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!

July 4th letter

Elder Furtado made an awesome dessert the other day called mouse. You put lemon juice (or whatever fruit that you want) with Condensed Milk, and creme of milk. Mix it in the blender and stick it in the fridge for awhile. Itエs tasty stuff. Furtado LOVES desserts and other sweet things. He makes me laugh all the time with his evening "meals." Heエs been on the mission for 3 months and is ending his 2nd transfer this week. Heエs even more blind than me! His glasses are 4 degrees! Cego, mano. He is gonna be a brain surgeon when he grows up. Heエs 19 and the oldest of 5 kids. Woot!

This last week was not the best, but Elder Furtado and I decided to just focus on the good things that happened. First, Anathayla got confirmed and received the gift of the Holy Ghost! Sheエs doing awesome. Her mom loves us too, but for some reason she doesnエt want to be baptized right now. We have tried to visit her and find out what happened but she has never given us a good reason. She said that she prayed about it, and felt that now wasnエt the time, but we donエt really buy it. Itエs weird too, because she LOVED Church and actually talks to her friends about how our Church is different. Strange.... Aline came to Church again and is officially reactivated! Yes! She has been reading the Book of Mormon all week and Strength for Youth. Itエs been good for her. Marcusエ got ordained as a deacon last week and his great grandma gave him a white shirt so that he can pass the sacrament. Heエs gonna be travelling, but when he gets back, heエll be set to go. It also rained all week, which at least made for cool weather.

Another good thing that happened was that we found the Child of Promise!! I fill you in. We went to invite some of Talisonエs (the only active young man in the branch) friends to Church and we went to Felipeエs house. Felipe came outside to talk to us and then all of a sudden his grandma comes rushing out as well with a not-too-happy face. We tried to introduce ourselves, but she didnエt really care. We said that we were inviting Felipe to come to Church with Talison, and then she sternly looked at Felipe and put her hand on his shoulder. She said, "Well, he is 12 years old now. He knows the word... the way... it was already profesied that he is the Child of Promise. But, the decision is his if he wants to go." Then, he just ran away in to the house. Until today, we still have no idea what it means to be a child of promise, nor do we know what Church that the lady goes to, but we thought it would be good to help the guy. Sadly, he didnエt go to Church.

On Saturday, I had my first experience teaching a Buddhist! Brenda and Ellen took us to teach their 16 year old friend, Rafaela. We were getting to know her and she said that she was Buddhist(!). Apparently, itエs just her family and some other people that get together and worship in her house. Anyways, she accepted our message but didnエt really know what to say when we invited her to get baptized. The whole time, I was trying to remember Alma 18 about Ammon teaching King Lamoni, because he believed in a higher being, but didnエt know that it was a real person, etc. Then, I tried to remember about my Buddhist studies at ASU, but itエs all just kind of nonsense to me. It made for an interesting lesson. Oh, and her grandmother didnエt like us very much either. Womp.

Have a Happy Fourth of July! Remember that while you are all sweating in the heat, Iエm wearing gloves and a beanie in the street! But, Iエm sure that the heat will come back soon enough. Love you! Light some fireworks for me since itエs legal and all.

-Elder Carpenter

Pics: All of the Brazilian bills (front and back) and a tree wood carving in Maracaju.

Brazilian Fact: Matte Doce is really really good! You put lots of coconut in a cup and pour in hot milk, and it tastes really good. I recommend it.