Thursday, April 18, 2013

Hello USA!

April 15, 2013

Hello USA,

This week was a race.  It seems like all we did was run around with our heads cut off.  Our area is split into two towns, Aguas Compridas and Alto da Conquista.  Agaus is where we live but Alto is where we have to walk up a huge hill to get there. My calves still aren't used to it. We always have to go up and down all day to get to different appointments and when we get home at night we're just dead.  It seems like it was hotter than normal this week and this hills were steeper, haha.  We received a few references from members this week so that kept us busy.  The family that we baptized last month is already pumping out the references.  They have distant family that haven't had the chance to receive the restored gospel yet so we are going to bring it to them.  Gosh, it's so freaking hot in here.  I'm in a place called a lan house where you pay for time to use the computers and there is no air conditioning and no fans. And there are kids playing video games and yelling so I can't concentrate on what I'm typing!!

We got a reference from Fabiana this week, her sister in law.  We've already seen her a lot because she lives way close to Fabiana.  We taught her the first lesson and she didn't have any objections or anything so that was cool.  I'm beginning to start the lessons now and not just rely on my companion to start.  I'm pretty comfortable with the language now.  My companion said I'm fluent.  That really surprised me because I definitely don't feel fluent. He said you never really feel fluent so I just accepted it and I guess now I'm fluent, haha.

We've been talking to Kelly with her boyfriend these past couple of weeks. We baptized Kelly like a month ago. Her boyfriend is the hardest headed person I've ever met. First he says he's going to go to church because he receives an answer from God in a dream saying that he should, but then he doesn't act on it because he didn't feel like it.  It's too bad.  Missions are full of difficulties and disappointments.

It seems like we have so many people that could be baptized right now if they just go married and stopped living with each other.  It's a really normal thing here to just have a family without being married.  When you talk about getting the parents married, they think it's a load of besteira and they're too lazy to do it.  We just have to tell them it's a commandment from God and they look at it in a completely different way.  It's just frustrating when marriage and the law of chastity is in the way of baptism.

We did have some miracles this week despite a lot of frustrating things happening, like having a full day where nobody was home and nobody wanted to hear anything from us.  The whole last half of this week, we were chasing this baptism. We needed a miracle baptism to happen this week because none of our investigators have been to church, which is required for baptism. His name was Gulherme and he is nine years old. We found out that the previous Elders in this area tried to baptize him like 4 times.  He must be a really special person for diabo to work that hard against his baptism. They always had the OK from his mom and the date marked but he always got away somehow.  His baptism was on Sunday and we were relying on his member friends to bring him to church so that was stressful. We also tried like three days in a row to get the mom's signature but she was never home.  We got it at the last minute. We also still needed him to get interviewed because the baptism was so last minute so we had to get the District Leader here super fast.  All the while we still had to go get an investigator and bring him to church, which we had been trying to do with this particular person for at least a month but it always fell through. Elder Moore and I were super stressed and needed help! So we split up. He went to the Bishop's office and I went to the chapel to talk to the kid and fill out his baptismal form and to make sure he didn't run away. The kid had the worst ADD I've ever seen and he was bouncing off the walls. I literally had to hold him so I could get his information.  He didn't know his birthday and his name was like 10 names long.  During all this we told our ward mission leader to go get our investigator, Davi and bring him to church. Thank goodness he knew where to go.

So here comes the resolution. The district leader got here and we baptized the kid after church. Our investigator, Davi got here and he loved church and said he could feel peace. He's like 40 so there's some potential priesthood right there. The only thing that went wrong is the Bishop was busy so we couldn't confirm Gilherme that day. Oh, and Davi couldn't stay for the baptism.

Wow.  Being a missionary is hard work and mentally and physically draining but there's always something that happens that makes the work worth it. Baptism! Woo!  Another thing that makes it worth it is the members. They always have our backs and have some food to give us if we're super drained.  I know all the houses that give us food no matter what so when we're hungry and we don't have food we just go to one of those houses, Ha.  I guess were kind of freeloaders but we're also missionaries so that's OK.

All in all this was a pretty stressful week with no time to really think.  I guess I've finally hit the missionary wall that everyone talks about.  I'm grateful to be challenged because the Lord gives us these challenges so that we can grow.  I know this is the Lord's work.  He can't do it without us and we can't do it without him.  It's a kind of circle of trust I guess. The more I teach people, the more I realize that we really do have the true gospel of Jesus Christ and we're really lucky to be members.  If you look at the statistics of the people in the world and the number of members, it makes you think how lucky we really are to be members of the church.  Everyone will be a member eventually but for now there are very few to spread the gospel compared to the number of people on the earth.  There's tons of work to do!  Help the missionaries wherever you are. Give references, open your mouths!  The missionaries will be very grateful for the help and so will the Lord.

Love you all, hope you have a great week and that everything with the wedding goes smoothly.

Elder Carroll

PS Loved the emails from everyone. Sorry I can't respond to every single person because of lack of time but I love hearing from everyone! Keep 'em  coming!

Friday, April 12, 2013

A Busy Week

 April 8, 2013

Hello everyone,
Well this week was a little different because of my new companion and everything. It was a bitter sweet thing to get an American companion because we have a lot in common and we joke around and stuff but I don't think my Portuguese is going to  improve as fast as it has been in the last few months. At transfers I got to see my companion from the CTM, Elder Kennedy. It was hilarious. We just started spouting out all the inside jokes we had. This past week we were told we could email friends. Everyone flipped out. So I guess I need some emails! 
The first day that my new companion was here we just went around and met everyone, all the recent converts and investigators. It was funny. Everyone started comparing us because we're both blonde and American. They kept saying that his Portuguese is way better than mine. That's one thing I've learned about the people here. They have no shame when it comes to telling someone the truth about themselves. Like last week I had a big ol pimple on my cheek. And you'd better believe that I heard about it from everyone. At first it was awkward but then I got used to it, the people are so different here!

We got to go to the temple this week with our zone. It was cool. We took the bus to Recife and had to walk like a mile to get there. On the way we went to this market that was bigger than any Walmart I've ever seen. They had everything! Except for peanut butter. It's impossible to get here. I was disappointed.  We went to Subway there for lunch and it was just too good. A little taste of home. Then we went to the temple and did everything there. The session was in Portuguese. It was a little harder to understand for me because it was in the formal dialect with different conjugations. After the temple we went to Burger King. Apparently it's tradition to go there after the temple. The Brazilians go crazy over it but the Americans all want to eat somewhere else. We got a cab from there. It was kinda expensive but twice as fast as the bus. The drivers are crazy so it was interesting. Lanes don't really exist.

We didn't really teach that much because of conference and the temple and everything else but we met some new people. Henrique brought us to some of his friends and we taught them. They're all like 12 so they were intimidated by us and wouldn't talk so we just started playing dominos to break the ice a bit. We also taught Henrique's mom's boyfriend. He is from the Assembly. All people from there like to Bible bash, so you know what happened. My companion bashed while I sat there. Then I talked after it was over and toned it down a bit. His problem was with the authoritity that we have and that anyone can have authority if they're a good person. Kelly(Henrique's mom) just wants him to be a member so they can have a happy family. They want to get married so that they can live together. We challenged him to pray about the church while we were there. He prayed but not about the church. He's stubborn but, he prayed that night and had a dream that he and his wife were going to church together. Our church. We haven't talked to him about it yet but Kelly said he's still thinking about it. What more of an answer does he need that this church is true! I'll write about it when we figure it out/ set his baptismal date.

Before conference started on Saturday we had a baptism. It was a little different cause our font is broken. The kid's name was Armondo and we baptized him in an inflatable pool at a member's house. It was a really cool experience. Very intimate. It was just the Bishop, us and the kid's dad. I think baptisms are the best meetings that a non member can go to. The kid's dad was a nonmember and he was talking to Armondo like he knew what he was doing was right and that he really would be accepted into the kingdom of God by being baptized in this way.  Maybe we'll baptize his dad soon!

Conference was the big thing of this weekend of course. It was exciting to get some more material from all the speakers!  We had the opportunity to watch all the sessions. We can't watch conference in the chapel here so we have to go to the stake center in Rio Doce. It's an hour by bus. We tried to go to priesthood session but we took the wrong bus and missed it. But ,we got to see another part of a city.  We'll just watch it later today on the church computer. When we finally got there later,my companion and I went to the English room with the rest of the American Elders.  It was fun.  I really got a lot out of conference.  I think we heard the stone cut without hands quote about 12 times.  They're really pushing missionary work now!  It's awesome!  This new surge of missionaries is going to baptize the whole world. Really the only thing we're waiting for in order for Christ to come is for the gospel to be spread to all the tribes of Israel and it's our duty to spread it, as members and missionaries.

Well I love you all. Hope you got a lot out of conference like I did. We are so blessed to be able to hear the word of the prophet from so many miles away to guide us and our families.

Elder Dallin Stephen Carroll

When Dallin's Dad was on his mission he said they used to take pictures with the drunks that were passed out on the street or on park benches.  Here's Dallin's first drunk picture.

Dallin said in order not to have to pay bus fare, some of the kids just hang on the outside of the bus while it's going and ride for free!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Hello World!

April 1, 2013

Hello world,

This week was full of awesome stuff.  We had 5 baptisms this week so that's awesome, one being Dagina and the other 4 are members of that family we've been teaching. There are still more people in the family that we will try to teach but it will be more difficult.  
Monday was Pday of course. The activity of the day was to wrestle in the church with the young men. It was the funnest thing ever. We even put a bracket up on the board.  There were three Elders and myself and then 6 of the young men. I ended up wrestling one kid and I beat him and then I wrestled my companion and beat him so I made it to the Championship with a guy who had already trained MMA or something like that.  I was just relying on strength and size because I was bigger than him, but he knew some moves!  It took a longgg time but he finally got me in an arm bar.  I was so mad.  I think the best thing we got out of this was that  one of our investigators was with us, Henrique, and he really bonded with the guys. We got videos and everything so ya'll will see it in a little less than 2 years, haha.

Tuesday we had Zone conference. It was awesome. I thought I was going see my companion from the MTC but I didn't.  I was a little disappointed but there were a few good talks and our District Leader, Elder Abramson played an awesome piano solo of Abide With Me Tis Eventide combined with the other Abide with Me hymn.  He arranged it himself, it was so good I almost cried. The power in music never ceases to amaze me. The A.P.s prepared a presentation that really got everyone motivated. They provided lunch there and there was more food and variety than anyone could even handle.  It was awesome.  I almost died of fullness!

Wednesday we baptized Dagina. It was cool because she didn't want anyone to know, so the ceremony was more intimate. Just family, the elders, and the rep from the Bishopric. It was very spiritual and everyone couldn't stop smiling.

Thursday we worked. This whole week we've just been trying to get signatures from parents to give permission to baptize their kids.  We did that and we taught a few lessons along the way.  I can't remember if I already wrote about the kid that just wanted to be baptized but we taught him and got the signature from his mom. We will teach her too.

Friday we did interviews for the baptisms and got more signatures. And taught.

Saturday we went to the temple and we baptized 4 people in one day. The temple here is amazing. It's huge and the inside is beautiful. It sits in the middle of the city so it kind of just stands out like a beacon.

This family of baptisms just never ends but it's awesome. They really love us and have found friendship in the church. It was a really exciting day for the whole family, Henrique, Andreza, Alessandra, and Cristiane. Afterward we had cake and we won more pizza from the zone leaders.

Sunday was cool. We went to church like normal but my companion, Elder Barbosa spoke in sacrament.  It was a really good talk and of course, he talked about missionary work.  He wanted to visit everyone after church because it was his last day in the field. So, we visited evvverrryyyonnnee. And since it was Easter we got way too much chocolate from the people we visited. I feel so unhealthy it's not even funny but, I guess the mission is the place to eat whatever you want right?

So Here comes the news about he transfer.........I'm not training but, the President already said that I will definitely train next transfer.  I wanted to train because I felt like it would help me become more responsible but at the same time, now that I think about it, I wasn't quite ready.  My new companion is American, Elder Moore from Arizona.  He's cool. This is his last transfer. Hopefully he's not wanting to just give up on the rules like Barbosa did, haha. He was already a secretary in the office and everyone is telling me that he's awesome and speaks really well so that will help me with Portuguese.  I just have to refrain from speaking in English with him!  I bought, Diary of a Wimpy Kid in Portuguese to help me learn.  It's really helping with dialect and conjugations.

Awesome. Well, the time just seems to fly by.  The weeks feel like days and I'm learning so much every day that I can't even keep track of it.  It's just all piling up and is becoming part of me. Gospel principals, Portuguese, culture.... everything!  I'm really glad to be here. We watched a video in zone conference about how we as missionaries are as Christ was when people rejected him. It hit me really hard.  We're here to help him in his work to bring souls back.  Even when people reject us we have to keep trying.  It was from a talk by Elder Holland.  He said that salvation was never easy so why would missionary work be easy?  Hit me really hard.

Well family. Glad everything is going well. Glad to hear the wedding is coming along and that everyone is ficando firme! (google translate)

Love you all!

Elder Dallin Stephen Carroll