Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Lovin my new life!

So a TON happened this week!!! I'm going really great and we almost always have something to do here. Let's just say that the past week and a half have probably been the craziest that I've had on my mission! I still don’t know why I was transferred.  The only thing that I can think of was that I made noise in our apartment like would be normal for four young men who all got along with each other and were living in a small place. Also, the owner gets mad if you step too hard. Both me and Elder M. got emergency transferred and demoted. It bothered me at first especially when my new companion told me that he was told I was a “problem” missionary…WHAT????   Yeah, I'm cool now, and I'm loving my new area, and to tell you the truth, it's really nice being junior! I have a bunch of free time to write in my journal and stuff. I also have a bunch of opportunities to help other elders during district meeting, and my new zone already respects me. I did find out this week that I may have been transferred to this area because the other elder before me was breaking the rules, getting on facebook, talking with his fiancé, etc.  It is similar to the time that I was transferred to Bom Jardim because of the elder getting in trouble with a sister in the ward.  But it doesn’t really matter why I am here and I know that I will never be told the real reason, that is just the way it works in this mission.

August 19, 2014
            Oh my gosh…the craziest thing happened tonight.  We were finishing up our day and we stopped to talk with a member family who was recently sealed in the temple.  As we were talking, this guy stopped his car and asked us, “Can you give me a blessing?”  Okay that was a little weird.  He parked his car, got out, and lets just say it was obvious that he wasn’t completely sober. I thought, well this should be interesting.  He was telling us about this life and how he’s never been looking for God before, but when he saw us, God touched his heart so that he would stop the car and talk with us.  He literally asked us, “I don’t know if you can, but can you baptize me?”  Well that was kind-of weird huh?  When I asked him what he wanted most from God before the blessing, he said he wanted to repent and change his life.  Okay…I gave him a blessing and basically called him to repentance and showed the love and mercy of God to him at the same time.  It was an amazing experience for me and for him.  He was so grateful for the blessing that he kissed our heads and hugged us and everything.  He absolutely, sincerely loved us (and that is a unique experience here.)  Then we got to talking to him a little bit more about his life.  He told us that he had 12 cars and 8 houses and how none of that brought him such peace and happiness that he felt when he was blessed.  Wait up…12 cars? 8 houses? ..in the ghetto of the ghetto?  What exactly does this guy do? Little Sketchy right?  He insisted on giving us a ride home, which was not far away.  I hesitated, but then I am not senior companion so I don’t have to make the decisions anymore…and we rode home with him. It was one of the most memorable rides of my entire life.  Elder B. snuck a peek in the trunk and saw a TON of cash…hum. When we got to our house, he wanted to come in, but we explained the rules and said good night to him.  It was CRAZY!  We gave him the address of the church and our meeting schedule, but our mission president said that we better not talk to him again because it would cause problems for the church to be associating with the mob. That’s too bad, I liked him J!  At least I have a friend in the mafia.

August 22, 2014
            One of the really annoying rules in this area is that we have to drink mineral water because the tap water is known for not being clean and causing health problems.  The only problem is that it is super expensive and hard to find 20 liter jugs of water. 
Anyways, today we woke up at 5 in the morning for a wedding!  We are super excited for this event because the mother and the son are going to be baptized tomorrow!  The father is still trying to decide if he will be baptized.  Hopefully tomorrow will be a good experience for him.

A great week for baptism!
August 23, 2014
(side note: This annoying cat keeps getting into our garage and pooping all over the place.  It really stinks and I am getting super sick of cleaning it up. I need Grandpa Kendal to come down here and take care of my cat problem!)
            On the bright side of things, M. and V. were baptized today.  All of the elders in our ward wore white to the baptism.  Just to give you an idea of what Mormon standard time is here in Brazil, the meeting was set for 6 pm.  The elders arrived 5 minutes early, the bishop was on time, and the baptism started at 7 pm. But, many people in the ward supported us and we had cake and snacks at the end, so it was all good to me.

August 24, 2014
            Today was a really good day. We had 2 less active FAMILIES come back to church and several other struggling families that we visited this week, came to church too.  Our chapel was full.  Other than that, we had a super fun visit with some recent converts.  We talked about the millennium and dating…weird.  It was something else.  I am loving this area, the members are awesome.  They feed us very well and we have many people to teach.  Everything is going great. Elder B. is doing a lot better and we are teaching really well together. Elder B. told me that he had been told that I was a problem elder.  Ugghhh…apparently I have a reputation.  But he did say that he doesn’t know why people think that because he really loves working with me.  Maybe he is just being nice, but honestly I can’t think of one way that I have been a problem .  I follow all the rules, I work hard, I baptize a lot, I am happy, I get along with my companions, I have the spirit with me….For me, things couldn’t be any better!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

The ghetto of the ghetto

August 9, 2014
Well this week has flown by!  I forgot to write because I have been so tired.  We have been working super hard, and we are baptizing every week in this transfer so far.  V. is going to be baptized tomorrow! We have also found a bunch of couples to teach this week and some old investigators who have finally decided to get married.  The work is going super super well. 
Unfortunately, President Bonini is not happy with us.  We had our first conference with him and I don’t even know what to say.  Think about an army general and you will be able to picture him.  He doesn’t seem to care too much about his missionaries.  He doesn’t show love for his missionaries.  But, he is still new to the mission field and I know that no matter what, I  will keep on working and keeping the mission rules even if he starts making ridiculous ones.  He basically told us that he is not too bothered about sending missionaries home, meaning he will send missionaries home with little remorse for he tiniest infractions.
I just keep telling myself that it will all work out and I will just keep on getting better and better at preaching the gospel independent of who my leader is. That is what I am here to do.  This week went a lot better for me. I am learning to think about things before doing something stupid. 

August 13, 2014
            Where to begin…So the owner’s of our apartment continued to fight with us last week.  They  called us names, denounced the name of the church, and wanted to evict Elder Moleiro and me because they said that we are too noisy.  They have been complaining about the noise the missionaries make for almost a year now with every single missionary who has ever passed through.  “A lot of noise” is scraping a chair across the floor.  They were calling us fags and liars.
            Anyway, yesterday I got an emergency transfer.  Other than the landlords, I have no idea what the problem was.  I have been working harder, being obedient, being more diligent, and baptizing more.  Uggh.  It is very frustrating.  On top of that I was demoted and sent to Sigueira er Jatoba!  This is one of the most ghetto parts of the mission.  I already served in Bom Jardim, and Jatoba is the ghetto part of Bom Jardim.  So it’s basically the ghetto of the ghetto. This was the first area that Elder Moleiro served it and he loved it!  So I am going to keep and open mind and try not to be too bummed about my situation.

August 14, 2014 
            My new companion is Elder Benitez and he is from Virginia.  He has been on his mission for 10 months, he is the district leader and my senior companion.  Yup, that’s right.  My new comp is a really nice guy. He is very quiet, struggles with the language. He talks really slowly and very softly and the language barrier is preventing him from being able to follow through completely.  But he has a nice spirit about him and I like him. Today was kindof sad because all but 1 visit fell through.  Thankfully, I have learned how to talk with everyone, so I ended up contacting a ton of people all day long.  Afterwards, we finally taught a lesson at 8:00 pm to the dad of one of our investigators.  This particular family is trying to overcome some serious addictions.  It is such a great experience to work with these people and see the changes that the gospel brings in their lives.
            I finally have time to write in my journal and that really makes me happy.  Tomorrow I will go on divisions with Elder D. My new apartment is actually super nice for a missionary apartment.

I have my own personal bathroom...which is I love because it is clean!
There is no hot water in the apartment so they have this electric heater attached to the shower head to make the water a little warmer than cold.

Notice how there are no cupboards or storage anywhere in the house.
Division.  Elder Rodger on the right is a country boy from North Carolina!
August 16, 2014
            I have never been on a crazier division in my mission.  I got to know Elder D. a little bit better.  He is super weird but we got along just great…probably because most people think that I am super weird.  We knocked on this door from a contact that he make a while back and out of nowhere this street dog starts guarding the house and threatening to attack us.  So that ended that contact.  Then we went to this kid‘s house where the Elders have been teaching forever.  Elder D. and the kid were mostly just messing around and the kid kept burping in Elder D.’s face.  Don’t ask me why…it was ridiculous.  Well then Elder D. ended up vomiting because of the smell.  It was hilarious.  Then after that successful lesson, we walked around doing contacts. Elder D. decided to contact this man sitting on the sidewalk.  He told us that he held 5 different top secret jobs…okay, weird.  He invited us into his home and we sat down to talk some more.  He seemed really smart at first, but during the conversation he asked us several times if we thought that he was weird…okay that WAS weird, but of course we said, no.  Well it wasn’t much longer into the conversation that I got the impression that this guy is a psychopath.  Fortunately, nothing happened and I am not planning on going back there.  So during the day I was bless to not get bitten, thrown up on, or murdered. What an adventure. I did get to climb a coconut tree and grab two coconuts.  That was fun.
Elder D. and I.
            My companion has been focusing a lot on reactivation and working with recent converts.  It seems to be going really well but I am a little frustrated with being junior companion because I don’t know how to help him without offending him or stepping on his toes.  I want to help him, but I am not sure how.

August 17, 2014
            I had my first sacrament meeting in Jatoba. It was actually pretty good.  Everyone complains about this area, but so far I am loving it!  The members here are great.  They are super funny and always feed us well.  I have always known that the people of Ceara are generous, but her in Jatoba it is almost ridiculous.  I love it!  I am just going to keep working my hardest and try to not get discouraged by the circumstances.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Hakuna matata

Elder Briggs visited Brasil!!! haha, well it's Carter now! He was my zone leader a while back.
Ever feel like a monkey on a wire?
So I forgot to write in my journal for most of this week AND I forgot to take a picture of the few entries that I had, AND I forgot to send letters.... At least my memory is really good when it comes to work, or else I would be screwed as a missionary! Now that I think about it, it's a good thing that I have a daily planner or I would forget about absolutely everything. 

Anyways, this week has been great as far as the missionary work. Elder Moleiro and I work really well together. We're slowly but surely completing this family and this kid is super funny and is learning a ton right now. He's super funny. Kind of a punk, but almost all young guys are like that. He jumps on our backs sometimes, but as we were walking back from his baptismal interview he said that he was sorry and that he wouldn't do it anymore. I really hope that this family will keep on coming to church because it's been helping the kids a lot with their behavior in their home as well. If their Grandma keeps coming, they'll keep coming.

Sadly enough, our new presidente doesn't seem like he's all that loving to his missionaries. President Souza at least corrected us with a little bit of love, but when we had our conference with our new presidente, WOW he burned just about all of the missionaries for the littlest of things. He is ex-military, so that can already give you an idea about how he's going to lead his missionaries. I'm really glad that I got the chance to start my mission with someone a "little bit" more merciful because I was able to constantly change without ever getting depressed. Now I have the capability to follow whatever order he will give us and not stress out or take it too personally. He's our leader, and I'll follow him and support him, but my mission is for the Lord.

Elder Moleiro and Elder Souza.
Disgusting cat problems in Fortaleza!

And these are only the ones that you can see.....
My 'Dad' that I got to hug for Father's Day. Haha he said that he was short and old, and that I would just have to imagine that it was my dad, but when I told him that he was the same size as Dad he thought it was hilarious.
Anyways, this Sunday was CRAZY! EVERYONE was getting after the missionaries! Haha, Elder Arruda woke up sick, and Sister Bonini didn't want to send him to the hospital (he got worse today so he already went this morning), The member who we had lunch with was starting to preach apostasy right in front of us and it seemed more like a debate rather than a lunch. One of the sisters in our Ward got PISSED OFF that we had to bring a man to lunch with us, and the owners of our house started fighting with us calling us fags, liars, bad people, and yeah. Trials of being a missionary! Haha anything can happen to me now, and I'm still able to be happy! Hakuna matata. The mission is great! I love it! I love you all! Tchau!
Our Chapel
Elder Lopes

~Elder Colvin

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Spaghetti Solutions

Elder Colvin forgets how to take a selfie.
July 28, 2014
            Man, I sound like a crybaby…(referring to last week’s journal entry). I haven’t whined like that since the MTC.  I had a good talk with all of my housemates about taking care of their own food needs.  One of them is my DL, but he´s the one who was commanding me to feed him. They are buying food a little bit smarter now. It's mainly been a problem because the lunches have fallen through a lot in this area and we don't have enough money to pay for lunch and dinner. Their reasoning in taking advantage of me, is that the rich American will pay for things because he has money. Usually they buy things that don't last a long time, and don't really fill you. I've recently gotten into the habit of buying spaghetti because it's SUPER cheap here (like, less than a dollar for a normal package.) An added advantage is that
my housemates don't like spaghetti that much, so I have been able to make it by without dipping into personal funds.
            Everything's going well here, and we've been baptizing every week! The other elders are destroying their teaching pool because they're all getting baptized! We are planning a baptism for L.’s granddaughter.  She has been to church with her grandmother since her grandma started investigating.  She is only 10 years old, so we will be teaching her every day this week to make sure that she is ready. 

July 29, 2014
            Well, one of our investigators/recent converts fell in love with my companion.  Haha, at least, we think so.  But that is okay since because she is 90!   She seems to be a lot happier and says that she feels a lot closer to God.  It seems that her time on earth is coming to a close quickly.  She literally says things like, “What do I have to do in these last days of life to go back to God?” 
It is very unusual to see storm clouds in Fortaleza
July 30, 2014
            So today in our district meeting I learned very little, and what little I learned was shot down by my companion.  It was a frustrating meeting, but I am learning how to control my pride and keep my mouth shut.
            We are still working with V. towards baptism this weekend.  She is doing well with living the Word of Wisdom.  Even the kids down here drink coffee like it’s water so it is always a challenge for our investigators to give it up. We are teaching a bunch of families which is harder to do than teaching individual people because there are so many different people with different needs and opinions.  One of our families wants to be baptized but they have to get married first. 

July 31, 2014
             We had our interviews with our new mission president today.  It went well, but he seems like a new missionary in the field, kind of scripted and robotic but it was all good.  After our interviews we at ate Burger King! Oh it was glorious.  Sadly, just about everything else in our day fell through.  We taught some heavily medicated people, and some old folks, and yeah… not a whole lot of success. 

August 1, 2014
             Well literally everything fell through today, including lunch.  In the past 2 weeks, we have eaten in 2 members homes.  It is starting to become a hardship for us because we are not given the budget we need to purchase an extra meal every day. It is also hard to take the time out of our schedule to buy and prepare a noon meal.  Every single one of our appointments fell through today except for our dedicated 10 year old who is prepared for her baptism!  She saved the day from being a total wash.  She passed her interview and chose my companion to baptize her.  She is super excited and I am just praying that L. will continue to help her grandchildren come to church.  They are depending on her for sure.

August 2, 2014
            Today we basically ran all over our area confirming with our investigators church attendance tomorrow.  A bunch of people said that they would come, but as my companion says, “I only believe by seeing.” Sadly, it is true here.  Everyone gives their word, but no one keeps it. 
            We taught English class today and it went well. For the most part, I taught them how to say a prayer in English, some greetings, conversations, and the verb –to be.  I am trying to think of fun games that we can play to make things more interesting.  Next time it will be more fun I think. 
            (Lunch fell through again today, big surprise.)

August 3, 2014
            We had a LUNCH appointment today!!!!!  Yeah, it was at the Bishop’s house.  We were able to talk with him for a while about all kinds of things including lunches, the ward, the mission, etc.  He likes us and appreciates us.  He told us all kinds of mission stories that left me shocked!  I never would have thought that missionaries would do such things because my purpose here is so ingrained in my head that those things never enter into my thoughts. It kind of blew me away.
            We held our baptism today!  The other elders also baptized 2 men.  I was the only one not dressed in white!  The baptismal meeting was really good and we were able to feel the Spirit.  Our first counselor in the bishopric gave a really cool abject lesson for his message.