Monday, October 20, 2014

Ultimo Email

 October 20, 2014

Hello my beautiful family and friends. How wonderful it is to address you all on this fine sunny day where I found out that I will be studying at BYU and in one week I will be at home. Life is getting different, but I'm ready to go. Let me tell you all.... my body is soooo tired. I'm trying my best not to get down because of my tiredness. Everyone I live with is making me super trunky! ''Hey Elder, how many days do you have left??''... hahaha there's no way not to know. We walked and traveled a ton this week so I caught a cold when the weekend started because of all the waking up early and going to bed late. The week started out with an exchange we did with Arco Verde. I stayed with Elder Wach in my area. The dude is super legit and he goes home one transfer after me so we were getting trunky together and making plans to meet up after the mission. He's a big football player who could probably go to whatever school he wants to play football. But we had a good ol time knocking on doors and talking to random people. A guy in the ward sent us a referral of a guy that cuts hair. The dude didn't have time to just sit and talk but he had time to cut my hair for free because we're his friend's friend. Don't know why that made sense to him but we'll take it! So I taught the dude while he was cutting my hair for free. He cut pretty well... It took me two years to find a good hair cutter! I guess if there was a haircut that mattered it would be the last one right?? The dude was kind of crazy and doesn't have a lot of time to go to church/talk to the missionaries but it was a cool lesson. Wach stayed at our house that night and then we got out at 6 to go back to Arco Verde(2 hours away) to undo the exchange and we got back home just in time to go to our leadership meeting in Recife(3 hours the other way/back home after the meeting arriving at 10). It was a lot of traveling in 1 day and my health was just going down hill because we don't really eat that well when we're traveling all the time.

The leadership meeting was sick. Our President is a missionary master-mind with a whole bunch of tricks up his sleeves. He pretty much flipped the mission in another direction than it was going before. We all felt it coming but we didn't think it was going to be that drastic! He's a man that likes to use time wisely and he knows that if we do use our time wisely the mission will do way better. The members encourage the missionaries to waste time and when he discovered that he got ticked and jumped on it. It's just Brazilian culture... everyone just wants us to sit around and talk and eat! haha.

We had a sweet experience with Michael this week. We went to his house when I was doing an exchange with Elder Cordeiro(lives with me). We followed up on the Book Of Mormon and he hasn't received a response yet. His dad and cousin were there to listen in on the discussion and everyone had different ideas. So it started to get awkward and we marked a few things for Michael to read and then Cordeiro asked them to play something since there were like 4 guitars lying around their house. They started to play some sweet stuff and the mood got a bit lighter. Then they asked us to play something and we grabbed it and played what we knew. It was sweet. Then they played some songs I knew and I sang for them. We automatically made a quick friendship right there because of our love of music. It's incredible how you can endear people to you when you have the same interests. Everyone got super psyched to go to church after the jam-sesh. Michael's dad went with his ''wife'' and they loved it! Michael stayed at home because he got home at like 3 in the morning on Sunday.... But this is a family that needs the gospel. Michael and Manoel(dad) don't have a great relationship and they seem pretty lost in life. The want to learn more and are liking what they feel and see!

How am I feeling about the end... My body is tired and I feel like I'm in an area that makes it so I want to be home. This last transfer has been tough. We talk to a lot of people who don't want to receive us and we walk a lot to get to our area. I made the Bishop redo the division between the two areas of the ward so that we had better neighborhoods to work with. We'll see how that works this week. I feel like I needed to do this to get the ward and the stake to give this ward a jump start to get divided. I'm going to miss my companion too. We just joke around all day. It's kind of like my relationship with Landon... we wail on and insult each other at home but it's just laughs the whole time. We have tons of insiders too. I told him I'm going to stay at his house in Rio when the Olympics are there while his girlfriend makes us food.. HAHA. All the Rio missionaries I've met just make fun of people all the time so we pretty much have license to say whatever we want to each other. The Elders I live with are parceiros(partners) too. Good buds. Johnson has a year left and is going to BYU when he gets back so we're going to hit it up. Elder Cordeiro lives in Rio Grande do Sul so I'll see him one day(years from now) when I make a trip to see all my buds from the south of Brazil. I'm ready. I'm probably not going to baptize this week but I'm going to do my best to make something work out. I'm going to fill up the area book and leave the area better than I got it.
OH! While we were playing soccer we found out that a dude walked into the church and robbed us! We stopped to take a water break and while we were walking in we saw a random guy in the hall. I got there after but everyone said that he asked to play soccer with us while he was messing with his cellphone(hands shaking) and then he backed out and drove away. We later found out that he had taken 30 reais(roughly 17 bucks in American money) But left all our phones and cards and cameras.... I think that had something to do with when Elder Johnson entered in the church...''EI!! QUEM TÁ AQUI?!'' (HEY WHO'S THERE). He said that because the door was open when he went in. What a SAFADO!(dirtbag). Imagine If we had caught him in the act.... That would have been awkward for him cause there would've been 6 adrenalin-pumped dudes in front of him asking why...

Well fam I think that's it. To top It off I just want you all to know that I know that Christ lives, and that this is His church.

See you all in 8 days!
Elder Dallin Stephen Carroll

Monday, October 13, 2014

Coming to the End

October 13, 2014

This week was a mixture of emotions, hard work and spiritual enlightenment. As I reach the end of my mission here in Recife I cant help but to think about who I am now, who I used to be and who I want to be when I get back. I feel comfortable with the changes I've made in my conversion and I feel ready to take on normal life. But only after 2 weeks of hard work. My body is tired but I am willing to do what I need to do to help this area out with whatever I can do. I feel like I've established myself as a leader and an example to my zone and the mission. 

President wanted us to work closely with the Stake President so we can know what he wants to do with the ward and so the Stake can help it with what we say it needs. So what better way to do that than to do splits with him?? It started out a bit rough as I stayed with him and another Peruvian missionary named Elder Miranda looking for people to teach. Nobody was home! We went to about 3 houses before I remembered a lady we talked to in the street the other day. We rang the intercom and she answered and said the door was open and for us to enter. We kind of didn't know how to react so I rang it again and told her it was the missionaries. She thought we were her son! haha Imagine if we were a robber..... Anyways.... we had a great lesson with her and her son. We taught the restoration and they totally felt it. The Stake President said, "We need the members to feel this too! They need to know what this is like! If they knew, they would always help you guys out and you then the work would just hasten!".... That was really great for us and that's what we needed! So on Sunday he went to our ward and trained the priesthood as a whole so that they could get more excited about missionary work and actually want to help us. We weren't there but afterward, everyone seemed pretty pumped and ready to help us out. This is what we needed! Now we just have to mark with these men so they help us out with references and actually go out with us.

Another thing that happened this week was a Zone conference we had with President and the assistants. IT WAS GREAT. President talked a lot about the way we need to study to be able to teach our investigators better. It was really great and I actually think it was the best conference I have ever witnessed on the mission. I feel like things are starting to get good right as I'm leaving! haha bummer. But in the middle Me and Elder Oliveira trained our zone and another zone of like 25 missionaries about power and authority. It was great. I think it was the last one I will give on my mission. Thank goodness..... haha. After the meeting I had my last interview with President. It was all about the transition I'll go through when I get back. He warned me about a lot of things I can't do and some things that I have to do. Have to have a plan according to The last verse of Lucas 2. I have to study, work out, have a social life , and not go inactive. Like actively not go inactive. I have to keep learning and growing closer to God! I think all these things I already had planned in my head but it's good to put them on paper....

Alrighty so let's talk about investigators.

Michael is a kid we met in the street the week of conference. I think I forgot to write about him but he's awesome. We were walking in the street without anything to do and kind of depressed and Oliveira said that his brother Monce told him that when everything falls through that's because there's an elect waiting for you. That's what had happened. We found him going back to his house in Judo(sp?) We asked him if he had any time to talk to us and he said, "Yeah dude I love talking about religion!:  I actually did a theology class and I don't go to church because I have tons of doubts about the different doctrines".... So we talked to him on some steps in the sidewalk. It was awesome. It was a conversation, and not just another lesson. He was engaged and liking it. It feels good to find someone who's interested in what you have to say when you're having a bad day. He had already read the Book Of Mormon and decided to go to conference. He took notes the whole time. He went to one of the sessions only but the whole time he was taking notes. We found out he didn't go to the other sessions because his aunts' house caved in and she was in it! She's fine but after a week without talking to him we were able to refresh his memory about the restoration. We found him at his house finally. He's seventeen, huge, and his personality reminds me of all the Days combined. Plays a ton of instruments and likes to trade ideas. We talked about the Book Of Mormon and he had a lot of questions but understood plainly the purpose of the book. He said he would read it and pray. It was interesting because he was like, :yeah, all I have to do is read this and I'll be able to figure out if I'll be a Mormon or not.... who knows, maybe I'll be an Elder in the United States or something!"  haha It was sweet. But as we were closing up his cousin came out of the other room and started debating a bit. It was nothing serious because we were controlling the situation. His cousin had already talked to the missionaries and told us about his experience with them. He said he went to church for a bit but because of the persistence of the missionaries, he was scared away. We said sorry for that and said that's not the way we work but it's true! There are missionaries who scare people away with their excitement! He asked, ´´What would you do if someone showed up at your house presenting a book telling you to believe in it,,,, and if you believed you would have to follow??"....... I swear Satan uses people to get in the heads of the people who have the most potential to make the best change they've ever made in their life.... it happens all the time and he succeeds a lot of the times. But luckily Michael was playing his electric guitar quietly the whole time when his cousin was talking.... Sometimes the work is harder than it needs to be....

Then there's Mateus
He's our miracle boy who kinda of just fell off the face of the earth. We taught him outside his house and caught up with him. He had gone to another state for about 2 weeks. He goes to the universal church and they're giving him a bunch of responsibilities and trying to mark his baptism there too! And then the baptist church comes out of nowhere and tries to mark his baptism there too! GET THEE HENCE SATAN. But as we were talking with him about the Book Of Mormon and the ways the Spirit works he noticed that he HAD felt better in our church than any other one. And that was just an activity! He really is a special kid who knows how to deal with the things of God, and he KNOWS how he feels when God is trying to get him to do something. We told him to never forget that feeling and to beware of the ways that the adversary would try to knock him down. We read some pieces of Moroni 7 with him and talked about the difference between things of God and things from the other side. He got a good grasp on the concept so we'll be good until we talk to him on Tuesday. We marked his baptism for Oct 26... the day before I leave. LET'S GOOOOO.

Well family... it was nice to write the second to last email of my mish... Pray for me while I end so that I can end it puking. I don't want to let anyone down.... Christ lives.

Elder Dallin Stephen Carroll

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Conference, Referrals, and Success

 October 6, 2014

Conference week!!!!!

That means the whole week we were telling the people that Sunday would be a special day that we would be able to hear the prophet speak. It's interesting to see the reactions. Some people got really excited and said they would go to conference and others just kind of brushed the invitations off. Some hearts are just more open than others and that's normal. The spirit can only do so much.

The week was a success. We have the trust of the members in the ward and we're already receiving some referrals. The trick is to talk to the dudes who are return missionaries! They're usually willing to give the references because they know what it's like to knock on doors all day....NOT FUN. So we talked to two sweet guys in the ward that live on our half of the ward. Everson and Edson. Everson is 30 and has an English school and knows a ton of people because of the many students that come in and out. Youth, parents.... all types of people. Then we talked to Edson too, who just moved here from Caruarú with his wife and 9 month old son.. Yes I already met him when I was serving there and we're buds so it was cool to see him when I got here. He's also helping us out a lot because he has a car and we can use it to take people to church. 

Everson's reference was Diego. He's a young law student who works in a funeral home. He's a bright dude and has participated in a lot of religions so he said he doesn't have a set church that he goes to. We talked to him with Everson in a room full of fancy caskets and his 19 year old cousin just happened to be there too. We taught the Restoration and it was awesome. We testified like lions and they felt the spirit testifying of the Prophet Joseph Smith. They were way into it and said that God wanted us to be there at that moment to teach them. They didn't go to conference but they accepted the baptismal invite and looked like they were thinking a lot about what we were saying. SÓ ÁGUA!

Edson's reference is Carlo. He's a police guy who barely has time for anything. It was a miracle that we caught him at home. He likes to talk about everything. Middle aged guy who isn't married(but lives with his wife) and has a lot of kids in a lot of places. The whole week we were trying to talk with him but he was always leaving or about to do something. Finally, on a rainy day(everyone just stays home and sleeps on rainy days) we woke him up from a nap and talked to him and his wife about the restoration. Carlo is a smart guy with some good ideas but his wife is from the assembleia and thinks that all the people who believe in Christ ARE the church of Christ. NO. If I had a nickle for every time I've heard that I would be able to pay for all my schooling. But we just burn them with Efesions. They were mais ou menos during the lesson but we left the pray challenge and they accepted. Carlo more than his wife. Assembleians are really just brainwashed by the pastors and their heart is just padlocked so there's no way for a mighty change to happen.

Now we have to take care of our references so we can get more!

I had a cool experience while I was doing baptismal interview. The other elders from our ward were going to baptize a lady of her husband who got baptized like 4 months ago and has always wanted her to get baptized. Aparecida is her name.... roughly translated it means "looks like" in English. hahaha It's actually a very common name but when Elder Johnson pointed out the translation to me we just busted out laughing. Good times. So during the interview she didn't remember anything about the prophet. She didn't understand the concept of a prophet and didn't understand how the restoration happened.  I taught her about 4 times during the interview and she didn't even remember really what I said. I realized that she had a strong learning disability and I was trying to pull her testimony out of her but she really doesn't know how to express herself. She's probably the most simple-minded person I've ever met on my mission so I prayed for God to put a question in my head that would let me know she was ready. One popped into my head.....,"how long do you plan on going to this church?" She responded, "for the rest of my life"..."And what if you stop going?"......"uhhh it' a sin."  and if you go to another church?" ......"That's a sin too because this is the church of Christ." ......Well then, interview over! She passed! haha. Personal revelation is real! Her husband didn't know she was going to get baptized until she was right after the last session of conference. It was way cool. 

Conference was incredible. Elder Johnson and I were in the English room the whole time so we were able to share our ideas about the talks during conference and relax a little bit. All the talks were amazing. Elder Holland blew me away and Uchtdorf made me think a lot about my perception on my own life. Some people have a terrible relationship with themselves and never really take the time to evaluate their spiritual progression. I've learned a lot about that on my mission with other missionaries and investigators. I feel like people should feel more guilty about the things they do. Not to the point where they get depressed, but to the point where they want to do something to change. The Book of Mormon actually talks a lot about this. How are you ever going to experience a mighty change of heart if you don't perceive the need to change??

Oh! and it was also sick when that 70 spoke in Portuguese! I was amazed at how much I could feel and understand the message. I remember the last time I tried to watch conference in Portuguese like a year ago and it was kind of hard and now it's so natural. SO natural. I was talking to Johnson the whole day in English and left there talking to the members in English not noticing that I was speaking in English... woops hahaha. Sometimes when I watch conference I think..."how would this church not be true???" I've seen the other churches do what they do and it's just not correct. WE have a modern living prophet. WE have authority of God. WE receive modern day revelation.... And WE interpret the Bible correctly. I will challenge anyone who says otherwise.

Jesus is our Savior and guides His church.

Elder Dallin Stephen Carroll

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Para Bens

 September 29, 2014

Alright people time to give the weekly report. We worked super hard this week and are super dead so this pday is going to be a do nothing day.

I'm really enjoying these last few weeks. My companion is sweet. We have the same sense of humor so it keeps things interesting. I beat up on him a little bit at home so he knows who's boss. We're playing the slug-bug/mystery machine game where you whale on the other guys arm when you see one. If it were a competition I would say that I'm winning and his arm is getting destroyed. We're also having a good time getting to know the members and making friends in the ward. I think the ward was a sleeping giant but when we got here with the other missionaries in the ward things are starting to pick up. The leadership is helping us out a lot. We knocked a ton of doors this week and we changed our strategy. We figured that since the chapel is actually a run down house, we should probably focus on the more humble people to try to boost up the church attendance, so we're in the favelas again. There are some really interesting people in the poor parts of Brasil. It's an experience that is hard to describe. A lot of loud music, naked kids running around, old people sitting on their front steps, and horses eating out of trashcans. But these people's humility is amazing. They don't have hardly anything but have a strong faith in God and really seem to have a dependence on him. We invite people to go to church, they say they'll go, but they don't go. It's pretty depressing. The people here lack a lot of commitment though they have open hearts and a will to follow Christ. 

Some investigators for y'all to follow up on:

Ana Paula is a mom of four kids. One of her kids is a member and is 20. The father of the family just died and the family is suffering a lot with depression. Apparently she didn't even let the missionaries in the house when he was alive but now she is really open to us visiting her and helping understand the plan of salvation. We taught it to her the other day and she cried the whole time. We could tell that all her doubts about life and death were cleared up and she was really quite satisfied with the message. She thanked us a lot and at the end we taught her a little about the temple and the sealing power that Jesus gave to Peter. She's a little apprehensive about going to church still but we told her that we insist that she goes to church so she can seal herself to her husband with the power that can only be found in the temple. All of a sudden she got more interested and we marked to talk with her this Friday about the restoration.

Mateus is a kid we found in a dark alley at night knocking doors. He's an elect. We actually took him out of his house to teach him on a bench and another married couple showed up and we did a contact with them and included them in the lesson too! Everyone was listening closely and agreeing with everything. The Spirit was testifying of every word we said and their open hearts were receiving the message. Mateus was asking all the right questions and said that he believes that this is the Church of Jesus Christ. We invited all to be baptized and they all said yes. We marked Mateus for this weekend but he didn't go to church this week. We'll have to push it back another week.

We had an activity of integration on Saturday where all the youth went. There were some adults too. We took Mateus and showed him the chapel(house) as we waited for people to get there since we got there early. As we were waiting some young men showed up and pulled out the goals to play futebol in front of the house and Mateus jumped right in! We played too..... haha. I'm terrible at soccer. I just use my athletic instincts to do what I can haha. But consider Mateus.... integrated. The activity was about prophets and why we need them. Elder Cruz, one of the other elders who works in our ward gave the message and guided the game. The game was Noah's arc. Everyone received a piece of paper with an animal written on it. Everyone had to imitate their animal to find the other person with the animal they had. It was noisy as heck because we were in the "chapel" where there is a huge echo. Good times.....

Since we're opening this area up and the Stake Presidency here wants the ward to be able to divide, President said he wanted us to work closely with the Stake President, so we had a meeting with him and made some goals. Each family in the ward has to give 4 referrals, and we have to baptize 100 by the end of the year..... woah. I'm not going to be here but I'll help get it started!

The elections are happening in Brasil right now so that means tons of noise. TONS. They literally fill their car trunks up with speakers and blast the candidates music through the city. It's like an election drive-by ambush. When One passes while we're teaching we have to wait like 20 seconds for the car to pass so we can start teaching again. There was one night where the whole road was infested with honking, sounds of blasting cars advertising their candidate. I got a video don't worry! I'm pretty sure if the candidates did this in the states, nobody would vote for them. Would've been a good idea for Obama.... haha.

My Birthday was good! Full of door-knocking and teaching. What else would I do. The other Elders called us lying about a family night that we needed to be at. We showed up and it was actually a hot dog dinner with chocolate cake. They sang the last para bens I will receive on my mission. It was us and a sister from the ward. Woohoo! I liked it. Food is a missionary's best friend.

Thanks to everyone who sent me Birthday messages! I really appreciate it.

Even though I'm at the end I've realized that I still have a ton to learn. I'm learning new things about the gospel and the mission every day! I think that's why they call it eternal progression.... because your spiritual progression is never going to stop! Jesus is the Messiah and He is the way. Follow him with all your heart and you can't go wrong.

Love you all!
Elder Dallin Stephen Carroll