Monday, October 31, 2011

New companions

Hey there,
So this weeks been interesting. I have a new companion from northeastern Brazil named Elder Karmen. He´s nice and teaches well. I think sometimes he over complicates the lessons for people who aren´t very studied up on everything, but he's good. We´ve been inviting people for baptisms and things have been going well. The entire mission will have a group baptism two weeks from now. Photos will be sent to the President and he´ll make a DVD of all the baptisms/missionaries. The same happened last month.
For our goal to be achieved our investigators need to be in the Church THIS week. So pray that we can find the Lords elects and that they can be ready to keep commitments. We´ve already been working with a lot of great people but I´m hoping we can find even more this week.
So I don´t just have one new companion. I have two. The plan was that my companion and another companionship would show up. What happened is that only one of the others - Elder Jannsen (a Brazilian) - arrived because his American companion is waiting on a visa for him to enter Brazil. So it´s us three working together with the two branches for a while.
Elder Jansen is really a funny nice guy. He was baptized a year before his mission and went directly for the mission after the minimal amount of time. By the time his mission ends he´ll be a member in the field longer than out of it. He already knows the scriptures better than many and understands a lot. He´s the only member in his family.
So Valnei is terrific. My last companion had valnei sign his address book before this last transfer ended. He told Valnei to write a small message next to his contact information. Valnei laughed and humbly said that he didn´t know what to write. So here I was expecting him to write something like good luck but I looked in my companions address book later and found what Valnei had written. It said "you are the best person I´ve ever met in my life" (translated from Portuguese)
It really warmed my heart to see that. I like to think that what he wrote could be extended to me as well ha ha. In all seriousness it´s inspiring to see that you can work with a person, bring them unto the gospel and in a few short weeks they have such a bond with you. The other great thing is that Valnei says he´s sleeping more soundly, he knows that God is really alive in his life and working with him. I sat on the side of Valnei this week in Sacrament meeting and I noticed that he had taken a handout from the relief society. I asked him why and he replied that it was for his aunt and his sister. The mere fact that he thinks about these things already makes me very grateful to my Heavenly Father.
The language is really coming along. I know that a lot of the time what I say doesn´t really come out right but I´m recognizing what I don´t know and this tells me what I need to be studying. It´s interesting because on the first day of every transfer, I notice a great leap in my ability to speak Portuguese and I recognize that as a fulfilment of what was said in my setting apart.
I notice very often an unspeakable calm that sweeps over me when I´m working. It ensures me that this truly is the work of the Lord. I am grateful everyday that I´m out here.     
I don´t know much about the holiday tomorrow. My area will be pretty calm tomorrow I think.
I´m not spelling or typing correctly. You can go in and fix everything. It´s getting pretty tough.
As for the message for the ward, you can tell them that things are going well and you can tell them about some experiences from the blog. You can also tell them that the mission is a really shaping experience that I´m becoming more humble and able to feel the Lord's will and love for me in my life more abundantly.
I love you all.

Monday, October 24, 2011

New Companion tomorrow

Hey Guys,
Everything is going well here. So my companion and I did a lot of good work together this last transfer. Tomorrow my companion will be transferred and I´ll be gaining a new companion. I don´t know if he´s American or Brazilian yet. We´ll also have another companionship entering the area and they´ll be staying in the same house where I´m saying. It´ll be good having four Elders together in the same house. This also means that the two branches that I was working in will be divided and so we can be a lot more effective and we don´t have to run all around. The baptism that we held last week was held for all the people being baptized in our district (collection of branches) So there were four people being baptized that day and some people from all around gathered in the building. There were some talks and welcoming, then the Elders who were baptizing presented the people who were to be baptized in the front of everyone. We were all to say a little something. I tried my best to describe our situation of finding and teaching him (Valnai).
We´ve been helping a lot of part member and inactive families. We´ve had the opportunity to invite friends and family of Valnai to his baptism and they thought that there was "something different" and they really liked it. So we´re going to be teaching and helping them. My companion and I are also teaching some other great families who are excited about the Church. One investigator of ours read 17 chapters of the Book of Mormon in one day.   
So my companion forgot to pay the water bill. All he has to do is call for the secretary of the mission and the secretary pays through the Internet but he put off calling for two weeks. - I had no clue. So the water was cut. We´ve been taking showers in the house of a member who lives close by. We´ve paid the water bill and hopefully the water gets turned back on today. Did I mention how exciting it is that I´m getting a new companion? Ha, but everything is doing well.
So I guess I´ve lost about about 20 pounds out here since I left the CTM. Not completely sure. I´ve forgotten to tell you that this last few weeks it´s been So hot that it´s indescribable. It´s frying inside the house and the second you step out the door the heat is all over you. Everyone is laughing at me because this is only spring and in the summer it gets way hotter. It was already 100 degrees here two days ago I think. It´s going to average 104 pretty soon. Don´t worry though, I´m drinking water and eating fine.
I´m sending pictures of people we´ve been working with and also other things ... like horses. Also sending pictures of my old district from Ijui.
Love you all.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


Hey gang,
This week was exciting! There was a baptismal service for all the people in the district. I had the opportunity to baptize Valnai (whom we have been teaching for a few weeks) and to say some words about him at the service. When we first started teaching him, General conference was just around the corner and we invited him to watch a session. Everything went beautifully after that. You can always bank on the Prophet. We were teaching him and he invited us to come and teach him on just about every day for a few weeks. He accepted baptism and to live all of the commandments. One day he became a little overwhelmed and thought that maybe he wasn´t ready or that he shouldn´t be baptized. I knew that he was an elect and only needed help (or a little shove) from the Lord. I asked to use his bathroom and I knelt on the floor and prayed that everything would be okay. When I returned to the room everything changed and we discussed things, shared scriptures and bore testimony and all of his doubts left him.
I still don´t speak Portuguese that well but at the baptismal service and the next day at his confirmation, he and I had a very sophisticated way of communicating: We smile and give each other a thumbs up.  
The language is coming along. Still a head ache and a half but I love it. Keeps me humble and I never have problems expressing at least the basics and I can always get a laugh out of the other Elders and sometimes even out of the Mission President.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Pray for Valnai

Hey there everybody,
So, I´ve got myself a really funky Brazilian keyboard today. We´ll see what happens. The works coming along. There´s a very humble, sweet little man named Valnai who we will be baptizing this week. Pray everything goes alright. Valnai delivers gas to peoples houses. Everyone has a propane tank hooked up on the side of their stove here. Sometimes people put a doily over them, A lot of people have Play Station 2´s here because they are cheap and play dvd´s. The funnier thing still is when women try to put a doily over the PlayStation.
This week some woman that we were teaching spoke out against the Church or rather against anyone trying to change another persons religion. She sort of belittled our missionary efforts and didn´t understand that anyone would change the religion that they were raised in. It´s important to speak up but sometimes you just realize that the people aren´t ready so I held my tongue. I knew in that moment very strongly that our message is the most important one that exists. I was disappointed at how she was shutting herself off to the message but I knew that she was confused and missing a great happiness in her life, just as all the other people who don´t have or accept this message. It´s sad because this woman was shocked that we actually believed in all the doctrines that our Church teaches and that we do this because of our own testimonies. Her Idea of religion is something imperfect by nature and that you can´t agree with all the doctrines, you just take a few pieces that you like. She doesn´t know for herself that we preach the fullness of the Gospel
It´s impressive to go to some very humble member homes and see that a picture of the Temple or the Savior are the focus of their rooms. It´s great when you see church manuals scattered on their tables and when people quote the Prophets and apostles. The missionaries and members do a great work here The people here take better advantage of the Church magazines than you could imagine. Ít´s really something. 
I love you all.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Monday, October 3, 2011

He'll get there

Hey there,
My companion's name is Elder Costa.
Conference was terrific. It´s really nifty how they do it. It´s broadcast live in English and then they have some people in a room somewhere who talk over the talks. The speaker will start saying a sentence and then the interpreter comes in. When the interpreter comes in the English can´t be heard. The hymns are in English but it´s interesting because we grab our hymn books and sing along in Portuguese. One Elder in my district is from São Paulo. I find that most people from São Paulo can not carry a tune in a bucket.
They broadcast conference in English in the other room but my district is all Brazilians and so they didn´t want to watch something in a language that they didn´t understand  - go figure - so I only got to see conference in Portuguese. I understood more or less (mostly less) everything. I think that during one of President Uchtdorf´s talks, he spoke about being humbled and teaching a Sunday school class in another language. I connected with that. I also connected when he said that no matter how small and weak that we feel we are strong in the Lord. He also spoke about the Lord using the weak to proclaim the gospel. 
We tried to drag some investigators to conference and two came. This is a big deal! 
Oh! I´m surrounded by cave men. One Elder was trying to make a watermelon smoothie in the blender. He couldn´t get all the chunks to the bottom of the blender. In this situation I would hit the pulse button on the blender or perhaps turn off the blender and use a spatula to mash things down. Instead the Elders picked up the blender and -while it was on- banged the blender against the counter top about a thousand times. Here´s the kicker - that didn´t work. 
Other news in the field of companion advancement: My companion tried to drain noodles by putting his hand over the top of the pan and pouring the water in to the sink. Golly...who´d -a-thunk that wasn´t going to work?
I got frustrated this week because I didn´t have a dictionary with me and was trying to explain a kite in Portuguese. The first guess was rooster so I spent about twenty minutes trying to explain a kite then I figured out that the same word that they use for rooster is the word they use for kite. That´s right, they named a kite after a rooster, a bird that doesn´t fly.
The language is coming along. Still, I sometimes feel like sitting in a corner, curling up with a nice warm straight jacket, rocking back and forth and screaming "Não falo português (I don´t speak Portuguese). Honestly, to say the word "was" you have to really understand the situation that you´re talking about. In English we just have one "was", they have three (at least that they use often, I think they have more). Also, forming a rhetorical question is rocket science. There´s different word endings and other headaches involved. I get complimented on my Portuguese sometimes but a lot of the time they just look bewildered, turn to my companion, and ask him what I said.
I got on a bus this week and felt a strong sense of stewardship over every person inside and out of the bus. The elects will hear the voice of the missionaries as though it were the voice of the Lord himself and they will come to a knowledge of the truth of our message. Perhaps it´s tough finding these elects or perhaps I need to become a better missionary, or maybe both. There´s so many in-actives here. I think I met 12 last week. They are very nice. They might be riding by on a bike and warmly say "Hey Elder" or they´ll invite you into their house but when invited to Church they just nod along smiling and say something to the affect of "I don´t really have the desire to go right now ...but I always pray" or "I always tell people I´m Mormon, I just haven´t been going for some reason" That´s right guys! Congratulations! Jesus Christ established his Church to teach us to stay in the house and pray. That´s so right, the Pioneers went through everything, many dieing all along the way so that you could stay in your house and pray. I gave up my house, family, music, fun, and ten thousand dollars just to give you a thumbs up and tell you to keep doing what you´re doing.
But all in all. Life's good. I love you all =)