Nick and I are serving two year missions in different parts of Brazil! He is in Goiânia, and I am in Vitória. This blog contains our emails home, in which we describe the work that we are engaging in. Email us! firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com
This week I am including translations in parentheses because more and more Portuguese keeps cropping up in these e-mails. I guess that's a good thing! First this week's e-mail from Elder Nick Olsen: Oi gente!
Well FIRST of all let me tell you about the food. Every day we almoçamos com uma família aqui na ala (we eat lunch with a family here in the ward). EVERY DAY we have rice and beans and usually some kind of chicken, but if we get lucky its churrasco or carne in some form. And there's always a salad with lettuce and tomatoes. And also if were lucky we get some kind of juice! (the juice here is so good,) and a sobremesa (dessert). The other day we had this mousse de maracuja (passion fruit mousse) and it tasted like the celestial kingdom. BUT also we never ever get janta (dinner). Like people eat it but they just don't invite the missionaries. So Elder Silva and I have been having "jantinha" haha which is like little dinner, we just get something in the middle of proselyting. And sometimes pizza or something. I wish I could use more money but not many places here have swiper things! gosh it feels good to use english, idk how to say "swiper things" in portuguese haha.
Washing clothes is easy because we have a thing in our house, so we can do it any day. But we hang our clothes out to dry, this week i had my stuff out there for 3 days because it kept raining and eventually just had to wear wet clothes. Haha it happens.
Church is super funny. There isn't a piano, so the lady that conducts just sings the first line and we all follow her, but she has like an alto voice so it always ends up super low. But we don't have classes we teach, we usually just hang out with the investigators because we always have some. Yesterday we thought we would have like 15 but only 5 came. Elder Silva decided (and me too) that we need to reevaluate some of our investigators. Because we are looking for the people here that are ready for o evangelho (the gospel), not people who are so flaky.
We did meet a family that i think is eleita (elect). We gave the restoration video to them and the dad watched it 3 times!! Like wow I hope he gets baptized because nobody else keeps commitments like that. Elder Silva said that at least everyone should have 1 or 2 baptisms, and I know that if we continue to have faith it'll happen.
Anyway he was telling me about this family in another area that just called him before church once and was like hey come over and have breakfast and had like this huge spread for them!! Which sounds awesome, eu acho que vocês devem fazer algo semelhante (I think you should do something similar). And help the missionaries like if you have anyone. I know you're thinking about me and elder Olsen, but they're doing the same thing you know? and maybe if you help them out the members here will help us out.
Also please send more photos to me! either on here or in the mail. I got your letters the other day! but cant read until p day so i will today. And I never got the package too... sooo haha idk about that. And also if you send another package you could include peanut butter, just saying.
I started reading our search for happiness, its super good. Also feels good to read something in English for once! Its hard for me to decide what to focus on during study: livro de mormon (Book of Mormon), pregar meu evangelho (Preach my Gospel) , livros como (books like) our search for happiness, language, não sei. Mas the portuguese is coming mas ou menos... I know it'll take time but i just wish I knew everything already! or at least enough to get by melhor que agora. So i guess keep praying for me for that.
ELDER OLSEN-- Elder Silva heard about the mesma coisa (same thing)! he said that they were in missões vizinhos mas eu acho que ainda pode acontecer. Talvez no meio dos dois? ou uma missão ou o outro, não importante (neighboring missions, but I think it could still happen. Maybe in the middle of the two? or one mission or the other. Not important.). Also Im excited for natal bc i realized the first natal will be like halfway mark and the second will be like going away party!
I guess that's all I have to say this week.
Love you all,
Elder Nick Olsen
Another difficult week. Unfortunately we had to cut two of our investigators because they weren't keeping commitments. It seems that that is a serious problem here - everybody is willing to talk but nobody wants to change. We also met one girl that told us she was certain that the Book of Mormon was true - I feel something really special in my heart when I read! - but her mother wont let her join the church. I guess this week will be a week of finding, not teaching.
I invite everybody that reads this to look up the bairro Ilha dos Ires in Vila Velha. On street view! It is really barren haha and where we work the most. Also just for the general public to know, Fiats are the most popular car here. And Everybody listens to american music - go figure! AND it is the dream of every member to study at BYU, so I guess I was living the dream last year? huh.
It might be strange but BYU Vocal Point is so dear to my heart right now! One missionary in my house has speakers and plays their music sometimes - it always is calming for me.
One thing I have learned from the Brazilians is to study the scriptures a LOT. They are all fascinated with the scriptures - I think it is because they are converts and excited that things make sense. But the Lord won't give us confirmation until we study, and He wont give us more until we use what we have!
Don't complain about the cold please. Its like 85 every day. KILLER.
I hope that we can find more people that are ready this week. I have hope for one rapaz(boy) that we met but we can only teach him on Saturday nights.
You have NO IDEA how excited I am to hear the prophet and apostles speak. How amazing that we can hear the voice of the Lord through these great men! Counting the days until conference. I think I will watch in English but I don't know for sure... will let you know!
Also let Emily know that one Brazileiro that live with me is captivated by her picture on my desk! ...a little weird, but flattering I hope.
HEY FAM how are yall sounds like a dream with that 20 degree weather there. Literally every day Elder Silva and i are just sweating through the shirts. I have a ton of stuff to say so this will probably be super disorganized but oh well there it is.
I dont need anything mom so dont worry about me! But i dont know my address dusculpa, eu acho que você pode just send stuff to the mission home,
Então the first thing you need to know is that Portuguese is IMPOSSIBLE!! haha no just kidding but it is super hard. I think Im improving little by little. Elder Diego (other missionary in my house) said the whole first transfer he didnt understand anything but then the second is 100 times easier. but i already understand some stuff so i think ill be good, just continuing to figure stuff out as i go.
With tracting, we have a mission goal to have 100 contacts every week. So if you say "oi tudo bem? nós somos missionários..." then it is a contact! And yesterday was the last day and I still needed 50 haha so that took a good 3 hours or so straight of just talking to every person on the street.
No baptisms yet. I think its probably because we dont have enough faith. But we decided to work super hard so that if we dont get baptisms we know its not us, its just not the right time or the lord is preparing someone or something. MAS we have been having troubles with casamento. Yesterday we had 2 families at church with us which was good but neither are married. And you know that has to happen before baptism. Whenever we meet people for a lesson or whatever well be like oh youre married parabéns! just a festa or like the papers and everything? and 75 percent of the time theyre like oh umm just a festa you know... or something. So thats upsetting because you wanna see them baptise but oh well. A big thing in this mission is like were harvesting. There are people here who are ready, allready preparado to be baptised, so we cant mess around too long with people who arent the real deal.
Elder Olsen Im also in the slums cara!! Like yesterday we almoçamos com um membro que mora in parque oeste, another bairro, and like it wasnt even that nice really but just the fact that everything was clean and people were wearing clothes without holes and shaved legs was so so crazy to me. But we tried to contact people there and they were really mean, like Elder Moon was like "opa senhor como está?" and he was like "deixa me andar tá bom?" which means just let me walk okay? But in goia (nosso bairro) if you walk up to someone and invite to church theyll be like oh heck yeah! even if they wont and pat you on the back and stuff or say they respect you for the trabalha. And also when you leave someones house they always walk you to the gate, even if they leave it open its really nice.
This week we had a huge storm which was crazy haha me and elder silva took shelter under an awning but i leaned up against the wall and didnt know that it was completely sujo... so my shirt is wrecked! but nobody cares and hopefully when I wash it itll be good. But btw mom i still havent received me other glasses which is weird!
Also this week ive been pretty sick, but nothing serious. Just routine cold and stuffy nose stuff, but it was bad because that made me even more difficult to understand for the brazilians haha.
Também there is this expression that is super hard for me... a gente. in the ctm they said dont use it because its bem informal mas tudo mundo uses it! including presidente! and the reason its hard it because it means us but you conjugate like you, so im getting used to that.
Long story short serving is good! my biggest concern is still the language of course but it will come im sure of it with the help of the Lord. Elder Olsen since last week Ive prayed for you every day, and i know this transfer is hard but itll get better im positive. I hope youre helping the missionaries at home pais, because we all need all the help we can get! Pray for me please! But dont worry :)
Elder Nicholas Olsen
And now from Eric:
Oi oi gente! A gente esta no lanhouse! A gente is super difficult for me too, Elder Olsen. I have been trying to not use it... But if you are using it I will too haha!
Another week of heat and sweat. And dirt. and poor people! Like you said Elder Olsen, every time I see somebody that has a house with four walls its like WHAT. But our apartment is decently nice! Blessings of the Lord I suppose.
This week was super difficult again. My Portuguese is still horrible... I guess it is good according to the usual new missionary standards, because all the members say so. But the investigators wouldnt know, because I still havent said hardly anything in a lesson...! My companion likes to really really REALLY give every detail, so I could teach baptism, the Holy Ghost, and keeping the commandments, and afterwards he would go back to baptism because I forgot to say a phrase.. UGH frustrating! But he has a really deep knowledge of the scriptures - especially the Bible, which I need to work on. He has an answer for any question. And he talks really fast, so he has an answer QUICK. ...thats why I usually dont talk much! But I can understand a little more every day.
Elder Olsen, I heard this week about two twins that served in Brazil. At the end of their missions, they got permission to work in the same mission for a week! A ultima semana. Então a gente deve tentar a fazer a mesma coisa! Seria bem legal.
We talked a lot about regras this weeek with our brazilian companions. Its such a different culture. They all think that the rules are just here to give us a guideline! Like if they dont like one, they just break it,... yeesh it is different!
We went on splits with a zone leader this week. Elder Strebe came with us - a rare ginger aqui no brazil. When we taught with him I actually got a chance to teach too! It was pretty neat to see anoher american teach, because it is always easier to understand what americans are saying!
Yesterday we went to visit an investigator of ours. He lives next to another investigator, and they were playing cards with some other guys. They started arguing with us about our chuch, but it was really cool - one of our investigators was like NO listen to what they are saying, they taught me ALL this cool stuff about the plan of God and how the church of Jesus Christ was REestablished here! haha it was cool to see that we were making progress and he truly believed.
I am jealous of your cakes. They look way better than anything I ever made! But I am making cookies today for an investigator. Hopefully.
Entao, first off you pronounce bem tipo with an n na verdade. confuso neh?
Sorry it has been so long but they didn't let me write when I got here! And I don't remember what happened the last week of the CTM so forget about it. Im in goiania now!
When we came to Goiania I was basically dying because there were no other Americanos in my group so I was sozinho. Everyone was nice, but as vezes it is just plumb impossible to understand. And so anyway the first day we had orientation, in Portuguese... and learned that we have like our own mission song! Which is carry on but in Portuguese and at one part you say missao brazil goiania. And that night we stayed in a hotel. and the second day we had this big mission conference. And the whole time i was thinking "I am the one person here who understands Portuguese the least" haha and it was right because I understood nothing. Which is too bad because it was a 70 speaking... but oh well.
At the end came transfers. I was super nervous but it turned out that I am with Elder SILVA (the most common surname in Brazil)!!!!!! And he has been out for like 7 months and knows a little English so thats good. And my area is Goia which is a huge area in North Goiania, the same zone as Sister Marshall. We live in this place... well lets just say when we got there I thought it was a storage unit haha. And we live with 2 other elders, Elder Diego and Elder Moon who is the zone leader.
So the goal for our mission is to do 100 contacts every week. Including this past week, in 4 days, but we did it! Thats 100 each missionary. So my contacting is pretty top notch by now. Sometimes Elder Silva will hang back and try to make me do it on my own haha but I hate that. The lessons are really difficult for me because I really can't understand anything. Honestly I dont know what to do, but what choice do I have but to keep trying and keep praying. Some missionaries have told me that it just comes with time so I hope that within the first transfer Ill be able to have some effect.
Everyone here that I talk to thinks I'm German! " voce e alliman?" cada dia seriously its weird. And also here when we have to go somewhere we take the omnibus. The omnibus is basically just a bus, but there is at any given time 500 people on it and they drive like the ground is desintegrating behind it. So you pretty much get plowed on the omnibus.
Id like to take this moment to apologize for every spelling and grammer mistake here and also for anyone who reads this who emailed me but i didnt answer, i dont really have the time to cram that many in!
But anyways I miss you guys and I hope youre doing well back home. Reading all your letters today totally made me fico tranke (dont really know the spelling but it means homesick.) Pray for me please.
Elder Nicholas Olsen
Elder Olsen and Sister Marshall in the same zone!
And here is a picture of Elder Eric Olsen in Vitória:
Here is Nick's weekly e-mail: Dear Pais, First of all, my enter button doesnt work again haha sorry. Also where the heck was the email from mom!? She doesn't love me anymore huh? Figures, tudo bem. So anyway yes I'm getting ready to leave here. I'm about the most experienced missionary here, since I've been in the CTM for 5 weeks already, but my Portuguese still isnt good! This week we started getting loads of American visa waiters, like 20 last week and I think 20 more this week, but they're all pretty bad at Portuguese haha which is funny for me. Also Dad do you know Savior Redeemer of My Soul? Like not the version in the hymnbook but the one in 17 Milagres? (yes we watched that again) Because you should totally do it its sweet. The great thing about going to the CTM here in Brazil is you get to hear what Brazilians actually say. So I've learned some things: one is saying bem all the time. Bem means well, but you can like put it in front of any adjective like bem rapido or bem simples or bem dificil, stuff like that. For some reason I think its really funny! Another thing they say is isso, which means that thing. But like if youre trying to explain something and then the person gets it, or if you ask a question and they answer it right, you go "iiiiissssssssssssssoooooo" haha theyre hilarious. ALSO on Sexta fiera we went proselyting in the city! We went out into the thick of it to hand out 6 books of mormon. Starting on the bus ride there! I realized that the hardest thing for me right now is vocabulario because people talk about things that arent O Evangelho de Jesus Christo... Imagine that! People having other things in their lives! So weird! Haha but anyway being companhieros with Elder Olsen is pretty sweet, it's been much easier to teach and stuff. Both of our """""invesitagators""""" are being baptised this Saturday! And also we got 2 new sisters and they have been talking about their boyfriends non stop so I can only pray to The Lord, day and night, basically every hour, that that will stop. Other than that all its pretty much routine, sorry my letters are sempre all over the place. Today for nosso ultima P-day were going to a shohaskeria (serio no idea how to spell that) but its just like a real life Brazilian Steakhouse so Im psyched. The Spirit is so strong here though, you have to want it and search for it but then its easy to find. I miss yall a bunch! I'm worried about going to the field, but I know O Senhor will help me get into the swing of it. Can't wait to hear from you. Love you, Elder Olsen OH PS I MET A GUY WHO WENT TO GOIANIA AND he said that the Goiania mission is like the cowboys of Brasil and also that they had baptisms every single week! And here is Eric's!:
Greetings from beautiful Sao Paulo!
I am glad to say that this was the last full week in the MTC! I know I needed the time here, and that I was able to understand more fully my purpose and the ways in which I should work, but I am so ready to get to Vitoria.
...partially because we went proselyting this week, and it was so cool! Before I went I was thinking a lot about that movie The Best Two Years - how they end up giving out 60 Books of Mormon in a week and it is such an accomplishment! I expected it to be difficult. They gave us each 3 Books and sent us on a ppublic bus - with our instructor - to the middle of Sao Paulo - o centro da cidade. Elder Olsen was an example for Elder Jackson and I - he had no fear and promptly sat with somebody and started talking! I followed suit and talked to a man about whatever I could manage... which was mostly just asking questions, haha. But we all gave out a Book on the bus, and then we gave out the other 6 within 30 minutes. And we thought we couldnt speak Portuguese! Although I realized after that it was mostly us talking and not having to understand what other people said - which is the hard part - they could still understand our message.
Unfortunately it has been a pretty regular week other than that. The best way for us to practice our language right now is to converse with the Brazileiros here, but they are always in class, so we have to settle for the instructors. They use smaller words and talk slower, so it is not as difficult, but Portuguese is always a challenge...
We had a devotional given on Tuesday by an church General Authority Area 70 for Brazil. He gave his entire address in Portuguese. They allowed us to have headphones for a translation, but we listened and understood most of it without! Again, he was using that slow church-talk voice, but I still count it as a victory.
A lot of Americans started showing up all of a sudden. They have a new program, that every American that was serving in the field and gets a visa must spend two weeks in the MTC here before going to the field. I feel bad for them. You can tell they just want to get out of here! Plus they all look super old... But they are all helpful and give us advice on the field!
I realized JUST THIS WEEK that I am here to serve others, not myself! Well, I kind of knew it before, but I still had moments where I thought of myself first. I realized everything I do is for others. Shoudl be for others. I loved something I heard from President Eyring this week (rough paraphrase) - The Savior is the ultimate example of selfless service. When I feel myself ready to shun the work, or I hear my body cry out for rest, I give myself this rallying cry - Remember Him.
I hope whoever reads this remembers the Savior this week! He is the only way to Eternal Life and everlasting joy.