Wednesday, July 27, 2011

CTM District

CTM Companion, Elder Hollandsworth

With (CTM) President and Sister Clark ( I'm the one in the middle).

Elder Jensen

My First Companion/Trainer, Elder Andrade

President and Sister Ribeiro


So my companion didn´t have his camera with him last week so I couldn´t swap his sd card for mine then. Now, however we´ve got the camera and my card works with his camera. 
This week was sunny and hot until wednesday when it rained and rained and rained. There are many brick roads and the bricks are set in this red dirt so when it rains there´s redish orange water gushing in every direction. Thursday it rained less than wednesday but was freezing cold then the rest of the week the sun came back out and it´s been very hot. I´ve had to wear my suit in the baking sun two times this week. Today it´s beautiful out.
Last week we decided to visit an inactive member so we stopped by his house and asked to come in. He explained that he had gone on a mission and knew that the Church was true. He had a sort of falling out with some of the members which led him to go inactive. When we visited him he had  scraggly hair and a beard. Some time ago he somehow fell from I think three stories and had tried to brace his fall with his arms. So when we saw him he was wearing casts on both arms and had gone through many surgeries. He just wasn´t happy. We asked to share a message and told him how we needed him at the church as our brother in the Priesthood and as a member of the Kingdom here. He commited to come to church on sunday last week. AND HE CAME. We visited him this monday and he was able to have his casts removed (his arms still aren´t in very good shape) and he got a shave and a haircut. He´s smiling all the time and multiple times this week we saw him making rounds/visits to other members with the ward missionaries and the second councilor to the bishop. This sunday he gave the prayer in preisthood and he´s just can I put this? He´s really back and he´s happy. He was only waiting for a nudge and now the church is everything in his life again. 
One of our investigators knows that the book of mormon is true, she knows the church is true, has no problems with our church leadership or anything like that but she was baptized into the evangelical church and just can not see how she needs to be rebaptized. We´re also having trouble convincing her to give up some of the things from the evangelical church. The women in the evangelical church can´t cut their hair for instance. We try to consult the scriptures but it´s like talking to a brick wall about these things. We love her and we´re helping her but it´s dificult. She´s still coming to church so pray for her and things should work out. 
Our other investigator with an upcoming baptismal date was supposed to come to church yesterday. We visited him in the morning to make sure he was coming. Somewhere between the visit and the start of church his aunt had a heart atack! Today we were able to teach him about the plan of salvation at the chapel with the other boys his age.
This sunday we had three investigators at church. Two of them are young boys, they really seem to like church and are fitting in well with the boys here. We´re confident they will join the church and the parents of the boys have potential as well. Sunday was very special. I had a lot of fun and funny experiences with members and other missionaries and this week we found a whole bunch more people to teach and they have a lot of potential. It´s hard because we´re opening an area but things are rolling. As for the language... it´s coming. They say you´re fluent after three months in the field. I´m chipping away at it and just hoping I´m somewhere around fluent by then. 
Pictures: So this is just from the mtc and the mission presidents house. More coming soon. We´re going to take pictures of cows and other awesome things.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Investigator visits...and pictures? Oh no.

Part 1: Doing things a little differently today. We´re here early today so that the senior companions can enter in our numbers for the last while. I´ll spend a bit of time here telling you about my week. Then you can email me so that later today I can reply to your questions when we come back here.
This week was terrific. I´m getting the language more and more. It´s difficult because, for instance, there´s eight different rules/exceptions for how you form a word in the plural. The word de means of but sometimes it means to, at, in, on and a hundred other things. There´s no word for would but there´s a specific word ending that means "I would..." So instead of saying "I would like" you say Eu gostaria. The more I learn, The more I realize how clueless I am about this language but It´s beautiful and I´m realizing more and more how much I love it.
This week we met a family of two parents and a son. And *HIP-HIP-HOORAY* They are married! We commited them to baptism and I think they are very special and will be terrific members of the Church. We just talked to Ondina about keeping all the commandments and she seems commited and is progressing as well. There´s another family with a man, a woman and four daughters who aren´t married. They are progressing and we will be having a wedding for them at the church. Everything was going smoothly but on saturday we visited them with a member and they had visitors of their own. Their visitors were an evangelical pastor and his wife. The pastor just sat there not saying anything and watching tv. We had some small talk with the investigators and then asked if we could share a message. The pastor calmy said he´d be glad to hear the message as well. Then we asked for an opening prayer and the investigator thought it would be a good idea for the pastor to pray. The pastor humbly replied "oh no, no...I couldn´t" We said "Oh no that´d be great" He agreed. He stood up and started "praying" shouting and pounding his feet and COMMANDING blessings and said our Lords name about thirty times then sat down as though waiting for us to congratulate him. He then proceeded to monopilize our entire lesson, yelling and yelling. We couldn´t share a scripture because he said that it had to be inspired and we had to just open the book and read it. So we just flipped open to a random verse and started reading. He grabbed the bible as though he was the one authorized to read it and went on another rant. It was such a dark,ignorant thing and our investigators were, I fear, getting swept up in it. We tried to finish our message and leave. Then the wife of the pastor said "Elder, can we share our message with you?" We said "some other time perhaps." She said "it´s very short" so we for some reason agreed. Her "message" was her bursting into song and it was very uncomfortable.
We still have hope for these investigators but It´s so hard sometimes doing this work. People think that they have the truth but really they know not where to find it. Satan wants them to think that they need no more light, that they already have progressed and are already saved. The Lord said we cannot be saved in ignorance. We´re trying very hard to spread His gospel.
Many others are progressing and we have many baptisms marked. I love this Church, I love these people, I love Heavenly Father and his son Jesus Christ. We can´t do any of this without them.
Elder Hanson 
Part 2:  Hope that you´re doing well. Unfortunately Raissa doesn´t come to the door when we knock for her. We still try sometimes if we´re in the neigborhood but we´re taking a break. It seems she doesn´t want to hear from us right now. It´s tough because If you had asked me about her a few weeks ago I would have thought things were going great. I know she´ll accept the Gospel sometime. In the past few weeks we have had a lot of success finding people. Still trying hard to make sure that everyone comes to Church and keeps up on commitments. We have a lot of hope. Speaking of hope, In Portuguese the word for hope means the same thing as wait. So if you say let´s wait it can mean "let´s wait, having hope". This week when we taught that married family, we finished our first message (The Great Apostasy and where the Lords Church is Now...Find out NEXT TIME!) and the son chatted with us afterwards. We were invited to have dinner with the family two days later. But after the dinner invite he said with a smile "I´m waiting for next time". He really has been waiting/hoping his entire life for this. We came two days later to eat with the family and commited them to baptism. They trust us and we´re working with them. They will be a great family.
Everytime that I walk the halls of the Church I feel like "I need to fill these halls!" I´m trying very hard. I know that I´m growing and becoming a better instrument in the Lords hands. The Lord is also preparing our investigators. I had a few times this week where I kept thinking about how I´d never be confident with the language. I really do grow in leaps and bounds with it but I was getting frustrated with it. These past few days have been great though, I´m understanding and I was able to start a few lessons in Portuguese. I´m really starting to be able to teach. The more I learn the more I realize I have a long way to go.
Pictures: Guess what. That cord you sent me for the camera looks like it would fit but it doesn´t so ... no pictures until you send me a different one.  [AHHHHHHHHH!!  -Joy]
I love you guys!

Monday, July 11, 2011

"Coverings"?! ...and RATS no pictures still

WOW! thanks for the update. I´ll try and catch you up on things.
You pronounce Ijui: Eee-jew-ee. It´s a big city, there´s lots of big buildings and many of the cement roads are busier than the roads in Shoreline.  Of course there are also neighborhoods and areas that have sidewalks but no cement roads and I´m just wrecking my feet on the cobblestones. There´s some very nice houses here with interesting architecture and everyone uses tiles.  Most people have tiles for a drive way.  There´s also smaller houses and really poor houses. But most every house is made out of brick.   They put wood or covering on the outside so it looks very nice,  BUT - when it´s cold the houses are FREEZING!   It´s been cold here but I wear gloves and a sweater and usually some thermals and I´m fine.  It´s tough because in the mornings inside the apartment, I will study and be wearing three pairs of socks and my feet will feel frozen solid. We have a washing machine but we dry things on a line.  In this climate it takes a long time for things to dry.  At night I use three blankets over a sheet and the blanket from home.  I´m plenty warm when I sleep and have my coverings.  The last three days it has really warmed up and it was actually really HOT on Saturday.  It´s sunny and should be for a while.  The days are getting warmer and the nights are less cold.  My feet haven´t been cold in the mornings the last couple of days.
Many people have cars, but motorcycles are cheaper and easier to park out on the street.   It´s not uncommon to see sixty year old men riding motorcycles to church with their wives riding along, arms wrapped around them.  What´s funny is that we walk by a drivers ed. area and it´s all twenty something girls teaching the men how to drive.  My companion says this is the only place in Brazil that he knows of that has women teaching the men to drive so much.   Another thing, Gaucho´s are what they call the people here in the south.  Americans like to think of them as Brazilian cowboys but it´s different than just that.  A lot of them wear cowboy boots and you´ll see the occasional guy wearing this poncho type thing but really that´s just for a style.  Most all the people here dress exactly like Americans, hoodies or jackets, similar hair styles, they even have a lot of t-shirts with American brands on them.  Coca-Cola is advertised everywhere here.  Soda pop is way better here because they can use (as I understand it) pure cane sugar vs. just high fructose corn syrup.  They have Fanta, Coke, Pepsi and their own kinds  Another thing about the Gaucho´s is that they all have chimarrao.  It´s a drink that´s this strange grass that they put in a cup and pour hot water in to.  They have decorative cups usually part metal and ceramic/wood. Then there´s this big metal straw and the end that´s in the cup is like a small strainer so you only get the liquid.  It´s not against the word of wisdom but they´ve asked the Elders not to drink it because it can be very addictive.  It´s tough because EVERYONE in Ijui drinks this and if they like you, they offer you a sip from their cups.
They say that Brazilian women are beautiful but here in the south the women or Gaucha´s are so beautiful.  I mean they are literally falling from the trees. Twenty something year old girls of every shade - completely flawlessly beautiful - just in swarms on the streets.  We´ve taken the bus to appointments a few times.  When the bus goes over cobblestones it shakes more than a turbulent airplane.  What´s funny is that with the busses, in every seat there´s some random beautiful girl.  Speaking of falling from trees ... DOGS!  Everywhere.   I mean some houses don´t have them but many houses just have three to five dogs each in their front yard.  Usually they have a few small dogs and then one huge scary one chained up. But they all bark at everyone.  The streets often have a small dog running around and we get chased a bunch.
There´s far more than just Nestle chocolate here.  They have dozens of kinds of chocolate candies I never saw in the states and many of them are fancy and many of them are really good.  There´s also a candy brand called Garoto (meaning little boy) and they have amazing candies.
The Church building is beautiful. I´m taking pictures of it and the town square next week.  We had two investigator women, Ondina and Neuza come to church on Sunday. They are progressing so well. Neuza is the mother of two boys who have been in the ward for three years.  They were waiting for the missionaries to talk to her.  We´ve taught many powerful lessons to the family, and her son hugged me and was so grateful that his mother had begun reading the Book of Mormon.  Her date is set for baptism and she´s ready. We´re preparing Ondina but she should be ready as well.  Then we have Rafael and Inez who are progressing and searching for truth and they are finding their answers about the church and we´re confident in them.  Maria is the sister of Neuza and couldn´t make it to church on Sunday but she´s doing well too.
Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ make me so much better every day and through every moment.  I can feel my mental capacities physically growing and I´m becoming more patient and controlled every single day.  The Lord´s atonement really does change us mentally, spiritually, emotionally and physically.  It´s sufficient to make such a great change in us and continue to make us better even still.   I am touched by the spirit so strongly daily.  I´m not afraid to talk to Heavenly Father on my knees and throughout the day.  Every time I talk to Him I feel the heavens open a bit and He reaches out to me.  Each time we talk I´m many times closer to Him. I encourage you guys to pray on your knees on Sunday mornings that the Sacrament will be special for you that day and that you can learn and feel something new.
Mom, you AND Dad should walk every week at least two times a week.  Set a day and a time to walk and then set a fall back time so that if things fall through you make sure to walk!  It´s been great for me to get out on foot.  I´m healthier and I understand Heavenly Father more.
Try using Preach my Gospel in your family home evening.  It´s a solid gold book is what it is. 
I think I know what I want to do when I come home.  I´m going to get a Doctorate in Religion and also study business/finance.  Our mission president manages businesses and funds for Seminaries and institutes in Brazil.  He was an Institute director and teacher.
I have many pictures but I have no time to send them today I´m afraid. Looks like next week.
We actually get enough money to get some good food and I get to cook a lot.  Lunches with members are SO good. They usually have meat, pasta´s, a loaf of bread and these soft potato-ish things that aren´t exactly potatoes.  Beans are usually at every meal but you get addicted to mixing them in with your food.  Have Mckenna send me stickers to put on the back of my tag.  All the elders have them on there. You can pick some out too.
P-days we play soccer. It´s whatever. But it´s cool getting together with all the missionaries in the area to play and joke around.  There´s some people who don´t know how to pray AT ALL.  It´s sad they don´t know how to talk to Heavenly Father of course.  But some "prayers" are so awkward and funny. Sometimes we say can you pray for us and they just start talking so we just guess that we should bow our heads and fold our arms. They don´t address Heavenly Father.  And they say stuff like "I´m grateful for you guys, and the work that you guys do and for you making the world a better place and for my garden and .. ... amen."  
We get to pig out during zone conferences and transfer meetings, really good pizza and sometimes since the members give us hook ups we have like a buffet inside one of those heated buffet tables at the meeting.  It´s really cool.
Stay sweet

Monday, July 4, 2011


Hey guys,
I´m sure that my email last week was pretty scatter brained. I´m in a city called ijuí a few hours outside of Santa Maria. It´s a new area that I´m opening with my Tranier-Companion. I don´t have the camera with me right now and I wouldn´t have the time to upload pictures today. Next week though, for sure. The package that you sent to the mission home was there waiting for me. Everything is in good shape.
I´m keeping track of specifics in my journal but I´ll try and catch you up on things. We´ve taught many lessons to a lot of different people. From the first week we met a woman named Ondina (Think On-gene-ah) and we have a baptismal date marked for her. She´s a sweet woman but she needs to study the Book of Mormon and grow a stronger testimony. Our lessons with her are going fine but they need an extra push over the cliff with her commitments and effort. Then there´s Diceou. He´s a cool guy with a good heart. He works on computers and has a lot of guitars. We feel good about this investigator and we´ll see how it goes. We taught a young woman named Raissa. She´s a GOLDEN INVESTIGATOR! We´ve only had one lesson with her but we feel good about her and she has said she´s searching for truth. We bumped into her mother last night and we feel like she could have a great interest in the gospel. We´re going to teach her and her husband (they aren´t usually home with their daughter during contact time). Probably the family with the most progression right now is the family of Rafiel and Inez. We´ve invited them to study and pray about the Book of Mormon. We return soon and we think things will go well.
Yesterday was a very special sunday. I felt the spirit so strongly in the chapel. A baby was being blessed and it was very sweet. During the sacrement I probably had one of my closer experiences with the Savior in my life.
I don´t know much when it comes to the language but since last week I´ve learned so much. I´m understanding so much. Especially during the lessons when it´s about gospel topics,discussions and questions. I still need to work very hard with some basics and conjugations. I can feel the "Dom de Linguas" (they call it the Gift of Languages) working in my life very strongly. Every day I have a great capacity for the language and some special times I can actually hear the spirit telling me some of the words people say. It´s like the English is transposed over the Portuguese some special times.
I know that already I´m a much more humble, organized, spiritually centered, driven person after just these two weeks of growth. I still have a lot of growing to do but I´m happy. It´s difficult out here but I can´t help but feel happy and that I have a STRONG connection to Heavenly Father.   The Church is true and I´m thankful that the Lord chose for me to come forth at this time to serve here and build up the church.  My mission president said I was preappointed to come here and that I´m the future.  Morning, Noon, and Night, (at least) I fall to my knees in prayer and pour out my heart to Heavenly Father.  He, the Savior, His Angels and Adam help me grow every single day.
Esta Semana foi muito especial. Nos temos muitos pesquisadores com fé e potencial. I estou crescendo em fé e qualquer outra maneiras. Boa Sorte! [Translation in Google: This week was very special.  We have many investigators with faith and potential.  I am growing in faith and many other ways.  Good Luck!]