Sunday, June 23, 2013

Week of the Fever

 June 17, 2013 
So this week was tough. 
Pday/Monday we went to the mall to get me a watch since my Gshock broke and Elder Amaral wanted to get some things too. We went to the mall closest to the temple. The temple is literally right across the street from the mall so it was cool to walk to the top floor of the mall and see the temple from there. It just seems to shine in comparison to everything around it. It really is the House of the Lord. We saw that they were doing some maintainence on the roof too. It's always cool to see what happens behind the scenes. We ate Subway at the mall to get a little taste of home and then we left. We got on the bus and went. A half hour through the trip I realized that we passed our stop and that we were in the middle of nowhere. Whoops. This bus was driving in mud and huge lake puddles since it has been raining so much here. At one point the bottom of the bus hit the ground and I thought we were stuck. But these Mercedes buses are tanks! I swear there were like 100 people on this bus and everyone was stressed out. I hate stress. We reached this terminal and got back home by asking our way around. On the mission we learn things.

Tuesday we woke up, had district meeting and walked a super long way for lunch. Then we had to study for 4 hours when we got back because my companion is green and the President makes us. By the end of the study you lose all excitement cause it's dark and at night everyone is eating dinner.  So we made a visit with Maria and Kelly to see how the marriage is going with Maria and to encourage Kelly to get her family to church. 

Wednesday all we did was try to chase down all the references we got at the ward conference. It rained all day and we had zero success. We went to all the houses, called the numbers, and nobody was home or everyone was busy. There were even some names on the list we got that were repeated. It was super depressing and we ended up not teaching any lessons that day. We got back and just talked with Bishop about life. He kind of encouraged us and said it just happens. You have days that are just disappointing. We were soaking wet and just waiting for the next day to come for us to make it right.

Thursday swings by and I wake up with a terrible fever and other symptoms that I'd rather not talk about. We still went to lunch. We planned on going there, to a marked appointment with Galileio, and back home for the rest of the day. Lunch seemed to just drag and Galileio wasn't home. I really wanted to teach him because he needs to progress! We went home and I slept for literally the whole day and took the medicine I got in the MTC for the fever I had there.  I even slept the whole night too.  But thanks to a priesthood blessing I woke up the next day without the fever but with some of  "those" symptoms.
Friday we ended up teaching our baptism from this Sunday, Valeria, and it was a better day. Everything went smoothly with her. She has a really firm friend base in the church. Her neighbors/friends are Fabiana and Mariana, so that whole big strong family is helping her along and encouraging her. I'm finding out that there really are elect people out there just waiting for the gospel and the Lord really does put them in your path. Other people you kind of try to force it and it never feels quite right because they don't accept it right off the bat. Then they deny the gospel and you just have to move on. It's the cycle of the life of a missionary. You get some great people to teach and you boot the bad ones. And then there's others that you just baptize and that makes your teaching group smaller too. But we will take baptism over anything! 

Saturday was different. The beginning of the day we walked all over town with the DL doing baptism interviews for the 2 areas in our house. It's always fun to go to other areas and compare the different environments. Our interview with Valeria passed and we were ready to baptize on Sunday! O copo das confederaƧƵes(soccer tournament) is going on right now and Brasil played Japan. Everyone kept telling us that it would be impossible to meet with people because everyone would be watching the game. Turned out to be true. There were no people in the streets and you could just see in every house you passed by a TV with the game on. People are literally crazy about soccer here. It's sweet! We went to the church to meet with our ward mission leader because a lot of guys went there to watch the game and have a BBQ. We waited there for him a bit because everyone said he was gonna be there. We waited, ate some meat, waited, watched some of the game... and he didn't show. We called him and he was at his house saying that he wasn't planning on going to the church. Dang it! We totally wasted time waiting for him and we had to hike up the huge mountain hill to get to his house.  We met with him and told him what happened with our list of references and he was as disappointed as we were.  We even tried to reach these people later in the week but it just didn't work out. 

Sunday was good. Always good to relax on a Sunday. Mmmmm....
Little success with the investigators at church but the day was a good one. In the last part of the sacrament meeting we we were told by Elinaldo, the Ward Mission Leader, that we had to teach the Gospel Principles class because the teacher wasn't there.  It was super sudden and we were not ready at all. The class was going to be about gifts of the spirit, which is something missionaries don't ever teach about. It would have been difficult but Silvio, a member of the bishopric showed up and told us that he had prepared a lesson already. Load off our backs! It was a great lesson and it was great for the non members the way that he taught it. A kid in the ward who's planning on serving a mission´s mom showed up. Non member. We talked to her and she seems interested and free of impediments. We'll go teach her this week and hopefully she'll get baptized by her son! That would be sweet. 

So after church everyone was saying goodbye, hugging, and taking pics with Felipe cause he thought he was getting transferred. He has 5 months here and thought it was impossible for him to stay. Well it's not! When we got the news of the transfers he wasn't transferred. Now he's gonna go to church next Sunday with cara de bunda al awkward, like hey I'm still here... I'm glad he's staying. We're good buds. After this great day of goodbyes was over we got everyone together for the baptism of Valeria. It was great. A lot of people came to support and her son was there to watch. He's 5. I have a feeling she's gonna be a good strong member of the ward.  Went back to the house to study because we didn't have time in the morning and after we went to eat at Painho's house. When we got there everyone thought that me and Felipe were getting transferred and had already spread the word to our friends in the ward. So we had to call them back and tell them we weren't transferred. People were crying and everything. Good to know I'll be missed when I leave, haha. 

Welp. That's a week in the life of Elder Carroll. This week was a bit different but we'll improve on the work this next week. I think the Lord gives us trials to wake us up sometimes. At times we can do better and the Lord gives us trials to make us realise there needs to be a change. He makes us evaluate ourselves so we're consistently growing. I've already made the decision that this next week is going to be a week of hard work and organization. We don't have any baptisms marked for this week, but next week when you read my email, I'm almost certain that there will be one to talk about.

Love you family. Hope all is well in GA. Mom, hope the poison ivy goes away. Yes, I wear my retainer. annndd yeah.

Love Elder Dallin Stephen Carroll

Monday, June 17, 2013

Sharing Talents

June 10, 2013

Oi meu povo!
This week was sweet. 
So the forecast for this week was just rain.  It rained literally all week. Hard. So whenever we put our clothes on the line there was no hope for them to dry... Even if we left the house with the sun out, we came back to cold wet clothes.  I've learned to just dry everything with the iron. It semi works.  We've just been wet this week and it's getting dumb haha.  It makes for some better sleep though.  I sometimes have to turn my personal fan off cause I get cold. In Recife? Weird. 
 This week was the week leading up to Ward Conference and the Bishop was getting everything ready. Bishop Lucas is great.  He's all about baptizing and there's nothing better than that for the missionaries of the ward.  At the beginning of the week we went to the mission office to fix Elder Amaral's email and get a huge box of Books of Mormon for Bishop to give to people who were gonna visit for conference.  The whole theme of the conference was that story of Christ and the people.  "If you love me feed my sheep"... All about reactivating people and sharing the gospel with people who haven't had a chance to receive it yet. So us as missionaries were just preparing ourselves to receive tons of references and new people to teach.  Mission gold!
 We taught Galileio again. This time he told us one of his friends was killed and he wanted to learn about death. What happens after we die. So of course we taught The Plan of Salvation.  It was a great lesson and he asked a lot of questions. He had trouble understanding the spirit world after we die and what happens there. How when you don't have a chance to hear the gospel in this life you will have a chance to hear it in the spirit life.  We explained how Christ went there as a spirit to teach and set up missionary work in the spirit world. During the lesson I was trying to find the word for accountable.  I was saying that he knows what we are teaching is true so God will hold him accountable according to his knowledge. I couldn't find the phrase in my mind to make it clear in Portuguese so that he could understand me!  The lesson stopped for a few secs for me to think. Amaral was trying to help me but didn't know what I was trying to think of.  It was just dumb.  I found a way around the phrase "to hold accountable" but it just didn't do justice to what I wanted to explain. The language is frustrating sometimes. The lesson went well. He's not quite progressing because he didn't go to church again, but I went home to look for the work accountable in the dictionary but there is no translation for it in Portuguese. Translating in your mind just doesn't work sometimes haha.
So many weird things happen during the week of a missionary that they're just impossible to think of. Something stupid that happened was I got a call from the mission office saying that one of our baptism forms was lacking a birth date. The problem is that nobody knows their birthday here.  It's ridiculous. Birthdays are the best!  I guess they don't celebrate them like we do. So we went to this baptism's mom and she guessed his bday and we gave it to the office. I don't know if God cares that much about the actual birth date as long as they're older than 8.  Just stupid stuff like that always happens that you have to fix.  Missionary work in the field isnt' as organized as the mission office wants it to be. Just dealing with people in general isn't organized.  Appointments fall through, people go to work, people say they're going to do things but don't... I've learned that always having a backup plan is really good because you just can't depend on people sometimes. As human beings, we are imperfect, we forget, we get tired, etc... Sometimes missionaries fail too!  IT'S LIFE.  Just got to push through and improve.
We didn't have that many lessons this week but the ones we did have were for the most part really good. We taught Maria again this week. Ancient investigator. We've been going to her house every week for my whole time in the field cause she's the mom of Mariana and Fabiana.  And they're kind of just family to her. She always said she would never  separate herself from the church but she's needed to get married to get baptized. Her goal was always for me to see her get baptized before I left. She keeps putting the whole marriage thing off, but she always wanted to. These past few weeks we've gotten really close to getting her married. Something just always happens.  It's complicated.  We just keep trying to help her.
We taught Mariana's friends this week too. New members always have a ton of references. It's sweet. Two sisters, Angelica and Valeria.  They're sweet. Like em a lot. We taught the first lesson and they were just super receptive and just took the whole thing in. Understood everything and accepted everything. It was awesome. The spirit was super strong and the mood was really light so at the end I challenged them to be baptized and they both said, "yes." We started marking up the date and everything and then we realized that Angelica wasn't married legally but was planning to. Bummer. But Valeria could still be baptized!  If everything works out well we will baptized her and Galileio next week, just got to make it happen. 
So the weekend got crazy. We partied it up with the members and there was a talent show in the church. It was hilarious. Lots of funny skits and some singing too. There was this dude from the ward who was was hosting the whole thing as a clown. The younger people loved it but all the older women were just reclamando and covering their ears. The dude kept calling people up to kind of just embarrass them in from of everybody with weird stuff like banana eating contest. I was like dang, I really hope he doesn't call me up.  I just had a feeling he would because I'm the only white person there and kind of just stand out.  Turns out... he calls me up to do a singing competition with the oldest guy from the ward.  He compared the time we've been here in Brazil. 75 years vs. 5 months. Everyone laughed. But he didn't make us sing. It was more of a yelling competition. He showed us how to do it. He went up to the audience and just yelled hahahah. I was up first. I just freaking yelled. I ran up and down the stage just to take the opportunity to be weird. It was funny. I gave Painho a turn to yell into the mic and everything. Everyone died haha. The old guy was funny too. Old people yelling is always funny. (COULD YOU HELP MY WIFE!! -insider joke with the family). Good times. 
Sunday was sweet. Tons of people showed up for the ward conference. Lots of inactives and non members. During Sacrament meeting Bishop got up and called me and Elder Amaral to the front. He said we are the only people in Agauas Compridas who can call people to repentance. And that if they wanted to learn more about the gospel that they needed to talk to us. Bishop is awesome. After church we ended up having 25 references, with addresses and everything. It was sweet. At the end of the day we baptized Caio! It was cool. Not many people showed up cause it was raining but that's alright. He had some friends come and we got a lesson out of it. 
Well... I should stop typing now. My companion is already finished and he's getting antsy. Still love him though. 
Glad I'm here, glad to be a missionary, I know that Christ's gospel is the only way to eternal life, and I love my family!
Elder Dallin Stephen Carroll

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Just Grand Here


June 3, 2013

Hello to whom this may concern,
Everything is just grand here on the mission. This week just seemed to fly by.  I'll try to write a good letter but I don't really remember everything. 
So the past couple weeks we've been teaching this kid named Galileio. 21 years old. He's the drunk kid we met on the side of the road who wanted to improve his life. We taught him the first lesson and 4 commandments that are on the baptismal interview.  He says he doesn't have a problem with drinking and he's not addicted. We believed him at first and just kind of moved on and marked another appointment for him. So this week there was a holiday, the day of corn or something weird.  It's really called San Joao but on this day everyone just eats corn and gets drunk. Including Galileio.   We were coming home that night when everyone on our street started getting crazy with music and drinks and everything. We stopped in front of our door to watch this garbage truck run into the hanging roof of our building.  It was quite the spectacle.  All the drunk people were watching and yelling at the driver. The Bishop's wife has a hair salon below our apartment and a lot of women from the ward gather there and just talk. The bishop was there too.  It was just a fit of confusion and me and Elder Amaral couldn't help but laugh.  So during all this confusion Galileio comes out of nowhere, shirt off, Book of Mormon and pamphlets in hand, completely drunk.  At first I couldn't tell he was drunk because he kind of just grabbed my hand and started leading me somewhere.  I was like what the heck is going on. Then  the Bishop yelled at him and told him to let go of my hand.  He was basically dragging me and we were going towards the falling roof that the garbage man ran into.  It was a mess.  Bishop thought he was a random drunk kid being weird but we assured him that he was an investigator. Bishop left and we started talking to Galileio to see what he wanted. He said he wanted to stay with us and he wanted us to teach him. He wanted to go somewhere else. I don't know where he wanted to go, and I don't even think he knew where he wanted to go. That's what alcohol does to ya. You just get stupid. His speech was super slurred and I'm surprised I understood everything he said. He said he wanted to stay with us and chill. I asked him why he brought the Book of Mormon with him and he said the enemy is really strong and he wants to escape it. He asked if we wanted to go with him again and I said no we're going to stay right here and we won't be able to teach you because you'll just forget everything. He said alright and just walked away into the crowd. After that I got really disappointed and really sad for him.  We were progressing.  He said he was going to stop drinking but he didn't.  It also hit me really hard that these people need the elders more than we know.  He drank, felt bad, went to his house to get the Book of Mormon, and started walking down the street to come find us.  He doesn't even know where we live!  And he lives super far away from us. It was crazy. It made me realize that we are his only outlet to repentance. He felt bad so he came to us. He depends on us. It just really hit me. I just want to baptize him and change his life! We marked a date for him but it don't know if he's going to be ready for it.
We managed to mark another baptismal date with this 12 year old kid we met behind the church playing soccer. Sometimes we go there when we have nothing to do and just go fishing for Peter Pan's lost boys who need to be baptized.  We started talking to this kid and he asked what he needed to be baptized. So we got all excited and marked a day to start teaching him. So we went to his house and he wasn't there so we just started teaching his grandma. Teaching old people is hard because all they want to do is tell their life's story. So she would talk for 5 minutes and after we would talk for 1 and it kept trading off like that. Finally the 12 year old kid showed up and we got to teach him. We started the 1st lesson with Grandma but I figured it wouldn't hurt to start over with Caiu cause she wasn't really paying attention. His friends ended up showing up too so we got a really good lesson out of it. Kids are super easy to teach. You can just kind of mold their minds.. but adults already have their wrong opinions and you kind of have to pull teeth to get them to agree. So we marked a date with this kid and were going to visit his friends this week to baptize them too. Boom.
...So we've been teaching this guy who is legally married with kids. Baptism GOLD.  He's taking a while to convert but he's accepting more and more each time we teach him. We're in the being friends with him mode because he doesn't know if the church is true yet.  He hasn't taken the time to read and pray so we've got to take it slow until then. We taught him one half of the lesson, then the wife called us to the kitchen to eat.  We ate soup and chocolate cake.  They
just kept putting more soup in our bowls after we finished. I ate like 4 bowls.  We refused the soup after we got full but they just kept throwing soup in the bowl.  Elder Amaral is a little
guy and doesn't eat a lot.  After dinner, when we started the second
half of the lesson I taught the whole thing by myself because I could
tell that he was feeling sick.  I testified to our investigator and the spirit was really strong.  We left with a prayer and right when we got out the door I asked how Amaral was.  He said, the guy wouldn't stop putting soup in my bowl and I feel crapppppy.  haha it was funny. People here just like to feed us and think we are bottomless pits, but we're not.

The next day we taught this kid that we met at church on Sunday. He's 15 years old.   He came to the door and said his mom was drunk and that we couldn't go in and teach him right then, so I asked if we could just teach him in front of the house (in the road) so there were tons of cars but I managed to get the 1st lesson off quickly and concisely and he accepted baptism without a date.  It was sweet, but afterwards we had nothing to do cause it took like 15 minutes and we didn't have anything planned. The life of a missionary...
Something different about this week was the mission tour. We had an area seventy, Elder Leal come and speak to us.  It was really motivating and spiritual.  It made me want to be a better missionary. As missionaries, there is always something to improve on. For this meeting we went to Recife in the huge 5 floor chapel that we go to for transfers.  Half of the missionaries go one day and the rest go the next so there are two sessions.  I got lucky to be put in the same session with Elder Kennedy, my MTC companion.  We sat together and just cracked up at the dumbest things. He's lost a lot of weight which was funny to talk about.  Whatever.  I also got to talk to the Brazilians that were in the MTC with me.  It was weird to actually understand them and talk to them because 4 months ago there was no way to communicate, haha.  I'm really seeing a lot of improvement in who I am as a missionary.  I can give the first lesson in like 5 minutes no sweat and with perfect Portuguese. It's pretty fun. I can just talk now! Amazing haha. I was talking to Felipe last night and he says I've changed a lot.  He said I was super stingy and did a lot of things that bothered him at the beginning that all Americans do.  But he says now I'm Brazilian, haha.  I'm glad.  Dad always told me to become a Brazilian.  Done!
Well I guess I'll close this thing up.  I always surprise myself with these letters because at the beginning I can't think of anything to write and then I end up writing a novel. The church is true. Christ lives.  Everyone needs to be baptized.  Amen.
Love you family! Till next week!
Elder Dallin Stephen Carroll

A Grand Week

 May 27, 2013

 Alright everyone,
This week was just grand. We really relied on the Lord to bring us some new people to teach this week, and what do you know? He gave us some! We've been struggling in this area a bit ever since I started training but it isn't because were not working because we're working super hard!  It's just that people say they're going to do stuff to progress but they don't do it. Kinda just breaks your heart. My companion is doing really well.  I feel like I can't really help him that much as a trainer because you kind of just learn with experience out here.  I try to give him good advice and answer all his questions.  We also do companion study every morning which is good cause in reality most missionaries just don't do it.  I just don't want to be that trainer that hindered his companion instead of helping him.  He keeps saying I'm the best companion ever.  It makes me want to cry. Not really, but it makes me feel good.
On Pday we went to Alto da Se again.  It the prettiest spot in Olinda and there are always tons of missionaries there.  It's just a Pday thing to do. There's tons of old Catholic churches and great views.  We were there for the sunset and it was awesome.  I realized that I'm really blessed to serve in such a beautiful place.  I'll send some pictures.
Since my area is kind of struggling a bit right now the Zone Leader decided to make a visit.  He stayed here for a day and we got some work done!  He's been here forever so there's a lot I can learn from him.  It's always cool to learn different teaching techniques. We did a ton of contacts and met a new lady. She was fun to teach.  Kind of just easy and light.  Sometimes you need those because there's a lot of people here from the Assembly of God here who just like to argue.  My green companion likes to bible bash.  He's not normal and bible bashing is not my forte.  I think I'm too passive but I can be aggressive and get my point across if I need to.  We did the contacts then we went to talk to one of our investigators who really wants to get baptized but needs to get married.  She promised me I would baptize her before I left. So the zone is going to do a thing.  We're all going to give 10 reais and pay for her marriage so we can just get the baptism done!  Money is really the only issue here.  I don't know why but when I'm with another American, people here always start comparing us, our Portuguese, our height, our appearance. It's kind of funny.  They said I don't have an accent in Portuguese but Farrer, the Zone Leader has a big one haha.  Awesome. He's been here forever!  So after that me and Farrer went over to an appointment we marked. It was a girl that was a reference from Sabrina, a member who lives next door to Carla. We went there and taught her the first lesson and the problem she had was the start of our church and the catholic church. Farrer was a boss and explained the whole thing flawlessly. I can learn a lot from him.  This girl is 25 and is set on doing the 7 sacraments of the Catholic church before she gets married.  She just has to let it go and accept the RESTORED GOSPEL and then she can get married for eternity. What's better than that?  We left her with the classic pray and God will guide you challenge. 
This week we finally got a hold of Galileio.  He's this 21 year old kid who called us over one day when we were walking in front of his house. He was drunk and sad and wanted to change his life.  We said we were going to pick him up and take him to church.  WE went and he wasn't there. Throughout the week we tried to see if he was home so we could teach him but he never was. But finally, this week we got him.  We taught him the restoration and marked his baptism in the same lesson.  Another day we taught him the commandments and told him he needed to let go of drinking and partying and stuff like that. Here they don't call it partying, they call it hanging out in the road because that's where all the drunk people are. They get their cars and blast music and just get hammered.  We told him he can't do that anymore if he wants to get baptized.  He agreed and we planned to take him to church on Sunday and he seemed super excited.  We went there and he wasn't there. His sister said that he went out the night before and didn't come back. Dang it.  We were super disappointed because he was probably partying and he needs to go to church 2 times before being baptized.  So the baptism date we gave him will have to be set back.  I was seriously really disappointed because you feel like you're progressing with people but stuff just happens.  We'll see what happens with him this week. 
We taught Sandro.  I think I wrote abut him last week.  He likes to argue about the Bible and it gets really annoying because sometimes we just have to burn him.  People don't realize that we have the truth and they can't win. Arguments just drive the spirit away so we try to stay away from those. He tried to say that people speak in tongues/languages that nobody understands, and was really adamant about it. So we read Acts 2.  The lesson didn't go well, but we had another lesson with him this week and it went really well. We tried to keep it under control and just testify.  Amazing how it works to bring the spirit in the lesson.  I also read a lot from the Book of Mormon even though he didn't really have a testimony of it yet.  But he agreed with everything I said and it was just great. We talked about the gospel of Jesus Christ (4th article of faith) and the Book of Mormon. We said the prayer and he ended up crying at the end.  Success.  He was our only investigator to go to church and he came late so we were kind of bummed until he got there.  I swear we invited like 7 people to go to church this week and only 1 showed up.  Just gotta role with the punches and trust in the Lord. 
Other than the slight disappointment this week, I'm loving the work.  It's tough but I'm getting smarter and better every day!  I know that this is Christ's church.  I can't think of what I would be without it. I feel like I would have no hope and purpose for my life . That's how most of the world is and that's why we have to spread the gospel!  It's really a great thing that brings hope and happiness to people.  A lot of times, I can see the change in the countenances of people when they're listening to us testify.  Something just changes in them where they want to accept Christ and change their lives for the better.  It's amazing..
Well, love you all and miss you.  I pray for the family everyday.
Elder Dallin Stephen Carroll