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.