Monday, August 27, 2012

August 27th, Gravataí

Family Home Evening with Ivo and his family and a family in the ward.  The kid to the left in the black shirt is a good friend of mine Nicolas.  He returned from his mission about a month ago and has been helping us out a bunch.  He also learned English on the mission and loves to practice with me.

Dear Mom & Dad,
What a weekend!  Sounds like you guys had quite the ride, and I'm glad everyone made it home safe and sound.  Send Grandpa & Grandma Nichols my love, and let him know I'm praying for him.  I'm glad everything turned out for the best, and that you can see the Lord's hand in everything.
     So now we have big Bear and little Bear in the family?  How will we be able to distinguish between the two?!  They can't both have the same nickname :P.  I had no idea Sherry was so into snowboarding.  I really want to pick up skiing when I get home, and I'll have ex-comps willing to help me out.  How crazy, Sherry will be skiing on the Alps 2013-2014.  Bah!
     A new senior couple has agreed to bring me a years supply of medicine in their bags so we don't have to worry about shipping it in, and I have enough to last me until they arrive.
So my week kind of turned out the same way as your weekend.  We had a lot of stuff just blow up in our face, but nothing really was damaged.  We didn't coordinate very well with the ward last week.
First on Thursday, we brought a bunch of Young Men to play soccer at the church, but the ward wasn't there.  They had told us every Tuesday and Thursday we will have activities at the church.  Turns out Thursday last week all the Adults went to the temple, so no one was there to coordinate the activity.  We had a handful of unhappy young men on our hand, but nothing too serious.
     Our Second boo boo happened on Saturday.  We had a big Choir Festival at our chapel last Saturday, and they had announced this for several Sundays in a row.  Elder Roman and I decided it really wouldn't be a very productive proselyting activity as most of the people would be from outside our area.  So we had planned on just going out and working, since Saturday night is a good night to catch people at home.  Turns out our Bishop had different plans.
     Soon after the Baptism on Saturday (actually during the Baptism) The Bishop yanked Elder Roman away to usher people into the chapel. Poor Elder Roman didn't even get to see the Baptism :(.  Afterwards we turned to leave and a couple of members begged and pleaded for us to stay but we had already marked commitments with investigators.  This did not detour our members from their purpose of convincing us to stay.  So we ended up rescheduling with our investigators and spending the time with the members.  We ended up not really doing all that much for 2 hours on a Saturday night, and the event ended at 9:30 so we ended up getting home late.  But our Bishop loves us, the members adore us, and they are helping us to find the elect, so in the end everything works out great :D.
     Finally this morning we went to the church to pick up some groceries that we had left in the Chapel on Saturday.  Turns out someone decided they needed them more than the missionaries and snatched them up.  Now I know I can't leave stuff in the church >.>.
     Anyway aside from this, the work is actually going along great!  We had an investigator, P, come to church for the first time this week, and she loved it!  She has already read the entire Book of Mormon and is reading the teaching of the Prophet Joseph Smith.  I've never met an investigator so golden in my life!  She loved church and is preparing to be baptized on Sep. 8th (Sherry's Birthday!).  Of course we were super excited to see L Baptised, she really moved a lot in her life to accept the restored gospel.  The work is moving along great, and have many other investigators with great potential to join the Church.
     Looks like time is running thin, so I'll wrap this up.  I love you, I'm glad everything worked out for the best this weekend.   Hope you and Dad are ready for school to start back up here in a week or two.  Thank you for writing me.
Elder Henry

The New Chapel at night

An overview of Gravataí with our new chapel right in the center :)
Elder Roman's Birthday, and Irmã Jove (we used to live at her house)

Le and her mom Lo (Le in White her Mom, Lo, is sitting down) at the baptism.  You can see my Chalkboard Display from my free English Class in the background. (names abbreviated for privacy)

Monday, August 20, 2012

Transfers--finally not transferring!

Dear Mom,
We got the transfer news today and both Elder Roman and I will be staying for one more transfer together. I'm excited, but surprised, because every transfer of my mission either I or my companion have been transferred except for Elder Galke, but our first transfer together was only 4 weeks because of the emergency transfer soooo I was actually expecting Elder Roman to hit the road. I'm excited though because Elder Roman will be able to stay with me for our baptisms coming up :).
So what Sister Wright told me to tell you is to send a package with melatonin, I'll keep looking, but the only melatonin we found so far was in Porto Alegre and costs 60$ which is absolutely ridiculous when it costs 3-4$ in the states but may be our only option. Essentially its not considered a medicine or drug here, but is classified as a vitamin supplement (which is exactly how it is in the states), so the pharmacies don't carry the stuff. I've looked in only two supplement stores and the both didn't have it, but have 3 more leads that I'll try today. I don't know why the stuff is illegal to import, or why its so expensive, but Brasil is full of crazy laws. Yesterday I learned that according to Brasilian law, if you kill someone and then stay hidden for 24 hours, the law can't hold you responsible for the murder so you go home free. What a crazy country this is...
I'm not too worried about Tori looking all grown up and going to dances, mainly because Tori is Spencer's responsibility, I had Sherry to watch after :P.
That's way crazy that Steven Shirley is married! How crazy! At first I thought you said that he was going to be married, then I realized that you said you went to his wedding reception. How weird, I'm going to come home one day and everyone will be married 0.0.
I hope the Ducks don't go to the national championship with a sophomore QB. Partly because they will most likely loose, and partly because I want to be able to watch!
Gravataí is pretty awesome, we had a pretty awesome week to finish up the transfer. We had 9 investigators at church yesterday, and have two baptisms lined up for this Saturday :). I and his family (L, L, R), L (47), Luisa (9), Brian (14), G (longtime investigator) and V(another elongtime investigator...).
We met L last Saturday and she's going to be baptised this Saturday. Essentially what happened is her mom went less active, didn't baptise her, but is active now and wants her to be baptised. Not really a great story, but hey a baptism is a baptism. She's super cute, and absolutely loves our visits :).
L (just baptised lady) is still going strong, she actually brought 4 people with her to church yesterday. How crazy is that! I've never had an investigator so excited about the gospel, she really reminds me a lot of Lynn, and how she received a witness of the gospel, and now is going strong. We taught her the Word of Wisdom last week, and she decided to give up coffee to be able to be baptised. I'm super excited for this weekend :).
B is a young man that we met actually a few weeks ago but started teaching him last week. He's the friend of the son of a former investigator. We invited him to play soccer at the new chapel, and he loved being there with all the young men. We gave him a Book of Mormon and he's read all the way to chapter 8 already. I'm super excited for him, but also a little nervous because we haven't talked with his parents yet. From what he's said his parents don't really like churches, but we will see what comes of it.
Ivo and Lucimara will be married here soon and the baptism of their whole family will follow. Ivo really reminds me of Bro. Gonsalves, they both had family problems before the gospel, and then missionaries and the church entered, and now their family is becoming more and more united.
I'm so excited for the Brown family! That's so awesome that they will all be sealed here soon. Anyways I think that's pretty much it for now. I love you bunches, and send my hello to everyone in the ward.
Dear Dad,
I completely agree.  Monday is a much better P-day day than Tuesday.
So is Sherry disappointed she'll be losing Elmo, or excited for the new
Subaru?  She is so spoiled to have a car at college you know :P.  Some
people have to WALK everywhere or take a BUS :P.  Don't get a sound system
too good, or I might get jealous you know...
There really is nothing better than a Gym in a Chapel to get non-members to
the church.  I took for granted all the times that I brought a friend to
one of our Chapels, because it was so normal to me, but now as a missionary
I think, look at all these Young Men bringing tons of people to the chapel
to play Soccer!  What awesome missionaries!  Its so hard for missionaries
to bring someone to the chapel, and yet the young men bring them in by the
10's and 20's.  Actually last Thursday we had 50 young men at the chapel,
of which 30 were non-members.  The whole neighborhood around the church is
all pumped about the new activities at the church.  I'm sure many baptisms
will follow, hopefully of families :).
Elder Henry

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Gravataí 8/14/12

 Dear Dad,
That's super exciting news about lithium ions in the truck :). Not quite a Tesla, but a huge upgrade from the 10-15 mile range we were getting. Speaking of Electric Cars, how are the new production line EV's holding up? Are they selling well or looking like another flop?
     The new sports court they have at the new chapel has a basketball court, so I took the liberty of purchasing a basketball to put it to good use. Speaking of which I spent quite a bit of money this past week and wanted to let you know where your money is going,
     Tuesday I bought some books from the temple as well as a couple DVD's. Including a hymnal for Elder Roman for his birthday, I believe the total came to around $35-40.
     Monday I bought some contact solution (20 dollars a bottle down here!), as well as medicine that the doctor in São Paulo recommended for me. Today I bought a basketball and a pump for another 20 dollars.
     I believe that's everything, sounds like you are enjoying the last bit of summer break. Here in 2 or 3 weeks everything will be back to school and in the grind once more. I love you and thanks for writing.
Dear Mom,
So the open house at the Chapel went just about as well as I expected it to be.  The first day, Thursday, pretty much only members showed up, I only talked with one or two non-members, but somehow other people were there that I didn't end up talking with.  Friday was a lot busier, and we had a good amount of members and non-members show up.  We actually had an opportunity to teach a lesson or two at the chapel, which was fun.  Saturday was the dedication and went well.  The new chapel was FULL of people, mostly members, but a lot of less active members and a couple of investigators as well.  I couldn't tell you what was actually said though, the Stake President here has an awful habit of mumbling his words, and we were sitting way at the back.
      Unfortunately I brought my camera to the dedication, but forgot to check the battery level before heading over.  After pulling it out to take pictures, I found out the battery was dead -.-'.
     I'm jealous you can hop into a nice cool pool of water, its steaming hot outside, somewhere between 28-30 degrees (C of course).  A pool sounds like a grand time.
     The work here is really starting to progress, we have a good teaching pool and a good amount of people who really show a desire to learn and act.  We had a really neat experience with one of our investigators, L. this past weekend.  She came to church for the first time, and she received a testimony of the gospel.  She felt something at church she had never felt before, (I.E. the Holy Ghost) and she told us yesterday that she there is nothing more important to her now than to continue firm in the church.  She has a baptismal date for the 25th of August, quite the miracle.  I don't know if I told you how we found her, but I'll tell you again.
     We were teaching her Mother, who really wasn't progressing at all.  We actually had returned that day to tell her that we weren't coming back.  In the middle of the lesson, L. pokes in her head (I had no idea she lived in the same house at the time) and asks if she can sit in and listen.  Of course we responded yes!  She then went on to tell us how she had heard about the Church on a television program (somebody named Dr. Ray) and she really wanted to know more about the church, but didn't know how to find out more.  Then just days later we show up with exactly what she wanted, from there she began to read the Book of Mormon, pray, and when she went to church for the first time, she received a witness of the truth :).  Its been an amazing experience all around.
      I. and his wife are going to go to the cartório (place where you sign marriage papers) this Friday to be married.  I'm really excited for their baptism as well (which will take a little bit of time, but I have some to spare).  I'm just sad for Elder Roman because we have 5 baptisms coming up and Transfers are next Tuesday.  Probably he'll be leaving and I'll be receiving a new companion.  We'll see though.
     Today is Elder Roman's Birthday, he turned 20 today so we celebrated by going to a member's house for lunch.  Only problem is the oven was all out of propane (instead of gas pipes here, we use propane tanks inside the house) so the meat didn't cook!  We waited for 2 hours and the meat still wasn't done.  By the time we figured out what had happened, we had to get going, but we had a nice little Torta de amendoim (Peanut Pie) which was delicious :).
     Also big news, starting next week all P-days will be on Monday instead of Tuesday.  So make sure to write on Sunday nights or Monday mornings.
     I love you all so much, thank you for writing me,
Elder Henry

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Unity: Letter from Gravataí August 7th

Dear Mom,
Things are pretty rushed today because we are going to the Temple, and will take about 5 and a half hours out of our 8 hour P-day. I'm glad Tori had a great birthday and that she's enjoying her new tablet. It's so strange, technology is SUPER expensive here and no one has money to purchase anything. Like I haven't seen a single I-Phone here and I'm in one of the well off places in the mission. A lot of it has to do with the large tariffs Brasil puts on imports, but that's enough of that.
      Elder Roman is Brasilian, from Curitiba, Paraná (same state as Elder Oba). He's an average 5'9"-10" and very timid. Before the mission he worked, and his Dad was a convert and his Mom served a mission. He's also super young on the mission, only 4 months, so we are both learning together. Really though he's a great kid, I love serving with him. Its different then serving with Elder E Black, but every companion is different, and Elder Roman and I have finally gotten into our groove. It's funny because we arrived on the mission (officially) on the same day, so it's like we are two greenies stuck together.
      It's funny you should mention my organizational experience paying off, because I really do feel like that's one of my greatest strengths as a missionary. I keep everything organized both on paper and in my head so I always know where we need to be. This has really helped me a ton a as missionary, I know who we are teaching, where they live, when we can visit them. I know the members we have, their strengths, when they are available, and once you know all this its just a matter of fitting together the pieces to make the best invite possible to the church.
      My hip hasn't been bugging me since last P-day, I think it just needed some rest. Thank you for the Prayers, I know they helped :).
I'm finally starting to feel proficient in the language. Of course there are still people that are really hard to understand, but for the most part I can understand what people are saying on the phone, and in a normal day to day conversation I can understand what's going on and participate. I still forget lots of words though, and have a lot to improve on, but I've been noticing that my fluency has improved a lot. Of course some days are better than others and some days I struggle to explain a first lesson, but its steadily getting better and better.
      Thanks for being a support for Kelsey, I know that she really appreciates it. Almost every letter she sends me, she talks about how you always are calling just to chat with her and always so supportive of all she does. I really do appreciate that you took her in as one of your own and have always shown love and support for her.
      So this last week was pretty much awesome. After about 3 weeks of trials in our area, things are starting to improve. I. and his family are steadily improving and really looking forward to being baptised. He wanted to bare his testimony in church on Sunday, but didn't know if he could. I love to see investigators develop a testimony of the restored gospel. Once again, just as Rio Pardo, where we knock doors are opening. Its absolutely incredible, and I don't know how it happened. I don't know what changed, but I think a lot of it has to do with the unity between Elder Roman and myself. Not that we ever had any problems, but we didn't talk too much to each other during the day the first couple weeks together. We talked about it, and both opened up a little more and we are really enjoying one another instead of just getting along. Its amazing how much changes when you have a companionship of Elders that really get along :).
      The whole ward is super excited for the dedication of our new Chapel this week. Pretty much every day this week we have something going on at the new chapel. We are going to pass out invites to the new Chapel tonight after P-day, and then tomorrow we have a training on how to give tours of the building, what everything is going to look like. Then Thursday, Friday, Saturday are the Open-houses of the Chapel, with Saturday being the dedication. Sunday will be our first meeting in the new chapel. The chapel is absolutely gorgeous, I'll have to take some pictures and send them.
      I love you a ton, and appreciate everything you do for me. I also received a package from Kelsey this week, so please let her know that it got here safe and sound.
Elder Henry