Monday, October 28, 2013

Sevilha, Brazil Week 4

Another great week come and gone! First off, last Monday we played basketball with some members of the ward at the outdoor basketball court at the church. It was a ton of fun although it was super hot! We also played some other games such as a variation of capture the flag. It was awesome and we are gonna do it again today. We all had such a great time we decided to make it a weekly tradition. I really love a lot of the members here and they love spending time with the missionaries.

This week was disappointing with some of the people we are teaching. Remember that big family we´ve been teaching? Well, this week a few of our appointments fell through with them and when we finally were able to teach them only 4 of them were there and they told us that they were no longer interested so that was quite sad, but I am hopeful sometime down the road they will meet with the missionaries again. They are a great family. 

We also came in contact with another family. We met 3 of the kids on the street and they invited us to return that night to talk with them and their parents. They are Leandro and Aidé and their 4 kids. We had a great first lesson about the Restoration and a great second lesson with Leandro and his son, Leví, about the Book of Mormon. We are excited for them!

We´ve also been teaching Fabio, his wife Vera, and their 9 year-old daughter Fabiola. Fabio and Vera have been reading the Book of Mormon but they work at the big market here on Sunday mornings so weren´t able to attend church this week. That´s actually a big problem we have here is that there is this HUGE street market here on Sunday mornings that a lot of people work at so they can´t come to church. Although we taught Fabio about keeping the Sabbath Day holy and he has expressed his desire to follow it.

We taught Mateus, age 13, again but it turns out his main residence is in another part of our mission and he only visits our area sometimes so we had to pass him off to other Elders. But he is great and is really excited about getting baptized and talks about serving a mission a lot!

Friday we had a cool experience. We had been going to our appointments all day and each one of them was falling through (our appointments fell through a lot this week). But anyways we had just went to an appointment that fell through and we were pretty discouraged and had been walking a ton and it was about 5:30 and we were super hungry. Just as we were talking about how hungry we were and how we didn´t have any money with us to buy anything, a couple came up to us and asked us if we were hungry and wanted something to eat. We said that would be awesome and thanked them very much. They went in their house and went and got some chairs for us to sit on right outside their house and then he went and bought us some food and soda and brought it to us. We talked with them for a while and thanked them very much. It was great, and it was much needed at that time in our day. It was quite a testimony of how the Lord takes care of us out here. It might not sound like a big deal but to us at that time, it meant a lot!

I also went on another division this week. I spent a day with Elder Cetraro in his area. He is one of the missionaries that lives in our house and he is awesome! He is from Logan, Utah and he helped me out a lot with the language and having more confidence in my ability to communicate. I had a great day and learned a lot from him and he was really encouraging and motivated me to continue to work hard at the language!

My Portuguese has really been coming along this week. I created a really good language study plan and I´ve had a great week of studying the language. I made specific goals for studying the grammar, vocab, and verb conjugations. I also have a goal to finish reading O Livro de Mórmon in portuguese by the new year and I made specific goals for each week to be able to accomplish this. I have had a great week with the language and I thank all of you who have been praying for me. I have felt those prayers a lot this week! Along with my language study I have been studying about challenges and how they are for our benefit. I also have been studying in the scriptures about patience and hope. It´s been a great week!

I hope all is going well for all of you! Thank you for the love and support. I am really doing great and loving it here!

Until next week.

Elder Helvey

 We got together with some young men in the ward and played some basketball 
on the outdoor court at the chapel. It was a lot of fun!

Elder Christiansen and I matched our days one day

Monday, October 21, 2013

Sevilha, Brazil Week 3

Oi! Well another great week has come and gone here in Genibaú. We have been teaching and contacting new people like CRAZY! I am absolutely exhausted at the end of each and every day but it´s so great! Going to bed every night exhausted is a great feeling, and when that alarm clock goes off every morning at 6:30AM it´s time for another great day! I have been doing personal exercise in the morning a little differently. After I do my sit-ups/push-ups, etc I have started lifting this big heavy piece of concrete that used to be part of our roof, One great thing is that it is already really bright by 6:30AM so it´s a good way to start the day.

This week I went on a split. That´s where we switch companions for 24 hours. I went with Elder Pedrosa to serve in Conjunto Ceará. He is from Rio and is awesome! We had a lot of fun together and it was a great learning experience because I had to speak Portuguese the entire time since he doesn´t know English. It was a lot of work but it was great! Although I must say I am glad I have an American for my first companion here to kind of help me ease into Portuguese. My Portuguese gets better every day and of course there are times where I get frustrated because I can´t understand everything people say or they can´t understand me but I know that it´s all part of the experience and I am loving the challenge.

Also this week we took the hour bus ride into Aldeota which is a super nice part of Fortaleza. That´s where the mission office is. We had interviews and training. It was awesome! I love President and Sister Souza! Something I didn´t realize is that they end their mission in 9 months, so we will get a new Mission President then. Anyways, they are great and it was awesome to be there. The mission office is in a really tall building and it has a sweet view out the windows. It´s crazy how different it is there compared to my area. The buses are crazy here. It´s like a roller coaster, but it was fun.

We also started teaching this awesome family this week. The first lesson we had with them there were 4 people and then then next lesson they invited more family so there were 9 people and then on Saturday night we had an awesome lesson with them and there were 12 people! We were all crammed in their small little kitchen. Elder Christiansen and I were sitting on chairs while we taught and 2 of them were sitting on chairs too but everyone else was either sitting on the floor or standing. It was a really awesome experience! 3 of them came to church with us yesterday and we will continue to teach them. They are great!

We also started teaching an 11 year-old boy named Mateus who really wants to be baptized and his parents gave permission so that will be awesome! He´s great, and he´s already talking about serving a mission. That was the best!

We have continued to visit Tiago and Katia everyday and we had a great lesson with them last night.

It has been extremely hot here and of course I wear sunscreen every day. Something I found out this week is that even the locals here wear sunscreen. We are so close to the equator and the sun just beats down all day every day. Also, at night before I go to bed I put on bug repellent because there are a lot of mosquitoes here. It´s all good though, it´s crazy how used to everything I already am. It´s just the way it is. Also, walking on the streets kids love to come up and talk to us and try to speak to us in English, because they teach English here in school. It´s fun and they always ask us how to say their name in English. It´s funny because often times it´s not that different. They are so great and love to talk with us.

Overall it was a great week and it continues to be an awesome experience. Later today we are going to the chapel to play basketball with some of the young men in the ward. The members here are great and we love spending time with them and going and teaching with them as well. The basketball court at the church is outside so it´s gonna be super hot. Well that´s all for this week. Thank you all for the love and support. I hope all is going well for everyone back home.

Until next week.

Elder Helvey

 A picture of my area (Genibau, Fortaleza) from a 4 story apartment building

 Me and Victor. He is the son of Tiago (who was baptized my first week) and Katia, 
who we are still teaching and working towards baptism. 
We are over at their house almost everyday. 
They are great and have 3 little kids full of energy!

 I snapped this bad boy this morning while I was hanging up my white shirts to dry after washing them. Clothes dry pretty dang quick here!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Sevilha, Brazil Week 2

Hello from Genibau, Fortaleza! 

This week has been AMAZING!! Not because anything specifically happened or anything but it is just so amazing to be able to share the gospel with people here. First off, the members of the church here are awesome and they take great care of us! They really LOVE the missionaries. Everyday we eat lunch at a members house. Lunch is the big meal here and it´s usually always beans and rice, and then some kind of meat or pasta. Also, there are so many awesome fruits here and always super good juice! So at noon we eat at a members house and then from 2-9 we are out on the streets teaching and contacting. We walk A TON! It´s interesting because people just sit outside their houses here. Especially later in the day when everyone is home there´s just groups of people all sitting right outside their homes. You kind of expect a parade to becoming down the street because the street is just lined with people sitting. They do this because it gets very hot in people´s houses and they like the breeze outside; This makes it very easy to start talking to people. When we are on our way to an appointment we walk by people and give them a thumbs up and say ``Tudo bem?´´. Everyone is so friendly and nice here. It makes contacting and teaching new people so awesome and we have had some great experiences this week.

We are teaching quite a few people. We our teaching an 11 year-old girl whose aunt is a member. She is named Isadora and she is doing great! We are also teaching a man named Carlos, a woman named Marcela, and then we found two guys this week who are awesome! One is Felipe who is 20 and the other is Walyson who is 19. They both seem excited about hearing more after we taught them the message of the Restoration and prayed with them. Unfortunately, neither of them came to church but we are going to work with them both this week and hopefully they´ll come. It was kind of disappointing because out of all our investigators (we expected 6 at church) only 1 came. But still, 1 is better than none! Also, church is really nice because the chapel is air conditioned which is like unheard of here! So that was a nice break from the heat, humidity, and constant sweating that we experience all day everyday. I´m getting used to that though. It´s amazing how used to things I am already after being here for just two weeks. There are so many things that are so different than how life is in the United States, but I am learning to quickly love the differences. Even though air conditioning for an hour a week is quite nice.

Anyways, our one investigator who came to church was Katia, who is 24 and her husband is Tiago (27), who got baptized last week. Yesterday he was confirmed, which was awesome. We are working with her and trying to get her prepared to be baptized. We had an amazing lesson with her last night! She told us she hasn´t gained a testimony of the church yet and that during fast and testimony meeting everyone got up there and said that they knew this was true or that was true but never said HOW they knew it was true. After Elder Christiansen shared a scripture and shared his experience, Katia asked me how I knew that the church was true. I told her that my testimony of the truthfulness of the gospel came overtime, as I continued to read the scriptures, pray, and live the gospel principles. I then had her read a verse from the Book of Mormon. Ether 12:6 where Moroni talks about faith and that we receive no witness until after the trial of our faith. I love that scripture and she seemed to love it to. Right after reading the scripture out loud she explained how her faith must be tested first and then she will receive a testimony as she just continues reading, praying, and living in faith. It was awesome! We are super excited for her and it was a really amazing experience.
Also, last night we found 3 new families! We taught two of them last night, one with 3 young kids, and another with 1. Tonight we are teaching the other family that has a little baby. We are way excited about all 3 of them!

Well that´s all for this week. What an amazing week it has been. Oh, I forgot to say anything about my portuguese. Everyday it gets a little better and everyday I am able to communicate and understand more than the previous day. I keep a little notebook with me during the day for new words and also have been working on memorizing ``Called to Serve´´ in portuguese as we walk throughout the day. I also wrote out President Monson´s quote, ´´the heavenly virtue of patience is necessary´´ on a notecard and taped it to the wall write above my study area. Thank you all for the support and love. I feel your prayers! I hope all is going well for everyone.
Until next week, tchau!

Elder Helvey

Monday, October 7, 2013

Sevilha, Brazil Week 1

Hello from Fortaleza, Brazil!

Man, this past week has been a rush. I arrived at the Fortaleza Airport and we were picked up and loading our luggage in the trailer of a van and then we all got into the van. We got dropped off at the mission home, which is an apartment in the nicer part of the city of Fortaleza. We had dinner and met President and Sister Souza. They are awesome! They don´t speak English so an American Elder translated much of our interactions. We then went to the mission office which is in a high-rise building about 10 minutes away from the mission home, also in a nice part of Fortaleza. We received instruction and met our companions. My companion´s name is Elder Christiansen from Texas. He is great and is really good at Portuguese (he has been out for 17 months). We then took a taxi to our area, which was about 40 minutes away. We arrived at our house (if you can call it that), and we share it with two other Elders. It´s pretty nice, but very, very different from anything in the United States.

I have been assigned to the Ala Sevilha (Sevilha Ward). Our area covers part of Genibau and Conjunto Ceara, which are kind of like districts within the city of Fortaleza. It´s so different here, it´s crazy! It has been a pretty hard week, but a good one. Portuguese has been very difficult for me, and it has been quite humbling. The first day I was almost positive that the language everyone is speaking here is not the language they taught me in the MTC, haha. I guess in Fortaleza, they pronounce things very differently. It was rough initially, and still is very difficult, but I´m slowly, so very slowly progressing. I just want to be able to understand everyone and communicate with everyone right away but I know it will take time. As President Thomas S. Monson reminded us this weekend in General Conference, ``the heavenly virtue of patience is required´´.

We had a successful week teaching, and we had one baptism! Tiago, who Elder Christiansen and his old companion had been teaching,  was baptized so that was awesome! He´s great and I am very excited for him. We are still working with his wife to get baptized. We teach a ton here! People love talking with us and inviting us in their homes. It´s been crazy and very, very different from New York, although my mind has often been with the wonderful people I was working with in New York, and I miss them a ton! But anyways, my first day we taught 11 lessons! The members here are totally awesome as well. Almost the entire week, wherever we go and teach we have a member with us, just because they love sharing the gospel! It´s been great to visit so many people in just one week. I usually just say a few things in lessons because obviously my Portuguese isn´t great but I am able to understand what is going on during lessons, like when we are in gospel discussions.

Pretty much everyone here loves talking with us and are all so loving and inviting, so that has been awesome! We walk everywhere and it is super hot and humid here, so we´re constantly just drenched in sweat. Inside our house, which is protected by two separate metal gates that each have locks on them, it is also hot. The showers are cold, which is quite a shock after always being so hot. There are also a lot of bugs, and we have to keep all food in the refrigerator. Also, I got very sick this week, which they say is pretty normal for my first little bit. I had to spend half a day in bed, throwing up, etc. But I am feeling better now, after I called Sister Souza and she told me what medicine to get. It was miserable but I´m doing well now.

Definitely one of the highlights of the week was General Conference! We started watching it in the church in Portuguese, which was nice because it was air-conditioned, but then, us 5 American Elders went into another room to watch it in English.  It was really hot but I didn´t care cause I could understand it. It was so awesome! It made me feel right at home (I´ve been a little homesick), and gave me great comfort. My favorite talk was President Uchtdorf´s Saturday Morning Session, where he said, ``doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith´´. I love that! All conference was so great and was a nice break from translating everything in my head.

Overall, it has been a hard, but good week! I am truly blessed to have this opportunity to be a missionary here. I know that as I continue to work hard the Lord will continue to bless me. I am thankful for this challenging time, and I am excited for what lies ahead. I have felt the love and prayers from so many of you, even though I am so far away. Thank you all for everything! I hope all is going well for you all. I love and miss you all.

Until next week.

Elder Helvey