Monday, December 30, 2013

Elder Palhares, Elder Hatch, Elder Youd

Week 20: "Bells will be ringing the sad sad news...that nobody wants to hear about Christ on Christmas."

Yeah, it's ironic.
Oi everybody! Feliz Ano Novo!
It's been a pretty good Christmas here in Vila Medeiros.Super weird, it was my first Christmas away from home. But it ended up being alright. Had a bit of a weird situation with an alcoholic come up on Christmas Eve that kinda dampened our spirits, but it was good nonetheless.
It's been holy hard to find new people this christmas, because nobody wants to hear a message about Christmas on Christmas. But nonetheless, our investigators have a ton of progress. Here they are:
Marcio- The most important thing is...Jucelina received an answer!!!! She has always been hesitant about the church,  mostly because she's been strong in her faith. But she finally decided to ask God about the truth, and that night, she ended up having a dream.  The dream itself I didn't understand all of (Darn you, Portuguese), but regardless, she recognized it as a confirmation! And just in time for the whole family to be baptized this coming Saturday! Now, we've just gotta convince them that they can be baptized in the font at the church, because they wanna be baptized in a river. It's the little things.
Douglas- Unfortunately, things are going a bit bad. Douglas' mom (who likely heard bad about the church from her Catholic Neighbor, who doesn't like us) took away her permission to baptize douglas, being mad at the changes he's going through,  such as not drinking coffee, living the law of chastity, and wanting to pay tithing (This is real. She's mad that he's cleaning up his life.) So we've now gotta work with her. And in the process, Jessica's lost a bit of progress, and has less interest. Please pray for this family, as well as Marcio's family to stay firm and strong.
Noemi- She's actually still progressing, despite expectations. We talked to her about the commandments this week. She understood all of them and their purposes, but she  told us that she drinks every weekend and she has an addiction to smoking. So she's going to ponder and pray and see if this is the life that she needs to live. But she told us that she feels that we might be true, so she continues.

Other notes:
-The companionship is super well. EPalhares is super funny, and kinda femmy in a really funny way (he's very very very neat, and likes to cook for us, and screams in a high girly voice a lot, and has 7 pink ties.) EHatch is super chill and funny as well, and is a lot calmer about missionary work (in a good way.) It'll be a good transfer.
-I got to talk to my family last week! It was super nice, and I loved it! Love you family!
-For some reason,  everybody here watches Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakwel here.  I don't understand it, but in the past 3 weeks, i've seen 5 different families watching it. Brazil truly is a place of sin.

Alright, thank  you all so much for your support! Now for other emails! Hopefully i can put up some  pics and voice recordings! Love you all!
Elder Youd

Week 19: And Wild and sweet, the words repeat...

...Of peace on earth, good will to men. (My favorite Christmas hymn, without a doubt.)

Feliz Natal todos!

Firstly, sorry for the bad grammar in this email. Were at a crappier lan house, and I cant switch the normal keyboard into an English keyboard.

Its been a good week Vila Medeiros. Thats right! I am still here in Vila Medeiros, at least for another transfer. And...Im in a trio again! Elder Casagrande was sent to Pirituba, and Elder Fields was sent to Sorocaba (Super rural area). I am now here with Elder Hatch, an American that has 1 year and 4 months on the mission, so hes fluent (and he was the trainer of Elder Burton, my CTM companion!), and Elder Palhares, an Elder from Minas Gerais, close to Belle Horizonte, in Brazil. He has 9 months on the mission, the same as Elder Casagrande had. So far, were all working super well together. These guys are super chill and funny, and I feel good about working with them this transfer!

Okay, on to my week! Top investigators:

Douglas- Still is doing super good. We have dates for him and his twin sister, Jessica, for January 4 (we have a ward activity on the 28th of December and cant baptize anyone that weekend). We tried to see if he wanted to be baptized earlier, but we just need to work a little bit to have his Mom approve. But he absolutely will get baptized!

Marcio- He and his family are doing so well. Marcio wants to be baptized NOW, so were just working with his wife to get an answer. But theyre all incredibly interested in eternal families, so tonight were having a family night with 2 members, Rafael and Casey, that were actually sealed for eternity last weekend. So thatll be awesome for them.

Noemí- Shes actually back. We thought that we were going to cut her due to her lack of interest, but last Thursday, we were kinda lacking in things to do (were struggling in finding new people right now), so we decided to visit Noemí. And, as it turns out, a couple of weeks without talking to us was what she needed. Shes reading the BOM almost every day now, and instead of saying "I dont want the life of a church", shes now saying, "Im not sure. It seems incredibly difficult." So shes actually making progress!

Vera (New!)- We had talked to her one time before, but we taught her and a couple other moms (shes about 40, and a mom), and she was overwhelmed with the spirit. She accepted the invitation to baptism, so now we just need to give her a date and get her baptized! Please pray for my investigators!

Other notes from this week:

-To be honest, Ive had a kinda hard time getting into the Christmas spirit. Probably because its hot as crap outside, and not many people decorate here. Just like, 1 in 10 houses. Also, our mission president, bless his heart for trying to do something fun, tried to have a "Christmas activity", which ended up just being a multi-zone conference with white elephant, where I won a box of Q-tips. He then scorned us for talking too loud during lunch, and he never actually used the word "Natal" during the whole day, so it really was more just of an conference that happened to be near Christmas. So Ill mostly just kinda endure Christmas. Except for...

-I get to call my family this week!!!! In case I forget family, Ill be on Google plus around 3 my time (I dont remember the time difference), so Ill email you all about that after this.

Alright, time to respond to personal emails! THank you all so much! Love you all! Feliz Natal! 

Elder Youd

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Week 18: "But you've gotta have faith, yeah you gotta have faith!"

(It's George Michael. Weird things happen when you only have the music from your brain.)

Oi pessoas!

This week has been quite an interesting week, with some ups and downs, but overall a good way to end a transfer! I'll learn tonight if I'm going to another area or not, and if I transfer, I'll leave on Wednesday. So my life is mostly one big surprise. Presidente Martins doesn't like for us to grow attached to the members, so he doesn't give us much time to say goodbye.

On to our investigators for this week!

Marcio and Family- He now knows all of the commandments, and we finally got him to go to church with his family, together. We had a pretty long lesson with him and his family on Sunday, and...they all have baptismal dates! The 4th of January, because his only concern is that he wants to be baptized with his family, and his wife still doesn't believe yet. We have work to do with her, but he wants to jump into the baptismal font right now, so he is doing absolutely great!

Gilbert (New!)- Found him working. We've talked to him a couple times, and he accepted a baptismal date! He's an older man, and he's a little Like, he went off for 7 minutes on how God is everywhere when we talked about the pamphlet that he read. (Hint: It didn't talk about how God is everywhere). But he has a date for the 28th, so we'll work with it.

Noemi- Unfortunately, we had to cut Noemi this week. She ended up telling us that she has absolutely no desire to go to church, because she likes going to nightclubs on Saturday nights, among other things. We might visit her again in a couple weeks, but for now, she doesn't want anything.

Douglas (maybe new? I don't remember if I talked about him before)- Douglas is a 14 year old that came to church by himself. He heard about the church, showed up early, and asked how he can be baptized. After an awkward first lesson where he told us (in front of his mom) that he doesn't know if he can keep the law of chastity because "I have needs", we talked to him again, and he has a baptismal date for this Saturday! It might change to next Saturday because of technical things, but he brought his sisters with him to church on Sunday, and they're interested too!

Other notes from this week:

-You can listen to the voicemail for more about this, but we didn't get to teach as much this week. On Monday, Elder Casagrande was sick, and Elder Fields got the same sickness on Thursday. Despite this, we had 9 investigators come to church on Sunday. So that's cool.

-If I stay in Vila Medeiros, there's a chance that I'll be the temporary piano player while the ward is looking for someone that can play with more than one hand. Now is when I finally regret that I didn't stick with piano when I was young. Sorry, Mom.

-Next week I get to call my family! It'll be on Christmas Eve, and for those that aren't aware of how missionary service works, it's one of my 4 calls that I get on my mission, except for if I have an emergency. (I only call on Christmases and Mother's Day.) I'm super stoked!

-We taught one lesson this week with an English teacher, who might have interest. But she asked if I could give the closing prayer in English. Holy crap, praying in English was so hard. I forgot how to do it. I sounded like a Brazilian speaking English.

Alright, now I await the information about transfers! Thank you all for your support, keep writing me, and more pics are coming! Tchau!

Much love,
Elder Youd

Lucas' Baptism in Vila Medieros

Week 17: I am the captain of my fate. I am the master of my soul.

In memory of Paul Walker, the guy from Meet the Deedles and Fast and the Furious that died last week. Why else would that poem have significance?

Oi everybody!

It's been a pretty awesome week here in Vila Medeiros. The weather is getting holy hot, and I am becoming holy sweaty. It doesn't help that my hair grows faster than I can control. I cut it just a few weeks ago, and it's already a helmet on me. Christmas time is coming, and it's weird to be in the mood for Christmas while not freezing my face off. As far as I've noticed, it doesn't seem like Brazil has any crazy Christmas traditions. But I'll keep on looking for something unique and fun.

We had a baptism for Vila Medeiros this week, although it wasn't one of our investigators. His name is Lucas, he looks really sketchy (beard, giant gauges, etc.), but he's a super nice guy with a great spirit. It was good to see this change in his life, and in Vila Medeiros!

Information about our top investigators:

Marcio: We taught Marcio most of the commandments this week. Although he said that he admittedly had an addiction to coffee, he and his whole family are living the Word of Wisdom now! And he had absolutely no problem with tithing, and called Fast offerings "incredibly beautiful", which I had never thought of before. And even though he didn't go to church this week (he has a legit reason that he said he'd work on this week), his whole family came to church for the first time! So he's going great.

Douglas (new!): Douglas is a 14-year old that came to church alone last week, asking how he could be baptized. We have to wait a while to baptize him due to new rules with baptizing minors, but we taught him commandments immediately. The lesson was...interesting. (Refer to the voicemail for details.) But he came to Lucas' baptism, and he's progressing!

Marco Antonio- We have to wait for a long time to baptize him because, with all Bolivianos, he's not married legally. But he absolutely loves reading El Libro de Mormon (spanish) and he came to church! So we'll keep spending time with him. I love Bolivianos.

Noemi- She's about normal. We taught her about the Plan of Salvation, and she said that she wouldn't have a problem not living with God after this life. And she doesn't think that we have to go to church every week. And she said that she won't be going to church last sunday or next sunday because she's going to a nightclub. So that's Noemi.

Ewerton and Bruno- We cut them. After 2 horribly difficult lessons of trying to get these 13 year old boys to focus, we finally told them to come to church. Yesterday, we saw them outside the chapel before sacrament meeting. They mockingly waved at us. We thought that they were trying to find the entrance, so we stood up to go help them. Immediately, they ran away from us, and we realized that they were just making fun of us. Freaking punks. I hate kids.

Other information:

-We had a division this week, where Elder Fields and I stayed here with another American that spoke less Portuguese than us. I was the most experienced with the language, so I drove the day. And I survived! I'm finally getting it!

-Today is my half-birthday. WIsh me a happy half-birthday.

-This is the last week of this transfer. I'll send a normal email next week, but the week after that I may be in a different area. I'll learn next Monday night.

Thank you all for your support! Time to write individual emails! Love you all! 

Elder Youd

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Week 16: "Shed a tear cause I'm missing you, it's still alright to smile...all we need's a little patience."

Oi familia!

The subject was Guns N' Roses. Mostly just that we are patiently awaiting success here in Vila Medeiros.

This week was a little bit more difficult. We had 2 baptisms planned (one here, and one that's being taught in Vila Maria) but both fell. Vila Maria's person might still happen, but ours is no more. Most of our investigators are progressing, but essentially at the speed of a snail. On pot. Walking through a pool of molasses. Dying. Very very slowly. Here are the updates of our top investigators:

Eduardo- He came to church last Sunday, and was supposed to be baptized last Saturday; however, on Wednesday, we were reading something in Preach My Gospel (The manual for missionaries, for you non-Mormons. Also, you non-Mormons, read the Book of Mormon,) that said that we need to make sure that we have the spouse's approval before baptism. We called Eduardo immediately just to guarantee. He just said that his wife didn't agree, and that he didn't feel anything at church, and that there's no reason for us to visit again. So that was Eduardo.

Marcio- Our biggest hope right now. He didn't come to church this week because he had to take his daughter to the hospital to have some sort of heart check-up. BUT he finally received an answer to his prayers! As it turns out, the activity at the church of watching the Blind Side was perfect for him. His oldest daughter wasn't actually his child, so he's always had trouble with accepting that. But the movie made him realize that he accepted her as a family, and that was enough to make him realize that the Church was true, if it was able to answer that personal of a problem. Now we just need to work with his wife, Joselina, who belongs to a culty-cult-cult. She's only been to church activities, never an actual church meeting. So she has a problem with how casually the members dress, because her culty-cult (Trust me, it's a CULT, from the details I heard) makes her wear a dress every day in every thing that she does. So we're now working with her, since he says that he wants her to be baptized with him.

Noemi- Finally came to church! However, she was her usual Noemi self, saying in the middle of Sunday School, "Yeah, I don't know if I'll come back or not. I'm not sure how I like it here." In the middle ofSunday School. She is a daughter of God, and quite an eccentric one at that. But, she's slowly coming to accept things.

Ewerton and Bruno- 13 year old kids that listened to our message. We gave Ewerton a pamphlet, and he ended up writing 4 pages on what he thought about it. They both accepted dates for the 14th of December!!! However, last Thursday we had a multi-zone conference, where the rules for baptizing kids under the age of 15 changed, to where if they're going to church without a parent, they have to wait 3 months before baptism. So that's not gonna happen. And teaching 13 year old boys is holy hard. So much talking, and SO LITTLE FOCUS.

Marco Antonio (New!)- A Bolivian that we found. He and his "wife", Blanca, live in a sketchy house, but he has a lot of problems. They have robbers almost every week invade their home and steal things. He's been looking for peace, and he found it with us! He broke down into tears in front of us while talking about his life and how thankful he was for us. So now, we just need to get him to church, get a ring on that finger, and get him to the font! I freaking love Bolivians. They're my favorite. Part of me wishes that I was sent to Bolivia on my mission.

Other things- Thursday we had a multi-zone conference, which was good to see all of my missionaries together. Also, on Friday, we were invited to help out a booth for Helping Hands Brazil, or Maos Que Ajudem. It was cool, and we talked to a ton of people. Basically, our job was to be missionaries with a tag, invite people to the booth, and avoid saying anything that would cause a PR problem for the church.

Alright, that's it for me folks! No pictures this week because my camera battery just died, and I'll try to get to a computer with a USB port to give a voice recording! Thanks for your letters, and keep it coming! The church is true, and God loves you! And I probably at least like you too!

Elder Youd

After a Long Day!

20 Lbs lighter!

Week 15 (I think): 20 pounds later

That's right. In case you were curious, that is a reference to how much weight I've lost since I entered the field. The day that I left the CTM, I weighed exactly 100 kg, or about 220 lbs. Last week, I found a scale in a pharmacy, and weighed myself. Now? 91.2 kgs, or about 200 lbs. In 9 weeks, I've lost 20 lbs. All of you single, non-family women, keep that in mind. Now, I'm only slightly chubby instead of slightly grossly chubby.

Oi everybody!

This week has been an absolutely strange week, almost split in half. The first half was a week of disappointment, with dropped investigators (including Marcia and her family, who dropped us unofficially with the lame excuse of "It's hard, because I work ALL THE TIME."), and very little lessons. And then the 2nd half of the week? A week of miracles! Not the least of which is...I have a baptism this weekend!!!

I've decided that, since my emails are generally random thoughts, to start containing things, I'll start putting my top investigators and their progress.

Eduardo- Our perfect investigator. Every lesson, he's done everything that he's supposed to. He accepted all of the commandments, and Saturday, he accepted a baptismal date! This Saturday (Because he's studying like there's no other life when he's not studying the scriptures), he'll have an interview, and immediately after he'll be baptized! We've only taught him on Saturdays because of our schedule, but he's my favorite investigator. And you'll see a picture of him next week...getting ready for baptism! (Also side note: I'm technically going to have my 2nd baptism this week too. There's a kid named Lucas that's getting baptized and well attend Vila Medeiros, but he's been taught in Vila Maria by other missionaries. 2 baptisms!)

Marcio- He's doing super well. He still has doubts about baptism (he's been baptized 3 times, one of which was in a super duper cult cult, so he has reason), but he asked us "If I want to be a member of this church, I have to be baptized?" And this Saturday, he and his family went to a ward activity (They were showing The Blind Side, or in Brazil, The Impossible Dream). So He's doing well.

Patricia- Unfortunately, she's going to be baptized in another ward. But I'm sure that it'll happen! She reads and knows A TON about the church already, in a good way. She's doing great, and I know that she'll be baptized.

Noemi- Our hardest investigator. She's finally revealed to us that she hides behind post-modern religion to hide the fact that she doesn't understand Christianity. We have to fight for time with her with a Buddhist missionary here. And our last lesson, she told us that she understood everything, but that she never ever ever wants a family. So she's rough.

Joao- Joao is also difficult. We've taught him everything, and he's now living all commandments (except for Sabbath Day). But because his mother is super Catholic, he still won't accept a baptismal date or go to church, also because he feels like he needs his store open on Sunday mornings.

So that was our list, from best to worst. Also, weird thing happened this week. We had a potential investigator named Leandro. We visited his house 4 times, but he was never there, so we decided to cut his name from our list and leave it for future missionaries. But Saturday, we were walking down the street, and a car stops by us. It was him and his girlfriend! He apologized for the difficulty in finding him, set up a time, and he even went to church yesterday, before we even taught him a lesson! So that was weird, especially since we have investigators that we've been teaching for almost 2 months (Joao, Ramiro), that refuse to go to church.

So that's my week! I'm getting ready for my first baptism! Please pray for these investigators! Thanks so much for your prayers, and the church is true!

Elder Youd

PS- Happy 1 day late birthday, Mom! Love you!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Three Companeros

Week 14: The colonoscopy of missionary work

(LIsten to my voicemail for informaton about this subject.)

Oi everybody!!

It feels like it was just 6 days ago that I was writing my last email. If any part of it didn't make exact sense, I do apologize. I was at the back end of a ridiculously long day, and I'll admit that I wasn't focused at all at what I was saying. So if I confessed my love to any of you, I am sorry. Unless you're cute and not related to me, in which case I meant every word that I said.

This week was a pretty good week. We're learning quickly how to work with EF/three people in general, and we're starting to get the hang of it. Honestly, there are fun parts to having three people, including the beauty that is voting when all of us have different opinions. Arguments are resolved so much easier, especially since none of us have made alliances yet. So for now, it's good. And it only took a little bit of time to clean the house this morning. I am sleeping on a mattress on the floor right now, but that's okay because I'm used to it. I slept on a mattress on the floor/a couch for a year and a half. I'm a man.

We didn't find a lot of new people this week, but we did get a lot of progress with a lot of our investigators. We decided to focus more on getting our people to pray and come to church. As far as coming to church, we only got 2 people (it was raining Sunday morning, and everybody walks to church. Curse you, Mother Nature.) But almost all of our investigators prayed!!

We have 2 investigators in particular that are very good, the ones that came to church. The first is Patricia. We had a date with her for the 16th, but it fell because of technical things. But we talked to her last night, and she's getting baptized the 30th! Her friend that introduced her to the church, Lucinaura, already told her about everything she needs to know, so that was the easiest commandments lesson I've ever given. "Do you know about the Word of Wisdom?" "Yeah, that's where we don't drink, smoke, do drugs, and we avoid tea and coffee, right?" "...yeah." So she is elect. The other person that came to church was Elinede. Elinede had her first lesson on Saturday, where she immediately told us that she has problems with depression and bipolar. But she said that she believes in our message. We got her to say that she'd come to church, but the moment we finished the prayer, she said that she shouldn't, because people would judge the fact that her teeth weren't very good (She got the idea from her husband, who sounds like a tool.) But we calmed her down, and the next day, when we went to pick her up, she was already to go! Pray for Patricia and Elinede this week!

Alright, this keyboard is sticky and we're trying out a new Lan House, so I'm gonna stop now and try and learn how to attach pictures and other files. Have a great week!

Elder Youd

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

House in Vila Mederios

Typical Street in Vila Mederios

Week 13: I'm so sorry Mom!!!

This is the subject of my email this week, because I owe about a million apologies to my mother. This week, our time for emailing changed because all of the missionaries went to the temple today. And i didn't realize that i wouldn't be emailing on monday until last wednesday. i was going to send my mom a quick email monday night, but our days have been ridiculously busy this week, and i got caught up. So i'm going to write a short email this week, dedicating a good portion of time apologizing to her for a long period of time. If any of you see my mom, tell her that I said sorry. This is not a joke. If you see her, tell her, "Elder Youd says that he's sorry, he's an idiot, and he made a giant mistake. And he'll never ever ever ever do it again." I'm serious on this. 3 "ever"s. Anyone that emails me saying that they told her will get a special surprise from me, from Brazil.

This week was good. On monday night, ECG and I got the call that we weren't being transferred, which is normal for new missionaries, who generally stay with their trainer for 12 weeks...however, on Tuesday night, at 10:35 pm (after we're supposed to be in bed), President Martins called us. He said that a new batch of American missionaries surprised him at the office door, and that he needs a place for them. That's right. I'm working in a trio this transfer. Our new person is Elder Fields (From now on, EF, or ef today because this shift key is awful). Ef is from arizona, had 12 weeks in Frezno CA while waiting for his visa, and is a bit strange, but has a good spirit. And he speaks absolutely awful Portuguese, which gives me comfort in my ability.

Our week has been crazy since then. Non stop contacting and lessons, and a lot of super highs and lows. At one point last week, we had 9 people with baptismal dates. As of right now, we only have 6, but we still have hope for these people. We have Gustavo, a kid who has interest, and a family of 5, that we'll have to work pretty hard for, but they have potential. So pray for them, as well as Marcio, another investigator who came to church, but has problems because his wife loves her church!!

Alright, I was serious about this week being a short letter. I'll write to some of you, but I've gotta write to my mom. Seriously, if you see her, tell her that. That is what you can do to help the missionary work. That, and pray for my investigators and write to me. 

Thanks everybody!

Just a little setback, but nothing a good pizza wouldn't cure!

Week 12: "Well the years went by, and rock just died, Suzy went and left me for some foreign guy."

This week's subject aren't anything significant. Just the Elton John song that's stuck in my head. Come on, people.

Oi everybody! Boa semana!

This week has been great. I went to the doctor on wednesday about my ankle. 2 pieces of information: 1, it's better and I can work again, and 2, apparently a good portion of this injury was actually a previous injury. Apparently that time last April when I was playing football and twisted my ankle? Yeah. Apparently I've been walking on a kinda-broken ankle for about 6 months now. So if you ever had doubts about my masculinity or Americanity, now your fears can die. I am a manly American.

This week, ECG and I went out of the gates running. We contacted a whole bunch of people (got 28 new addresses for people to visit in 5 days), and we got 2 new baptismal commitments! The first is Robinson, a younger family man that's mostly just looking for a church to go to. I don't know if he's going to follow through, but he accepted a date for the 16th. The other is Patricia, a 20-something young woman that works with a member, Lucinaura. Lucinaura has already told Patricia a ton about the church, so teaching a lesson with her last night was easy. And she said that she's already "80% sure that the church is true." So she said that she'd get baptized the 16th also! The only problem with her is that she technically lives in the boundaries of another ward, so we'll have to figure out if she can attend the same ward as Lucinaura. (Lucinaura lives barely in our ward boundaries.)

Unfortunately, we're starting to have some problems with Marcia and her family. For some reason we haven't been able to talk to her this week, because she's always had a problem with the times. But I have faith that she'll pull through to the waters of baptism.

I would try and think of more people that we've talked to this week, but we have so many right now! We've just done a TON of contacting this week. 

Oh! My new favorite excuse that I've heard someone say for why they can't meet with us today. We were about to visit Carmem, a kinda crazy investigator old woman. We visited her house, and she said, "I'm sorry, meninas (younglings), I can't talk with you today, because I have angry feelings towards my neighbor right now." I wasn't even disappointed. She's kinda crazy, and I kinda love it. During our first lesson with her, I asked if she had sinned since she was baptized with another church. She thought for about 30 seconds, then said, "Well...I don't drink and I don't have sex with people, so no, I don't think I've sinned." We had absolutely no idea what to say to that. We mostly just moved on.

Okay! Thanks for all the support that I've had from you all this week! Time to upload pictures and respond to individual emails! Thanks for all your support!

Elder Youd

Week 11: I literally have no clever subject this week, because nothing happened

Hey folks,

Sorry that my letter this week isnt going to be horribly exciting. Im at a different computer cafe (called Lan Houses here) than we usually go to, because I can only crutch so far, so I cant send pictures, audio recordings, or use the English keyboard setup, so excuse my lack of apostrophes. But luckily, there really isnt much to talk about this week. On Tuesday, we had a mission meeting about emotional health in the mission, which was nice, although it was funny to hear the different opinions of Sister Martins ("If you start feeling depressed, you need to do things to become healthy!") and President Martins ("Of course theres going to be stress, youre on a freaking mission.") But aside from that, absolutely nothing happened this week. Because we could only have lessons when we had members that could drive us, we had one lesson this week, where Marcia and Anderessa said that they werent ready for baptism yet because they wanted to learn more, although they fully believe in the message of the restoration, so they will eventually be baptized, or so I have faith. Aside from this, Ive spent most of my time studying, sleeping, and writing (many of you should expect letters this week.)

This is literally my entire week. Im going to the doctor tomorrow to see if my ankle is better (I hope so!) and then Ill be back on the streets, preaching and trying to pick up our lost ground with our investigators.

So Ill spend the rest of my time emailing individuals! Thanks for all the support everybody! Love you all!

Elder Youd

Monday, October 21, 2013

Week 10: "He's been to Disney." "AAHHH!!!"

The subject this week is referring to when ECG and I were walking down the street, and we started talking to some little kids. As per usual, they were kinda laughing at my accent and pronunciation of my words, until ECG said that I've been to disneyworld. Then, without hesitation, they all started freaking out like crazy and asking me questions about Disney. I officially know how to impress little kids here. Win for the week.

Oi everybody!

This has literally been among the 10 strangest weeks in my life. So many up and down moments, and so I don't really know how I'm feeling. Here are the main points:

We got 4 baptism commitments in 3 days.

But we lost Jessica, our other baptism commitment.

But then we got 1 more!

But she's crazy.

But I'm feeling good!

But then Andre fell as well, and I've been teaching him since day 1.

And then I broke my ankle.

Why yes, this has been quite the week. The 4 baptism commitments come from a family and one other person. The family is absolutely amazing. We found the mom, Marcia, and her daughter Anderessa on the street. And they have one other girl, Amanda. And all of them committed to baptism! Unfortunately, Anderessa wasn't able to attend church this week, so we might have a problem with that, but we still have hope. Our other date is Shelder, who has interest and a desire to be baptised. We just need to get him to church first, so we'll see what happens there.

And then we lost Jessica and Andre, both saying that they were going in other directions. But I don't feel like talking about them.

And yes, I broke my ankle this week. I was walking down a hill, and I tripped. My ankle hurt, but not terribly. So we went back to the house, and called Sister Martins. She said for us to go to the hospital regardless, which was probably a good idea, because my ankle is actually a little bit broken! So next week won't be too exciting, since I can only go to teach when we have a car. Luckily, I'll only have this cast on for 10 days, so don't worry about me.

Sorry I don't have any pictures or audio this week. I'm at the mission office right now to talk about my ankle, and we have some sort of meeting tomorrow, so I didn't bring my camera or recorder with me. But rest assured, this week I will be writing to many people (To whom I have addresses). And now, since I don't know if I have a full hour of writing or not, I'll respond to individual emails (including probably calming my mother quite a lot.)

Obrigado! Boa semana!
Elder youd

Monday, October 14, 2013

In Front of the Chapel

Chapel in First Area

Elder Youd & Elder Casagrande

Hitting the Streets!

Update #8: "The cat of the apocalypse"

Oi amigos e família!

I am quite surprised at how quickly this week has gone by. I think that I've passed the time of getting used to missionary life, and now I'm gonna go go go, until before I know it, I'm home, have a smoking hot wife, a steady income, and I can spend my days cuddling with the aforementioned smoking hot wife and watch movies all day. That is my motivation for everything that I do.

This week was a little bit more difficult, dealing with investigators. We met with Jessica on Monday, and she said that she received an awesome confirmation of truth, and afterwards, another guy from another religion talked to her about how he's looking for things...and then he listed things that he wanted, and they were exactly in our church! She didn't know his name so we didn't get a reference, but she saw this as a sign! However, since then, we haven't been able to meet up with her, because she's so busy, so we can't even teach her commandments yet. And she didn't come to church, so we're gonna have to change her baptism date. Luciana (the pizzeria lady) said that her boss won't let her meet with us at the pizzeria, so we have to wait until this sunday to talk to her again. Claudine read stuff about us on the Internet, so she's out, but her son Andre still has interest. But now, anytime we go to their house, she tries to "A-ha!" us. Luckily, this is our jobs, and so we're usually well prepared. Tip to people who want to trump missionaries: don't try. We literally are preaching the gospel as a full time job. You're not going to stump us on a question permanently. Maybe for a few days, but we'll find an answer. And if not, the Book of Mormon is true.

But we did find one really good investigator this week. We had a street contact named Julio, who gave us an address. We tried the address, but nobody was home, so we figured that he gave us a fake address. However, last Monday, he passed us on the street, and asked us when we were going to visit him. We were shocked, and decided to visit him the next day. When we got to the address (his place of work) we met João (Portuguese for "John"), his boss. We realized partway through the lesson that Julio isn't fully mentally aware, but Joao has a TON of interest in our church, especially in feeling the Holy Ghost. So pray for Joao and Julio, as well as our other investigators!

We've had a couple people drop us this week, and we've had a couple days that were rough. We have one investigator, Aline, that wanted to be baptized, but not anymore because she's convinced that quitting smoking and coffee is physically impossible. But we have hope that this week will be a great week!

By the way, I've grown a new love for writing letters in my free time (mornings, nights, and when Elder Casagrande is getting ready.) So send me your address, and I'll send you a letter, handwritten!

Alright, thank you all for your support! You have no idea how much I appreciate it! Continue praying for me and our investigators, and I'll keep on working hard! Ate mais!

Elder Youd

Brazilian FFOTW: October 12 is Dia dos Criancas, or "Kids day". Kind of like Mother's Day or Father's Day, Dia dos Criancas celebrates commericalizing toys to give to punk kids...also, children, and the beauty they bring to the Earth. That was our worst day with this week, because nobody was home. So I'm a little bitter towards punk little kids. Grr..

Friday, October 11, 2013

Update #7: "Yard? Yoood? Muito dificil!"

Hello everybody!

This week has been another great week here in Vila Medeiros! We have been working diligently, and we're starting to see the fruits of our labors!!

Firstly, most exciting news: I got my first baptism commitment! On Tuesday, we were about to go visit an investigator that's about to drop us because he doesn't want to commit to change, even though he told us that he received an answer about the Book of Mormon. On the way, we saw a woman sitting on the porch. We thought we'd try and talk to her. She told us, "Who are you representing? I've seen people that look like you and I've always been curious, but they've never talked to me before." So we talked to her for about an hour, and now Jessica is planning on getting baptized on October 19! We still have work to do with her (She smokes and might live with her boyfriend?) but she has great faith, and we are very very excited for her.

We technically had another baptismal date marked, but that's not gonna happen with Ramiro. Ramiro is Bolivian, and for some reason, Bolivians and Paraguayans here have to work a lot more for less pay. But, he also doesn't speak very good Portuguese, so we're trying to teach him in Spanish. Last week, he told us that he believed in our message, and committed to a date; however, we then started talking to him about commandments, and guess who isn't legally married? Him! And he said that it'd take him a year to get married through Bolivia, which brings up other questions. So we'll see what happens.

We also have about 3 or 4 other investigators that could commit to baptism this week. Firstly, Andre. This week, he and his mother Claudine accepted a second lesson, which is usually our maximum before they drop us. But, then we visited him on Friday. We weren't able to go in because they had a visitor sleeping in their living room, but Andre found the Restoration movie on Youtube, and is "muito curioso". His preacher said not to talk to us anymore, but he's too interested to stop. We also have Luciana, who works and learns from us at the Pizzeria (double win, because I can teach and eat amazing pizza), and Bruna, the 17 year old that has a ton of faith, and is the only one in her family that can read a lot. So this week, as said in conference, pray for Jessica, Ramiro, Andre, Claudine, Luciana, and Bruna!! They are our main focuses. I'd really appreciate it!

Also, last week I realized I didn't talk about my mission president. Pres Martins is super duper strict, but absolutely amazing. He was the first black missionary ever, and I'm guessing he'll be the first black apostle. His rules are hard (for example, we aren't allowed to do sports or cultural activities on P-Day, only prepping and writing), but he is a genius. A true genius.

I got to see most of conference, except priesthood session and the first hour of the first session (refer to my voice clip for thoughts on it.)

This is hard, hard work, and I'd be lying if I said that I wasn't exhausted all the time from doing constant 16-hour days. But as of now, it's absolutely amazing, if nothing else, to see the successes of the 5 people after the failure of teaching the 95. 

Alright, I'm gonna attach a voice clipping (which I'll do every week, so that you can all hear my lovely voice), and then respond to these individual emails! Thank you all so much for your support. You have no idea how much it means to me!! Tchau!

Much love,
Elder Youd

Monday, September 30, 2013

Michael's New Address

Michael said that the best place to send letters or packages now that he is in the field is still the Mission Home and they will forward them to him.  That address is:

Elder Michael Bryan Youd
Brazil São Paulo North Mission
Rua Dr. Rui Batista Pereira, 165
Jardim Caxingui
05517-080 São Paulo - SP

Elder Youd & Elder Casagrande

My New Area - Vila Medeiros

Missionaries with President Martins at the mission home

Elder Youd with President & Sister Martins

Apparently I have some angels on my email list

Oi Todos pessoas!!

I am writing this email from my first area in my mission! And in an internet cafe!! The name of this area is Vila Medeiros, in the Jacana stake (which is the first stake ever formed in Brazil.) The area itself is very very beautiful, but there's one problem: it was formed on a BUNCH of hills. Seriously, so many hills. I don't mind walking 8 miles every day, but the hills are many, many, many. By the end of my 3rd day, my legs were ready to fall of. Not cripple up and die, but completely fall off, without me feeling a thing. But now, my legs are getting stronger, and I'm starting to be able to handle it. Also, please forgive my spelling errors. Because this is a Brazilian computer, it is saying that every English word is wrong, so if I actually misspell anything, I won't know.

My companion is Elder Casagrande. He's from the southern part of Brazil (which he describes as the Texas of Brazil, being incredibly proud people and probably wanting to sucede from the other parts of brazil.) He speaks English fairly well (he learned from videogames and music when he was younger), and he's a convert from Catholicism. He is an incredibly awesome trainer, and has patience with the fact that my Portuguese is horrible.

The members here are great. All of them are very kind and patient with the fact that I'm probably making little to no sense. Although, on Sunday I gave my testimony/introduction during sacrament meeting (Not Fast Sunday), and they said that they understood everything I said, so that's cool. The members we have are fairly active in the Church. Also, the chapel is beautiful. The building was an old Mansion, and they restored it to look amazing.Also, all of the people are super funny and LOVE to talk. On Sunday, we had lunch with a couple. What was supposed to be a one hour lunch ended up being 3 hours because we could not get out of there. They just kept on talking! 

The work here is fairly okay. We've had a couple really good days, and a couple really bad days. In particular, Friday was horrible, and Saturday was amazing. Friday, we ended up having no lessons, and only getting a couple contacts. But on saturday, we got 4 contacts and 6 lessons in. As of right now, we have about 7 or 8 investigators, with another 10 people or so that we need to visit for the first time. When we're not doing these lessons, we're either street contacting or looking up people in our area book that expressed interest in the past, but since then have backed down. But on the bright side, our investigators are really doing well. We have one person, Ramiro (A Bolivian, read more on the next paragraph), that commited to baptism once he prays to know that it's true! So we don't have a date with him yet, but he's progressing greatly. 

Also, I'm about 50% sure that I'm going to be trilingual by the time I get back. 3 of our investigators only speak Spanish, so ECG (Elder Casagrande) and I are using what little Spanish we know and mostly just pronouncing Portuguese words differently. Surprisingly enough, it actually works. Probably because he knows less Portuguese than me.

Street contacting has its ups and downs. When we get people, it feels nice, but a lot of people use the exact same excuse, becuase they're too kind to say that they're not interested: "I have to work a lot. Like, every moment." So people, if you want to tell missionaries that you're not interested, be either honest or original. Because that excuse is not an original one.

ALright, I'm gonna try and add my voice recording and some pictures on another email! Have a great week everybody! Write to me!!

Elder Youd

Friday, September 20, 2013

Update #5: 38 Flights of stairs later...

Oi! Hoje is sexta-feira, e eu estou muito feliz! Vida é legal!
I hope that everybody is having a great week! As per usual, my week here (My last until the field!!!) was super quick, and fairly unmemborable. Although I have loved my time training, I am absolutely ready to be out in the field. 16 hour days that only involve studying the language or Portuguese get to you pretty quickly. I'm ready to get out there and start preaching the good word. I've finally met some Brazilians that are going to Sao Paulo North, and they're super legit. A couple of them even speak English, so I wouldn't mind having them as companions down the road (after I get this language down.)
My language study is going well. The main problem I'm having right now is that I can't roll my Rs, which isn't too much of a problem now, but down the road it'll likely be embarrassing and be the ultimate sign of being an American. That, and the fact that my last name is super hard for Brazilians to say. Brazilians don't really have that many words that have "y"s in them, and most of them are based on foreign words (for instance, Youtube, pronounced "Youtub-ee"). But it'll come. It was just awkward when I tried really hard, and my result was having a lot of spit come out of my mouth in a very short period of time. It was embarrassing.
So this'll be my last email until I get into the field. I don't know if I'll be able to email on Tuesday/Wednesday when I arrive at my mission home, but if I don't, my P-days will start being on Mondays, almost always for the next two years. So you can start writing me on Sundays. Sundays are nice times to write, and I'd appreciate it. If you send me a letter, send it to my mission home address (Mom, could you put that address on my blog? Thanks! :D) But yeah. I like letters. They make me feel special. It's cold and lonely here in South America, so a metaphorical hug in the form of a letter would be lovely. And a metaphorical e-hug in the form of an email would be also lovely.
Referring to the subject of this email: Elder Burton and I started to realize that we climb A LOT of stairs every day. So we decided to count how many floors we go up or down in just one day. The day we counted, it was 38 floors up and down stairs. To people that say that you can't exercise while learning all day, I say: tell me that after going up and down 38 flights of stairs (And yes, that would translate to 19 floors up and 19 floors down. I think. My math skills are a bit rusty since focusing all on preaching the word of God in a different language.)
I'll have a lot more detail to give you on my next email, when I'm outside of this building that confines me almost every moment. It'll be a lot more exciting starting next week.
On to responses! If I have time, I'll write a follow up email! Tchau! Have a great week!
Elder Youd
Portuguese fun fact of the week: The word for "Turn signal" (like on cars) is pisca-pisca, which literally translates to "wink-wink." So if you want your driving experience to be more adorable, be sure to always turn on your wink-wink. Yes, this is real.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Nothing like a free cookie at the CTM!

Update #4: "What did the frog say to Bob Marley? Reggae."

Oi! (The joke from the title was something that my Brazilian posse told me. They all thought that it was the funniest joke have to make "reggae" sound like a ribbit.)
This email is going to be short this week, for two reasons: 1) I'm behind on responding to personal emails (a wonderful problem to have, thank you all so much!), and 2) because this week has literally been a blur of monotonous activity. Despite living thousands of miles away from home, I tend to forget that, outside these cold walls, are people who exist. The CTM has finally reached the point of "I just want to be in the field." Our teachers don't really know what to do with us, so they mostly just go over small gramatical stuff. I feel like I'm just waiting to jump into the transfer cycle at this point, so I twiddle my thumbs, learn a few words, memorize some scriptures, and wait for the next P-day, so I can talk to all of you good people.
Btw, there are a few email addresses that don't work on this list, so if you're reading this on my blog and want to be on my list, please email me again with your address. I might be able to fix it, but most likely it'll have to wait until I'm in the field and I'm not doing sprint-typing.
There have been some interesting things happen this week. Our Brazilian roommtes left on Tuesday, but we got another group come in on Wednesday night. As for now, we haven't connected with them yet, but that's just because they're in the "I'm in a daze because I just started my mission" mood. It'll come. Also, on the bright side of things, we got cereal for breakfast. For two. Days. It was a wonderful feeling. Most breakfasts, we have this warm oatmeal type milky substance that we put fruit in (It's yummier than it sounds), and a panini-style breakfast sandwich that we make ourselves from rolls, pieces of ham, and cheeses. But cereal...well, cereal is good. Also, once a week we have pizza night. The best kind of pizza is this chocolate banana pizza with some cinnamnon. I don't know the Brazilian name, but it's quite wonderful.
This is pretty much my entire week. It's been a mundane week where days came and went like the Rick Astley and harlem shake phases. (I have a feeling that these references are really old already.) Also, word got to us that the US might be going to war with Syria, and there's some scandal? If any of you write me, you should give me some news updates. I feel like I know nothing now. I love being a missionary, but at times like that, I remember that the world is still going. Also, I got my first taste of "I miss music" last night, when some car outside our window started blasting Run-DMZs version of "Walk This Way" and I got kinda excited. But alas, I'm good.

Alright, I'm gonna do some personal emails! I love you all!!
Elder Youd
Brazil/Portuguese fun fact of the week (I'm gonna start doing thsese): Weekdays in Portuguese are super cool. Literally translated, the days of the week are, starting on Sunday: "Sunday, 2nd day, 3rd day, 4th day, 5th day, 6th day, and Saturday." So today is sexta-feira.