Tuesday, December 3, 2013

A wee bit homesick

Holiday Skype call
 November 25th

Dear family,

Coming into this month of December I'm feeling just a little bit homesick as it is going to be my first Christmas away from my family AND my first Christmas in the mission! It's been fun watching everyone prepare for Christmas here in Brasil because they start in the beginning of NOVEMBER. Haha I think that it's kind of funny, but it just started to hit me that Christmas is just around the corner!

Thank you so much for your last package it's been super useful and fun! I have to admit that I opened it early.... There was no way that I was going to wait an entire month until Christmas! I've already used everything! The only problem I have is that I don't remember how to play pass the pigs! I forgot all the scoring ha ha.  (Elder Colvin is a very positive person in case you can’t tell.  In reality, the peppermints that I sent in the Christmas box melted all over the entire contents of his package..ruining most of the things in it.  The only thing that bothered him about that was that he couldn’t eat the peppermints!)  My Mom also sent me the game Bananagrams, and if any of you don't know how to play that game, it's like a scrabble free-for-all, and we ended up playing with both english and portugu√™s... So it was a little hectic and had a lot of... interesting words in both languages! Lots of fun! 

I'm doing well for the most part. Uncle Mark was definitely right about Brazilians though! His letter was super helpful to me in understanding them, and realizing that it isn’t just me or my perceptions. When they think that something is cool from the USA that we really don’t think is cool, there is no way to talk them out of their opinion.  They think that it's still cool and I just must be a very uncool American’s if I don’t like whatever random American thing that they are infatuated with. For example they were talking about the TV show called “Big Brother” and they told me that I have no social life because I didn't think that “Big Brother” was that big of a deal! They can definitely be rude when they don't think about what they are saying, which is often.  Although it is kind of true that I don't have much of a social life, I don't remember any of my friends watching that show who did have social lives. If fact, I am pretty sure that the only Americans who watch that show really don’t have social lives.  But there is no convincing a Brazilian that they are wrong about American culture.  What is interesting about this is that the missionaries are the rude ones, while the rest of the Brazilians are generally very kind and nice to me. For the most part I love the people here and I'm I know that it will only get better from now on.

Still, I am looking forward to some kind of change in the next transfer, just because our house is getting really… Crappy. I don't know how to explain it, but this past p-day I worked for two hours to clean up the house ALONE, again. I hope that will change in the coming week. It's hard being in completely different culture. I still haven't adjusted. If you do anything contrary to the culture (like clean), they totally condemn you for it!


No microphone...intensely typing...
November 28

I was given permission to call my family on Thanksgiving because they are not going to be home for Christmas.  They will have a house sitter, but I really don’t want to spend my holiday call talking to the house sitter.  Anyway, it was good for about 10 minutes and then my mic went out and my family couldn’t hear me.  They could see me, and I could see them and hear them.  We couldn’t fix the problem, so I just ended up typing responses to their questions.  It all worked out fine, and I think that we had a nice time despite complications.

December 2

I haven't had very many problems this week with the missionary work just the usual investigators not showing up for church, and people not inviting anyone to church, and ward members not helping with any of the teaching. However, we're working out some ways that we can try to work with the members. One good bit of news is that we're teaching the brother of one of the members of our ward, and he's coming to church and everything, but when we're teaching the lessons he has a total lack of interest... Still, it's something, right? Also, the cleaning went better this week, but Elder D STILL didn't clean even with all of the other elders in the house cleaning!
 
Biggest highlight of the week: We had some random person walk into sacrament meeting with a Book of Mormon under his arm and said that he'd like to be a Mormon! His name is G, and he's one of the tallest guys that I have ever met! We haven't had the chance to meet with him yet, but he accepted visits from the missionaries and we're going to teach him next Saturday! 

Things are starting to look up, but this is the end of the transfer, so it's likely that I'll get transferred out and some other missionary will move in and have everything prepared for him.... Oh well! I'm happy to know that I am helping to plant the seeds for missionaries to come because my purpose is to help others to come unto Christ and if the only way I can do that is by preparing the way, then I'm happy.

In my treasured Christmas package, my mom sent me English copies of conference (the scratch and sniff peppermint version, haha) and that is made such a difference in my attitude and my life. I am just starving for things written in my language and this was like a lifeline to me.  I know that these talks are inspired of God. We must study their teachings like the scriptures because there are scriptures as well! The only difference is that they're directed to our time exactly. You'll be able to overcome any obstacle in your life if you heed their counsel. I'm reading this most recent session of conference, and now that I'm studying it, I'm getting a lot more advice, wisdom, and specific spiritual food just for me than ever before. I know that our leaders have the authority to lead and direct Christ’s church today. You can have the same topic taught by another member of the church, but when General Authorities talk, it makes a difference. I have 100% trust in our prophet and apostles today. I know that they will only direct us for good. Through them I can strengthen my own testimony that this Church is true, that Christ lives and directs His Church even today, that Joseph Smith restored the only true gospel to the Earth. I love this church, I love the principles it teaches. I love the direction we have been given in life because of it, and I love you guys!

Tchau!
~Elder Colvin

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