Monday, October 28, 2013

A Brazilian Pace is faster than you think!

Hello Family and Friends, 

I don't have much time this week to write, so I will just send a quick note to let you know that I am fine. While it´s been getting colder there, it´s been getting hotter and hotter here. Seriously, I've never sweat so much in my life! Not even biking in Kansas! I´m loving it though.

Brazilians walk on a completely different level than us! Especially missionaries! I think that we are currently averaging a minimum of 5 miles per hour at ALL times. More than that if we´re late (which is often). I think that I´m definitely getting skinnier, but I´m still a little fat from all of that southern food/MTC, and the other elders in the apartment always play with me and say that I´m gordinho (little fatty), but I think that they only play with me like that because I´m not and because my companion is quite a bit heftier than me, but they don´t say anything to him. One day we walked for about 6 hours at a Brazilian pace so think between 25-30 miles. Most of the time I think that it´s just 10 or 12 miles... maybe more. Who knows? I have no way of knowing the distance other than by pace and time.  I also have no idea how hot it is here, because people just say HOT. Because once it gets this hot that's all you can basically say!  My shoes are awesome - no blisters or anything, and my toe is completely healed!
Anyways, things are definitely starting to pick up now that I´m starting to get the hang of Portuguese. It´s actually surprising because the missionaries in my apartment said that I´m speaking better than most of the American missionaries they know that have already been out for months! My weakness is understanding what people are saying, because even the brasileiros say that the people in Ceará, or Fortaleza, all speak super fast! It´s been fun, but very different. They also speak in a local dialect which means that they can understand me, but I can't understand them.

I´m a little scared for this Thursday because I will be on a companion exchange with another American who only has 6 more weeks here than me!!! I think that it´s be a disaster, but we just need to plan things out carefully the night before and be prepared for the day to come. Anyways, we have ridiculously high goals here, but as I´m starting to learn the language I can see us starting to hit them. My advice for everyone is to press onward. There´s nothing else we can do in life than just to push on through. If we are continually striving for something better, we will see improvements in every aspect of our lives.

That´s awesome for Abbey!!! (a friend who was called to serve in the Mexico City Mexico Mission.) I can´t believe that all these people are leaving on missions!!! Caleb is leaving next month, right? I´m super excited for all this!

Here are some of the interesting things that happened this week:
  • The police here pull people over by pointing an AK-47 at them and shouting ´PARA´ (STOP) .... I was more than a little nervous when I saw three policemen on two motorcycles pull over someone ... Kind of scary. 
  • I got to see the beach (sort of, where we were was mostly rocks) for the first time. 
  • I almost bought groceries at this supermarket called 'super chicken land'.  
  • Our washing machine broke, creating what I call the sea of the bathroom. We´re still waiting to fix that... 
  • More drunk people. 
  • We kind of made a our apartment... Totally safe! Haha we had a lot of fans so no smoke stains or anything.... I know, probably a stupid idea...
~Elder Colvin

Monday, October 21, 2013

A Happy Missionary

Opa, time is so weird on a mission! For example, one week seems like it takes forever, and then I look back and I've almost been out on a mission for 4 months. Or, just look at the weird time paradox that happens on P-days! They always fly right on by!

I had a bunch of really interesting and weird experiences that happened this week.

1st: I got frisked by a drunk guy. We were walking to an appointment, and we heard this guy yelling at us to stop. He was about 100 feet away and was full on sprinting at us. Needless to say we stopped. He claimed to be the deputy chief of police, and proceeded to feel me up and down for a weapon. It was VERY awkward!

2nd: I met an American lady on the bus! It was really weird because she looked very brazilian, but we were only able to talk for a short amount of time and I wasn´t able to get any information so we could stop by and try to teach her some lessons. She said that she´s in Fortaleza teaching English and is originally from LA (little shout out to Sister T, so keep an ear open for any Portuguese you might hear!). We ended up seeing her AGAIN (which was very weird) in the store when we were shopping for groceries. Very weird coincidence!

3rd: I was on a split with Elder C, and we went up to this lady to ask her for directions. She ended up saying something to this effect: ´Oh my heavens, I never thought that angels walked on the earth. I will do anything that you want me to!´ I´m not even kidding. I did´t understand all of what she said at the time, but I caught the gist of it when my companion explained it to me a bit slower afterwards.

4th: So I´m a happy missionary. I say hi to just about everyone on the street. Just like a ´good afternoon´ or ´goodnight´ or other various noises that brazilians use to say hi to each other. I said hi to this group of girls, and heard one of them say after we had passed ´opa, nunca na minha vida!´ Which means: Wow, never in my life! My companion thought it was hilarious, but that´s not all! Not even 5 minutes after, I said `oi, boa noite´ to this group of people, and one of the guys who wasn't wearing a shirt replies: `boa noite, você é lindo!´ Along with this very very creepy look. That means, good night, you are beautiful! AHHHHH SO CREEPY!

5th: This lady asked us if Mormons have sex. It was weird because she didn´t use a word that I understand, and I only understood afterward when my companion explained it to me because the word that she used was kind of like the ´stronger version´ of a word. Kind of like the difference between bonita and linda. Typically that word is usually only used with prostitutes. My companion was very very awkward, and I didn´t understand why, but it made a lot of sense once he explained thing to me!

6th: I learned that there are at least 40 different curse words in Portuguese!!! I've already said 2 of them on accident because just about all of them are only 1 syllable different than a normal word! For example: I was practicing with the secretaries of the mission on how to teach people, and at the end I was trying to say that I was like a deer in the headlights when other people are speaking Portuguese. The word for deer is ´veado´. The curse word is ´viado´. It´s a really offensive word that means a gay person. So I ended up calling myself that in front of the secretaries. I totally had no idea I had said something bad, sooooo I ended up finding out that there a lot more words tha you shouldn´t say in Portuguese than there are in English!

Anyways, that and the fact that we walked and walked and walked and walked and walked some more basically sums up my week. I´m learning Portuguese a lot faster than I thought I would (apparently I talk in my sleep - note: this is a known fact to every member of our family except Garrison who has never believed any of us, and I was talking in both Portuguese and English!). I´m blessed to be in this area, and I´m looking forward to working some more. I never thought I´d say that, but sometimes it can actually be fun. You definitely learn a lot as a missionary! I´m learning a lot of things that I never would have learned anywhere else! I´m loving it, and still trying to adjust to the culture, so I guess that only time will tell! 

I´m reading a ton of the scriptures and I´m about halfway through Jesus the Christ. I like it a lot, but sometimes it gets a little difficult to read. I´m just about finished with the Book of Mormon again, and I will start reading D&C after this. Also, about the baptism thing, I think that they rush it a LOT in the US (because it says to do that in PMG) but in Brazil we work a lot slower with inviting people to be baptized. I still haven´t had any baptisms yet, but we have a lot of people that are close. That´s one problem with opening an area is that I think that we will have like 4 or 5 baptisms or more set for 1 day!

One passage of scripture that I've been thinking a lot about this past week is the whole chapter of Alma 32. It talks about relating the faith to a seed. If you plant that seed and take care of it and if it is a good seed, it will grow. This next part is what I've been focusing on. After the seed starts to grow, and we know that it is a good seed, we have to take care of it. If we don´t take care of our faith the plant), it won´t take root, and then when the scorching sun comes (trials and problems in our life) the plant (our faith) will wither and die. Not because the seed wan´t good, not because the plant wasn´t good, or not because the fruit that it would´ve produced wouldn´t be good, but because of a lack of nourishment on our part. Our duty in this life is to strengthen our faith, to help our plant to take root, so that we will be able to stand firm in the face of the trials that we have and not wither when the sun comes out. Sometimes we face difficult situations, and sometimes things are easy. We must always be seeking to strengthen our testimonies at ALL times. I know that this is my duty right now, to help others to become more firm in their faith, so that they can remain strong in their faith today. I love being a missionary and seeing the change that you can see in a person´s life as they develop. It´s definitely one of my favorite things about being a missionary! I love you all lots!

~Elder Colvin

Monday, October 14, 2013

My THIRD Mission...oops!

We´ve walked a LOT this past week. My companion is a district leader (For those of you who do not know, A mission is divided up into zones, and each zone is divided into districts, and then each district is divided into areas. Keep this in mind, it will be important later), so we had to look for housing for a new set of missionaries that will be coming in. We walked for 6 HOURS STRAIGHT! The only time that we ever stopped was to write down the occasional address for a house for rent. I was about ready to die. Not to mention I also had/still have an ingrown toenail. I was wiped the next day, but (shocker) we walked some more. I´m definitely going to stay in shape here, that´s for sure! One thing that has really helped me over the past week is the time that I spent with our Zone leader on a companion exchange. One of the things that I realized, is that there is absolutely NO way that I could do something like this if it was not true. I would have given up a long time ago if I did not know the importance of the message that we share. Funny story time!
So, remember how I said how each mission has zones, and then districts, and then areas? Well one of the rules is that you are not supposed to leave your area unless you are doing something like interviewing if you are one of the leaders. So on Saturday my companion had to interview someone who was getting ready to be baptized. Since he´s the district leader, we got permission to leave our area to go interview this lady. After the interview it was about 8:45. It´s a long distance between our two areas, so we decided to take a bus back. We waited, and waited, and waited for the right bus that would take us back to the terminal  until about 9:15. At that point my companion decided that we should take a bus to the terminal in their area and then take a bus from there to our terminal. First off: I have notoriously bad luck with buses, and it´s even worse in another country in a language that I don´t really understand. So we got on a bus going the OPPOSITE direction of the terminal in the area that we were in! We ended up leaving that area (unauthorized), which is kind of a problem.

Ok, then we left the zone.... Annnnnnnd then the mission. OH MY GOSH. That was terrifying! We got in the terminal and were waiting for a bus back home when a member came up to us and started chatting with us. At this point in time it was about 10:30. Missionaries have a curfew of 9:30. Yeah, we were in trouble. Anyways, this member was talking to us, and we told him about our situation (he was worried about our curfew). He asked us if we had talked with President Fusco yet. ......Fusco???? Our mission president is President SOUZA! 

THE end of the LONGEST DAY

I was definitely wigging out! It´s my first transfer in this mission and I´ve already left the mission boundaries! I was very stressed, worried, and just plain old tired, so I was about ready to snap! Also, we couldn´t get in contact with the anyone to let them know that we were delayed because the other elders didn´t have the phone!!!! Anyways, we get in line for the RIGHT bus, and Elder G decided that he needed to buy some food and suco (juice) while we were waiting. Our bus pulls up annnnnnnd leaves as he´s paying for his food.... I was a little bit ticked, but I got over it surprisingly quickly. I remember thinking to myself; there´s really nothing I can do at this point, so why should I worry any more about it? Anyways, we got on our right bus, got home, and finally get everything sorted out around 11:45 (WAAAAAAAY past curfew!). Everyone was worried about us and was searching the streets of our area (we were miles away) and it made me feel good to know how much people care about the missionaries. Anyways, these pictures are us right after we got back, so that´s why I look a little frazzled. It was a crazy experience (that I don´t think I ever want to repeat)  and I´m glad that it´s over. 

Sunday was really really difficult to stay awake especially being in a different language and all. I ended up getting up in sacrament meeting and bearing my testimony in Portuguese though! I was super nervous, and still a little wigged out from the night before. Needless to say, I´ve been sleeping really well these past couple nights!

1. What are your mission rules? Yep, our mission can watch DISNEY MOVIES EVERY P-DAY! I found that out this week and that we also can listen to any song from a disney movie. So yeah, if you could send me discs with some disney music and some EFY music, that would be super awesome! Also, I need better speakers!!! I seriously can barely hear anything with these! As far as backpacks go... Nope, we just had zone training this week, and they said that you have to have sidebags. They´re giving the missionaries who are already out a little bit of time for the transition, but I actually like my sidebag. My shoulders are totally fine as long as I switch shoulders (which I do a lot). 

2. Are you having any health problems? I kind of haven´t used sun screen... at all... I´m in the city (like apartment buildings every single block) and I haven´t even gotten sunburned, though I am getting almost as tan as my companion.  I think it´s kind of strange, but I´m not finding Fortaleza as hot or as miserable as I thought it would be. Probably because I got a warm up in Kansas ;) Anyways, I´m doing great, I don´t know if I told you that I had an ingrown toenail (which was TORTURE with the amount that we walk) but it is a lot better now that I went to the podiatrist. Tune in to my weekly update because I will be writing all of my stories on that!!! I´ve got a great one!!!

3. How are you getting along with the lanquage?  My language is coming along well (especially since I have 3 Brasileiros) and I think that I use more English in my emails home than I do during the entire rest of the week. I only got to listen to 1 session of General Conference in English, but I really really liked it. I thought it was funny how they had to address the whole women/priesthood deal. I think that some people are kind of crazy sometimes. 

4. Is there anything you need?  I would definitely appreciate if you sent me food, or candy, or cookies, or really just something to eat. We don´t get much of a budget (about 90 reais every 2 weeks, but 2 reais=1 dollar...) So yeah. 

I learned last week that one of the missionaries, Elder C, in my apartment is from the very same place in Rio where Taylor is serving. Elder C was talking about how he thinks that she is probably serving in his ward. Funny! We´re already pretty close friends. Like, he invited me to come to Rio after I´m done with my mission. I think that that´d be super fun.

I´ve felt a little bit homesick over the past week. Here are the things that I miss:

  • Clean water (we have to buy clean water whenever we want something to drink)
  • Hot showers (cold showers aren´t very nice in the morning)
  • Eating something other than rice, beans and spaghetti every single day.
  • And I guess that I miss my family just a little bit... Estou brincando! 
Arroz, frijoles, macaron
I guess that´s just about it, so it´s really not that bad. That´s all the time I have, but I hope that everything´s going well for everyone! Vá com Deus!
~Elder Colvin
P.S.Man, we do NOT get enough time for emailing!!! 

Monday, October 7, 2013

Culture Shock Elder Colvin Style

(I don´t have very much time left on the computer, but I´ll just give you a quick update.) 

Oh my gosh.... Talk about a culture shock! Things here are so different! 

Anyways, my flight here was horrible, long, and I could´t sleep at all. However, I did have a very fun conversation with the lady next to me, C, and I even taught her the first lesson IN PORTUGUESE! It was very cool. Anyways, I got to see some of the Elders from my district at the MTC (Awww yeah Elder H, P, N, S. !) and MITCH/ELDER ROGERS was in the same terminal as me!!! It was so cool to see a familiar face and totally unexpected! 

Anyways, the rest of the day was fairly uneventful, mainly because it was exactly the same thing as moving into my last mission, just that all the instructions were in Portuguese, so I didn't understand hardly any of it. President and Sister Souza and his wife greeted all of us and we had our pictures taken.
Elder Colvin with Sister and President Souza
Elder Colvin and Elder Gino
I got my companion, Elder G, a brasiliero, that night, and we are working in Ala Nova Aldeota, which is basically a new area in west part of Fortaleza, so I've got my work cut out for me. Especially since none of my housemates speak very much English. Elder C (from Brasil) and Elder Z (from Ecuador) both speak more English than my companion though, so I NEED to learn how to speak the language very quickly! I´m basically surrounded my Portuguese about 95% of the time. It´s definitely a challenge that has humbled me a lot. Elder Z is from Equador and has lived in Rio for the past 8 years. He knows the most English, so I´m always shouting ´ÉLDER Z!´ whenever I'm talking with the other elders. 
Elder Z and Elder C
Funny story: So my first ´lesson´here happened when we were teaching 2 people on the street, except Elder G was teaching one person in one direction and I was teaching the other in the other direction. Opa. I had literally no help from my companion for this one, so it didn't go all that well. Oh, and it doesn't help that he was bebedo. DRUNK. So he was speaking very fast Portuguese, was very drunk, and VERY happy. It was definitely interesting!

Huge culture shock here, but I will get used to it with time. I've heard that it takes 6 MONTHS to get accustomed to the language and everything, but I reeeeeeaaaaally hope that it won´t take that long! Also, the food here (just about every meal) is: arroz, frijoles, e macaron. Rice, beans, and spaghetti. Every day. My little brother would LOVE it here! 

My mini me.
We thought that the little pig toy at a members house was hilarious because apparently, because of the humidity here, I make the exact same noise when I snore as the toy... 

I found out the first day that we can´t take pictures in the city because if we do, our cameras will be stolen. We have ladrãos here. Thieves. They basically guaranteed that. So here are some pictures from inside of the car, out of my apartment window, and inside our apartment or members homes.

I´m having the time of my life and I´m looking forward to the future. Até mais!

~Elder Colvin

PS. Here are some pictures of my apartment for my Mom's interest:
My bed

Our Study Area
The Bathroom
PPS. Here´s what the money is like here for my brother's interest:

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Eu estou aqui!!!!

Imagine a white shirt...and it's me after 24 hours of traveling!
OOOOOOOPPPPPAAAAAAA!!!!!! Eu estou aqui!!!! 

This is so cool! I am about to get my companion, but they wanted us to send an email home first. This is waaaaaaay more organized than in the Missouri Independence Mission, but who´s comparing? I have written a very detailed letter of how my trip went (basically describing everything play by play since I wrote it as the day went on), so I will leave out all of that good stuff. It sufficeth me at this time to say that AIRPLANES SUCK! I don`t ever want to see another airplane... until after 2 years! I hate long flights like that because I can never fall asleep on a plane. Anyways, I am safe and sound and awaiting further instructions from my mission president, who seems awesome! Tchau tchau!

Elder Colvin