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!