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