Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Feliz Natal!

Bem vindos a todos! Feliz Natal!
Shout out to Sarah and the fam doin missionary work! Holla. Take those people to the Christmas lights already! Let´s get them in the groove.
Speaking of Christmas, we bought a tiny strand of Christmas lights and put them up on our house. Brazilians put up Christmas lights, but it´s nothing very exciting at all. I have yet to see anyone "go all out" American style. The lights always put me in a good mood though.
Our Christmas Conference last week was great. Everyone got a present: either a picture frame or a little alarm clock. I picked the frame! Pres. Oliveira talked about how we need to bring a present to the Lord for Christmas: in the form of a person or family getting baptized! So, that is our goal. I want to have a baptism on Christmas day. It was also good to see old comps and everything. Way fun!
This last week, we also had the baptism of Rhuan! Finally. He´s just a little kid, but we´re working with his family because they are really interested in the Church. His mom worked with Giovanni, member, and we started to teach them. Rhuan´s sister came to Church with us this Sunday, so she has a baptismal date set for this Sunday. Rhuan´s baptism was way cool because all of his family came (mom, dad, sister, baby brother, and cousin). THey really liked the baptism and said that they´re coming to Church this Sunday. We´ll be working with them. Also, Laura, Andre´s daughter (that old guy we taught), came to Church the second time. She doesn´t want to get baptized, because she feels like everyone is forcing her to get baptized. We explained to her that nobody is forcing her and everything, and we´ll see what happens. She´s reading the Book of Mormon, so hopefully she´ll get that answer or certainty that she wants.

 I want to make a family challenge! I challenge the family (and everyone else who´s reading), to bring someone to the Christmas lights or watch Joy to the World, with someone who has not yet had the opportunity to see them. Missionary work is the best! There is no greater present that you can give to someone than the gospel. Do you accept?
Have a wonderful week! Merry Christmas and ho ho ho! Remember the true meaning of the season, and may you have the best holiday ever!
Feliz Natal,
Elder Carpenter
Pics: X-Mas with President Oliveira, Rhuan´s Baptism, 3 liter Coke!, Irmã Domingas

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

News from Tijucal

Querida Família,

What is up folks! I hope that all is well in Zion. Based on what Mom has told me, Black Friday was insane. Midnight shopping! I´m glad that everyone got some good deals.

I´m also happy that everyone ate turkey for me. I feel better now.

Here in Tijucal, I´m officially getting popular with all the sisters in the ward. Everybody wants the latest hit: COOKIES! I made choco-chip cookies one time for this AMAZING member family that lives next door to us because their dog dies, and then everyone is wanting some. I´ve made 3 or 4 batches this past week. We made some with Andre´s family (he wasn´t there), so that they would like us and hopefully stop being mean to André. They loved it! Then, they invited us to a birthday party there, where they had a churrasco, with lots of meat, coke, and cake. As for André, he´s supposed to get home this week, and then hopefully getting baptized on Sunday. We´re hoping for the best.

Then, there is this Young Women´s fireside on Friday, and they have chosen me to play the piano for them. The thing is... it´s kind of hard to play random music when you have no time to practice. The good thing is: I´m playing the piano again! Yay. They had me play the organ at church, and it was... good. Let´s just say, I´m glad mom wasn´t there, hahaha. But, they´re supposed to get me the hymns beforehand if they want me to play again, so next week should sound much better. All the years of practice are paying off!

We had this recent convert´s friend at Church this Sunday, Jenifer, and we´re hoping that she´ll get baptized this Sunday. She´s 19 but is really short and skinny. She´s never been baptized before, but really liked church this Sunday. So, we´re gonna be working with her and her grandma this week. We´re actually taking them an FHE tonight. Irmã Luza, one of the coolest sisters that I´ve met on the mission, is making me a birthday cake for tonight! I´m so excited.

And today, we went on a hunt for crocodiles. The other missionaries in our house have this one family that they baptized their kids (the parents aren´t married), and they made us lunch. Behind their house is a canal and then just... jungle. They´re always talking about the crocodiles that live there, but the biggest one I´ve seen was just a little over a foot long. A lil baby guy! So, Elder Allred and I went and crossed the canal to look for crocodiles. We didn´t find any, sadly, but we did find a river! I didn´t have my camera, so I only took a picture with the cell phone. It was totally worth it though! We kind of got lost on the way back, but found our way home. We´ll keep looking, because I know the crocodiles exist.

Welp, that´s all the news I´ve got. Have a fantastic start of Christmas! You officially have my permission to start listening to Christmas music. Get in the spirit! The only thing I ask, is for journal entries/stories of the missionaries from our family during/on Christmas. I like hearing these things. Have a jolly week!

E. Carpenter

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving,
We live in a house with the Zone Leaders for Zona Industriário! It´s way cool here. We still walk everywhere, but thankfully almost everybody lives much, much closer and not far from our house. It´s awesome. Most of the members have cars, too, so if we go to teach people with them, then they give us rides. Our ward is Ala Tijucal with Bispo Luciano.
This last week was awesome, up until Saturday. Every day this week, we´ve been teaching Irmão André, the guy that came to Church last Sunday. He´s 66 and stopped drinking about 3 months ago. His family situation is pretty tricky. He pays for his house and his daughter that lives next door. They are always arguing with him, and he and his wife sleep in separate rooms. But, things seemed to be getting better. His wife even mae us lunch last week.So he was dead set and excited to get baptized on Sunday! We´d been visiting him with all sorts of members, and he passed the baptismal interview and everything. When we went to visit him on Saturday, he was really upset. When he told his family that he was going to be baptized and start paying tithing, they flipped out. They were already barely talking with him, but this sent him over the edge. He wanted to leave the house and never come back. Sheesh. After we got there, he calmed down, but still said that he was going to go to be with his brother for 40 days. Sunday morning, we got some members, and went to sing a hymn for him and bring him to Church. André cried during the song, but didn´t come to Church. So... he was doing better, but is still planning on going to his brothers house this Wednesday, and then stay there for a week. He still wants to get baptized and said that I have to be the one to baptize him. So, we marked his baptism for the 5th of December, after he comes home. Thankfully, we´re gonna do an FHE with him tonight, and then bring the bishop to his house tomorrow to talk with André´s wife. He´s really wanting the bishop to help them out, so we´re doing our best. We were really sad that this happened, but are still hopeful that his baptism will happen.
That was a huge paragraph. Well, that´s about it for now! We´re happy here and finding new people to teach everyday. Elder Leal is really funny. He´s really talkative and likes to call me to repentence all the time "Arrependa-se!" It´s like his catch phrase. We´re helping each other to make contacts fun in the street.
There was another baptism this week from the other companionship. There was this lady that came to Church 2 weeks ago, and had an interesting story. She had apparently had a dream in which she saw the chapel and 3 young men in white shirts and ties. Then, she was walking on the street one Sunday morning, and actually saw that exact image but in real life! So, she walked up and asked someone about the Church. To make a long story short, her husband and her got baptized yesterday, and their daughter will be baptized next week. It´s amazing how the Lord prepares people!
Have a wonderful thanksgiving! We passed by a farm this last week and took pictures of a turkey, lamb, pigs, and horses. In honor of Thanksgiving,  Eat enough for me back at home!
Elder Carpinteiro

Monday, November 15, 2010

New everything!

Hola Familiares,
Happy Birthday Sarah! Woot. Woot. There´s nothing like yet another birthday! Ha. For my birthday, things were kind of crazy, but I ate a whole lot of cheese bread. It was good stuff. And it was a cold day in Cuiabá! Miracles do happen. And, there is a sister in the ward here that is gonna make me a Late-Birthday Cake! I´m so excited. And thanks for the "birthday card." It officially scared me.
This last week has been quite CRAZY! Let me tell you. So, I got in my new area, Parque Cuiabá, on Tuesday. There were sister missionaries in the area, and 3 out of the 4 of us elders that got in the area were completely lost. My companion, Elder Todaro, had already served there, so he was supposed to help us get to know the branch and everything. However, on Thursday we got a phone call from the assistants and guess what? Emergency transfer! I left with Elder Leal to serve in Tijucal, another area in Cuiabá. Womp! We got to this area, and Elder Allred is the only one that´s been here before. He´s been showing us around and this area is awesome! They have a ward here and a brand new chapel. It´s super nice, most of the members live really close to the church, and our house that we live in is really big. The bishop is really into baptisms and missionary work, too. Our first night here, we had an activity in a neighborhood full of less-actives. It was great, and lots of members were there! It was so exciting.
My companion is Elder Leal. He has about 3 months in the mission and is from Minas Gerais. He´s taller than me (gasp!) and is 21. He served in the army and worked on cars before the mission, but you would never guess. Elder Leal is really talkative and a good comp. He´s excited to teach people and have baptisms. He´s had some rough companions, but is still full of missionary desire!
There is a High Couselor in the ward that brought his friend, Andre, to church yesterday. Andre is probably 70 years old and used to drink a lot. But, he stopped drinking and neglecting his family about 3 months ago, and accepted to get baptized this Sunday! He´s awesome. Andre wants to come to Church every week. And his friend, the high counselor, gave a talk in sacrament meeting and basically taught the first and second lesson. Oh, and all of the speakers used Preach My Gospel in their talks! It was awesome. I have never seen this in all of my time on the mission.
So, yep, I´m pretty excited to be here in Tijucal! This place is great. And I´m pretty sure that it´s cooler here than in Ji-Paraná. Nobody believes me, but that´s because they´ve never been there. I´m not dripping in sweat as I walk in the street here! Well, have a great week! Thanksgiving and Christmas are coming! Get excited.
Lovesies, Elder Carpenter
 snake in the road
 dead dog
 Zach with birthday card
 Cookies and E. Leal
Peeps from Parque Cuiaba

11/8/10 letter

Hey I´m almost 20! That´s not weird at all. I feel exactly the same. I´m planning on buying a pineapple for my birthday and eating the entire thing for myself. There is nothing like pineapple here in Brazil. HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Sarah this week as well.

Well, this letter is gonna be super short. My bus leaves in an hour and a half. Our transfer ended yesterday, and now I´m headed off to Cuiabá! The area is called Parquee Cuiabá. We all knew this was coming... The heat... Although, it´s supposed to be cold there right now. I´m SUPER excited to go to another area, but I´m really gonna miss the branch here in Ji-Paraná. Everyone here is so exciting and has attitude. It made for some awesome experiences. Last night, we visited a couple of families from the branch, because they made food. I will miss them.

But yeah, this last week was crappy. Reinaldo is scared of having to keep the Law of Chastity, and so he didn´t get baptized. We tried our best to help him, but he just doesn´t have the desire. So, we lost one, but gained another. We´ve been teaching a family that lives on the street of the church, and the parents are very interested, but there kids are AWESOME! They have been raised really well and read the Book of Mormon every day. One of them bore his testimony at Church! His second time coming there. The mom doesn´t want to let them get baptized til their older, but I´m pretty sure that she can´t hold them back anymore. I think Elder Dorneles has a baptism for this Saturday! He´s really excited to stay here. Well, I´m leaving Rondônia finally, and stepping into Mato Grosso! Have a spectacular week!

Elder Carpenter

Thursday, November 4, 2010

 Irmão Manoel and Emília (They pretty much started the branch here)
chart that shows how Brazilians eat every part of the cow


Halloween!! Here in Brazil they do go all out for Halloween!! Not. There was nothing Halloween-related that happened yesterday, hahaha. There is this one gigantic house in Ji-Paraná that everyone says has a big Halloween party, but even they didn´t do anything special. But, you don´t need Halloween to be happy!

Justin Curtis is already home?! Nuts. And there is a BAPTISM in Mesa!!! I am so excited for you guys. You need to go to it so that she feels really welcome!

This last week was quite intense. Pres. Oliveira was pulling out all of the stops so that EVERYONE in the mission could baptize this week. When it all got down to Sunday, we only had Reinaldo who was ready and excited to get baptized. When we showed up to his house on Sunday morning, we clapped our hands. Waited. Clapped. Waited. Called him, etc, and he was not answering. After going to the Church, we went back to his house and waited until sacrament meeting for him to come out. Nothing. We were really disappointed and sad, because we thought that he had done something that he would regret. We called him later and went to his house, and he spilled the beans. He was at a party with his girlfriend and brother, and (as things always are), it got later and later... Long story short, he was really disappointed with himself because he didn´t go to Church or have his baptism. However, he didn´t drink or do anything stupid. So, he´s gonna get baptized tonight. We´re really excited for him! It was the worst feeling in the world when he didn´t come to Church or his baptism, but everything is good now. We had to be really firm with him, but it looks like everything will work out. Yes!

Well, that´s it for this week.  Have a wonderful week! Enjoy the cold weather. It´s usually raining here once every two days, so things are getting much better. Lovesies!

Com amor,
-Elder Carpenter

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Another good week!

In answer to your question about the water, I´m drinking very well! We have clean water that we drink at home, because the tap water is dirty, and I drink a big ol´ cup of water during the morning, so that I´m not dying during the day. The members feed us daily, and it´s always good food. We are very blessed! As for cooking, I´ve been learning a few things. Hopefully, I come home as a cook!

Well, how good! This last week was good. We spent a lot of time visiting less actives, ancient investigators, and got some references from them! One of these references, Diego, came to Church and has a baptismal date for this Sunday. He goes to another church though, so we´re hoping that he reads the Book of Mormon and gets his answer. We´re teaching a member´s friend too, that came to Church. Her name is Kevley and she´s 13. She is shy, uses a different earing in each ear, and dresses like all the young people in Mesa, with weird colored jeans. It´s funny to see how the styles change, yet stay the same in other countries.
The highlight of the week: we´re teaching this 22 year old named Reinaldo. He has been reading the Book of Mormon, and last week, he took a shower and was walking to his room when he had this really good feeling come to him. He said that all of his worries and problems seemed to float away. He´s been having some problems at his work, but after this he felt like he could do anything. We explained to him that this was an answer of God, and he said that he already knew that it was. Reinaldo says that he´s much happier since he met us and should be getting baptized this Sunday!

So, we have really high hopes for this Sunday. All in all, there are 4 people that can get baptized, so we´ll be doing all that we can to make it happen. With our diligence, prayers, and the Lord on our side, anything can happen!

That about wraps things up. Have a Happy Halloween! I´m curious to see if anything big will happen here in Ji-Paraná for the big day, but we´ll see! Have a wonderful week. I love you.

-Elder Carpenter

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Elder Dorneles, etc.

Zach with the animals

Elder Dorneles eating Copo Azul cream. It´s an amazon fruit

Monday, October 18, 2010

62 people at church!

Thank you very much for the mountain of pictures that came in the package! Sheesh. I had a MOUNTAIN of letters at the mission office. The biggest haul that I´ve gotten yet. My district just looked at me like,"What the heck..." Thanks to all who have participated! The birthday gifts were awesome. It made me super happy to get presents.

Womp, I forget that everybody has October Break there. Making cookies with the nephews sounds like the best idea ever! I´m jealous. And Brendon reported and all that jazz, too! I´m totally there with him about getting people married! That´s where it´s at.

This last week has been great! We had Zone Conference, which was really good. We learned about lots of basic things: how to have a good Area Book, inviting people to be baptized, and lots of techniques and things like that. It just felt really good to review the basics and learn about how I can be a bold, baptizing missionary! Yes. Sister Oliveira talked about how she woke up one night in July, with her entire talk that she gave at this Conference, in her head. She said that things just started coming, and she wrote them down. She talked about Timothy 4:12, and about being an example of the believers in all things. She talked alot about in "trato," which is treatment in English, (although the English edition of Tim. 4:12 uses conversation). Treatment is a much better word though because she talked about how we must build good relationships with the mission president, investigators, ward and mission leaders, and our companions. It was the best talk that she´s given in my time here!

We had 62 people at Church yesterday (the most that I´ve seen in all my time here), and 6 investigators at Church. Some of them aren´t married, but the rest we are trying to get baptized. 2 are ancient investigators, even though one is 8 and the other 12, because there parents haven´t let them get baptized. But Elder Dorneles and I feel like this is the week. And we´re teaching these 2 brothers, too, Renato and Reinaldo. Reinaldo is an elect! He cried during the 1st Vision, and accepted to get baptized. He said that he stopped drinking beer and coffee just a little while ago, and we were amazed! The Lord is preparing His elect to join the Church. We´re excited here in Ji-Paraná!

Have a wonderful week! Give water and a ride to the missionaries, and I´m sure that you´ll be their best friends. Keep strong!

-Elder Carpenter

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Crazy weather!

HAIL STORM! How exciting. I´m glad that you are experiencing lovely weather conditions in Mesa. I´m not sure if I remember the last time that I saw hail in Mesa. RAIN! That´s so cool. Not cool about the property damage and all that, but it´s all part of life. Today I actually got woken up by the rain. It was raining cats and dogs at 5 in the morning! Sheesh. It´s much needed though, because they´ve been having a drought in all of Brazil. However, the people say October = Rain here in Brazil, so hopefully we´re just getting started.

Hahaha, 10/10/10 was an awesome day yesterday! But then it made me remember that I´ve been gone for 8 months and that I´m turning 20 in a month. Woah... I´m gonna be an old, gross man. Ugh.

 My comps are always asking about Mexico and I like to ask them about the people from Bolivia and Paraguay. It´s all so interesting all the little differences that everyone has! One thing is that you NEVER say that Brazil is part of Latin America or that a Brazilian speaks Spanish. You will get slapped in the face, if you do.

This last week was awesome! Elder Dorneles  and I are working like crazy! I love it. We had this one investigator, named Renato (22ish years old) that we brought to Church on Sunday. We showed up at his house and his mom (who we tried to teach, but wasn´t interested) was like, "Oh, he´s sleeping." Then, we were like, "Can you wake him up so we can talk with him?" She was kind of shocked, but went and got him. He was super groggy and Elder Dorneles said, "Get ready, we´re going to Church." So, he came to Church. He´s set to get baptized on Sunday.

There´s an 18 year old, named William, who is a cousin of a recent convert that we started teaching. After one day, he had read the introduction until 1 Ne. 7. He was traveling this Sunday, but should be set to get baptized in 2 weeks. William came to live in Ji-Paraná, so that he could find work. Looks like he found something better!

Other than that, I´m doing great. Our Zone Conference is this Thursday, so I´ll let you know how that went next week. I watched Elder Holland´s talk, and realized that I have not been very grateful for my family back home. I´m not sure who is all helping out with keeping me out here, but I want you to know that I am grateful! I have not heard about who is making sacrifices, but I know that there are many. So I just want to thank you all! Especially mom and dad. I wouldn´t be here if it wasn´t for everyone´s good examples, love, and support. Have the best week of your entire life! October Break!

Eu amo vocês,
Elder Carpenter

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Me and Elder Dorneles

Here in Ji-Paraná, we got some rain! It rained for like the past 3 days! It has been heavenly. I´ve slept without a fan for the past couple of nights and it´s been amazing. Thank you for the prayers! It was awesome.

Well, my comp finally got here last week: Elder Dorneles. I had to spend the day with this one member here, Osmir, and it was funny. Elder Dorneles is from Rio de Janeiro (he´s got lots of stories) and is going home in 6 months. He was born in the Church, is a little serious at times, really smart, organized (our house is spotless) and I´ve gotten to like him. He´s about my height and is going to be a civil engineer after the mission. Elder Dorneles speaks English very well (literally the 2nd best English speaking Brazilian that I´ve met on the mission) and is really excited to get down to work here. His attitude is infectious, and I´ve gotten much more excited while being with him. We literally use all of our time wisely, which I am quite the fan of. We don´t waste time with people that don´t want to get baptized and we´re working hard, which is the only real way to be happy! I was complaining last week about having to stay here in Ji-Paraná, but I´m pretty sure that I´m staying here so that I can learn how to be an awesome missionary. And we go running in the mornings! Yes, for good exercise.

Happy Birthday Bryan! Womp. That´s awesome that he took advantage of all the free things in Mesa. That´s my boy! Ugh... I don´t approve of watching Sonic, but hey, 19 years and kickin! It made me jealous to hear that everyone got to eat at Golden Canyon. Those Chinese know how to make good chicken.

This week, we are going to be busy finding people. There is this one girl in the branch that got baptized in May (and is quite strong in the Church), and we marked her sister´s baptism for this Friday. She just turned 8 and her parents are all good with letting her get baptized. We´re adapting our teaching, so that she can understand the principles and it´s been fun. I feel quite strange teaching an 8 year old, but it´s all part of the mission!

Conference was awesome! What made it even better was that I got to watch it in English! After watching the 1st session in Portugues, I was having a hard time understanding things. Thankfully, the chapel has a little TV, and I got to watch the other 4 sessions with Elder Dorneles in English. He understand everything and prefers watching in English, so it was all good. It´s really boring to listen in Portugues, because the speaker´s lips don´t match what you´re hearing. My three favorite talks were Russel M. Nelson (Priesthood) about missionary work (he´s my hero), Matt Kearon (Priesthood; his Harry Potter accent was awesome), and President Monson from Sunday Morning. During President Monson´s talk I could feel the Spirit really strong. Talk about being grateful! I´m excited to read the Liahone next month.

Have a wonderful week family, and let´s put what we´ve heard from Conference in practice. The inspired messages that we´ve heard were truly amazing. Being on the mission, my perspective of things has changed so much during Conference. I wasn´t looking at my watch, waiting for it to be over, but rather looking at my watch and saying, "Oh my goodness! They´re only gonna get 2 more speakers in before the end of the session!" I´ve realized how real that the war is between good and evil in this world. Every choice that we make either helps us or hurts us. As long as we follow and have the Spirit with us, then we´ll know exactly what choices we need to make. So let´s just do it. I´m always praying for everyone at home, and thank you for your prayers! The Lord is blessing us.

Com amor,
Elder Carpenter

Thursday, September 30, 2010

New companion, same city

 Sarah sent me a picture of Tucker.   What the heck! I totally thought he was Ben from about a year or 2 ago. Tucker boy has become even cuter.
As for my shoes, they are doing fine. There is only wear on the soles, but the Wolverines and (uh... forgot the name of the other one) are both doing great. My blisters and everything stopped about 3 months ago, so I have no complaints about them. Some missionaries run through shoes really fast, but that´s because they don´t treat them very well. Having 2-3 pairs also helps a lot, too. Most of my Brazilian comps only have one pair that dies out pretty fast, and then they have to keep buying new ones.
Well, you´ll never guess what happened with transfers! I´m going to... stay here in Ji-Paraná. If you want, you can send my records to the branch here because maybe I´ll just stay here for the rest of my mission. Elder Santana got transferred to the exact same branch/area that he came from, except he´s gonna be a District Leader there. I´m gonna miss my little companion, but thankfully we´ll see each other at Zone Conference. Elder Dorneles is coming up here, from Rondonopolis, to be my comp. Í don´t really know much about him except that he´s from Rio de Janeiro, speaks English very well, and has 6 or so months left on the mission. I remember talking with him once and he seemed like a cool guy. I´m not too excited to stay in the same place, but it´s all gonna be good. Vamos batizar esse povo!
Other than that, nothing new has happened. We´ve got this one girl, Jaquilene, who wants to get baptized. The only problem is that her mom doesn´t want to let her. Her mom is probably gonna get baptized sometime soon (after she gets married), so hopefully we´ll have Jaquilene´s baptism this week.
I had to give an emergency talk this Sunday (meaning I had about 30 minutes to prepare during Church), and it made me realize how glad I am that we have conference this week! The speakers in conference have been thinking of and preparing for the past 6 months, and our job is to listen and follow their counsel. I have yet to write down my 3 questions, but I know that whatever they are, I will have them answered.
Have a wonderful week, peoples! Conference is coming, so get excited (Oh, Sarah.)! I love you and pray for you every day. And the Lord hears our prayers! Tchau.
-Elder Carpenter

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Forever Families

The branch is pretty small here.  I think there´s about 10ish primary age kids, but not all of them are there every week. I don´t think they do the Primary program here, but I sure wish they did! Those were definately my favorite sacrament meetings back at home. How is the ward doing on kids by the way? Last I heard, all the families were moving, and there was like 1 teacher. Eesh!
This last week, was not the best , but it was still good. We spent a lot of our time teaching recent converts and helping them get to know more about the Church. Right now, we´re just trying to find new people to teach. We´re planning an activity with the branch for this saturday, where every family will bring something to eat and a guest. So, we´re gonna baptize these people! Other than that, we are still teaching the one family (they´ve already come to Church 3 times). The parents need to get married, and we´re trying to convince the mom to let her 13 and 12 year old daughters to get baptized. She wants them to wait til they´re 14 or 15, but we´ll see what´ll happen. With the Lord on our side, nothing is impossible! When we asked the mom to say the closing prayer, she reluctantly accepted. She prayed that everything would go well for her to get baptized and to know that the Church is true. Opa!
Other than that, this is the last week of the transfer, so we´re trying to finish strong! This Sunday, our gospel principles lesson was about eternal families. It was a really neat lesson from a Irmã Laldenir. Lots of the recent converts and other people are the only members in their families, and it´s kind of a touchy subject to talk about with them. It made me EXTREMELY grateful, to know that I can and will be with my family forever! To know that we are all doing our best in order the meet that goal, and that I love my family with all of my heart. I know that it may not show at times, but the mission has certainly made me realize how important family is. I´m actually starting to tear up right now, so it´s a good thing that this is an email. Never take family for granted! It´s the most important thing in life, so thank you for being my family. With that, have a wonderful week! I love you!
-Elder Carpenter
Photos: 1) Churrasco that we were invited to at the house of Lucicléia (the Indian that we baptized). 2) A cajú fruit with the little cashew nut on top. 3) Junior and I. Junior is the 18 year old in the branch that is getting ready to leave on his mission. We have had some good times together. Womp!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Love all the news!

Wow! Talk about news! Taleah had yet another fat baby! Oh my gosh. That´s 4. I didn´t even know that Kade and Summer were dating again, but congrats on the engagement! Congrats to Bryan on going to the temple!
 Here in Ji-Paraná we had an interesting week. We got to go to ULBRA (Universidade Luteriano do Brasil) last Friday (and again this Wednesday) to do a Church presentation for their religions class. We got there and were kind of nervous, because we had no idea what to expect. Their was this crazy Presbiterian preacher talking up in front of the class (it was a lecture hall, but really small; like 30ish people) about all sorts of blasphemy and things that they misinterpret from the Bible. He was saying that people don´t need to be baptized in water, etc, etc. Then, we get up and the professor is like,"Explain the basic doctrines, and talk about the three degrees of glory, baptisms for the dead, and eternal marriage. So... We explained all of those things, but only after explaining the Restoration, Plan of Salvation, and the gospel. Basically, we just talk the first 3 lessons really fast. And all of the girls were asking all sorts of questions about marriage and whether or not you can marry with Non-Mormons. So yeah, we were keeping our distance afterwards. It was good thing and they gave us gifts: zipper ties! Our recent converts will look good with them this next Sunday.
Elder Santana and I made a goal to stop drinking Coke, except at churrascos. This is a good goal! Coke is really bad for you, but it´s also the preferred drink of all Brazilians. Everyone in the branch is divided between people that drink Coke, and those that don´t. It´s kind of funny. So, we´re trying to be good examples and help out our bodies. It´s gonna be good!
Other than that, nothing much is new here. We´re teaching a family that has come to Church a couple of times. The two daughters, 13 and 12 years old, were set to get baptized but the mom didn´t let them. But now, they are showing interest again, but this time the mom is taking the lead. They lived in a house where their neighbors talked really bad about the Church, but thankfully they have moved, come to Church, and seen that we don´t worship the devil. The mom is reading the Book of Mormon a lot, and we´re taking things slow with them, so that she doesn´t jump ship again. Things are going good though!
Pictures: 1) Fancy pants Churrasco in Vilhena, where we ate lunch with President Oliveira. 2) Baptism of David (The sun was in our faces). 3) and 4) ULBRA, the University that everyone talks about here.
Have a wonderful week! The Church is true and I love all of ya!
-Elder Carpenter

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

I got to do the baptism!

Womp womp womp womp! I can´t believe that Bryan already has his mission call! What a dog. Houston, Texas South and speaking Spanish and everything. What a gangster. That is the exact same mission that Kool-Aid is going to at the end of this month! I´m gonna write him a letter today and tell him the good news.

Here in Ji-Paraná, the Lord has heard our prayers because we got some rain!! There were 3 days where it rained last week, and it was much needed. Last week was incredibly hot. Probably the hottest in my mission so far, so the rain was awesome. It´s actually cooled down quite a bit and there is luscious wind during the day. And I´m not sweating when I wake up at night!

We had a baptism this Sunday too: David. He´s a friend of one of the members. He came to Church last Sunday, we taught him everything during the week, and then he got baptized yesterday. That is how it´s done here in Brazil! David´s a really funny kid. He´s kind of like the one kid in school that never talks and he´s really quiet at home, but once he´s outside of those two places he´s kind of goes nuts. He´s got this funny deep, nasally voice because he´s going through "the change." Anyways, he´s turning 15 this month, and he´s really excited to be a member of the church. He´s ready to change and do whatever is needed. Womp!

So funny story: He chose me to baptize him, so we´re in the water, and after the first dunk, he didn´t bend his knees and didn´t go all the way down. So, I´m like,"Don´t worry, we´re gonna do it again. Don´t be nervous," (because he was pretty nervous). Then, he grabs his nose and was about the throw himself back, or in other words, baptize himself alone. I stopped him ("Não, não! Calma!") and then baptized him and everything was good. Basically, you just had to be there.

Yep, we´re having a good time here in Ji-Paraná! The branch is getting more excited to have growth and just overall more happy. There´s even a sister that got up at the pulpit and bore her testimony and said that she had a feeling the other day that something spectacular is about to happen in Ji-Paraná! I don´t think that she has the right to receive revelation for the branch, but who am I to talk. Só batize!

Have a good week, everybody! Happy Labor Day, too! I´m happy to know that the Lord is taking good care of everyone!
Com amor,
Elder Carpenter

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

My Mission President is Awesome

Pictures:  District with AP (Zach's companion is the little one); Brazil pizza (not as good as American); Zach with "almond" hair (that's what the Brazilians call it); red moon

Dear My Favorite People in the USA,

This last week has been quite crazy! Opa! We got a call last week, and were informed that our district would have a day of training with President Oliveira and the assistants on Friday (us being the 2 missionaries in Ji-Paraná and the 4 in Vilhena). So, we went there and had an awesome time! The First Presidency has redone all of the MTC lessons, and put them into just 8 lessons which we are then to use in the field for comp study and District Meetings. It was some pretty intense, awesome training though. Normally, this would be done in the course of 3 days, but we did it all in 8 hours, hahaha. We were the first district to have it, and now they´re gonna go around and visit the other districts to do the same with them. We had lots of practices and it was just us 8 missionaries and Pres. Oliveira. He´s awesome! He is completely focused on the work and can whip out lots of push ups too (He did like 50). Oh my goodness... But, it was great. The assistants are really funny too, so we had a good time. Not to mention, lunch at the nicest Churrasco in Vilhena.

We´re kind of going through a drought here in this part of Brazil. It´s gone back to being incredibly hot, even at night. There is lots of dirt and pollution in the air, which has resulted in the red moon (crappy resolution picture below). Oh my gosh! Bible prophecies are being fulfilled! Our mission is praying for rain. Womp. But, in spite of this our mission broke the record for number of baptisms for one month with Pres. Oliveira: 141! We had 5 weeks for this one, so that helped.

Because of our emergency training, we didn´t too a whole lot of work here in Ji-Paraná. We were there for 3 days (due to travelling and whatnot). However, I got to confirm Breno (the 14 year old below), which was great. I was kind of nervous, but everything went good. Afterwards, I felt like I could go jump on a building or something! Other than that, we have 2 other young uns that we´re gonna try and baptize this Sunday. Bam!

I´m also WAY excited for Bryan to get his call soon! You have no idea what´s in store for you big guy.

Well, that´s all for now. Keep up the good work and love people! I love you and pray for you all every night! Remember to give the missionaries water.

-Elder Carpenter

Thursday, August 26, 2010

This was an awesome week!!

Womp, womp, womp! Mais uma semana. This last week was really awesome!
We had a baptism!! We baptized Breno, the 14 year old, whose family has already been baptized. They have moved a lot, and started going to another Church because the LDS one wasn´t there... but now they are on the 180! They are probably the coolest family that I´ve met on the mission. Every time that we go there, they bring out a banquet of food for us to eat. I don´t even know the number of times that they´ve told us, "You´re at home, eat what you want." The missionaries here have really gotten some parents. The 18 year old daughter is really funny too, because she likes to belt crazy evangelical, gospel music at the top of her lungs. It´s kind of hard not to laugh.

So, we had Breno´s baptism this Sunday and it was quite the adventure. He´s kind of a big kid, and he chose Elder Santana to baptize him. Kind of a difference in body size, ha ha. After three dunks, he finally got completely under the water though. Immersion! It was kind of funny, but Elder Santana wasn´t really laughing.

After the baptism, Breno´s mom got up and wanted to give a thought. So, she told this crazy story about how when Breno was a baby, he was in the hospital a LONG time because of problems. Everyone thought he was going to die, but she went to the hospital every day and prayed or sang for the doctors and other people. Basically, it was a miracle that he survived and is here today. After her story, she bore her testimony and said that she knows that THIS Church (the LDS one) is true. Opa!

This week I read a talk called The Atonement. Sheesh! Talk about powerful! I recommend it to anyone that really wants to understand the Atonement. I´m still thinking about it after three days. It´s one of those talks that you have to read a few times. It uses a lot of scriptures from Alma 34, so that´s what I´ll be studying tomorrow.

In closing, I would like to wish everybody a good week. It looks like everybody is getting back in school/work mode, so I´ll let you enjoy that. We have a wonderful opportunity to be members of this Church in the last days! What a blessing, people! I´m sure grateful to be on the mission. There are so many people that have no idea about our Church, that would glady leave the world and join us. Everyone has to be given the chance to hear the gospel. Let us bring it to them! Have a splendid day and remember that "you are a miracle"!

-That One Guy Sweating in the Jungle: Elder Carpenter

Thursday, August 19, 2010

School news

Hola! Tudo bem? How are yall? It´s weird that summer has ended and that everybody is starting school right now. Here in Brazil, they have it year round, and just have little breaks in the summer and winter. At least that´s what I think. They also only have school for 3 or 4 hours. When I tell people that I went to school from 7 to 3 everyday, they look at me like I´m crazy. Womp.

Tell Andrew that I wish him the best in all-day Kindergarten! I´m sure he´ll make some new friends and learn to behave himself there. I can still remember when I was in Kindergarten, like it was yesterday. I always remember that my teacher, Mr. Scott, liked to eat popcorn with milk, as if it was cereal. I plan on trying that some day, but I have yet to try. As for recipes, they have pretty much everything, in the way of condiments, here except for maple syrup, peanut butter, and mexican food. They have lots of pasta, noodles, fruit, bread.

As for this last week, things actually went pretty well! So, we were walking to this one guy´s house (Paulo, he was baptized but never came back to Church to get confirmed like 5 months ago) and this lady calls out, "Elderes!" We´re like, "What in the devil?" So we go and talk to her and her husband, and find out that they are a family that was baptized 8 or 10 years ago! They have moved around a bit, and the last place that they lived didn´t have the Church. But then, they moved to Ji-Paraná that day (this being the Friday when we met them) and we showed up. They have 2 kids, an 18 year old daughter who was baptized, and a 14 year old boy who didn´t get baptized, because he was too young when the rest of them got baptized. The mom is really, really nice and kept telling us that we can come to her house and she will feed us or help us in any way that she can. Needless to say, she has always loved the missionaries. The only thing is, I think they´ve been away from the Church for awhile because they asked us if we preferred to drink coffee or chocolate milk. Uh... So, we reviewed the word of wisdom with them. But, their son came to Church this Sunday and I´m sure that he´ll baptized soon because he really liked it. I´m excited!

Oh, and this Sunday was the end of our transfer, and guess what? Nobody in our district (us in Ji-Paraná and the 4 missionaries in Vilhena) will be changed. Everything is staying the same. So, I´ll be with Elder Santana for another transfer. I´m happy because our district is pretty awesome!

Have a wonderful week! The principles of the gospel are true! Not just lessons that we learn on Sunday, but actual truth that will always be true. Keep strong. I love you!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Keep the faith!

Well, I don´t have too much time so this letter will be short. This last week was not the best, haha. We went to Vilhena for a District Meeting, and got back on Wednesday. Pretty much all of our investigators we have cut, and we are trying to find new people to teach. As we say in our mission, they are "Pessoas Boas (good people)," but not "Eleitos (elect)." So, we are trying to find people who are willing to hear the word and follow it. We had Ilsemar and his woman, Ana Claudia at Church this Sunday, which was actually quite a surprise. We tried to call them to invite them to Church, but they didn´t pick up the phone. Then, they showed up at Church, which was good. I think I already talked about Ilsemar, but I´ll just talk about his situation. He´s 25 and cuts hair with his woman, Ana Claudia, 43. They live together in the house above the salon, with Ana Claudia´s 2 kids (who are actually older than Ilsemar...), and her daughter´s daughter, or granddaughter. Ilsemar, doesn´t want to get married because of the obvious age gap, and also because Ana Claudia wants to live with her kids who don´t work and just are on the internet all day. However, Ilsemar doesn´t want to leave because he´s invested a lot in the salon. Pretty complicated. We´re not exactly sure what to do, because they have to make a choice. We weren´t planning on teaching them anymore, but then they came to Church. Womp. We´ll see what happens.

Also, we did some service this morning for a family in the branch. We were cleaning out this house that they want to sell and pulling weeds, cutting things, and burning them in order to clear out the space around the house. It´s actually a really cool place, out in the countryside-ish of Ji-Paraná. Anyways, I felt like I was in Mesa with the sun, weeds, and dirt in my face. Haha, good times.

Basically, I´m just grateful to be here on the mission, doing my best to help the people here. I was reading in the scriptures this last week at the end of 2 Nephi, that talks a lot about the trials and things that will/are happening in the last days. It made me realize that we have a lot of stuff going on around us! However, we are not alone. We have the Lord on our side and he will always help his people. We are truly a strange people, but that is just because we don´t exactly fit in with the world. I just want everybody who´s reading this to know that the Church is true and that if we have faith, the Lord will perform miracles in our lives! I had to give an emergency talk this Sunday about missionary work. I told everyone in the branch that if they talked/invited someone to Church, an activity, etc. this week, that the Lord would bless them! I know that the same thing can happen in all the wards and branches of the Church. It´s just a matter of whether or not we act. Have a good week! Keep with the faith!

Com amor, Elder Carpenter

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

This was a good week!

Hey-O! Agosto (August for all you English speakers) has arrived!

This week was quite the good one. We had a man get baptized! Igor, the 21 year old boyfriend of one of the members. He´s been coming to Church for more than 8 months and FINALLY got baptized. After E. Abreu and I had started to teach him (another companionship had already been teaching him, but nothing happened), we set a date for him to get baptized. It didn´t happen and we decided to just let him come to us when he was ready. So the good thing was, that he chose the date to get baptized and was actually ready and willing to get baptized. So, that was awesome. He got confirmed along with Maria Raimunda (the Indian woman that we baptized 3 weeks ago) this Sunday. So, things are going well!

Now, we are just looking for people that are actually willing to get baptized. We were teaching this one 12 year old girl and her mom and marked a baptism for this past Sunday, but her neighbors and other people have apparently been talking bad about our Church. It´s kind of a complicated situation, so we´ll see what happens with the girl, Bruna. Also, in Ji-Paraná it´s a strange how people think of our Church. Because there are SO many churches here, most people have visited at least one and have had a bad experience, so they aren´t as willing to come visit ours. But, that is why we are here! To explain that our Church IS different.

Something interesting that we learned about this Sunday, is that all of the missions in the whole world are going to do the invitation to baptism in the first lesson. This is something that our mission already does, because we don´t want to lose precious time with people who don´t have to desire. But for the other missions in the world, this is kind of crazy, but really cool. Also, we´re supposed to kneel down for the closing prayer with all of the first appointments and invite the people present to pray. I´ve never knelt down for a prayer at an investigator´s house, so this is new to me. We´ll see how it goes! I´m excited.

One cool thing that I realized (yet again) this week during personal study. I read a scripture about how God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. It made me think about how all of the problems that we have today, have always existed: Pride, lust, greed, etc. And yet, man has always been expected to follow the teachings of the gospel and avoid these problems. The things that we learn in the Church are eternal principles. They have always been here. It is our responsiblity to not be lazy, and actually live them. I know that the Church is true, and that if we really live the principles of the gospel, we will be happy. Have a wonderful week!

-Elder Carpenter

Monday, July 26, 2010

Zone Conference was great

Caro Família,
Well... the cold weather died. After Wednesday, things pretty much turned back to the normal hot. So, I guess I know how you guys are feeling there in Mesa and Cleveland. Que shique! Although, things have gotten a lot better since I stopped using sunscreen. Elder Syndergaard (my comp from the MTC) said that he stopped using it about a month ago, and I stopped about 2 weeks ago. So far, nothing has happened. I haven´t gotten sunburned or anything. The difference is, now my shirts won´t turn yellow from the gross sunblock stain! Oh, and some other fun news: As you have probably noticed, I´ve got a farmer´s tan about equal to the one that I always had during cross country. BUT, now my hair is starting to turner light brown/blondish in front. It´s really weird to see when I look in the mirror.

Oh, and HAPPY BIRTHDAY to JENNERS! 22 and still kickin! Buy yourself something nice for me. And I got the package and... 10 letters!!! Everyone in my district was mad at me because I got quite the haul, but I was really happy. Thank you family and friends!
Hmmm, some news about Elder Santana. He´s got a pretty crazy story. So, his sister got baptized when he was 12, and then he followed her example not too much later. Anyways, he went to Church and everything until he was 17. Then, he had this non-member girlfriend (who was 12 at the time) and they did some things that we will not discuss here. Anyways, he had like a period when he was drinking every night, partying, and doin crack-cocaine. But, he was sitting at work one day, when he had this really strong impression to return to the Church on the mission. And he followed it! So, he went and talked to the bishop and got everything taken care of (this is about 1 year ago), and left for the mission field this February. I´ve actually been on the mission 8 days more than him, but he´s had one more transfer in the field than me because he knows Portuguese. Anyways, he´s about 5´5" I think, turned 21 last May, and he knows Ju-Jitsu. I´m trying to get him to teach me some. He kind of left his house with everything that he had, and just acted on faith. He´s cool though. He´s a bit more relaxed about the rules, so I´m trying to be a good example. I realized the other day how much of a change that it is for him to be here on the mission, and how I need to understand his point of view. The most important thing is that we are working and getting people ready to baptize!

Opa! So, we had our Zone Conference last week, but I left my notes in the apartment. Here were some of the highlights: Elder Itinose talked about how the Lord has a purpose for everything. Also, how the Book of Mormon was being prepared for many years before Nephi was even born. He talked about how it was written in Reformed Egyptian and about how the Egyptian language came about in the first place (many, many years before Nephi). I didn´t exactly understand all of it (he used lots of big words), but the important thing is that we have this sacred book today, and that we CAN´T take it for granted. He gave us lots of tips about little things we can do in order to teach more effectively and help solve investigator´s problems. I think my favorite part of it though, was when he talked about how these 2 years are the Lord´s 2 years. Not ours. And how we need to use them to the fullest. Sister Itinose talked about each of the Apostles and First Presidencies´ talks from the last Conference and how we need to incorporate their teachings in our lives. So, I´m working on reading all of them again. It was really cool though! I´m pretty sure that every missionary left the meeting humbled because he is a pretty intense guy. I got a picture with him and his wife, but this silly LAN house doesn´t like letting me send pictures.

Well, all is well in Zion! Have a wonderful week and remember to read your scriptures and pray morning and night! The Lord is preparing people for you to find and hand over to the missionaries, so don´t be afraid to open you mouth!

Com amor,
Elder Carpenter

Friday, July 23, 2010

Mission Conference

Investigator's home
Celebrating Brazilians on horses crossing a bridge

Opa! Sounds like yalls is gettin a good taste of the weather here in Brazil! At least one month ago, that is. It´s actually been really cold here the past few days (like 13 or 10 degrees C at night). So, really not that cold, but for us missionaries who have almost nothing prepared for cold weather, it´s been kind of fun. Ha ha ha. Thankfully the members gave us blankets to use during the night, so all is good. And they said that it will probably be over in about a week, which I am really sad to hear. I´m not looking forward to the return of The Sun of Ji-Paraná!
At the moment, I´m in a LAN house in Cuiabá because we´re having our Zone Conference with Elder Itinose tomorrow. I´m quite excited! They say that mission tours only happen 1 time a year. WOO!
We had another baptism this week! She is a 14 year old Indian girl named Lucicleia that lives by the river. And she has a baby that is 10 months old! Yay! However, she accepted the Law of Chastity, so she knows that she can´t be doing that anymore. She´s really shy and we taught her all the lessons with this other 14 year old girl from the branch, Brenda, so, we´re hoping that she´ll keep firm. Lucicleia opened up a lot to us after the first lesson, in which she was usually covering her face because of fear/awkwardness. I´m not really sure. But she likes the Church a lot and has a big family. So, we want to baptize whoever is interested! Oh, and her dad (who is not married) has 43 kids from 11 women! Nossa! That gives some of the men of the Bible a run for their money. He´s really nice though, and doesn´t look the part of a womanizer.
Oh, and this week we only had 33 people at Church because it was cold. For me, this is a pretty lame excuse to not come to Church, but maybe that´s just me. Anyways, there is this one guy in the branch, Osmir, who is getting a lot of references for us. So, we´ve been pretty busy. Also, we want to have a Get Married for Free Day here in Ji-Paraná (actually for all of Brasil), because that is what is holding back a lot of people from getting baptized. So, we´re just keeping on with the work!

Here´s a thought: I was reading Our Legacy on the trip here to Cuiabá and it has some cool stuff in there. The part I was reading was just about Joseph Smith and the early beginnings of the Church, but it´s all just neat stuff! To think that our Church started in a teeny log cabin, and has grown in to what it is today! A worldwide Church that anybody can join! Really cool. It reminded of the talk that Pres. Hinckley gave in Gen. Conf. Oct. 2007 about The Stone Cut Out of the Mountain. I recommend that talk to anybody! I really enjoyed it. Oh, and I´m also enjoying the talks from Dallin H. Oaks and Ezra Taft Benson. They write and think in a really similar way to myself, and I always enjoy their stuff.
Keep the Spirit with yall! Have a wonderful week, and remember: Every member is a missionary! Love ya!
-Elder Carpenter

Monday, July 12, 2010

I think it might be getting colder!

Caro familia,
Happy birthday to Grandma (woo, 81!) and I´m glad to hear that the reunion was good. It actually rained a lot here in Ji-Paraná, but you would have no idea because it´s pretty much completely dry now. Womp. Although, it´s hasn´t rained here in probably a month. AND, I don´t know if it´s getting colder here or if I´m just adjusted, but it doesn´t seem as hot. There are times at night when I feel cold! Opa!
Elder Santana is cool though, and I like him. He´s 21, comes up to about my mouth or chin, and is actually really smart. He can read people really well (investigators). So far, so good. I´ll send a picture of him next week.
So, we had a baptism this Sunday! Maria Raimunda, the Indian, who we´ve been trying to baptize for 3 weeks. It finally happened. Yay! Now, we´re working on teaching her neighbor and other people to get ready. The biggest problem here, is that almost nobody is married. It´s kind of ridiculous. Ilsemar didn´t come to Church this week, but we talked with him about how he needs to stop smoking and drinking coffee (and eventually get married...) and he said that he would stop using the bad things for his body. So, we´re gonna keep working with him.
Also, there was this BIG celebration in the middle of the city (right in front of our apartment) this Saturday. Basically just a big excuse for people to dress skanky and get drunk at 10:30 in the morning. So... we weren´t allowed to leave our apartment til 5 in the afternoon. Hahaha. I got some much needed rest though! We looked outside and it was kind of insane: Crazy loud music, beer, horses in the street, drunk people ON the horses, etc. But we were completely safe in our apartment. Thank goodness.
Well, we´re really excited to baptize the crap out of Ji-Paraná! President Oliveira wants every companionship to baptize 10 people every month! So, we´ll be working on that. Have a marvelous semana!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

New Companion, Same Area

Womp! Happy Independence Day to yall! Yesterday night (the 4th of July) I remembered what day it was, and it was really weird. Thankfully, we got to see some fireworks though, because there was this insane religious party in part of the city. There were fireworks, lots of banners in the air, really loud music, live band, fireworks, crazy yelling preachers (with microphones!), etc. It was nuts. We were teaching a lesson to this one couple that live not too far from where this was all taking place, and it was quite funny. So, we had a member with us, Bete, and she was bearing her testimony about our Church and all that jazz, and the whole time there is the insane preacher man shouting (and we can hear it perfectly). Then she´s like "Our Church doesn´t do that because the Spirit is a quiet voice that we hear." It was perfect.
The loss of the World Cup was quite a disheartening day, but it´s all because of the stupid Brazil player that scored for the Netherlands. Trevor can brag all he wants, but just let him know that his country got lucky. Also, GASP! Bryan could have his call in 2 weeks! I´m quite excited. Hopefully, he´s coming to Brazil. Elder Faust once said, "There are two types of missionaries in the Church: The ones that serve in Brazil, and the ones that wish they did." Hey, the words of an Apostle, not mine. Although, I second him. Apparently, he was quite the baller here in Brazil and had a house here.
Boas Novas: Transfers! So, finally, after 5 and a half months Elder Abreu left Ji-Paraná, off to train an American and be a district leader in Cuiabá. I´m staying here and waiting for Elder Santana to come. I kind of have no idea when he´ll get here, but I´m currently staying at the house of the Bete and Renato until he comes. It feels weird to just have a church member as a companion. I feel like I´m sinning... But this will be good! I think I´ve talked to Elder Santana one time, so it should be fun.
We didn´t have any baptisms this last week, but it´s all good. We found this one guy named Ilsemar (that´s an i in front) who came to Church this week. He´s way cool and accepted to get baptized this Sunday (along with his wife, but she needs to go to Church 2 times in order to get baptized). Anyways, we taught them the 1st Lesson and left the Book of Mormon, just like normal. When we came back, not only had they read 3 Nephi 11, but the Introduction, and everything else up until 1 Nephi 8! I was absolutely shocked. Not only did they read a ton, but this was a MAN that did it! Usually men are not nearly as receptive. The only thing is I think they smoke, so we´ll have to help them with that. But talk about elect! Oh, and we went with Alrora and Roberto (parents of a 13 year old recent convert) today to the marriage place (it´s called a Cartório in Portuguese), so that they can get married. They smoke (which we´re helping them with) and them getting married was a big step. They already saved up their money to pay for it, and now they have to wait 30 for the papers to go through and then they can get married! Bam! So, this is quite the stuff. Oh, and there is a new member here, who is 23 and married, and served his mission in Campinas. He´s pretty cool and should help to get things moving with exciting the members here. They all want the branch to grow, but it´s about having faith AND works.
Well, the Church is true people! We all have the same goal in mind, so now we just need to help build Zion. And please just talk to random people in the street and give them pass-along cards. Everyone needs a chance to hear our message, and the missionaries are ready and willing to share it with them!
Love, Elder Carpenter
P.S. I included photos of our district, the best of the Brasil Cuiaba Mission, a weird indian thing outside of our apartment, a meal of champions, and the goodbye photos of Elder Abreu (including Junior, the Ward Mission Leader here. He´s 18, haha). Oh, and Elder Itinose of the 70 is going to be at our next mission conference on the 20th of July. Get excited! He was the Brasil Manaus mission president from 2005-2008.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Brazil won again!

Caro todo mundo (literally the whole world, but it´s used to say ``everybody`` too),
Oi! Tudo bem? Eu espero que sim. Happy Father´s Day to Father, Mike, and Clayton! And also to my children, tell them that I´ll be expecting my package in the mail. Sounds like the food was good. I have eaten pretty much every type of meat available in the world, except for ribs here in Brazil. I´m sure it won´t be long before I get some though.
Well, I thought I should inform you all of a significant event that happened yesterday in Ji-Paraná. So, we were walking home from lunch, and it was completely, flaming hot outside. This whole past week has definately been the hottest one during my time in Ji-Paraná. So, anyways, it´s flaming hot and we´re dying as we walk home to our apartment (because we weren´t allowed to leave the apartment due to the World Cup festivities, which Brazil won by the way 3-1). We decided to see how hot it was, so we put my alarm clock/ thermometer on the windowsill, and the temperature just kept getting hotter and hotter until it reached 50 degrees Celsius and then the clock shorted out, or the battery was dying out or burnt, because the numbers were all faded and half gone. 50 degrees! That is like 120 Farenheit! So, imagine being in the inferno heat of Mesa summer, but add 100% humidity to it, and you have Ji-Paraná yesterday! Elder Abreu and I were in shock. He said that the hottest it got in his time in Cuiabá was 48 degrees Celsius. Anyways, just thought you should know that I know how you feel right now in the summer of Mesa Land.
Also, this last week was a bit crappy. We didn´t baptize anyone because the parents of Taina left for Porto Velho. It´s kind of complicated, but she agreed to be baptized this next week, as long as her parents get back to sign the form. However, her little 11 year old sister was at Church and she was really interested, so I think it was probably a blessing in disguise, so that they can get baptized together. Also, we waiting for Igor to finally pray about the Book of Mormon. He finally agreed to pray out loud during our last lesson, and based on what he said, he should be ready for baptizm this Sunday. Raimunda and Maria Raimunda (two Indian ladies) have also accepted baptizm for this Sunday. So, we´re working with them.
We´ve been tracking down less-actives this last week, and found out that most of their home addresses don´t exist or they moved. While looking for one of the houses, we encountered some old guy named Francisco who is Muslim. He had lots of "interesting" opinions about our Church, Jews, the U.S. gov´t, and many other things. It was a fun experience that I definately wrote down in my journal, haha. Also, Elder Abreu and I are making plans to have this week be really, really good. We´re currently in Vilhena (much cooler, yay!), but once we get back to Ji-Paraná we´ll hit the ground running. I´ll let you know how it goes.
Oh, and the World Cup was really weird! E. Abreu and I felt like we were sinning as we watched it, and then just relaxed on the couch at Sister Lourdes house. We both realized, "Hey! I haven´t done this in 4 months (or 8 months for E. Abreu)!" It was weird. We get to watch the third Brazilian game, too this Friday. It´s a parent vs. child game with Portugal! We´re hoping for a win. So, is everyone else here based on the fireworks and horn honking in the streets. Ha ha ha.
Well, have a good week! I hope that all goes well with the summer goals and such! Don´t die in the heat, and don´t forget that every member is a missionary! Love you all.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Blessings from the Sabbath

Ahoy, folks! First off, why the devil are the Lakers in the NBA finals?! How lame. I hope that the Celtics take it. Sounds like everyone had quite the busy week! It makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside to hear that you are not all wasting your summer away, like I used to do at home, hahaha. Cleaning is always fun. I actually enjoy it quite a bit! Today, we spent the whole morning cleaning our house because we have almost no time today because of the World Cup game and all that jazz. Our apartment was filthy and had all sorts of spiders in the corners and all sorts of nasty things... Anyways, it´s clean now and Elder Abreu and I feel really good. And I was cleaning my clothes with the collar soap that I bought here in Brazil and it works really good. I enjoy doing the wash! It takes me forever because our shirts are white and there´s all sorts of dirt that gets on them during the day. And say goodbye to white collars! Womp, womp.

The Português is coming along great! Everyone is always suprised that I´ve only been learning for 4 months. So then I feel all high and mighty! That is, until I go talk with a Brazilian and have to ask them to repeat what they are saying, hahaha. No, but it´s actually coming along really well. I´ve learned a ton more here in the field, because you begin to notice the words that people use most often, how they use the weird tenses (usually only for one or two expressions that are common, and then they don´t use the weird tenses for much else), about the words of the world (that you don´t find in the scriptures or PMG), and stuff like that. I can pretty much always get my way around and get the gist of what our investigators say. Elder Abreu knows a little bit of English which he is learning, and he can explain things a little better if I don´t understand, than Elder Magdo. Elder Magdo knew practically no English, haha. Elder Abreu´s really cool. We are really comfortable with each other and it´s really good, because it´s just us two in the apartment. And I´m starting to think more in Português too! I say almost all the words of my personal prayers in Português. I don´t feel frustrated or anything, so things are good.

When we last left our heroes, Elder Abreu and Carpenter, they were planning on baptizing the 13 year old girl: Taina. However, her dad was still working and wasn´t home to authorize the baptizm. And she didn´t go to Church. But we went and taught the The Restoration to her parents yesterday, and the dad said that he would support her in whatever she felt she needed to do. BAM! The mom was a bit grumpy, but she´s opening up too. So the baptizm will be this Sunday for Taina! And we´re teaching an ancient investigator: Igor. He´s 21 and is the boyfriend of one of the members, Ana Paula. Her parents make him go to Church so he´s always been there with her for the past few months. But, he didn´t really like the missionaries who taught him and he´s going to pray about the Book of Mormon this week. He already knows that the Church is true, but he´s just afraid of praying, because then he knows that he´ll have to follow it. Silly Igor! Anyways, he´s going to get baptized this Sunday. Then, we had a Lamanite family at Church this week. Raimunda, her daughter, her neighbor (also Raimunda) that lives underneath her house, and 5 grandkids (!). She´s really cool. They live right by the river and she told us that everytime that we´ve come and taught her, she´s been blessed afterwards. Opa! She´s told us some cool stories that I don´t have time to type, but she´s really cool. Really humble. They´re gonna get baptized in 2 weeks.

Oh, and cool story to finish up. So, we went and picked up Raimunda this Sunday with President Edilson (they go by first names here in Brazil), and she had a bazillion people, which was awesome. So we had to walk to Church, and it had already started and we were thinking about taking a taxi (they have them everywhere here). We felt that we shouldn´t since it´s the Sabbath day and all, so we walked in the hot sun. While walking, the gas station worker called out to us and wanted to know what the book was that I was holding. We explained about the Book of Mormon and gave it to him. He was really interested and promised to read. The elect are out there! Obey the Sabbath Day! I love you, and have the best week ever.

Monday, June 14, 2010

More Zone Conference travel fun

(Written Wed.) We left on Sunday at 3 in the afternoon to Zone Conference in Cuiaba, which we didn´t know about til 9 Saturday night. So we had a nice 18 hour bus ride to Cuiaba! Thankfully I slept for most of it, haha. But the conference was way, way good. It was about repentence. I´ll talk about it later. It was really funny because we were going from Cuiaba to Ji-Paraná last night, and the bus died. We all got out and waited two hours for another one to come pick everyone up. Thankfully we were in the middle of nowhere, but there was a gas station with food nearby. So that was interesting. Then, we´re like 2 hours from Ji-Paraná and the new bus that we were on died. Yet another bus came and got us, but this one didn´t have A/C; just open windows. Hahaha, yet another adventure in Brazil.

This past week was really good here though! The weather has cooled down a LOT and it rained quite a bit. One of the days was super muggy, but right now it´s still nothing compared to my first week here. Needless to say, I´m drinking lots of water, ha. But we are most likely going to have a baptism this weekend. Taine, is a 13 year old friend of a recent convert that we´re gonna baptize. She´s really shy but she accepted all the committments and was just like ``Yeah, I´ll stop drinking coffee.`` BAM! But, her dad is in Porto Velho working and won´t get back til this weekend. Her mom won´t let her get baptized until her dad gets home and they talk about it. So we´re praying for that. Our other investigators are not progressing quite as well, but we´re having major improvements. The one couple, Alrora and Roberto, are going to get married. They are both keeping up with their goals to stop smoking and drinking and once they´re married, BAPTISM! It´s exciting. I´ve never had investigators actually accept to get married; usually they just decide it´s too much committment/effort. Also, we´re helping a mom of two members to stop smoking and drinking. I´m pretty sure she has a firm testimony already, but she´s never been willing to obey the Word of Wisdom in order to get baptized. She´s really cool and promised Elder Abreu that she would actually do it.

Well, some cool highlights from Zone Conference were about repentence. One thing that President Oliveira had us all promise was to repent every day and to make it true repentence. If you do something wrong, recognize it, and just change the next day. Also, we all need to repent, because nobody is perfect. If we do that, then we´ll just be so much happier and not have the guilt and everything. What a blessing! Also, just get rid of the garbage in our lives. Lots of times we know exactly what it is that we need to change, but we´re just to scared to actually get rid of that movie, music, habbit, or whatever it is. The Lord promises that when we do, it will always be for our good. It´s an act of faith that many are afraid to make, but when the Lord commands, just do it (from the Stake Council papers).

Oh, and the World Cup starts this week: June 11-July 11. President is letting us watch the games that Brazil will be playing (YES!) with a firm member. Except, if any of the games fall on Sunday (like on the 20), then we are obviously not allowed to watch it. Our next P-Day will be on Tuesday (since Brazil is playing on Monday), so he told us to switch our days. So don´t freak out when you get another late email (sorry...). But, I love you and hope that you have a good week! Remember to pray in a quiet place where you can truly have a one-on-one conversation with the Lord. Tiao!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

It's hot!

Well, I have some awesome pictures of Ji-Paraná, but the computer is not working right. Next week. It is super, de-duper hot here! Holy goodness. Imagine walking around all day and pretty much just sweating the whole time. That´s what it´s like in Ji-Paraná. The members here are way cool. They feed us really well, and the people here have a bit more more than those in Vilhena. Everythings all just a bit nicer. Most of the streets have asphalt and sidewalks. However, the people are also more prideful, hahaha, and not as receptive to our good news! But, we are teaching a good little handful of people that are really firm and will get baptized. We´re teaching some parents of a recent convert, to stop smoking and get married. They are actually keeping up with the goals and everything! It´s amazing. They love every time that we come and visit. We´re also teaching some Indians by the river that speak Guarani. We´re trying to get a Book of Mormon in that language for them.

Opa! About dangue: it is a disease that Elder Onken and Abreu (my comp) got in Ji-Paraná from the mosquitos. He said it was the absolute worst time of his life. Hahaha. Needless to say, I sleep with my mosquito net over me and use the bug spray every night and day. I had like 100 million mosquito bites after the first night here. Also, my health has been really good. I haven´t felt sick or anything. We eat pretty good (I like to eat yogurt with granola in the mornings because the cereal I bought is nasty). The national health care here is pretty crazy too. I went to the hospital with Elder Magdo in Vilhena because he had problems with breathing, and it was a madhouse. So, I just decided that I´ll never get sick.

Sorry I don´t have much time to write right now, but I´ll leave this one thought. One thing that our president said is that while we are outside sweating from every pore, and thinking of complaining, we just need to think of the Savior, and his atoning sacrifice for us. He BLED at every pore for every one of our sins. This helps to put things in perspective. We are so blessed to have this in our life and to be able to repent. I love you and all have a good week! Remember to open your mouth and find people for the missionaries! This is a Church-wide work!
-Love, Elder Carpenter

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

New City: Ji-Parana

Hola familia! I have some big news! But first, I just wanted to say that Tucker is a cute baby! I have yet to see him in person, but he looks a lot like Andrew as a baby with that dark hair.
I´m completely jealous that you all got to see the temple dedication for THE Gila Valley Temple! I want to go back to the temple so bad, so look forward to it in 2 years! I didn´t know that there was so much history behind it and everything. Que legal!
Oh yeah, we had the Musical Fireside Saturday night. I thought it was going to be a disaster, but it turned out great. We didn´t plan for things very well, but it all came together. We sang lots of hymns: I Know That My Redeemer Lives (I did a solo on that with verses in Portuguese and English), I Believe In Christ (all the elders), Master the Tempest Is Raging (I played organ), I Am A Child of God, the Army of Helaman song, and another song that wasn´t a hymn. I either played the organ or sang for all of them and it felt good to play the piano/organ again! We used the organ from the other branch because ours is really ugly. Thank goodness none of the songs were very hard to play, or I would have made a fool of myself. It turned out really cool though. While we sang we had a slideshow of pictures of Christ going on a projector. The members all liked it and all said that we sang muito lindo (very gorgeous). I´m was glad that they thought that, hahaha.
Ok, here´s the news. I am leaving in one hour for a new area/city called Ji-Paraná! Completely unexpected and also kind of crappy for the other elders because Elder Magdo left yesterday and now I´m leaving the area... weird. But, Elder Aquino and Onken (the other Vilhena elders) are being split up to be in the two Vilhena areas with new companions. I´m going to Ji-Paraná to be with Elder Abreu. We´ll still be in the same district with Vilhena, so that´s good because I really like the other two elders. I´m also really excited to be with Elder Abreu. From the time I´ve spent with him at district meetings and stuff, he´s quiet but I like him. I think we´re gonna work really well together. Ji-Paraná is supposed to be a lot bigger than Vilhena, and there´s only one companionship there because the work has been kind of bad. Apparently Vilhena and Ji-Paraná were both cities that got closed about a year ago because there was not much success. Then they got opened back up in January and February of this year, and they´ve been doing awesome! One thing that I´ve learned from the other elders is that it is all about attitude. The missionaries that think, say, and act like they are going to baptize actually do. That´s something we´ve really been trying to do here, and so far we´ve had baptisms almost every week. We baptized Edilson, a 12 year old friend of the other two boys that we baptized, this Sunday. He used to smoke (gasp! He´s 12! I´ve begun to learn that ANYTHING is possible in Brazil. It´s a magical place) and drink coffee but he stopped. There´s times when he messes around and stuff during lessons and I´m just like,´´You really want to get baptized?´´ and he was. I hope that they all keep going to Church and staying strong. They´ve all not had much of a home life, education, that kind of thing, and the gospel is what they need. Vamos orar!
Oh yeah, Ji-Paraná is the farthest north that you can get in the mission. Elder Onken was there for 3 months and he said that it is literally on the edge of the rain forest. And I will be eating lizard and weird things! He also said that it is really hot there (gag me...), but not as hot as Cuiabá. So I am gearing up for sweat! And it´s totally gonna be one of those experiences that I look back on and have all the good stories and things. I´m way excited. It kinda of stinks to have to learn a new area all over again and become friends with all the members, but I´m up for it. Oh! And they make really nice hammocks there for $30. I´m totally getting one.
Also, here´s something that I learned during the week. We were singing I Am A Child of God during the week, and it really just hit me EVERYONE in the world is a child of God. Back at home, it was just like, ´Well, duh!´, but here in Brazil you see the other side of the world. Not all of the people have very much and some of them have ruined their lives and the lives of their families with drugs and drinking and such. It is just amazing to know that Christ knows each of us INDIVIDUALLY and personally. He knows everything that we´re going through and just wants to help us. But most people never ask, and never receive the help that they need. That´s one thing that everyone has to realize, is that they can´t make it on their own and they need help from a higher power. I hope that we can all humble ourselves and realize this. I know that I am trying. Well, have a good week! Take a deep breath because piano and school are over (for those involved), but remember not to be lazy. Laziness is bad. Well, I love you all and look forward to hearing all the good news about your activities, goals, and achievements next week!
Com Amor, Elder Carpenter