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!