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