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Monday, December 29, 2014

Week 39 - Struggling with the Brazilian heat.

It is so hot here and I struggle with the heat.   Sometimes I think about coming home.  The heat zaps my strength.  When you walk all day and no one wants to talk to you it is discouraging.  The heat makes it difficult to sleep.  I dream about being transferred to Alaska or Canada where it is cold.

Everyone just keeps telling me that summer hasn’t even started.  Even my companion struggles with the heat.   He comes from a state that is supposed to be hotter, but he says that this is the hottest place he has ever been.

I drink lots of water.  I can’t go an hour without water.  The only relief I have found is a cool shower. But, the second you walk out you become hot and sweaty again.

For our p-day, we went to a farm.  It rained so it wasn’t as hot.  There was a cabin in the woods and we were able to fish and eat churrasco.  We caught and released lots of tilapia.  We didn’t eat the fish.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Week 38 - Merry Christmas!

Feliz Natal! (Merry Christmas)

I probably will be on for only a few minutes. We are at a member’s house and they only have one computer.  My companion still needs to email but I’ll talk about this week and what all went on during our Christmas call

We will be working on our investigators house later today. I think some members of the church will help.  It’s to put up a roof. They actually were given much of what they lost and stuff like clothes and tools to start working again. Elder Farias and I are fixing them churrasco on Christmas eve.  That’s Brazilian BBQ.  If you ever have been to a Brazilian restaurant where they come around and carve you some meat that is churrasco. It literally just means BBQ but they do it different here. The cuts of meat are way different too. We will probably buy contrafilé, fraldinha, and linguiça.  They only season meat with salt. But its like huge chunks of salt and it falls off while your cooking. It is so good!

We have a Christmas conference tomorrow.  We are heading to the presidents house for Christmas lunch.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Week 37 - Cleanup and reconstruction

This week we helped our investigator clean up after his house burned down.  A part of the house survived so they are all sleeping in that section.   The community helped them out so much. They received a bunch of food and clothes and tools to try to get their business started again. This coming Saturday the elders quorum is going to help build their house. The church is buying wood and roof tiles.  They are getting smothered with help!

So transfers happened and I’m staying here with Elder Farias!  I didn’t want to leave or lose Elder Farias for Christmas.  Elder Farias has been here for four transfer cycles ( 6 months). Since he has been here longer, he is more likely to leave next.  This means I’ll probably be here for at least a couple more transfer cycles (three months).

I can play almost any hymn on the harmonica at this point!  I totally want to come home playing blues harmonica but I don’t know if I can learn how to with the one I have.

People have Christmas trees here, but most are only about two feet tall.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Week 36 update - Disaster and the charitable people of Brazil

The house of an investigator burned down to the ground Sunday night. They lost everything.  The family lives here with the husband’s sister, her family, and his dad.  Luckily the part of the house that the kids sleep in wasn’t totally destroyed.

The family does upholstery. They make couches and replace the fabric on furniture.   All their tools, couches, and everything was destroyed so I don’t know what they are going to do for support.

I can’t believe that this happened.  It’s such a terrible thing.  I couldn’t even imagine what I would do in their place.  The crazy thing is they have such a positive attitude about the situation.  It's a miracle the family wasn't hurt.  Another miracle is the father’s dad’s bible survived.  There wasn’t a page destroyed.  I’m hoping we can help get things like clothes and shoes and give them as early Christmas presents.

They are such good people and hold a really special place in my heart.  When we went to what was left of their house they offered us food and everything.  They barely have anything.  This is a cultural thing about Brazil that amazes me.  They help and care for others even when they don’t have anything.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Week 36 - Battle Kites and Chili

I’m feeling better!

Hey did you guys hear about the serial killer in Mogi this week?  There was some dude that just started cutting off peoples heads in the streets.  He killed five people near the church building and 20 minutes from where I live.  The members talk about it constantly.  I’m a missionary so I’m not worried.

What the kids and teenagers do for fun is battle "pipas" or kites.  They use string with a fine glass coating and try to cut each others kites.  It actually looks really fun.  I might try it today.  Kites are 50 cents.

Hey is it possible to make chili without a crockpot?  There is a hamburger restaurant in the front of our house that is owned by a member in another ward and they wanted me to make a hot dog American style.   I need to buy a pressure cooker because I don’t know if they sell beans in a can here.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Week 35 - Joy and sickness

When I thought about a mission, I thought a mission would be like heaven on earth.   You would be surrounded by a ton of people with the same standards and desire to serve the Lord, help people, and share the gospel.   In reality, that’s not the case at all.  Some missionaries are disobedient.  Some have come to the mission unworthy or with different intentions.   Some missionaries are used to having cell phones, dating, etc.  Not all want to change.   You must truly have a desire to serve the Lord and each other to devote all your time and efforts to missionary work.

Our mission president is amazing!   President Andrews is very straight laced and strict, but he is also full of love.  We had a conference on Wednesday.  President Andrews spoke of the need to repent and change.   We must be obedient to have the spirit with us.  President Andrews isn’t concerned about numbers.   He said our mission could create a firm spiritual foundation for us.

There is a scripture that talks about when you do missionary work, that if you only covert one soul how great your joy will be (D&C 18:15-16).  That one soul is you!   Elder Holland talked about this in the MTC.   If you only get one thing from your mission it should be a testimony of the Savior and His church.   So that’s what I focus on, building myself up spiritually.

Dallen driving the VW?
We moved!  We are living in our area finally.  Our new house is way tiny, but everything is brand new.  It is nice.  The bathroom is way fancy for a bathroom here but it's so tiny.  It's very clean. Everything is new.  I like it a lot.  Now I don't have to walk an hour to my area every morning.

The bedroom
The kitchen
The bathroom
I've been sick these past three days.  Yesterday, I had a fever of 102 but today the fever is gone.  The good thing is I don’t stay sick long because being sick on the mission sucks.

[An email later that day]  Ugh!  I have a fever of 101.4.  It is the worst to be sick away from home.  I was fine this morning but I started feeling weird again during the afternoon.  It got way hot.  We took the train to go to the mall.  We ate at Burger King.  It's the only restaurant here that you get refills!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Week 34 - Trials come to all but God will lift us up!

My birthday was good. It started out really stressful but ended really well.  Elder Farias gave the talk I was going to give because I was so stressed out.  Later, the branch president threw a party for me.  He made cake and pastels and it was nice.

Elder Farias
Elder Farias is having a rough time.  He hasn't heard from family for awhile.   His mom and dad aren’t going to be able to Skype him on Christmas either because they will be out of town and he had two friends pass away this month --  one in a car crash and the other from cancer.  He feels really bad but focuses on others.  There is a transfer the week of Christmas.  I hope we stay together.

Tests and trials come to all -- God will lift us up!

The Refiner's Fire

I never use plates so I don’t have to do dishes.   Here you have to wash dishes by hand.  Dishwashers don’t exist.

Hey, the coolest thing happened this week!  Elder Farias and I were walking to our area and this super fancy Mercedes pulls up next to us.  We just start checking out this car and then the driver roles his window down and says “Hey elders, today is your lucky day”.   We thought on a hot day like it was, he would give us a ride to our area but what he did was hand us 100 reis and drive away!  For sure it isn’t everyday that people just hand you money.

We are moving into a new house that will be in our area.   It is behind a member’s house.   We will be in by Wednesday.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Week 33 - Cakes and poisonous caterpillars.

Hey! I had a really sweet p-day today.  We hiked to the top of a mountain so I took a lot of pictures.

This week was pretty good.  We got our house all taken care of which is nice.  We should be moving in the end of this week or next. My friend, Jilmar, plans on coming and celebrating my birthday with me.  Last week I bought a cake at the store.  The cakes here are so good.  They are way better then those in the US.  The cakes here are super moist and good.

This week Elder Farias and I have been trying to find new people to teach. My current area is hard because there are rarely people in the streets and they don’t like it when we knock on their doors. We had a puppy follow us the entire day.  It was really cute and we wanted to take it home but we knew we couldn’t.

This is a poisonous caterpillar.

The pictures of candles and a clay pots are marcumba.  That’s what many people put out as an offering to spirits.  I wish we had more opportunities to help and teach them the gospel.

We had branch conference this Sunday. It was pretty good. Next week on my birthday I have to give a talk in church.   I can pick the subject.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Week 32 - Crazy and rough.

We might have a baptism here soon! One of our investigators agrees with everything the church teaches.  She just hasn’t received a testimony of the prophet Joseph Smith yet. She is reading the Book of Mormon.  We explained that it is evidence that he was a prophet of God.

I went to São Paulo today with some people from here. Man oh man was it eventful.

First, I’m not getting transferred. I’m staying with Elder Farrias.  This is good because I like him a lot. He is really trunky and down at the moment so it has been a little slow doing mission work lately.

Today going to São Paulo a woman jumped in front of the train we were on.  We had to evacuate the train and sit there while they pulled her from under it. She was still alive. But man was her body mangled. I’m surprised she didn’t get a limb cut off or anything.  One of her legs was for sure broken way bad. She had some pretty deep looking gashes on her legs too but I’m almost 100% sure she will live. She will sure be in a lot of pain though.

True happiness is found in the gospel of Jesus Christ.

I also saw the police jump a thief today and a woman get her jaw busted open. It can be rough here.

I really wanted to visit friends from my old area but I didn’t have a cell phone or that much time because of the woman and the train incident.

Today I went to Bras, which is where many Hispanics live. They make clothing and stuff that is super cheap. I bought two soccer jerseys! One is the Corinthians and the other is the Russian national team.

We still haven’t found a house yet so Elder Farrias and I continue to stay with another set of missionaries and walk back and forth to our area.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Week 31 - The Campinas Brazil temple

My week was good. It rained a couple of days, which was nice. It was also insanely hot two days this week. Just to let you know how hot it was my water bottle melted in my book bag.

Two investigators came to church Sunday, which was such a blessing.

Wednesday we went to the temple, which was way special. I don't think the  Campinas Temple is the prettiest on the outside but the inside is gorgeous.  It was fun going through in Portuguese.  The Campinas temple has a restaurant in it too.  I wish I could go to the temple more often like when I was at the Mission Training Center (MTC).

Brazilian’s don’t do Halloween.  They don’t have a Thanksgiving either.  I miss holidays.

Hey I think we might have finally found a house!  We’ll probably know tomorrow.  I’m ready to move.

Transfers are Wednesday, October 12th.   I think I will be here for a while.   There are a lot of people that need help and the branch can really use some help too.

I was talking to Elder Faustino and Elder G. Santos last night.  My good friend who I taught the gospel to is the new ward mission leader.  He is working hard!  Elder G. Santos had a baptism this last week and they are set to baptize two more on the 16th!

One of my favorite things about being a missionary is preparing to be a better member when I return. I’m like crazy pumped to get home and get to work!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Week 30 - I'm going to the temple!!!

Wednesday I’m going to the temple!!!  Since I’m in the interior I will be going to the Campinas temple! 

Elder Farias and I have amazing lessons with our investigators but we haven’t gotten any to church.  I am by far having more spiritual experiences with Elder Farias then with any other companion I have had. We are spiritually in sync.  We are always having the same thoughts and during lessons say exactly what the other wanted to say.

My week was pretty good.  The bugs are getting better.  

Finding a house has still been a no go.  In this area everyone requires two people to sign a contract so that if one doesn’t pay the other will.  But the church doesn’t work that way.   We have found a ton of perfect houses but because of the two signatures rule we cant rent them.  A member is taking us house shopping later this afternoon.

I’m ready to find a new house.  There is one elder I live with that is just driving me insane.  I just have to walk away at times so I don’t get angry.

I have bad luck with beds here.  My bed broke for the second time in the mission.  I think ALL the beds in Brazil are twin sized.  My feet hang off the edge on all of them.

Elder Farias and I are doing a ton of service for the members and investigators this week.  I like giving service.  One plus to serving is I don’t have to walk around in church clothes.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Week 29 - Trials and tribulations

It has been hard. I feel like my mission trials are really starting.  Trying to battle the bugs and the weather is getting to me. I had thoughts about coming home this past week but my week ended good and the weather cooled a little.  I am pushing forward.

I get eaten alive here. I wake up just about every night because there are so many mosquitos around.  I end up breathing them in during my sleep.

I slept at another missionary’s house last preparation day.  They have a hammock outside.  It was crazy hot so I went to sleep in the hammock.  It was way comfortable and there was a little breeze but I was getting eaten alive by the mosquitos.  I went back to the mattress in the middle of the night.  Later, I felt something on my arm and I thought it was a mosquito.  When I swatted it, it was something huge.   I got up and opened my blanket and I had cockroaches all over me!  I didn’t sleep the rest of the night.  It really bothered me.

My legs and arms look just like chicken pox.  In our house we play a game where we see who can kill the most mosquitos at night.  Last night I killed twelve.

We have one fan in our house and because my bed is in the middle of the room I am lucky.  I have the fan blowing on me all night but mosquitos still bite me.

I haven’t seen bug spray at all.   Someone told us that you can buy a thing to stick on the wall to keep the bugs out but I haven’t seen it anywhere.  I asked around about where to buy mosquito nets but no one knows of a store here.

In turns out my companion didn’t have dengue fever.   He is just fine now.

We received a lot of references from the members this week, which has been a blessing.  We see progress with our investigator’s testimonies but getting them to church is still a battle.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Week 28 - Dengue fever and my trial

The missionary work here is starting to happen! We have eight new investigators this week and one of the people who previously dropped us returned so we have several people to teach!  There is much work to do in this branch.

My companion has been sick for the past four days. We think he has dengue fever.  The other night we went to the hospital at 2:00 in the morning.  He is in some pain but it’s not as serious as it sounds.  Sister Andrews, the mission president’s wife, told him to stay in after 5:00.   We still go out and work because he refuses to sit around.  He just wants to work.

IT’S FREAKING HOT HERE.  I’m dying.  I literally am sweating 24/7.  The inside of our house is like 88 degrees and the outside is 95.  There is absolutely no breeze or anything.  We have a fan in our house but it does nothing.  The air in our house is so hot.  The fan just blows hot air over you.  I don’t know what I’m going to do about this heat.  I don’t think I’m getting use to it.  I feel like I’m breathing with a blanket over my face.   I feel so claustrophobic.  This is way difficult for me and has become a big trial.

We found some potential houses in our area.  We just need to get the mission president or one of the secretaries to come look and approve one.  They haven’t had time to do that with my companion being sick.

I had an interview with our new mission president this week that was great!   He gave me direction.   He isn’t worried about numbers at all.   He just wants me to always have the Spirit with me and to work hard.

I get feed well here!  I ate chicken hearts the other day.   They were terrible.   They just tasted like blood to me.  I have had churrasco six times!  Churrasco is barbeque Brazilian style.  They use salt to season the meat.   They use all kinds of parts from cows and chickens.   They also use sausages.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Week 27 - A great and terrible week

This week has been both great and terrible.   Conference was great!   It was really nice to hear Portuguese live from one of the speakers.  It was more difficult to understand the translated messages.  Please post Elder Bednar’s message to my Facebook page.   I really liked it.

It has been a terrible week for our investigators.  Satan is working overtime.   We have zero people in our teaching pool.

My companion and I are searching for an apartment.  I’ve already talked to the zone leaders, but one the reasons we want to get a new house so badly is because we don’t want to live in the rat infested place we have now.  I haven’t sent pictures of our current house because it is so trashed.  I’ve been trying to clean and reduce the problem, but we literally have rats and bugs throughout.

I have an interview with the mission president this week.  I look forward to that!

Monday, September 29, 2014

Week 26 - My new area, Mogi das Cruzes

My new companion is a way funny dude. The branch [small congregation] has about 45 members.  The new area had zero people in the teaching pool when I arrived so I’ve been pretty busy trying to find people to teach. We set aside one entire day this week to do contacting and of coarse it ended up raining the entire day.

I actually don’t live in my area.  I live in Brás Cubas.  I walk an hour everyday to get to my area.  Everything is hilly.  Nothing is flat here.  I took some pictures. The area is pretty new so the mission hasn’t found a house yet. My companion and I are house hunting.

My friend from Monumento said my new area would be in the jungle but the reality is it’s not. There are mountains and trees but where the people live is just like a giant subdivision.

Yesterday at church I walked into the chapel and the second counselor came up to me and told me that they didn’t have anyone to speak.  He asked me to talk. I was nervous because I literally had no time to prepare but all went well. I spoke on missionary work.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Week 25 - Transferred, Monkeys, and Coconuts!

I am being transferred tomorrow. I’m getting transferred to the interior, which I am excited about! I’ll be in the jungle!!! I’m transferring to an area called Mogi das Cruzes. My branch or area is called Jardim Ivete. My companion will be Elder Farias. I don’t know him. He started in the same group as Elder G. Santos and Elder Faustino. Elder G. Santos says he is a way cool person.

Elder Faustino was heading to São José dos Campos today.  He had to pass through Mogi to get there and he called me while he was on the train.  He said its just completely forested there. I have no idea what it will be like. It’s the city where the interior starts so I could have some part of the city or could just be in the forest but a good thing its the coldest area in the mission!

I almost bought a cart today for my luggage because I don’t know if the roads in Mogi will be paved and it’s mountainous. I don’t want my suitcases to get ruined. I also need a new backpack because mine ripped.

I GOT A SWEET VIDEO OF THE MONKEYS!!! They didn’t come shake my hand like the other time when I didn’t have my camera but in this video they were pretty close up.

If you want coconut milk there are people on the street and that sell coconuts.  They just chop them open and you drink the coconut milk. After, they cut it again and you eat the coconut jelly. Its so good!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Week 24 - The gospel blesses lives!

Elder G. Santos and I have taught 39 new investigators this transfer!  Yesterday was really good for us!  At church the people we were expecting didn’t end up coming but we had new people visit! This women and her daughter were researching the church and saved the address.  They came Sunday and are just great! Having people research the church on the Internet is almost unheard of!

Elder Faustino and Elder Diaz were here yesterday because Elder Diaz is going home next week and the mission president said he could visit the area with another elder.  Elder Faustino volunteered of course.  It was way fun! We visited many families.  The last family we visited was a family that Elder Diaz helped teach and baptize the non-member father.  The family bore their testimonies to us about how grateful they were for the missionaries and how the gospel has blessed their lives. It was way cool to hear.

This week I think the biggest thing I noticed is how the gospel affects families and how much happier they are.  There is such a big difference seeing and teaching families that don’t have the gospel.  Seeing it just makes you desire to preach the gospel to more people.

I’m having trouble sleeping at night.  It’s so freaking hot.   It’s like 94 degrees here at 10:00 am in the morning.  If I go to the interior next week it will be even hotter.  I actually feel like I need to use sunscreen.  I’m glad there was some in our house because I’m never going to buy it.  It’s very expensive.  (like $R50) Because it’s so hot I’ve been buying a ton of coconut water and all kinds of fruit juices.  It’s just like heaven on earth!

It’s actually dry in São Paulo plus we are in a drought.   The reservoirs are low.   Don’t worry.   We still have water in our house.

I had two crazy bad noses bleeds this week. It freaked out Elder G. Santos so he called Fabio (The mission doctor) Fabio said if it gets worse they will cauterize my nose.

Oh! I shook hands with the monkeys in the museu the other day!!!  Of coarse it was the only day I didn't have my camera...