Wednesday, November 21, 2012

One more week of CTM

Mais uma semana!!
Happy Birthday Carsten! I sent a card last week, but I don't know how long it will take to get there (probably about 3 weeks).
On monday we went out into the streets of Sao Paulo in Casa Verde (near the CTM) to preach the gospel and practice talking to people on the street. We talked with about a dozen people in the course of our three hours and passed out 8 copies of the Book of Mormon to different people we talked with. We had some pretty incredible experiences talking, and were able to say everything that we needed to in Portuguese. I'm certainly not fluent, but I can say anything I want to, I just have to talk around a little bit to get there. It's awesome. And I understood everyone we talked to nearly perfectly except for the few drunk people we ran into... but our Brazilian roommates said noone can understand them, so not to feel bad. In one week it will be 100% Portuguese whether I like it or not :) But I will like it!
I found a good present for the family, but you'll have to wait till Christmas to open it :)
I love you all. Happy Thanksgiving. This year I am grateful for a family who supports me so much and for the opportunity to serve the Lord as His representative in Brazil.
Elder Conner House

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Two more weeks - November 14

Tudo bem?
Heading into the homestretch of the CTM, things are getting exciting. On monday we will get to go out to some part of the city and do street contacts. On our preparation days, we have a little contact with people, but most of the people here in Casa Verde Sao Paulo know a bit about the missionaries, so the opportunity to go out a bit farther will be nice.
The address for my mission home in Curitiba is
Elder Conner Warrick House
Brazil Curitiba Mission
Praça Joseph Smith
15 Portão
80613-991 Curitiba - PR Brazil
I will in Curitiba not next tuesday, but the following one... so any mail sent from here on out should go to that address until I get the address of my first apartment.
Today we had Elder Costa, the Area President for Brazil and a memeber of the First Quorum of the 70 come and talk with us today. It was fantastic. He shared so many stories from the scriptures and experiences from his own life. He ended up going quite a bit over the allotted time, but nobody was interested in stopping him, because we were learning so much. One thing that I liked, was him talking about how missionary work is the process of taking the joy and happiness that we have to our friends and neighbors. And as such, it is the responsibility of the members to share the gospel with their friends. The missionaries are primarily to teach gospel truths, but the gospel should be spread by members. But, he said that we as missionaries should never criticize members or leaders who don't feel inclined to share with those around them... never criticize them. Instead we need to pray for ways that we can help them feel more comfortable sharing the gospel. Missionaries should, in large part, help others share the gospel. So if you feel like you need help, ask the missionaries... they can help you. (Now where have we heard that before? :) )
On Sunday, our Branch President told us to let our families know that we are safe. Apparently there have been some small civil uprisings in Sao Paulo, but they haven't really been in the Casa Verde area where the CTM is. He then gave an interesting lesson about the history of Brazil. Right now, this blessed country has more freedom for individuals than it has ever had... But people misunderstand the meaning of freedom. They think that it means, party and live life however you want to and no one is going to stop you. But in reality, that mindset leads to all sorts of bondage... spiritual bondage. The attractive lifestyle of living on the beach and partying every night might seem fun, but addiction to alcohol, sexual desires, and a whole host of other vices can takes over. Even if there seem to be no consequences at first, many people don't understand the peace and joy that the spirit can bring when we are ready to recieve this choice blessing from God. And how can we be ready to feel the spirit if we wake up at 2pm after a long night of "freedom?" That isn't the way God intended parents to be.
I am grateful for the blessing of having great parents. I am grateful for the commandments which help us to keep us free from sin. And I am especially grateful for the cleansing power of the Atonement which allows us to be freed from our sins and be clean once more. The gospel is simple. Have faith, repent, be baptized and take the sacrament to renew those covenants, and use the Holy Ghost to improve each week until we are called home to meet God again.
Elder Conner House

Time is Starting to Fly - November 7, 2012

Well this week has been pretty normal. Wake up, study, eat, tell Brazilians to slow down because I can't quite understand them, repeat. Hahaha. We lost our Brazilian companieros de quarto this week, so hopefully we can get some more this week. We aren't allowed to send pictures from the CTM, and we can only takes them on p-day and when people leave, so in a couple weeks, you can see my companions and these amazing Brazilian missionaries.
I am very excited to hear that Emily and Hillary both have their mission calls! Two great sisters to join the work. Hilary is going to love Brazil, but it'll mess with her Spanish really bad... but that's okay right? And the people of Argentina are blessed to have such a great sister headed their way. Please let me know when other people get their calls, because I don't really have any communication other that email right now. I sent home my address in a pouch that was supposed to go through Salt Lake City and get there within a week, but other than that, mail can take up to a month to get to the States from here, and about 10 days from the States to here...
Sitting with the workers who cook at the CTM and keep the grounds is very neat. They often don't know much about the church but they love talking with us in the cafeteria. They seem to think highly of the church and hopefully some will read the books we've given them.
I'm glad to see that Calli's halloween party was a success! She looked like a great little miss Granger. And I really liked Dad's missionary kit.
My companion in Provo, Elder Smith leaves next tuesday, and he is starting to freak out a little bit. Haha. I'm sure I will be too, but for now I am mostly excited.
The time is flying here as we continue to prepare for our service. Last night for devotional our district sang a little song and it was really good. I love Brazilians, but singing is often not a strong point for them  so when the Americans do musical numbers, everyone is just a little happier!
Our time is nearly up and we need to go jump on laundry. Bummer about the presidential election... but let me know how the local ones turned out as well!
Love you,
Elder House

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Week One Take Two

Brazil is a beautiful place.
The CTM here in Sao Paulo is a pretty amazing place. I am once again in a trio, with Elder Acosta (from Banks Oregon) and Elder Steed (from Longmont Colorado). In our room, we are with a Brazilian trio who are all great elders. I will be sure to get some pictures before they leave next tuesday.
It is amazing to bring together young men (and a few young women... but there are hardly any here compared to Provo) from different familial backgrounds, native languages, and countries, and produce Elders (and a handful of Sisters) ready to join the ranks of Gods army... I love being here, but there are a few things I miss about Provo. I dont recognize about half of the food, and when I ask what it is or how I can make it, the ladies who work in the kitchen describe fruits and spices that Ive never heard of before, but Im trying to learn so that in the field Ill know how to use the food around me to cook. (Sorry about punctuation... Brazilian keyboards are a little different and I have a difficult time finding where things like apostrophes are) I really like nearly all the food, but I just dont know what exactly it is. I recognized the pizza as being something relatively close to pizza, but certainly in its own very non-american way... as in no red sauce and about a half inch of cheese with various types of meat, fruits, or chocolate&bananas. I also miss the teachers in Provo... having BYU students who go through a pretty intensive application process to work at the MTC is a bit different that pulling whatever RMs are available in the Sao Paulo area to come teach some new missionaries. Needless to say, my ablility to study on my own without any support from a teacher is improving rapidly... in many ways, I would rather be doing this in the field than sitting in a class waiting for a teacher to show up not knowing what they want us to be doing.
But overall, I do like this place better. It is nice to be around Brazilians. Although some fit the negative stereotype of being fubecas, many are very devoted to the cause. I love talking with them about their country, about the food, about the people, and especially about Curitiba. Thus far, I havent heard a single negative comment about Curitiba, and I am growing more an more anxious to be in the field. Yesterday, and brother from the office walked in to have me sign some paperwork and asked where I was going. When I said Curitiba, all 6ft4in of him darted at me and scooped me off the floor in a bear hug and started talking sUUUuper fast about how much I am going to love the city, and the people, and the food, and the mission pres, and how it is the best mission in the world... About two minutes later he put me back on the ground and handed me my paperwork to sign... I love these people! I also like being in a bigger district. In provo I was in a class alone, and eventually in a class of 3. Here there are 11 of us and it is great to be working with more elders.
Today we got to go the Sao Paulo temple, and it is gorgeous. Inside they have amazing stained glass pictures of Christ appearing to the Nephites, and many other neat stories. The inside has beautiful wood work and such.
In the CTM, there is so much of this beautiful Brazilian mahogany that a member donated to use in the construction, and the whole place is beautiful.
Well I need to go, the time flies on these email computers. Now its off to the Rua to talk with people about the gospel and swing by the store.
Love you,
Elder House


Well as I was taking a little preparation day nap earlier today, I heard someone saying "don't wake him up, he's sleeping" followed by "oh he won't be sleepy after this." I assumed they were talking about me and I turned my head to see a little purple slip that said "Elder House - Travel Plans: Come to the travel office as soon as possible." Thank you for the prayers on my behalf to help my Visa come quickly.

On Tuesday morning I'll bee flying out to Atlanta, then Sao Paulo with another missionary in my zone who also got his visa.

Whew! Its probably good that they didn't tell me until four days before, because now it'll be harder to focus on my studies :)

In other news this week...
Teaching our practice investigators has been wonderful this week. As a companionship, we have begun to learn how to teach together and things are going very well. Although my companions might struggle a bit more with the language and with the doctrine, it is so critical that they open their mouths. As soon as we open our mouths to share the things we know, the spirit can help the words to flow. Last night Elder Parke decided to just go for it and his mouth was filled. Although he gets nervous and scared, the language came more easily for him in those few minutes than it has for any of us at any point thus far, and he sounded nearly fluent. As soon as we left, he was back to stumbling over his own tongue, and it was incredible to watch.

We have loved getting treats from the family and I have really appreciated all the letters. This is a great place, but sometimes the days get a little bit long as we spend all our time studying and learning. It's almost like cramming for finals 24/7 and we are left mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually tuckered out every night. But at the same time, I can feel the support of the spirit equal to the burden. The weeks are starting to fly. We start our missions by counting hours, then days, now weeks. Pretty soon it'll be months. 

Last Friday evening for TRC we had two members, who were both relatively young ladies who were probably returned missionaries. They both talked extremely quickly, but I was able to understand nearly 100% of what they said. That makes me hopeful for when I begin to start doing street contacts and just talking with people in streets of Sao Paulo starting next week!! Thinking about going back into the world is an interesting idea. I can't think of a more sheltered place... The MTC, on BYU campus, in Provo, in Utah, in the United States. But there have been some reminders that the world still exists... Elder Parke had to go to the doctor yesterday because he tore his ACL a few weeks ago. They said that he would be able to stay on his mission without surgery unless it gets any worse. We are praying that he won't have to go home for surgery and try to come back out afterwards, because the homesickness that he has been struggling with certainly won't be helped at all by actually being home. On Sunday I was standing outside waiting to go to dinner and I saw Karoline drive by which was kind of an odd experience for me. Also we have been getting all the important football scores from our Branch Presidency, and I was very disappointed to hear that the Beavers put a smack down on my Cougars in the fourth quarter. I also heard that the score probably isn't the greatest reflection of the entire game because the cougs crumbled at the end, but had played well up until then. I heard the homecoming parade last week which was also odd, but I've been pretty blessed that nothing has really gotten to me too bad. I was also a little bummed that I couldn't do much for Christian's birthday today, but I hope the card gets there today or tomorrow. Happy 17th Birthday Christian!!

I am pretty excited for what this next week has in store, and hope that the next letter will contain some cool travel story.

Love y'all

Elder Conner House

Week Three

Well Elder Smith is now in the Sao Paulo Brazil MTC, and I hope to join him soon, as soon as my visa comes in. I know that there have been good opportunities here for me to help struggling companions and to get adjusted to missionary life. However I truly think that the reason I am here and not in Brazil yet, was a meeting I had last week at the Training Resource Center (TRC). The TRC is a place where church members who live here in Utah come to have the missionaries teach them a message. They don't pretend to not be members or anything like that, its just a chance for us to practice the language and help them understand more about the gospel as we review gospel principles. Last week, I got to teach a lady who is from Curitiba! Sister Roque is a wonderfully sweet woman and she started tearing up as I shared some of my experiences with prayer. As we finished she asked where I am going to be serving and her whole face lit up. She took a whole page in my Portuguese Bible to write down her contact information and when she will be in Curitiba this winter. She tearfully explained that she has friends who she would like the missionaries to go talk to but she had been somewhat hesitant to tell the missionaries, and she would like me to go find them and share the same happiness she has found with them. Before we left, she made me promise to call her so that she can give me their names and numbers. She also promised that she would bring us food if we were doing a good job :) Meeting with good people is such a spirit lifter... sometimes being in a class for 12 hours a day is tiresome, so meeting with good members is a wonderful blessing. Remember that. The missionaries are still people too and a little chat can leave their day a bit brighter.
There may yet be more that the Lord has for me to do here before I can go to Brazil, but  I'm still praying it comes quickly
A big thanks to Aunt Amie for the mini-sized Preach My Gospel! There is an awesome picture of the family (the only one I have) on the inside and now when I teach people about having families in heaven, I can show them the wonderful people that I'll get to spend eternity with!!
It was hard to share the rice krispy treats that mom and calli sent today, but my zone greatly appreciated it :)
Conference was wonderful here in the MTC. As you can imagine, the MTC exploded with cheers and clapping when the announcement of lower ages for missionary service were announced. It will be a great blessing to those who want to learn about the gospel, and a great blessing to the increased number of sisters who will be able to serve. All of us missionaries appreciated Elder Nelson's talk... Because if you want to learn more, they are there to help. They've... We've given up two years to teach people about Christ and the Church, so if you need their help, they will be more than willing to talk to you and help you out! Plus I'm sure that biking around in the Oregon rain can be tough.
I've loved hearing from you and hope that things continue to go well at home.
God takes care of his missionaries and the people who pray for them :)
With muito amor,
Elder Conner House

One Week esta completed!

Well this letter is coming after a little bit of a let down... A Brazilian news agency came to do a special TV report on the Church and our district of missionaries (4 of us) and a couple others were going to be interviewed on what it is like to be a missionary and be in the MTC. The First Presidency granted special permission for a crew to come in but their news anchor is sick... So we waited for about an hour and a half for them to show up but they never did. Guess we lost half a preparation day for naught :/ Now we just need to go into hyper productive mode to get the rest of our laundry done asap before classes start this evening.
My companion Elder Smith recieved his visa today, and we highly suspect that he was staying in this MTC until this news crew came so that we could have at least a couple missionaries going to Brazil talk with them, and not just the ones bound for Portugal, Boston, and Cape Verde. Anyways, that will be bitter sweet because I know that he'll have a great time in the Brazil CTM, but it means that I get left in a threesome. It'll be good though.
Andrew and Wendy (and Ansley) get special blessings this week for sending cookies :) And so do Calli and Carsten for sending letters... Oh, and thanks for the leatherman and luggage strap! Since we can't chew gum, we could probably use some lifesaver mints :) And my branch president said I should ask for the family to put together a little picture album to send to me, and things of that sort from friends as well.
Well things here move at a breakneck pace as we learn the language as we learn how to teach. I learned last night, that "Josiane" is actually a returned missionary who had been acting as someone she knew very well and doing her best to respond as Josiane had in Sao Paulo. The Sister who was acting is now one of my teachers, so the lesson last night was just a tad awkward as I got to know who she really is... Its terrible that I can't remember her name right now. But she is a wonderful teacher and I know that I'll be able to learn a lot from her.
I saw Elder Yack a couple days ago! He now works at the MTC teaching missionaries who are going to be serving state side. He wanted to know how the family was doing and remembered how amazing mom's cooking is. I told him that all is well in the House home!
I've pretty much adjusted to the schedule here, but it is often hard to get everything done before 10:30! But as we've learned, obedience brings blessings... exact obedience works miracles.
Well I would love to hear from ya'll! Our computer time is also a bit shorter cause we lost several hours waiting for the TV crew... But we were promised blessings for being ready and willing to represent the church :)
Elder Conner House

First Week!!

Ola from the MTC!
Well I guess the first night email thing doesn't happen anymore, but I do get a mini P-day today to do laundry and do email...
My mailing address is
Elder Conner Warrick House
MTC Mailbox #165
2005 N. 900 E.
Provo, UT 84604-1793
My MTC companion is Elder Smith from Pennsylvania. He is going to Rio de Janeiro is also waiting on a visa to Brazil, but he's been here for two weeks longer than I. There are only a few Brazil bound missionaries here, and only one other one in our zone, Elder Garcia, who has been here for much longer than either of us. Most of the other Portuguese speakers here are going to Portugal, Cape Verde, and Boston. The language is coming pretty quickly, but I've been speaking a mix of Spanish and Portuguese so I get teased a little bit about speaking "Portunol." I am in kind of an odd situation because I am the only Portuguese speaker that came in this week, and usually they move you through the MTC with the people who came in the same week as you. So I am the only person in all of my classes, but sometimes the scheduling has been tricky if my companion has a slightly different schedule. Next week they'll have it all sorted out, and if I can keep learning at the pace I'm on, then I'll join Elder Smith and the other missionaries who came in two and a half weeks ago. Next week we have 20-some missionaries coming in for Portuguese, but I'd be taking a big step backwards to join them :/
They keep us running pretty hard around here, from 6:30 till 10:30 we are going non stop. The mornings are sUuuuper productive for me and I absorb information like a sponge, but by the afternoon, I'm a little bit saturated with information and it becomes harder. They certainly don't have you wait to start teaching. I've already taught a woman named Josiane in Portuguese, with what little I know how to say. Its a humbling experience because the Spirit was trying to direct me on what to say, but I didn't have the words to communicate properly. We asked her to pray and she was hesitant, but I told her that I would have an even harder time praying than she would, so she agreed to pray after I did.
Living here is a lot like Helaman Halls at BYU. There are four of us in a room and about 6 rooms share a big bathroom. The food is great, but I miss cooking for myself. Its cool to see lots of people from BYU... From classes, dance, church, etc. My zone leader is Elder Sorensen and he was in my same building at BYU. I saw Elder Paxon and talked with him for a second yesterday. Elder Yates didn't hear me when I called out to him, but I'm sure we'll cross paths, cause even though there are 2400ish missionaries, its a small place.
The Espirito Santo is very strong here and I can understand now why they ask that we leave facebook and normal music behind. At home, if you are listening to music that isn't necessarily designed to bring the spirit, then you can't expect the Lord to help you learn his doctrine and help you learn the language nearly as fast. The pace of learning here is incredible. There have been very few times in my life when my head has hurt because of so much learning, but for the past three nights, I've gone to bed having learned as much as I possibly could have... actually more. I can feel the help of God as I study and my prayers have become urgent cries for assistance. In Portuguese, the word for prayer sounds very similar to the word for cry. And that is what the prayers of a missionary are... a cry for help in learning the language and in softening the hearts of those who we teach.
I love you all and hope that the you can feel the Lord's love for you.
I'm praying for you, and remember, the Lord blesses those who pray for missionaries and send them cookies ;)
Elder Conner House