Monday, December 29, 2014

Week 5 in Campo Comprido

Bom Dia!
I'm happy it's week five in campo comprido and my good news is, it's going well. We're teaching and we have somewhere close to 15 people in the wood works. And to my ever great surprise, learning the language is easy... when you aren't learning conjugations, new words, and grammar every day. wait...

So Christmas week is closing up and we have some great stories of food to tell... and lots of it! Photos should tell you how much food we have in the house now. My companion said that a lot of food was never a problem... well, now we have the problem of eating all of it!

So I realize I never said I got scripture cases in the CTM in São palo, well here they are. Chic!

Now, good story that I would love to tell from this week: so, my companion and I were on a road and it was my turn to "knock", and we met Adão who was visiting his brother and lived just down the street. I talked to him through the gate for a while and got us inside, and once we started teaching the Restoration he was involved! He reacted to what we were saying not just sitting there listening. When we told him the story of the first vision, using his words, "noss!" He wanted to know more, I think he's ready to hear the word, how about you guys? Anyway, that's my story of the week.
Ate mais!
Elder Cavalcante's Christmas Package

Christmas with a good family

Elder Santas

Glorious Food

Scripture Cases - Front

Scripture Cases - Back

Scripture Cases - Side

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Feliz Natal

Okay, another crazy week here in Brazil.  I had my first baptism on the 17th and that was AWESOME!!! Our investigator was so excited to finally be baptized after having the missionaries for almost ... 8 weeks? I don't know, my companion says he's been teaching her for a while now. 

Another thing: what happens when you let missionaries cook their own meals? (pictures below) We had enough food to last us two days. In one sitting we made one kilogram of Macarrão!

My companion and I are getting along well. We switched ties, and he even got a special gift from me on the day of the Baptism. Yeah, I need to get a new one when I get back to Utah, but I honestly think the fact that a Brazilian wanted an American soccer jersey was pretty cool. And I already got the Curitiba jersey.

I learned that you don't talk to people who argue with you, not from experience. My companion saved me from getting into an argument with a very bravo mulher sobre a Bíblia. Noss, that was wild. She wanted nothing more to tell us than that she wanted the priesthood and couldn't get it and ... well, honestly, I think she's a hard one to talk to anyway. My companion explained afterwards that she was an apostate, one who was once a member and now doesn't believe. I wanted so much to tell her, you don't need the priesthood to be saved and do great things, but I didn't know the words or the ability to interject that into the flying conversation!

That's all I have time for right now, so Merry Christmas (Feliz Natal) and remember the reason for the season! Tchau!
Elder Cavalcante and Elder Smith

Lotsa Pasta

A Brazilian wearing an American soccer shirt

Monday, December 15, 2014

Second Week in the Mission Field

Okay!!! My week was great, at the beginning I knew nothing, and now I can actually talk to these people!

My companion/trainer is Elder Cavalcante and he is from Fortulaza, Brazil. He has an accent from the north, which is way fast, and he has to slow way down for me to understand him sometimes. But his accent is understandable, and he's a lot like Dad. He makes jokes and teases me plenty. But as always, I play back. My accent is difficult, apparently, for people native here to understand. [I have an ] American accent, and half of them don't have a clue where I'm from just because I have an accent that isn't from Brazil.

We don't have to go anywhere to do laundry, as we have the things to do it in our house. I don't have pictures of the house ... oops … Next P-day. I have been talking with Blake and Jason [friends from home who are now missionaries], and I'm glad I have. They have been a great help here. Oh yeah! Will you send a paisley tie here? Or a few? Apparently they don't have them down here, and all my encounters with Brazilian missionaries have started with them asking if I have one to trade with them. My companion actually won’t stop bugging me about it some days.

I had a great experience that I'm sharing with just you because it was way special for me: My companion and I were "knocking" gates on a really sketchy looking street and we got talking to one woman named Rose (Hoe-see) and we got to enter her home and start teaching her. She actually felt the Spirit right off the bat and teared up after the prayer. We taught the Restoration (the first lesson) and set a date to go back and talk to her next Sunday because she works every other afternoon. 

Now, on Tuesday we had a brief switch of companions as mine is the district leader here. Elder Peay and I went out and proselyted most of the day. We found a wonderful family and taught them the Restoration. After which we found a really interested investigator who has a lot of "deep doctrine" questions. (for example, are there more than one God, where did He come from, etc.) I was mostly following Elder Peay lesson-wise, as I had NO idea what was going on. I chose the streets, and we "knocked" them. That's my outward value right now. You’re going to see "knocked" like that a lot just because we don't actually knock. Those of you in Brazil now know. You clap outside the gates. We actually were really careful that day because there was some really drugged up guy wandering around beating things. 

We have some great families we're teaching. One investigator is getting baptized this week! whoo! We know she's feeling the Spirit because we showed her “The Testaments” film and she cried from when Christ was crucified all the way to the end.

My companion and I actually missed an appointment one day this week due to (oddly) weather. When it rains here usually it's not hard and in the evening. But to our surprise on Wednesday we actually just about drowned in the street! It started raining and neither of us remembered a coat or umbrella, and we got stuck under a little shop sun shade and waited for something like an hour before we could get out from under it, and we were still wet up to our knees! More, the streets weren't safe to walk on due to the torrents of water pouring down them! That was an adventure I was glad I didn't have a camera for!

Beyond that, we're out doing the Lord's work, and I couldn't be more excited to be learning the most difficult "romantic language" in the world. Until next week!
Elder Smith and Elder Cavalcante

Elder Smith and his mission president

More singing at the Christmas Conference

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Christmas Special Conference - Curitiba South Mission - Joel third row back, third from the right

Christmas Special Conference

Monday, December 8, 2014

First Week in Curitiba

Hello, family!

My trip was by plane, and it was no fun, as usual​, except for the landing, that was good. I have to inform you that this place is beautiful, once you get past the fact that there is garbage everywhere and 75% of the city (at least where I'm teaching) is Ghetto. I'm sending you the photos that I took all the way back when I was in Provo just so I can clear that camera up some. I got to see some of the country, and there are just a few mountains just over the horizon from us here in Curitiba.

I did get to meet my mission president, and his wife speaks better English than he does. Unfortunately, I'm struggling a lot with just trying to understand these people. For me this is really hard because I so much want to share my testimony, experiences, and love for this people! My companion now is Brazilado, speaks next to no English (except when he's joking around) and fortunately knows his stuff quite well. I leave a lot of the talking to him as I know next to nothing here. Anyway, the house I'm in is a one-bedroom, one-bathroom, one-kitchen and one-front-room building. You wouldn't believe me unless I took photos, so I'll send you some next week.
Happy holidays! It really doesn't feel like it here, but enjoy the snow!

Elder Taylor and Elder Smith

Elder Smith at Provo Temple
With MTC companions at Provo Temple

Sao Paulo by bus
Elder Smith at Sao Paulo Temple
With CTM companions at Sao Paulo Temple

Elder Smith with instructor at CTM
Elder Smith with Elder and Sister Hale and district at CTM

Friday, November 28, 2014

Week 3 in Brazil

Brazil doesn't celebrate Thanksgiving the way we do, but we had some great food in the CTM here! We had mile high ice-cream bowls that (to be fair) were decimated in about 30 minutes to small blocks of ice cream by the Brazilians. That was a well taken meal by those of us from the states.

I'm ready to leave the CTM to teach the gospel ... talking to people about the weather, what I like to do, how to get to the church on time, and about that odd mole on someone's foot—yeah, about that ... Pray for me that I can get the gift of tongues; specifically; pray that I'll be able to learn how to use the grammar and conjugations.

My last week isn't over yet; I'll record it when it's done. But, here's what I will say about my experience here: the Spirit is awesome, I wish I could say that my stay here has been nothing but flowers and sunshine, but I'd be lying. I have had moments where I'm trying to be productive only to be interrupted by an Irmao or Irma [Brother or Sister] here and completely try to change my line of work ... distracting. Other than that, my district is great, my companion is awesome, and I'm happy. My observations are like this: in the CTM, bliss and equality. Just over the pointy fence and large bodyguard guys, literal chaos on the streets (driving, even in a bus is a nightmare, forget traffic jams in the states! They have nothing on this place). Poverty is so total, beds are literally what line the sidewalks, and yes, people do use them.

Elder Bednar (yep, Mom, one of your favorites) did a Live Feed from a Provo devotional to the 6 MTCs that were awake at the time, and had a question and answer session. How? VIA PHONES AND EMAIL!!! I forgot what phones looked like! No, but what was so cool is I got some great insight about the nature of the gospel, God, and science that I never would have gotten if I didn't come here now. I also found out that the only reason for the age change was to line up with the rest of the world, as the [age] 18 for young men was already a thing in Korea, Mexico, and a few other places. I got one of my questions answered, and he didn't even read it off his tablet, how? He said something that was so profound that I had to write it: "When we designate the Spirit to be the teacher, He can speak to the hearts of all men and tell them things that we don't say." The Spirit is the teacher. Not you, not me, we are instruments that open our mouths and he speaks through us. I wish I could have recorded the whole thing, but I only got what the Spirit said to me personally. There were some profound questions, and some profound answers.

Elder Smith

Friday, November 21, 2014

Week 2 at Brazil CTM

The food is much better, but every breakfast we have cream-of-mystery. It's really good but only God and the people who made it know what's in it! 

I'm the District leader at the moment, and I cannot tell you how stressful that is! I'm trying to learn just as much as I can and still keep order in the room when we're on personal study time. Other than that, I'm doing really well at learning the language, but I'm really struggling with it because of the odd rules that don't exist in English. For example, em+ o osso= no osso. AHHH! where did the "n" come from?  (Please send a prayer for me learning the language!)

My experience here is 6:30 get up, get ready, 8:00 personal study in the sala de aula (class room) 9:45 dejejum (breakfast of pinine, cream of mystery and hot chocolet!) and after that study and teach an "investigator" (our teacher for that hour) study with companion, Lunch, repeat previous 2 steps, Dinner, actividade fisica (I don't need to explain that I hope), shower, planning for the next day, lanche (snack which as a district we decided not to bless it because, just like manna, it's a miracle!) and then we get ready for bed and must be quiet and luz off at 2230 (Everything here is military time). 

The temperature never falls below 65 F or rather the Celsius I don't know ... sorry. For fun, how many stories are there when the top floor says 6 in Brazil? I'll answer at the end.

I actually go to two [temples], and we don't know which one we go to until we get on the bus. [The other one outside of Sao Paulo is] Campinas [link to temple info], which is a hour and a half- two hour drive and is absolutely beautiful!! I wish I could send pictures of the interior! and Sao Paulo, which I love just as much! If we ever take a vacation here, we have to go to both! And I'm trying to do the sessions in Portuguese (speaking, not listening yet!) I had a real culture shock when I got in the bus and saw trash on the ground everywhere, people with make-shift-beds on the sidewalk, and vendors sitting with blankets on the grass. The poverty here is unreal. Almost everything is a first-world aplience with third-world economy.

I'm happy, I'm healthy, having fun, and [I'm getting] a really big support from D&C 31 at the moment. Love you all!

The answer is 7 floors.

NOTE: For anyone wanting to send a letter to Joel, he leaves the CTM on December 2, so it's too late to send a letter to him at the "Brazil MTC" address at this point, since it takes two weeks to arrive. You can use the mission home address now.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Week 1 in the Brazil CTM

The CTM is great down here. It was moist the first day, and all things that could have happened to make me feel like I was out of the states did! The food here is actually better than the food at the Provo MTC because if they mess up cooking it's on the dark side... or burnt, if you prefer. 

I'm back to feeling healthy again and everything wrong with my hand has been removed. I'm learning that being a missionary is a lot more than knowing the information and knowing how to speak the language: you have to FEEL what the investigator needs to know!

In the week I've been here, I've been out shopping (Yes, Mom, I've been on the streets of Sao Paulo), taught almost 10 lessons to our teachers/ investigators in the CTM and 4 other lessons (to members visiting the CTM). My teachers are so great. Ermao Talvarez is so full of energy, and he will not speak English at all. He will bonk your forehead if you are late and is really enthusiastic about baptizing "TODOS PESOAS EM BRAZIL!!" (“all people,” for you just learning :)). The [group] picture you got was of all the new arrivals, and the one of me, Elder Taylor and the other guys was taken across the street from the CTM [at a] fun, little place with American foods ... and a crazy shopkeeper. 

OK, let me explain, in the CTM or MTC you cannot upload images onto or off of the computer because the storage ports have been encrypted, so you can't use them. Period. I'd love to send photos, but the only people with permission to do that is the higher up (also known as the "responsible missionary couples"). 

In the CTM there were almost a thousand [missionaries] the day we got here, but today, we’re at about half of that. People have to get to the field sometime! I actually don't know if I know that number. ... 

What you said about the language is actually what I've gotten from almost every RM I've talked to since I've entered the MTC in Provo—in 3-8 months, the language comes. 

Elder Taylor is still my companion. He's from nowhere other than Pocatello, Idaho ;) and he's so great! He's not really a talker, but he knows his stuff and is great at doing the work. 

Okay, [I have] no allergies, the bugs aren't bad ... yet, and the problem I'm having here that I didn't know I would be is the sisters! For whatever reason, when I show up [and] a conversation has been going on with the district and the sisters for a while, suddenly the sisters are focusing on none other than yours truly. Por Que? 

I've been in the main part of Sao Paulo and placed four books of Mormon with our district. That was a ton of fun, but don't go down any old subway stairs—there's an example of public waste I didn't need to know about. [It’s] fun when you hardly know the language to try to tell people about a book that they think is the Bible. That's all I have time for right now; I'll write and send letters home, don't worry! Love you all!