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

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Fotos of Zach and friends

outside Zach's apt.
lumber mill
Zach's apt.

Kitchen- glad they don't have to use it much
Laundry room
Zach's desk
Happy Mother's Day
Rodizio with Elder Magdo
1st baptism (Zach baptized the littlest one in white.)

My feet are getting better!

Opah. Graduation! How exciting for Jenny! Looking at those pictures made me think of Arizona and the fact that it is a desert and has no plants, ha ha. I´m glad that everything went well with the graduation. Talk about a long time coming! I´m glad that Jenny did good on her test. All that hard work and prayer paid off

Well, we didn´t teach a whole ton of lessons this week, but we had another baptism! We baptized Katia, the 19 year old with 3 kids. She is the oldest sister of Maike and Riki (they were baptized last week). The whole family was there for the baptism and a bunch of neighbors. Hopefully, they´ll all want to baptized too, haha. Now we´re preparing to baptize the other brother, Jhony, this Saturday.

Good news. My feet are mostly normal! It´s no longer cold here in Vilhena, and my feet were getting a little big in the shoes, and it hurt for a couple of days, but now all my toes that had blisters are calloused and hopefully there are no more problems. I can walk!

One thing that I learned this week in personal study (one of the many things) is about the Priesthood. A Priesthood holder can only use his Priesthood to bless other people. It can never be used for one´s self. I´ve had the opportunity to give a few Priesthood blessings (in English and Portuguese), and it is truly something divine. The words that you say are not your own, and usually afterwards, you´re like ´Did I really say that?´ and the truth is that you just said what the Holy Ghost prompted. It´s really cool stuff, that we are really lucky to be able to do. Well, we are doing the music thing this Saturday with a bunch of hymns and us elders singing and playing instruments. I hope that all goes well! We are trying to practice a little bit every day. Remember the things that you read in the scriptues by writing them down. That shows the Lord that you are willing to learn and apply them, and then you´ll receive more inspirations. Love you and have a good week!

Mother's Day joy!

We talked to Zach on Mother's Day. He sounded really good. Except for his feet getting major blisters he is feeling fine. He says the people in his area are really good to him. They feed him a lot when they eat lunch with them. Zach is happy to be working hard! Here is his letter the day after Mother's Day.

Well, like I told you yesterday, we had 2 baptisms yesterday. My first baptism! It was pretty weird to actually be the one baptizing, but thankfully I didn´t mess up the words or anything. Afterwards, I was all smiles. I couldn´t stop! Now, we are just hoping that the sister and mom and brother of the 2 will get baptized too. Katia (sister) has a baptism date for this Saturday, and we´re still working with Wellington to get permission from his aunt to get baptized. We are praying for a miracle! Also, we taught this one guy a week ago who accepted a baptism date for the 22nd and he accepted everything, 1st Vision, reading, everything, but we have yet to catch him. He works as an ambulance driver and his work hours are just whenever they call. We also have 2 brothers and a friend of theirs with a baptism date for the 22nd. They are pretty cool, but they need to read the scriptures, haha. Sunday was kind of sad because we have lots of investigators, but none of them came to Church, only 2. Because it was really cold yesterday (and this morning/today it was 68-70 degrees!) they all gave lame excuses for not going. That´s one of the problems with people, they are all really cool and accept the commitments to read and go to Church but hardly any of them actually do it. I´m pretty sure that this is the same problem that all missionaries have. But we have our work cut out for us!

Well, it feels good to be a missionary. It´s weird because it´s different from what I expected. You aren´t constantly having spiritual experiences, but you do have them. A lot of it is just teaching people the basic, beautifully simple doctrines of the Church. You don´t have to teach in grandeur or majesty, only with the Spirit. Because I´m teaching in Portuguese I have no choice but to keep things simple, and I´m very grateful for that. I´m afraid that I would complicate things too much if I taught in English. And it´s also just about not being lazy and going out and visiting/teaching your investigators. It´s really up to you (or the senior comp, in reality) what gets done. Thankfully, we work hard, because that´s how I like it. And Portuguese seems to be coming to me as well! I was talking with 16 year old from the other branch in Vilhena last night, and I told him I was from the U.S. and he said he thought I was Brazilian! I was so excited. It was night time so I probably looked darker, but it made me feel really good.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Brazilians are cool!

Ha, that story about Dad writing the talk on the way home from Thatcher reminds me of just about every day of the mission. We are usually late for everything and always have something to do. P-Days are wonderful, because you get to relax, but even those are pretty rushed. Hahaha. And I´ll have you know that I´m eating very well. The members always make too much food for us, and I usually eat til I´m sick. I´m much more used to the language and phrases that people use in the three weeks that I´ve been here. I´ve improved a lot, but it´s still a bit weird. And I´m much more comfortable with teaching lessons now. Still lots of room for improvement, though!

I have used the DEET a little bit, because I tend to get mosquito/spider bites at night. I might try and use the net, because they are getting itchy. All of the anti-itch, sunscreen, neosporine has come in quite handy. The other elders were impressed with how prepared I was (thank you mom).

Zone Conference was awesome too! I learned a lot. Our mission´s new name is CuiaBatizar. Catchy, eh? It was really fun to see all of the missionaries and get motivated to BAPTIZE! I had to get up and bear my testimony with the other 2 greenies (they were Brazilian) and I couldn´t really tell what we were supposed to do so I just bore my testimony and talked about how I don´t want to waste any time on the mission. One of my big things is that I don´t want to have any regrets when I look back on the mission and think that I could have worked harder. The blisters on my toes are proof of that, hahahaha. President Oliveira complimented my Portuguese many times and he thinks that it´s coming along really well, so that made me feel good. For this, eu sou muito grato to have a Brazilian companion. Then, at night I can speak in English with Elder Onken or have him explain something to me for my companion. It´s a good mix.

This week, Elder Magdo and I have 5ish baptisms planned. We´re hoping that all goes well and that we finally get one. We´ve been working with this one family (Katia (she´s 19 and has 3 kids), Johnny, Maike, and Riki) but it´s hard to catch them all. They´re all siblings and really cool. Another is Wellington. He´s a 16 year old who really likes the Church, but he works an awful lot for Herbal Life and is hard to catch as well. He´s gonna be a great convert though. Also, there is Erika who has been taught all the lessons, but stopped going to church or something (I don´t really know). Then, I was on a split with Elder Onken and we invited her to be baptized and she accepted. Hopefully all goes well, because she´s really hard to catch at home. It takes forever to walk to each of the houses, and if they´re not home, then you just have to hope that you´ll catch them the next time.

The Brazilians are way cool though. Like I say, they are all really relaxed and anyone will let us get their information to teach them, although we never have time to teach all of the Potential Investigators. It´s another story whether or not they read and pray, but at least they are receptive. Other than that, I am having a great time. Getting used to the food, I have a nice collar tan now, and enjoying Terere and Guarana (two awesome drinks here)! The members always have juice at lunch, and I have yet to try one that I didn´t like. I pray for each of you every night! Oh, look up 2 Nephi 7:7. I think that´s what it was. I really like it. Remember to work hard and not be lazy Church members! We can only be happy while we are busy! I love you! I can´t wait to hear you on Sunday!

-Elder Carpenter