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