Cidade do Sol: Week 14

Monday, April 27, 2015

here are a few pictures from the wedding. They had an area for everyone to take pictures by a cake.

The church building in the other picture belongs to another ward, but is in walkable distance from our house. I think it´s the most beautiful one that I´ve seen on the mission.
The picture of the rain is what it´s looked like here a few days last week!

Did you get why the name tag picture I sent last week was funny? I guess I should have explained it, haha. The name of the church is A Igreja de Jesus Cristo dos Santos dos Ultimos Dias. When a bunch of the elders were at the bus station for transfers, we got four of us together whose names make up the name of the church, haha. Church, de Jesus, dos Santos, and Dias.

This week, one of our investigators finally got married. It was a community wedding with 150 couples. They did it in a big group, because otherwise they would have had to pay a lot. It was a cool ceremony because at the beginning a group came in and did some cultural performances.

The end of this week was kind of rough because we had a young man all lined up for baptism but he unexpectedly traveled over the weekend and we had no way to contact him.

Yesterday was a good sunday though because we brought 10 people to church! It´s rare that we´re able to get that many people to come. It´s been fun staying in this ward for a while because I´ve made lots of friends and gotten to know the members well. Since I was the only one who stayed I´ve been navegating us around to get to members´ houses. My new companion is a really good missionary and we both have the same goals. We have been working well together and teaching more. My shoes are holding up well. I feel like we walked a lot more than usual this week.

Yes I´m back to living with non-english speakers so it´s been helping me improve my portuguese.

Well I´m really enjoying the work here and I´m learning lots every day. I made 10 months on the mission and time is going by pretty quickly. I´m still not sure of the time we´ll do the skype call on mother´s day, but I´ll let you know next week.

Thanks for all of the thoughts and prayers.

Love you,

Elder Church

Cidade do Sol: Week 13

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Name tags of the elders I live with

Dear family,

Wow I wish I could have seen Jillian´s play. If you have pictures I´d like to see them.

I stayed in Cidade do Sol, which I was happy about. The other 3 missionaries in our house were transferred so we got 3 others in our house (and a total of 4 new ones in our ward). One of them I already knew, and the other 2 I didn´t know. One is a brand new missionary from Chile and the other is Elder Dos Santos, my companion. Elder Dos Santos is from Recife and he´s awesome! He´s a fun guy and is a good missionary. We have a lot of unity in the companionship which is good and we were able to mark a few baptisms this week! I guess I´ve been in this area for a little while but it doesn´t seem too long. And I´m definitely not sick of it.

You asked about families. Yes our family size is considered quite large here. It´s kind of interesting here because a lot of the poor population here has a large number of kids, but most of the members of the church strive to be financially smart and only have a couple.

Yesterday, President and Sister Soares decided to visit our ward in the morning. In a month we will have Elder Mazzagardi from the seventy visit our mission.

Have a great week!
I´m looking forward to the skype call in a few Sundays from now.

Elder Church

Cidade do Sol: Week 12

Monday, April 13, 2015

I really hope I don´t get transferred on Wednesday because I like it here a lot. It is very easy to work with the ward leaders here. We also have gotten to know so many great people here- members, non-members, and investigators. The people here are super nice to us. For example, we have a dinner at someone´s house almost every night. We had a good number of investigators at church yesterday- 5. We have started to work with a part-member family with 6 kids, 2 of which aren´t baptized yet. The mom also isn't a member. One of the daughters is 9 and has only been to church a few times before. But she is excited about going now, and she went with a non-member friend to a primary activity and to church the next day. We will try to baptize her soon.
Our bishop is great and he always makes visits with us when we ask him to.

Last night we found out that Elder Harris is the new exec. secretary of the mission, so he left us this morning! Elder Wilson and I also went to Deybron´s shop this morning. I´m excited for this next transfer because we already have a couple of baptisms lined up.

We were thinking about going to the cashew tree today, but then elder Harris had to leave. A couple weeks ago we asked president if we could go to one of the old forts on the beach, but he said no. But I don´t mind spending most p-days at home because It´s nice to have a rest from walking around all week!

Well internet time is running out, so I´ll end the email for this week.

Love, Elder Church

Cidade do Sol: Week 11

Monday, April 6, 2015

Dear Mom,

I really love you and I miss you a lot. I wish I could give you a hug. I missed being at home this conference weekend. I was happy to read in your update from home that every one of the kids is doing well and is happy! I was really surprised too when Alyssa wrote me and told me that she is going to start on her mission papers. I am also really impressed with Grant and that he scored well on the ACT.

Yes, I do remember that promise in my setting apart blessing and I think about it quite often. But thanks for reminding me about it. I need to have more faith and work harder so that I can fulfill that promise. One of the hard parts is that I live with two Americans who are content with speaking english all the time. I can´t complain though because I love them and we have lots of fun, but I need to make sure I´m working hard on my goal.

Here´s a little update on my week and some answers to your questions:
Easter is a pretty major holiday here. The whole weekend is their holiday. They sell lots of chocolate eggs in the stores. They also had a live play in our neighborhood about the life of christ. My companion and I actually went to see part of it from a distance. They also have a tradition to eat fish instead of meat during the week. Before I found out I was wondering why everyone was buying fish in the market. I really enjoyed conference last weekend. To me, General Conferences are even better on the mission and I look forward to them more. I am anxious to read some of the talks again because it wasn´t possible to take everything in at once. 
I really liked Elder Bednar´s talk and I am always impressed by the way he organizes and delivers his messages. I´ve also noticed that he usually mentions that he prays the spirit can be with him while he talks, and it really works.  I also really liked Elder Ringwood´s talk.

We had an american room again to watch general conference. We had lots of fun being around each other. There are 9 americans in our zone. Conference is broadcast at the stake centers and I think some members watch it at home too.  Yes, Elder Soares is my president´s cousin. I wish I could have heard his talk in portuguese, but I was in the english room so I just heard the translation.

Most missionaries do keep good records in the area book. Ever since my 2nd transfer I´ve always strived to update ours as much as I can. I was happy to find out that some missionaries in one of my last areas have been using our records. But my current area doesn´t have a whole lot of records.

We do our best to never let arguments happen because we know that they never go anywhere. Most of the people we talk to are friendly though. Lost of times, when we do talk to a religious person though (usually from the Assembly of God, the biggest church here), they like talking lots about what they believe, and sometimes basically preach us a sermon, but they don´t let us talk much or show much interest in anything we have to say.

No, the number of missionaries has stayed about the same, and next transfer I heard it will decrease a little bit. We don´t have any senior couples.

The work has been going a little bit slowly here lately and I´ll admit that our companionship should be working harder. My companion has lots of time in this area and he seems to be a little tired of being here. If it were up to me, we would be working differently, but I have learned that the most important thing I need to do is be unified with him. But I do enjoy being his companion and we have a lot of fun together.

The weather seems to have heated back up here, so it´s back to the good old sunny days, haha. But everything´s going well out here.

Talk to you next week!

Elder Church

Cidade do Sol: Week 10

We had a baptism on Saturday! It was that same lady that I mentioned last week. Her son was able to baptize her.

Let me answer some of your questions. I like getting questions by the way.

How was your mission conference last week?
Really well! It was good seeing old companions or friends and talking to missionaries that were in one of my last areas. The president and his wife gave a lot of training, and at the end the missionaries who are leaving gave their last testimonies. I´ll send some pictures. 

Did it last for a whole day?  
We had to get up at about 4:30 am to be able to get there on time, and then we got home at about 5pm.

Do you have zone conferences every few weeks?
This zone conference was a conference with 5 zones- all of the missionaries in the capital. There´s also a conference with the 3 zones in the interior. These conferences happen about once every 3 or 4 months. But we also have zone meetings once a month with just our zone (22 missionaries).

You mentioned that you showed a Mormon Message video to the ward mission leader.  In English, or is that available with Portuguese subtitles? 
No, almost all of the mormon message videos are available in portuguese audio.

 Do you have a device that can show videos, or did you use his computer or something?  we do have a portable dvd player in our house that´s mainly used when a missionary is being trained and needs to watch the district or other videos. But we showed it on his tv.

Do most people have computers?  TVs?  What about cell phones?  Does your companionship have a cell phone?
Everyone has cellphones- most people have smartphones. But it´s rare to see the iphone here because it´s really expensive. They have all of the nice electronics available here, but they´re just all a lot more expensive than in the US. It´s not rare for people to have a tv as nice or nicer than ours though. Yes every companionship has a really basic cell phone. The only hard thing is that our minutes are limited and we often run out at the end of the month. Using cell phones is more complicated here because there are several different carriers and it´s more expensive to call to certain ones than to others. You have to check what carrier the other person has. It´s different than in the US where almost everything is unlimited.

So, Evan, how are you doing? Are you happy? Healthy?  Fluent?
I´m great because I really like this area and this ward and the missionaries I live with. I´m happy about the progress of our recent converts. Deybron and Nábila have been progressing very quickly. They are each doing a lot in their callings. 

The only times I´ve gotten sick on the mission have been with a cold, so no big deal. I´ve been blessed in that way. 

The language is going well. If you say fluent is saying and understanding everything I need to, then yes I am, but I am still working hard to speak more like a native.

and dad´s questions:

Have you found success sharing the progress form with Auxiliary leaders? 
Yes I´ve been happy to see that they are using them and that they ask about people on the lists that they don´t know.

Do you see non-members attend baptisms? Not very often. we should do a better job at inviting friends and family of the person and planning the baptismal service well. 

Is the Church well known in your area? Yes it is, most people have heard of it and lots of people know where it is. But it is very rare to find someone who actually knows something about the doctrine. People have just heard about the church of the mormons and lots of them have even heard rumors or half-truths. A lot of people think at first that we don´t use the bible or that our bible is different- the bible of the mormons.

Yep, 9 months is a lot of time! There is lots of work to be done. That´s really great to hear about the MLS missionaries. I have learned more about MLS on my mission and I wish I could work with it. That is exciting.
I´m amazed about the growth of the church in Brazil too. I´m enjoying working in this ward because the leadership is young and motivated. The new bishop is great and has been dedicating lots of his time to his calling and helping us. He is only 26 and he didn´t serve a mission so it´s not like he´s the most experienced either. I see our ward as being well organized and run, but it´s still quite a bit different from our ward. Even people from São Paulo that visit here say the church is more organized there. Yesterday I was able to confirm someone for the first time in my life. That was a good experience.

Well there´s a little weekly update and an answer to your questions. Have a great week!

Love you,

Elder Church

our baptism and the baptisms of the extremoz elders.
Romilda and her son

the rest are pictures from the ride home from the zone conference and pictures of us throwing around a football at the church.

Elder Dos Anjos and I - one of the missionaries that I look up to the most. He is going home in a couple weeks