Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Smiling like a Boss!

 This must be Dallin's apartment or one of their church member's apartments.
           Dallin is standing here with his new companion, Elder Barbosa.
 This is an old picture of when he first arrived in Recife.  He is with his American companion from his MTC experience.  He was with this guy in the Provo MTC as well as the Sao Paulo MTC.


 Dallin and his first companion.

 Dallin's little 12 year old buddy!
Random puppy picture

A Pretty Solid Week

February 25, 2013

This week was pretty sweet. As you know I got a new companion which was definitely a good thing. He talks A LOT, almost too much at times but, I'm learning that this is a good thing because it forces me to talk back in Portuguese.  When a new missionary arrives in the area, we have this guy in the ward, we call him Painho, who always plays a joke on them. He did it to me when I first arrived.  When a new elder arrives, the Bishop (the leader of the congregation) comes and meets him and tells him about this family in the area who has been going to church for 6 months, the ward loves them, they believe in church is true but they just won't get baptized. So my companion gets really excited and says well let's go teach them! They always serve dinner to the elders the night the new one arrives so that night we went over and sat down in their house and started talking. There's a dad, mom and a daughter.  They invite my companion, Barbosa to share a message.  He shares a brief message in the Book of Mormon and thinks he's off the hook but the dad, Painho starts slamming him with these super hard questions.  My companion answers them with flying colors but I could tell he was really stressed out..hahahha and then Painho goes into the other room and pulls out a photo of a him and his family standing in front of the temple after their sealing.  My companion's face was awesome when he realized what happened. We all laughed so hard. Just think of them doing this to me my first week when I knew nothing of Portuguese...I about cried!  l hahaha funny stuff.
I can tell that just this week my Portuguse has improved a lot.  I've also learned that my language skills go down when the sun goes down.  I can't even help it.  I think my brain fries itself from thinking in 2 languages all day.  I need to stop thinking in English.  I was talking with my roommate and the Elder who trained him was an American and he said he spoke like a Brazilian.  I want that!  He said the best thing that he did was to just stop thinking and let it flow.  So that's my goal this week because I feel like I think way too much and I need to just let it flow.  Also, I'm learning that Brazilians are really touchy, feely kind of people. It's weird because I'm kind of not. Even my roommates are all touchy, feely.  I literally have to push them off and yell at them sometimes.  They're all sweaty and what not.  Another cultural thing I learned yesterday is you don't joke about people's moms. I learned this the hard way with one of my roommates Elder Soaza. He got super offended. Elder Bordes told me that if you insult someone's mom on the street they will get physical and try to fight you so I won't be doing that again. Oh, and nobody can say Carroll or Dallin.
On Saturday we had two baptisms, Mariana and Fabiana. I baptized both of them. It was awesome and The Spirit was super strong. I could tell that they were really happy afterwards and really felt welcome into the ward (congregation). I was pretty worried that I was gonna mess up the prayer but I said it perfectly in Portuguese twice. Their whole family came and I think it was a really good missionary experience for them. The ward here is awesome and the people are so welcoming and loving and make you feel like part of the family.  For the baptism I made a ton of cookies, the chocolate chip ones.  I made them with crystallized brown raw sugar instead of just brown sugar so they were a little different but still way good.  All of the women in the ward flipped out and wanted the recipe so now I have to translate it and give it to them.  I really feel like I'm getting closer to the members now that my Portuguese is semi-decent.  It's really hard to have a conversation with a lot of people though, because they yell and talk really fast.  It's kind of like Carroll family gatherings!  The kids of the ward are awesome. They'll just come up and give me a hug out of nowhere.  There's this one kid names Emanuel who is the only member of the church in his family who gets so excited when he sees me. He's 12 years old and he always yells "my brother!!!" in English.  We always talk about WWE wrestling and Ray Mysterio is his favorite. 
Elder Souza (one of my roommates) has become one of my best friends on the mission so far. We always have each other's backs when the other two elders are being fubecas (slackers) and just giving us grief because we're new.  We always have good conversations which really helps my Portuguese a lot. Whenever we go to the market to buy weird fruits he teaches me tons of useful words and doesn't flip when I ask him 100 times what something is.  Everyone thinks I'm weird for buying granola and healthy food but, whatever. I feel like I have to buy healthy stuff for the times I can actually choose what I eat because the members just serve us carbs. Fattening but very tasty.  I've gained some weight for sure.  My definition is going away no matter what I do in the morning to exercise.  It's quite sad but I'm thinking I'll just work out and run super hard when I get back and burn it off in about a month.
All in all this week was pretty solid. Presidente Lanius called this morning and wants me and Elder Barbosa to go to the mission office. We don't know why! Borbosa is on his last transfer so we were joking that he is gonna leave the mission but probably not.  He's so trunky (wants to leave) it's not even funny. I just have to ignore everything he says about leaving because it gets into my head!  I know I'm here to save souls, including mine so I'm really glad to be here even though its hard.
Love you and pray for you every day.
Elder Dallin Stephen Carroll

Cookies and Volleyball

 Dallin sent a bunch of random pictures a couple of weeks ago.  I'm going to guess what they are based on things that he has said in his letters.  This guy either has to be his companion or one of the other two Elders that lives with him.
                         This looks like Dallin's homemade weights!  haha

                         Playing Volleyball at the church...look at that serve!

                          Notice the interesting hillside in the back of the church.
                       Our little white American boy sure stands out, doesn't he?
                                                    Another weird fruit
 Dallin's famous Chocolate Chip cookies.  He never made these at home ever, but now he's making them for everybody?  Kind of funny, Dallin!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Changes: A New Companion

February 18, 2013

This week was pretty crazy. There was lot of stuff going on. I had my first baptism of the mission on Saturday so that was exciting.  It's always awesome to watch people go into the waters of baptism. Her dad baptized her so that was special. There was tons of food there. I swear as missionaries we eat more food than anyone on the planet. I have definitely gained weight. According to the scale I used at a member's house (not sure if it was correct) I weigh about 165. I now have a thin layer of missionary fat glaze on me that I dont know what to do with. I promise I use the exercise time every day but it just isn't helping. Estou engordando!!  My roommate said a really funny thing to me this week and I just had to write it down to send home...so I always sing in the shower because that's what I do. When I got out of the shower one of my Brazilian roommates said, "You sing like a black woman...of the gospel!"  I just about died laughing because this elder knows barely any English but he figured out a way to say that.  I was impressed, haha!

I guess the big news of this week is that I got a new companion today!  The Mission President called last night at about 7 horas to tell my companion that he was going to be transferred. I knew it was coming because of my email I sent to the President. I went on a division with a zone leader this past week and while I was with him the president called him and wanted to speak to me. The Mission President doesn't just call you. He told me he got my email and that he was sorry for the way things have played with my fubeca companion and that there would be a change made. I was super happy to hear this. Little did I know that my companion also got a call from the President and he basically got burned. It made the rest of the week a little awkward but worth it since I have an awesome companion now. He's from Sao Paulo and ony has one month left but, is still super excited to work and to finish training me. He talks a lot and already is helping me bastante with Portuguese.  I can't wait. This puts some new responsibility on me becuase I have to remember where all of our investigators live, all the road names, what everyone needs and stuff like that. It's really hard for me to remember names here because they're all so different and hard to say. This week is going to be hard cause of that but we'll get through it.
While I was on division and the other Zone Leader was with my companion they challenged 2 of our investigators to be baptized and the investigators said they wanted to. So exciting!  They're the women we've been teaching for a while and have become pretty good friends with, Mariana and Luciana. Another thing I finally did while on division was to make contacts.  It's still a new and exciting thing for me because my companion never wanted to do it but, I feel like I did pretty well with the whole thing and understood a lot of what people were saying.  They seemed to understand me without problems either. I think my Portuguese is really improving.  There's always that one conversation per day that just makes me frustrated because I can't understand squat, usually during the lunches with the members.  People here just talk so dang fast!  The Brazilians who are not from Recife even say this. You can't even see their mouths moving, it's kind of just a blur.
Missionary transfers today were weird because I was the newest missionary there. It's not normal to be transferred within your first 12 weeks because you're in training but my training didn't quite work out so I guess I'm the exception.  All the elders I talked to were super surprised at my Portuguese for only being here for one month. I can't really tell if it's good or not because I still have to translate almost everything in my head before I say it instead of just thinking in Portuguese. I can't wait until I can do that.
I'm going to close this letter up. I'm really glad to be here. The members here are awesome and they're starting to like me more because I can talk more, haha.  This work is awesome and I've come to realize that the world is bigger than we think and there's more going on in other places than we think.  People on the street you pass by actually have lives and God cares about each and ever yone of them.  Wow, there are so many people in the world and they don't even know what they're missing if they don't have the gospel.  That's why this work is so important. Eternal families is what it's all about. I think the more time I spend here the more I realize that because I'm far away from my family. Well, Love ya'll and miss you. Hope everything is awesome in the U.S.
Elder Carroll

Monday, February 11, 2013

Doing great!

February 11, 2013


Another week has passed and it seems like it was about a span of 2 days. We had a lot going on this week. Primarily, I had a companion exchange with my district leader. He took the place of my companion.  Anyways, I really liked it.  It was really refreshing to work with a diferent guy.  He's way cool, from Sao Paulo and he likes to talk so that was good for my Portuguese. He said that my Portuguese was really good for only being in the field for 4 weeks.  That made me feel good.  We talked a lot on the bus.  I kind of surprised myself at how much portuguese I knew.  If i didn't know a word I would just write it down after he told me. His area was way nicer than mine.  I'm in the Vila and he's in the middle class apartment part.  It was way more quiet and chill, as there weren't many things going on.  It seems like in my area there's always someone with their trunk open every half mile with huge speakers blasting some brague(sp?). The main thing I learned from this companion exchange is that there really is a better way of doing things and having fun with your companion is possible! There was an American in his apartment when I stayed over who is on his last couple weeks before going home.  He was giving me some pretty sweet advice.  Anytime I had a question about Portuguese he knew everything.  It was sweet.  I've discovered that in Portuguese, you kind of have to find your way around what you want to say or mean, whereas in English, it's very expressive and there are like 12 words that mean one thing.  In Portuguese, there's one word that means one thing. My Portuguese is definitely improving though.  I can talk with my districh leader on the phone in Portuguese and he was reeeeeally surprised I could do that.  I guess all this studying is paying off! I can have actual conversations with people with the limitied vocabulary I have and they're surprised that I've only been in the field for 4 weeks. Other times it's like duhhhh.......... haha. I had a dream in Portuguese one time this week. I've been told that's a good thing.

This week in the culture of my area began Carnaval. One word to describe this event...Noise!   We live in an apartment with an open window with bars on it and pretty much all day we just here *doon ch doon ch doon ch*  It's soooo hard to study or to just be a missionary in general.  Nobody is home and everybody is drunk.  Our Mission President made it so we have to be in our residence at 5 every day until Thursday.  I dont even know what to do with myself!  I tried to study Portuguese but it was just too loud.  haha. A couple days ago I made cookies with the recipe mom sent me.  They were good just not mom good because all the ingredients are fairly different here.  All of the sugar is crystal, we had to make our own chocolate chips, and we used margarine instead of butter. But, my roommates loved me and rightfully so.  One time I was taking a shower and I was drying off and when I looked down, there was a huge roach on my leg. Needless to say I flipped out and kicked that thing off so fast.. uhhhh.

Our investigators for last week and the week before are progressing. They came to church again and they really liked it. They want to get baptized but said they need to know more about everything before they commit. It's pretty awesome. We've become really good friends with them and they really like the church. It is way different than any other church here. All the churches we walk by are always super loud and obnoxious. It's a huge contrast. It's amazing how someone can just accept a new concept like the gospel and acknowledge it as the truth without even studying it fully. That's the Holy Ghost!  People are totally different here during sacrement. They move around and talk to their friends in different pews.  They walk up to the stand and sit with the bishopric and then go back to the congregation.  I'm just sitting here like, uhhhh. haha. 

The people here are way laid back and definitely don't have any resemblance of rigid, strict american culture.  It's kind of awesome.  Everyone here calls me McCaully Caulkin, or however you spell that.  Even more so than people did in the U.S. I just can't escape it!

I was talking with my District leader and he said I will probably be transferred next we because I sent an email to the President saying it wasn't working out between my companion and me.  I'm totally fine with that!  I tried to make it work.  I set goals for us to follow all the rules, and for him and I to help each other out more, and he agreed, but he just didn't carry out the committment. Nothing really changed.  I'm ready for a change.  I like the members here though and it's going to be hard to leave them if I really am transferred. The kids are hilarious
Well!  That's all I've got for this week.  Hope all is going well with everything.  I'll keep Dylan in my prayers, sounds like he's having a hard time. I pray for the family all the time.  Love you all!
Elder Dallin Stephen Carroll

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Hello to All...

Monday February, 4, 2013

To whom it may concern...

 How’s it going in the US?  Everything is going just peachy here in Aguas Compridas (try Google mapping that). So, I’m just going to ramble on if that’s ok. I feel like that’s all I do in these things. Haha.  I’m definitely feeling more at home here than I was before.  I know where everything is and for the most part all the members know who I am.  It’s really hard to remember people’s names because when I ask them they just mumble it to me and assume I understood them. Even when I do understand them, it’s a name that’s really hard to remember, so naturally I know like 3 people’s names!  Yesterday was Fast and Testimony meeting.  My companion went up and bore his testimony and told me to bear mine. I didn’t. I’m a pansy, I know. I promised myself next time. I just don’t feel comfortable enough with my Portuguese to stand up in front of 100+ people and speak. I guess I really could have but, whatever. Things with the companion aren’t getting better or worse. I had a little talk with him and nothing has changed still. He’s just impatient. He even told me that he didn’t want to train an American. Gee, I couldn’t tell... haha.  I’m just going to have to wait him out. The only time I feel like I can get along with him is when I’m teaching him English so I try to spread some of that around the day to keep the peace.
Food.... So the Brazilians eat this stuff called doce (everything here is called doce that even has the hint of a taste of sugar). But anyways.... this doce is like jelly, except it’s super thick. The stuff is bomb. You have to cut it with a knife and you just eat it.  I’ve formulated the perfect breakfast here. It took me about a week to find everything but every morning I have a guava, oatmeal with bananas, 3 scrambled eggs, and protein. You know how I like good food. It’s probably going to make me fat but, whatever.  Also here, people eat sugar like it’s candy (haha). I swear, for each batch of suco someone makes, they poor like 2 cups of sugar in and a batch is like a liter. I tried this stuff called guarrana do amazona the other day. Guarrana powder with banana blended. Twas good!
This week we taught a 14 year old girl who is in a family of members but is not a member herself. We taught the first 2 lessons and she wants to be baptized. That was easy. Anytime she said she didn’t understand me I got so frustrated but I would have to just find another way to say what I wanted to say in Portuguese. My companion just takes over lessons. It’s pretty frustrating, sometimes I don’t even get the chance to say 2 words. I’ll just have to be more aggressive and talk to him about it. The families that I told y’all about last week are progressing. They just keep taking the lessons and agreeing. They’ve all been to church. They kind of love us. They think were pals even though they have to keep repeating themselves slowly when I don’t understand them haha.  The ward here has these huge Family Home Evenings every week. They are way fun and they always have tons of food. There’s never a shortage of food here, which is awesome but I’m perpetually full.  At lunch appointments, people ask my companion if I want something, We both get frustrated because I can understand what they’re saying and my companion knows that I can understand too.
I think my Portuguese is improving although it’s pretty hard to monitor something like that.  I can understand a lot more than the first week but I still definitely have those moments where I can’t understand squat. I always find myself forming sentences in my head even when I’m not talking or with anyone. I read a chapter of the Book of Mormon in Portuguese every morning and I try talking to my companion even though he doesn’t ever want to talk to me. I think at this point I’m mostly just learning through hearing and reading. I also made a goal to memorize 150 flashcards a week. I can’t wait until I start forgetting words in English. That’ll be the day... And of course I learn other words without even knowing I’m learning them. It really helps to not have people to speak English with, though I get really frustrated at times especially in the morning when I’m trying to get my roommates to do something or they’re trying to get me to do something.  I just walk away sometimes. haha. I think they think I’m an idiot.
I’m pretty much the maid of the house. I wash everyone’s dishes, sweep, clean up messes, make food... etc. It’s nice! The culture here is something different every day. The other day we were on the bus and this guy with one leg hops on. He starts yelling something to everyone on the bus like he was giving a lecture and then starts handing out candy and accepting money. What the heck!  During the same ride there was a guy that did the same thing but didn’t sell anything. He just collected money and said “Bom Trabalho. haha. You gotta love it.

 The people are super nice here. They hear our message and really never have anything negative to say about it. They always bring up the fact that I’m really white and that I probably have some German blood in me. As a matter of fact, I do. But as I walk around this city and see all the poverty and humility, I realize that this gospel is huge. It’s a big deal. It brings people together like nothing else can, and people receive help through it. I think we take it for granted sometimes what we have. Sometimes I think about how all the apostles are in Salt Lake and when I was in school; I could see one on pretty much on a monthly basis. Whereas here, they are thousands of miles away! Just don’t take things for granted! People here would give their right arm to go to Salt Lake and view a session of conference. I’ve been reading Jesus the Christ. I’m like a quarter ways through it. I don’t know if this is irreverent to say but Jesus was awesome in His earthly ministry!  His parables and lessons are always perfect and usually allude to something that will happen or has happened in the past. I know He’s our Savior and that He lives! His gospel is the only way.
I hope everything is going well in Georgia. That’s crazy about the Superbowl and the lights. I don’t really care who won but, you know. Love you all and pray for the family every day!

Elder Dallin Stephen Carroll