Friday, February 28, 2014

Elder Eric Olsen week 5

So a lot has happened since last week. Starting with last Wednesday! For Preparation Day we went out into the city and walked through the stores and such. It was really fun! AND we talked to a real life Brazileiro in a candy store! ...yeah I was in a candy store, typical Eric - I know. But it was really exciting! We went to a bakery and a drug store - by the way, everybody here uses spray deoderant... not my style.
I hate writing these emails because I feel like I should have way more to say! We just have class every day. Yesterday we had a substitute teacher who served in Vitoria. He described it as SO BATISMO! Which means ONLY BAPTISMS! Haha but apparently it doesnt baptize nearly as many people as the Amazon missions. Thats okay though - I am where I need to be.
My companion went home Monday. As did one of Nicks. They had things they needed to go home for - it isnt important. BUT now we are in a trio. Just the three of us in our district! Weird. Tonight we are receiving two sisters. One is just getting here from Provo, and she has only been there for a week. I hope she doesnt slow us down too much haha, but I know we will have a good opportunity to help her! I am excited.
Tomorrow we have to get fingerprinted by the Federal Police. I guess we are sketchy. All Americans have to at some point though!
By the way mom, your letter got here but it was put in the wrong box. We know its here becasue the mail sorter told us, but we havent gotten it yet.. Ugh!
Sorry to hear about your cold weather. Its like 95 here, if that puts a different spin on it at all. Keep warm! Ill keep on wearing my short sleeves! Love you all!
Elder Eric Christian Olsen

Elder Nicholas Olsen Week 5

Dear Mom and Dad,
Hello again from the shadows of the everlasting jungle!
One thing I even wrote down in my planner to tell you about because it's so important is thumbs up. In the CTM (idk about the rest of Brazil) you always thumbs up people. "Tudo bem?" with a thumbs up. Sempre. I basically just walk around with both thumbs up.
So this week we were supposed to have a devotional from Elder Soares, but it turned out he had to do something else. Oh well. But anyway PDay is super cool. After this we will go out into the city (kinda the city) and we can go to shops and try to talk to people or whatever. Only for a few hours. So we found this place last time, actually our teacher told us about it, that makes these things called pastels? Basically fried crepes with like nutella and strawberries or meat and cheese... come to think about it it's basically crepes haha but better! And all the shops are like open air and stuff like you would expect it's cool.
In other news, your other son and I are now companions! 2 Elders from our district had to go back home for stuff, so now it's Elder Jackson, Elder Olsen and I all together. We haven't taught an "investigator" yet, so that will be interesting! I'm excited! But it's been a sad week because of them leaving, just the three of us is chato. BUT we're getting new sisters tonight from Provo, so that's exciting. Also apparently now all missionaries that get reassigned have to come back here for 2 weeks before they go out again, so I think there are gonna be like 20 today or something.
Carnival is not really a big deal here. Apparently in Rio and more north than that like Recife and Salvador etc its a big deal, but here and Goiania and stuff its nbd. My branch president told me Goiania has the most beautiful girls in Brazil... Boa sorte! haha.
So the other day we had this lesson with our investigator Miriam (this was Elders Jackson and Green and I). And we were trying to help her with the word of wisdom, because she had trouble with smoking. And Jackson and I were both giving our testimonies and sharing some scriptures and stuff and then I thought I felt the spirit there but sometimes its hard to really know if they feel it you know? But then Miriam (who is actually our instructor acting ) started crying! Not sobbing just like some tears but I was like wow its definitely here you know? Which is cool because they always keep saying like you don't have to have the language perfect but you can still bring the Spirit and I guess you really can.
The MTC is really hard for me, it's hard for everyone I guess. But whenever I get discouraged, I try to think about all the people praying for me, individually and all the missionaries, every day. And also I read Alma 26:27: "Quando nosso coração se achava seprimendo e estávamos para voltar, eis que o Senhor nos confortou e disse: Ide para o meio de vossos irmãos, os lamanitas, e suportai com paciência vossas, aflições; e eu farei com que tenhais êxito." Pretty neat!
Anyways, love you all and I hope you're happy and safe. Almost Spring Break, time flies neh? Its been a month!
Elder Olsen

Friday, February 21, 2014

Week 4 from Elder Nick Olsen

Hello Parents!
I suppose I will just cut to the chase and tell you everything. Yes I have to wear dirty clothes sometimes haha you can wash clothes whenever you want but sometimes I dont want to because I only have to wash rec clothes so I dont. But ANYWAY the food is much better here I think. Its like real Brazilian food, the people that make it are hired like not members and sometimes its gross and weird but like today we had these meat kabobs and it was good. The CTM is one big building with different dorms and classes on each floor and a gym outside and thats pretty much it. SUPER confining, the Provo CTM was a dang mansion seriously. Today we get to go outside and Im pretty excited to go around the city and buy some things that I dont really need. I apologize for the punctuation and the one big paragraph but my enter button doesnt work haha. The biggest change is that you have to fsl (fala sua lingua (speak your language)) sempre (always) because a majority of the people here dont speak English. The first day I was talking to a teacher, or at least trying to, and then I was like "fala ingles?" and he was like nooooo haha it was crazy. But there are almost no Americans here, everyone is from Brazil or South America somewhere. The brazilieros are really nice, they like to talk to us and help us speak the language and most of them know some English words so you dont just come to an impass. Sometimes it is really frustrating because I just miss speaking English, not that im like unwilling to change but it was just so much easier. Seriously, its no wonder that babies block out the first part of their lives (idk if thats even a thing bt i would believe it because its traumatizing haha). But my Portuguese is coming along I think. My comps are Jackson and Greene. Jackson is good but his Portuguese isnt as good as mine bc hes been here one week less than me. So thats my story, its nice here, a little bit dirty and ghetto but thats exactly what I expected. I cant send pics though sorry.
       Love you both!      Love,      Elder Nick Olsen

Week 4 from Elder Eric Olsen

Hey everyone!
I just want to start out by apologizing for my bad typing today. Its hard to type on a portuguese keyboard!
Brazil is so legal. (cool in portuguese) Its like florida, except times 100. Everybody speaks Portuguese, but luckily everybody speaks a tiny bit of english. When I got of the plane here, I had a conversation with a woman about where I was going, and how long I had been in the MTC, etc. In Portuguese! WHAT! It really affirmed that my work was paying off, even if just in the smallest degree.
The days here are much like those in Uah - you have time to teach your teacher-investigators, class time, devotionals on Tuesdays and Sundays, and a lot of study time. I am at the point where I can teach a lesson on most gospel topics, so thats good! Unfortunately it takes me about 5 seconds in between each word to figure out how to conjugate all the verbs and whatnot. My companion, Elder Miles, can understand anything that anybody says EVER. His speaking is not as good though, especially on gospel topics. It is odd to me that in Utah we spent so much time of church vocabulary and here they learn more about just talking to people.
Nick and I are in the same district. Its hard not to compare my progress to his, haha! It seems like I know more words by a little, but he is better at speaking sentences easily. I am not worried. We will both get it.
Apparently next week we go out proselyting! Wow. They send us out with a few Books of Mormon and let us have at it! I can already tell you my most used phrase will be- a little slower, please! Haha but it is exciting.
I know dad will want to know - the food is good most days! But some days, extremely questionable. Mystery meat is common. And desserts often consist of jello or pudding type stuff,.. But over all I like it better than Provo!
Also, its hot enough to where we open the windows at night. So we can see over the monstrous gate that surrounds the CTM here in Sao Paolo and look out at the run down buildings while the sun paints a beautiful tangerine-scarlet sunrise in the morning. Wow. I AM IN BRAZIL!

Also, we went to the temple today. Most beautiful temple I have ever seen! I miss the woods and nature of Michigan though. And the US in general. I guess its just because we are in one of the biggest cities in the world.. Ill be in Vitoria in 3 short weeks though!
I love you. Keep on keepin on. And praying for me. Prayers are much needed!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Week 3 Elder Nick Olsen

Dear Parents Olsen,
I only have a few minutes to write you so sorry if this is short. The flight was long as heck and I sat next to a lady who was a member and a guy who only spoke french--go figure. Now I am at the CTM and there are a ton of Brazilieros. Everyone speaks Portuguese, because some are Brazilieros and some are Americanos and some are from the rest of South America and so the only way to communicate is through port. I just planned with my new companions, Elder Green and Elder Jackson. It seems to me that I know a lot more gospel portuguese but they are better at conversational things and understanding since there are so many that speak it here. Sao Paolo is pretty, but it is really spread out so as far as Ive seen there isnt one big part of the city. PS sorry for the terrible punctuation, but Portuguese keyboards aren't fun. It's nice and sunny here so that's good. I feel really overwhelmed just because of the sheer amount of Portuguese being spoken, a lot of people don't even know english at all. So I'm glad I got the chance to learn enough to kind of get me by before I got here. Unfortunately today was our districts P day, so I'll have to wait another week, but i think I can do laundry any time. Hopefully the Lord will help me get through this. And I'm sure he will. But apparently there are Brazilieros even in my bedroom with us, so I can't even relax there!
In any case I'm here safe and have all my bags. Talk to you asap
Much Love,
Elder Nick Olsen

At the Brazil MTC Feb 12, 2014

Week 3 Elder Eric Olsen

Ola from Brasil!
We have 10 minutes to email, so here goes!
The flight was killer. I didn't hardly sleep at all, but it is nice to finally be on the ground. and scary. AND this is a Portuguese keyboard so it is quite intimidating.
When we got off the plane, somebody asked me about my mission in Portuguese. She said my Portuguese was muito bom! But I still am not confident, it takes me so long to figure out what I want to say. It is really interesting. And people here come mostly from Spanish speaking countries, so if you want to communicate you must use Portuguese! Muito dificil.
Geez I still feel like I am drowning all over again! Moving to a new MTC is like starting all over again. There are a lot more rules here. BUT I heard that after 3 weeks they send you out to a train station with 6 books of Mormon and let you go at it! ...yikes.
It is really beautiful. The heat and humidity remind me of Florida. Also, P day was today, but Nick and I didnt get to participate because we had orientation. So you wont get a real email for another week.
My companion isn't really into speaking Portuguese all the time. Hopefully he will come around. Nick and I are in the same district but we have different companions. It is really intimidating that the teachers and everybody else only speaks Portuguese all the time.. Hope everything is well in the states!
sending warm thoughts your way,
Elder Eric Christian Olsen

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Week 1 from Elder Eric Olsen

Ola!  I'm here and safe at the MTC! I've never had days be so long and full of highs and lows. Sometimes I feel like I'm on top of the world (usually right before I fall asleep...) and other times I can't do everything that I need to. If I wasn't on the Lord's errand, with His assistance, I would be home already.

I'm in a threesome companionship. Elder Carpenter I met once at BYU; he's from Colorado. He's such a good example. He always thanks everyone for their service - including cafeteria workers that get paid! Elder Westover is from Kentucky. He is good at Portuguese already. He's always popping out random words!

Portuguese is so hard. We taught our first lesson to a Portuguese investigator of the Church - or pesquisador en Portugues - YESTERDAY. THE SECOND DAY OF BEING HERE. It was discouraging, but we are much more confident in our abilities now. We teach him again today; his name is Anderson. I feel like I should be treasuring up the words of Christ always, but I've taking to treasuring up the verbs of Portuguese more often... I know I can learn this language, but it is so difficult.

I have been assigned as the District Leader for my group of missionaries. There are only five of us - one companionship besides my own. Everyone gets along well. I think part of it is just because we are all scared out of our wits! Also, everyone else in my district is headed to the Sao Paolo West Mission. I haven't met anybody else that is going to Vitoria!

Also I ran into Nick. I see him about once a day. He is the district leader for his district as well. His preparation day is on Tuesday.

I know so much has happened in these past few days but I can't think of anything else. It's just a blur of Portuguese, Book of Mormon, desperate prayer, and frenzied excitement. I love our time in the gym. They have weights to use, and I'm able to think about Portuguese. I tried to upload a picture of my companionship, but this computer won't let me... I'll send it next week. Also I get to go to the temple today!

Some of the elders in my zone were reassigned today because their visas didn't come through. They are going to Atlanta, Mesa Arizona, and Indianapolis. Still no word on mine.

Pray for me por favor. And my companions. We need assistance. And send more letters! In the words of Elder Carpenter, "Letters are the lifeblood that keep us alive!"

I love you. Thanks for your support.

Elder Eric Christian Olsen

Week 1 Elder Nick Olsen

Well here I am in the CTM (Portugues). The first day we came in the classroom and our teacher was just spewing out nonstop Portuguese. That, I think, is when I first questioned what I had gotten into.

The food is all good, its pretty much the same as what was in the Cannon Center at the Y. My companion's name is Elder Thomas, he went to BYU as well last semester. I am the district leader, if you ask me probably just because I am older and taller than the rest in my district. There is one other companionship of elders and a threesome of sisters in the district, one of them has a college degree from Purdue and is 22! Btw before I forget, I sent a letter home the first day so you'll get it in MI. But anyways, I see Eric fairly often because his class is down the hall from me and in the cafeteria. Everyone in my zone seems pretty fascinated with my twinship, which is good but also annoying. 

My teacher's name is Irmao Durfee. He is like 23 and has such cool things to say, most of the time he talks in Portuguese, but whenever we talk about gospel things he has these awesome ideas. Like once he told us about eternity, and if we had all eternity before this wouldn't God maybe have known we would go to Brazil and help us learn Portuguese? And the Spirit brings all things to our remembrance, so maybe couldn't we just be remembering what we once knew? And once he told us about how people know the gospel, and in teaching if you get the right questions they can basically teach themselves. And then he showed us how! He's moving to Rio after the Olympics and I was thinking if I do an internship I will definitely go visit him. 

We saw a video from Elder Bednar talking here and it was awesome, called the Character of Christ. He talked about how Jesus consistently turned outward in the hardest times of his life. Like when he was being taken after the Atonement and healed the man's ear, or when on the cross he helped his mother, or being tempted by Satan he sent angels to help John in prison. A lot of what I've learned is just to not focus on myself at all, even in learning Portuguese or anything, but to do everything for the Lord or for our investigators. We are representatives of Jesus Christ and as such should act as Jesus Christ.

The second full day here we got our first pescisador (investigator) Erik, and had to teach him. It was basically a train wreck, we didn't understand hardly anything. But we all pray every night and day for help learning Portuguese and working hard, and every lesson we do a little bit better. We actually committed him to baptism yesterday! It's difficult, but I think Elder Thomas and I are advancing pretty quickly and doing well with the help of the Lord. 

Anyway that's awesome about Elder Klein! He was in my district and was really nice, he got his visa and is going to Brasil. I can't believe the chances of that. It's cool that he said good things about me! I'm trying to be a leader by example. But anyway, I'm doing really well and I know it'll only get better as I go along. Until I get comfortable, and then it'll probably change and be really hard. But that's okay.  

Eu sei que Jesus Christo e nosso Salvador e nosso Redentor. Eu sei que A Igreja De Jesus Christo Dos Santos Dos Ultimos Dias tem o evangelho verdadiero en a Terra oje. Eu sei que Joseph Smith fei um profeta verdadiera, de o Senhor, e O Livro de Mormon e a palavra de Deus.

I love you guys! don't worry too much about me. But prayers help I think. I hope I didn't forget anything!

Elder Nick Olsen

Week 2 from Elder Eric Olsen

Hello All!

So apparently it's not como bai, it's como VAI! How is it going!
It's been a long week here. The missionaries say that each day is like an eternity, but each week goes by in the blink of an eye. How true this is. 
Last week we watched an address by Elder Bednar about the Character of Christ - it dealt with turning away from yourself and focusing on others. As I've done this in this past week, I've begun to feel real concern for the well being of my companions and other missionaries that I associate with. I know that God will bless us as we seek to help others with concerns they have. If there's anything that I can do to help anyone reading this, let me know.

My companion keeps saying "You know you're a missionary when you send home scriptures in your emails and letters." What a wonderful confirmation that I am a missionary, as I have to share from 2 Nephi chapter 4: "My God hath been my support; he hath led me through mine afflictions in the wilderness; and he hath preserved me.." This week has been a wilderness. As a missionary and as a district of missionaries, we have truly learned to rely on the Lord for strength and help in our studies. 
I feel like I've come so far in this week! I can teach a lesson in Portuguese! ...kind of. I've learned a lot of verbs and a lot of gospel terms, and I'm sure my grammar is horrible. I've also learned a lot about our purpose as missionaries, and how we can best adapt our teaching to help those that we meet with. 
We have three districts in our zone. One district is leaving in three days - they all got reassigned to missions in the United States. Some are going to Atlanta, some to Virginia, some to Indianapolis... Anyway, I have been called to be a zone leader for our zone. Elder Carpenter and I will have charge of these missionaries. I'm having a hard time understanding how I should serve; the current zone leaders focus on listening to and talking with everybody on the zone, but as you can guess, I'd much rather study the language and scripture personally. I'll have to find a good balance between the two.
I'm going to audition to sing in a devotional here. I don't really want to too badly, but I feel like it's and instance in which I can share my talents with the world. ...share them with the MTC, at least. I'll audition with 4 verses of A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief, and Nick will (hopefully) accompany me. Wish me luck!
I wish I had some miraculous stories. My only good story is that we planned to teach a lesson on our Heavenly Father's Plan of Salvation for us, but we felt a prompting not to. We ended up just teaching about prayer and the importance of scripture and bearing testimony. God's spirit was strong. I'm grateful for this opportunity to learn to rely on the Redeemer more fully.
Talk to the missionaries if you see them! I'll be praying for all of you.

OH and our investigator last week has turned out to be one of our Portuguese teahcers! We knew him as Anderson as a pesquisador; now as a teacher he is Irmao VanWagoner. It's nice to have two teachers; they both have their own strengths. The MTC is so inspired.

 Here is the district!