Monday, September 29, 2014

Teaching, etc.

September 24, 2014

         I'm doing super great and I'm loving the members here. They seem to like me a lot. Man, it is really hard training a foreign language that is not your first language!  But, I am liking it a LOT!  Elder Yarrington is learning and only makes a few grammatical errors like (We likes to eat).  I am really loving him as a companion.  He is a little ADD so that makes it hard for him to pay attention especially in boring lessons.  We are focusing a lot on his concentration skills and it is already improving.  He is a lot of fun to work with and he makes the work much more enjoyable.  My favorite part of the day was when he commented on the fashion here in Brasil; “What is this, as skirt for ants?! I needs to be at least…3 times this big!”  Yeah, I busted up at the random Zoolander quote.

New companion

Old companion

The District

September 26, 2014

         Oh, I forgot to write and tell you two things.  One, I got the package that Mom sent. Thanks for all the goodies! Two, Elder Y. has a universal charger so I was finally able to charge my camera and take a few pictures. 

         The work this week has been good. We have had some very spiritual lessons and found some super cool people to teach.  One of the people we met this week accepted our message on the doorstep and committed to read the Book of Mormon, all because we played with his dog.  I think that this is at least the second time this has happened on my mission. It was a great lesson and we all felt the spirit strongly.  Another family that we are teaching bought a car and they themselves said that they have no excuse for not going to church.  We also taught one of their friends and she was receptive and wanted a Book of Mormon even though her boyfriend was seriously glaring us down.  We met another person today who said that they would come to church this weekend.  So we will see what happens with all of these commitments this weekend.  I hope that it works out because I still worked today despite being really sick yesterday. I was determined not to be weal and make the most of the time that I have left on my mission. 

 September 28, 2014
         I am feeling better except for a bad cough.  I am still moving along.  Sadly, we did not have ANY investigators come to church.  To tell you the truth, no one in our entire district had anyone at sacrament meeting. Yeah, it sucked.  Some of the highlights of the week:

1.    I found and ice cream store where I can buy homemade ice cream for $5/5 liters of ice cream.  It is waaayyy good!  I am now probably going to get fat now.  I was losing weight, but now…sei nao.

2.    The other elders from Jatoba locked their keys in their house so they had to find some way to get in.  yeah, let’s just say that you can get in any house through the ceiling here in Brasil!  They literally took off a part of the roof to get in. I filmed it and man…it was one of the funniest things that has happened on my mission.

28 September, 2014 (continued)
We had PEC tonight, but we were locked out of the church and we don’t have keys.  Yeah, we yelled but no-one answered.  The lights were on, so I knew that they were in there. After about 30 seconds of scheming how to get their attention I came up with a brilliant plan!  The breaker is on the outside of the church so I cut the power a couple of times.  It worked! Haha, the bishop thought that was creative, so I guess that is good. I am really loving this ward!  They may we living in a poor area, but these people are rich with the Spirit.

September 29, 2014
         This p-day was pretty fun. In the morning, Elder Yarrington taught J. and I how to play the guitar.  I am hoping to be able to buy a guitar so that I can learn while Elder Y. is my companion.  The rest of the p-day was normal and we taught a TON of lessons tonight. We are preparing a man for baptism and we had a great lesson on why it is important to attend church and partake of the sacrament after baptism. Before the lesson he really didn’t understand why he should go to church, but after the lesson he got it and it made helped me to feel how important it is to fully prepared our investigators before having them make a commitment that they don’t understand.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Elder Yarrington

So once again I find myself without my charger for my camera. I'm starting to get a little frustrated with how slowly things move around in the mission....but I have to remember that I am in outer darkness of Fortaleza.  Oh well, but as far as news of the week, the work was normal, and basically the only thing that changed was that I had to do a lot more of it than I was used to!
Elder Yarrington is my new comp and he's from Washington DC. He was serving in LA for 6 months, and now I'm training his language here in Siqueira! I was pretty excited (and still am) but I have never been so tired since I was learning Portuguese myself.... He speaks pretty well, but as far as understanding the language.... just imagine Elder Calhoun from “The Best two Years”, and that's the look on his face when he hears people speaking! haha He's already getting a ton better after only a week, but the culture shock is pretty tough for anyone. Anyways, his dad works in the pentagon. Yeah, that's pretty cool. He doesn't really know what he does because his dad has literally said to him  'if I told you, I would have to kill you'. Anyways, he went to school at BYUI for a year before his mission and he does a lot of ballroom dancing. Also, his family comes from a long ling of master-class stringed instrument players, and his gift is the guitar!!!! We're going to see if he can buy one on the mission and maybe he'll teach me a little bit. Let's just say that he borrowed the guitar from one of the other members down here, and I've never heard anyone play so well before in my life. He's been playing ever since he was 7. Super cool.
There isn't any other big news... Just the fact that I'm tired and that we're working hard, and looking for a lot of families to bring to the gospel! The usual. BUT, I'm finding joy in every day, and I'm also sleeping very very well at night because I go out like a light at the end of the day. I love you guys, and I keep you in my prayers! Just before I leave, I would like to share a cool little tidbit that I found in my literature of the Book of Mormon in the Isaiah part. Isaiah had already prophesied that Christ would bear the marks of our sins of the world on his hands.

 “15 For can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should nothave compassion on the son of her womb? Yea, they may forget,yet will I not forget thee, O house of Israel.  16 Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thywalls are continually before me.”

Added later after finding his journal miraculously
September 21, 2014
         This week has been crazy.  I have basically been teaching alone all week because Elder Yarrington is struggling with the language.  Elder Benitez is training Elder Percival.  This is very hard for them because Elder Benitez is still having problems with the language himself.  But I think that it is going well so far. Elder Yarrington is from Washington D.C. He studied at BYUI and dances well and comes from a long line of master-class stringed instrument players.  He is the BOSS on guitar!  I am going to try to convince him to teach me how to play.  I am finding out how hard it is to teach someone how to speak Portuguese, but I love doing it.  I remember how hard it was for me when I first started with the language and I am going to make it easier on my companion that it was for me.  Our missionary work is going really well. 
         I got my package and shared all of my Jolly Ranchers with my zone and they love me even more now!  I am really fitting in here, loving my area, loving the people, and I am starting to feel comfortable as a missionary.  It is a good stage to be at and I am looking forward to the this last part of my mission.

I love you all and have a great week!
Elder Colvin

Monday, September 15, 2014

New Companions coming from CTM

So this week I STILL don't have my camera charger... Woohoo!  This week was pretty chill. We worked hard and we had two families in church on Sunday and we're going to have a baptism this next week. As far as work goes, it was a good week, and once you get the hang of things, it's not so hard. I think that that's why time is FLYING by right now! Seriously, this week seemed like almost nothing! Anyways, the highlights of the week:

September 9, 2014
         Today was a really great p-day because I got to watch “How to Train Your Dragon 2.”  I know it shouldn’t be some sort of big accomplishment, but it was a super big deal to us missionaries.  I didn’t understand all of it because the audio was really bad and it was in Portuguese…BUT, it was still very good.  The rest of P-day went well and we were able to get a lot accomplished, at least in the evening.  One of our problems in this area is that there are only women home in the afternoon and mission rules don’t allow us to teach unless there are three of us.  We found two couples who were at home in the afternoon, so that will finally give us someone to teach. 
         I saw that freaking cat that keeps pooping in our garage again, only this time it was in our kitchen!  I almost had a heart attack because it ran out from under the table and I almost kicked it!

September 10, 2014
         Nothing super interesting happened today.  One of our investigators broke up with his girlfriend today and he was a little sad, but we were happy because now he said that he will live the law of chastity and not work on Sundays anymore. He is really getting ready for his baptism.

September 13, 2014
         I had a division with Elder Tamanho this week, and he has a little bit more experience than me as a missionary, and we tore apart our area! We taught like bosses and made a ton of contacts. I lot happened today with splits, getting locked out of our house, having to sleep over at the other elders apartment, and lots of good lessons.  One of our investigators is working on getting married so that they can be baptized.  This is a super common problem in Brazil especially for the poor because it is very expensive to get married here.  We made several new contacts today.  One of our members made us a cake to take home and eat.  We shared it with the other Elders who let us stay in their apartment as a thank you.   As far as feedback from my zone leader,  welll.... He didn't say hardly anything! That's a good thing, because he said that I teach well, I work well, and that he didn't have anything to tell me. BUT I noticed that he contacts people REALLY well, so I asked him how he does it and he helped me learn a little bit about 'reading' people. I learned that there's a huge difference between judging and reading people. Well... not a whole lot, but as we read people, we can find things to talk about, conversation starters, etc. As we talk with people, he also taught me how to guide them to where I want them to be.  I learned  how to start talking about something that they want to talk about and eventually get to a topic that I want to talk about. Anyways, that was the biggest thing that I learned on the division.  It was a fun and productive split and I actually learned something useful. 
September 14, 2014
         Man, I was praying and praying that someone would show up at church today, but it was 9:20 and none of our investigators were there…ugh!  BUT, as an answer to prayer, two of  the families that we have been teaching showed up late.  We also had a guy that we have been trying to reactivate come to church.  He is super interesting, smart, and funny.  He has a ton of reasons for being inactive, but he also knows that he needs to change.  When he was younger his dream was to serve a mission.  He was active in seminary and institute and he even broke up with his girlfriend so that he could serve a mission.  But, his bishop told him that his mission was “to marry”  and he crushed his dreams of serving a mission. Later he entered into a depression and turned to drugs.  Bu recently he has shaped up his life and turned things around.  That bishop later ended up leaving the church and was responsible for stunting the growth of a lot of youth in the church. Fortunately for this guy, he is able to put the past in the past and move forward.
I don't worry about the gossip anymore, it's basically stopped because there was no basis, and no one even talks about those rumors anymore.  I got the help of one of the members of our ward who knows all of the missionary secrets and he put a stop to it. Besides, there's a lot juicier stuff going on that people are getting wrapped up in, and I'm trying hard to keep as far away as possible from it. Sometimes we have to know what's happening so that we won't get fooled or have one pulled over on us – like looking out for muddy spots so that you don’t fall in.  Other times it is just better to mind your own business. I'm not sure what's going on exactly but it is big. A lot of missionaries are pretty pissed off right now and I don’t think that is good for the mission. Yeah, I'm just going to keep on working and keeping to myself. Haha that's what I've figured out is that I can get pissed off, depressed, and all huffy and try to start a rebellion or I can be obedient, humble, and more like Christ and work on what I need to do to better myself.  It's a good thing that I am where I am, because you can be basically forgotten here. There are no sisters because it is too dangerous for them here,  and the only other elders live a LONG ways away in another city. I'm lovin it so far and I'm not too worried. I've already learned a LOT about myself while in the field, and I've surprised myself these days with my ability to keep calm. 
This Monday, we found out that Elder Benitez and I will train the language for some Americans who have been VISA waiters in the states. They are coming tomorrow from the Sau Paulo CTM's two-week refresher course in Portuguese. Super exciting!  It's going to be hard and I'm going to love it! Elder Benitez and I are still going to live in the same house, work in the same ward, and so it really won't be a huge change. We still don't know their names, but we'll find out tomorrow afternoon. We're going to work super hard and I'll make history in our area! ;) haha It'll be an adventure, that's for sure.

Tchau! Love you!
Elder Colvin

PS. We went to the center of the city this week and took out some money and had lunch in Subway. OH MY GOSH I MISS THE SMELL OF SUBWAY!!!!!!! I almost had a heart attack!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Trying to overcome discouragement

September 2, 2014
Well I am kind of bummed to hear that people are thinking badly about me in the missionary network. One of my housemates said that he talked with some missionaries who I don’t even know and they said, “Oh, Elder Colvin is trouble!  When I hear emergency transfer, I think of him.”  I can’t believe it.  I did absolutely nothing to get transferred and my reputation is destroyed.  I have no way to solve this problem so I just have to try to keep on working, but I have to admit that it is discouraging.
In other news, I let an elder cut my hair today. It ended up pretty good.  In the missionary work, we are helping another less-active family come back to church.  They have already said that they want to be able to go to the temple someday.  I hope that they can make it.  The husband is a great man and could be a great leader in the ward. F. and S. are really progressing.  Their mother is working super hard to help her boys learn and stand firm.  We can already see huge changes starting to take place in that home. It is great working with families! Their baptism is planned for the 6th.

September 4, 2014
            We are doing a lot of contacts here because a lot of our appointments are falling through lately.  Mainly they fall through in the afternoon because people are too busy to talk to us.  They are either working, studying, or sleeping.  Our most successful lessons are at night.  People are very willing to talk to us in the evenings.  We visited people tonight with E. who is a recent convert and is getting ready to go to the temple.  We visited with his niece who had been taught by other elders a long time ago.  We felt that we should try to get to know her and find out what problem she had with the church.  The problem that she had was coffee.  She said that she couldn’t stop drinking coffee and that is why she wasn’t baptized.  Elder Benitez was inspired to invite her to fast this weekend to see if she can get the strength necessary from the fast to break her addiction. 

September 5, 2014
            F. and S. passed their interviews.  It took a big chunk out of our day but it was one of the best interviews that Elder G. has ever had!  F. had a really great interview and when he was asked about the Word of Wisdom and why we should keep it, he said, “Because it is God’s commandment.” 
            Throughout the day we were able to teach plenty of people and a family of 6 said that they got an answer from God that what we were saying is true.  We were just about to stop teaching them because they were not showing any progress and then they got their answer.  I am hopeful for them that they will be able to progress.

September 6, 2014
            Wow, everything fell through today.  It would have gone well except we did not have anyone available to teach with us and our appointments were with women. You have to have 3 men in order to enter into a single woman’s house. 
The only thing that didn’t fall through was the baptism, but it was kindof sad.  It was just the family, the bishop, the missionaries, and the ward mission leader, and the young men’s president at the baptism .  The young men’s president baptized F. and Elder B. baptized S. 

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

"Emergency Choir"

August 27, 2014
         Well today we had our district meeting and we found out that Presidente Bonini called an “emergency choir” to sing a musical number TOMORROW. Boa Sorte!  So of course I was called to help and we had to go all the way to Aldeota to practice.  Unfortunately we had planned a split with the Elders from Caninde (this little city that is really far away.) They are staying in our house overnight.  They are Elder Bradley and Elder Pereira. Anyways, we were going to double time on divisions, but this choir thing threw the whole thing off. Also the other Elders ATE ALL OF MY FOOD AGAIN!  So the four of us went without lunch.  We managed to figure something out for Elder Pereira and Elder Bradley, but Elder Benitez and I went without. So we showed up at the practice at about 2:30, hungry.  The sisters who were organizing it didn’t show up until 3, and then Sister Allen ended up accompanying it so they didn’t even NEED me.  They had me organize the Elder’s singing apparently thinking that I actually have musical abilities.  Anyway, we didn’t get done until 5:30 and we were starving.  Shoot me. Well, I ended up buying Burger King for Elder Benitez and me using personal funds. We didn’t get back to our area until about 8:00.  We managed to do a short split and teach a couple of lessons.  I got to teach a mom who is coming back to church and her two sons. I was Elder Pereira’s companion for his first lesson in the field. It went super well. The other elders went to teach our recent convert and they said that he has changed and is completely open and happy to hear the message.  This is going to be a great transfer!

August 28, 2014
          WOW.  We had a conference with Elder Masagardi (one of the 70’s) and it was really really good. We learned a lot and I also realized how much I have learned in the past year and 2 months.  It is really incredible how far I have come.  Specifically, these past two months have been vital in helping me to be more mature, and become a real man.  Haha..I still have not “arrived”, but I have made significant progress.  I kind of shock myself now and then with how much I have changed for the better.  It is probably because I only had two choices when I got demoted, get all depressed and complain about it, or choose to be happy and learn from it.  You know me, I never like to be mopey about my problems.
          Anyways, during the conference I got pretty emotional thinking about Dad and how he is my hero and about all of the things that he has done to sacrifice his time to help me.  I thought about all of the love that I had for Dad and then I thought about the Savior and how much more he has done for me and how much he loves me.  It was a pretty emotional time for me.
         The rest of the conference was good.  Our small 13-man choir made Elder Masagardi cry (from the spirit, not the sound.) Elder Masagardi interviewed elder Benitez. He was the last of the missionaries chosen, so it took a while to get out of there. I was left alone with Presidente Bonini and we basically got to have our own little interview.  I told him how I had some hard feelings about being demoted initially, but how much I appreciate my new companion and my new area.  I told him how great the members are there and all about our baptisms on date.  It seemed like we were really connecting and having a great little mini interview until the President called me by a completely different name….He doesn’t even know my name….well….hummm.  Oh well. I really could care less about where he puts me, how he puts me there and with whom he puts me, because now I feel like I can really face any problem and work it out. 

August 30. 2014
         Wow, we found a LOT of less active members today.  We weren’t even planning on it, but they were popping up out of nowhere!  We can just walk down the street and someone will say, “Oh, I was baptized in that church!”  The work that we have done with these people has been so productive that we are going to focus mostly on reactivation.  In fact we have 6 people preparing for baptism right now because we are working with less active members of their families.

August 31, 2014
          The family that I taught with Elder Pereira came back to church today.  The mom wants to learn how to stay strong in the church.  She brought one of her cousins with her! E. also came to church.  He really liked it and asked us to come to his house and explain what Fasting was. He is already received his answer to his prayers about the Book of Mormon and he set a baptismal date for September 13th! 

September 1, 2014
I've already seen what Uncle Mark describes in my mission politics especially in the upper levels of missionary leadership and I've already decided to not let it bother me because the people who worry about cliques and the like generally don't make it too far being good and honest people in the long run. I think that president is also trying to do away with that now too because he's not letting his assistants mess with the transfers like they used to.  The assistants pretty much used to call all the shots. My old district leader just got done telling me that I should just keep working because I have a clean conscience and I can't change anything, so that's what I'll do. I don't want to make anyone's life like hell, so I'm not going to take part of the snitch game, instead I'm going to resolve my own problems as best I can. I think that that's a better way. 
I had a really good p-day today because I was able to spend some time emailing my family. I learned a lot from the emails that my parents sent to me and this is one of the few times in my mission where I have come away from an email session having learned a lot about how to handle my situation.  The situation is actually getting a little more annoying because someone is spreading the rumor that I got transferred because I kissed a girl. That is about the worst thing that you can say about a missionary and it just really irritates me that someone higher up than me is trying to completely destroy my reputation. About the only thing that I can do about that is just keep on working hard and try to not let it get to me...but it does.