Monday, March 31, 2014

Aldeota, Brazil Week 20

Hey! I had another great week this week. Man time is really flying by! I just got back from eating at Burger King and while we were all eating there Elder Allen and I were remembering when we ate there as companions and how it didn´t seem that long ago but that was back in November and tomorrow starts the month of April! Wow, it really is crazy how fast time goes. But it´s good!

This week was pretty normal as far as work in the Mission Office goes. It was funny - Elder Larkin and I were talking on the phone last week and he was asking me how everything was going in the Mission Office. I hadn´t really realized it but everything has been super relaxed. I think I´m at the point where everything I have to do, for the most part, I have already done many times so it´s easy for me. Everything is pretty routine for me now but there is always something new or interesting that comes up that keeps life exciting around here. And if there´s not anything new or exciting or fun, we make it fun! The Mission Office is a place where A LOT of work gets done but also where we have a lot of fun. One great thing about this transfer is that since Elder Vallo and I are companions and we both have quite a bit of time in the Mission Office, we are able to finish our work and leave to go visit and teach people - which is, of course, the best part of the day! We have had a goal to leave everyday at 6:30 and we have been able to accomplish that goal except for a few exceptions.

We had an awesome week as far as meeting new people to teach and visiting them. Actually, it was the most successful week of visiting and meeting new people I have had since I have been here in Aldeota. I received a phone call from Bruno telling me that he gave a Book of Mormon to one of his friends and that he wants us to teach them in his house. This week we taught two of his friends in his house and it was such an awesome experience. Bruno is super excited about sharing the gospel and it sooo cool to see him share it with his friends. He explained really well about how we believe that families can be together forever, and it was so awesome to see him teach and testify! We also visited a few other people throughout the week, including Fabinho. Unfortunately, all the people we are teaching did not come to church so we are going to work harder and help them feel the importance of coming to church. I am excited to continue to work with all of them and help them come closer to our Savior, Jesus Christ. And maybe, in a few short months they will be sharing the gospel with their friends, just as Bruno is doing.

I feel so blessed to be a missionary in this ward. Each week when I go to church I realized how blessed I am to be a missionary here in Aldeota. The members have become some of my best friends and I love working with them to share the gospel to the wonderful people here in this area. I have been studying the Book of Mormon a lot and I love the part in Alma 17 where it explains Alma´s joy when he saw the sons of Mosiah after some time and it says that “Alma did rejoice exceedingly to see his brethren; and what added more to his joy, they were still his brethren in the Lord; yea, and they had waxed strong in the knowledge of the truth; for they were men of a sound understanding and they had searched the scriptures diligently, that they might know the word of God. But this is not all; they had given themselves to much prayer, and fasting; therefore they had the spirit of prophecy, and the spirit of revelation, and when they taught, they taught with power and authority of God.” I love that! That is what I want to see and the joy I want to have one day when I return to Aldeota and see the people that I have taught and baptized here. For now, we continue to work hard and have faith in the Lord that he will help us with the work, because it is truly His work.

Thanks you all for the love and support! I hope all continues to go well for everyone back at home. I love you all and miss you, but am doing great here!!

Until next week.

Elder Helvey

Zona Aldeota (yes, there are a ton of Sisters in our zone. We have the most Sisters out of any zone.)

We helped the Bishop paint his new apartment. 
We are excited because he is moving into our same apartment building!

Walking past an old Catholic church on our way back to the office after lunch yesterday.

Elder Vallo and I in our new Zona Aldeota shirts! They are pretty sweet.

The back of the shirt. Number 11 in Pinewood colors, brought back some good memories! 
(P.S. A late congratulations to Pinewood Boys Basketball for winning 4th CCS championship in a row!)

Monday, March 24, 2014

Aldeota, Brazil Week 19

Hey guys!

I had another great week here in Aldeota, Fortaleza, Brasil! The week started with 9 new missionaries arriving in our mission which is always a fun day. After the airport, we all had lunch at the Mission Home (Sister Souza´s famous tacos!!) and then all headed to the Mission Office for interviews and trainings. It was so fun to have Elder Allen back doing all this again. I gave my training about mail, materials, health insurance, passports, and visas, etc. It´s always fun to interact with the new missionaries and there is such a great feeling and excitement in the Mission Office that first day of the transfer. We had a little time between the training and when they meet their new companions and I was just sitting there with all the new missionaries. I asked them if they wanted to sing hymns, they all said yes so I went and got hymn books and then one of the Sisters jumped up to direct the music. We sang many hymns, and man, there were only 9 new missionaries but it sounded like there were hundreds. There was such a strong spirit and exciting energy in the room. It was a such a great experience. That night two new missionaries stayed in our apartment because they were assigned to areas that are far away from Fortaleza. It was great interacting more with them and getting to know them better. Overall, it was a great day to start the week!

Elder Vallo and I had a great week. Elder Vallo is my new companion from Argentina. He has already been here in the Mission Office and living in the same house as me for 3 months so I already know him well. We get a long great and like to joke around and laugh a lot. We also have some goals for this transfer that I am excited for and we had a great week. We visited a man named Taçiano, who Elder Allen and I visited when I first got here in November. He was happy to see us and we had a good lesson with him teaching him more about the Book of Mormon and how it can be a guide in our lives. He has a wife and 2 daughters so we are hopeful we will be able to teach them too.

Friday, Elder Vallo and I spent quite a bit of time outside the Mission Office getting some stuff done for the mission. I had to authenticate a lot of documents (passports and visas) for a lot of foreign missionaries so that took forever and then Elder Vallo had to visit a person pretty far away to sign a contract for one of the new missionary apartments. It´s kinda nice though because when we have to do stuff like that we can use taxis so I got a sweet taxi ride this week, compared to the hot and crowded buses. We returned to the Mission Office just in time for a recently returned missionary to arrive there and for me to administrate the English Test to him, which is something I have to do here which I don´t think I´ve ever said.

Elder Vallo and I had a cool experience this week with one of my past investigators. His name in Fabinho and Elder Muniz and I taught him but his work schedule is complicated and it´s super hard for him to set up a time for us to visit. I have continued to pray for him but we haven´t been able to set up a time with him for awhile. Well on Thursday night Elder Vallo and I had to leave our area and travel to another area for Elder Vallo to do an emergency baptismal interview for an investigator of some Sisters in our Zone. Everything went well but by the time we took the bus back to our area it was around 8 so we didn´t have much time left to work. We decided to swing by the church building and talk with the non members who play soccer there every Thursday and then we decided to go to a little square near the church and do some contacts. There weren´t many people there but we talked to some people and then around 8:45 decided to leave to walk back to our apartment. As we were leaving the square we hear someone call "Elders!", we look over and it´s Fabinho sitting on a bench!! I was so excited and introduced him to Elder Vallo. We started talking and he said that he has been working a lot but has been reading the Book of Mormon and has some questions. We had a great lesson with him about the Book of Mormon and also talked a lot about baptism. It was so great to be able to teach him and we invited him to write down his questions he has as he reads the Book of Mormon and we will help him understand them. It was a great experience and really proved to me that the Lord is so aware of us and knows where we need to be and when we need to be there and will help us encounter those that are ready to hear the Gospel.

Sunday was great also. Bruno gave a talk in Sacrament Meeting! He did a great job and talked how being a member of the church has helped so much and how happy he is and what a great feeling he feels when he comes to church. To help him prepare for his talk we visited him on Saturday night and read the talk from President Uchtdorf "Come Join With Us!". Bruno quoted from that talk and went on to explain why being a member of the church is so important to him. His Mom came to see him talk which was also great. Overall, it was a great Sunday!

Anyways, that´s it from this week. Thank you all for the love and support. I hope all is going well for everyone back home. I miss you and love you all.

Until next week.


Elder Helvey

This is me on one of the big streets in our area right near the Mission Office 
with the beach and ocean in the background.

Me and Elder Vallo in the taxi on our way to a meeting with a landlord for a new apartment 
that the mission is renting. It just so happened that I took this picture 
at the exact moment we were passing a little monument in a park.

After we cleaned the church building on Saturday morning we had a ward activity, a BBQ!
 It was a lot of fun to have a BBQ (Brazilian style) with some of the members 
and recent converts in our ward and to spend more time with them and get to know them better.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Aldeota, Brazil Week 18

Hey everyone! Well today we had transfers, which is always a busy day. But first, this past week was really great. Elder Muniz and I were able to have some great experiences visiting and teaching people. We visited Vinícius who was baptized last week by the Sisters in our ward. We teach him in the house of a family in our ward, Irmão Ismael e Irmã Jane.  Irmão Ismael e Irmã Jane are two of the best member missionaries I know. They share the gospel with everyone and love having the missionaries in their house to teach their friends. They are also great teachers! We had a great time visiting them and taught about the importance of daily scripture study. We shared 1 Nephi 19:23 where Nephi says "and we did liken all scriptures unto us, that it might be for our profit and learning." Vinícius has been reading the Book of Mormon a lot and loves it. I too have really been studying the Book of Mormon a lot more lately and it has been great to continue to learn from the stories in the Book of Mormon and to apply them to my life. We had another lesson with one of our new investigators, Nelson, also in the house of Irmão Ismael and Irmã Jane. He works a lot and doesn´t have much time but he loved our message and seems very excited to learn more. We are going to work with him and teach about the importance of coming to church.

Friday night we had a ward missionary activity - we invited every member to invite a friend. We had a great turn out and it ended up being a great activity with a lot of popcorn and soda! Saturday we had the baptism of Ruben, an investigator that one of the Sister companionships in Aldeota have been teaching, so that was great! Bruno continues to come every week and participates a lot in the Principles of the Gospel class. Next week he has been chosen to give a talk in Ward Conference which I am really looking forward to. The ward here is really growing fast! I love this ward more and more every week. Sunday Sacrament Meeting was so crowded that people had to sit on the benches on the stand, it was great! It was also the last week that Lucas, the Bishop´s son, will be here because he is going to start school in Curitiba. He goes out with the missionaries and teaches with us. We all really like him and will miss him a lot.

Well today we had transfer meeting. It is always a fun time here in the office because all the missionaries that are going home stay with us their last night in our apartment and I take them all to the airport. I have some good friends in this group, including my trainer, Elder Christiansen. It was fun to have them here and I will miss them a lot, but tomorrow 9 more missionaries will arrive here so I am excited for that! Today at the transfer meeting some changes in the Mission Staff were announced. My companion, Elder Muniz, will begin to train the new Financial Secretary, Elder Peressute from Curitiba, so they will be companions. And I received a new companion... ELDER VALLO!! He has been part of the Mission Staff for three months already so I already know him well. He is from Argentina and I am excited to have him as a companion. Also the new assistant was announced today and guess who.... ELDER ALLEN!!! I was so excited. Elder Allen was the Executive Secretary before me and was my companion for one transfer. I am super excited to have him be assistant because that means I will see him a lot more. It was a great transfer meeting and I am excited for these next six weeks!

That´s pretty much all from me this week. I hope all is going well with everyone back home and thank you all for the prayers and love! I love you all.

Until next week.

Elder Helvey

At the grocery store last Monday I ran into a former NBA basketball player 
who is playing professional basketball her in Fortaleza. 
His name is DeVon Hardin and he is from Oakland, California and he played college basketball at 
Cal Berkeley (I didn´t mention I was a Stanford kinda guy haha). 
He was very interested in why I am here because there aren´t many Americans here. 
I explained everything about me being here and being a missionary and all 
and gave him a pass along card and the address of the church and invited him to come to church. 
He is trying to learn Portuguese and I told him that I could help him out. 
It was a cool experience!


Me with Irmão Ismael and Irmã Jane (I love them!)

Me and a scorpion!

Atila, a member from my first area here came to the airport to say goodbye to Elder Christiansen. 
It was great to see him. He told us the good news --- he put his mission papers in this past week 
and expects to get his mission call in two weeks! I am super excited for him!!

Me with the four American missionaries that I dropped off at the airport today!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Aldeota, Brazil Week 17

What a great week! This week was full of a lot of work, a lot of fun, and a few surprises.

First off Elder Muniz and I were able to visit our investigator, Irmã Iria Maria. She is the mother of the Bishop´s wife and comes from a strong Catholic family. She has been coming to church for the last few months. She has expressed interest to be baptized but said now is not the time and she is moving back to Curitiba, Brasil this week. We are sad she is moving but she expressed so much gratitude to us and thanked us for visiting her and said she will continue going to church in Curitiba. She gave Elder Muniz and me each a huge box of chocolates and told us if we ever need a place to stay in Curitiba we are welcome at her house. I am sad she is moving back to Curitiba but it has been great to get to know her and teach her. She is a woman with great faith and yearns to know the truth and learn more about Christ. She is a great example of continually learning throughout our lives. It was funny, towards the end of our visit she said something funny, she said, "Look at me, I am in my 70s and there is still so much more for me to learn!" She´s great and I will miss her.

Elder Muniz and I also had a great visit and lesson with a less active family in the ward. They are a married couple with two children. We got to know them a little more and had a great lesson about faith and how we show our faith in our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. All of them came to church yesterday, which was awesome, and they now have a goal to come to church every week!
This week we had lunch at the 1st counselor in the mission presidency´s house, Presidente and Irmã Maia. They live in the same apartment building as wedo, and we love visiting with them. They are so great and it was especially fun because President and Sister Souza came with us and we all had lunch together. It was great to be able to have a good hour or two with all them and just get to know each other more and share each other´s company.

A funny thing that happened this week was after district meeting we were locking up the chapel and I tossed the keys over the fence to Elder Vallo so he could lock the door and they ended up on the roof. So Elder Vallo and Elder Cardoso were locked inside the gates and we no longer had the keys to open it and let them out. It was a moment of shock and then an incredibly funny moment. To make a long story short Elder Muniz and I went to the Stake President´s house, picked up the keys, returned, then got a ladder, and got our keys down from the roof. I wish I had a picture of us trying the get the keys down. We used this little ladder from like the 1960s and Elder Vallo and Elder Muniz secured it as I climbed it and stood on the very last step. Then I grabbed a dead branch of a palm tree to bring the keys closer to me and eventually, I got them! It was quite the adventure.

Another thing that happened this week is that Elder Muniz and I went to Pizza Hut to pick up pizzas for the mission leadership council (a meeting with all the leaders in the mission). We went to one Pizza Hut but they didn´t have power so we ended having to drive to another Pizza Hut which ended up being great because we drove along the coast the entire way so I got to see the Harbor up close and the beautiful beaches here. We also drove by the site of the future temple in Fortaleza which was a great experience, too! So it ended up being a fun and unexpected adventure for Elder Muniz and me with Sister Souza.

Anyways, it was a great week. I really love the ward here. Each week I love the ward even more and they are really becoming some of my best friends. Next week is transfers so we´ll probably have some changes within the Mission Staff, but I´ll be staying. I've only had 4 months here and President told me to prepare for 6-8 months, and I will need to train a new Executive Secretary before I leave anyways. But transfer time is always a fun time in the Mission Office and I am looking forward to it.
I hope all continues to go well for everyone back home. Thank you all for the love and support. I feel your prayers. I love you all!

Until next week.

Elder Helvey

Bruno and I before church on Sunday. We visited Bruno before church to help him 
tie his tie and walk with him to church. He is doing great!

This is Elder Muniz and I with Irmão Rui and his family. This is one of my favorite families in the ward. 
He is from Cape Verde and she is from here in Fortaleza. They just had a baby and I love eating lunch at their house. Yesterday I helped Rui make his famous chicken 
and he helped me learn how to make it too. It was fun!

This is a picture of me in front of a big famous Catholic church in our area named Igreja da Sé.

 Me and HULK!

Centro, Fortaleza, Brasil!

Monday, March 3, 2014

Aldeota, Brazil Week 16

Hey everyone!

This week was great. I had quite a bit of work in the office to do, including two visits to the Federal Police with all the new missionaries. Elder Muniz and I also had some good experiences visiting and teaching people.

Thursday and Friday were the big days at the Federal Police. I had visited earlier and set up appointments for all the new American missionaries. It went very smoothly this time and we were able to finish before lunch both days. It´s always fun taking all the new American missionaries there because I am able to interact with them and see how they are all doing and how they have liked their first couple of weeks in Brazil. We have quite a bunch of missionaries that have visas that are going to expire this month so I will be visiting the Federal Police quite a bit more in the coming weeks. After a year in the country, every American missionary needs to visit the Federal Police and renew their visas.

Wednesday we had a great lesson with our investigator, Michele. She is super awesome and we love visiting her and teaching her with a member family. She loves coming to church and already loves the gospel. We are working with her to help her be prepared to be baptized. She has set a wedding date for her and her boyfriend in August. They have been living with each other for a long time now and have two kids together. We are hoping to be able to visit with her and her boyfriend together, but he hasn´t been very interested.

We also are looking forward to meeting with our investigator, Pedro, and his family. Pedro is a 10 year-old boy who has been coming to church with his grandma and aunt for a while but his parents have not given him permission to be baptized. He really wants to be baptized and we are going to try to meet with his parents this week to teach them and talk with them.

We are also teaching a girl of a part active family, named Ivana. We had a great lesson with her on Alma chapter 34 about the Atonement of Jesus Christ. We were excited but she didn´t come to church this week so that was disappointing but we are looking forward to visiting her again.

A less active member couple that we have been working with for a while came to church on Sunday. We were pretty excited and we are going to visit them tomorrow.

We also visited Bruno and had a great time with him and we love helping him gain a stronger testimony of the gospel.

This week is Carnaval here in Brazil. Carnaval is a holiday here and is really just one big party! It is going to make it a little more difficult for missionary work because a lot of people travel but it should be good.

I don´t have too much time to write today but thank you all for the love and support. I am continuing to work and feel so blessed by my Heavenly Father. I have had several, different, distinct, experiences that have testified to me of the importance of this work and I feel so blessed to be a part of it all here in Fortaleza, Brazil!

I hope you all have a great week! Until next week.

Elder Helvey

P.S. Remember those little handouts I made to give to members at our lunches a little while back for them to pass the names and address of their friends that they wanted the missionaries to visit?! Well we just had a baptism this week in our ward and it was from that invite! I was super excited to hear about that. He lived in the Sisters area so they taught him and everything, but it was great to hear that that little handout invitation led to a baptism!

Elder Muniz and I ate at Pizza Hut today for P-day lunch,
which surprisingly is like a really nice sit down restaurant here.

This is me sitting on our little sofa last P-day calling to confirm our appointment for that night.