Monday, April 29, 2013

Ipe Semana 6

This week in Jardim Ipê, we had the baptism of a 17 year old young man named Bruno. Bruno is the brother of a woman (Emelyne) who was baptized the week before I arrived in Ipê, and her husband (Julio) preformed the baptism. I love watching FAMILIES progress together! It was the very first ordinance that Julio performed (before passing the sacrament or anything!) and he did it perfectly. Saturday was a very spiritual day indeed.
Saturday in the morning we helped a woman named Elizabeth build a house. The whole ward showed up in work clothes and we built the foundation. The next step will be supports and the roof. And on a third day, we´ll put up the walls and plumbing. I got to do my fair share of mixing up concrete and stacking bricks, but afterwards, I tossed on my suit and we headed to the chapel for the baptism!
This week, I received the birthday package from mom. Thank you so much for the object lessons and peanut butter. I´ve been taking around the eggs of Jelly Beans to share with people we are teaching, and everybody loves to eat one and guess at the flavor :) Also, Elder Yesquen rather enjoyed his first encounter with Swedish Fish.

Yesterday we had a telistakeconference with the Presiding Bishop, a counsellor in the RS Presidency, Elder Ellis of the 70, and Elder Scott of the 12. They had translators for the first two speakers, but not for Elder Ellis nor Scott. Elder Ellis speaks Portuguese almost flawlessly! It was rather impressive. Elder Scott speaks a pretty thick Portanol, but `da para entender.` Elder Ellis made a comment about agency that I appreciated. He said that many people mistakenly speak of `Free Agency` when in reality, there is nothing free at all about our Agency. There was a war fought in heaven, that continues on earth, as the devil continues to try to strip us of our agency. In heaven, he was direct... `Give me all the power, and I´ll save them all, without giving them a choice.` Here on earth, the battle is more subtle, as he tempts us with addictions and habits that limit our agency. Elder Scott talked about how we communicate with our Father in Heaven, and how He speaks with us. He talked about his prayers as a missionary, and how he always found a way to pray out loud, even if in a quiet voice. I reflected on my prayers, and I can say without a doubt, that when I pray out loud, even if just barely whispering, my communication with my Father is much better. My prayers become more fervent and sincere. My invitation to you is to say at least one personal prayer out loud daily during the week, and note how your communication with Heaven improves.

Alright, so perhaps the biggest thing that happened this week, happened last night. We got transfer calls... `Elder Yesquen vai sair. Elder House vaitreinar.` I will be a trainer starting tomorrow... I don´t yet know if my greenie will be American, Brazilian, Mexican, English... but I am very excited. I´m going to have to find some green food coloring to fix up some green eggs and ham for breakfast on Wednesday. Please pray for me. I´m going to need it.
Glad to hear that trek preparations are going well! Here are some photos we took in the homes of a few members yesterday as we were wishing farewell to Elder Yesquen.

Elder House

Monday, April 22, 2013

Ipe Semana 5

What a wonderful weekend!

On Saturday, we had the marriage, baptism, and ring ceremony of Ricardo and Mahara. The way marriage in Brasìl happens (when it happens) is a little ceremony in a courthouse with a man older than dirt in a black robe, a couple of friends to act as testimonies and forking over R$250. So with the civil marriage taken care of we headed to chapel. [Cue Dad singing] ´Go-ing to the chap-el, and I´m, gon-na get marr...` Baptized! Why wait? :) The baptism of Ricardo was an experience that I will never forget. Ricardo has to use a wheel chair, because he has no function in his legs, so a brother from the church who was to perform the baptism, and Elder Yesquen, carried him into the water and helped support him during the ceremony, and helped to immerse him. As we taught Ricardo about the baptism of Christ several weeks ago, he raised the concern about how he would be able to be baptized in the same way considering his condition of being confined to a wheelchair. But with a little bit of planning, it all worked out. Their 5 year old son Rayan wanted to be baptized also, and was nearly crying in his plea. We explained that he needs to wait until 8 years of age but he wasn´t having it... Then Mahara explained that they hadn´t brought a towel or and extra pair of underwear for him, so he decided that waiting wouldn´t be so bad after all :)

Saturday evening we celebrated the marriage and baptism with a ring ceremony in the chapel. I don´t think that Mahara had ever used high heels, but the bishop owns a shoe factory and made a pair for her. Ricardo was in a suit (I believe for the first time in his life) and looking sharp. They invited a bunch of their neighbors and relatives who had been hesitant to accept our invitation to visit church because `they only have fancy people there,` but they wanted to participate in the marriage and party. Yesterday, nearly every single one of the people who attended the wedding, also attended church to watch the confirmation. I have a feeling that we will be helping many more in this family enter the waters of baptism in the following months. With the whole ward supporting these people that we are teaching, there will be many more children of God who enter the Ward Jardim Ipê.

In other news, I have been resharpening my rather dull piano skills in the past weeks playing for sacrament meeting. Everybody is very happy to have a piano to help the ward stay on pitch! :)


Elder House

Monday, April 15, 2013

Ipe Semana 4

This is going to be a wonderful week! We are preparing the marriage and baptism of a young couple Ricardo and Mahára. The whole ward is excited and anxiously preparing the food, salgadinhos (literally `little salty things` but more like mini two-bite pastries) and clothing for the celebration.

The Ala Jardim Ipê is a great area to be in. The population of this area generally is a little more well off than the part of Colombo I was in, but it is still rather poor compared with the actual city of Curitiba. The streets are about 80% paved, and there are NO hills. It is flatter than Nebraska here, but walking the area still takes a while. The members here generally work with construction and things like installing security systems across Curitiba... and a large percentage of the ward works in the enormous Electrolux factory here in São José dos Pinhais. There are also many many lakes and rivers in our area so at some point, we plan on going fishing with some members for a p-day activity. Everybody here fishes :)

Writing email in a Lan-house in Brasíl is an interesting experience. The keyboard I am using only responds to every other keystroke on a couple of key letters and the backspace, so it takes a little while to write anything. My companion and I are currently surrounded by a bunch of 11 year old boys playing a video game called cross-fire and they are making quite a hullabaloo yelling and screaming to one another about how they just shot the brains out of someone and how the other needs to cover his back... plus, the one who was hovering over my shoulder looking on the screen of his comrade to my left has quite the cough, but when I asked him to please stop messing with my chair he magically stopped coughing and yelling :) I suppose every place has its `bagunceiros` but São José has `bastante`...

My companion made a mango mousse for breakfast on my birthday and put candles in it too :) We were starving and ate the whole thing in no time flat. 

Recepie for Brazilian mousse:
1 part sweetened condensed milk,
1 part cream,
1 package of instant juice (usually tang, which in Brasíl comes in about 30 flavors including but not limited to, orange, passion fruit, watermelon, mango, grape, coconut, tangerine, strawberry, kiwi, and a bunch of fruits that don´t exist in the states such as goiaba, caju, etc.)
Mix in blender, stick in pan, stick in fridge or freezer for 15 minutes, enjoy!

This week, I was thinking a bit about what the Savior meant when he called his disciples `the salt of the earth.` I don´t want to be salty... I´d rather be the sugar of the earth, or the chocolate chips of the earth, or something along those lines. Then I thought about one time that mom was making chili. She had put in a few peppers, but it didn´t get spicy. So she added more. And still no heat. More and more peppers, and just a marginal rise in spicy-ness. Then she started adding salt. Just a little salt and you could start to feel the heat kick in. More and more salt and the chili became very spicy. It was after this that I began to understand the importance of salt. Even though the salt accounted for just a few grams in the huge pot of chili, it had a profound effect in making it as it ought to be. As disciples of Christ, we might not be many in the huge population of our world, or our country, or our town, or our school... but by doing as we ought to, our influence can help all the other flavors present themselves more fully... or, help those around us understand, by our examples, what they should be doing... how to be a better student, member of the community, citizen, and human being. 

Christ followed his comment about salt with instructions:

`Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.` (Matthew 5:16)

Be a good example.


Elder House

Monday, April 8, 2013

Ipe Semana 3

Conference Weekend is more or less Christmas for missionaries. Any answer you could ever want is hidden somewhere in the discourses of General Conference :) Answers to personal questions, answers to the questions of investigators, and answers for questions you didn´t even know you had. This conference was truly a revelatory experience. I almost had to listen to conference in Portuguese, but they set up a little room for the people who wanted to hear the actual voices of the General Authorities.

Here, pretty much everyone comes to the chapel on Sunday in church attire, but on Saturday, about half watch at home. They have translators who are translating conference in real time and that is what is broadcasted to the chapels across Brasíl.

I don´t know if it is just because I´m a missionary and therefore more sensitive to comments about missionaries, but it seemed like just about every speaker talked about the responsibilities of members in helping the gospel grow.

The missionary work in Ipê is going well and we are preparing what will be a wonderful wedding and baptism! This coming week will be very busy :)

Also... The mission rules have changed regarding email. We now have more time to send email and can send and receive emails from anyone who lives outside our mission boundaries, and people of the same gender within. This includes anyone back at home who would like to. I can be reached at


Elder House

Monday, April 1, 2013

Ipe Semana 2

Turns out you can spell ee-PAY with an I or a Y

I love this ward! The people here love the missionaries and are eager to help with the missionary work. The challange will be dragging me companion out from almoço because they all like to talk so much! My companion Elder Yesquen from Peru has been out for 8 months and has been here in the area for a few transfers. He is a good missionary, but we are working on getting the area running at 100% speed again. The Elder I am replacing was finishing his mission, and boy was he ready to go home. So this week we found many new people to teach, and we have several people ready to be baptized in the coming month. The area is very large... as was Colombo, but here they don´t have any hills, so it is physically possible to cross the whole area on foot... takes a while, but it´s possible.

Today we went into the center of Curitiba to a `Cartório` looking for a birth certificates for a young couple we are teaching, named Ricardo and Mahara. After a `little´ wait (think DMV type beauracracy with a very distinctly Brazilian flavor) we got the documents and ran back to another Cartório where they will be married on the 20th of this month, and baptized the following day!

Yesterday we celebrated easter, and recieved chocolate eggs `de mais` ... Still recovering. Also, it being my first sunday, they asked me to speak in church, and teach a class, and help with a training... and starting next week, I´ll also be playing the piano for the ward :) It was very busy, but wonderful.

As always, I never have enough time to write all that I want to, but I hope that Easter went well and that Calli ate my share of pita bread and taziki! 


Elder House

P.S. I saw that picture of the family with Anthony... somebody needs to put a brick on that little girl´s head, or she´s gonna be taller than me when I get back!!