Parnamirim: Week 3

Monday, December 29, 2014

Skyping on Christmas Day 2014

Christmas Mission Conference 2014
Brazil Natal Mission

Thanks for the questions- I like getting them.  I will answer some of them here. 

Yes, we always report numbers at the end of the week. Goals are a big part of this mission. We set daily, weekly, and monthly goals. Each of the zones also set monthly goals and the mission sets goals too. 

No, there doesn´t seem to be an expected amount of service. I´ve only done it a couple of times on my mission.

Every missionary on the mission goes through the São Paulo CTM. There are some Americans who had to go to the Provo one first, though, because of visa problems.

Lately I´ve been speaking more english than usual because I´m living with an american. I should probably try harder to speak more portuguese, but it´s definitely nice to be able to talk in english sometimes. But in my 4 1/2 months in the mission field I´ve only lived with an american for about 1 1/2 months. It´s very rare to find a native person here that speaks good english, at least where I am. Lots people know very basic phrases though.

The mission conference was great, but it was pretty short because there were a lot of missionaries that came from long distances and they wanted to get them back as soon as possible. It was good to see everyone in the mission. There were lots of missionaries that I hadn´t seen before.

I´ve only been in one ward where we´ve worked a lot with the ward mission leader, but sometimes it´s kind of our fault for not working with them.

We usually see the zone leaders pretty often. There´s always a monthly zone conference. And I´ve lived with the zone leaders once before. And now the zone leaders are in our district so I see them weekly.

No, investigators really don´t ask questions. I wish they did more. It´s rare to find someone who has good questions. Lots of people don´t really understand what the message of the restoration means. They believe the things we say but they don´t really get what it means to them. One of the things that I´ve learned well here is how to explain things in a basic way so people can understand. Most people understand things pretty well, but we have had a couple investigators that didn´t know how to read.

Just so you know, I bought myself a Christmas present this week. There was a guy on the street selling large maps so I bought one of Brazil and one of the state i´m in. Right now they are mounted on the wall over my bed.

Thanks again for the Christmas present!  Happy New Year!


in the house of a member in the ward with E. Solorzano and E. Da Costa

christmas caroling
christmas caroling

a really cool family in our ward  on christmas eve(same house that let us use skype)

elder mendenhall and elder da costa
elder mendenhall and elder da costa

Parnamirim: Week 2

Monday, December 22, 2014

Merry Christmas! I can´t wait to talk on skype in a few days. That must have been fun to have meredith and patrick in town. I´m excited that we have a new ping pong table! congrats on the new calling, that sounds like a good one and probably a bit of a challenge. I hope you can get everything for christmas ready! Lately I´ve been thinking about how great christmas was when I was growing up. You and dad always did such a great job making memorable christmases. I´ve just been remembering how much I loved that time of year when I was younger. Here it doesn´t feel like christmas at all. The people don´t seem to change much of their regular routine. And it´s the same weather, same music, etc.
Yes we had our christmas conference on Tuesday. It was fun but it went by quickly. The highlight of the conference was probably the skits that each of the zones made. They also gave some training of course. This conference was fun because I´ve come to a point in my mission where I know lots of other missionaries. It´s good to have friends to talk to at mission conferences. 
Well I don´t think i´ll send an official weekly update this week since I´ll talk to you all in just a few days. Just know that things are going well here! 

Thanks so much for the christmas present! I think I know what I´ll use it on. Luckily I haven´t had any money problems here. I think the monthly money we get is sufficient for everything we need and even more. But there are some missionaries that always use it up quickly and don´t even have an emergency fund saved up. It has been more than enough for me though.

I think the skype call will still be around 4pm. Talk to you then!

Elder Church

Parnamirim: Week 1

Monday, December 15, 2014

Elder Gomes in Nova Natal

views from the sand dunes behind our house in Cidade Nova
our house in cidade nova- we had the bottom part of the house
a baptism that we had in cidade nova.  just to specify- the baptism was of the one in the baptismal clothes. the other boys are members.
our apartment in Nova Natal. It was very small and there was a common area in the middle for all of the neighbors in our little complex.
After my first few days in Parnamirim, in the Monte Castelo area, we´ve gotten to know a lot of the members. As always, there are great members in the ward. This ward seems to be struggling though with sacrament meeting attendance and other things. This area is pretty different than the others I have been in. The streets are very empty and the houses are a little higher-end. The missionaries haven´t been having very much success in the area for a while. There is definitely a lot of potential in this area- lots of great families, etc. But the work will be different. We´ll have to work a lot more with getting member references. We found a member family that invited us over for Christmas to talk on skype. I´ll let you know next week when I have more details, but I think the skype call will be around 4pm my time which would be noon your time.
Tomorrow we have the Christmas mission conference, the only time in a year that the whole mission meets together. I´m pretty excited for that. I can´t wait to talk to you guys on Christmas day!

Wow, I can´t believe Hayley won all that stuff! That´s awesome, I´m sure she was excited. That sounds like a really cool stake activity. I´ve been looking around for nativity sets, and they definitely have some great ones here. I will for sure bring one back with me when I come home. In Cidade Nova last week, we went Christmas caroling with a group of members. This is a big tradition in the US, but something that hardly anyone does here. It went really well! We went around to lots of houses of members/non members near the chapel and gave them a bag of cookies that the young women in the ward had made. I thought it was such a great activity that I wanted to do it in this area too. We talked to some members about it yesterday and I think we´ll do it next week. Thanks so much for sending packages! Sorry I haven´t been doing well with writing letters. I hate to make excuses but we don´t have much free time here. That´s great to hear about how you are reaching out to our neighbors like that.

I haven´t taken any close up pictures of me for the christmas card, sorry. But I´m fine with whichever one you choose.
Can´t wait to talk to you all in a couple of weeks!

Have a great week,
Elder Church

Transfer: Parnamirim

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Well i´m finally in an area that I think I´ll stay in for a while, but of course I never know for sure. I was transferred to the city Parnamirim in the Monte Castelo ward. Parnamirim is still near the capital, so it wasn´t a huge switch. There are three zones in the interior in this mission: Caico, Mossoro, and Sousa. And there are 5 zones near the capital. After I left Caico i´ve stayed near Natal where the mission headquarters is. My new companion is Elder Solorzano from Ecuador. I liked Cidade nova a lot, but I was expecting to leave so it wasn´t that hard. The ward was really strong there and the missionaries were having a lot of success. We had a baptism on sunday that went really well. His name is Dimitrio and he´s 19. It was fast and testimony meeting and he got up and bore his testimony before his baptism! Things were going well there for sure.
Some of you have been asking me what I eat here. A lot of the food is pretty normal but there are also a lot of things that the US doesn´t have. I eat a lot of cuscus for example. The members make a lot of it and it´s easy to make in the house. I also learned how to make tapioca this week. At members houses they always serve juice with lunch. The juice is  usually from fruits that I had never heard of before I came here like acerola, goiaba, maracuja, tamarindo, graviola, etc. They also have cashew juice here which is really good.
I live in a house with two other elders- one from texas and one from uruguay. I´m excited for the new transfer.

Thanks for all the letters and emails! Sorry that I don´t have very much time to respond to letters.

Elder Church

Cidade Nova Week 1

Monday, December 1, 2014

I actually took several pictures this week, but this computer place we´re in doesn´t let us put anything in the computers. I´ll have to wait until next time to send them, sorry! I like this new area a lot. I still don´t know if it´s a temporary switch until the end of the transfer, or if I´ll stay longer. I´ll find out next tuesday. We´re in the zone of the assistants and the secretaries of the mission. We´re pretty close to the mission office. This month was a great month for the mission because we broke our record for baptisms. We finished November with 245 baptisms, passing the old record of 208! Our companionship did really well this month too (before I got here). I´m in a trio with both of the Zone Leaders and so I´m learning a lot from them. The sacrament meeting attendance in this ward is higher than the other two wards I´ve been in. Right now I´m with my 4th companion on the mission, none of which have spoken english. This has been a blessing for me though because it´s helped me pick up on Portuguese quickly. Although, my companion now really wants to improve on his english so he likes talking in english with me. I still have lots to improve in with the language, but I am to the point where I understand just about everything and I´m able to say most things I need to.
I went up on the sand dunes near our house this morning. There are some great views from the top. There´s also a city park nearby that has a trail going through hills. I went running there a few times this week with Elder Oliveira it´s awesome because it reminds me a little of the scenery of the mountains in Utah.
I also saw monkeys this week really near our house! I also met an American that lives here. He´s from Saratoga Springs, UT. He served his mission in southern brazil and later married a girl from here and lives here with 2 kids. As much as I like it here I couldn´t imagine living here afterwards, haha.
I definitely thought about you all on thanksgiving this week. It just felt like a normal day to me.

Have a great week! It was sad for me to think that you didn´t put my name in the christmas name drawing, but I understand. It would be pretty hard for me to send a gift to my person on time. I can´t wait to be able to talk to you guys on skype in just a few weeks!

Love, Elder Church

transferred.. again?

Monday, November 24, 2014

We got a call last night at 10:30 that me and my companion would be transferred today. This came out of nowhere because it´s not even transfer week! I don´t know exactly why he took us out of the area now, but there was an elder in another area that finished his mission today so one of us had to take his spot. There won´t be any missionaries to replace us for now so the Nova Natal ward just has 2 missionaries. I got transferred to Cidade Nova which isn´t too far away from Nova Natal. I arrived here this morning and I´ll be in a trio companionship until the end of the transfer. My companions are Elder Oliveira and Elder Fernandes, both Brazilians. It´s the same Elder Fernandes that trained me! It was fun to see him again and to hear about what happened in Caicó after I left. He will finish his mission in 2 weeks. I don´t know much about my area yet. We live right next to some huge sand dunes so I´m excited for that! I was not expecting at all to leave Nova Natal yesterday. It´s too bad because we had the wedding planned for december, but maybe I´ll get permission to go back and see it.
Yesterday our stake had a great stake conference. A member of the seventy that lives in Brazil, Moroni Torgan, came and spoke. I´m always amazed by how strong the church is here and how much it has grown in recent years. The chapels here are just as nice or nicer than in the US, and most of the wards seem to be functioning pretty well. Lots of the leaders are young or are recent converts. In Caicó the bishop was 25 and had only been back from his mission for a few years. In the Nova Natal ward, the Elders Quorum president, primary president, and sunday school president are all recent converts of a little over a year. This is motivating for me to think that recent converts can go on to help the ward a lot in a short amount of time. It makes me anxious to find people to teach that have potential to strengthen the ward.

Sorry if I don´t give you enough updates about how I´m doing here. My first transfer was a little rough sometimes but things got a lot better after. I lived with Elder Wilson, an american elder from texas for several weeks in Nova Natal. He had served for 1 year in Washington and had just barely arrived in Brazil. He is doing well, but he had struggles adjusting to things. He would talk to me about how much he missed his mission in the US and how hard it was for him to be here. I really am doing well though. Thanks for always sending me good updates from home and pictures!  I hope everyone has a great thanksgiving this week. I´m sure thursday won´t feel anything like thanksgiving for me haha.
Love you all, and I´ll write again next week!

Elder Church

Nova Natal Week 9

Monday, November 17, 2014

I had a good week! This week Sister Soares, the mission president´s wife, came to our apartment to look at our washing machine. Sometimes she makes unexpected visits to missionary apartments, but we knew she was coming so we got the chance to clean it really well. Not that it was too out of order before. The main problem about the apartment is that the neighbors live so close and sometimes we don´t have the best privacy. Other than that it´s fine to live in. It´s small but it´s new and is nice on the inside. The appliances are nice and we have tile floor, etc. After that she took me and another Elder out in her car to look for places to live. We didn´t find anything that day, so we might keep looking. It was fun driving with her though because she would stop the car every once and a while to tell us to go talk to certain people on the street about the gospel.
Yesterday we had the baptism of Leandro, the son of the couple that will get married in December. He is really afraid of water, but he finally decided to be baptized!
Things are going well! The ward has some problems but we have been meeting a lot with the Bishop lately to see how we can change things and move the work forward.

To answer your questions:
No, I haven´t ever been robbed here and I feel pretty safe. I´ll try to start taking more pictures!
The language is really getting better. I feel like I can understand just about everything that people say now, but I still have trouble responding sometimes. Thanks for the updates of the family and for the quotes from general conference!

Talk to you next week!

Elder Church

Nova Natal Week 8

Monday, November 10, 2014

Dear Family,

I´ll try to give you an update with how things are going now. Sorry that I haven´t been sending very many pictures. Honestly, there´s nothing too scenic here in my area, and I don´t like carrying around my camera very much with the risk of it getting stolen. Right now we have 2 Americans and 2 Brazilians living in our apartment. We are looking for a new apartment/ house right now because the one we´re in is really small and isn´t the best. The nice thing about it is that it´s so close to lots of stores. Last week our washing machine (which is pretty new) stopped working because of electrical problems. The bishop has been trying to fix it, but we might just have to get a new one. Washing clothes by hand isn´t that bad, but it just takes up a lot of time (which we don´t have). One of our neighbors bought a washing machine that we´ve been using though.
Elder Gomes is awesome. I´ve liked my other two companions, but he is easiest to work with.
The family (Lucas and Michelle) that I´ve told you about before is still doing really well. Their marriage is marked for December 13th in the church. It´s right after the transfer, so I hope I get to stay for it! Yesterday we had 5 investigators in church. None of them will be able to baptized very soon though.

Where do you go to read and write emails?
There is an internet place nearby which is really cheap to use.

Do your companions email their families, too?
Yes, except for my first companion. His parents aren´t members and they didn´t talk to him very often.

What is a typical Sunday like for you?
We leave the house early to bring our investigators to church. We stay for all three meetings. We usually have to help with the Sacrament because there are hardly any active young men in the ward. Right after church we have lunch at a member´s house. Sometimes we bring investigators to the other ward in the afternoon. After church we go out and work like usual, but we often go to members houses too.

I miss being home this time of year with Halloween, Thanksgiving, etc!

Have a great week! Love you all!

Elder Church

Nova Natal Week 7

Monday, November 3, 2014

No, we don´t have daylight savings here. I wish it stayed lighter for more of the night though. It gets dark here at around 5:30 so we always have to work for a few hours in the dark. Wow, sounds like Grant is working a lot. I missed the Halloween traditions this year. Haha, I´m sure fast sunday was hard for the girls having bags full of uneaten candy. That´s amazing to hear about Dad´s progress in family history. I look forward to him showing me how he does it when I get back. Yes, thanks for telling people to write me. I got a couple more emails than usual this week. I can´t think of anything that I want you to send. Maybe some American candy that the girls got trick or treating- yes, send some of that!  haha.
Thanks for writing me every week!

Love, Evan

Nova Natal Week 6: Starting my 3rd transfer

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

We found out late last night that Elder Delgado would be transferred! We were all expecting it though because he had already been in the area for nearly 6 months. He didn´t want to leave though because things were going pretty well. He got transferred to the interior for the first time on his mission. This morning I went to the bus station with him and then picked up my new companion, Elder Gomes. He is Brazilian and has almost 9 months on his mission. I can already tell that he´ll be a great companion.

The parents in the family we are teaching haven´t gotten married yet but they are close. The marriage will be in the church and the relief society president and others are helping to plan it and possibly provide a dress for her. On Saturday we had the baptism of their Daughter, Maria Clara. She is great friends with the other girls her age in the ward that live near her which is great to see! She might have already friends with them before. Her 9-year old brother wasn´t baptized yet because he´s afraid of water.

Now I´ll answer some of your questions

Typical daily schedule?
We stay in our apartment in the mornings doing personal, companion, and language study. We usually leave the house an hour before lunch and make some contacts on the street. Instead of having 1 hour for lunch and 1 hour for dinner, we have our lunch break from 12-2pm and then work until 9 or 9:30 at night. Nothing really functions in the city between 12-2. Most people are either having lunch or sleeping. We usually have plenty of teaching appointments to fill up the day, but lots of times the people aren´t home so we have to change plans.

Favorite things about the culture? The people here are great and it´s easy to make contacts. They are very nice and it´s easy to get people to accept visits in their home.

Things you took for granted in America? Sometimes we go days without having water in our house. We always have drinking water in 5 gallon jugs, but sometimes we don´t have water in the faucet or shower.

Most important thing you have learned so far? I feel like I´m learning a lot about getting along with companions. A lot of times you are really different from them but you have to learn how to work together to have success. I have liked my companions so far though.

Have you and your companion been able to bring more investigators to Church? Yes, except for last Sunday because everyone had to vote in the election.

Do you find they have a lot of questions about what they learn and observe in Church? Most investigators say that it is really different from any other church here which is definitely true. All the other churches here seem to have lots of noise and loud music, etc.

Are members good at coming up to them and helping them feel welcome?
Yes, the members here are great at reaching out and being friends with them. This is really what´s helping us most in the work.

Have a great week and a fun Halloween. I´ll write to you on Monday!

Love, Elder Church.

Nova Natal Week 5

Monday, October 20, 2014

The work is progressing here a lot. We´ve been working with a family of 4 this week. They have two kids- 9 and 11 years old. They have showed a lot of interest from the beginning in being baptized and joining the church. The main problem is that the husband and the wife aren´t married. But we´ve been working through the process with the ward member that helps people to get married and have almost completed all of the steps. They have come to church twice already and liked it. There´s a family of members that live near them, and this week we asked them to have a family night with us and the family we are teaching. It ended up going really well and the bishop was there too! It´s possible that they could get married on Saturday and have the baptism on Sunday. We´ll see how it goes. We´ve been blessed with finding quality people to teach. The members are also being a huge help to us. On most days we have a member go out finding and teaching with us for a few hours. They really like helping and they usually ask us when they can help. There are always challenges here too, but for the most part things are going smoothly.

Talk to you next week! (next wednesday because it will be transfer week)

Elder Church

Nova Natal Week 4 - Baptism yesterday!

Monday, October 13, 2014

We had some great things happen last week! Especially yesterday- 6 investigators came to church and one of them was baptized. It was cool for me to see an investigator progress from our first visit with him all the way until baptism. His name is Gutenberg and he will be a firm member. He has already been to church and other activities several times. He´s starting to make good friends with people in the ward which is good. He was always a really solid investigator and I was excited to see him finally get baptized. I´ll attach a picture.

We were also blessed at the end of last week to find a great family. We had been working hard all day on Thursday but hadn´t had much success. It was hard for me to not get discouraged. But at the end of the day we went by the house of a lady we had talked to once. This time her husband was home and we gave them a short message. They had heard of the church and they had a cousin who used to be a member. They were receptive to our message, and they asked what they would have to do to become members. So we told them about baptism and they accepted. One problem is that they´re not officially married (lots of people here consider themselved married, but aren´t married legally- I think it´s mainly because of the cost). Luckly there´s a member in the ward that knows how to get couples married for free. But they are really interested and they came to church yesterday. They brought one of their three children and also came with a neighbor who we are teaching. The gospel principles class was full yesterday and one of the members did a great job teaching it. I´m happy right now with the progress we´re seeing and I can definitely feel that we´re being blessed. I´m working well together with my companion too. This week, one of the brazilian elders who we are living with got transfered unexpectedly out of are area because there were a couple of visa waiters that came into the mission. He was replaced with Elder Wilson who served in the Washington, Spokane mission for a year. It´s nice to finally be living with an American- not that the other missionaries aren´t great as well.

Thanks for always keeping me in your prayers! I´m liking my area a lot and the work is going well here.

Love, Elder Church

Nova Natal Week 3

Monday, October 6, 2014

Last week went by quickly because we had a mission conference on tuesday and general conference on saturday and sunday. So only 3 full days of work. And on one of the days we did a service project all morning. It was a great week, but our numbers weren´t very high because we didn´t have as much time as usual to work.
The mission conference was great! It was with all of the zones in the Natal area (a little over half of the mission). I got to meet lots of missionaries for the first time. President and Sister Soares spoke to us and gave us training. There really aren´t a whole lot of American missionaries in this mission. I think I´ve met most of them by now. Maybe there are some others waiting for visas. For some reason, a lot of the American missionaries are from the southeast US- texas, tennessee, alabama, florida, virginia, etc. But it seems like most of the missionaries in this mission are Brazilians which I think is awesome. Driving back from the mission conference I got to see the beach for the first time.
I loved general conference. I got to watch it in English in a room with the other Americans which I was grateful for. I liked Elder Scott´s talk a lot. I liked Elder Lynn G Robbins talk too-- and several others, but those are just a couple that came to mind now. I didn´t get to see all of priesthood session. They broadcasted it at 7am on Sunday morning, but the stake center is a 40 minute walk away so we didn´t go. But we borrowed our neighbor´s computer and watched part of it live on Saturday night.
Right now we have a couple of solid investigators, but they still need some time to prepare for baptism. We have found several good street contacts that we´ll need to go and teach this week.
Things are going well and I feel like I´m able to have a big influence on the way we do work here which I´m happy about. I didn´t have much of a say in things with my first companion. Elder Delgado and I still have lots to learn and improve on in the way we teach, find, etc.
I felt like I was at home again while watching General Conference this weekend. It brought me back to our tradition of watching it together in the family room. I miss you guys lots!

Love, Elder Church

Nova Natal Week 2

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

One thing that has helped the work a lot here is the members. We´ve had members work with us several times since I´ve been here. Sometimes they stay with us for a whole afternoon, going to teaching appointments. Right now we have a good-sized pool of investigators- people that we contacted on the street and agreed to have another visit in their home. The mission has standards of excellence that include making 20 contacts per day. We tried hard to meet the standards of making contacts this week and achieved it every day. This is something that we didn´t do in my first area, but it´s helping us now. I think it´s even more important to find references from members though, because most baptisms generally come from references.
This week we have a missionary family night scheduled with a couple in the ward. They´ll be having a family night in their home, but they said that they won´t invite anyone. They´re giving invitations to the two companionships in the ward and it´s our job to bring investigators. I´m pretty excited for it and I hope we can bring a lot of people!
We had a couple of experiences this week that made me think about what our message is as missionaries and how it can help people. Does that make sense? I know the missionary lessons well, but I had to stop and think about HOW it can actually help people in their lives with their struggles. Here are a couple of experiences from this week:
We had a guy (who may or may not have been drunk) come up to us saying that he was having problems providing food for his family and that he wanted us to help because he knew missionaries helped people. He brought us into their house and we saw that they really do need help. He was baptized several years ago and said that he wants to come back, but he doesn´t seem very sincere.
We also made a contact on the street with a lady that wanted a visit from us because she was having problems with her marriage. We haven´t been able to find her at home yet, but we´ll try again this week.
But things are going well here and I´m really excited for general conference at the end of the week! I heard that there will be a room where all the american missionaries can watch it in english- and there are several in our stake.
Everyone enjoy conference this weekend!

Love, Elder Church

Natal Week 1

Monday, September 22, 2014

Elder Delgado

The area i´m in is called Nova Natal. It´s in the north part of Natal. The name of the ward we´re in is Nova Natal and there´s another companionship in our ward because the standard of the mission is to have 2 companionships per ward. It still gets pretty hot here, but it´s overcast a lot of the time. It´s already rained 3 or 4 times since I´ve been here! It´s really green here too like I was saying in the last email. I haven´t seen the ocean yet and I think we´re still pretty far from it. There´s a church building about 10 mins away from our apartment and it´s really nice and big. We live in a small apartment complex on a busy street with lots of stores. We´re right next to the market which is nice. In our complex there are several small apartments with a small common area in the middle with an open roof. We have some friendly neighbors that are fun to live next to. One of them is a pastor of another church.
My companion, Elder Delgado, has been out for a year and 3 months but I´m only his second American companion. He´s very obedient and is a good example to me. He and his companion left a couple of investigators from the last transfer, so we´re working a lot to find new investigators. But we had 3 investigators come to church for the first time yesterday which was great. For some reason it seems a lot easier to find new investigators here than in Caico. There are also a lot more families that live here.

We have one investigator who i´m pretty excited about. His name is Gutenberg, he´s 30 and he lives on his own. They met him on the street earlier this week before I got here and we started teaching him once I arrived. He understands things well and he asks good questions. He´s been reading the book of mormon too. He prayed about the things we were teaching him and told us about a dream he had that night that he took as an answer that they are true. He was at church yesterday and he liked it. We have talked to him a few times about baptism and he wants to be baptised once he feels prepared.

The members are really great here. We´ve already had a few members come out on visits with us. The ward seems to function pretty well, but i´ve heard it has problems too. The members have been very welcoming to me!  This area seems to have a lot of potential and I'm excited to see what we can do in these next few weeks.  I feel pretty adjusted to life here. It was hard to leave my first area after I was feeling pretty comfortable, but I´m starting to feel comfortable here too. It´s fun to live with other elders compared to just my companion and I.
Talk to you next week!

Love, Elder Church

Caico Week 6

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Elder Church and Elder Fernandes
Making pancakes with my English class

Well here´s the big news for the week: I got transferred out of Caico. I couldn´t believe the news when I heard it on the phone! I wasn´t expecting to leave after just 6 weeks. It came out of nowhere for me! This was my first transfer week and this is how it goes: the assistants to the president call us on tuesday night to tell us if we´ll be staying or leaving, and those who are being transfered have to leave early wednesday morning. Last night we were in a members house with some of the other sisters in our district, and we got the phone call at around 9pm. Everyone was hovering around the phone to find out who would stay and who would go. I found out that I would be transferred to an area in Natal. A couple of other sisters in our district got transferred too, and our zone leader as well. I got on a bus this morning and arrived here at around 3pm. I haven´t unpacked my suitcases yet. My companion is Elder Delgado. He´s from Peru and he has 1 year and 3 months so far on his mission. I haven´t gotten to know him very well yet, but I like him a lot! He´ll finish my training since training lasts for 12 weeks.
I was definitely sad to leave Caico. I felt like I had been getting to know the area and the members really well. Elder Fernandes and I didn´t have a baptism in that transfer, but we were teaching some really good people in the days just before I left. We had some investigators at church on Sunday and we had found a good family too. I have lots of great memories from my first area and I wish I would have taken more pictures. Maybe I´ll go back to that same area sometime later in my mission though! I was also excited for the Caico Stake conference that I would have gotten to go to on the 21st. Elder Costa is traveling there, and so is the mission president and another member of the seventy.
My new area is really pretty. It´s a lot greener here and the weather is cooler. Our apartment is nice but it´s really small, or at least a lot smaller than the house was in Caico. We live with two other Brazilian Elders.
I´m excited to work in this new area, but I don´t know anything about it yet! I´ll let you know how my first few days go on my next P-day.

Love, Elder Church

Caico Week 5

Monday, September 8, 2014

We have about a week left before my first transfer ends. I don´t think anything will change for the next transfer though. We had a zone meeting this week. Once a month the zone leader travels to mission headquarters for a day, and then once he comes back, we meet together as a whole zone. Our zone is called the Caico Zone and it has 11 companionships. 6 companionships in Caico, and 5 in other towns. The Caico Zone is the same as the Caico Stake. For this zone meeting we talked about what we need to do to improve, because our whole zone struggled for the month of August. There were only a few baptisms for the whole zone. This month has already gotten off to a better start though. The Caico stake isn´t very strong right now either. Sacrament meeting attendance is very low, for example. The caico ward, the ward I´m serving in, is probably the strongest in the whole stake. But it has plenty of struggles as well. I see a lot of potential in the ward though, and when I´m in meetings like ward council, it seems like things will really start to improve.
This week´s english class was fun! I assigned some of the students to bring ingredients for this week´s class so we could make american pancakes. They make pancakes here, but they aren´t sweetened and they roll them up with meat inside. So we made chocolate chip pancakes and they turned out well.
We found some solid investigators last week and were able to teach them a couple of times. Their names are Pedro and Lucas, they´re both 15, and they both seem sincerely interested and willing to keep commitments.
One day last week, we decided to walk to a small town an hour away to see if we could find people to teach. There was only a small group of houses though, and nobody was outside, so we didn´t stay for very long. Maybe I´ll go back sometime to take pictures because it was a cool-looking place!

Things are going well out here and the weeks are moving by quickly.

Love, Elder Church

Caico Week 4

Monday, September 1, 2014

I´ve almost been in my first area for a month! Things are continuing to go well and I feel like I´ve gotten pretty well adjusted to life here.
One of the highlights of this week was going to a chorrasco (barbecue) at the Bishop´s house. Chorrasco is a big deal here- there are lots of street venders that sell it.
Well it´s getting to the time of year in Utah when the weather gets really nice. Unfortunately I don´t think that will happen here, ever. That´s not true actually because the weather is very nice during the evenings and nights. There´s always a nice cool breeze at night. But I like the heat just fine. Occasionally it will be overcast during the day. One time I even felt a few raindrops, but that was it.
We´ve still been having a hard time finding success in the neighborhoods we work in. We had a baptism of a 15-year-old boy planned for yesterday but it ended up falling through. I think the best thing we can do is work with the members. The best investigators we´ve had so far have been references from members. I think I say this in every email, but the members here are great! One thing I do to try to get to know the members is learn names. Even though I can´t communicate very well, if I learn someone´s name, I think it means a lot to them.
English class is still going well! There are about 10 students that come every time, and sometimes they bring friends.
I love serving in the ward I´m in, and I hope I get to stay in this area for a while.

Love you, family! Have a great week!

Elder Church

Caico Week 3

Monday, August 25, 2014

Hi family! Time is passing by quickly here and I can´t believe it´s already the end of summer and time for school to start!
I´ll start by answering some of your questions:
Can you tell us a little about things like shopping for food and doing laundry?
There are some supermarkets nearby that have just about anything we need. They also have a huge farmer´s market type thing every morning on the streets that we´ve gone to a couple of times. This is the place to buy fruits and vegetables for pretty cheap. Bread here is also very cheap at the bakery section in the supermarket. 
We actually have a small washing machine on the side of our house. It´s pretty old and I don´t think it works exactly like it should, but we use it. And then we just hang our clothes to dry.

Do you have hot water?

What do you eat for breakfast?
Usually something simple like eggs or bread. We don´t have any food in our house right now so we need to buy more today. The big meal of the day here is lunch and the members always have lots of food for us!

This week we spent most days going to our investigators houses and teaching lessons. We still had problems finding people in their houses, but we were able to teach several lessons. We stopped by the house of the mother and daughter we are teaching a few times throughout the week to remind them about church and to try to teach some lessons. Unfortunately neither of them came to church this week because they had other things going on. The mother´s name is Da Paz and she´s a character :) She´s very religious, and believes in our message, but doesn´t really have a desire to change anything. I hope she gets baptized though.

We´re going to work harder this week to get firm committments from investigators to come to church. This  past sunday was actually the third straight sunday without having any investigators at church with us. Elder Fernandes is pretty stressed about it because he says that it´s never happened before during his mission. I think we´ll accomplish a lot this week though.

I love you all and look forward to hearing again from you next week!
Love, Elder Church

P.S. I wrote letters to everyone and I´ll send them in the mail today

Elder Church

Brother and Sister Church, I had the chance with my family to see Elder Church and his district today.   We are traveling with our son who completed his mission about 17 months ago.  Elder Church looked great and seemed to be heavily engaged in the work.  He was in great spirits.

Here are a couple of photos to share.  I hope you enjoy them.

The Williams Family.

Caico Week 2

Monday, August 18, 2014

Here´s another picture of my district in the CTM with both of our instructors

One of the temples we attempted to build during the ward activity :)
Our chapel

This week we had several street contacts that had given us their addresses and agreed to have us come back for another visit. So we were able to spend a lot of our time going to houses and trying to teach lessons. It´s been very hard to find people at home though. I think there was one day when we stopped by 5 or 6 different houses and none of our investigators were home. Elder Fernandes is good at staying positive, but he says this isn´t normal. We did get to teach a couple of great lessons this week though. One of the members in our ward gave a reference to Elder Fernandes of a mother and daughter that he knew. The mom is in her 50s and the daughter is in her 20s. They are both religious people but haven´t been going to any church. We´ve stopped by their house pretty frequently and committed them both to baptism!

On Saturday we had our second English class. Several more people came this time! I think there were over 70. I heard that they played ads on the radio for our class. We divided them up into classes this time. A majority of them don´t speak any english, but there are a few who speak a little bit and a few who are nearly fluent. I am teaching the advanced section which is good for me because I can communicate with the students in English. I was worried there wouldn´t be very many in my section, but there were 12. For the first class I just talked back and forth with them to try to get a sense of their abilities. A few of them speak very well already, so I´m trying to figure out what I´ll teach. One of the members here speaks english and teaches it. He has lesson plans so I think he´ll help us out.
Saturday night we had Integration Night at the church. It´s kind of like mutual night, but everyone is invited. It´s mainly youth who attend though. It was a lot of fun! We had a competition of building temples with cookies and frosting. A couple from the ward also talked about temples and eternal families. I definitely think it was a success. A few non-members that came to english class also came to integration night. And one of them even asked if he could come to church the next day. The missionaries put this activity together with help from a couple members. Danilo is one who has been very helpful! He´s only 19, and he has his mission call to serve in England in a few months. He does so much to help the ward. He teaches gospel principles class on Sunday, he used to be young men´s president until he was released last week, he was the main one in charge of putting together english class, and he helps with all the activities. We usually meet with him several times during the week.
On Sunday morning we worked hard to try to bring investigators to church. But since they live in different parts of town, Elder Fernandes and I split up and went with members to different houses. But unfortunately we couldn´t get anyone to come.
Yesterday we went to the houses of three different members with the Sisters. They love talking to us and giving us food. All the people here love having long conversations. During the evenings we see lots of people sitting outside in chairs talking with their families and neighbors.
It´s definitely still hot here! And I don´t think it ever gets cooler than this. I´m learning to love it though. On the edges of town it´s pretty rural. Dirt roads, cows, horses, goats, etc. There are also LOTS of cats here that just wander the streets. Not many dogs though for some reason.
The work here continues to be tough for me because my communication skills are limited, but I am getting used to it and making progress. I really like it here though and I have a lot of fun! The members are great, and just all the people in general!
I miss everyone at home! Have a great week!

Love, Elder Church


Evan wrote this in answer to some of his dad's questions:

Elder Fernandes says that the missionaries before us didn´t do a whole lot of work and that they didn´t keep records. And I think there hadn´t been elders in our ward for a while before we arrived, but i´m not sure. As far as I know we don´t have any past records from our area. Yes, we´re assigned to 1 ward along with 2 other sisters. Our chapel is very big and has room for plenty of people, but It doesn´t get very full on Sundays. I would guess that there were about 60 people in Sacrament meeting yesterday, but I think that might have been a little less than usual. There are lots and lots of inactive members. I don´t know any exact numbers, but I think there are probably around a thousand members in the ward. These first two Sundays we weren´t able to get any investigators to come to church with us. This has been pretty frustrating for Elder Fernandes. We did get to attend ward council yesterday which was great. The ward has good leadership and they go by the handbook. There are several members that are very dedicated to the ward and strengthening it. The members love the missionaries and seem very willing to help us.
It´s amazing to see how similar the church runs here, even though the city is so different.
Thanks for your questions and thanks for keeping me in your prayers!

Love, Evan

First week in Caico

Monday, August 11, 2014

This week I´ve found out a lot more what missionary life is like. There´s a lot that happens every day and I´ll try to include all I can. And always feel free to ask me any questions that you have about my area or about my day-to-day life because I might forget to include some things that you would have wanted to hear. 
First of all, we do a LOT of walking. Our area is pretty big, and walking is the only option of transportation that we have. All the roads are cobblestone. The city is pretty flat, but there are some hills too. The climate here is interesting. It´s very hot, and pretty humid too, but I hear that it almost never rains. It´s not very green here, so it´s kind of like a humid desert. I think this is probably the coolest month of the year, but it´s still super hot during the day.
There is 1 Stake in Caico with 3 or 4 wards. There are 2 chapels. The stake center is just down the street from our house and it´s really nice. The other chapel has dirt floors, and I think there´s a ward that meets inside someone´s house too. There is one district that covers the whole city of Caico- 4 Sister companionships and 2 Elder companionships. 2 of the Sisters are American, 5 are brazilian, and 1 is Peruvian. Two of the elders are Brazilian, and 2 are American including me.
We started teaching an English class this week in the church building. The sisters made flyers and t-shirts and we went around to a couple schools this week to invite people. It was fun seeing the schools here! The kids were excited to hear that there were 4 americans in their town that would be teaching english classes for free.
The members here are very friendly and love the missionaries. We usually have a meal in a member´s home every day. I like the food, but it´s definitely different than what I´m used to. They use a lot of meat, cheese, and oil, and the desserts are very rich.
We´ve been to the house of the Relief Society president a few times. I like their family a lot. They have 3 kids, but a very small house. Whenever we go it´s with the two other sisters in our ward and we can barely all fit in their house. Their house is just 4 small rooms (each around 10 ft long and wide) lined up in a row, and there are clothes lines hanging through all the rooms. That´s how most of the houses are here.
I´ll be honest, this first week has been pretty hard. We´re starting from scratch finding investigators. We have to walk a long way to get anywhere (besides the chapel), and we´ve spent a lot of time street contacting. Like I was saying, it´s very hot during the day here, but it also gets dark early. So our choices are either work outside when it´s hot or when it´s dark. When we were walking around on Saturday and Sunday night, there was hardly anyone on the streets. Elder Fernandes says that this zone is one of the toughest ones in the mission. He was in Caico for 7 months earlier on in his mission, so he knows all of the members here. This week has also been a little discouraging as far as the language goes. President Soares said that the first three months would be pretty hard, but that the language would get easier after that. The people here talk very fast and not very clearly. When we´re in a group conversation with adults, I don´t feel like I can contribute anything. I can´t understand what they´re saying to the other missionaries, and when they stop and ask me a question, I have to have it reapeated to understand it. I love talking to little kids though! I can understand them a little better and I´m not afraid to talk to them.
We found frogs in our shower this week, haha. But our house is nice. It´s big like I was saying in the last email. It could use a little bit of cleaning though.
I´m out of time now, but I´ll send some letters soon!

Have a great week!
Love, Elder Church

Here´s a picture of our house here in Caico.
our kitchen
These are the teachers of the english class. 4 Americans and 1 Brazilian sister in the middle who speaks a little bit of english
There were about 55 people that came to the first english class! Only a few were members.
A picture I took on the busride to Caico last week.

I´m here in my first area! - Caico Week 1

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

It takes a long time to upload photos with the internet here, so I only had time to attach 1- It´s with Elder Fernandes.

I left the MTC on tuesday morning at 4:30am. We took a bus to the airport, and flew for 3 hours to Natal. There were 17 missionaries total in our group: 9 Hispanicos, 5 Brazileros, and 3 Americans. I was hoping to have a window seat but I didn´t. We arrived in Natal at about 11 am. As soon as I stepped out of the plain I could feel the heat and humidity! It´s in the middle of winter right now, but of course that doesn´t make a difference. Everything went smoothly on the flight. The Natal airport is very big and new, but it was pretty empty. President and Sister Soares, along with their assistants, were there to meet us. It turns out that President Soares does speak English. I don´t know if I´d quite say that he´s fluent, but he speaks well. We took an hourlong busride to the city- first to pick up all of the trainer companions that were waiting for us, and then to a chapel to do some first day orientations. All of the chapels here that I´ve seen (3 or 4 already) are really nice! First they had lunch for us, and then we got assigned our companions. While we were gathered in the chapel, they talked to us for a while about the mission. President Soares says that this mission is the 3rd highest baptizing in Brazil and the highest in retention. During the orientations, all of the new missionaries had a 15-20 minute interview with President Soares. He did my interview in Portuguese and it went really well. He does have a different accent than the people in Sao Paulo, but he speaks clearly, so I understood him completely in the interview and in the orientations as well. I´m so thankful for the preparation I had in the CTM!

So here´s are the other things that I´m sure you´re anxious to hear: My companion is Elder Fernandez. He´s from Brasilia and is 21 years old. He´s been out for 1 year and 7 months. I like him a lot, and he is definitely a hard worker. He doesn´t speak much English, but he wants to get better in his remaining time on his mission. He said for the first few weeks we´ll only speak portuguese, but after that I think I´ll start practicing English with him. We´ve been communicating pretty well so far, but he does speak really fast, haha. He´s had a lot of success on his mission so far.

We were assigned to an Area in Caico, a smaller city about 5 hours away from Natal.
Yesterday night, all the missionaries assigned to zones in the interior stayed at the assistants´ apartment. There were about 10 Elders in 1 room, haha. This morning we all got on a bus for about 5 hours and went to our areas. Halfway through the ride, Elder Fernandez had the bus driver stop in a certain place in a city that we passed through so we could eat lunch. All of the elders and Sisters bought some food, but Elder Fernandez had called some people that he knew there beforehand (a family that he baptized) and asked if we could eat lunch there. So we walked there with two other sisters and they had a big lunch waiting for us! It definitely feels like a foreign country here, even more than Sao Paulo did. The houses are very basic, all the streets are cobblestone, etc.

Once we arrived in Caico, we went to the apartment we´ll be living in. It´ll just be the two of us, and there was another companionship in it before. It´s actually pretty big, but it´s run-down too. I think it would easily be big enough for 4 or 6 missionaries, so it´s nice to have extra space.

Normally my p-day will be on Monday, but it´s on wednesday during transfer week. Elder Fernandez says that we´re opening a new area, so I´m not sure what it´ll be like. We live just down the street from 1 of the 2 chapels in Caico. We just walked for about 10 minutes to an internet place to use computers.

I found out that we can´t receive letters at this address. All the mail, including packages, is supposed to be sent to the mission office where we can get it once a month at conferences.

Things are going well here so far, and I´m excited to find out what the next few days will be like. My time´s running out, so I´ll try to attach some pictures in another email.

Love you!

Elder Church

Finishing up my time at the MTC - CTM Week 6

Friday, August 1, 2014

Hey family!
Email time is definitely one of my favorite parts of the week. And I look forward to having more time to read and write letters once I'm out in the field.
I leave for Natal on Tuesday! I don't know my flight schedule yet, but I'll probably get on the bus to the airport sometime early Tuesday morning. Elder Chamberlain left at about 5 am, but other missionaries have left as early as 3am. I'm excited to leave, but I love it here too. I haven't been thinking about leaving for the field at all because I've been so caught up in working hard here. I'm so lucky to have the instructors that I have- Irmao Benatti and Irmao Brito. When I first got here, it took me a little while to get used to being in class all day (and on top of that, the same classroom). But now I'm definitely used to it. The days don't drag on, but they don't fly by either- it's perfect. I've been doing my best this week to take advantage of all the time I have. Our instructors encouraged us to set really high goals for ourselves on the last week, and to increase them every day. We all set daily goals for memorizing words, phrases, and scriptures. I've really improved my ability to memorize scriptures since being here (all in Portuguese of course). I love being able to have scriptures in my head that I can share in lessons. Our district is doing really well as a whole. It's fun seeing everyone progress. We're starting to get more American missionaries here now that it's in the middle of summer. We also continue to get visa-waiters who served in the US before. I talked to one elder this week who served in another mission for 14 months! How crazy is that!
We didn't end up going to the Campinas temple this morning. A couple other groups of missionaries went there this week. We did get to take pictures this time at the Sao Paulo temple though! Normally they don't allow us to bring cameras, but President Swensen said that we could this week. It's a beautiful temple. I'll send a bunch of pictures from my 6 weeks in the MTC once I'm out in the field.
It's hard to believe that it's August already!
Hope all is going well!
Not sure when I'll write to you next, but probably sometime next week.

Love you!

Elder Church

Week 4

Friday, July 25, 2014

Happy Pioneer day yesterday, and happy birthday to Jillian as well!
Things are still going great here in the CTM. Elder Chamberlain leaves for Brasilia on Tuesday, and Elder Caldwell and I leave the following tuesday with the rest of our district. I went to the Sao Paulo temple again this morning. Next week I think we might go to the Campinas temple which I'm pretty excited for. Since most of the elders that go speak Spanish, they do our session in Spanish. We get headphones that have the option of Portuguese or English, and today I listened to the whole session in Portuguese. Last week they actually did two separate sessions because there were more missionaries than usual. They did our session in English, but it was an hour and a half later than the other one. While we waited, we got to help in the temple laundry room. I also got to help in the Baptistery and my companions helped with sealings.
This week went well besides the fact that I've been sick. I've just had a cold for the past several days, but it's pretty much gone now. I'm working hard in the language and doing my best to always speak it. We try to sit with Brazilians or Hispanics for every meal. Most of them are really patient with helping us on our portuguese. My district does a really good job at always speaking portuguese. A lot of the other Americans don't really take that rule seriously and speak English to each other a most of the time. It's hard, but it's helping us a lot! All the elders are so friendly to us. Every week before a group of Brazilian/Hispanic elders leaves for the field, they come into our room and want to take pictures with us even if they barely know us. I think they appreciate that we always try to speak portuguese. Portuguese really isn't a very hard language to learn. There are lots of cognates, especially with gospel terms. A lot of the time if I don't know a portugese word I can just guess and get it right.
We teach our two "investigators" every day and they are both getting baptized tomorrow. Pretty exciting, right? ;) We also have a "TRC" lesson once a week where we get filmed. These lessons are supposed to last from about 30-45 minutes. The first one we did was pretty hard for us, but the one we had last night was awesome! We were able to communicate with the investigator much better than we could on our first week.
The weather in Sao Paulo has been kind of chilly lately. It's been overcast and rainy the past few days. All the people on the streets wear sweaters, long sleeves, or coats, but I feel fine in short sleeves haha. I'm excited for the weather in Natal. I'm sure it'll get really hot in the summer though. Whenenver I tell people my mission, one of the first things they say is that it's "muito quenche."
Have a great rest of the week!
Ate mais,
Elder Church

I went proselyting this week!

Friday, July 18, 2014

I've been here at the CTM for just over three weeks, and I have just over two weeks left! This week went by pretty quickly. I'm excited to get out into the field, but I'm not tired of being here at all. There's a district of 9 (6 elders, 3 sisters) that are going to the Natal mission the same day as me. They're from all over South and Central America- 7 different countries! I've made pretty good friends with them and we see them a lot. Our district is doing a musical number with their district in an upcoming devotional. I love being around missionaries from all over the world (mainly just all over South America). Most of the other missionaries I talk to are converts to the church. Some have only been members for a year or two. And I've met a couple that are the only members in their family. I really admire their desire to serve even though their families probably aren't the most supportive. We have a few new Americans come in every week, but the numbers usually even out because of the departing missionaries. It's strange that there were 5 sisters that came in on my week. Most of the other districts are only elders. I told Elder Chamberlain about the connection that Grandpa made. And yes, the President Caldwell dad knew is Elder Caldwell's grandpa. Also, Sister Breithaupt says she knows Austin and Brennan Shaffer. I'm so surprised we found all those connections with the others in my district!
I like President Swensen a lot. He's a very powerful teacher and speaker. I love Sister Swensen just as much too. They are a great team.
On Sunday's, we meet with an American branch in one of the rooms here. All of the 6-week americans, as well as two or three senior couples, make up one branch. The Branch President and one of his counselors live nearby. They are both Japanese. They say that Sao Paulo has the largest Japanese population outside of Japan! I love when President Sugiyama or Brother Kuwai teach lessons. They'll teach about things like how the ying-yang symbol relates to 2nd Nephi because there is opposition in all things. Or they'll talk about scientific things, like how it's good to sing hymns frequently because a japanese scientist discovered that music changes the shape of water crystals, and our bodies are made up of 70% water. Haha, I just thought i'd include that.
My time's running out quick, so I should tell you about proselyting! This wednesday our instructor took our district on us on a busride for about 30 minutes. He dropped us off at a public square where people were getting on and off buses. We each had two Livros de Mormon. It took my trio companionship about an hour and a half to give them all out. It was an awesome experience! I was blown away by how kind and accepting the Brazilian people are. All the people we talked to were very willing to listen. There was one lady who we weren't sure about at first, but she opened up a lot and loved talking to us. She was a professor at a university. She said she was catholic, but only went to church on Christmas. She said she would read the Book of Mormon for sure. Another lady we talked to said that she lives near the Sao Paulo temple. She had lots of questions about it and wanted to go in. She was very interested in the church and the book of mormon. I told her to read it and pray about it and she said she had no doubts that she would do it. There was a phone number in the front of the book to contact the missionaries. She said she would do that for sure too. I also asked her when in her life she had felt God helping her. She said that right at that moment she knew that God was helping her. Several minutes after we said tchau, she saw us again and ran up to ask our names and where we were from. And she thanked us again. Such a cool experience! We also talked to four other people for a while. All of them were very accepting too. I wish I had more time to write about it. I'm thinking now about other cool things I wish I had time to write about. Maybe next week! Thanks for your letters! I loved reading them all. I'm looking forward to having more time for emailing/writing letters once i'm out in the field.
Have a great week!
Elder Church.

my district

Week 2

Friday, July 11, 2014

view from the back window of the CTM
Wow I never thought you'd be able to make all those connections! Yep that's definitely Elder Chamberlain. He was student body president at his high school. He has a fun personality and I love that he's so humble. He became our zone leader this week and Elder Caldwell became our district leader. I'll have to ask Sister Breithaupt if she knows the Shaffers. She is going to the Recife mission along with Sister Barber from Australia, Sister Evans from American Fork, and Sister Dickson from Morgan UT. Sister Porter is also from Morgan UT (she and S. Dickson were friends before) and is going to the Natal Mission with Elder Caldwell and I. I found out that Sister Porter has family in Delta. Also, Sister Evans and Sister Breithaupt both went to BYU before and lived in New Heritage so we've made some connections there.
Yes, Brazil's loss to Germany (Alemania- not sure if I spelled that right) in the Cupo de Mundo was pretty devastating for everyone. And it's especially hard for Brazilians because Argentina, their rival, made it to the finals. The city would go crazy whenever Brazil had a game. Even though we're pretty isolated in the CTM, we could guess the score based on when fireworks and cannons would go off. We were watching out the window once when Brazil scored and it was awesome. All the cars were honking their horns and people were blowing airhorns from the windows of 15-floor apartment buildings. We had a devotional during the Germany game, but the word got around quickly that we were losing, haha.
This week has been another good one! Some missionaries feel like the time flies by here but I don't feel like it does. It feels about normal or maybe a little slow. I'm fine with that though. I want to get the language down as much as I can before I leave. My Portuguese is slowly getting better day by day. It's easy to get frustrated occasionally, but I think I'm probably improving more than I realize. The instructors talk a lot about o dom da linguas (the gift of tongues). They encourage us to always speak portuguese, 24/7. This week I've been doing a lot better at that, but I'm far from perfect. It's hard speaking in portuguese as a companionship because we're all on different levels, but we do a good job! As I was saying in the last email, most of the missionaries here are Hispanic. It's hard to communicate with them too because they speak a mixture of Spanish and Portuguese, haha. I really am making progress though and I can feel the Lord's help. I learn things a lot faster in class when we have the spirit with us. And that's another thing I've learned more about here- how the Spirit works. We can feel the Spirit whenever truth is testified, whether it's with a fake investigator or a real one. The CTM is a special place where the Spirit can always be present. The building is dedicated. Wherever we are- in our bedroom, in our classroom, etc- we're representatives of Jesus Christ.
Most people here call me Elder Igreja, the portuguese word for church, hahaha. It's a good conversation starter.
Again, my time is really limited and I wish I could say more
I've found out that letters from the US take about 12-14 days to get here.
Love you!
Elder Church

Week 1

Friday, July 4, 2014

Sorry if you were expecting to hear from me earlier this week- my P-day is Friday. Let me tell you how my week has been!
There are about 260 missionaries here, and only about 50 of them are American. Most of the missionaries are from other countries in South America (Argentina, Chile, Bolivia, Peru, etc). Not as many missionaries are Brazilian as I expected. And of the 50 or so Americans, a majority of them are only here for two weeks. They finally got their visas after going to the Provo MTC and then serving somewhere in the States for a little while. The two-weekers are in a different part of the building with a different schedule so we hardly ever see them. The first couple days here were a little bit hard to adjust to. I was really tired after the flight here and we just went straight into classes. I feel like I'm completely adjusted now though and I love it here! There are 8 missionaries in my district: 5 sisters and 3 elders. Three of the sisters are the same ones that I flew from Salt Lake with. The other two sisters are from Nevada and England/Australia. I'm in a trio companionship right now with Elder Chamberlain from Blanding Utah, and Elder Caldwell from Snowflake Arizona. I like them a lot! Our whole district arrived last week except for Elder Chamberlain who arrived the week before. We were the only Americans to come in last week! I think Elder Caldwell and Sister Breithaupt would have been on our same flight from Atlanta if we would have made it on time. Elder Caldwell is going to the Natal mission with me, and Elder Chamberlain is going to Brasilia. Four of the sisters are going to Recife and the other one is going to Natal. I love my district! We have one classroom that we're in together for most of the day, so we get to know each other pretty well. We have one teacher in the morning named Irmao (brother) Benatti. He is pretty recently back from his mission in another part of Brazil. He is the greatest! The rule here is that none of the teachers are allowed to speak English- ever. Irmao Benatti speaks pretty good english, but we only heard him speak it on the first day. He's really funny and is just a great teacher. I didn't know much about what MTCs were like before I came to this one. We have a packed schedule all day with lots of personal and companion study time. Starting on the first day, we had a fake investigator that we would teach every day. Yes, it's only fake but it seems so real! His investigator name was Israel (pronounced is-hi-EL in portuguese), but his real name is Irmao Brito. Now he's our other teacher, but during the time that he was our investigator, we would only see him when we taught him (except for a couple of awkward encounters in the hallway when we weren't supposed to see him, haha). We didn't meet Irmao Brito's real personality until he became our teacher yesterday. He's also a fairly recently-returned missionary that can speak english but doesn't. They try to make the investigators seem as real as possible and it definitely works. And the lessons we taught had to be completely in portuguese. Not as hard as it sounds though, because we have lots of helpful english/portuguese teaching manuals that we can read phrases off of if we need to. Portuguese is going pretty well for me. It gets frustrating sometimes but I'm making progress. We sit by hispanics/brazilians most days at lunch and that helps. I can carry on basic conversations. We try to speak portuguese most of the time as a district.
The food here is awesome! They usually serve some sort of meat dish and then we get to serve ourselves rice and beans, fruits and vegetables (some of which I'd never had before coming here), and drinks. Everyone here is very friendly. Everyone greets you with "Tudo bem/bom dia/boa tarde, etc." We climb up and down lots of stairs every day since we're not supposed to use the elevators. The CTM is one big building with 7 floors and a courtyard in the middle. My bedroom is on the 6th floor. There are some amazing views out of the back window! We can't send picture here so I'll have to send some when i'm out in the field.
This morning we woke up early to go to the temple. I was excited because it was the first time I was able to leave the building since coming here more than a week ago. It was about an hour-long bus ride. It was so fun to see the city! It's so much different and bigger than any city I've ever been to. There are skyscrapers in every direction. The temple is pretty small and it doesn't stick out very much compared to its surroundings. It was beautiful inside and the grounds were amazing too. I saw a general authority in the locker room when we were finished with the session. It was Elder Claudia Costa, the president of that area. I talked to him for a little bit and shook his hand.
Our email time is really limited so I'd love to get some letters too! Our district is 26A and it's box #7.
I forgot it was the 4th of July until earlier this morning! I'm excited to have a little bit of free time for the rest of the day. We're allowed to walk around in the streets outside and go to stores. They almost didn't let us out because Brazil is playing Columbia in the world cup later today.
Well I'm out of time but i'll talk to you soon!
Love, Elder Church