Monday, May 28, 2012

Last week in Porto Alegre area for now

Elder Henry with Elder Oba at his "going home" Temple Trip
Hi Mom,

I know you are just dying for pictures so here are a few.  I've taken quite a few more than these and I'm going to grab a couple from my companion from yesterday as well.
The District (Mike and Elder Oba are the only ones smiling...silly missionaries!)

Cleonira's baptism (got this from Elder Persinger's blog)

Elder Oba in front of "his" sign

Us with Santa Emilia (White Shirt) and her Sister (Red Shirt) on a typical street in Morro Santana

Us with Claudiomir our Ward Mission Leader and familiy in front of our church building (note the little girls' Primary bags)

Well Tomorrow is transfers and I got the news in an e-mail this morning that I'm being transferred tomorrow.  Here we don't find out until we make it to the rodoviaria (bus station, but like airport style) where exactly we are going.  Its been fun having the temple in my area and being in the middle of Porto Alegre, but I'll probably be heading for somewhere outside the city of Porto Alegre now.  Who knows where.

You might be wondering why there was no Baptismal picture included in this e-mail.  Carmen and Luan missed their baptism last Saturday, which was pretty hard for Elder Oba and Myself.  When I showed up with one of our ward members to pick her up, she was drunk and couldn't even hold a conversation.  The good news is we showed up again on Sunday after church to talk with her, and she knew what she had done was wrong and didn't want to do it again.  She also didn't try and hide or lie to us, but instead told us what had happened.  Still other missionaries will have to pick up where I left off now.

We found a new investigator this week as well named Rafael.  He's 16 years old, has no father and his mother is in the hospital with cancer.  He and his 2 brothers live alone, and a friend of his brought him to church for ward conference.  We taught him about the Restoration and Plan of Salvation last week and there was a special spirit there when we told him how he could live with his family forever.  He's reading the Book of Mormon, but sentences at a time, for like most Brazilians he does not read very well.

Other than that we've spent a lot of time walking, and walking, and walking around looking for people to teach.  My Portuguese continues to improve day by day and I still make a lot of mistakes but for the most part people can understand what I'm trying to say.

That's really awesome that you all had Brasilian food for dinner.  It looks pretty authentic from the pictures, about what I eat on a normal day.  We'll have to spend some time in the kitchen together when I get back so I can learn how to make all the food I will be missing.  I'm glad you all like Guaraná, I'm seriously addicted to the stuff. 

Elder Oba goes home tomorrow, finishing up his mission.  He's going through all the emotions right now, from super stressed, to excited, depressed, anxious, etc.  We had a party last night for his going home and Elder Persinger's Birthday.  We (and I really mean to say I) made pancakes at a members house complete with peanut butter and syrup.  They actually turned out to taste just like home!  I was impressed by how effective the syrup flavoring we had actually was.  After Pancakes and Guaraná, we had birthday cake.  A fun good way to wrap this transfer up.

Well I need to get going to lunch.  You know in Portuguese we have a verb, to lunch?  Its almoçar.  What a weird language this is.

Thanks for sending the pictures, and eating Brasilian food in my honor.  I'm glad to know my familiy has not forgotten about me :).

Lots of love,
Elder Henry

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Elder Henry is mortal, after all

Hey Mom,> Sunscreen (very expensive here) - Have Plenty
> mosquito repellent - Have plenty
> hand sanitizer - Have plenty
> chap-stick - Have plenty
> Gold bond powder or Baby powder - Have plenty
> Anti-perspirant (can't buy here) - Have plenty
> Multiple vitamins (very expensive here) - Have plenty
> Advil or Tylenol (very expensive here) - Have plenty
> Allergy medication, - Don't have or really need. I have some decongestants and other cold/flu meds from last flu season.
> Ear plugs to sleep better at night - Oh how I wish I had these
>a new belt? - Definitely need one, but I can buy one here pretty cheap
>cake/brownie mixes? Another on my wish list.
So far as sweaters go I'll be able to find one down here pretty easy. I picked up some thermals from the temple store today.
Carmen and Luan moved their baptismal date to next weekend. It will probably work out better this way and when we went back yesterday they were just as excited to be baptized this Saturday. Their first question when we walked in yesterday was, "We are still good for the baptism this Saturday right?" She's definitely ready to be baptized. We've just about finished all the lessons with her and everything should be set to go. We are going to review the Restoration with her and Luan before Saturday and keep in touch with them every day this week.
This last week was pretty rough for us, we spent a lot of time walking instead of teaching. Also moving the baptism was a little disappointing, but we've since recuperated. The language of course comes in waves of good and bad. Just as soon as you start to feel a little bit comfortable, someone will say something that appears so basic to them that you just don't know because you haven't been here very long. They get frustrated with you, you get frustrated with you, its a very hard process. I definitely wouldn't be able to learn a language outside the mission.
I also caught a bit of sickness the past couple days. Last week my stomach was giving me all sorts of problems, and now I seem to have caught a cold/flu. I just got out of cold season to jump right back into it -.-". I've got a cough, runny nose, and sore throat. I hate being sick, especially as a missionary.
We went to the temple today with President Pavan and all the departing missionaries because Elder Oba will be going home on Tuesday. So I'll be E-mailing next Monday rather then Tuesday because of transfers. Its funny to see how each missionary handles the end of the mission. Elder Oba doesn't even realize its coming, but some of the other Elders were balling their eyes out when they were at the temple for the last time as a missionary. Fortunately I've got lots of time left on my mission :).
Elder Holland's visit was pretty much the exact same as the discourse he gave in the MTC. What was particularly funny was he said, "I never give the same talk twice!" yet what he called "Introduction" to his talk was almost word for word the same. He talked a lot about what we mean to the church, and our images as missionaries. He also talked about the Plan of Salvation and especially the roles of the fall of Adam and Atonement of Christ in the forwarding of our eternal progression.
Well that's about all for this week. I'm feeling pretty down at the moment, which happens as a missionary, I just wish it hadn't happened right after the temple. Today has been very taxing for me, and being sick hasn't helped at all.
I love you all tons, thanks for keeping in touch with me. There is nothing more devastating to a missionary than when his Mom doesn't write him. Thanks for being there for me :)
Elder Henry
Our Brazilian Feast in Michael's Honor (with our Guarana Antarctica!)
This is our Brazilian Beef dish
And black beans too, rice is on the left.

Porto Alegre Mission, Elder and Sister Holland in the center, Elder Henry 1/3 from the top left

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Already understanding Portuguese and life/culture in Porto Alegre

Dear Mom,
Sunday was a lot of fun, it was great being able to talk with everyone. I've recieved two of Kelsey's letters now, the last of which was postmarked April 30th. Looks like its about 2-2.5 weeks between letters.
Everyone here has a TV. Its more of a necessity than running water in your house. If you have electricity you have a TV. Pretty sad... The house I was visiting was huge. It had 3 or 4 stories, and was just huge inside. A huge spacious Den/Family room area, big kitchen, tons of bed/bathrooms. Definitely a super rich house.
For now don't worry about a sweater, I'm going to ask one of the members in our ward to buy one for me and then afterwards pay them back. I have no idea what the price will be like, but I'll ask and see.
Nothing new has really happened since Sunday because we had Zone Conference yesterday. My understanding of Portugues has really jumped leaps and bounds, because I could actually understand all of the trainings. There were some things I didn't quite get, a couple of jokes hither and thither, but for the most part I was able to participate.
After that we met with Carmen and she's still doing great. She said yesterday that she knows without a doubt that the church is true and feels really good. She's a little scared that she does'nt know enough to be baptized this saturday, but we are going to meet with her every day this week to prepare her. All should got well :).
I don't have a whole lot of time to write right now, and I told you pretty much everything from last week during our phonecall. I talked with Elder Oba about my friend visiting and he said that its not really a problem at all because he's a non-member. The only day we could do anything though would have to be our P-day/Tuesday.
I love you tons, thank you for supporting me through my mission.
Elder Henry

I also wrote down some of the fun and funny cultural differences Elder Henry is experiencing in Brazil that he told us on Sunday. Enjoy!

There are walls around all of the houses with barbed wire, to keep out robbers. So to get in the door, they clap their hands. "Yeah we clap a LOT." Their apartment has three locked doors to get through to get to it.
There are no screens on the windows. We joked that he could start a business there after his mission and become rich!!!
Dentists and Orthodontists are the creme de la creme of Brazilians, he said they are the richest people he knows. A lady in their ward who's an orthodontist has her domestic help feed the missionaries every Thursday (it wasn't clear whether she eats with them).
The sleeping bag he was mocked for dragging around with him for the past 7 months is a huge blessing! He says that it gets really cold at night and he just pulls it up on himself and he's really comfortable.
Every day they drink Coke or Guarena from the members for dinner (which is lunchtime here). A huge no-no in his last mission (no caffeinated beverages).
He absolutely LOVES the food, he says he doesn't know why we don't eat rice and beans with every meal here in America. He has lost weight, two belt notches, because they eat breakfast and lunch only, but he isn't hungry. Also when they go to homes, they are served a grass tea ("Mate" or "chimarrão") in a communal cup called a cuia, and at first he thought it was disgusting but now he is used to it and likes how it warms him up. Here's a link with a picture :
He said that Rio Grande Del Sur is "the Texas of Brazil" and they have "Gauchos" riding their horses around all over with their cowboy gear on. The state has tried to secede from Brazil in the past. This link tells a little about the culture
There aren't many Catholics like in Mexico, mostly Evangelicals with lots of Jehovah's Witnesses too.
He is cold and wants some sweaters--he would NEVER wear sweaters at home!
In Porto Alegre, the rich people live in nice high rise apartments and the poor people live in their own houses. He thought that was funny since it is the opposite of what its like here at home where lower income people usually live ain apartments and middle class/upper class live in homes. But the homes the poor live in are ones they construct themselves out of brick with corroguated aluminum roofs.
All the milk is ultrapasteurized, he isn't sure why they process it so much because there are dairy farms in southern Brazil.
His area covers wealthier areas as well as Favellas, or ghettos. He said he can't take his camera out to take photos in the favella or he might get robbed.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

May 8th letter from Porto Alegre

Dear Mom,
We are allowed to use Skype, and our call is limited to 40 minutes. I will probably call home sometime around 6 or 7 o'clock my time, which translates into 2 or 3 your time. I don't know the members skype address, but I'll probably try to log onto my skype if I remember correctly...
My weeks have gone from normal time to really really long. I forgot how time just drags on and on when you are a new missionary. I still haven't gotten into the groove of the schedule and its especially difficult when your ability to communicate is very limited. I often feel like I'm walking around for hours and hours trying to find people at home, and no one is EVER home. I try my best not to get frustrated by my inability to communicate or even understand what's going on at any given time. My fluency is improving very rapidly though, and I'm starting to understand more and more of common words and phrases. I am improving, its just a slow and often grueling process.
Right now we have one investigator, her name is Carmem (the M at the end makes a kind of ng sound so it sounds a lot like Carmen). She is absolutely rock solid, the most golden investigator I've ever had on my mission. We met her last two Fridays ago while we were searching for a member's house and had a wrong address. Elder Oba asked her if we could come back a different time and she asked us to come by on Monday. Now this happens a lot as a missionary, people telling you, "Yeah come back a different day" and so we took it as a don't really come back. Lo and behold on Monday afternoon we were walking down Protásio Alves and all of the sudden I turn to Elder Oba and ask him, wasn't there someone who wanted us to come back on Monday. We thought and remembered Carmem, and so we went.
At first she told us to come back that evening because she was busy, which we did. That evening we taught her about the Restoration of the Gospel, and she was very interested in the message. We gave her a copy of the Book of Mormon and set up a return appointment for Wednesday. We came back with a member named Santa Emília on Wednesday to discover that Carmem had read and prayed about the passage we had left her in the Book of Mormon (Moroni 10:3-5) and even up until verse 20. She told us that she felt really good while reading and afterwards when she prayed about it. Santa Emília then jumped in and bore testimony that that was the Holy Spirit answering her question. We set up another appointment for Friday.
Friday we read a little more with her out of the Book of Mormon and she continued to feel really good about the message we shared with her. She committed to coming to church for Sunday. Saturday though we went to teach our English Class and found that Santa Emília had brought Carmem and her 9 year old son Lua to the Chá do Dia das Mães (Mother's Day Tea Party) Relief Society activity. She loved it, and the whole ward just embraced her with open arms. Sunday as our ward's bus passed by she with her friend Santa Emília hopped on and came to all three hours of church. Both Carmem and Lua loved Primary/Relief Society/Sacrament Meeting/Sunday School. When we met with her again yesterday she had read yet another chapter out of the Book of Mormon. Its awesome to meet someone who is just ready and willing to accept the gospel into her life.
I wish you could see Carmem's home. She lives in the humblest little moldy/concrete basement of an abandoned home, without running water in her house, she and Lua carry bottles of water back to their house so they can cook/bathe/wash. They have a single light dangling from the ceiling to light their little abode. Its such a different atmosphere from the privileged living quarters of California or Washington. You don't really realize what you have until its gone.
(Answers to Mom's questions) My companion Elder Oba does not speak Japanese, but he does speak German. He went to Germany on a foreign exchange program the year before he went on his mission.
The weather flipped upside down and is now burning hot. My first week here it was so cold I pulled out my sleeping bag, and now I go to sleep with only my sheets. So much more fun than the boring California 70-80 degrees every day all day. ;)
I was SOOO excited to hear the news about Paul Seymore! That's probably the best thing he could be doing with his life.
We have a lot of return missionaries in our ward and a couple of them served State-side, so they speak English. I'd give an estimate of about 4 or 5 people in the ward that speak English. Mostly its Portuguese.
Missionary work is pretty much the same as in California. We are working about 85% through member referrals and don't ever go knocking doors (its almost forbidden by our mission president).
Sorry I didn't say anything about Sherry, I was telling all the other missionaries and members about how Sherry got a BYU scholarship, I can't believe I forgot to mention it. WOOOOOOOOOOO!!!! That's way AWESOME GO SHERRY!!!
Here's hoping to another week full of awesomeness. Talk to you on Sunday :)
Dear Dad,
Its weird to think I just came out of Winter, to go back in. It's still not in my head that things are cooling down and they days are getting shorter.
Its funny you should mention hiking because I feel like I do that every day here. I get up study, eat and then hike for 8 hours :P. Everywhere down here is hilly but the sights are amazing, especially when we go up the higher hills and can see the whole city lit up at night. I love it here in Porto Alegre.
This is way more like the city than Long Beach was. I feel like this is a lot of what you experienced in New York. Lots of high rises slammed together with tons of people everywhere, and lots of street vendors. Buses and Taxis are more numerous than the cars, and most people just walk. Its a lot of fun :).
My time is just about out for the week, but thank you for writing me. I can't wait to talk on Sunday!
Elder Henry

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Adjusting to life in Brazil + Long Beach mission photos

There are lots more photos on Elder Henry's Facebook page.

Elder Henry forgot to tell us he'd performed a baptism!  Such a joyful photograph!
Elder Henry with Elder Dixon and some of the wonderful people in Whittier
Elder Henry with President and Sister Bubert

Departing Missionaries from Long Beach Mission at the Newport Beach Temple
Looks like a zone meeting
Elder Henry at the Newport Beach Temple

Dear Mom,
My first week and a half in Brasil and I've acclimated a little bit.  I finally saw a V6 in a truck and felt just a little bit more at home last week.
I guess the first thing you want to know is where I am.  I'm currently serving in the Chácaras das Pedras ward in the north part of Porto Alegre, just a little south of the mission office.  We cover a large area spanning from Petropolis all the way out to Monica Quintana all along the Protasio Alves avenue.
My companion is a native Brasilian named Elder Oba.  Fortunately he speaks English as well as Português, but its really helped me to learn really fast because he's always using it.  Of course there are good days and bad days for Português but its improving a lot.  A lot of the vocabulary I've never heard or used before because I was in the MTC and we only used missionary words like Baptism and Holy Ghost :p.  Elder Oba is Brasilian/Japanese and he's a little bit shorter than Kelsey.  This is is last transfer in the mission and will be going home at the end of the month.  Fortunately for me he doesn't act like it at all.  Its just business as usual for him.  Unlike most Brasilians he's not obsessed with Soccer, and we get along great.  Today he made us Sushi and just an all around great guy.
I live with two other Elders, Elder Persinger and Elder Caridade.  Persinger is an American from Ohio, and Caridade is a Brasilian.  They are the Zone Leaders for the Porto Alegre zone which makes things pretty convenient for us.
Missionary Work is pretty much the same down here except the fact that I now cover an area about the size of a stake in the States, on foot or by bus, and bus fares are expensive.  It costs R$2.85 or just under two American dollars to ride a bus, which really doesn't sound like much, but when you rely on it for your transportation and can only really afford to take it once a day...  well you walk a lot.
At times feel really useless as a missionary.  I've learned a lot about how to teach and what to do, but not being able to speak/understand is a huge barrier (duh!).  But I'm learning quickly and just keep telling myself that I'm not going to understand everything after 9 or 10 days, and just keep trying.  I try and talk as much as I can to practice and get better I'll be able to be back up to speed.
Let me tell you, the food here is outrageously amazing!  Rice and Beans and Meat and Fruit, I couldn't be happier.  Its really different having Lunch be the main meal of the day, because you really aren't hungry around dinner time, so we usually just work through it.  Which is great for missionary work, because you gain an extra hour of prime proselyting time!  You don't have to worry about me starving here, the members always feed us TONS for lunch and we have lunch appointments every day but P-day.
One last thing I forgot to mention before I e-mail President Pavan.  Elder Oba and I are white washing, or rather we are both new to the area just like Elder Dixon and I were in Whittier.  So right now we don't really have any investigators, but we have tons of appointments this week so hopefully we'll be getting started up pretty quick :).
I love you all very much, thank you for your e-mails :)
Elder Henry

From Right:  Elder Henry, Elder Persinger, Elder Oba, and Elder Caridade

Elder Henry at the Porto Alegre Brazil Temple!!!!!!!