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.