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