D’Angelo, 121
Casa Verde, São Paulo, SP
Brazil 02516-040

PRESIDENT'S NOTE: The MTC president says "WE STRONGLY ENCOURAGE SENDING HAND WRITTEN LETTERS. DO NOT SEND ANYTHING BY FEDEX, DHL, UPS, or other private carriers. 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 and it arrives after your missionary has left for the field, please understand that the package can not be forwarded to his or her mission and will be returned to you. The only other option is for me to open the package and forward the letters and photographs, giving the rest of the contents of the package to the missionaries that are here."

Here are some comments from Lauren's first letter from the Missionary Training Center in Brazil... sorry, she hasn't sent any pictures yet.

Brasil is amazing! I am not hungry don't worry and the food is so good. Much better than Provo, I think because the food is more natural - not so many preservatives. Beans, rice, juice. The temperature is hot and humid! I love it all! Even the first night we slept with the window open just the screen and we hear the music down the street. I don't have a companion still! haha I am with the same elders from Provo and there were no sisters that arrived at the same time so every person is still the same. I live with a girl who it is her first week. Her name is sister Ogden and she is from New Hampshire. Super nice and very fun. Also the language is getting much better!! I understand so much more now that I am getting to speak with the natives all day. Today we went around the town for preparation day and got to just say hi to people it was nice., Also we went to the sao paulo temple! So beautiful! It was so nice and part of it was Portuguese soooo cool! Also it was sooooo nice to talk with everyone! So nice to hear your voices! I miss you all! I am working hard though and I am so happy that I have this opportunity to be a missionary. Brasilian people are so great and kind too. This place reminds me of what it was like in Colombia only the there is not as much music around well at least so far.

Also the flight was soooo long! 13 hours total! wow but well much better than trying to get here any other way and i sat next to a really nice girl that had served a mission in Argentina 8 years ago. there were about 25 missionaries with us. Well after we got off the plane we went through customs and seriously less than 2 minutes after i gave this brasilian man a card with the picture of the salt lake city temple on it and a phone number on back. Sweet right!? he was super nice and did software design for drawing things. Well i said chao! and he smiled leaned forward and gave me a little besito on the cheek and I forgot we couldn't do that cuz I gave him one too. whooops! I forgot! To me it is as natural as a handshake but i didn't mean too, but it was so funny that I did that not even being in the country 5 minutes - oh man. but i have been doing much better :) don't worry. anyways so I was trying to send pictures but it doesn't work in this computer with my memory stick. But we can't bring our cameras out of the ctm because i think they are worried they might get stolen, but I will try to send them ASAP I am taking lots. Being a missionary is so cool and I love it. the MTC here is soooo different than Provo. This one is sooo much more relaxed. In Provo i had to have a sister or 2 elder companions but here they let me go by my self and i can do whatever i want. its pretty sweet. and there are only about 150 missionaries here. Yesterday there were 21 sisters and as of today there are maybe 9 or 10 of us. We get treated so good as sister missionaries. everyone is extra kind to us and carries our suitcases and we can cut in line and basically just completely spoiled. it is awesome.

Lauren is in the air right now and on her way to Sao Paulo!
Click here to can see where her plane is right now.

It's an all-niter. She's with about 23 Elders and 3 other Sisters. Lucky!
  • She left Dallas at 8:00 pm tonight (Texas time).
  • Arrives in Sao Paulo at 5:36 am our time, 8:36 Sao Paulo time.
  • Flys over New Orleans
  • Over Miami
  • Over eastern Cuba
  • Over Venezuela
  • Over the entire Amazon
At Sao Paulo the sun comes up at 3:04 am (our time) so she miss it for sure - she'll be so asleep. She's pretty nervous but will be excited once the plane lands.

Lauren's visa came!

Lauren called Adriana from the MTC today to let us know her visa came through. She is flying out of Salt Lake Thursday morning headed to São Paulo. She's so excited! We all are too.

She had the blessing to experience the MTC in Provo for 5 weeks and now she'll probably have 4 weeks in the MTC in São Paulo before flying off to her mission in João Pessoa. São Paulo is actually 1,700 miles SOUTH of her mission. (the same distance from the south tip of Texas to the Canadian border!) That's 5,025 miles from Round Rock.

There just over 200 missionaries in the MTC in São Paulo now compared to the 2000+ in the Provo MTC. As of Feb. 14, there were 132 Brazilians and 75 North Americans training there. The Brazilians stay for a few weeks and the Americans for 13 weeks. Lauren will probably be there 4 weeks since she completed 5 in the Provo MTC.

It's very different in the MTC in São Paulo. The metro area has a population of 22 million! That's a little less than all of Texas. She will spend almost all her time inside the MTC though. The drinks in the center's cafeteria have different names: the national Brazilian soft drink Guarana (both regular and no-sugar), agua com gas (water that's carbonated) and such juices as passion fruit and mango. They do have pizza though - on Wednesday nights.

No snow - as a matter of fact it has a lush center courtyard full of trees and tropical vegetation all year long. It has basketball and volleyball courts and a gym with a small track.

They also go to the São Paulo Temple - a little more than 10 miles from the center - almost every week.

I have changed Lauren's address on the blog for you to see. If you sent a letter to her by mail in the last few days, it may get forwarded to her - not sure. If you send her a tonight or before noon tomorrow (Wednesday) then she will get it before she leaves for Brasil.

Keep her in your prayers - now the adventure really begins!