Monday, January 30, 2012

1/30/12 Letter

Dearest Family,

My joy has been at its fullest this last week. My joy is full to hear that all is well in Mesa Zion.

This past week was exciting because we had plenty of awesome things happen. I had my last interview with President Oliveira, where we renewed my temple recommend and finished up some things in order to go home. On Friday, Elder Duarte and I went to go see the doctor because he has a skin rash, but she didn´t go to work that day since she was a little sick. As we were leaving her office, we realized that our cell phone had fallen out while on the bus. Leaving a cell phone or wallet anywhere other than your pocket means that you can say tchau to those guys! But, we said a prayer and got our bus to go home in hopes that the bus driver could help us out. After a few calls and some helpful, honest workers, they found our phone on the bench that we´d been at and we went to the terminal to collect our prize. Wow! The Lord works in marvelous ways! While we had been thinking of giving up on the phone, we decided to trust in the Lord, do what we could, and see what happens. These are the moments in which God can truly help us.

We have been teaching Nelson and his family this past week. While all are opening up and learning with us, the only one which was ready and willing to be baptized this week was Deia! She is a mother of 6 (3 of which are "married") and a great example of faith. We shared with her the Lord´s teachings about forgiveness and she was basically teaching us. She said that even when someone does something to hurt her, that she´ll go and ask for forgiveness. Deia is so humble and loving! Every Saturday morning, she leaves at 7 in the morning to clean her widow neighbor´s house and wash her clothes and dishes. This is OTHER than having to clean her own house afterwards. Hands down to Deia. She was ready to be baptized. Now we´re helping her husband to get baptized this Saturday and also her youngest daughter who is extremely shy. Think of how I used to be when I was 12, and double the shyness and that´s Samanta! We´re learning how to be friends with her, but it´s difficult when she runs inside the house every time that we get to their gate.

Then, there´s Raquel, Sabrina, and Bruno who came to Church this week and partook of the greatness. Raquel has been a flip flopper of churches, and has currently stopped at the Baptist Church. She´s heard lots of strange doctrines and things and there are certain things that she doesn´t agree with about what we believe in, because of all the teachings that she´s had. But, her son Bruno is 14 and really interested in the Church, since he doesn´t go to the Baptist Church. They´re reading the Book of Mormon which is excellent.

In response to your question, we almost always eat at member´s houses or they give us money to eat out or make food at home. If we eat at home it usually means that we´ll be eating top ramen, spaghetti, hamburgers, French Toast, or stuff like that. If we get a reasonable amount of money, then  we´ll eat at the restaurant which is 9 reais. Restaurants here are just like normal good food, nothing fancy like Olive Garden or Maccoroni Grill,hahaha. And the members here like the missionaries again, so they make us good food. Nobody here is very rich, but they cook with love which is all that matters! There is only one lunch we have here which makes us scared because the lady is less active and kind of crazy. She talks about how she´s going to burn her house down and stuff. Yeah... 
Well, this next week should go by fast because we´ve got plenty of work to do. Endure to the end! Loves!

-Elder Carpenter

Fotos: The Gang, and double baptisms (Elder Lira and Underwood baptized a lady that uses a wheel chair)!

1/23/12 Letter

Família Querida,

The piano player always gets "volunteered" to play in sacrament meeting which is fun. The members here have a simplified hymnbook, so that when they pick the hymns the day of, then I can actually play them without having to practice. Congrats on playing well at conference mother. The new stake presidency sounds excited and pumped to get things done. And it must be lots different with new stake members and activities to get everyone united. That´s sweet.

This last week was good, but sadly we didn´t get our couples to the marriage place. One of them has started studying from 7 in the morning til 7 at night, which doesn´t give any time to go get married. And the other ones have been working a lot and Jacqueline has been sick and going to the hospital. She has diabetes and sometimes has strong attacks. But, we´ve been looking for new people to teach because everyone has been kind of taking us for a spin. Lots of people in Pedra 90 are pretty humble so they always say yes to everything and mark for us to teach them, but that´s just because they were being polite. Womp. So we´ve been visiting lots of people including a new family! The dad´s name is Nelson, and he has a wife and a few daughters (one of which came to Church). He has a problem with drinking, but we´re helping him stop. And he has some funky Bible questions that he asks us, which we are glad to answer. He´s a cool guy and really liked Church. We´re going to visit them tonight. But, things are going well. Elder Duarte and I are teaching well and having lots of good experiences together. Our zone played volleyball today, so that was exciting. Now we´ve gotta go buy some food to stock up the fridge. Have a fantastic week folks! Last call for Brazilian items as well. Just let me know.

-Elder Carpenter

Fotos: Irmã Domingas and her granddaughters who made lunch for 8 missionaries last P-Day!

Monday, January 16, 2012

1/16/12 letter

Hey Family Carpenter,

Happy Martin Luther King Day, and Happy Birthday to Jaimee!

Here´s the low-down on newbies: Elder Gomes, S. Santos (D. Souza these days), Menezes and Duarte are my direct children because they were with me during their first transfers in the field. But, the "true" training is now 2 transfers. So I have Elder Furtado and Stipanich who are my step-children because I was with them on the second transfer in the field. It´s so nice to have family in the mission because I "killed" my trainer (since he went home on that transfer) and the other missionary that he trained went home early. Geneology, are you doing it?

This past week was fun though! The weather in Cuiabá is going bonkers! Every day it´ll be hot for an hour, then it starts pouring rain, then it´s hot again. Every day. So one minute we´ve got our umbrellas out, and the next we´re sweating in the humid hot of the sun! But, it´s better than just straight up sun every day, so don´t think that I´m complaining. We taught plenty of people this week, but nothing too amazing happened. We´ve been teaching this young man called Lucas that went to Church, but he doesn´t believe that there is a true Church on the earth. He told us he wanted to get baptized in a river, which we would be more than happy to do, but doesn´t want "to be a part of any church." Some of his funky ideas have kept him from progressing as well. Then, we´ve been teaching plenty of member´s friends and relatives, but all of pooped out on us Sunday morning when we went to pick them up. "I was watching UFC til 4 in the morning..."

Good news: We got Matheus at Church this Sunday to get confirmed! Matheus is a 16 year old that got baptized in December but he´s been working late and whatnot, but he finally came back. He´s an awesome kid and works at an açaí place which is amazing. And we´re going with Hudney and Jacqueline this Wednesday to mark the day for their wedding. Things are happening!

Happy trails folks! Gotta go. See ya soon!
-Elder Carpenter

Brazilian Fact: Açaí is a super good Brazilian fruit!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

1/9/12 letter

Querida Família,

Wow, to make a long story short: Happy Birthday to EVERYONE! So good to see people aging and making delicious foods for their birthdays.
Elder Duarte had his first baptism last Saturday! It was so good to see Luciana so happy to get baptized, and Elder Duarte smiling from ear to ear (since he´s never baptized anyone before). We have been teaching Luciana every day and she´s really changed in this last week. The first time that we taught her, she was interested in the Church but didn´t really have that desire. Then, during the week the Lord had certainly worked with her and she started reading EVERYTHING that we left with her and understanding the gospel well. It´s so cool to the change in people´s attitudes and beliefs as missionaries. We are just here to teach and show the path, but it´s their decision as to whether or not they´ll benefit from it. And Luciana has 2 older sisters who are super strong in the Church and will be helping her out. 

During the week, we´ve been teaching and working like crazy. And I´ve forgotten how hot that Cuiabá is. Hahaha. Good thing it´s been having random rainstorms here. We´ve been visiting 2 couples that were going to get married while I was here the first time, but the missionaries stopped visiting them and they stopped worrying about marriage. Womp. Now, we´re seeing if they can get in to the marriage place ("cartório") this week. They are awesome couples that each have one kid. And we´ve been working with another family that Kaleu told us to visit. There is Luana (13) and Josiane (21) who are progressing and went to Church yesterday. They´ve been reading the Book of Mormon and are learning a lot. Sadly, they´ve been to some crazy Churches here in Brazil (Assembléia de Deus and Igreja Mundial) that LOVE to steal peoples money and force them to get baptized. Thankfully, they got out of there before being robbed and "baptized." And there is Lucas as well! He is a 17 year old that went to Church during Pedra 90: The 1st Run Through, but didn´t get baptized because of some different religious ideas that he´s got. But he came to Church with us yesterday and is going to read the Book of Mormon so we´ll see where that goes. We´re excited and happy to get things going here! The ward was really full and excited this Sunday like I´ve never seen it! And I´m blessed to use my piano skills again! It´s turning out good here. 

Until next week! If anyone wants me to buy something for them, just let me know! I´m only in Brazil for a little bit!
-Elder Carpenter

Fotos: Sadly, this internet house is lame and doesn´t know how to send pictures.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

1/2/12 Letter

Sadly, we´ve been running around all day and FINALLY I have internet access to write you. This last week has been cool beans and all. We´ve been visiting recent converts and members, since things have changed a bit since I was last here, but it´s still the same old Pedra 90. During the week, we´ve been teaching people and we had one investigator at Church. Her name is Luciana and she´s the 14 year old sister of Neide and Mara. They are two members of the ward who are awesome. You probably will see them in a picture of when I made cookies during my first run through here. They help out the missionaries a lot, and they´re excited to have their sister get baptized on Saturday. Things are getting along!
Elder Duarte is a awesome companion! He makes me laugh everyday. He´s pretty shy and quiet but has a really good heart and testimony. We´re working on getting to know each other better and that´s been important. I think he´s whiter than me and people always assume that we´re both Americans. Womp! And Elder Lira and Underwood live in our house and are awesome as well. It´s been awhile since I´ve been in such a spectacular house.
Gotta go! The gospel needs to be preached brothers and sisters! Until next week. Love ya!
-Elder Carpenter
Pics: Elder Carpenter, Duarte, Underwood, and Lira

12/26/11 Letter

Glad to hear about the big day! Happy Birthday Dad!! One year older and wiser, too! Congratulations! It was good to see your smiling faces and different voices and attitudes from the nephews. Cool beans.

Hey, so I´m headed back to Cuiabá... in Pedra 90! Woot. Imma go on back there and train again! I think I should change my name to Elder Coelho. The newbie´s name is Elder Duarte and he´s from São Paulo. He´s 19 years old and that´s all of which I´m aware of! It´ll be fun stuff. I remember some people who we were teaching who weren´t baptized that we´ll have to visit. We´ll get things going up there! Have a fantastic week and a good start of 2012! Love ya!

-Elder Carpenter

Fotos: Giving out presents on Christmas Eve and the Big Ol´ Dinner afterwards!

12/19/11 Letter

Dear Family,

So glad to hear that Christmas is on its way! The spirit is in the air and everyone is thinking about Christ! Yes yes yes. To be honest, it doesn´t even feel like Christmas because of the heat, but at least you are all getting the cold! Make the best of it. Congrats on the calling mom. You´ll do amazing. Teach those kids just like you taught us.

Elder Menezes and I had a pretty interesting week. We got a call on Monday saying that we needed to find a new house until Christmas because we´re gonna have more elders in our house and Universitário will have to find a new one! We helped them to find a neat little apartment right by the chapel that I think will turn out fantastic. 

We have been visiting Sueli and Luis as well, and sadly they won´t be able to get married til January. They have some documents that need to get here to Campo Grande and the free marriages will only start up again in January 2012. But they are firm on getting married and baptized together! The sad thing is that their member neighbors, Rodolfo and Vanuce and children, will be moving to Ala Jardim Imã. We´ll miss them a lot because they´ve been helping us out a lot during our time here and the ward will not be the same. But we will move forward!

Eva is strong as a rock! She is learning a lot and helping her family be more united and loving. She was confirmed yesterday and gave an awesome prayer when we visited them last night. Woot! Her daughter came to Church this week (the one who offered a laptop to her daughter so she wouldn´t get baptized) and she loved Church. It was cool because all of a sudden she showed up in the middle of sacrament meeting, and everyone was surprised. It turns out that her husband was at the hospital clinic next door to the Church and it seemed like he´d be there for awhile, so she decided to pay a visit to the REAL Church of Jesus Christ. And of course, Marcia loved Church and wants all of her family to keep coming and to help her come as well, but she´s not ready to leave her Church. It was a bit of an intense lesson, but I know that she felt that our Church is true.

The ward had the coolest activity ever! It was like their Christmas Devocional Night- complete with some testimonies, funny videos, and a giant dinner afterwards. We did a cool thing with Danny about how we all need to turn ourselves like little children, because Jesus Christ himself came to the Earth as a babe. So, we got some pictures of members and recent converts (yes we are sneaky) and made a fancy slideshow showing people as little kids and then showing them as they are today. Everyone was laughing and guessing as to who was who and it was bomb. The best was when the three girls (Eva´s granddaughters) showed up and Ana was very upset (Imagine how "upset" that a 9 year old would be for getting some attention) and said,"I´m going to talk to the pastor about this!" Womp!

Yup, so we´re excited for this week. We need to find somebody who is ready to be baptized and do all we can to give a present to the Lord! Have a merry Christmas everybody! I love you all!
-Elder Carpenter

Habbib´s Fact: We ate lunch at Habbib´s today and it´s like an Arabian food style McDonald´s! The food is actually super good. The little bread things are called sfihas. I wanted one with some weird Arabian meat, but they didn´t have any. 
Fotos: Habbib´s!