Monday, March 31, 2014

The Refining Fire

Goof ball!
 25 March
         Okay, today was a little bit weird.  We went on splits, but I was showing Elder P.(our zone leader) my old area because of the new division of our area.  I was a little bit bummed because we had appointments to teach with a TON of members and with a TON of investigators.  Not going to lie, that was disappointing to had over all of those people to other missionaries.  The split went well and we taught  plenty of people.  It was hard to say goodbye to our investigators.  One of them cried because I wouldn’t be coming back to teach.  By far the coolest thing was our lesson with R. She is the mom of a missionary who returns on May 29.  She wants to be prepared so that he can baptize her as his last baptism of his mission. Meaning that he would baptize her before he gets released and then go straight to the stake center to be released.  I think it will be a super cool baptism and I hope that I am still here to see it.
         Our lunch was amazing today.  It was with Flavia who is the best cook in the entire mission.  She made lasagna and pastries.  So good.

26 March,
         So, President Souza called me and said that my parents would call me and that it was about something delicate.  He didn’t specify what time they would call, so I am sitting here thinking of a million different things that could have gone wrong…They still haven’t called and I am nervous.  President Souza called again and said that they would call me tomorrow.  I have no clue how I am going to sleep tonight.

27 March
         Well, President Souza and Sister Souza came today to our house.  I used President Souza’s phone to call my parents.  Dad has cancer.  That is the reason why his back has been hurting him for such a long time.  I kindof thought it was going to be something like that.  I did not understand much of what my parents were telling me about the cancer, it was just such a shock.  I think that it is going to be a long term treatment, and the they hope for a long remission (like 10 years).  Thoughts that ran through my head included, "What if none of my children ever get to know him?"  My thoughts were calm, but my body betrayed me.  I could barely talk and I was shaking. 
         As soon as I finished the phone call. President Souza let me explain what happened , and then he immediately gave me a blessing.  He did not hesitate to offer what help he could give me, and I am grateful for that blessing.  I was able to work really well the rest of the day and our lessons were really spiritual, especially with T. and E.  They are getting really close to being baptized and I just know that they know these things are true.  Anyways, I’m just going to keep on going, because there is not a whole lot that I can do other than that!

28 March
         Well, today was very dull, or maybe I was just numb to everything.  Basically all of our appointments fell through, we walked a lot, and I think that we taught only a few mediocre lessons.  I wasn’t too worried about Dad through the day, but it just seemed to drag on with little success.  We’re doing well with our “number game”, but it doesn’t really correlate with the progress of the work. I just keep on working.

29 March
         We visited P. and C. this morning. They are only home in the mornings because they both work afternoons and nighs.  The hardest part with teaching them has been getting them to church because they work.  Now they have switched to the afternoons, they can come to morning church.  Elder B. and I work well together and we are getting to be friends.  He still doesn’t talk a whole lot on the streets, but he is starting to open up.

30 March
         We had 8 investigators at church today!  One of our investigoators has a date set for her baptism on the 29 May.  It is so long because we think that it would be cool for her missionary son to baptize her when he gets back.  Also, she needs to be well prepared.  I have decided that I am starting to really love this ward….which means that I will probably be trqnsfered this next transfer.  This is sad to me because I like this area!

Week summary:
         So we all have our problems. If you don't have a problem, then you've got to find out where the problem in your life is. Sometimes our problems are thrust upon us and sometimes we bring them on ourselves, but either way we often find ourselves asking: Why? Why me? Why now? At least, I've found myself asking that question a fair bit in the past week. I really like one of the scriptures in the Book of Mormon in 2 Nephi 2:11 when Lehi is giving his parting words to his son Jacob:

“For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. If not so, my firstborn in the wilderness, righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad. Wherefore, all things must needs be a compound in one; wherefore, if it should be one body it must needs remain as dead, having no life neither death, nor corruption nor incorruption, happiness nor misery, neither sense nor insensibility.”

God knows what we need. Sometimes we need to feel the rain to really appreciate the sun. Our experiences shape who we are and I really like what my dad told me today. He said: “The refining fire can reduce us to useless ash or purge the dross of spiritual impurities, creating a gift worth giving.” We need to work for that gift that is worth giving. Maybe we will have to work our entire lives to make it, but it's all worth it in the long run. 

~Elder Colvin

Just like his Mom taught him....

Monday, March 24, 2014

Speedy Recovery!

March 18, 2014
Well yesterday, p-day, really stunk(literally).  I had to take two days off due to the pooping party I got invited to. Today I am feeling a little bit better and the work has been better. It is different getting used to a companion who can speak fluently in lessons.  That is a really good thing to have to adjust to.  Tonight we marked a ton of visits with the youth at seminary.  However, I am pretty worried about our new convert, L. , who attended seminary for the very first time tonight, and ended up leaving after 15 minutes to chase after a young man in the ward who was skipping out on seminary too.  I never thought that I would feel like a protective parent to the people that I have taught the gospel.

March 19, 2014
I have fully recovered from my virus! I just had to take a day off after the hospital because I was literally going to the bathroom every 30 minutes almost like clockwork!

Today was another one of those days when you just don’t want to be a missionary. Well, at least in the start of the day.  Everything fell through, the lessons just felt long and repetitious.  Elder B., my new companion, is good, but outside of the lessons, doesn't talk a whole lot.  I like to talk between appointments as we are walking, but he just walks. A lot of times he doesn’t even respond to me as if he didn’t hear me…Ughh!  He reminds me a lot of Elder G, my first Brazilian companion.  The first week is always a little bit weird, but we're getting used to each other. I'm learning a habit of praying while we're walking because of how quiet he is, and I really like it!  He's very focused and likes to work, but the only problem is that he doesn't know how to work as a missionary because he just finished his training. Also, I still don't know how to work effectively as well! Haha!  One really good thing that I like about him is that he is a hard worker, and I like that. We're definitely going to get better with our effectiveness in our teaching this next week.  My goal is to be a better missionary myself, plan better, teach better, and follow through better.

We had a very nice spiritual lesson tonight with Al. He was saying the closing prayer and he got very emotional as he asked for the strength to overcome challenges in his past.  It was one of the more powerful spiritual experiences I have had with this companionship….we’ll get there.

March 21, 2014
My companion and I are starting to teach a little bit better together.  It is only the end of the first week and we are getting along okay!  We still have a lot of improvement especially in that we teach way to LONG of lessons. We both realize that we need to ask more questions so that we can know what we need to teach to meet the individual needs of our investigators.  I was just getting used to Elder F. who didn’t talk a lot during lessons, but was friendly outside of lessons.  Elder B. is just the opposite.  Of course it helps that he is fluent, but he also likes to teach and talk during lessons. 

One of the cool things that happened today was that we spent 3 house contacting people.  This normally isn’t the kind of thing that sparks your interest as a missionary, and it doesn’t seem all that fun.  But we decided to visit a list of member who no one knew in order to confirm that they still lived in the ward.  We found various families (inactive, part-member, and even non-members)  I think that it was very productive and we will see what happens.  I am learning how to pray for my companion during our lessons, contacts, and in the street.  In general, I am learning hoe to keep a prayer in my heart. 

While we were checking the addresses of the 'unknown' members, we met an older gentleman who makes hot sauce for a living. At the end of our contact I asked him how much one of the bottles costs and he just gave it to me! And one for my comp.!

March 22, 2014
I was more that just a little bit disappointed today, but not because it was a bad day.  In truth, it was a really good day!  We taught 5 lessons and confirmed 3 baptismal dates, and found 6 new investigators.  We also had a really great session of Stake Conference which was focused on accelerating missionary work.  It was so good that I took a lot of notes so that I can remember the advice given on how to be a good member missionary after my full time mission is done. The big disappointment is that we only had 4 members of our ward there, and none of them were part of the leadership of our ward.  The information was so good, so useful, and so well presented that it was frustrating to me that the members were not there to hear it. I hope that if my family had something like this meeting available to them, that they would take advantage of attending so that they could learn to be better member missionaries.

March 23, 2014
Today’s Stake Conference was better attended, but also taught about more general doctrine.  One of our investigators went and she has finally committed to baptism next week.  Our zone missionaries had 17 investigators attend Stake Conference today!

Elder B and I wrapped up the end of our first week together and I think that we are getting a lot better. We're teaching, at the very least, 30 lessons every week. Soooo that's a good thing. One of the other new Zone leaders in the house, Elder Packard is super funny! It is going to be a good transfer with him in the house. 

March 24, 2014
Mom,  one of the best ideas that you have ever had was sending those cookie mixes! Every American loves them! If you could find a mix for molasses (I forgot how to spell) cookies, that'ld be awesome!  Also, my shirts are tearing out in the back. Well, only 2 of them, but it's super noticeable and I don't think that there's any way to fix them... I'll try to show them to our LMA, because he sews for a living and maybe he can fix them for me.

My New Zone T-shirt
Levi, congrats on your papers! I'm sending some tips to the Mish class, but I'll tell you one thing right now, don't waste your time getting super fit before your mission. You need to be fit, but I already know that your are more than fit enough to handle the burden of being a missionary physically. You have to think about the long run. Haha. Of course you can get super fit if you want to, and I know that climbing is super fun, but everything that you do to strengthen your body, you will lose in your mission. We have one elder in our zone, Elder Wall, who was basically a bodybuilder before his mission, annnnnnnd he looks like an average guy now. Not because he doesn't exercise, but it's because you just don't have the ability to work out like before. If you haven't noticed, just about all return missionaries have the same average body build, isn't that right?

Seriously, what you need to do is focus on studying the scriptures and missionary work that you can do right now. Did you know that you go from your scripture study habits right now (I don't know about you, but I didn’t have all that great study habits when it comes to the scriptures) straight into the MTC when you are studying for about 12 hours a day, with very little break. When you get in the field, you have to study for at least 4 hours until you finish your training and then it's only 3. Yeah, just try to build your way up to an hour a day in the scriptures if you don't already study like that. I'm super proud of you, but you need to be prepared before you come out. If I had known exactly how big of a change this is, I would've done a lot of things differently. I'm super excited for you and I hope that you go to Brasil as well!!!!! I'm hoping that you get called to the Brasil Fortaleza mission!!!!! Haha I think that it would be so cool and MAYBE the new president would let me train you, or be your comp for a while or something like that.

I have to go, but I want you to know that I love you guys! If you could send me Bailey's email, I would like send her a birthday letter (email) next week! I hope that you know that I am trying to do the family name justice down here. I'm making sure that I won't do anything to disgrace either of the names that I have on my nametag. I love you tons!

Elder Colvin, pretty soon I will have to say, Elder G. Colvin 

Monday, March 17, 2014

Dengue Fever?

 Saturday March 15, 2014

The daily journal thing didn't really get rolling until Saturday, but I'm making it a habit now.

Well today was... really bad.  Elder F. and I started our studies in the chapel because some of our investigators said that they would show up, but they didn’t.  That’s one of the things that I am learning in my mission; how to deal with disappointment. You’ve got to “just keep swimming.”

Dengue is transmitted by mosquito
Anyways, nothing really interesting happened today until I ended up in the emergency room with a fever of 103.1, vomiting , diarrhea, and a sore throat. Apparently I got some virus, but it's starting to pass. I just hope that it passes faster. Well, I actually hope that it passes slower if you know what I mean!  I didn’t want to go, but it is mission rule so we went, and waited, and waited some more, and basically had the doctor tell me what I already knew.  Oh how I miss my doctor parents!  I wouldn't have to waste my time and money on going to the hospital for every little thing if I was home.  Anyways, they stuck me with an IV, and gave me fluids which helped me to feel a little bit better.  That was the highlight of the day.

Sunday, March 16th, 2014

Sooooo, this is the 17th, 18th time on the toilet for me today.  I’m writing this as I am suffering from this stupid virus from hell.  It’s really not fun.  I couldn’t work today because I have to use the toilet every 30 minutes or so.  Ugghh!  Curse this freaking diarrhea.
My first baptism!
I did manage to make it to the baptism today.  We baptized Vitor and Natanael…and it was the first time I have ever baptized anyone.  I was relieved to do it correctly on the first try (for many reasons).  It was a pretty great experience despite the horrible virus. One of our baptisms fell through because our investigator is attending military school on Sundays so he is unable to attend any Sunday meetings.  That is unfortunate because he is so ready for baptism.
We learned that Elder Freeman is getting transferred into the zone next door, SumarĂ©, and Elder Whatcott got transferred to Zone Oeste (I think). He's going to be a district leader there!! Our new zone leader is Elder Packard (Elder Cetraro is still here), and he's pretty cool. He was home schooled too, but he's one of the more normal home schoolers. Well.... abnormal for a home schooler, but more normal in his behavior. Haha.  I am going to miss Elder Freeman.  I have learned a lot from him, especially about being obedient at all times. 

Monday March 17th, 2014

My special friend.
It is possible that I have dengue, but I don't think that it's too bad because I just had some minor weakness in my body on Saturday and I'm a lot better today. There are a lot of the weird and crappy viruses that can happen here. It's really horrifying and I'm glad that I haven't gotten anything super bad yet.  Overall I'm feeling fine, but I have a very special relationship with the toilet now. I think that I might have to talk with my mission president, we're getting too attached to each other.... 

This was my last day with Elder F.. I got to see a ton of new faces at the transfers, but I also recognized a bunch of old faces.  I think that I am getting to be an age in my mission where I am familiar with just about all of the missionaries.  I was super excited to see former companions, Elder C. and Elder Z. again!  The transfers went well, we just had to wait until 1:30 because the taxis were really slow today.  

So I am staying in my area, and my new comp is Elder Butuhy. As you can probably tell by his name, he is not an American. I don't know what to think of him yet, but we'll see how it goes! Elder Butuhy is from Santa Catarina (one of the more southern states of Brasil) He just got finished with his training (I guess that the Lord just doesn't want me to learn from an experienced missionary), and he's been a member his whole life. His parents are converts, but his older brother has already served a mission. I still don't know a lot about him because we haven’t had a whole lot of down time to talk.
Here are the three baptisms that we had this transfer.
Laricia's baptism.
Vitor's and Natanael's baptism.

Monday, March 10, 2014


 Day 242 - March 9, 2014

            So I think that I am going to start writing daily in my journal because there is starting to be less and less time on Sunday’s to write a summary of the week.  Unfortunately, this will be a short entry.  I am going to make a lot of changes in this next week so that I am a little more organized. I think that will my next project!  I have been working on being exactly obedient and now I think that I will work on my organizational skills.  This week was a little tiring.  I am learning a lot, that is for sure!  As far as our investigators go, things were pretty exciting this week…but not in a good way.  The ex-husband of one of the ladies that we were teaching tried to kill her…3 times.  (with a gun)  She had to move to get away from him.  I guess that this is pretty typical for Bom Jardim. 

            Anyway the rest of the week was trying to keep up with D.  He is tearing through everything that we give him!  He already wants to serve a mission and he is only 14 years old.  He even asked us if an exception could be made so that he could serve when he was 17!  We have been working with him, literally – because he likes to come with us on teaching and contacting visits. His baptism is scheduled for this week, and I am pretty STOKED about it!

            Carnival is finally over.  It wasn’t too crazy here because we're a little bit further inland, and all of the crap that goes on happens closer to the beaches. Oh one thing that I don't know if I said or not last week is that there were CROWDS in the street with sacks of flour and eggs and stuff, but we got lucky and didn't ever run into them head on, although we passed very close! However, Elder Whatcott got hit on the back of his head with an egg!!! He was pretty excited that he got to see some action, but he wasn't too happy about the egg part!

            I have been trying to play piano for the ward during meetings, but no one here can sing and the person who leads the music has trained them to sing to a specific tempo…. soooooo we still have to coordinate things a little better. I'm trying to convince him to let me play a musical number one of these days, but we'll see! I'm starting to take more pictures, but I have to be very careful!

            So one of the things that I'm learning about right now (especially with my companion) is about faith and works. He decided that we should go all out this week and hit every single one of the standards of excellence, and I couldn't say no because how would that seem? 'Nope, I don't want to work that hard' or 'Nah, we can't do that’. Soooooo, I decided to study faith this morning (something that I was lacking when it comes to hitting all of the numbers that we are supposed to). Anyways, I was studying and I realized a few things. Faith is a principle of ACTION and POWER. It is the force that empowers us to work for a worthy goal. I think that the standard of excellence is a worthy goal, so I'm going to work and develop my faith to make it happen! Faith is an EXTREMELY important principle in not only missionary work, but in our lives as well. How many of us place 'worthy goals' in our lives? It's really easy to place goals as missionaries because it's the most focused time in our lives. However, during our lives sometimes we need to take a minute, put a pause on life, and evaluate where we are. If we do this, we can realize what exactly we need to do to better ourselves. As a missionary I'm making these pauses at least every single night before I go to bed. As normal people, we should hold at least one of these 'pauses' every week. This can help us use our time more wisely during our week and be more successful.

            EIGHT MONTHS down, 16 to go, for the non-math folks that means I am 1/3 of the way through my mission!  Hard to believe. It is true what they say about the language, 6 months in country and you are reasonably fluent. About 25% of the people who I talk with on the street think that I'm Brazilian, so I'm doing really with this part of my mission.

Contrary to popular belief, there are not monkeys everywhere in Brazil!  This is the very first wild monkey that I have seen on my mission...which is already 1/3 over.
Okay, I know that this looks disgusting, but it was good!  Rice and chicken with guacamole and doritos.


I love you all! 

Elder Colvin

PS. Congrats to Brett and Peter on their mission calls. They will be great missionaries. I am sad that it will be so long before I will get to see them again.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Missionary Work and Carnival

 Day 235 - March 2, 2014
         I'm doing just fine! Working hard as usual. I threw up a couple times this week, slept a ton on Friday to recuperate, but I got better really quickly, so its all good!  It is Carnival week here, but in our area there are no restrictions, except that we cannot go to the actual carnival celebration for obvious reasons.  Unlike what you would expect, here in Bom Jardim, carnival is super chill. Just a bunch of kids running around in the streets throwing flour and eggs. AND funk music. It's not the kind of funk that you're thinking about, but funk here is the worst kind of music that you could possibly imagine. It's worse than any kind of rap you could try to find. ANYWAYS, we don't even get a day off here. Our zone actually has a goal to do 317 contacts during carnival, which runs from basically Sunday until Thursday. (317 because that's the mission's goal for baptisms this month.) It was our zone leaders' idea, but I think that it's pretty cool. I don’t know how many people will actually be around to contact during the holiday, but we shall see.

Here is the past week in review:
P-day entertainment
Monday – This was a relaxing P-day.  I am definitely not used to that.  To not be busy is pretty strange for me.  We bought a bunch of food, fruit, and snacks, watched Monsters University, and I got to practice piano! The piano was definitely the best part of the day!  As far as work goes, we talked with a recent convert who wanted to fall away from the church.  I think that we helped him to resolve his problem.  We also gave a Book of Mormon to an investigator who is going on a long business trip. 

Tuesday- Our weekly planning session actually went well for us for once.  Almost every time it ends with hurt feelings, but we actually were able to resolve everything like adults.  SHOCKER! 
         I ended up getting sick after lunch at a member’s house.  I was sick again two days later, but with some extra rest on Friday, I am feeling better.
         Later in the day on Tuesday, we went to visit a contact, but were only able to talk with his Mom. It was kind of a cool experience because she has been to 3 of her siblings’ baptisms, but has never investigated the church.  Now her son in interested in the church.  She is Catholic, but she says that she only attends because her Dad wants her to go to church with him.  She said that of all the churches that she has been to, including her church, she felt the best when she visited the LDS church.

Wednesday – We went early to district meeting and I practiced more piano for about an hour!  It felt so nice to actually play.  Anyways in our meeting we set a goal to have 36 baptisms as a zone this month to help out with our mission goal of 317 baptisms.  It is going to be difficult.  I just hope that we don't have a lot of Elders that will just be throwing people into the water and calling it good, because there is a huge lack of follow-through here.

Thursday – After lunch we went back to teach some of our investigators and they (not surprisingly) live outside of our zone.  Every time we find someone who is ready and willing to listen to us, they live outside of our teaching area.  The highlight of the day was probably when we had our lesson with I.  We ended up teaching her with Clara and Niliane (who is waiting for he mission call).  Our investigator, who is normally very quiet, was completely silent with other people around.  Seriously, she was not saying a thing.  Elder F. and I were just about ready to give up, but we asked Clara to give her testimony.  Just before she started, I. asked her if it was hard for her to join the church.  Clara then shared her conversion story, which involved a lot of personal sacrifice.  It had a really huge impact on I.  She is now super excited for her baptism and is very happy.  She seems almost like a different person.

Friday – Well, I woke up and was sick again.  (This time with vomiting and diarrhea.)  I called my mission president’s wife like we are supposed to, and then I decided that I could tough it out.  Elder Cet. and I went on a split because we were both feeling sick and thought that our companions might be able to get something done without us slowing them down.  We stopped by a couple of houses to try to teach a little bit, but no one answered their door. Finally we gave into whatever it was that was making us sick.  We slept from 3-6 and then we got ready for out Family Night that we do with all of our investigators who want to come.  It was a good thing that Elder Cet. and I went, because we had a really spiritual meeting where everyone felt inspired to make changes in their lives to be able to feel the Spirit more.  The members who came said that they felt inspired to be better people, and our investigators were inspired to be baptized (I. in particular.)

Saturday/Sunday – The weekend was a little slow, except for our lesson with D. (the son of the woman I mentioned early who has all of her siblings in the church.)  He is only 14 years old, but he really wants to be baptized and prepare for a mission.  He is super smart and it is awesome to teach him because he is eager to learn.  He has already been to church twice.  The other elders had a baptism, and we invited I. to go to see what it was like.  She had a great experience and is very excited to be baptized soon. 
         All in all we are doing really well here.  The only problem is that we don't really have problems.  Because of that, our zone leaders, and even our district leader, don’t pay too much attention to us.  They don’t give us very many tips on how we can do better or anything.  Fortunately, we have our ward mission leader.  He helps Elder F. and I a TON!  On Sunday, he gave us he following advice, “Just keep dong what you are doing and you will get better with practice and time.”  I HATE that answer because I like to have something that I can actual work on!  No worries though, all is well.  I am at the 8 month mark…WOOHOOO! Soon my sister will be at the half way point of her mission!