Wednesday, December 14, 2011

12/12/11 Letter

Dearest Family Carpenter e outros,
Happy Holidays! All I hear about is Christmas parties and shopping and eating! Everyone must be getting fat. 
Last week was quite amazing gente. On Monday night, we had the best missionary work meeting with our ward mission leader EVER. We went to the chapel and he had bought us salgados (which are pastries with meat inside, such as ham and cheese) to eat with french fries and Coke! Que maravilha! Talk about awesomeness. We are planning on doing a cool activity next week for the ward and we got together a good heart-breaker lesson for Eva.
On Tuesday, I did a division with Elder Wanderley and we taught some cool people (despite the rain coming down), and at night we had to switch back so that Menezes and I could teach Eva with Danny! It was a good lesson but her granddaughter was screaming and nobody was paying attention. Eva said that she had not smoked for a few days and she started talking about how she had bought a new dress to wear at Church. So we butt in and said, "That´s good because you´ll be able to wear your dress to your baptizm this Sunday." The rest was history. We took her cigarettes away and she got baptized on Sunday! Yay! She was all nervous on Sunday and kept saying that she would take off and that her back would hurt (since she has some back problems), but after the baptizm she was fine. Danny baptized her and practically went all the way down with her so that she wouldn´t have to bend her spine. Oh Eva! Now the family is complete! The two grandparents and the 3 granddaughters who are 8 and above. Sadly, their 2 living kids aren´t very interested in going to Church, but they´ll wake up sooner or later.

On Thursday, we had our Christmas Conference! It was fun. Sister Oliveira talked about how we need to be happy wherever we are because that is how it´ll be for the rest of our lives. Totally true. We watched some videos about Christmas and with MoTab singing, and everyone had some music that they´d been practicing and sang for all to enjoy. It was funny because all of the sisters got up to sing that one hymn "Plains of Judea Where Christ Was Born." Uh... I don´t remember the name in English. So the sisters sang in front of everyone but let´s just say that it wasn´t up to par, so ALL of the Elders and President Oliveira got up and sang the hymn with gusto! It was a crackup. We got presents too! Some good chocolate from Switzerland and a dirty clothes thingy. It´s not a bag nor a hamper. It´s some mesh thing that folds up like the shade you throw up in a car while shopping at Wal-Mart. And I got a tie for my birthday and Zona Monte Líbano got certificates for completing our monthly goals in November! Sweetness.
At Church, we had William and Beatriz´s parents. Irmão Luis finally got back from swamp land! And they LOVED Church and are planning on getting married and having the ceremony at the Church and getting baptized! YES! I love this family. Sueli is the sweetest lady ever and she even has a testimony now! She´s been reading the Book of Mormon and is in Alma 36 now. It´s only been like 3 weeks since she´s had the book. So we have wedding and baptismal bells ringing on Christmas weekend!
Good week to all! Remember the true meaning of Christmas.
-Elder Carpenter
Brazilian Fact #1: To celebrate the holiday season, everyone eats meat on the 24th until midnight and then the party begins! 
#2: There are members that go caroling but it´s definately not as common as back in the states.
#3: People put up a strand or two of Christmas lights during this time of year! I have yet to see anything that compares to our yard though.
Fotos: The Best Zone Ever: Mount Lebanon Zone! and Feliz Eva!


12/05/11 Letter

Hey folks,
Christmas season is here! Make the best of the season! Everyone is thinking about Christ and is looking for happiness.
Elder Menezes and I had yet another amazing week! Ala Pioneiros is on fire! I love this ward and the members and investigators. I was kind of sick during the week, but we managed to get to our appointments every day. We have been visiting Sueli and her family almost everyday. Unfortunately, her husband has been on holiday since Wednesday, but because of rain and lack of bus coming to take him and the other workers home, he hasn´t gotten here yet. But, he already said that he wants to get married and then Sueli is definately gonna get baptized. She totally made me trunky this week. We went and visited her and asked what she felt at Church. She responded,"You guys who are away from home for 2 years, how do you feel when you come home?" I responded really dumbly,"I don´t know yet," to which Menezes did damage control and said,"REALLY good." Sueli said that that is just how she felt. Trunkeza! Everything went well for William and Beatriz´s baptisms last night! They are such innocent and good kids. I love this family.
Another trunky moment: On Thursday, the executive secretary in the mission home called to ask me which airport that I´d like to fly to. Wow.... February 8th is the day! But that´s when I´ll leave from Cuiabá to São Paulo to Houston to Phoenix. I calculated the time with Elder Syndergaard who used to be in the office and he said that I´ll probably get in Phoenix early morning on the 9th. Get ready!
During the week we have been teaching Rosimeire, Danny Presley´s mom. Danny is our ward mission leader and his mom has been an eternal investigator for over 12 years! They always say how EVERY companionship tries to teach her, but things changed after she had her dream and saw the need to help her less-active sister. And after teaching every day, Danny would make us something different to eat. Words don´t express my love for this family! Food and missionary work! Rose was SO happy to get baptized. After she came out of the water she started smiling and giving thumbs up to everyone. Hahahaha. I´ve never seen such a reaction! And there were plenty of people there, so it was quite the event.
We´ve been helping Eva to stop smoking but it´s turning out to be harder for her than we thought. But she´s super firm in coming to Church and even the baptisms at night! Just throw them ciggies out! And the sun sure isn´t getting any brownie points with us this last week. I feel like I have gone back to Cuiabá already. NO!!! But, we´re excited for this next week. We´re gonna find lots of new people to teach and have interviews with President and Zone/Christmas Conference this week. Sniff, sniff, it´ll be my last. There´s still plenty that I need to learn though, so I´m sure it´ll be great. Have a fantastic week! Merry Christmas!
-Elder Carpenter
Brazilian Fact: On the 24th, everyone gets together and eats a lot and parties until midnight when people will light off fireworks and whatnot. It´s kind of like New Years the Prequel.

11/28/11 Letter

Dearest Family,

Happy Thanksgiving! While I didn´t eat turkey, some members in another ward made turkey for the missionaries that work there. Yes, turkey does exist in Brazil, but it´s kind of rare to eat. I´m not even sure if I´ve eaten it during my time here... Sure happy that you guys ate my share of turkey though! And plenty of other foods. That´s awesome.

First, I want to talk about our P-Day adventures last week! We ate lunch at McDonald´s (blegh) because they have Pokémon toys and cards as the toys. Talk about a ripoff! I payed R$13 which is like $8 for a wimpy piece of meat on bread, cold fries, and a healthy cup of sliced apple (which was about 1/4 part of an actual apple). Gotta love McDonald´s. But I finally have a Pokémon card in Portuguese. We checked out plenty of crazy stuff downtown and I found a dart blower (with wooden stick darts), fancy pants necklace, Peruvian backpack, and a classic giant horn made of cow horns. Everyone has to bring one of those home from Brazil. And to top it off, we bought pastries of crocadile meat. Crocadile is some tasty stuff! It´s seems like a mix of chicken and fish. Funky taste and worth the ridiculous price. One more thing to check off my bucket list.

Then, we had a crazy amazing week as well. There is this amazing family that we are teaching which consists of Sueli (mom), Unnamed husband, Rodrigo, Beatriz and William. William and Beatriz came to Church last week and were preparing to get baptized this week, but their dad, who works in the Pantanal (famous swamp lands in this part of Brazil) really wants to be here to watch. Yay for parents who support their kids in important decisions! But he´s gonna get here on Wednesday, so we´ve just been teaching everyone together. The mom, Sueli, is so cool! She´s been reading the Book of Mormon like crazy and already has a testimony that this is what she and her family have been needing and she just wants to keep learning and get married. We love them.

However, seeing as how their baptisms got moved to next week, we were running around trying to find someone ready to be baptized. We had plenty of people at Church, but they all became uninterested and running away from us. Blugh. But, we went and visited this guy that talked to us on the street last Saturday, who had been taught by lots of missionaries and told us to go visit him. We went and got to know Thiago and his family, and they are all really cool people. As we began to teach Thiago he told us about his crazy life! He used to be WAY in the world but in the past year or so he has freed himself of all addictions and is now much happier. Thiago has been to Church a few times and really knows his Bible! Rapaz. Anyways, after a spiritual lesson we invited him to be baptized on Sunday and he accepted. And it went through! Thiago is the bomb. We felt so good during his baptism because we know that it has been a long journey up until this point. It goes to show that the Lord is truly preparing his elect! It´s just a matter of us inviting and being instruments in His hands.

And other good news! Danny´s mom (he´s our ward mission leader) has decided to get baptized! We went and taught her during Elder Menezes 1st real day in the field! I felt like we would have to opportunity to teach and baptize her that day, but I didn´t know how, because at that time she had quite the hard heart. But, the Lord works through mysterious ways. Rose had a dream last week in which she saw the Saviour and some other things happened and now she knows that she needs to enter in to His Church and help her family. We´re so excited!

Wonder week to everyone. I give thanks to all of you for the support and love! You are all the best!

-Elder Carpenter

Fotos: Thiago´s baptism, McDonald´s, Crocadile meat!, and P-Day Spoils.


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

11/21/11 letter

What an exciting week you have all had! Thanksgiving is on its way as well! Hip hip hooray!
As always, the first week of a transfer is kind of nuts, and this one was no exception. On Monday night, we had some elders sleep over at our house (since our house is a street away from the Bus Terminal in Campo Grande) since they missed their buses. Gah! I hate having so many messy people in a house that want to eat all of your food. Caidaço. But, they left early in the morning, so that was good.

Tuesday, we had a short meeting with our new ward mission leader: Danny! Danny is awesome. He served his mission in Manaus (which is the Amazon rainforest mission) and he´s helping us to make this ward grow and get even better than it already is. We went and taught Jair and Eva (their granddaughters got baptized last week) and Danny helped us out a ton. He bore a powerful testimony that helped Jair decide to get baptized. "How can I support my granddaughters in doing what´s right, if I myself don´t follow?" That is what I´m talking about Jair. 

Wednesday, I did a division with Elder Stuart which was bomb. We taught Guilherme and Thais´ mom, but unfortunately she´s got her heart in her other Church. At least she supports her kids and wants them to keep going to Church. But wake up! Your evangelical Church is a joke! But, everyone has their agency. We taught a member´s friend as well, whose name is Maria (go figure). She´s a sweet lady, but is a little slow. We´re helping her out.

Thursday, we got stuck at lunch for forever, while the other companionship taught Sister Maria Lúcia´s neighbor who came to lunch (and church!). Lots of things didn´t go as planned , but we went to our most important committment: Jair! Jair´s son tried to question us about some stuff, but the poor guy doesn´t even know what´s in the Bible. Don´t worry, there was no contention nor Bible bashing, just a calm explaining of things as they really are. Eva insists that we baptize this son of hers before she gets baptized. But, the guy doesn´t even want to learn with us! We have a challenge on the horizon.

Friday, the big day! Elder Bednar stopped by in Cuiabá and we got to watch the transmission of our 3 and a half hours with him. He is the most calm, forward, and direct person that I think I´ve ever seen. Elder Bednar had us ask him questions as well as conversing with the Elders in Cuiabá. It was an open air discussion, and he kept asking us, "What do you notice about the form of this meeting?" He was teaching us that we need to TEACH people and not just spout out information at them and expect them to be "taught." And to ask questions that make people think and learn at the same time. Elder Bednar laid down the law in quite a few areas where we have old Mormon traditions as well. Like the practice of writing down everything that people say and then never reading the notes again. We need to take note of our feelings, impressions of the Spirit, and what we have learned. It was amazing! Sadly, the transmission was not so hot, so I hope that they recorded it in Cuiabá. Having an apostle in our mission has surely helped me out and I have felt and seen many things that I need to improve on. And I know that this is just the beginning! Gah!

Saturday was a big ol´mess of interviews and quick visits to people to see who would go to Church and who wouldn´t.

Sunday was equally hectic. We had to call for last minute rides to take all of the girls to the Church to get confirmed (since Sacrament Meeting starts at 9 now with the new ward). But they all got confirmed! And we had plenty of investigators at Church. Best of all was Jair´s baptism after Church! His family was so excited and happy. We invited Gleidson to baptize him, because we love Gleidson. He´s only been a member for 4 months and he just ordained as Elder and called as the ward secretary. Yes! At night, we visited Sueli, whose kids came to Church with their member neighbors. Sueli is a perfect example of love! She takes care of her blind, memory stricken, and humble mom all day. We taught them the Restauration and after the first vision, we asked her if she believed that God answers prayers. Sueli said that after we passed by on Saturday, she prayed to know if this was the right path for her and her kids. She felt that if her kids came home happy, then she would know that it was what they were needing. Willian and Beatriz (her kids) came home bundled with joy and Sueli knew that this truly is the Church of Jesus Christ! Now they´ve accepted for us to help them get baptized!

Yet another hectic week is on the horizon, but I wouldn´t trade it for anything. This is the best ward that I´ve ever been in and it´s because they members make all the difference. Inviting their friends to Church and not being ashamed to talk about the gospel. Vamos avante nessa obra! Love ya! Did you know that you are my favorite family ever?

-Elder Carpenter

Thursday, November 17, 2011

11/14/11 letter

Dearest Family,

Happy Birthday to Sarah! Yip yip hooray! Congrats on getting all of the free things that you could! That´s how we do it. And mother has even overcome her fear of touching cilantro just to make your special dinner! Congratulations. I love cilantro by the way .

Elder Menezes and I had a pretty booked week. Wow! We had 3-4 houses to visit every day. Our schedule went like this: 4:15 to 5 we would wait and then teach Daniel (who is a recent convert´s grandson that went to Church), 6ish was when we tought Thaís (who is Guilherme´s sister), 7:30 is our time to teach Jair and Eva along with their 3 granddaughters (who came to Church), and sometimes 8:30 we taught Romano, who is Rodolfo´s dad. Whew! Talk about walking fast. If any of the visits took too long, then it would make everything late. Gah! But it´s all good. 

Our week was awesome though. Thais is BFF with a member and so teaching her was super simple. She was already living the commandments and just has a strong desire to do what´s right and follow Christ. We would include Thais´ mom so that she could see that what we´re teaching her is good and healthy. It was cool because the member family that lives right next to them is about to send their missionary off on Thursday, so we invited Antonio to baptize Thais. That lucky duck got to baptize on his last sunday at home! Now he´s off to baptize more people in São Paulo.

The other family that we´re teaching is AMAZING! The members taught with us EVERY single day because they´re all so awesome. We´ve been teaching the 3 granddaughters with their grandparents and they´re all so cool and happy to be doing the right things. One of the granddaughters, Ana, is 9 and actually lives with her parents behind her grandparents house (but her grandma is the legal guardian and the one who has raised them all). But Ana´s mom has been going to the dark side and told Ana that she would buy her a notebook computer if she didn´t get baptized. What?!?! But Eva (the grandma) is amazing and told her what´s up. And Ana´s mom has actually listened to our lessons on Friday and Saturday. Now, we´re helping the grandparents stop smoking and have the grandpa give the JW´s the boot and stop visiting him! Yes. 

Sadly, Daniel, who´s recent convert grandma has a ticket to the celestial kingdom for all that she´s through, 8 was taught and interviewed, but on Sunday gave up on getting baptized. We´re still not too sure of what happened, because we sat and tried to get him to come out for a while and just his brother came out to give lame excuses to us. We´re praying to know what to do with him.

In all, it was an amazing week! I couldn´t have asked for a better birthday present than being a part of the Lord´s work in bringing these people to his kingdom. We even ate gigantic pastels to celebrate the big day. The Lord is blessing us and we´ll be staying another transfer together! Elder Ertel is off to be a district leader in another area and Elder Stipanich will be with Elder Wanderley. Perseverar até o fim Stipanich! Love ya! Happy Veteran´s Day!

-Elder Carpenter

Fotos: Frafiti of Tereré, Thais and Guilherme and mom, The Jair Tribe consisting of Nathália, Alexia, Ana, and wife Eva!


11/7/11 letter

Olá Família,
Obrigado pela parabén por meu aniversário! Imma be 21! We were all gonna go out and get a drink to celebrate since I´ll be 21 and all, but then I realized that you only have to be 18 to drink in Brazil! So we are going bump the party up to tonight. But, happy birthday to Sarah! Use the birthday bear for me.
What an upside-down confusing week that we´ve had. We´ve been teaching this guy named Carlos all week. He came to Church and is in the process of moving to another state, but is staying in a hotel waiting for his giant Diesel to get registered so he can hit the road to Goias! But, Carlos is great because he gives us free food and does nothing all day so he would read the Book of Mormon. Carlos is REALLY smart and I felt like I was teaching somebody normal for a change! When he found out that he would be staying for the weekend during his long wait, we invited him to get interviewed and baptized, so he was interviewed on Saturday but REFUSED to be baptized this week. He´s convinced that he needs to do it in Goias, but by that time the devil will have already taken his soul down to the pit of misery and endless woe! Gah. We got sad, but not given up.
On Sunday, we had our first meetings of the Ala Pioneiros and a whopping 8 investigators! The members are awesome and brought their friends that we´ve been teaching to Church! Yes. One is a cool family that we started teaching. The grandma is a haircutter and pretty Catholic but willing to change ("I believe a lot in Saint Mary... blah blah blah."), but Eva is awesome because she let her granddaughters come to Church even though she couldn´t. They are 13, 12 and 9 and they watched the baptisms of Elder Ertel and Stipanich and almost cried! Wow. The little one who´s 9 said, "If I could I would get baptized right now!" That´s what I´m talking about. Guilherme´s sister came to Church to watch his confirmation and she´s all BFF with another young women in the ward and is getting baptized on Sunday! There is gonna be a line to get in the water this Sunday! We´re working with other people and making the best of the excitement in the ward. I´m so happy!
And (drumroll)...  Elder Bednar is coming to visit Cuiabá this month! He´s probably gonna get things straight and tell the members and missionaries to work so that President Oliveira can divide this stake before he leaves. Sadly, I don´t think I´ll be there but he´s gonna do a training thing with the missionaries and all of us in the south get to watch it via satelite. He´s gonna do an open-air question time, but I haven´t thought of anything yet. Help me out!
Best week to everyone! Until we meet again!
-Elder Carp.
Brazilian Fact: The Brazilian Flag looks awesome on a pumpkin!

Monday, October 31, 2011

10/31/11 Letter

Sorry this is late, but we have been super busy during our P-Day today, so I only have like 5 minutes to write to yall.

This last week was NUTS!! Craziness all around. Yesterday, the ward Universitário divided into 2 wards! We are now in Ala Pioneiros (Pioneers Ward) and Elder Ertel and Stipanich are in Ala Universitário. It was super cool because the members are pumped to get things going again to divide these two wards as soon as possible. Things are heating up! President and Sister Oliveira came for the special event and it´s definately a good thing that we had a baptism for them to watch. Hahahaha. Elder Menezes got to have his first baptism in the field! It´s so exciting. His name is Guilherme and he´s a friend of Antonio Iverson, who´s going off on his mission on Nov. 17th. That family is awesome and is starting to baptize their friends now. Guilherme is 16 and a really good, goofy kid. He basically acts just like Mark Cooley, hahaha. We taught him this week and we´d ask him "Guilherme, are you excited for your baptism?" to which he´d respond, "Uh... yeah. I thinhk so." Did you really have to think about that one? He´s bomb though, and now we´re trying to teach the rest of his family. Also, Sunday was nuts because this entire week has been flaming Cuiabá hot, and then there was a freak lightning storm Saturday night and then it started pouring Sunday morning from 2:30 until 10ish in the morning. So, not everyone came to Church that we wanted, but we still had some investigators. We´re working and getting everyone baptized! Woot. Have a wonderful week! See you all later. Have a happy Halloween!
-Elder Carpinteiro

Fotos: Guilherme´s Baptism, President Oliveira with friend (who just HAPPENS to be Elder Menezes´ uncle), and Pizza Hut (yes it exists in Brazil but it´s super expensive)!!
Brazilian Fact: Brazilians don´t celebrate Halloween!

10/24/11 letter

Beloved Family,

This week was super exciting. We got some news here in the ward, so we´ll be working our bums off this week, finding people to go to Church! We had some interesting experiences as well. During lunch last week, Irmão Rodolfo told us to visit his neighbors that live in front because they are parents of a member in another ward. Here´s the thing though: they have a Centro Espírita (Spirit Center) next door to their house, which they are in charge of (where they do funny spirit rituals and whatnot). We invited them to Church and they came! Invite everyone to come unto Christ. They don´t plan on changing their religion, but at least they are open to learning more about ours. 

We´ve been kind of a dead-end with our investigators this week.  One of them who was really interested, Romys, is actually moving back to his small town where they don´t have the Church. He´s a good kid, but we´re sad that he´s leaving and didn´t get baptized. The family that came to Church last week has shown that they want to rely on the world rather than in God. We decided to do a fast and ask the Lord for some help. There is a young man named Antonio in the ward who is going on his mission in less than a month, and we´ve been teaching two of his friends. On Sunday morning, we were going by to pick people up to go to Church, but nobody was coming. After nobody had come (except for the spirit couple), we only had Antonio to rely on. And he came through and brought his to friends to Church! Milagres acontecem. Guilherme, who´s 16, is all firm and set to get baptized next week, and Wesley wants to get baptized as well, except that his family is super Catholic. We´ll be working with both of them, and trying to find new people as well. I know that fasting is a true principle of the gospel! When we do our part, then the Lord will always do His.

Love you all! Have a marvelous week. Voces são os caras!

-Elder Smush

Brazilian Fact: Brazilians like eating persimmons! They are like sweet tomatoes.

Fotos: Elder Menezes with my glasses. What a stud.

Monday, October 17, 2011

10/17/11 letter


Neato! Baby showers. Halloween is coming! Glad to hear all the good news, Seth is going in to a new house, Grandma´s house is cleaner, and ASU is not doing so hot on the field. Puxa vida! Sweetness.

Hey, so we´re out of time and need to go, but we had a good week. We´ve been working hard and trying to find new people to teach, because Romys is being kind of mully. This awesome sister in our ward took us to teach her neighbors who have been going through some crazy family problems and the parents and one of the daughters came to Church. Now, we´re helping them to be happy and have the gospel in their lives. Elder Ertel and Stipanich had a baptism of Elza yesterday. She is an amazing older lady, and was the most elect person that I´ve had the opportunity to interview. Elza is the most loving person and she has such a desire to follow Jesus Christ. She was so happy at her baptism. Elza actually met us in the street (last transfer when I was on a division with Elder Stuart) and talked to us and bought us some cake at the bakery. Then, she finally was able to come to Church and be baptized in the true Church of Jesus Christ. We need to find more people like Elza, and I´m sure that they are all around us. Have a great week! I love you all tons!

-Elder Carpenter

Brazilian Fact: When it´s your birthday sometimes you get presents, but the only real thing guaranteed is a gigantic cake!
Photos: Mark 16:15 "And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and 
preach the gospel to every creature."

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

10/10/11 letter

  • Wassup!
Hey there, pals! October Break is officially here and to celebrate I´ll be helping people in their search for salvation. Score! Matt is practically home now! Gah! Mom, stop saying that cilantro is gross. I LOVE cilantro, because people use it all the time in the beans or salad, and it just makes everything better. But, I´m happy that you are at least eating cilantro when forced to.

My kid´s name is Elder Menezes! The kid is awesome and he´s a great missionary. He´s a surfer from Recife (which is up top on the coast of Brazil) that lived 5 minutes from the beach. He reminds me a lot of Californians (no offense intended Mike, I like Californians!). Elder Menezes is the oldest of 3 kids and both of his parents served in the Brazil Fortaleza Mission. And they are good friends of Presidente Oliveira, so Elder Menezes already knew President before the mission. Womp womp womp! As you can see in the picture, Elder Menezes looks kind of like Randy Cox, but is a bit crazier. He´s super easy to get along with and everyone loves him. We´re gonna work wonders here in Universitário!

We had kind of a half-week of work, since the newbies got here on Wednesday, and then we had a meeting that afternoon with all of the newbies and the trainers. We´ve never done that before, so we had a good time getting the basics down about and mission and how we teach. Then, we´ve been visiting some investigators that Elder Stuart and T. Silva were teaching, but they all turned mully. And we were kind of lost during the week since neither of us were here before, but things are getting on the road now. Romys came to Church (he is a member´s friend that already came once before) and we taught him yesterday. It was a sweet lesson! He´s actually super smart and I felt like I was teaching him things that he already knows. Romys was doubting because he´s already read the Book of Mormon and prayed, but nothing ever happened. We talked to him and found out that he was expecting something BIG, like Joseph Smith´s answer, to which we explained that usually our answers come in a much simpler form. Normally we have thoughts and feelings of the Spirit that will tell us if something is true or not. We´ll be visiting him tonight to help him out. We´re excited to see what happens.

Then we had another surprise on Sunday! This guys came to our chapel and wanted to get baptized. So, we talked with him, and he´d already come to Church and was taught by the missionaries a few months ago. We had a conversation with him and then did the interview and he was all set and willing to obey the commandments on got baptized! All out of nowhere. He lives in Elder Ertel and Stipanich´s area (the same ward as us) so they´ll be working with him and teaching him new things and getting to work with Geziel´s mom and sister. Crazy! He´s a really good-hearted guy that´s just kind of weird. But he´s so happy to be a member and keep following Jesus Christ. 

Have a wonderful week folks! October Break! That´s where it´s at. Love ya!
-Elder Carpenter

Fotos: Elder Menezes!
Campo Grande Fact: Almost nobody in Campo Grande has seen the beach before!

Friday, October 7, 2011

10/3/11 letter

Dear Fam,

Hey, so the computer just erased my letter up until now, and I don´t have the patience or time to write everything again. Thanks for the conference commentaries! We were super busy on Saturday and didn´t get to watch any of the sessions, but we did watch Sunday! Yay for Dallin H. Oaks and his awesome talk about following Christ! All of the talks were centered on missionary work and basic principles, which I thought was great. Not as much fun for old members, but wonderful for investigators and recent converts.

We had a good last week. Tieme, who is a member´s 9 year old niece, was all set to be baptized this Sunday. We´ve been teaching her and resolving ALL of her many doubts. I don´t think that I´ve met a 9 year old who is so smart. She pays attention to EVERYTHING that we say. But, her grandma is Catholic and kind of exploded on Saturday saying that Tieme is too young and doesn´t know what she wants in life and that she can´t get baptized right now. In reality, we already got permission from Tieme´s dad (since he´s the legal guardian) but grandma had to go in and mess things up. But, we´re working on making the grandma happy and let her know that Tieme is more than ready.

We spent lots of time visiting new and old investigators, and found a lady named Ruth. She goes around in a wheel chair and has had a stroke, so she basically uses just one arm and has little control over her right arm and legs. Ruth´s is a super sweet old lady and she didn´t want to go to Church because she was afraid that people would make fun of her in her wheelchair. We assured her that that wouldn´t happen, and reluctantly she came to conference with us. Ruth loved conference!! She loved that nobody asked her for money (like many churches do) and that it was so calm and peaceful. Now we´re helping her to be baptized on Sunday. Ruth is a such a loving person and it seems like she was just waiting for someone to come and invite her to Church.

In other news, we had transfer calls last night. Womp! The Zone Leaders will be going to a different area in our zone to help them out, and I´ve been called as District Leader and will be training again. This is the 3rd time! Rapaz. Trainings, practices, and follow up, hoo-ha! So, I´m super excited to be with the super-pumped greenie (who´s Brazilian by the way) and get things going. We´ll be in the Zone Leaders´ area, which I don´t know very well, so it´ll just be a new everything! Elder Stipanich is still gonna be in the same house with Elder Ertel. I´m so excited because Stipanich has been one of my all-time favorite companions. And now he´s gonna be old and have to help out the newby, hahahaha. It´ll be exciting.

Everybody have a marvelous week. October Break is around the corner! And Christmas for that matter. Start playing Christmas music, just like all of those crazy Americans. Hey there is another Arizona elder who will be going home on Wednesday. His name is Elder Williams and he´s from Mesa, but went to Mountain View. Gag... But maybe you´ll get to know him! I think that I talked to him twice during the mission. Love you guys!

-Elder Carpenter

Brazilian Fact: Peach = Pêssego and Raspberry = Amoura
Fotos: Gigantic 3.3 liter of Guaraná Antartica soda!

9/26/11 letter

Hello Friends at Home,

Conference is coming! Conference is coming! Get ready everybody.

Talk about a crazy week! We had 4 baptisms on Sunday! Elder Stipanich and I are on fire! Our week was us running around every day and teaching people. On Thursday night, we had a sudden big rainstorm. At the time, we were at Jose´s house teaching him and his two kids, Patrik and Kaique. While it was raining, the lights starting going out, and then everything went back to normal. And on Friday, it rained ALL DAY. It was actually pretty nice because then the sun went away for awhile. But, we taught Jose and his family every day last week and they just love the gospel and are progressing really fast. And Patrik and Kaique (who are 11 and 9), are obsessed with Dragonball Z, so I drew them a few pictures. My many hours spent drawing Dragonball Z pictures have finally come in handy! But, there were no hangups or anything until their baptisms on Sunday. They were so excited, that during church they would ask every 15 minutes or so, "Is it time for our baptisms?" Gotta love those guys!

Then, we had the miracle baptism! Last week, we talked to this guy in the street but never went to teach him until last Wednesday. His name is Genaro and he has one leg! Turns out that he´s already been to Church a couple of times, so we taught him and he REALLY wanted to be baptized. He´s 63 and lived in Paraguay for a little while, so he has a weird accent that makes him sound Mexican. But, we helped him out all week and he was baptized on Sunday. Genaro was even talking during Gospel Principles, "I´ve already been baptized in the Catholic Church, but now I want to be baptized in this one." Womp! He was. We had to have the help of Elder Stuart to baptize him (since he´s kind of a big guy and has one leg), and I also got in the font to make sure that he didn´t slip or anything. Woot.

We´re pretty excited and ready to go find more people to teach and baptize! Elder Stipanich is practicing his English with Elder Stuart and I. We´re convinced that he needs to be fluent at the end of the transfer. Now Elder Stipanich says things like, "I´m not going to fight against the crown anymore," and "Quit following me, you stalker." We´re very happy with his progress. And don´t think that we´re just teaching him stupid phrases, because he´s learning how to speak good English as well. Love you all! Have a wonderful week and let´s go listen to our prophet (1 Nefi 22: 2-3) and apostles and leaders of the Church! Take a friend with you!

-Elder Carpenter

Brazilian Fact: Rock in Rio is this week! Lots of famous artists are doing gigantic shows in Rio de Janeiro!

Fotos: Big ol´ Baptism! Our district at the Coke factory that we visited today! We got to see how they manufacture coke bottles and all sorts of things.


Monday, September 19, 2011

9/19/11 letter


The new stake callings and whatnot is kind of crazy. I know a few people in our new stake then, which is good. Our ward seems to be the Universitário of Mesa South! Here in Estaca Campo Grande Monte Líbano (Big Field Mount Lebanon Stake), about half of the stake callings are members of this ward. It´s awesome! Everyone is crazy to baptize and nobody blocks baptisms and people work and give rides to investigators. Amazing! 204 people at Church as well! Let´s get this ward split SOON. I´ve never seen so many people at Church in my time here in Brazil.

Our last week was pretty nuts! We went on lots of divisions with the Zone Leaders (in our house) so that we could teach everyone, since lots of our investigators are only home at night. Out of the nine that came to Church, not all of them were too interested in our message, or "didn´t like Church" (which is a straight up lie), but lots of them were. One of which was Jair. He used to drink EVERY night and smoke a pack of cigarettes per day, but the Lord was helping him until he had stopped using these harmful substances and he got interviewed on Saturday and passed. But, Satan is real good at tempting people, and Jair fell into temptation. So... we´ll be helping him this week. 

During the week, we´ve been teaching Ivaldo and Ilza, too. They are a couple (that´s legally married!) who loved Church, but have some things to work out before they are "ready" to be baptized. We had some really neat lessons with them including one with Ivaldo´s old friend, Armando, who is the 1st Counselor in the ward. Talk about a spiritual lesson! Irmão Armando can bear a strong testimony. I´m sure that Ivaldo and Ilza will get baptized, but there are some family situations going on that have postponed things.

And the winner of the week was Guilerme! Guilerme a 9 year-old cousin of a member family. We´ve been teaching him but had trouble finding his mom at home, so that we could talk with her. Everyone told us "she won´t let him get baptized" and all sorts of things, but she actually is a really cool lady. She accepted for him to be baptized and it happened last night! Woo hoo! Party.

Then, we had a family come to Church yesterday, consisting of José (dad), Patrick (11 year old son), and Caic (8 year old son). They have a complicated family, and José´s son was killed a few weeks ago, but now they want to turn their lives around. José LOVED Church and practically asked us to help him get baptized. Next Sunday is the date! Yes yes yes. He´s already putting a stop to the cigarettes and next up is coffee. We´re super excited for this week and we´ll make sure to bring plenty of members to get to know them.

I´m glad to hear that the sisters are baptizing back at home! Make sure to offer a time when you can visit these recent-converts and future baptisms with the sisters.They need willing people to help them! Members make all of the difference. And I´m sure that they would LOVE references. Whenever people ask about the Church, talk to them and invite them to learn more through the message that the missionaries have. We need to be happy and open as members of the Lord´s Church! Keep the Emerald Acres missionary spirit burning!

I love you all and thanks for the love and support and for being the best family ever. 

-Elder Carpenter

Fotos: Guilerme with his fam and then with the Elders!


Friday, September 16, 2011

9/12/11 Letter

Change is always good!! WOW! Sounds like quite the craziness is going on back at home. Mesa South Stake will never die! Sounds really exciting though! It´ll be good to have some new people to get to know. That just made my day. I´m sure that the new change will be great!

Yeah, it was kind of sad remembering about the 9/11 attacks, but it´s good to know that the US is still going strong! Lots of people asked me if I was in the towers when they got attacked or if Arizona is in New York. Hahahaha. "Arizona is on the OTHER side of the country" I had to tell them. God bless the USA!
Things have been heating up here in Universitário! While it rained a few days last week (a MUCH needed rainfall because of all the dust in the air), we´ve been working like crazy. Our ward mission leader, Josimar, told us to expand our vision so that we could bring more people to Church, do family nights with the members and get references. That´s what we did! We are re-activating this family, and we marked a family night at another member´s house and they invited plenty of people! One of which is Irmã Demy´s 9 year-old nephew who has already been to Church many times. His mom wants him to keep coming to Church and we´ll be teaching him so that he can get baptized. Then, we´ve just found some elect people out of the blue and in all we brought 9 people to Church! Woo hoo. New record! Maria Celeste came with her son, Jair. She is really sweet and likes us a lot. I think that she has 7 kids that are all adults, and it´s apparent that they´ve had kind of a rough life. So, we´re helping them to keep the word of wisdom and such, so that they can get baptized.
While trying to find some ex-investigators, the address that we went to, turns out that nobody in the house has met the missionaries (I think the former missionaries wrote down the wrong address). The parents came to Church on Sunday and the dad is really liking it, because he apparently has never "stuck" with a religion. All of his daughters go to different Churches, one of which is dating a "pastor-to-be" from the Adventist church. He will give us some work. But Ivaldo and Ilza are elect because they gave us food!
Hmmm, we´ve also got some other people that we´re teaching that will hopefully keep interested. One of which is Dina, who has come to Church 3 times already, but insists on learning more and blah blah blah. We took her to a baptism last week, and she LOVED it. Now she needs to just get in the water and have her turn.
We had a meeting with President Oliveira this week, which was awesome. He is really enforcing that we be obedient missionaries that KEEP the rules and that we be instruments
in the hands of the Lord. Yes!
That´s it for now, folks. Don´t worry, be happy! Let me in on the new stake info! Send a picture of the stake and ward boundaries, if possible, because the names of the streets and whatnot doesn´t really help me out, since I´ve forgotten everything about Mesa. Thanks! Love ya lots.
Elder Carpenter
Brazilian Fact: Most Brazilians don´t like hot food! Hot sauce/ peppers = pimenta. Everyone tries to tell me that "Oh, that pimenta is really hot, be careful," but it turns out that it´s not really hot at all. Hopefully, I will be able to handle the Mexican hot sauce of Arizona!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

9/5/11 Letter

Querida Família,
Estou com saudades de vocês e a comida americana e alemã, mas vou comê-la logo. Aleluia senhor! Jenny has finally gotten her paws on a new car! Sweetness. Honda Civics are the way to go. I´ll have to buy a red one once I´m rich so that we can all combine together to make a patriotic haze of Honda Civics on the freeway! That´ll be the day. Best of luck to ClayEva on the car hunt. And thank you so much for feeding the sister missionaries! They need the food. Give them the leftovers and take them to wherever they need to go.
This has been yet another stressful week in the mission field. Gah! Do you guys remember Marcellus who came to Stake Conference with us? We have been teaching him all week and it´s been off the walls. First, we had to get the confidence of his parents. We came and taught with a deacon in the ward, came and did a family night with brownies, and many other things. But, the other side also did some crazy work. First off, we came to teach him and a lady from Marcellus´ mom´s church was there and stayed to hear our message. BUT, she started arguing about everything and we showed her scriptures in the Bible to back up what we said (but it wasn´t a Bible bash), and she insisted on flouting off her false doctrine. She left some scriptures for them to read in the Bible to show that we were servants of Satan (scriptures that have NOTHING to do with us, nor do they even apply to missionaries) and that the Book of Mormon was teaching a different gospel than the one that Christ taught. Agh! Then, the pastor said some not-so-nice things and we had to go and fix everything up. It was all good and the mom liked us (because we starting teaching her alcoholic son as well), and then the dad got mad because we had been teaching them every day. On Saturday, we took Marcellus to mutual at the Church and he said that he didn´t want to get baptized on Sunday. We shared a message with him and in the end he was wanting to get baptized the following day. That night, we taught the alcoholic brother again, and chatted with the mom and she said that Marcellus was the one who would decide and that she supported him. And on Sunday morning? Nobody´s home, not even the alcoholic. And nobody accepts our phone calls anymore. Ai ai ai. Then, nobody else came to Church that we had planned to take. There was a crazy lady that came to Church again, but she´s from another Church and another guy came, but has to do some more preparation before getting baptized.
The good news though is that the ward is awesome and gigantic! There were 190 people at Church, and they had to tell everyone that only the people on the stand would be able to bear testimonies because there were so many! I felt like I was at home, hahahaha. Everyone is so excited and happy to be a member of the Church! We´re working a lot with the members and teaching their friends and families, and soon enough we´ll get some results. But, basically that was our week: Running around trying to get Marcellus´ baptism to happen, but it wasn´t meant to be. But, we´ve got some good new ideas from the Mission Leader and we´re doing family nights with the members and having them invite their friends.
My companion Elder Stipanich is super funny as always. When I talked with him on the phone (since we were on a division) I thought that I was talking to a little kid. Campo Grande is the capital of Mato Grosso do Sul, and the 2nd most tree populated capital in Brazil. There are lots of trees here and even parrots flying around some times. My area has a few hills, which I´ve rarely seen during my mission, and everyone is really nice here. Wherever you go, people will be drinking tereré, which is the cup full of erva (which looks like lawn clippings) and you put ice cold water in and drink it. It´s amazing.
About the Paraguay trip! We went to this giant store in Paraguay and everything there was much cheaper and in guarani (which is the monetary system in Paraguay). 2000 guarani = 1 real = 0.60 dollar. Cheap cheap! The Shopping China was gigantic, too. Imagine an IKEA full of imported things from the U.S. and lots of people. It was sweet, but everything was pretty expensive. I bought some Pilot G-2 pens for $2 a piece. We ate at Burger King, too, but to be honest, I didn´t think that it was very good. I realized that I´m used to eating a lot more meat than back at home. Paraguay was pretty cool though. We hardly didn´t have time to do anything there, but we walked around a bit and I ate a churro! Everything´s a bit dirtier there and there are no traffic laws so everyone rides motorcycles without helmets and it´s kind of chaotic. And spanish is really fun to listen to, but a bit difficult to understand. I hope that I get to pass in Ponta Porã, because I need to learn Spanish.
This email has turned gigantic, so I´ll have to close it off. Love you family! Have an amazing Labor Day (even though you won´t pick apples). You are the best. Good luck with the Stake divisions (get the Kleenex ready).
-Elder Capeta

Brazilian Fact: Brazilians love Honda Civics just as much as our family! Although the most common type of car are the Gol and Fiat.

8/29/11 Letter

Hullo Folks,

What an action-packed week that it has been! I´m now in Campo Grande! The capital of Mato Grosso do Sul. Things are going great here. We have a gigantic ward and the members are excited and want to divide soon. Our ward mission leader is Josimar, who is the best ward mission leader that I´ve had on the mission! He´s like 23 and SUPER excited and happy to help us baptize here. He served his mission in Recife, Brazil which is a baptizing machine, so he has all sorts of good techniques to find people to teach and whatnot. Our bishop served a mission during the same time as Seth and is very young and excited to help us out.

This last week was Stake Conference, which was weird because I don´t know ANYBODY in the entire stake, let alone the ward that I´m serving in. But, we brought a 12 year old young man to Stake Conference called Marcellus. We met a recent-convert in the park and he was playing soccer with a lot of his friends. Everyone was invited to Church and Marcellus was the only one that really wanted to go. After chatting with his mom (she´d already heard some lies about our Church), she said it was fine if he went. About 30 minutes in to the 2 hour conference, he started asking, "When does this end?" Elder Stipanich and I both looked at each other with "Oh my" in our faces. Thankfully, Marcellus likes Dragonball Z drawings and the dot game. We watched the baptism of the other companionship in our ward and he liked it a lot. Last night, we went with Josimar who is super crazy and STILL remembers all of his missionary techniques from 2 years ago and taught Marcellus´ parents. Now they are our friends and will come to Church this Sunday!

Elder Stipanich is from Santos, São Paulo! His great-grandparents are from Austria which is where he gets his name from. My 12th Brazilian companion! He is 22 years old and has a high-pitched voice, but he is an awesome companion! We get along really well and are gonna start doing crazy things to find people to teach. Elder Daniel Stipanich is super skinny and always talks during the messages and invites everyone to be baptized.

The other day we were talking about how all of our investigators are weird and we feel like we´re in Zombie Land. We visited this ex-investigator, Dina Gelatina, who likes tea and has a little bit of testimony about the Church and whatnot, but won´t accept to get baptized! But she sure loves to talk about tea (there is only one kind of tea in Brazil that is against the WOW). Then, we visited this less-active who is coming back to Church. After he took his time making juice and spilled some on my pants (then offering to have me use a pair of his. No thanks!) we figured out that he was drunk. His prayer after the message was interesting. Hmmm.... we´ve got Marta who is going to get baptized but she´s kind of crazy. If they were to make a movie about her, it would be called 50 Going On 15. That about sums her up. And the best for last is Reginaldo! He´s a guy that asked for the Book of Mormon through the Church website. When we FINALLY found his house in the middle of nowhere, his wife answered and said that they were Evangelical and didn´t want to change religions. We said that she´d asked for a Book of Mormon (because Reginaldo sent his request in her name) and she said, "Oh! That was my husband." Then we met Reginaldo. As he began to explain to us, he is a philosopher and thrives on knowledge. When he saw that there existed an Outro Testamente de Jesus Cristo, he had to get his hands on it. After telling us about his expansive library of knowledge and books that he´s read (the likes of Steven Hawkins and Benjamin Franklin, one of the "former USA Presidents"), he let us teach him about the Restoration. Reginaldo liked it a lot and accepted a date to get baptized and to read the Book of Mormon. We´re going back there this week to see how it´s going. We´re determined to baptize this guy!

 Well, I love you! Stay out of the record heat and get in the A/C! It´s the way to be.

-Elder Carpenter

Fotos: Elder Stipanich teach a rock.  Gigantic cat at lunch.
Brazilian Fact: Salgado = Pastries with meat and cheese inside! Kind of like Hot-Pockets but maybe more healthy.

Friday, August 26, 2011

8/24/11 Letter

Ola Família!

Hey, so I had this draft saved from Monday to email to you, but then we ran out of time and didn´t have a chance to come back to the LAN house. Then, it´s been crazy busy and I haven´t had time to write to anyone until today. Yep, I got transferred to an awesome gigantic ward in Campo Grande!! It´s called Universitário!!! I´m super duper loving it. My companion is Elder Stipanich and he´s from São Paulo and in his 2nd transfer. He´s an awesome missionary and we live with the Zone Leaders who are both really awesome. I already lived with one of them (Elder T. Silva = Landon Vance) and it´ll probably be the best house and area that I´ve been in yet. I´ll talk more next week, but I just wanted to say that I´m alive and well. Thanks for the prayers and support! You are the best family in the ward.

-Elder Carpenter

8/15/11 Letter

(Note from Mom--I suggested that maybe we should go to Gecko Grill instead of Taco Bell for first Mexican food.)
No way mom! I´m going to Taco Bell on my 1st or 2nd day home and nobody can change my mind. Gecko Grill will just have to wait a bit longer. We´re planning on eating Burger King this week when we go to Ponta Porã for Zone Conference! They have a mall called Shopping China where we are allowed to go and I´m gonna eat all the Burger King that I can. Ponta Porã is a border city with Paraguay. That means that I can be in two countries at the same time. Uauw! Everything is really cheap in Paraguay because the Brazilian government has really high taxes on everything that you buy here. Most of the people that live in Mato Grosso do Sul buy their electronics an things in Paraguay because it´s only half the price there. Get excited!

Never thought that Mackay would be going to the Phillipines but I know that mission calls come from the Lord. I can honestly say that I didn´t know that Cebuano existed, but how cool! The weird languages are the best. It´s even better that he´s got a temple in his mission. Tell him congrats and good luck for me. I´m sure that he´ll have an amazing 2 years. November is a long time to wait though.

1 year and 6 months! Woooooohooooooo. Never thought that I would get to this point and be "old" but here we are. In comemoration, we bought a pizza and I burned some old pants! It turned out fantastic. We put lots of alcohol on them and threw a match. Why does burning things turn out so satisfying? I sure don´t know.

Johnn did indeed get baptized on Saturday and confirmed on Sunday along with Ilton. Johnn was super prepared and is a really good guy. Really honest and hardworking. We were filling out his baptismal form and I saw that his birthday was May 23, 1993 and I had a shock moment of "I´m 2 and a half years older than this guy!" Caramba. This Sunday was really cool in Maracaju. All of the people that I´ve had the chance to teach and baptize while here came to Church! Marcus came with his less-active dad and passed the sacrament, and another more-or-less active family came and is excited to do activities and such. Plenty of people at Church and we did our choir presentation of "Vem Supremo Rei" which is a hymn that I can´t remember in English. People are getting excited here in Maracaju! It´s a miracle. The Stake Counselor that is responsible for the branch came and took pictures of everyone and Johnn to put together a branch newspaper to start distributing. We´re really hoping that the fire keeps going. Even Presidente Augusto is happy and went to visit a hard-hearted guy that came to Church (he recently married this member from the branch but he doesn´t like us very much, dispite the fact that we´ve visited him once just to invite him to Church). Yes!

I did a division with Elder Vargas last week in Dourados (the other city in our district) and it was really fun. He´s got almost 6 months in the mission and is from Washington. Portuguese is still pretty difficult for him but he´s speaking really well already. I had a few moments where I wanted to laugh at the things that he said, but I had to hold it in. Ahhh, I remember when I didn´t speak well and how frustrating that it was, so I gave him some advice on the language and whatnot. I´m so thankful that the Lord blesses us with the opportunity and help that comes with learning a new language. It´s something that I will fight to never forget.

Elder Tragante was kind of upset these last few weeks because he hadn´t gotten any letters, but when we got back from Dourados, we found a bundle of 8 letters from his woman at home! He´s a happy camper now. And his aunt that lives in Las Vegas sent a package that got here full of Twix, Reeses, and other delicious things. I love my companion because he likes to share.

Have a fantastic week at school nephews and work for the rest of ya. You are the best family in the world and I love and pray for you daily. Always help others and the Lord will bless us in the ways that we need.

-Elder Carp.

Maracaju Fact: The super expensive, world-renowned Maracaju Sausage is actually really good! It has some spicy peppers that you can hardly taste but it´s good stuff. Brazilians hardly ever eat spicy foods (at least in the region where I´m serving).

Photos: A horrible painting of ET, Johnn´s Baptism, The Burning of the Pants, Ramo Maracaju (lots of people didn´t participate in the picture though), and us with Ademar our Ward Mission Leader.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

8/8/11 Letter

Dear Family of Bishop Carpenter,

It makes me happy to hear that all is well in Zion! I´m sure that everyone will have to get used to dad being called Bishop Carpenter, but it´s all in good time. I told Presidente Oliveira about it in my weekley letter and he sends his best.

This week was kind of crazy, as usual. We had a few really cool experiences and spent lots of time visiting less-actives. I´m not sure if you remember, but we´ve had this 10 year old named Ilton come to Church for the past two weeks. His parents are members, but not active. We´ve been teaching him (and some of his sisters who aren´t very interested) and he´s been progressing a lot, but his dad was allowing him to get baptized. We decided that we needed to involve the members more (not sure why we didn´t think of this before) and we visited them with Sonia, who is the Primary President and Principal of Ilton´s school. She talked about the Primary program and how wonderful that the Church is for children and everyone in general. We showed Irmão José Ilton´s paper of things that we´d taught and would still teach before his baptism, but he was still not budging. Then, he finally decided to let Ilton get baptized after talking with him about the importance of it all and that he needed to behave himself better. It was a miracle, but he signed the form and we taught Ilton everything so that he could be baptized on Sunday! We made goals with him on how to behave himself at home and to get along with his sisters, and it´s been good. I really love this family, too. They are SUPER nice to us and won´t let us leave without giving us something to eat (despite our modest rejections). While they haven´t been active in the Church, it´s plain to see that Jose and Vanderlise have been good about raising their kids. We´re hoping that they´ll be coming back to Church as soon as Jose´s leg gets better (he´s got a big ol´ cast).

On Thursday this week, we found out that there was no lunch scheduled, so we were planning on eating some tupperware food that Irmã Josy gave us. As we left the house in the morning to teach, we taught a young man and his less-active grandparents. As we were leaving to go eat lunch at home, Irmã Clementina told us to stay and eat lunch with them. So we did! It´s good to know that the Lord is blessing us in ways that we never had planned.

The other good news of the week was while we were at Church. While planning on Saturday night, we made a goal for the next day to mark someone´s baptismal date. There were only 35 people (gasp!) at church, but one of them was an ancient investigator named Johnn, who is dating an 18 year old member. I have probably talked about him before, but he made us pretty angry a while ago. Anyways, he called me over during Church, and said that he felt that it was time for him to get baptized. WOOOOOOOOOOOOOH! We are MORE than happy to help you then guy. He said that he´d wanted time to make sure that he was making a right choice, and that now he´s felt that the Church is true and he´s made up his mind. BAPTISM ON SATURDAY!!! Yessssss. His family is from a weird Church, so we´re praying that they don´t try to mess with him.

Things are going well in Maracaju! We´re finally seeing the fruits of MANY missionaries work. I´ve also been helping them to get a choir together and I play the hymns. They don´t sing very good, but at least it´ll help the members to get to know some different hymns. Have a wonderful week! The heat will go away soon enough, but know that it´s also become really hot in Maracaju. I hope that it rains soon and gets cold again. Until next week!

-Elder Carpenter

Fotos: Ilton´s baptism with family. Sub sandwiches on P-Day in Dourados!

Brazilian Fact: Monster Energy Drinks are 7 reais, which is about $4, but that doesn´t mean that they taste any better.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Aug. 1 letter

WOW!!!! What a news week back at home! Karamba. Things are heating up back in Mesa! Bishop Carpenter is now in town! I can honestly say that I was not expecting that this would come. Karaka! Congratulations to dad. I know that you´ll do very well. I´ll be praying for you! When I saw the title of the email, I figured that something crazy happened, but WOW! That´s means I get to be the rebellious bishop´s son! Hahaha, just kidding. You can let your heartbeat go back to normal.

Happy Birthday again to Jenny! And Happy Birthday to Dr. Carpenter this week! It´s just a big birthday week, isn´t it? Go and buy some Navajo jewelry to celebrate and eat at José´s BBQ. 

 I got a letter from Kevin last week telling me that he was working at Seagull Book and that made me laugh out loud. I can see him and Brad duking it out with their Church knowledge and book discounts! Good to know that I´ll have hookups when I get home. Plus, Landon at Jamba again. Life is good!

This last week was good. Church was kind of nuts. I had to play the piano, teach Principles of the Gospel (to our OWN investigators; awkward!), and other things. When we got to Sacrament Meeting, the counselor was kind of confused and told Elisangela to come up to be confirmed before we had even said the opening prayer and hymn. Gah! But, it was all good in the end. We had 4 investigators at Church. One was Ilton, the 9 year old son of some less-actives, that we´re teaching and his neighbor, Wesley, who´s 15. Wesley moved to Maracaju 2 weeks ago and we actually marked to teach his brother. When we went there, his brother was working so we taught Wesley. He liked Church and has a date for this Sunday. He´s a really good kid and was asking about everything at Church. Another that came was Legiane, a 23 year old lady. She actually came to Church last week (with her sister who used to come to Church 2 years ago, but stopped and never got baptized) and she´s progressing really well. The only thing is that she´s afraid of getting baptized and giving up afterwards! We´re helping her though, and I believe that she´ll get baptized. The other was a member´s friend (they´re both 12) that came. Upon visiting her yesterday afternoon, we found out that she is SUPER Catholic and does a seminary-type program of the Catholic Church. Then, her mom is even more Catholic than her. We enjoyed visiting them and they were very polite, but I don´t think that they´ll come to Church this week. Womp!

Other cool events: On Tuesday, we were in Dourados and our lunch was in the Indian reservation! We had to walk for an hour or so to get there, but the member family is awesome. I like them alot. Apparently, the indians beat up the missionaries because they were coming in to their village (even though they have normal houses and everything). Then this family went and chewed them all out and now they leave us alone (as long as we don´t look at them). Neat experience though! I like Indians now.

We found out on Wednesday, that there is a less-active sister who was pregnant but was afraid of losing the baby. We went to talk with her and her husband (who is/was Catholic) and gave her a blessing. She ended up losing the baby the next day, but we came to teach her husband, Charles, on Saturday. After they got married 3 years ago, she stopped going to Church and never even talked to Charles about the Church. But, they are making the best of recent events and are looking to God for help. We ended up teaching them about the Plan of Salvation, Restauration, and Book of Mormon. Charles is really smart and VERY interested and curious. We´re really excited to be teaching him and they´ll come to church next week, because Joana still wasn´t feeling good yesterday. It´s neat to see to, because I actually met them both in my 1st or 2nd week here, when we were eating lunch at Joana´s sisters house. I tried to talk to Charles about the Church but he was really closed off and they took off as soon as lunch was over, even before the message. I think that the Lord has lots in store for them. Sometimes, it takes something sad to make us turn back to the Lord, but I know that it´s all part of His plan.

Good August to all! If you see the missionaries, make sure to offer them a ride or water or food. While you probably won´t remember them after they leave, they will definately remember what you did for them! Look for opportunities to talk about the Church with your friends. Almost all of our success here is through the members. Love you all! You are the best family in the world.

-Elder Carpenter

Fotos: Children of the Corn! (there are LOADS of cornfields in Maracaju and Dourados). The tallest of the 3 building here in Maracaju. It has 11 stories!

Brazilian Fact: Brazilians are obsessed with health and eating healthy. Plenty of salad, rice and beans, and not very much salt. Sometimes I miss my Little Caesar´s!

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Pictures from July 25 letter

Pics: A delicious orange cake (Happy Birthday Jenny), Elisangela´s baptism (notice my beautifully yellow shirt), Brazilian food!, and us with Maico (he´s a 28 year old RM from the Branch. We´re trying to hook him up with Elisangela)

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

July 25th letter

Yo Familee,

Let´s hear it for the summer sun! Woooo! Last week was a little cold here in Maracaju because it rained here a few times. Gotta love the rain on the mish! HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO JENNY this Friday! I´ve already written in my planner that it´s your birthday, so I´ll sing your "Parabéns" from the other side of the equator.

Our last week here it seems like we took a trip to the moon because it was out of this world! We had a baptism! YESSSSSSSSSSSSS. Her name was Elisangela and she´s 23 and from the Northeast of Brazil. She´s actually an old investigator that Elder Furtado and I taught once and invited to Church, but she didn´t come because it was cold. Then, she felt like coming to Church 2 weeks ago, and we went and picked her up. She lives with her brother on the other side of the street of Irmão Antonio João. His wife is Rosane, the Relief Society President, and an awesome lady that helps us out a lot. We went to teach Elisangela on Tuesday night, and we invited her to get baptized on Sunday and she kind of flipped out. We explained about how we still had to teach her lots of things and that baptism is essential for everyone. Step by step, the Spirit guided us and we helped her take a big step of faith and she decided that she wanted wanted to get baptized! Rosane was actually helping us out a lot. If she hadn´t have been there, I don´t think that Eli would have accepted. But we had such an awesome feeling after leaving her house! The rest of the week, we taught her every day until Sunday. She used to drink lots of coffee, but she´s drinking Cevada now, which is just like coffee but it doesn´t have caffeine or anything bad in it. Apparently it´s made from corn instead of coca, and all of the members love it. Then, the baptism on Sunday, Eli was super nervous and afraid that the water would be cold. It was freezing, but the baptism went through on the first try! Yes. On Sunday, their family made us a gigantic dinner as well to celebrate her baptism. I love Brazilians and Brazilian food! The members make all of the difference as well. If there hadn´t have been that family that lives in front of her, she never would have come to Church. It makes all of the difference when everyone invites friends to Church. Gotta be grateful!

What else happened this week. Do you guys remember Gabriel? He´s 13 and came to Church last week. We taught him everything and he even stopped drinking coffee to be baptized. Every day we marked to talk with his mom, but every time that we came she was "asleep" or "occupied." Things were getting really fishy, but we finally caught her on Friday. The lady said that Gabriel is fine with going to church, but any kind of committment or getting baptized is out of the question. She said that she and her husband are Catholic and that they wouldn´t let Gabriel join another Church because he has been given up to Nossa Senhora Aparecida (The Virgin Mary). Let me tell you a little about Nossa Senhora Aparecida: Once upon a time, there were some Brazilian fishers in the sea and they caught an entirely black woman body without a head in their nets. Upon catching the body, they threw their nets out again and got the head of the woman. They put the two together and took her to shore. It turns out that she was The Virgin Mary and she started to to miracles among the people and pray for them and blah blah blah. Then, she took off. In modern day, all of the Brazilian Catholics have statues of her in their homes and pray to her all of the time so that she can make their lives better. Good story, right?

We found an amazing family, too! The parents are less-actives that moved to a farm before any of their kids got baptized, but have moved back to Maracaju. They were gonna come to Branch Conference, but the dad had a motorcycle accident on Saturday night and couldn´t come. So, we started teaching the kids (I think that they had been going to the Catholic Church) and we´ll see what happens. The youngest, Ilton who is 10, came to Church on Sunday and we´re working with the rest. I´m not sure what this family was doing outside of the Church because they are super nice and gave us dinner on the first time that we visited them. We´ll see what happens.

That´s about it for now! Elder Tragante and I are planning our trip in the U.S. when he comes to visit his aunt in Las Vegas after the mission. We´re gonna hit up Six Flags! Yes. We´re getting along really well though. It seems like these last 3 comps have been my best (which is a MUCH welcome change). I love my life and being a missionary! It´s so fun. The Church is true! I love and pray for you all! You are the best family in the world.

-Elder Carpentré

Brazilian Fact: Maracaju = A city in Mato Grosso do Sul and Maracujá = passion fruit. If you mix up the two, then you´ll end up looking stupid.


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

July 18th letter

Caro Família,

Julho está bem quente aí? Eu sinto muito. It´s starting to get hot in Maracaju as well. No fun! I like the cold so much better.
Let´s do a run-down of the week, starting with-
Monday: Transfers! We ate lots of sub sandwiches at Gilmar´s house (he´s the ward mission leader of Dourados 1) and played Uno Spin. Then, we did companion switches until everyone was on the bus to their new areas or had already arrived in Dourados.
Tuesday: District Meeting was good stuff. Our new district is full of old and new people. All of the newbies are in their 3rd transfer (one is Elder Vargas who is actually American with a weird name). We had a 2 hour busride and then got in to Maracaju! We visited a few people, but didn´t have much time to get things done.
Wednesday: Lunch at Irmã Josy´s house! She had some family in town from another state, and we decided to teach them about the Restoration. Josy´s sister-in-law is a Jehovah´s Witness, so she wasn´t too happy to be there. Elder Tragante and I had been teaching the Restoration with a different setup, and he ended up doing the First Vision. Then, he asked the mom is she knew who the 2 people were that came to Joseph Smith. I´m not sure, but I think that JW´s only believe in one God. She said, "I don´t know." Then I tried to do damage control and invite everyone to Church in Goias and to pray about our message. We taught Eli (who came to Church), too, but she thinks that baptism this Sunday is really soon. AGH! So, we left the Book of Mormon with her and she´s going to read.
Rest of the Week (I´m running out of patience): We visited Eli some more and she felt that she got an answer and came to Church. She´s progressing really well! The other kids that went to Church last week, went off to the farm where their mom lives, and weren´t able to come to Church. This happens a lot here because lots of people live on farms nearby and don´t stay at home on the weekends. But, they´ll be here next week. Branch Conference was awesome! We had 72 people at Church, 8 of which aren´t members. Some of the investigators are boyfriends that we´ve already taught but don´t want to get baptized, people that aren´t married, Eli, and Gabriel. On Saturday night, we were going with Geise to teach one of her friends, and another friend of hers was playing soccer in the street and asked if she was going to Church with us. She said no, but invited him to go on Sunday. He came! Yet another testimony that lots of people are only hidden from the truth because they don´t know where to find it. We went to teach him last night, and he accepted to get baptized on Sunday. Then, we wanted to talk to his parents, since they were off in their house. He came back and his mom had said to come back another day to teach them because they were drunk. This family is from Paraguay (about 2 hours from Maracaju) and Paraguay had beaten Brazil in a soccer game yesterday. So, they were pretty drunk. Womp! But, we´ll go there today. The "special number" turned out good in the conference. The Stake President was telling everyone that they should keep doing musical numbers and take advantage of the musical talent that is here. Woot! I´m willing to help, but I´m not nearly as good at the piano as I used to be. In all, it was a good week. We didn´t have a baptism, but we´ll change that. I have been studying Jesus the Christ lately, and it´s awesome! So many cool insights that James A. Talmage has. It´s always the highlight of my day, and I usually end up reading a little bit at night. My journal is a few days behind though...

Elder Tragante and I are getting along really well. He´s funny and full of energy. His dad served a mission and has a gigantic family in the Church in Curitiba. Curitiba isn´t very far away from here but they have 16 stakes there! Our entire mission has 5 stakes and 3 districts! Nossa. He used to have crazy emo hair before the mission, and his pictures are just plain silly. But, he´s an awesome kid. He went to a few concerts in the US when he visited his aunt and we liked lots of the same music, so that gives us something to talk about. He teaches kind of weird in our lessons, but we´re helping each other out. When I had his time in the mission, I could barely even speak. It´s also funny because they use different slang in Curitiba, so he´s teaching me some things.

Good week to all! Soak in the sun! Love ya!
-Elder Carpenter

Monday, July 11, 2011

July 11th letter

Dear Sweet Sweet Fam Fam,

Happy Birthday to Grandmother! 82 and rockin! I´m hoping that everyone´s 4th of July was just swell! Based on the pictures, it seems like it was "light" of the neighborhood. Wah wah wah.... But seriously, the pictures turned out amazing. The other elders looked in awe and I got to say,"Yes, that is MY family." Fireworks are legal here in Brazil as well, but unfortunately, I´m a missionary and can´t have them. The haboob was quite the traffic stopper as well! Wah wah.... I´m pretty sure that that´s never happened in Mesa before (as far as I know). NEAT! I thought it was a tornado or something like that. Everyone in Brazil likes to tell me that there have been lots of tornados and things in Arizona, but I have yet to hear anything from yall about that. Hopefully, nobody´s gotten hurt!

As for this last week, Elder Furtado and I worked like slaves! We had a day where we decided to talk with EVERYONE in the street. It was really fun. Lots of times people don´t want to talk, but we found some awesome people! The entire week was a roller coaster in terms of weather. During the beginning of the week, it was the coldest that it has ever been in Maracaju during my stay. Did someone say blankets? At the end of the week, it started to get hot. Gross. I´ve never walked so much as I did yesterday on Sunday. We woke up at 5:30 to go pick up some investigators that live a half our from our house, then we walked to the Church which was like an hour away. Lunch was all the way in Vila Adrien (that far away neighborhood) and we went to the chapel at night to practice the Branch Conference music for next week, since I´m playing the piano. Ugh... We were dead at the end of the day. But, we had 6 investigators at Church! Woo hoo! Jaqueline is a lady who lives with a member, but he´s waiting for a divorce so that he can marry her, Jin-Rwa is a member´s friends but she doesn´t live in Maracaju, Joana is a girl that we brought to Church but she decided that she doesn´t want to get baptized anymore (sadness), Elisangela is a member´s friend that we stopped visiting because she never came to Church (until now), and Mateus and Rafael are 2 brothers that we brought. We had been doing contacts all week, and one of them was of this girl who we went to teach but was never at home, so we decided to teach her family. It was Saturday night, and we taught them all about the Restoration. The family had a lady named Nelza who has recently come here so that she can get away from her crazy husband, and is trying to figure out life. She was super open and really wants to come to Church, but her sister came in to town on Saturday and they had already planned to see the sights (as if there´s anything to see) of Maracaju. Oh, and her sister has a super small body. Her head is kind of big, and then her body is about the size of her head. I´m not exactly sure what she has, but it´s some kind of super deformed thing. But, she´s bomb and is actually studying to be a lawyer. You go girl! But, we planned to go with this guy and his 3 kids to Church. On Sunday morning though, he had to work (what a surprise), but his kids wanted to go. The 2 that went are 14 and 9 and they LOVED Church. Now we´re working with them, so that they can get baptized as soon as possible, and talk to the parents and let everyone feel good about it. It´s gonna be a good week!

Transfers today! Elder Furtado got the boot and will be going to Campo Grande (the capital of the southern state of our mission), and Elder Tragante is coming to be my companion. He was already in my district and we get along well. He´s from Curitiba (the cold part of Brazil), and has 3 months on the mission. Tragante is actually from the same group as my last 2 comps. Yay for newbies! They´re so much better than old missionaries that don´t want to work. He´s a good kid, and has actually been to the US a few times, since his dad is Italian and that somehow makes him eligible for an Italian passport. I´m sure that we´re gonna have a blast here! I realized that I have had 11 comps in the field and all of them have been Brazilian. Womp! That´s pretty rare for an American. Maybe I´m gonna end up turning Brazilian at the end of the mission.

Have a good week! I´m gonna be playing the piano for the "choir" this Sunday. Let´s just say that they sing interesting here. I´m just glad that there will be a piano to help the people have something good to hear, womp. Oh, and I got the package! thanks a ton! I´m already eating the Cheez-itz! Some letters came too. Loves!

-Elder Caaaarpenter

Brazilian Fact: They sell and eat Halls cough drops like candy here. Every pops one in their mouth as if it were a tic tac!
This is what we sent Zach.  A 4th of July sparkler message from the Carpenter family!