Friday, January 17, 2014

1st Baptism!


We did have the baptism on Saturday and yes, I performed the ordinance and thankfully didn´t have to do it twice.  For some reason Brazilians have really long names.  Maria do ????? ???????? de ?????? (edited for privacy) and then the rest of the ordinance in Portuguese.

Not a whole lot else happened this week.  We went on a lot of exchanges with other missionaries.  A missionary from Ecuador, a Brazilian and an American.   It´s nice to hear different Portuguese every once in a while.  A member from church said I´m picking up too much of Elder Castilla Columbian accent!
I gave a talk in Portuguese on Sunday about how the members could help with missionary work.  He wanted me to speak for 5 minutes and I honestly have no idea how long it actually was, it felt like 30 seconds.  I know I made a few mistakes but everyone said good job.  We also ate at the Bishop´s house.  We both love rugby and he has a picture and a jersey with the 2003 All Blacks because his company is one of their sponsors.  Still eating quite a bit and I think I might end up putting on weight.  Another Elder who is finishing up put on about 30lbs, even with all the walking.

Elder Castilla taught a lesson in Spanish last night. I just kinda sat there having no idea what was going on.  A member from Columbia lives with non-members from Columbia so we used the oppurtunity to share a little about the Gospel with them.  They are all trying to learn Portuguese so I was able to contribute a little but not a whole lot.

Sao Paulo Temple

HAPPY NEW YEAR! and a Trip to the Temple!

So the reason I didn´t email yesterday was because (and i found this out on Sunday) when we go to the Temple, they change P-day to Tuesday.
Happy New Year!  I hope everyone had a good time.  We had the wonderful chance to encounter some happy drunks on the street who wouldn´t stop kissing our heads and hugging us.  Really weird.... But we did get to sleep in till 8am!!!  The days are moving faster.  We have more people to teach and the language is slowly coming along.  You eventually become accustomed to different accents and such.  We´re still getting fed and my weight has stayed about the same.  Elder Castilla has put on 2kg in this area so far.  Elder Castilla said the members like me because I eat all their food...idk if that´s good or bad.
I also had my haircut last week.  That was scary.  I quickly flipped through the dictionary and said ´´guarda numero quatro´´ and pointed to the sides of my head and then made the snip snip action on top.  Thankfully he understood me!

We have a baptism scheduled for this Saturday.  Maria, sister to Jadson (our last baptism).  I think i´m performing the baptism but I´m not 100% sure.  I keep getting lost in the language.  All the words kind of blend together.
The weather has been continually hot but I´ve gotten used to being sweaty all day. It was 37 C on Friday but people are saying fall should be coming soon, and rain.

Weather, Food and Cold Showers!


It´s nice to speak in English haha!  It was nice to talk to everyone on Christmas and definitely gave me a boost!

Anyway, I´m adapting more to the mission life.  Once you get into the groove and understand everyday you are going to be walking and walking you kind of come to terms with what you´ll be doing for the next 2 years. My companion and I get along really well and if our spirits get down, they aren´t down for long.  When we were walking in the rain on Christmas and our shoes were filled with water (and I mean filled) we just sang a bunch of Hymns.  It´s funny how you can still have high spirits even during those times.  Although the really hot days (32C) I could do without.   I´m starting to turn a different shade of pink...sunscreen everyday!  It´s a  love-hate relationship throughout the day because you love the clouds because it´s cooler and blocks the sun but you hate the chance of rain and carrying the weight of a rain jacket.  I´ve pretty much come to terms that Im going to get wet.

The food has still been good.  I´ve been able to go to the store and actually buy good food and I love our little panini press in our kitchen for sandwiches.  We also went to Subway today. The girl making my sandwich kept laughing at me because my Portuguese pronunciation was so bad.  I´d point at the spinach and say ´´verde´´ which means green.  We also ate at a member's house yesterday and instead of rice and beans they had chicken primavera and MASHED POTATOES!  A nice change from the usual food here. The potatoes were a little different but they were nice to see.
All the American missionaires went to the police station to become ´´legal´´. It was so nice to speak English.

Elder Taylor gave me some tips for living here in Brazil:  1.)  If you send packages, declare the amount around $30 or I will have to pay a lot of money to receive it, 2.)  In 1.5 years he has not gotten sick yet, 3.)  Apparently Brazilian Stroganoff is really good, and 4.)  The time does fly by.

I remember Dad asked about our Ward size, last week was 70 and this week was 62. It feels really small. Apparently the Mormon world runs on the universal Mormon standard time because everyone is late.  We have Priesthood first (weird) and I think we had about 7 people when we started.

Be grateful for warm showers.  We have been losing power every so often and cold showers in the morning really wake you up!

Preparing For The Day


Today was a great day as we were able to SKYPE with Elder Bean for about 40 minutes.  He was kindly given access to the internet at the home of Irma Inez.  It was great to see and hear from our missionary and to hear first hand of some of his experiences, challenges, observations and feelings after his first week in Brazil.  He looked and sounded good (well he did look a little water-logged due wot walking in the rain!) and we also said hello to his companion, Elder Castilla.

As there was no time to get a Christmas present to Brazil, Adam acted as proxy and opened Elder Bean's gift....more ammo for shooting when he returns and a massive tool kit from Sears (which may help with repairing the go-cart he left behind!).

All in all a great blessing to have all the family (including grandparents) gathered around the computer to express our love and support to our missionary.    

The Apartment

Week 1 in Sao Paulo

So I´m in Brasil at an Internet Cafe and I am finding out their keyboards are different. We get 1.5 hours for email.

I know you are all wondering about Christmas in 2 days. We do have Skype for 40 minutes at a members home. We are going to try to call around 7pm our time. I think that is 4pm your time. It is almost 5pm here.

So we arrived at the airport and waited for all the other missionaries to arrive which took about 2 hours.  They had missionaries going to all different parts of Brasil.  The missionaries kept asking us how long we have been out in the field.  I say ´´about 12 hours´´ whereas they have been at their re-assignments for months. They couldn´t believe we were fresh out of the MTC.  We got our bags and then went to eat lunch with our Mission President. We felt like we were at the kids table during Christmas. No one really talked to us 'cause we couldn´t talk back.  We then went to the Chapel to receive our assigned companions.  Elder Castilla is from Colombia.  He speaks fluent Portuguese and Spanish and quite a bit of English.  He has been out for about 13 weeks.  He just finished being trained and is now training me.  We went straight to our apartment that first night and went out and taught some people.  I don´t remember talking much.   Irma Ines (member) pretended she was Catholic and tried to give me a hard time; thankfully I figured it our pretty quick.  She is awesome cause she gives us lots of food!

The food here is great!  Definitely my favorite part of the day.  They pretty much just have one big meal during lunch.  Beans and rice! And usually some chicken or beef and some dessert.  I have to learn that when I am offered seconds to say ´´a little more´´.  If I don't they give me more than I had the first time.  I eat all I can 'cause I don´t know when my next meal will be.  I sometimes I feel like I´m going to burst. Chocotonni is also really popular here during Christmas time.  I think we have 8 of them in our apartment.  I also need to teach my companion how to cook. It seems like in every missionary's apartment, it´s pop, plain bread and chocotonni.  This is part of the reason I love eating at members' homes.

The mission field is definitely different than the MTC.  Instead of sitting all day, you're walking all day, and walking and walking and walking.  The first day was very difficult.  Lack of sleep, walk all day, hungry, thirsty and cannot understand anyone.  You can go on Google Streetview and see what my life is like.  I´ve never been to San Francisco but that´s what the walking feels like.  Lots of steep hills.  I also wear my suit a lot more than I thought I would.  We wear it for all meetings, but we had a lot this week because of Christmas.  Now that I´m here I have a lot of stuff I don´t need. We don´t really need P-day clothes at all so once I know how to mail stuff in Portuguese I might try to send some stuff home so I don´t have to haul it around for 2 years.

We had our first baptism on Saturday too.  Elder Castilla already had everything lined up when I got here.  I gave a short spiritual thought and Elder Castilla performed the baptism.

Went to church yesterday.  The members were very patient with my Portuguese.  It is getting better and I can understand quite a bit when they talk slowly.  The churches here are huge.  Ours has the classrooms on the first floor and the chapel on the 2nd floor.

Apparently our Mission has a facebook page:
São Paulo Oeste

As for culture shock, it is a little different here.  Lots of cars, LOTS of motorcycles.  The sidewalks and roads could use some maintainance.  The houses here are very humble.  We taught in one where the house was just made up of wooden planks and blankets along with the smell of sewage.  Btw, those of you worried about me in the favelas, we rarely teach there.  The people that live there will listen to our message but they never commit to things.  The streets are not very clean and you do get an erie feeling when you walk past a burning pile of garbage at night.  Oh and LOTS of graffiti.  Also, on Sunday nights, they have a party called ´´Inferno´´ which translates to ´´hell´´ so everyone makes as much noise as they can with their stereos and motorcycles.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Sao Paulo: The City of Concrete

There were apartment buildings as far as the eye could see.

The Trip To Sao Paulo: Dec. 16-17th

Elder Bean departed the MTC on schedule the morning of December 16, 2013.  We were blessed to receive a phone call from him while at the Atlanta airport.  His Dad then set up a conference call with family members throughout the US to way good-bye and to wish him the best.  It was a bit crazy with so many people on the phone but it was great to hear from him.

He arrived in Sao Paulo on schedule and more importantly, safe and sound.

MTC - Week 5

So as you know, I had a GREAT birthday! Definitely excited to get to Brazil.

On Sunday's all missionaries are required to write a talk in their mission language (3-5 minutes).
It's completely random who gets called and guess who got called last Sunday...this Elder!  Everyone said I did well even though I was reading a script, but they did say they could understand most of what I said.  We also watched the Christmas Devotional Broadcast on Sunday. An Elder shared an experience about his first testimony in Korea. He bore his testimony and apparently said "I know that through the Hippopotamus, we are able to return to the Duck." I don't know how similar those words are to Jesus Christ and God in Korean, but at least his Ward got a kick out of it. Hopefully my first Sunday goes a little better!

Elder Quentin L. Cook came on Tuesday and talked about the blessing we will receive from our Mission President and the people we teach.  Our 3rd Apostle!  Something I learned was that when they select missionaries for their areas, they take into account if they feel the Mission President there will be a blessing for you and the people also.

I hosted an Elder from Germany going to France. (Hosting is where we stand on the curb and welcome the missionaries and show them around).  He was a pretty cool guy but there was a slight language barrier. I also ran into another Elder from Brazil, thankfully he spoke English well so we were able to have a good conversation, with help. He said Sao Paulo gets cold in the winter, he said 10 degrees Celsius which makes me wonder what they think cold is.  And apparently half the missionaries there are Americans so maybe I won't get trained by a native.

The other missionaries received their re-assignments:  My companion is going to Oklahoma City.  We also have Elders and Sisters going to Twin Falls, Independence, MO, Sacramento CA, Fresno CA, Milwaukee WI, Las Vegas West and Ft. Lauderdale, FL.  Almost everyone is going somewhere different.  Apparently after 12 weeks you are able to train incoming Elders, so I could be training the Elders in my district when they arrive.

We had in-field orientation yesterday. about 9.5 hours of class. Sitting and teaching. It was a long day. They kept you interacted which was good but it still felt really long, especially when you are counting down the seconds till dinner. They focused a lot on how members and the missionaries work together and also goal setting.

Provo Temple



I am flying on Delta.
I leave the MTC at 6am on Dec 16.
I leave from SLC at 11:14am.
Arrive in Atlanta at 4:50pm.
Leave Atlanta at 7:38pm.
Arrive in Sao Paulo at 8:15am on Dec 17.

First flight is #1912
Second flight is #105

Tchau! Obrigado por seus oracaos!


MTC - Week 4

Bom dia!

So this week has been pretty normal, except for the snow. That first morning I jumped right in!

The language is coming along fine. I can usually carry a lesson pretty well now, it's just trying to get your investigator to open up with your limited Portuguese vocabulary. We did run into a native from Brazil serving in the temple square mission. Had no idea what she said, she talked really fast.

The district that got here before us left for their assignments so we got a new district, 9 new elders. None of them are going to my mission. And once again, no one from Utah, weird. We did finally get a whole zone picture before the other district left so I'll attach that. And I was able to "ground" myself during our temple walk. You realize that here in the MTC you never get to walk around in your bare feet so we took off our shoes and enjoyed the cold grass between our toes!

I receive my re-assignment Thursday so everyone can guess again where you think I'll be going. It will be Stateside. I'm crossing my fingers for something coastal.  

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Temple Walk

MTC - Week 3

Classes are going well.  I have the First Vision memorized in Portuguese and our "Investigator" lessons have been going alright.  I get lost sometimes when the investigator is speaking but I eventually catch back on.  We did a new teaching called TRC (Teaching Resource Center) where volunteers come in and you pretty much HT them and just get to know them.  Most of them are RM's so they help you as you struggle along with the language.  It is definitely a self-esteem booster when lessons don't go as planned.  Now we all look forward to Fridays cause it's P-Day and TRC Day.  The temple is closed now so we won't be going inside anymore.  We still get our temple walks so that's nice.  It's always fun to leave the gate.  An older gentleman told me a joke "The only difference between the MTC and Prison, is you get visitors in Prison." I thought it was really funny. Similar structure but definitely a different atmosphere.  It's crazy to think I only have 2.5 weeks left here. Time sure does fly.


Happy Thanksgiving!

Feliz acao de gracas! (Happy Thanksgiving!)

We got a little free time today after our Devotional and Thanksgiving Lunch. We had turkey, mashed potatoes, CRANBERRIES, STUFFING (w/o the nasty stuff in it), Pumpkin and Apple Pie. Probably the best meal I've had here.

Elder Russell M. Nelson spoke to us this morning with the surprising topic of "Being Thankful" and "Becoming a Better Missionary".

So here are some things I'm thankful for:
Mom's Cooking.
Dad's Employment and Hard Work.
Emily's Care Packages.
Rachel's Determination for School and the Gospel.
Adam's passion for annoying Mom. (Keep it up!).
G'ma Belle and Papa Tom's decision to let the Missionaries in.
G'ma & G'pa Foster's love for us grandkids.

Elder Bean and Irmao Chamberlain
Didn't your mothers teach you to clean your room!!
Elder Bean and Irmao Orr (Jorge)

Week 2 in the MTC

Week 2 feels a lot longer than week 1.  All the days are long and they all sort of blend together, but we're learning lots and the language is coming along fine.  We're able to understand our teachers pretty well but then we try to watch a Mormon Messages Video in Portuguese and only catch about 5-10%.  The natives talk A LOT faster.

We have two new FAKE investigators, Roial and Paulo. Paulo smokes pot and Roial usually falls asleep during our lessons.  During our lesson with Roial, he offered us "invisible" food and it took us about 10 minutes to figure out it was a Strawberry Cupcake.  If they talk about church stuff I can understand it but anything else, I'm clueless. They're definitely trying to prepare us for the real mission field.

We had a surge of Visa's come through in our zone.  I think we had 7 in total but they were all from the Atlanta and Washington, DC consulates.  Houston needs to pick up the pace.

Rumor is we're getting another Apostle to speak for Thanksgiving.  Hopefully we get a nice Thanksgiving meal too!

The "Badge"!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Excerpts From Week 1 Email "Sleep, Eat, Study. Repeat"

Oi minha familia! Tudo Bem?

As expected I've been very busy.  P-Day is Friday.  I'm pretty much in class all day. Sleep, eat, study.  Repeat. With our workload of planning lessons and studying it's taking some getting used to when you HAVE to be in bed by 10:30 even when you haven't finished.  The Portuguese is coming along well.  Our Teachers only speak Portuguese to us so it's pretty much full immersion which is really cool.  Day 1 I understood about 10% but now I can understand about 80%...if they talk slowly.  My companion and I have taught 4 lessons ALL in Portuguese to an investigator named Jorge.  We all pray, sing, testify, recite Our Purpose, write 3-5 minute talks...all in Portuguese. 

My companion, Elder Durham, is from Springfield, Illinois...19 years old.  He's got a great testimony and he keeps telling me he's so lucky I'm his companion....

There are 8 people in our classroom.  Elders Phair, Waters, Larken, McEwan, Ballard, Parkhurst, and Durham.  Everyone is pretty young, anywhere from straight out of HS to 1 year of college.  So, I've been called the "Old Mature Sophisticated Elder" and I've been compared to Captain America and Henry B. Eyring (with more hair!).  No one knew Portuguese before they got here.  Elder Larkin is fluent in Spanish and he says it's really frustrating because he confuses the two.

I have two teachers, Irmao Chamerberlain and Irmao Orr.   Irmao Orr just started teaching us yesterday.  He got off his mission 4 months ago.

On Sunday we watched a video by Elder Bednar "The Character of Christ". HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!   L. Tom Perry came to speak to us on Tuesday. Apostles only come about four times a year. He focused on companionship relationships and preaching the Gospel two by two.

I don't know how to type the accents so this probably won't translate well:   Eu sei que a igreja e verdederio e meu porposito e para servir nosso Pai Celestial. Eu sei que Pai Celestial e amoroso e Sau igreja e restaurado. Atraves Cristo nos sentimos esperanca e Sua amor. O evangelho e muito importante por nossos vivos e salvacao. Eu amor voce.  Please pray for the Philippines and Missionary Work.

Elder Bean's District in the MTC

Left to Right:  Elders Parkhurst, Durham, Ballard, Bean, Waters, Phair, Larken and McEwan

Entering the Provo MTC

On the big day, Adam decided to drive Elder Bean to Provo where they met up with Emily to enjoy a few more hours with Elder Bean before dropping him off at the curb in front of the MTC.  With the help of technology, Mom & Dad in Oklahoma and Rachel in Idaho were able to Facetime for a couple of minutes and say our good-byes.  With a double "thumbs up" Elder Bean began is service as a missionary for the Lord.