Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Carnaval/Chess/Crisis management/Piano overload/ and missionary work

February 16, 2015      
         P-day was super chill and pretty relaxing.  Mom sent me an email with pictures of the place where Taylor and I will be living during school.  It looks SUPER nice….and made me just a little bit trunky, but nothing that a little hard work can’t fix.  Anyways, today is part of Çarnaval, so that means that everything is closed, even the place where we buy our water.  Soooo, we are going to have to make our water last until Thursday.  We can just boil tap water. 
         I am learning about Elder Carmo.  We played chess for a couple of carnival hours.  I won 2 out of 3 matches, but this is the first time in my mission I have been beat by anyone!  Elder Carmo loves to read and spends most of his spare time reading the Book of Mormon.  He would rather read than do his exercises in fact.  He is a pretty serious and quiet person, but there are occasions where he comes out of his shell and surprises me.
         Elder Carmo and I are going to go to this special district leader training in Aldeota tomorrow.  Then next week the mission is doing a special musical presentation for a open house and Sister Evans is organizing it.  She found 3 pianists to help accompany.  When I told her that I did not have enough time to practice, she go really upset so I told her that I would do my best to help her. She originally planned for each pianist to play for 2 songs, but then she ended up giving me a 3rd song because the music was too hard for the other missionary.  It IS HARD, and I don’t know how I am going to have the time to learn it in a week!
February 17. 2015
         Wow, training today was different and very cool.  President Bonini got side tracked very easily and would go off on random tangents (like how to have good personal hygiene in the bathroom.)  But, his main emphasis was that we should be the examples for the other missionaries to follow.  We are called as “captains” of the army.  Also, President changed the organization so that most of the work that used to be done by the zone leaders will now be done by the district leaders.  Lots of the grunt work was transferred like retrieving mail and supplies from the office, and organizing our separate district meetings which replace a lot fo the zone meetings.  Basically being a zone leader now is just a matter of G.H. (I asked my returned Brazilian missionary what G.H. meant and she told me that it is kind of like having prestige in a self-righteous way.)  The biggest thing that I got out of the meeting was that we are called to serve, uplift, support, and drive our districts. 
         Today we taught a super confusing lesson.  We planned to meet up with our ward mission leader and our super strong investigator at the home of one of our struggling investigator’s homes.This investigator has been having troubles with just about everything we teach her, so we decided to just focus on the basics: Faith, repentance, baptism, Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end.  But what should have been simple was far from it.  She had a lot f problems with understanding the gift of the Holy Ghost, but our stronger investigator made some really great comments and really learned a lot from the lesson. 
February 18, 2015
         Today we actually had a zone training meeting…the ones that we are told are going to be decreased.  I learned a little better how to prepare someone to be baptized.  We were taught something completely different from what my trainer taught me.  Our zone leaders told us that we should be helping our investigators to prepare for baptism from the very beginning of out lessons.  My trainer taught that we should only invite investigators to be baptized AFTER they had received an answer to their prayers and knew the church was true.  Haha, now that I am more experienced, I fully realize how bad of a trainer he was.  My zone leader, Elder Muniz (who was also in my first zone), was telling me that basically I had to train myself with my trainer being who he is.  Recently my trainer moved back to the Fortaleza area so that he could be near a high school girl from his last area…boa sorte. 
         Anyways, tonight we taught E. and N. and they are doing really well.  Her foot is healing nicely and hopefully she can come to church soon.  We had a good lesson about the 10 commandments especially the part about only worshipping God.  One of the problems that a lot of our investigators have is they like to pray to the Virgin Mary. This is a hard thing for N. to understand and to stop.
         We also taught a lesson to a less active member tonight who told us all about how he was watching some of the Carnaval parades in Rio.  He said, “you know it is actually super cool if you could take out the naked feathered ladies.”  Anyway, I can see why the church puts a lot of effort into taking the youth of the church out of the “world” for the week of Carnaval. 
February 19, 2015
         Almost everything fell through today.  I guess that it was just one of those days.  We were teaching M. and M. (the reactivated member’s boys), about family history and it was super hard because they just kept goofing off.  My comp. didn’t help much when the boys got off on a tangent of ancestors being dinosaurs., and then Elder C. said, “Yeah, you definitely look like your ancestors.” They laughed, a LOT, all three of them.  Elder C. is 27, but oh he acts like a kid sometime.  Sometimes I miss Elder Ferrao.
February 20, 2015
         Today we visited people with J.V. and N. (the two young men who are recent converts) and that was a big mistake.  If we take them in the future it will have to be one at a time because they just mess around. We visited with a less active member and had a good lesson about faith.  I am really hoping that he will start coming back to church.  His biggest problem is that he works on Sundays, but his nonmember wife is interested in learning more about the gospel.  That visit went well with the two boys, but the other visit was kind of funny.  It is interesting to watch the youth and how they just go and go and then they just stop out of nowhere.  It was hard to give continuity to the lesson, but in the end it worked out okay.
         We visited with a recent convert family tonight as taught them how to make tapioca. They thought that it was hilarious that an American man was teaching them how to make a Brazilian cultural food.  Elder L. Lopez taught me how to do it and now I am pretty good at it.  Brazilian tapioca is almost like a crepe. 
February 21, 2015
         We found a really cool young couple today.  We have been teaching one other the other of them for a long time, but today we got to teach both of them.  They have a super-cute little kids who loves to talk (think Levi when he was little.)  He is only 1 ½ years old so no one can understand him, but he just chatters away.
         We had an answer to prayer today when we felt we should go and visit with R.  Turns out that she was really desperate for help because her son’s meds ran out and he started having more seizures.  Apparently, they don’t make the medicine anymore that helped to control his seizures.  This was the first one in 4 years and it was a pretty bad one.  After his big seizure,  the young man asked his mom to call the Elders to give him a blessing, and right after that we showed up at their house. It is moments like that that remind me why I am on a mission.
February 22, 2015
Rain soaked Elders!
         Stupid rain!  Whenever it rains, everyone stays inside which makes contacting hard to do.  We got pretty wet looking for investigators who were sleeping.  My shoes that used to be waterproof aren’t anymore.  There are some holes in them and I am just hoping that they can hold out another 3 months.   
Will these shoes last another 3 months?
          M. came to church again today and she said that she believes that the church is true, but that she didn’t understand why she should be baptized.  She asked us, “How is it that even if I am a good person, charitable, obey God’s commandments, that I cannot be saved without baptism?”  We taught her about the Plan of Salvation and also a little bit about baptism for the dead.  Then all of a sudden, she got really interested and then she said that she knows that God wants her to be baptized and she will prepare herself. 
         Church was really good this week.  Another two of our investigators came.  We were all very entertained by a little sparrow that flew into sacrament meeting and landed on the chorister’s head, twice.  Then for his finale, the little bird flew in for the closing prayer.
         We taught an interesting couple today.  He is 34 and she is 18, and they are living with a member.  They were having a hard time because she lost her phone so she called her number and a guy answered it and gave them an address to come and pick it up.  The only problem is that the address is in one of the most dangerous parts of the city.  Nobody wanted them to go, but she jumped on the back of her boyfriend’s motorcycle and said, “If I am going to die, I am going to die with him!”  Yeah, not too smart.
         Then tonight we had another interesting situation happen when a drunk guy called us over to talk to him.  He said, “I am going to kill someone right now.  I have the gun and my motorcycle, and this guy is flirting with my wife.  I want to kill him, what do you say?” He was super agitated and if we hadn’t been there to calm him down, I think that he would have done it.  Even after we had been there for a while, the police came to visit his neighbors and stopped to see if there was anything that they could do to help.  I just thought, “Man, God is sending you a LOT of support right now, don’t do this thing.” It was an intense ending to our Sabbath night.
         Oh and on another note, Sister Evans called me tonight to tell me that there was another pianist who backed out of the program because the music was too hard.  So, I guess that I will be playing another 2 pieces. All of the good pianists in our mission were sister missionaries from my group and they have gone home.  I hope that I have time to practice.
Elder Dornales is more addicted to Rubix than any of us.
Post script:  I received an email this week from Sister Evans relaying to me that Elder Colvin finally got his sister’s camera!!!!! It took three months, but it finally made it and now he can take a few more pictures of the last part of his mission. He has been without a camera for about 6 months. Thankfully, he has had housemates who have let him take a few pictures with their cameras. 

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

New Companion, Same Area

New Companion, Elder Carmo.
February 9, 2015

         Elder Ferrao is going to be transferred! He is pretty dang excited, but I am going to miss him.  He helped me out a lot.  Elder Carmo is going to be my new companion.  He is already been in my zone before, but I don’t know him all that well.  I know that he is from Para, Ca state in Brasil and that is just about it.  I

         I bought this notebook because I don’t have any more space in my journal.  To tell you the truth, this was the only “non-childish”  notebook they had in the store, so I had to choose it.  Oh, so I am also getting another companionship in my district.  Elder Castillo is going to train a new missionary!  That will be interesting.

February 10, 2015

         Elder Carmo got her SUPER early, like before we had even started our studies.  I was in the shower still.  Today was cool, we taught a couple of people and we found this bright 12 year old less-active.  Their family is actually almost all members, and his Grandma said that she wants to come back to church.  Oh, N. left with us to teach, and he did a really good job!  He is still not used to id and doesn’t really know how to, but he tried hard to help to preach the gospel.  I think that N and J.V. are going to be able to help us out a lot.  We FINALLY got into a less active member’s home who lives right next to the church.  As we got to know them we felt like they were really interested in coming back to church.  We had a good visit with one of the teenagers in their house who has not been baptized.  Unfortunately, we got home a little bit late because neither Elder C. or I have a functioning watch.  I felt so bad about that, that I gave Elder Anderson some money so that he could buy me a watch in his area. (There isn't any place in my area to buy them.) I don’t really like watches because I am allergic to the metal, but I guess I have to have one to keep better track of the time.

February 11, 2015

         I am never ever going to cut my hair by myself again.  We had a buzzer that I used until it broke halfway through the haircut.  So Elder Anderson cut the rest of my hair with scissors.  I was the first person he gave a real haircut to.  Considering that fact, I guess he did a pretty good job. 

         We visited K. today and he was sleeping when we got there.  Man that kid sleeps a lot.  Anyway, he is coming along well.  He is just having a hard time making it to church.  N. came with us again today.  He really really tried to help but he got so excited about what he was trying to say, that he had a hard time actually getting the words out.  But, he has a strong desire to help share the gospel and to be a missionary. 

February 12, 2015

         We did a bunch of contacts today on this road in our area that I had NEVER seen before.  We actually found some pretty cool people.  We clapped at this one door and this little toddler screamed in fear.  It was pretty funny, but because he cried, we were able to contact his mom.  We also clapped at a nice little house and we were invited in!  This rarely happens, but this time is was a great visit with a nice woman named M.

         The second part of the day we taught with J.V. and we rushed from appointment to appointment.  We taught M. and M., the two little boys of the recently activated member.  They are starting to figure things out and they are also remembering the lessons that we are teaching them.  Their mom is determined to teach them the gospel and get them prepared for baptism.  She is doing great! 

         Then we visited with W. and B. and B. said that she wants to marry W. and be baptized.  The only problem is now W. is having a problem committing to marriage, that and they still haven’t made it to church yet.  That will be the first big hurdle to overcome since they both travel a lot on the weekends.

February 13, 2015

         It’s Friday the 13th!  That’s probably why the lunch that I made turned out so bad.  Well, it wasn’t that bad, but it definitely could have been better.  It was just spaghetti and some kind of sauce I made up with too many onions.  Today was interesting.  We dropped by a less active member’s house and her son (who is a non member)  participated in the lesson as well.  It was kind of funny because she doesn’t remember anything about the church, but her son does remember.  It actually seemed like he was the one who had been baptized.  They actually started a Bible bash between themselves and we didn’t say anything at all.  We had to end it by inviting them to come to church.

         One of he cool things that happened today was when we were teaching M. Her little brother and sisters were making it super hard to teach, but at the END of the lesson, she told us that she had received an answer from God and that she wanted to be baptized on March 7th. Wow! 

February 14, 2014

         Just about everything fell through today.  It was sad.  I really hate Carnival.  Everyone is drinking or traveling and we have to be in the house early.

February 15, 2014

         Today followed the same pattern as yesterday. However, church today went really well.  Very few members showed up to church, except our Gospel Principles class was full to the brim!  It was kind of sad and cool at the same time because our investigators were fellow-shipping each other. Of course because we had plenty of visitors today, the talks had to be on temples, garments, and the plan of salvation.  Still, everyone like church, so it was definitely a good week.

         I am pooped and definitely ready for p-day.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

A GREAT way to end the transfer!

            I'm doing absolutely great!!! This past week was awesome and by far the best week that I've had for a long time!

February 2, 2015

            Well..P-day was basically just guitar, and rubix cube.  It is kind of sad that we don’t have anything better to do with our time.  Oh wait, I did do something pretty creative today!  I made weights my using ice cream containers as my cement molds.  It worked great and cost about 2 dollars.  Maybe now I can go home in decent shape, as least I am working on it. 

            Anyway, we taught N. and it turns out that he is going to be able to go on the special Youth Carnival Campout.  We are going to baptize him on Saturday so that he will have the Holy Ghost when he leaves.  It was the ward’s idea, and they are really working hard at fellowshipping him.

February 3, 2015

            This is the last week of this transfer, and man, things are really looking up!  We have people to teach, a baptism, lots of referrals, and everything is as should be (for now).  We just need a little bit more time and effort to bring things together.  I am hoping that we do not get transferred!  M. came to church and loved it.  She read the Book of Mormon and the materials that we left with her.  Sadly, it is hard to teach her during the week because there are no other men who live there and we have rules about needing a third man present in order to  teach a single woman.  We taught a TON of lessons today and I am super tired (in a good way!) N. is still super excited for his baptism and we are teaching him or really just basically studying the scriptures with him because he knows everything he needs to.

February 4, 2015

            We taught a blind lady today and that was very interesting.  She is and evangelical and she was not very interested, but one of our recent converts (of 7 months) helped us teach her and he did and awesome job!  He studies “Preach my Gospel” almost every day and he really knows how to teach, AND he is only 14 years old! He is the reason that we found N. to teach!  N. is having some struggles at home which is delaying getting his parent’s signature.  But N. is very positive that things are going to work out. 

            Our activity this week at a member’s house had 49 people present.  That is a ton for this area!  Now that we have some good fellowshipping within the ward, we are going to try to get them to invite their friends. The activity was at R.’s house.  Yesterday she told us her very sad life story.  It is really really sad.  She has a handicapped son who was injured in an accident when he was a little boy.  She was washing dishes while he was speeding around on a little plastic bike.  He crashed into a cabinet and some plates fell on his head. He started having seizures so she took him to a doctor who said that he was okay. As he grew older he had learning disabilities and then in the 5th grade he stopped progressing.  She took him to the doctors again and when the boy heard his mom tell the doctor his history, the got very angry at his mother and blamed everything on her.  “It is all your fault, you have ruined my life, you should have been watching me better!”  After that, the mom felt terrible and was not able to forgive herself, UNTIL she joined the church and then she told us of the understanding that the gospel gave to her.  I was touched by her sad life, but also by her resolve to keep working to do better.  This activity that we did was in celebration of her 40th wedding anniversary!

February 5, 2015

            We taught K. today about the law of chastity which is a very hard law for young Brazilian men to obey, especially men who do not know anything about God or the commandments.  It is almost always a very serious problem for our investigators. 

            Today N. passed his interview for baptism and everything is set for Saturday.

February 6, 2105

            Sooooo, we cleaned the font today, but the pump didn’t drain the last 6-8 inches of water from the baptism that was held one month ago.  Yeah, it was stinky pond scum.  So, we took the last of the scum out by bucket method.  As we were doing this I heard a big SPLASH! Elder F. slipped and fell in, getting totally soaked.  It took a while to finish getting the water out, but in the end it looked good. 

            We taught our family with the Mom who had foot surgery.  She is still very excited about the church and taking the lessons, but she wants to come to church on her own two feet….yeah, that is going to take a while longer.  After that family, we taught a new investigator.  He is a very nice devout Catholic and he told us that there was no way on earth that we could ever convince him to change.  I invited him to pray and ask God because He is the only one who can change us.

February 7, 2015

            Today was AWESOME!  First of all, the baptism went great.  It started late (that is just normal for Brazil), but a ton of people showed up.  Sadly, none of N. family came. Thankfully, the ward family is very loving and supportive of N. and he feels that love.  I was blessed to be able to perform the baptism – a privilege that I don’t often get.

BEFORE smiles!
AFTER even bigger smiles!!!
           The rest of the day pretty much fell through teaching wise.  In the end of the day, I had another moment of joy when I solved the rubix cube in 28.03 seconds!  Elder Anderson says that officially makes me a “speed cuber”.  I just admit that I felt way too much joy and even a little adrenaline rush when I solved it that fast.  What has my life come to?  Haha

February 8, 2015

            We had 5 people come to church today.  Well, actually 6, but one is not actually our investigator yet.  Today was just great!  We passed by one of our investigator’s house to pick her up for church.  It turned out that her little 10 year old sister got up early to go to church and had been trying to wake her older sister up to go with her, but couldn’t.  So the 10 year old came by herself.  She is REALLY sharp and pays very careful attention to the speakers.  She has already read the Book of Moron and even marked passages that she likes.  She ALSO has responded to the questions in the back of our pamphlets.   We are going to try to focus on teaching her entire family so that she can continue to progress.   Unfortunately, her family is rarely home and if they are home, they are usually sleeping.

            This week has turned out to be a great week for us and we couldn’t have ended the transfer better.                                                                            

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Another good work week made better with Burger King.

26 January 2015
We made a trip into the city for interviews with the President.
         We are going to hold off on the baptism of the two boys for a little while longer.  These are two kids who have never been to church before their mom came back to activity a few weeks ago.  We talked to their dad (an inactive member) and he wanted to postpone the baptism because he didn’t think that the boys were ready.  At first I was a little disappointed until I started teaching them and then I was like, “Yeah, this will take longer than I thought.”  This is a good example of how important it is to listen to the parents.  We are going to plan on working with the dad also so that he can baptize his own sons.  He already said that he wanted to come back, now we just need to help give him the support he needs to do it.
27 January 2015
My breakfast = the end of mission diet plan to drop 10 before returning home.
 We had our interviews with President Bonini today.  We got there a little early so I treated my district to Burger King.  I miss American food….. like Dad’s ribs, burgers, French fries, pancaked, bacon, hashbrowns…The food here is good, but it really gets old.  Anyways, getting back to the point, our interviews normally take forever and go super late.  But, today President Bonini was on a roll ad our interviews were super quick.  Mine was cool.  I asked him to renew my temple recommend.  It was really different experience this time because with every question that was asked I would have a little missionary flashback of an experience that helped me to answer each question with an a surety. I definitely felt the spirit stronger and know that I am more dedicated and prepared to go to the temple than I was when I got my first recommend.  I also found a quote that I like that Presidente had in his office: “Whatever excuse for not reaching and objective, even if it is valid, weakens the character.” Spencer W. Kimball

28 January 2015
         Woohoooo!!! We have a date set for a baptism for the 21st of February!  This is the young man we met in the alley and he is making incredible progress. The hard part will be waiting to see if he makes it to church this Sunday.
         I haven’t told you about this experience that I have been having with an old man who pushes a wheelbarrow around and always asks the missionaries to help him.  He is super old, barefoot, and you just feel sorry for the guy.  One day, I walked nearly ½ of a mile pushing a heavy wheelbarrow with sacks full of manure. Then, after I finished helping him out, he asks me for money…..
29 January 2015
         Today something super cool happened.  So, Elder D. and Elder A. gave us a referral and when we talked to them, it turned out to be a miracle  The dad of the house left his family a few days earlier after a nasty fight.  He only had returned last night. Then this morning he told his wife that he was sorry and that they needed to find a church that could help their family. Then we showed up with our message and they are very interested.  They have a large family including teenagers and they all listened to our message and will let us return to teach them again.
30 January 2015
         Nothing super interesting happened today.  Everything is going well with the families that we are trying to reactivate.  The dad of the two boys is really warming up to us and says he wants to join his wife and kids and come back to church.
31 January 2015
Elder F. likes ping pong alot!
         Where to start?  Haha, so while Elder F. and I were studying, someone called us.  It was Elder Curty (one of my former housemates from early in my mission).  He is from Rio and has been home for a while. I was super surprised and I almost didn’t even recognize his voice.  We caught up for a bit, but sadly I had to get to work so I couldn’t talk for long.  Anyways, he said that he needed to talk to me to explain something important on my p-day.  So now I am really looking forward to p-day!
         After that we had three new people show up for English class.  It was a really good class even though it is hard to think of ideas to keep people involved.  The book that Mom sent me is for a lot more advance students, but I still use a lot of the principles from it because they are really useful.  Anyways, the class members all said that they would come to church tomorrow. (We’ll see if they come!)
         We had a chance to visit the family of the mom who had foot surgery.  We haven’t talk with them in over a week and sometimes that is long enough for people to lose interest in the missionaries.  But, they still have the same desire to attend church as soon as her foot heals, and then she wants to be baptized.  She thinks that her foot will be well enough to walk in another week.
1 February 2015
         It is already FEBRUARY!!!  Man, time is flying by now.  We had five people come to church today which is great, but then again we were expecting 20 which is not so great.  We spent 20 minutes walking and knocking doors before church. One of our investigators and her boyfriend came to church and it turns out that she knows a lot of the members already.  She really really enjoyed church and it was a really good testimony meeting.
         Everything after church fell through.  Sundays are drinking days here in Brazil and today it was an exceptionally drunk day. I am looking forward to p-day tomorrow!
Ghetto washing machine that empties into our toilet and doesn't really clean out clothes.
Our lovely area has the canal. Yeah, it absolutely reeks.